Out of the Mouth of … a TV Anchor?

Sunday night news on our local Fox affiliate, and a couple stories received more in-depth treatment than usual. One such was a story about a Christian school that “fired” eleven employees because of their doctrine. (Inwardly I groaned. Another story bashing Christians?)

As it turned out, the school’s sponsoring church made the decision to become more involved in the school’s operation and to change a perceived lax hiring policy that allowed others with differing doctrines to work in the school. Consequently four teachers did not have their contracts renewed and seven other staff were let go.

The news show interviewed a number of people involved, including the principal. The staff members themselves were not the issue, she said repeatedly. Rather it was the doctrines they and the churches they attend espouse in a couple key areas.

After this thorough (for television) treatment of the story, the news program then had three guests to discuss the issue (should a school fire teachers who don’t believe the same way as the sponsoring church).

The first was one of the teachers who lost her job. Second was a clergyman from one of the churches that disagree doctrinally with the sponsoring church, and third was a representative of a religious school system in the same community (the particular school/church at the heart of the discussion declined an invitation to have a representative included).

The teacher was articulate and described the situation without rancor. She said that the changes were first presented to the staff back in January. She didn’t know at first if the new policy would apply to her. If I remember correctly, she’d been on staff for fourteen years. Another teacher had been with the school for twenty-two years.

The clergyman was equally well-spoken. He presented a case for unity and for not letting non-essential doctrines divide Christians. The representative of the religious school system said they have no doctrinal requirements of their staff. In fact, they would hire a Hindu or a Buddhist as long as they were committed to accomplishing the school’s core mission. (And what would that mission be, I wondered.)

In the end, after the teacher had answered another question and the clergyman had answered another question, the anchor who was doing the asking said, It’s all about whether Christ is preached, isn’t it? It’s all about whether Christ is preached.

OK … I sat there unsure I’d heard him correctly. But he repeated it. What a very Christian thing to say (“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed. And in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice” – Phil. 1:18), and it came, not from the Christian teacher or the clergyman or the religious school system spokesman. It came from the TV anchor.

Now I’m wondering what kind of feedback he’s received.

Published in: on August 16, 2010 at 5:43 pm  Comments (5)  
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  1. Wow. Interesting that they spent so much news time on it. Also interesting how the anchor was the one able to boil it down to what’s important.

    I actually went on a bit of teary rant to my husband this evening. We’ve been having a lot of divorces in our church, likewise, we’ve had some sermons and discussions on the man’s role versus the woman’s. I was ranting about how sometimes it seems the church (not just mine) ‘has all the answers’. If you do x, y, z everything will turn out grand. So we do x, y, and z, yet life throws a curve ball and things don’t turn out as promised.

    Those pat answers can be a form of legalism, I’ve decided. Instead of trusting Christ, we trust ‘the process’. We lose site of what’s (Who’s) important.


  2. I’m a Baptist, and this a lot like the whole doctrinal issue over the “Baptist Bride” thing that some Baptist seem to think is scripturally legitimate and all it is, is really legalistic. My family once attended this one church for a couple years when I was a kid, but there was this group in that church that believed that only Baptists would sit on the right hand side of God, while the rest of the saved Christians would be somewhere else, probably sitting in pews or something. Well, my parents completely disagreed with that, and they ended up being persona non grata with those church members. So, my parents left this church, and ever since then, get upset over every little legalistic thing that pops up at whatever church they attend. I personally would rather just focus on Christ and trust in Him.


  3. Jessica, I was amazed that they were spending so much time on it, too. (The other story that they treated with more depth than usual was a tragic accident on a race course that killed a number of people. Sensationalism, I thought. They’re spending so much time on the story because of the tears and fears and finger-pointing that ensued. So when they came to the Christian school story, I cringed, thinking it would end up much the same way.

    It really didn’t. But as you said, it took the news anchor to get to the heart of what we as believers should hold to be true.

    However, to answer you and cliffball about the rules side of the story, the thing that seemed clear was that this was not a legalistic move. It was an instructional one. The sponsoring church wanted teachers who would teach their doctrine. They wanted teachers who were going to Bible-based churches.

    One of the questions the anchor asked the canned teacher was, How would you handle questions from your students about a doctrine with which you disagree? She was very good in her answer, I thought. First she pointed out that she taught a 3rd/4th grade combination class, so questions about doctrine would not be plentiful, but if any arose concerning doctrines she believed differently, she said she would refer the child to his parents or to someone in the church, such as the pastor.

    The whole thing was done without finger-pointing or accusation. No one said the church didn’t have the right to insure the students going to their school were instructed in the theology they believed. And no one called the former employees heretics or false teachers.

    The thing is, there was a way to prevent this from happening if the school/church was willing. The new policy could have been implemented for any new hires. Any staff who began work under the previous policies could be asked to sign off that they would not contradict the doctrines of the church/school they worked for, and they could then have retained their positions. As I see it, that would have been a viable third alternative and would still have accomplished what the church/school wished to accomplish.

    Schools are not easy to run in a way that won’t appear legalistic because the fact is, there have to be rules.

    Churches? I think pastors need to teach Scripture. But I’m blessed with a pastor and church leadership that understands the Bible is not a “how to” book of practical advice. Yes, it contains wisdom for how God wants us to live today, but it is all in the context of our relationship with Him. He doesn’t tell us to love without giving us the fruit of the Spirit of which love is a part.

    The marriage/divorce issue, for example, isn’t so much a do this and that and out comes a successful marriage as it is, trust God even when things are looking hopeless and you want out. It’s amazing to me how trusting God changes my perspective on … pretty much anything.



  4. Thanks for the follow up Becky. In light of what you’ve said I find myself thinking “wouldn’t it be nice if that’s all we had to worry about in public schools?”


  5. Great point, Jessica. Public schools lost so much when we decided not to discipline children. They’ve tried to backpedal, but our society doesn’t have the authority of Scripture as the reason for discipline or obedience or moral behavior. That leaves our schools in quite a mess.



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