A Christian school in Colorado told the Supreme Court it can’t be sued for firing a woke teacher who accused the school, parents, and students of racism because it is a religious institution that is beyond the reach of the First Amendment.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution begins, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The case itself involves the so-called ministerial exception that the Supreme Court recognized in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Employment Opportunity Division (2012). The exception prevents employees who carry out religious functions from suing church bodies.
The Supreme Court affirmed the exception in July 2020 when it ruled 7–2 in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause exempts religious organizations from employment discrimination lawsuits, as The Epoch Times reported at the time.
This case, Faith Bible Chapel International (FBCI) v. Tucker, court file 22-741, goes back to 2018.
Then-Chaplain Gregory Tucker angered school officials, students, and their parents at Faith Bible Chapel by lecturing them on “systemic bias” and on their “white privilege,” two controversial concepts associated with the radical “anti-racism” movement. The movement campaigns against so-called hate speech and presses for, among other things, racial sensitivity training in government and corporations in an effort to eradicate perceived white privilege. Critics decry such training as forced ideological reeducation.
Tucker claimed in his original legal complaint (pdf) that the FBCI fired him because he expressed opposition to racial discrimination and harassment directed against him, as a father of a black daughter, and against minority students at the school. Tucker organized a symposium “to discuss racist behavior within the school with the intention of eliminating it.”
Tucker claimed his employment was terminated in February 2018 because he organized the event. The school caved in to pressure from “students and parents who were guilty of the most racially incendiary behavior within the school [and] were offended by the implied message that they were guilty of racism.” The school falsely claimed he was guilty of gross insubordination, the complaint stated.
The school countered in its new petition (pdf) to the Supreme Court that Tucker behaved badly.
“His message accused Faith Christian students and parents of racism, which the message defined in terms of white privilege and systemic bias,” the petition stated. “Many students and parents complained to school leadership that Tucker’s message was political rather than biblical.”