A teacher at a Roman Catholic middle school in Montana was fired by the administration for getting pregnant out of wedlock.
Despite the fact that Shaela Evenson was “an excellent teacher,” according to Principal Kerrie Hellyer, superintendent Patrick Haggarty said she was obligated to fire Evenson for failing to uphold a Catholic lifestyle.
Haggerty called the teacher’s pregnancy “a willful decision to violate the terms of her contract.”
"The Catholic moral teaching is that the sacrament of marriage is a holy union between a man and a woman," Haggarty said. "And we certainly believe and we teach our children who attend our schools about the sacrament of marriage. That's as old as our church. Not only do we teach that to the children kindergarten through 12th grade, but we're held to that standard as well."
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Evenson had been teaching literature and P.E. to middle schoolers for eight years at Butte Central, part of the Diocese of Helena.
According to Dan Bartleson, a diocese spokesman, the administration doesn’t pry into teachers' personal lives, but when Evenson’s pregnancy came to light, it had no choice but to act.
"A Catholic school teacher enters into an agreement not only with the district but with parents and teachers ... to follow a lifestyle in line with Catholic teachings," Bartleson told the Montana Standard. “When (Evenson’s) choices became public, the administration had to act.”
Some Catholics have rallied behind the teacher, protesting Haggarty’s decision and leaving supportive tweets for Evenson under hashtag #JusticeForShaela. Others have protested the logic behind the decision in Evenson's circumstances, since choosing abortion would clearly defy Catholic doctrine.
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According to the Standard, Evenson has hired a lawyer in Cincinnati, Brian Butler, and will be pursuing legal action against the diocese.