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For week ended August 01, 1999 Posted 8 Aug 1999

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Mennonite college within its rights to fire Mormon

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Mennonite college within its rights to fire Mormon
Toronto Canada National Post 31Jul99 L1
Mennonite college within its rights to fire Mormon

WINNIPEG -- Esther Schroen was hired by the Steinbach Bible College in 1991 as an accounting clerk. Two days later she was fired, when the school found out that Schroen, who was raised Mennonite, was no longer a member of their faith, but had joined the LDS Church. Schroen filed an appeal with the Winnipeg Human Rights Commission, and recently an adjudicator named by the commission ruled against her, saying the school had "a bona fide and reasonable requirement" that employees be Mennonite.

Now, the Human Rights Commission is upset with the decision. Chairman Kenneth Filkow said that the commission is reviewing the decision carefully "to determine whether it is one which would be limited to the specific fact situation at this bible college." Filkow said that the commission worries that other schools will adopt the reasoning used in this decision to discriminate against those not of the majority religion, "The commission is greatly concerned that a broader interpretation of the decision may lead to the type of employment requirements by religious institutions which, in the commission's view, would be unacceptable and contrary to accepted human rights principles."

The adjudicator, Donald Knight, observed that the two religions are very different, "It is very clear that the dichotomy between the Evangelical Anabaptist Mennonite faith and the faith of the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints is diametrically opposed," said Knight.

He based his decision not on the duties of an accounting clerk, but on the "understood" duties of all the employees of the school. "It was generally understood and a basic premise at SBC that all employees, be they teachers, staff, support staff or executives, would involve themselves and regularly attend chapel prayer meetings, attend the school retreat held each year, have students to their homes for group bible study sessions, attend the school cafeteria to have meals with students and be available at any time to discuss faith matters with students."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information