In post after post over the years, GetReligion writers have commented on why it’s crucial for reporters to explore the contents of doctrinal and lifestyle covenants at private schools.
In most cases, these are actual documents that students and faculty sign before they enroll or are employed. These covenants regulate who teaches, who attends and doctrinal guidelines for their behavior while affiliated with this voluntary, faith-based association.
Think of it as keeping the brand pure.
There’s been a zillion stories about teachers at (usually Catholic) schools who sleep with members of the opposite sex or come out as gay or do something that breaks the covenant and, lo and behold, their institution fires them. And the person reporting on all this never mentions that — before starting work at this school — the teacher or professor signed a document promising to strive to live according to a doctrinal covenant.
If a private school has a covenant, that’s part of the story. If a private school doesn’t have a covenant, that’s part of the story as well.
This past week, a newspaper made history (I joke, but barely) by running a story about a religious private school that (trigger warning) included an actual reference to a covenant.
I am talking about this story that ran in the Seattle Times. Yes, the headline does talk about the ‘anti-gay policy’ at a high school just north of the city. Then there is this:
When students returned to the classrooms at King’s High School in Shoreline last week, something was missing.
Several beloved teachers were no longer there. At least five either felt pushed out or voluntarily quit the private, interdenominational Christian school over summer break in protest of an administrative mandate that they perceived as requiring them to disavow same-sex relationships, both on the job and in their personal lives — and they objected to anti-gay language from Jacinta Tegman, the new leader of King’s parent organization, CRISTA Ministries. …