RELIGION
06/02/2014 11:21 am ET Updated Jun 02, 2014

Teachers Leave Archdiocese Of Cincinnati Over Controversial 'Morality Clause' In New Contract

A revised teachers' contract in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has forced some teachers to leave their positions even after years of service.

First-grade teacher Molly Shumate and high school English teacher Robert Hague are among the veteran teachers choosing to leave the diocese over a 'morality clause' included in the new contracts. The clause reportedly prohibits teachers, whether Catholic or not, from having sex or living with a partner outside of marriage, using in-vitro fertilization, leading a gay “lifestyle,” or publicly supporting any of the above.

For teachers like Shumate, whose son is gay, the clause threatens to pit teachers against friends and family in order to keep their jobs.

“For me to sign this (contract)," Shumate told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I feel like I would be telling my son I’ve changed my mind, that I don’t support him as I did. And I won’t do that."

Even as a lifelong Catholic and a teacher of 14 years in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Shumate says the morality clause is where she draws a line.

"In my heart, I know I need to go," Shumate told CNN. "I need to find another avenue because I am going to support my son. If in five or 10 years he finds a partner and he wants to be with that person, I'm going to be in the front row with the biggest bouquet."

Cincinnati Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco sees nothing new or unusual in the revised contract, he told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

"Nobody who signed this year's contract or last year's contract should hesitate to sign the 2014-2015 agreement. All say the same thing – that the teacher will not publicly act or speak against the teachings of the Catholic Church."

The Cincinnati branch of Catholic activist group Voice of the Faithful launched a billboard campaign opposing the new contracts with signs saying, "Would Pope Francis sign the new Catholic teacher contract?"

Others call the clause "unnecessary" and "intimidating," including Catholic lawyer Tim Garry who called the document "a contract in search of a problem."

Robert Hague, who has taught high school English for 50 years and is now leaving the archdiocese, told CNN the contract could alienate many more of the current 2,200 current teachers. "It is an embarrassment and a scandal," Hague said, "and will drive even more Catholics away from an institution so out of touch with its times."

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