Skutt Catholic Got It Right
Skutt Catholic High School recently decided not to renew the teaching contract for one of its teachers. While this is not an uncommon situation this time of year across the nation, Skutt’s decision has caught the attention of the LGBT community, because the teacher in this case is a homosexual. One LGBT supporter penned a letter on the subject, but I thought I would put a Catholic perspective on her views, since she is trying to call Catholic teachings into question. So below is her letter with my responses to each paragraph in bold type.
Mr. Matthew Eledge has been an English teacher and speech coach at Skutt Catholic since 2010. Since then, he has created a legacy. Not only has he changed students’ lives in the classroom, but he has also made Skutt a premier school for speech competition. Under his leadership, the students have won five consecutive conference and district titles and capped another successful year with its fourth straight state championship this past March. Unfortunately, this legacy will be coming to an end. Mr. Eledge is being fired from Skutt Catholic for being in a gay relationship.
Actually, he’s not being fired. In Nebraska, teachers are employed through an annual contract renewal. The school is not obligated to renew a teacher’s contract for any upcoming term. Because, Kacie Hughes’ statement begins with inaccuracy, we should not expect the remainder of her opinion to hold closely to the truth either. It does not matter whether he has created a legacy or whether he has won awards for the speech program if he openly undermines the core values and teachings of his employer. No employer will tolerate an employee who openly and consistently undermines the vision, mission statement and/or objective of the employer. For instance, the Human Rights Campaign would fire me as soon as I spoke out about the health risks of homosexual behavior and the wisdom and goodness of traditional marriage, especially when it comes to healthy children.
In December of 2014, Matt and his partner, Elliot Dougherty, made the decision to get engaged. He went to the administration to let them know, and they told him he would not be invited to teach next year. Furthermore, if he told students, he would be fired immediately.
If Mr. Eledge handled his decision in this way, it shows integrity. He was up front about it and didn’t simply do something and wait to see if his employer would somehow learn about it from another source. It also shows integrity on the part of the Skutt administration. They were also honest with Mr. Eledge and did not surprise him with any non-renewal. This gave him plenty of time to look for job openings in other schools. It also gave him the ability to examine his conscience and decide between teaching in a Catholic school or living a life which is in direct contradiction to Catholic teachings.
A living example of what it means to be a SkyHawk, Mr. Eledge has spent hundreds of hours striving to make sure that the students at Skutt have an incredible high school experience. He soars above the rest in accolades, talent, and character for Skutt Catholic. After months of contemplation, Mr. Eledge discussed the idea of postponing the wedding so he could come back to Skutt Catholic. He was then informed that he must end his relationship with Elliot.
Mr. Eledge may be the best teacher at Skutt High, I have no way of knowing. However, due to Ms. Hughes’ earlier liberties with the truth, I would take her opinion lightly. I suspect Skutt has many highly skilled and dedicated teachers and it is difficult to compare the skill of an algebra teacher to the skill of a speech coach. However, given Mr. Eledge’s success with the speech team, I’m confident he would be a highly sought employee for any school system that did not have a consistent teaching over the last 2000 years, which says his lifestyle choice is contrary to Christ’s teachings. Since Christ is God, we Catholics put extremely significant confidence in Him.
Ms. Hughes adds that Mr. Eledge was informed that he must end his relationship with his partner. She doesn’t explain how or from whom this information was delivered, so it seems to hang out there in mid-air. Unfortunately, Skutt cannot legally comment on what went on in their discussions with Eledge. I suggest that he was given an option though. I presume that someone within Skutt’s administration explained the health risks of homosexual behavior and that there were programs that he could explore in order to avoid a lifestyle that offers loneliness, sadness, depression, sickness, untimely death, cancer and experiences a high rate of domestic abuse, alcoholism, promiscuity, drug use and regret. Sounds hateful, doesn’t it? Asking someone to make a difficult but courageous decision instead of an easy but harmful decision? Actually, if these were the actions of Skutt, they are Christlike. To condone Mr. Eledge’s choice is the ultimate hatred because it encourages him to enter into a lifestyle that will lead to some or many of these really awful experiences and outcomes.
