Kathryn Lopez

Maybe. Maybe not. One way you can reverse a culture's direction is by teaching children differently. At religious schools, where morals-training is part of the package, educators have a unique and powerful opportunity -- and with that comes great responsibility. As Vatican official Archbishop J. Michael Miller, secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, recently explained: "To fulfill their responsibility ... educators in Catholic schools, with very few exceptions, should be practicing Catholics who are committed to the Church and living her sacramental life. Despite the difficulties sometimes involved, those responsible for hiring teachers must see to it that these criteria are met."

The case in Wisconsin isn't the first of its kind, or the first to make headlines. Earlier this year, a single female teacher in New York City found herself pregnant and, before long, the center of controversy. She accused the school of sex discrimination for firing her because of her pregnancy. Anyone who values the protection of human life must hesitate to do or support anything that would discourage anyone with child from having the child -- so the first thing I want to know is whether that teacher was offered any help she needed, by friends, family and church. But the school also has the right to say: We can't have you teaching here if you are having a child out of wedlock. It's not what's we're about.

Catholic schools have the right to be Catholic and -- considering what they contribute -- Americans should want them to be. As Anthony Picarello of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty puts it to me, "Religious schools are where religious groups transmit their message from one generation to the next. And whoever controls hiring controls the message. So keeping the government out of those teacher-hiring decisions is separation of church and state in the best sense."


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.