Southwestern seminary files motion against dismissed professor's suit

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Apr 11, 2007.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    http://www.abpnews.com/www/2002.article

    Southwestern seminary files motion against dismissed professor's suit

    By Hannah Elliott
    Published: April 11, 2007

    FORT WORTH, Texas (ABP) -- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has filed a motion to dismiss the gender-discrimination lawsuit that former professor Sheri Klouda brought against the school.

    Filed in a federal court April 9, the motion argues the suit should be dismissed because seminary officials' decision to dismiss Klouda is protected by the First Amendment.

    "The seminary's relationship with its professors has been held by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to be the same relationship as a church with its ministers," the motion said. "Any decision the seminary may take regarding the employment of one of its professors is an ecclesiastical decision, which this court is bound to accept out of deference for the free exercise of religion, protected by the First Amendment."

    The motion also refuted each of Klouda's claims of breach of contract, fraud, defamation, and promissory estoppel. A county clerk said the court would respond to the request by April 16.

    Klouda, who was hired in 2002 to teach Hebrew in a tenure-track position at the Fort Worth school, lost her job last year, allegedly because of her gender. She sued the school March 8.

    In the suit, Klouda said Paige Patterson, who became Southwestern's president in 2003, personally assured her the advent of his administration would not jeopardize her position. However, school officials told her in 2004 she would not get tenure.

    Van McClain, chair of the school's board of trustees, explained in a letter posted on a Southern Baptist blog that Klouda "did not have tenure and, like hundreds of professors around the U.S. every year, was told that she would not be awarded tenure."

    Public outcry at the dismissal, reported not only in Baptist news outlets but also in the Dallas and Fort Worth daily newspapers, the Associated Press and Religion News Service, has given the issue unexpected national prominence.

    The seminary terminated Klouda's contract in December 2006, and she now teaches at Taylor University in Upland, Ind.
     
  2. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    7,406
    Likes Received:
    99
    bpnews.net has the same article with, um, a bit different spin.

    It is interesting that in the asking for dismisal for the fraud charge the seminary says that President Patterson's verbal guarantee "lacks sufficient definition" under Texas law. Again I think we can see that this admnistration is content to hide behind the parameters of the law to satisfy their personal preferences. If, as Dr. Klouda contends, Dr. Patterson did say to her that she had nothing to worry about insofar as losing her position than that is fraud, or lying to her.

    Also Van McClain is quoted as saying this: "I do not know of any women teaching in any of the SBC seminaries presently in the area of theology or biblical languages." I wonder how different the School of Education is at SWBTS and why they, who are training pastors, are different from the school of theology?

    The reality is that though the women who have taught in the Price School do teach educational practice, there is an element of theological education that goes on in those classrooms. How is that different from what happens in a Hebrew classroom?

    A few examples of women teaching in the Price School of Education Ministries at Southwestern (all of which are fine instructors and I have no problem with them instructing):

    Dr. Esther Diaz-Bolet http://www.swbts.edu/faculty/ediazbolet/
    Karen Kennemur http://www.swbts.edu/faculty/kkennemur/
    Dr. Margaret Lawson http://www.swbts.edu/faculty/mlawson/
    Marcia McQuitty http://www.swbts.edu/faculty/mmcquitty/
    Dr. Terri Stoval http://www.swbts.edu/faculty/tstovall/
    Dr. Dana Wicker http://www.swbts.edu/faculty/dwicker/
     
    #2 preachinjesus, Apr 12, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2007
  3. Martin

    Martin
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2005
    Messages:
    5,228
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is a new low for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I am grieved by their actions and their refusal to admit they erred. I am also disturbed by Dr. Patterson's "home" and the new "chapel" they are building. These things seem very materialistic. There is nothing wrong with a nice chapel but extremes are extremes and that plan is extreme in my mind. See the plans here.
     
  4. go2church

    go2church
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2002
    Messages:
    4,304
    Likes Received:
    6
    How sad is that Southwestern and Pope Paige are looking to legal arguments to defend themselves rather then doing the proper and moral thing and standing by their word?

    My how the mighty have fallen, the once shining beacon of Baptist education, is now nothing more then a fundamentalist flashlight concerned more with perception and appearance.
     
  5. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    There is no law against doing right. What surprises me is the naivete of the newly hired faculty.

    One is only concerned with appearance and image when what is hidden underneath is not genuine.

    A facade is put up in an effort to hide what is behind and make itr appear to be something it is not.

    We are waiting for the smear campaign through the news and blogs as this elevates.
     
    #5 gb93433, Apr 12, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2007
  6. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    6,659
    Likes Received:
    190
    Although I am not an attorney or trained legal scholar, I suspect that SWBTS will have this suit thrown out on the basis of the First Amendment's separation of church and state.

