Yet another church worker claims to have been fired because of sexual orientation in a case which lays bare the homophobia behind such firings.
Joshua Gonnerman said he was fired from a Catholic institution because he is a gay man, reported Melinda Selmys on her blog, Catholic Authenticity.
While Gonnerman has not released the details of his firing, Selmys has offered worthwhile commentary on how these firings are not about sexual behavior, but sexual orientation.
Selmys explained the Gonnerman is publicly celibate because he has decided to adhere to the magisterium’s teaching on same-gender sexual acts. He has also “been publicly involved in helping others to find life-giving ways of living that teaching out.” His support ministry was featured in an article in The Washington Post a few years ago. Selmys wrote:
“I wish I could say that this is the first time that one of my friends has lost work at a Catholic or Christian organization because of their sexual orientation, but it’s not. No amount of public fidelity to the traditional teaching on marriage, nor even the use of terminology like ‘same-sex attracted’ instead of ‘gay,’ has been sufficient to prevent discrimination within conservative Christian institutions. . .In almost all of these cases, they were told directly that their homosexuality was the cause of concern.
“This is why it makes my blood boil when people claim that there is no homophobic discrimination in Christian circles — that Christians discriminate between sinful and unsinful behaviours, not people. I know a lot more queer/SSA Christians than most folks do, and the rate at which I see blatant discrimination against my friends is high enough that nobody will ever be able to convince me that this is a rare or freakish occurrence: the work of occasional, isolated individuals rather than a symptom of systemic prejudice.”
In Selmys’ analysis,these firings are not about an ethical double-standard where heterosexual church workers are not policed in the same way that lesbian and gay people are. They are not about lesbian and gay people whose consciences lead them to dissent from the magisterium’s prohibition on same-gender sexual acts. They are really about communicating a non-welcome to LGBTQ Christians. In Selmys’ words: “that we are seen as dangerous outsiders even if we choose obedience to the teaching of the Church.”
In another post on the Catholic Authenticity blog, Selmys further engaged homophobia in the church. She acknowledged that there are numerous church workers who use contraception, yet they are never challenged “because everybody knows that if the Church suddenly fired everyone who uses contraception we would face a Catholic [church worker crisis].” Heterosexual Catholics are not expected to be perfect in their adherence to Catholic teachings about sexuality, and yet:
“[W]hen it comes to homosexuality, suddenly that’s no longer okay. If you’re gay you can expect to subjected to an inquisition by random internet trolls. . .You may be called upon at any time to publicly endorse the most harshly worded phrases from random Vatican documents concerning your sexuality. You might be literally asked to sign a document confirming your acceptance of the Church’s teaching before you can rent space in the parish hall.
“If you’re gay, the usual ways that Catholics deal with sexual desire are no longer sufficient: you must be constantly on guard against every vestige of homosexuality, and your sole purpose in life must be the crucifixion of same-sex Eros. Anything less and you’re a heretic who is probably being paid by George Soros to advance the gay agenda.”
More than 60 church workers have lost their jobs in publicly known LGBT-related disputes since 2008. You can find a listing, along with other information about employment issues, by clicking here.
Joshua Gonnerman’s firing underlines a point LGBT advocates have made before: that these firings are not about same-gender relationships or support for marriage equality, but are fundamentally about homophobia in the church and its effects. That even queer Catholics who are supportive of church teaching are beginning to speak out against these injustices is a major step forward.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, June 26, 2017