A math teacher who said in an online survey that she did not believe in God has been fired by an Iowa Catholic school after her views were discovered on her Facebook profile and after officials found she had posted a comment at an atheist website.
Last August the teacher, 27-year-old Abby Nurre, who had just been hired to teach eight-grade math at St. Edmond School in Fort Dodge, checked â€œnoâ€ in a Facebook survey about whether she believed in God, heaven and angels. Then in November she posted a link to a news article about federal funding of research on prayer in an online discussion forum run by atheists.
In December, five weeks after that posting, a student brought printouts of the websites to school officials, and Nurre was fired. The Catholic school, backed by the bishops of Iowa, also sought to deny Nurre unemployment benefits, which prompted a court hearing that concluded in her favor this week. She will still not be able to return to St. Edmond School, however.
â€œEach one of our teachers signs a contract when they are hired and one of the first things on the contract is the condition that they have to uphold our faith and teachings,â€ Kristie Arlt, director of communication for the Diocese of Sioux City, which covers Fort Dodge, told Politics Daily. Arlt said it did not matter that she taught math and not religion or a subject directly related to faith or morals.
â€œWe have wonderful teachers who are not Catholics â€” some are Lutherans â€” but they cannot willingly and publicly take a stand against the Catholic faith. So this should not have been a surprise to her [Nurre].â€â€¦
â€œThere were printouts of the Facebook page and of that Nexus group that the kids actually had,â€ he said. â€œWhen students in a Catholic school are running around the school with this survey and it says, â€˜Do you believe in God?â€™ and it says, â€˜No,â€™ well, thatâ€™s in conflict with what we are teaching.â€
The Week, June 11, 2010, p. 6