St. Louis: Catholic School Fires Teacher for Conservatism

News: US News
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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 27, 2019   

Parents outraged as leftist administrators dismiss Dennis Unverferth from teaching

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ST. LOUIS (ChurchMilitant.com) - A beloved teacher was fired at a Catholic school for showing students a video that was produced by political conservatives.

Dennis Unverferth taught social studies and math at St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic School in Missouri. 

Joseph Duggan, writing for American Greatness, tells how Unverferth was well-loved by students and parents at the grade school. But Unverferth is also politically conservative, Duggan claims, which created some tension with the school's left-leaning administrators.

Unverferth, who taught at the school for some 10 years, was reportedly let go earlier this month after he showed students a four-minute online video by conservative non-profit Prager University titled "Why You Can't Argue with a Leftist."

In the video, comedian Owen Benjamin talks about how liberals and conservatives can argue about politics and the arguments can be productive because they share common goals. But radical leftists, Benjamin argues, cannot take part in constructive debates because they lack common goals with the rest of society.

 

After Unverferth showed the video in the classroom, the school's principal, Juliann Hesed, suspended Unverferth from teaching. A few days later, she sent an email to parents explaining that Unverferth was disciplined for showing students "a politically/racially inappropriate video ... that undermines our work as a Catholic school dedicated to principles of social justice."

A few days after that, Hesed announced that Unverferth would no longer teach at St. Margaret's. She also said she would fill in teaching his history class.

Duggan comments, "Unverferth had been teaching our daughter American history — real history, not ideological nonsense about intersectionality or whatever is the latest feminist fad. What could our self-referential feminist principal possibly teach other than 'herstory?'"

Then, at a school board meeting, Hesed repeatedly refused to answer questions about Unverferth's dismissal. Father Matthew O'Tool, pastor of the St. Margaret of Scotland parish, likewise refused to speak about the matter in the face of numerous questions from parents and even board members.

After Unverferth was dismissed, parents at St. Margaret's began mobilizing in opposition — with some families boycotting donation to the school and even the parish.

In his article, Duggan mentions that liberal-minded families at St. Margaret's, and even a Muslim family with a son at the school, were upset with Unverferth's dismissal.

Duggan calls this ironic, writing, "A Muslim immigrant family defends the conservative teacher, while the self-described Catholic pastor and principal humiliate him and destroy his career."

Church Militant reached out to St. Margaret's looking for more information, but did not receive a response by press time.

A Muslim immigrant family defends the conservative teacher, while the self-described Catholic pastor and principal humiliate him and destroy his career.

This news comes around the same time as President Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for free speech on college campuses.

The executive order was signed by the president on March 21. It requires colleges and universities to promote free speech on campus or risk losing federal funding for research.

According to Fox News, public universities will have to prove that they abide by the First Amendment in order to receive federal grants, while private institutions will be expected to abide by their own institutional rules governing freedom of expression.

President Trump had announced plans for this executive order on March 2 at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Duggan ties in the issue of free speech at colleges with the recent incident at St. Margaret's, writing, "We lay people as citizens should clamor for our government to protect our free speech and civil rights from left-wing tyranny not only on the college campuses but also in little Catholic grade schools."

He calls for Abp. Robert Carlson of the St. Louis archdiocese to pray for the parish and school, but also to "take action to repair the damage at our parish."

"We need a pastor who is not a politician," Duggan opines. "We need a school principal who is a genuine educator, not a leftist-feminist agitator."

Noting the parish's problems with leftist tendencies, Duggan says a state representative who supports abortion is active in the parish choir.

He points to other teachers at the school who are rumored to be abusive toward students, commenting, "Meanwhile, the woman who bullies and throws chairs at children is still 'teaching' our daughter."

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