“He who sings, prays twice—so whoever leads the singing is central to church worship,” Daniel Blomberg, senior counsel at Becket, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Allowing the government to entangle itself in the relationship between a church and its ministers runs headlong into the wall between church and state,” he said.
Demkovoch initially filed an employment discrimination lawsuit, which was rejected by a district court in 2017. Then he sued again, claiming that he was the victim of a hostile work environment, according to court documents.
Demokovich alleged that he was targeted for harassment because of his sexual orientation and medical issues. The work environment, he said, damaged his physical and mental health.
In August, Demkovich won his case against the archdiocese before a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The divided panel ruled that the parish couldn’t be immune from a hostile workplace lawsuit because of religious freedom claims.
However, the full court vacated that decision and reheard the case on Tuesday.
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Becket argued that the prior ruling conflicts with the court’s previous decisions on religious freedom, as well as those of other federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the Supreme Court’s July, 2020 decision in Our Lady of Guadalupe v. Morrissey-Berru, the high court found that religious institutions are not subject to employment discrimination law when they hire or fire “ministers” of religion.
“Courts nationwide have consistently ruled that the government doesn’t get to inject itself into the church-minister relationship,” Blomberg added. “Churches, not judges or government officials, should control who stands at the pulpit or in front of the choir.”