Susan Rockwell says she wanted to be a Roman Catholic priest, but church doctrine wouldn't allow it. She became a lawyer instead, and is now suing the church in federal court for violating her right to free expression and religion. She also says the federal government illegally subsidizes such discrimination by exempting the church from taxes. It sounds ridiculous, but she cites a legal precedent: the 1983 Supreme Court decision against Bob Jones University. The school, which then forbade interracial dating, lost its tax-exempt status because, the Court said, the government has an "overriding, fundamental interest in eradicating discrimination." Not a problem, says Rutherford Institute president John W. Whitehead. "The Bob Jones decision was predicated upon the broad public policy against racial discrimination in American society," he told Christianity Today. National policy may one day ban sex discrimination in churches, he says, but not now. "In my opinion, this is simply a parasite lawsuit, because certain elements in our society sense that the church is in trouble or an easy target."

Related Elsewhere

See the Associated Press's coverage of Rockwell's lawsuit.

For more coverage of the Catholic church, see Christianity Today'sCatholicism archive.

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