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Friday, 6 February 2015

Persecution Watch 1,003

Of course this ministerial exception is contingent on the fact that Catholic schools are actually promoting the Truth of Catholic teachings. Earlier this week, after decades of dissent on many Catholic college campuses, the federal government—through the NLRB—has stepped in to assess whether the employees of Catholic colleges and universities are actually contributing to the religious mission of these institutions by “performing religious functions.” This is a new standard for evaluating religious objections to federal board oversight that was implemented in a unionization decision in December at Pacific Lutheran University. The NLRB knows that if the faculty actually uphold and advance Catholic teachings, these colleges may be viewed by the Courts as performing a religious function. But, it is likely that the labor board knew otherwise—and on January 6, 2015, the NLRB issued a “Certification of Representation” allowing adjunct professors and lecturers at St. Mary’s College of Moraga, California, to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). This ruling by the NLRB that employees of Catholic colleges are not expected to uphold Catholic values and doctrine and advance the college’s Catholic mission is an important development in Catholic higher education. In the Manhattan College decision, the NLRB claimed that “public representations of Manhattan College clearly demonstrate that it is not providing a religious educational environment.” Ruling that Manhattan College did not qualify as religious institution deserving of an exemption, the NLRB pointed out that although Manhattan frequently cites its Lasallian tradition in describing itself in its public documents, these references are made in “purely secular terms.”  Noting that Manhattan College’s own admission brochure does not even include any reference to the Catholic Church or Catholicism, the NLRB issued a 26-page report which concluded that the college cannot claim a religious affiliation in an effort to prevent the unionization of its employees.