    While I thoroughly appreciate the protections offered by our First Amendment toward religious institutions being able to hire and fire persons based on the convictions of the religious group, I am once again appalled at the way the Southern Baptist leadership has treated persons who serve under their authority. A few years ago they trumped up charges of "liberalism" to justify their abuse and now that they more tightly control everything, they don't even bother coming up with much of a cover story.

    Every professor at a seminary teaches theology (at least, I hope they do) in their classes. To be consistent, they need to get rid of all the women who teach at the seminary.
     
  7. amity

    amity
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Messages:
    811
    Likes Received:
    0
    I imagine the clauses exempting churches from equal opportunity in hiring practices would cover this case better if Dr. Klouda had not been hired in the first place. The fact is she was hired, and then the seminary changed its policy mid-stream through no fault of hers. This affected her career, and she has damages.
     
    #7 amity, Apr 12, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2007
  8. tinytim

    tinytim
    Expand Collapse
    <img src =/tim2.jpg>

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2003
    Messages:
    11,250
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree with amity..
    They are inconsistant to say the least, and hypocritical at the worst.

    If you are against women teaching men, then don't hire them.
    After you hire them you should be held accountable as an employer.

    I personally have no problems with women teaching. God has gifted them, let them use their gifts. Of course this could be the ABC coming out of me...
     
  9. guitarpreacher

    guitarpreacher
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2005
    Messages:
    759
    Likes Received:
    0
    I had an experience similar to this in the secular world. After I had been with the company for around 6 months the owner just decided to change the way I was to get paid, much to his advantage. Long story short, we went to court and the judge almost laughed him out of the courtroom. When you hire someone to do a job, you pretty much have to do what you say you're going to do.

    They checked Dr. Klouda's qualifications and credencials and deemed her qualified to do the job. Gave her the job and watched her perform the job very well. And then they fired her, the only reason being she is a woman.
    And now they're going to try to defend that in a secular court?

    I can hear it now: "Yes your Honor, that's all true, but it's okay. See, we're Baptist!"

    And how hard is it going to be for Dr. Klouda's attorney's to produce hundreds of examples of women teaching men in SBC churches all over the country? So the "Baptist distinctive" argument won't last 5 minutes under examination.
     
  10. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    6,659
    Likes Received:
    190
    It won't... but, in my opinion, the court system does not have the right to examine the methods/corruption of the SBC's employment practices.

    A number of years ago, the government went after SWBTS regarding employment practices (SWBTS didn't have enough minorities to meet the quotas that the government wanted). Southwestern sued and eventually (and rightly) won that battle on the basis of the separation of church and state in 1981. While I certainly believe that it would be better for SWBTS to have more minorities teaching and also have a biblical and Christian attitude regarding their employees, I do not believe that they are required to do it under the Constitution.

    I believe that legally, they are allowed to fire any of their employees or dismiss any student based on race, gender, sexual orientation, so-called "morals" issues - including stuff that is simply based on rumor, alleged insubordination, or the whim of the board of trustees or president.

    Given that expansive freedom under the Constitution, it is no wonder that there has been so much corruption, defamation and slander regarding the faculty and staff at SBC institutions over the years. Those who decide to be liars and abusers don't run much risk of being held accountable except in the court of SBC opinion... and since they also control and edit the content of Baptist Press and the PR departments of every institution, there's not much chance of that happening.

    But the bloggers are changing that dynamic...
     
    #10 Baptist Believer, Apr 12, 2007
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2007
  11. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    As I see it from the outside there are two issues here.

    1. The way that SWBTS treated Klouda.
    2. The way that Klouda as responded.

    As to #1, they may be responding poorly. They should not have promised her a tenure track professorship. IMO, no one should be promised that. It is in effect the removal of accountability and integrity. Furthermore, given the teaching they believe on women pastors and teachers, they should not have promised her a position.

    As to #2, Klouda is in direct and open disobedience to 1 Corinthians 6 that commands her to take her grievances to the church and suffer herself to be defrauded rather than create a spectacle in the church.

    Having said that, why shouldn't SWBTS file a motion to dismiss the suit? It seems obvious from the outside that neither party is interested in settling the matter biblically. If Klouda files suit, she and her supporters can hardly complain that SWBTS does.
     
  12. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    6,659
    Likes Received:
    190
    In this situation, who is "the church?" In theory, it is the messengers of the SBC, but as I think we all know, almost everything that happens at the conventions is choreographed and tightly controlled by the chair, who takes his marching orders from the entrenched SBC leadership who are very heavily influenced/controlled by the person (Mr. Patterson) who's actions precipitated the lawsuit.

    There have been many other people wronged over the past 30 years in the name of "doctrinal accountability", "inerrancy", the fight against so-called "liberalism", etc., but the majority of the SBC has never shown much backbone or interest in questioning the leadership, especially Dr. Patterson.

