Another Church Musician Is Let Go Because He Is Gay

In what seems to be developing into a national trend, another church worker has been forced out of his job when it was learned that he is gay. (A list of recent incidents involving LGBT people being dismissed from church jobs is below my signature at the end of this blog post.)

Nick Johns

Nick Johns

Nick Johns, who was organist at St. Brigid Church, Alpharetta, Georgia, said that the pastor, Fr. Joshua Allen, suspended him after a parishioner made complaints based on items viewed on Johns’ private Facebook page.

The GA Voice reports:

“ ‘One of the parishioners there was trolling on my Facebook and brought in a couple of pictures of me and my fiance and maybe some of the things I was saying in support of marriage equality,’ Johns said.”

In the news story, and on a blog post that Johns put up to let family, friends, and parishioners know what happened, the musician explains that under the former pastor, his orientation was not a problem:

“Johns came out in 2011, while he was working with another church, he said. When he was hired at Saint Brigid, he was determined to be open about his sexual orientation. But his openness may have cost him his job.

“A meeting with the man who hired him, Monsignor David Talley, followed to discuss his personal Facebook page.

“ ‘We had a meeting to talk about it and he was saying he didn’t care that I was gay because one of his childhood best friends turned out to be gay and they’re still best friends. We were talking about making my profile private. I didn’t know it wasn’t private. I made it private and that was the end of it for a long time,’ Johns told GA Voice.”

When Johns appealed the suspension, he had a meeting with the pastor, and he was given a choice to either be fired or to resign.  He resigned, explaining:

“I’m trying to find another organist position and I figured it would be easier if I wasn’t fired from my previous job.”

Since the dismissal, a new pastor has been appointed for the parish:

“Since Johns’ suspension, Saint Brigid has hired a full-time replacement pastor, meaning the man who fired him is no longer in charge. But Johns doesn’t think he would go back, even under the new leadership.”

When I think of all the LGBT people employed by the Catholic Church in the U.S., most of whom minister while keeping their sexual orientations secret, I can’t help but  see this policy of firing pastoral workers as anything but the institution shooting itself in the foot.  Yes,  it is true that these are discriminatory acts against LGBT people.  Because they are discriminatory, such acts are to be condemned.

At the same time, it strikes me as self-defeating for the institutional church to keep damaging itself by firing competent ministers.  The institutional homophobia is clouding good judgement.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Recent stories of LGBT people dismissed from church positions:

April 17, 2012: Lesbian Teacher Fired for Listing Her Partner’s Name in Her Mother’s Obituary

April 4, 2012: Long Island Gay Catholic Expelled from Parish Ministries for Marrying

January 9, 2013: Transgender Teacher Sues Catholic School Over Firing

September 25, 2012: Fired New Zealand Teacher’s Final and Most Powerful Lesson

August 22, 2012: Catholic John Doe Fears for His Church Job Because of Marriage Equality Contribution

June 28, 2012: Fired Minnesota Catholic School Teacher Calls for Dialogue on Marriage Equality

May 5, 2012:  Excluding Lesbian and Gay Church Workers from Employment

April 29, 2012:  “Whodunit” Surrounds Decision to Disinvite Gay Alum from Commencement

March 1, 2012: Is It Possible to Find Hope in This Week’s Painful News?

February 12, 2012:  Church Music Director Fired For Marrying His Partner of 23 Years

11 replies
  1. Fran Rossi Szpylczyn
    Fran Rossi Szpylczyn says:

    I am waiting for the day when I see the headline that someone is fired for being a straight white man or woman, especially if they are planning their wedding, but live together and talk about it on Facebook. God have mercy, what a wicked people we are. I am so tired of the lack of justice in these cases. (pardon my facetious words…)

    In the meantime, a convicted (!!!!) bishop is still seated in Kansas City, even though the court found him guilty of endangering children. (“Finn also was informed of nude photos of children found on Ratigan’s laptop in December 2010. But instead of turning the photos over to police, Finn sent Ratigan to live at a convent.” You can google it, if you want the link.

    In the Archdiocese of Newark, the Father Fugee case rolls on, with Archbishop Meyers not taking full responsibility for his own actions in this case.

    While I once respected now retired Cardinal Mahony, the sound of his name now fills me with revulsion.

    But… we can’t have a gay organist. Funny – I can’t imagine having one who is not. THAT, is my own internal prejudice.

    Reply
    • Magy Stelling
      Magy Stelling says:

      A very serious question for all who wish to deprive active participation of the LGBT community in Church ministry; why is it you zero in on their sexuality and their ways of performing such acts and not do the same thing when speaking, judging or meeting up with a heterosexual person? Or is it that you judge every human being how, when and where they perform sexually? If so it’s time to see a shrink!!!

      Can you not look at a person as a whole human being with many God given gifts to share?

      As a Catholic do you not realize it is not your place to judge and condemn anyone. When Jesus was crucified and died on the cross he did not leave you in charge, He rose from the dead and and will JUDGE the living and the dead—with out your help. You are not protecting your Church or your Faith by your bullying actions. St. Joseph is the univesal protector of our Church, not you. Your responsibility lies in correcting you own actions and not those of your fellow human beings. That is God’s prerogative and you are not God.

      Oh I have heard all your arguments and quotes from the Bible about correcting “evil deeds” and how you are just loving the person who you perceive as committing sin and how good that is, so don’t start there. Your “loving” just comes across as bullying and is in no way constructive. You are destroying the faith, trust and hope of one of God’s creation not only in the LGBT person but creating, in your self, a legalistic attitude, an attitude much deplored by Jesus. Ponder on that for awhile.

      No, I am not a member of the LGBT. I am a great grand mother who has lived a very long life and experienced cruelties during that time and now I must stand up and say “Enough is enough, so stop the bullying!”

      Reply
  2. Jim
    Jim says:

    As a gay church musician working in a R.C. parish I hate to read of another firing of someone in similar shoes to mine, but we need to be aware. Right now I have a supportive pastor and a lot of parishioners who are okay with who I am and with my 20-year relationship with my significant other. But I know that could change some day. I do push the envelope sometimes on Facebook with my posts and likes, in support of marriage equality, for example. But I feel it’s important for me to be as open and honest as I can about who I am and the things that are important to me. Balancing personal integrity with the need for gainful and meaningful employment is often a challenge for many.

    Reply
  3. Larry Quirk
    Larry Quirk says:

    So why have we not seen the firing of straight church workers and volunteers when they support the death penalty, stockpiling nuclear arms, the war in Afganastan and cuts in government services for the poor? Because even more folks would walk out the door to other denominations and take their money with them. Maybe its time to look at the straight employees and pastors’ facebook pages and send some anonymous letters.

    Reply
  4. Colleen Fay
    Colleen Fay says:

    Well, as a trans woman who was told, in the same breath by the pastor, “I applaud your making this choice to live as a woman, but you’re fired.” His music director, under whom I had sung the previous seven years, said of my continuing to sing, but now as a woman, “I don’t think it will work out.” I was summarily fired from that job and in the same month fired as the cantor for Priests’ retreats for the Archdiocese of Washington, I position I had held for 10 years, Thus ended my 45 year career as a Catholic Church musician. Fired. Caput. Done, No pension or sick leave of course, and not even, “don’t let the door slam behind you. Coincidentally both pastor and music director are closeted gay men. Sic transit gloria ecclesia et mundi.

    Reply

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  1. […] firings of Nicholas Coppola and Carla Hale, while Bondings 2.0 has reported on these and several other cases in recent months that are making LGBT-Catholic relations strained. Gibson quotes Francis […]

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