A Michigan school district says it will change a clause in its employment contract that gives preference to “non-Christian” applicants.
Ferndale Public Schools says it didn’t realize the clause was a part of that contract until it was brought to its attention and that after investigating, it discovered the clause had been placed in at some point in the 1970s.
"I have no idea how that ever got in there, and nobody here does," said Shelley Rose, interim director of communications at Ferndale Public Schools. "We just heard back from legal counsel this morning … there will be new contracts and that language will not be in the new contracts."
The clause specifically reads, “Should there be two (2) or more of these applicants with equal qualifications for the position and one (1) or more of these applicants with equal qualifications is a current employee, the current employee with the greatest seniority shall be assigned. Special consideration shall be given to women and/or minority defined as: Native American, Asian American, Latino, African American and those of the non-Christian faith. However, in all appointments to vacant positions, the Board's decision shall be final.”
Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor has been an outspoken critic of the clause and believes that it goes against the law of the land.
"This just strikes me as so un-American that they can put in open language for people to see that they are going to be discriminating against Christians," said Thompson. "Why would they be discriminating against Christians? They are not supposed to be discriminating against people for their religious beliefs. It's outrageous. And I believe it's unconstitutional. Now, they are going to ask people, 'Are you a Christian?’ Are people going to hide their faith so they can get a promotion? There is a subtle persecution of Christians."
Ferndale Public Schools maintains that it wasn’t aware that the clause even existed until recently, and as of this week, it promises that it is being removed. Michigan State Rep. Tim Kelly has reportedly asked the State Board of Education to investigate, despite the promise of removal by the district.