Parker misunderstands legal issues

02/14/2014 12:02 PM

02/11/2014 11:58 AM

Re "On religious liberty, Obama should listen to himself" (Forum, Feb. 9): I was surprised and disturbed by Kathleen Parker's claim that the government basically asserted a right to decide whom a church hires as a minister. So I skimmed the Supreme Court opinion in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Parker seems to have misunderstood the facts.

Cheryl Perich was a schoolteacher who taught religious and secular subjects. She developed narcolepsy and was eventually fired as a result of this disability. The primary issue in the case was whether Perich qualified as a minister. A finding that she was a minister would permit her to be fired in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because of the ministerial exception.

The government was asserting the right of people with disabilities not to be fired in violation of the ADA. The other cases Parker discusses are similarly nuanced.

-- Donald D. deRosier, Carmichael

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