A core belief at Skutt Catholic is to inspire “moral and ethical leadership by not only educating, but also requiring students to provide service to, embrace diversity within, and seek justice for their communities and the marginalized in our society”. As parents, former teachers, alumni, and individuals who support the Skutt Catholic community: we demand the administration embrace diversity and stand up for justice by not discriminating against a teacher that has inspired hundreds of students and future leaders in the community.
Ms. Hughes misses THE core belief at Skutt, which is belief in Jesus Christ, but besides that, what Ms. Hughes is saying, and what the others who misunderstand Christianity are saying by signing their ill-conceived petition, is that belief, faith and Christ’s own teachings, mean nothing. All we need in life is to make sure people are happy today and when tomorrow comes, we will reassess and make whatever changes need to be made to see if we can keep them happy for another day. Political correctness is the golden rule today. Do not judge the behavior or decisions of any other person, that way, nobody can judge your decisions or behavior. This way, no feelings get bruised. Isn’t that convenient?
Ms. Hughes overlooks the fact that we must all be mindful of the behavior of those around us and especially around our children. I want help from others when my behavior is not healthy or beneficial. And I certainly want people to help my children make the best decisions for their own good. That is why some parents send their child to a Catholic school. This is especially common among Catholic parents. Many Catholic parents know and understand that the Catholic Church has always taught that homosexual behavior is contrary to Christ’s teachings, in conflict with about 4,000 years of Jewish and Christian belief and results in very negative consequences for those who live an active homosexual lifestyle, which include the risks I mentioned earlier and above all, the possibility of eternal damnation. Mind you, I’m mixing the secular negatives with the religious beliefs of the Catholic Church here. Don’t get all fired up and make the mistake of labeling me as a Bible-thumping fanatic (even if I am one). The reason I’m referring to the Bible and other religious based facts is because the employer in this situation is CATHOLIC. If the employer were a pizzeria, I’d just stick with the non-religious arguments, which are more than sufficient. But here, the Catholic perspective is important because many of the families involved are Catholic and many of them (if they properly understand their faith), expect the Catholic school to use the Catholic Catechism, Catholic theology and Catholic social teachings in educating and forming the Catholic students of these Catholic parents.
“Aha!” You say. “Not all the parents or students are Catholic!” You are probably right. But every parent and student in the Skutt system is fully aware that the school is Catholic, so they too should relax and let Skutt be Catholic. If Skutt’s Catholicism is offensive to enough people, it will shrink or close. But I don’t think that is going to happen.
When Mr. Eledge, or any other teacher, becomes engaged, what they do in their private life is between themselves and God. Not for us to assume or judge. Furthermore, if they fire Mr. Eledge for engaging in a same-sex relationship, they must avoid discrimination. They will need to fire any single teacher who is living with their partner or engaging in sexual activity, any divorced person who has remarried without an annulment, or any married couple using contraceptives.
These are good points. I would hope that the teachers at all Catholic schools adhere, to the best of their ability, to all Christian teachings just like the rest of us should do. If any teacher is known to be living in contradiction to the teachings of the Catholic Church, they should be given the opportunity change their way of life, return to full communion with the Church or choose to continue on a path that they have freely chosen, just like Mr. Eledge was. Of course in such a case, the school would have every right to part ways with that teacher as well. In Mr. Eledge’s case, he has been very forthcoming with his decision to live in open and obvious contradiction with the Church. I’m confident that he’s not surprised by the fact that he will not be working at Skutt next year, especially since he was informed of that consequence several months before he made his final decision known.
We believe Mr. Eledge should not be fired because of his sexual orientation. We must take action and demand equality for a great teacher, a successful coach, and an even better human being.
I agree that Mr. Eledge should not be fired because of his sexual orientation. I even agree that the school should not decline to give him a new contract for the upcoming school year, based on his sexual orientation. But this isn’t about Mr. Eledge’s sexual orientation. This is about his decision to act on his desires, which he knows to be in direct conflict with the teachings, message and goals of his employer. Nobody is condemning Mr. Eledge. There is a big difference between judging behaviors, actions and choices and condemning a person. This is because we can’t see what is on a person’s heart. We cannot really judge another person, but a person certainly can condemn himself or herself. A person condemns himself or herself by rejecting God.