    I don't think Klouda can realistically take her case to "the church" and expect any sort of fair treatment.

    While I have enormous sympathy toward Ms. Klouda and think she has been horribly wronged, I don't think she can appropriately sue according to the protections of the Constitution. I've carefully read her complaint, but I didn't see anything that would make this anything but a First Amendment Constitutional issue, which she will lose due to a straight-forward interpretation of separation of church and state and the precedent set by the case law established regarding SWBTS in 1981.
     
  13. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    The church is the church in which they are members. It seems to me this is precisely the kind of situation contemplated by 1 Cor 6. Surely these SWBTS faculty are members of churches and those churches should be practicing church discipline and accountability over its members. If not, shame on them.

    I haven't seen anything to convince me Klouda has been "horribly wronged." But then I am not invested in this in anyway since I am not in the SBC and have no affiliation with them.

    Given the recent history of the SBC's turn back towards the Scripture in some matters, this should not be a surprise. Perhaps Klouda picked this issue to try to make an issue of it. I don't know. I think it is shameful that politics are being played.
     
  14. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    6,659
    Likes Received:
    190
    But their local church has no authority over SWBTS.

    I would disagree. I've always understood this passage to assume that both parties in the lawsuit are members of the local expression of the church, not in a 19th-century style denominational structure with a highly-centralized authority that is now largely accountable only to itself. (I think the convention system is no longer feasible or helpful in today's culture.)

    Being fired on the basis of gender after an allegedly Christian brother and leader had given you his word regarding the matter, counts as "horribly wronged" to me. Granted, She hasn't yet received the character assasination that has been so common among many previous targets of the SBC leadership, but she was placed in a very difficult position because of their actions.

    I appreciate your straightforwardness regarding your lack of experience with these people. As someone who has been closely associated with SWBTS for the last 17 years, I think I might be in a better position to analyze the situation. :)

    I would think that a true turn toward scripture would result in integrity and openness in all of their dealings... Instead, we have seen mostly the "works of the flesh" for the last 20 or so years. We are called to judge people and movements by their fruits.

    Political games have been the heart and soul of the so-called "conservative resurgence" from the beginning. Before that, mainstream Baptists played a much less aggressive form of politics to perpetuate the good-ole-boy club of denominational leadership and avoid schisms over doctrinal disputes.

    Both types of leadership have been wrong, but the so-called "conservative resurgence" has been incredibly destructive.
     
  15. dan e.

    dan e.
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Messages:
    1,468
    Likes Received:
    0
    If SWBTS is "the church", then God help us. Educational institutions are NOT "the church". I think as an educational institution, they are not acting as a church, but an organization. I Cor. 6 is not equivolent to this situation.
     
  16. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    But the local church has authority over the members. The seminary didn't do anything wrong. By definition, it can't. So whatever was done wrong was done by a person. If a church member engages in dishonest business practices, he is liable for church discipline.

    I don't think the convention ever was a biblical approach. But I don't think that 1 Cor 6 is limited only to both people being members of the same church, though I recognize that some do. But even that, before filing suit in court, you go to the other church and ask the pastor or pastors to get involved.

    But if she desired to do something unbiblical, and the leadership promised to allow her to do something unbiblical, and then the leadership repented and changed their mind, that is not "horribly wrong." Furthermore, being fired from a job is not "horribly wrong" anyway. So I am not greatly familiar with this, but it doesn't seem "horribly wrong" by any standard.

    You may well be. But you are also emotionally involved, and that does not always produce sound objective judgment.

    The SBC is filled with problems to be sure.

    No, I think it was political before as well.

    The truth is that the "resurgence" was necessary only because of sin. It has not yet gone far enough. The SBC probably won't be fixed. It is not a biblical structure and has probably outlived its usefulness.
     
  17. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is one of the problems of the SBC structure. But the people who lead the institution are members of churches. This is where a more robust ecclesiology would better serve us, IMO.
     
  18. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    6,659
    Likes Received:
    190
    I agree 100%.
     
  19. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    I am more inclined to think as you. But in a practical sense who is the church in this case? Within the SBC there is not any procedure for dealing with wrongs as in a church. I am confident if it were brought to the convention whom SWBTS is supposed to serve then there would be quite a number of folks who would want Klouds righted and get rid of the nonsense in the SBC. Many have left the SBC with no way of dealing with the lack of godly leadership and full of integrity.
    Who dealt with the trustees who lied to the press when Dilday was fired? Nobody. Who held them accountable for their actions and words? Nobody. It is not an example of godliness in actions. It is an example of a religious organization run as a democracy. In a democracy the greatest number wins. It has nothing to do with godliness.
     
  20. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    GB,

    That's because the churches in which these people are members do not take this stuff seriously. If people lie, you deal with it through church discipline.
     

Share This Page

Loading...