Richard Hague has been a teacher at Purcell Marian, a Catholic school in the Cincinnati area, for forty-five years, but the new contract the Archdiocese of Cincinnati wants him to sign, one that prohibits public support for causes the Catholic Church opposes, most notably same-sex marriage, has him at odds with the church because he won’t sign it, and he won’t leave his position at the school voluntarily either.
Hague, who is not gay, wrote a letter expressing his position to the superintendent of Catholic schools, saying, in part:
"I simply cannot believe that Jesus would require me to condemn my friends, nor that Jesus would require me to report any of my colleagues who supported, even loved, gay persons, nor do I believe for a moment that Jesus would punish me for my earlier ministry.”
Well, we all know it isn’t Jesus who created the new homophobic contract, it’s the Catholic Church; I think Jesus would have an entirely different opinion. Even Pope Francis might have a different opinion, a question posed by "Voice of the Faithful," a lay Catholic group, in a billboard campaign about the new contracts.
And now, former students of Hague’s are planning a rally outside archdiocesan offices to protest the contract and show solidarity with their teacher. One such student, Jason Brown, says it’s a losing game to allow teachers like Hague to quit, or be terminated, over this new contract:
"He dedicated 45 years of his life to teaching kids in an urban school. He taught poetry and creative writing. He taught you how to think outside the box and really be your own person. If we lose that, we lose everything.”
Mindy Burger, a teacher at Nativity School, also in Cincinnati, is one teacher who has refused to sign the new contract, while Molly Shumate has said she will leave her longtime teaching job rather than sign the new contract because she has a gay son. And Mike Moroski lost his teaching job because he came out in support of marriage equality.
So far, the Archdiocese said nine teachers have rejected the contract, but 80% of teachers have signed it; another 20% have yet to be presented with the new contract.
Let me get this queer: Richard Hague is a straight teacher who loves teaching, and has been doing so at the same school, without incident, for forty-five years now. He simply wants to be able to teach, and mentor, and guide his students, gay or straight, through this important phase of their lives and he’s being asked to be silent about it.
If you ever had any doubts about the need to strengthen the Separation of Church and State mindset in this country, this is a prime example: churches firing teachers because of their politics. Or, even worse, asking them to be silent in order to keep their jobs.