This is a distinction Christians understand, but it is not recognized by critics of Christianity. I have been condemned as a bigot, a hater and a buffoon, by many supporters of the LGBT community. But I have not once labeled anyone, nor have I condemned any person in such a way. As Christians, we must always remember that the person is to be loved and respected. And as a society, we must always remember that a person should not be condemned for his or her belief or apparent unbelief in Christ.
If you disagree with me on this, you are probably thinking, “even the Pope said he wasn’t going to judge homosexuals”. With the proper context, I agree with Pope Francis when he said, “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?” The context is that the fictional person in Pope Francis’ phrase was searching for the Lord and had good will. Because of this, the Pope could not judge, condemn or reject the person. But Mr. Eledge does not appear to be seeking the Lord when he chooses to enter into a same-sex relationship. Therefore, Pope Francis would correctly judge Mr. Eledge’s decision and make the same decision Skutt High made.
The fact is; everybody including Catholic school teachers, have desires, attractions and inclinations that if acted upon would be contrary to Christ’s teachings. In other words, we all have temptations and we all make mistakes. But it is wrong to fire someone because they are attracted to women other than their wife. It is wrong to fire someone simply because they suffer from alcoholism. It is wrong to fire someone because they are tempted to bend accounting laws in order to pay lower taxes. These are all attractions, temptations and feelings, which many people have to suppress in order to live honestly and in accord with truth. Even if a person fails and falls for one of these temptations, it may not be grounds for termination. If a teacher cheats on his or her spouse, but regrets the decision and makes every effort to avoid it again and pursue holiness once again, he or she should be forgiven and given a 2nd chance. If a teacher is caught shoplifting, but makes every effort to avoid shoplifting again and maybe even returns the property or pays for it, he or she should be given a second chance.
But Mr. Eledge has not simply fallen to a temptation, he has chosen a lifestyle that embraces the temptation. In fact, he has chosen to keep violating the teachings of his employer without any effort to turn back and try to live a life that is consistent with Catholic teachings. This is an example to the students, and it is an example that cannot be allowed within any school that wishes to be known as a Christian school. Our society criticizes professional athletes who act in a way that “sets a bad example” for our youth. But the same society is supposed to turn a blind eye when the person setting the bad example is a trained educator who works with our child more closely in most cases than we do as parents? That is a double standard and we need to realize that our high school teachers usually have more influence on our child’s life than the point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers.
This petition is just another example of the intolerance of the LGBT agenda, the progressives, the liberals and all the others who stand for hypocrisy. They all preach acceptance and tolerance, but they themselves go on an aggressive attack when someone has the courage to simply disagree with them. The LGBT community is ruled by loud and aggressive activists who engage in blatant tactics designed to strike fear in anyone who dares to disagree with them. They are not bothered by things like facts, truth or reason. The LGBT activists simply want you to accept and celebrate their agenda, regardless of the consequences, regardless of the truth and without any respect for your personal belief. To them, anything less than total acceptance is unacceptable.
Here is my advice for those who wish to criticize the Catholic Church or any Catholic School who does not hire a person who does not have any interest in respecting Catholic teaching or who chooses to openly live a lifestyle that is in direct contradiction with Catholic teaching: If you are not Catholic, study up and respect what you learn. If you are Catholic, study up and respect what you learn. Great books to start with are the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. But don’t stop there. Read reports on the medical risks of homosexual behavior. Do not just read those reports which seem to suggest homosexual behavior is awesome. Read even those studies and reports that talk about the high rate of rectal cancer among men who have sex with men. Read the reports which show that the rate of domestic violence is much higher in homosexual relationships than in heterosexual relationships. Read the studies that show that same-sex relationships are shorter, involve more infidelity and end in separation or divorce much more frequently than traditional marriages. After that, engage your intellect and see what make sense. Does is make sense that some in the LGBT community claim that same-sex marriage is the answer to the current decline in marriage and family in the U.S? Does it make sense that some in the LGBT community define commitment to include open relationships when those of us in traditional marriage define commitment to mean monogamy? I could go on, but if you make the effort to truly examine this issue, you will see that the Catholic Church is right and has been right for nearly 2000 years. It is the culture which is going off the rails.