IndianaNews

Justice Department backs Catholic Church in teacher firing

FILE - In this June 13, 2017 file photo, Bishop Charles Thompson speaks after he is introduced as the new archbishop of Indianapolis in Indianapolis. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis says it no longer will recognize a Jesuit high school as Catholic because it refuses to fire a teacher who's in a same-sex marriage. It says a decree to be issued Friday by Archbishop Thompson states Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School "can no longer use the name Catholic and will no longer be identified or recognized as a Catholic institution." (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department is supporting Catholic Church leaders in Indianapolis who are being sued over the firing of a teacher in a same-sex marriage.

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband says the First Amendment protects the free exercise of religion and gives faith-based schools the right to associate with some people and not others. The government filed a statement Friday in Marion County court.

Joshua Payne-Elliott says the Archdiocese of Indianapolis illegally interfered in his contract with Cathedral High School where he had worked for 13 years. The school fired him in June on orders from the archdiocese. He filed a lawsuit in July.

Payne-Elliott’s spouse, Layton Payne-Elliott, teaches at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis. Brebeuf refused to fire Layton. The archdiocese said it no longer recognizes Brebeuf as a Catholic institution, a decision that has been suspended during the school’s appeal.

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