Atheist working at Catholic school

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by teacherin2014, Aug 24, 2015.

  1. teacherin2014

    teacherin2014 Rookie

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    Aug 24, 2015

    I have been looking for a teaching job for 1.5 years with no success. I am dually certified in psychology and social studies, have a masters degree, and finished student teaching with near perfect scores. I have applied for 150 jobs and had 15 interviews, but no job offers. Therefore, I am expanding my search to include college admissions counselor jobs. There is a Catholic college near my house that has an opening, but I am hesitant, because I have been a staunch atheist since the fifth grade. I am also a strong supporter of gay rights and am proudly pro-choice. I also do not believe in marriage and strongly support the use of contraception.

    Does any other atheists have experience working in Catholic schools/colleges? Will I have to sign a morality clause? Will I be forced to attend mass? How do I handle questions regarding religion in possible interviews? Should I even bother applying?

    Thank you in advance.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Catholic schools do hire those of other religions (I'm not sure about atheists). While you might be hired, you'll need to ask yourself if you will be comfortable in a work environment whose philosophy is ingrained into most areas, interactions and culture.
     
  4. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    I have interviewed with a Christian school (I am Christian). They do ask questions about your faith and how you will incorporate that into class activities during the interview. Do you plan to be honest or say what you need to in order to get the job? They will probably have prayers that they expect you participate in. Personally I would not feel comfortable working in a religious school that is different from my beliefs.
     
  5. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    If you are applying to be a teacher, then yes you will have to participate in all of the activities/ceremonies/masses and possibly lead classes in group prayer. If you apply to be a counselor, chances are probably not. You may have to participate in some events and activities, but not to the extent as a teacher and you may not have to be actively involved/engaged.
    Every school varies, and some schools' mission of faith may be stronger than others. In some schools, your religious affiliations may not be an issue, in others it may. You can probably get an idea at the interviews. There are private schools that not religious-affiliated (independent or prep schools). I know someone who isn't really a practicing Catholic (isn't atheist either I don't think), but the school doesn't seem to notice or care and the teacher is ok with participating in everything. The teacher's skills and knowledge and teaching expertise are the priority. This teacher does not teach religion in class and is not asked to.
    I just wouldn't seek too much attention by openly speaking out against the school's philosophy and stating your opinions to the students. When you're signing the contract, you have to abide by their rules and policies whether you believe in them or not.
     
  6. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    How would you feel about attending mass? You would certainly be noticeable if you didn't sit, stand, kneel with the others. Children would probably ask why you don't receive communion. And, as others have mentioned, you would be expected to lead class prayer every day.
     
  7. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Catholic school teacher and Catholic believer - Catholic schools are very happy to hire great teachers, regardless of their beliefs. As long as you are respectful at Catholic events, it shouldn't be an issue.

    We had a lovely Jewish lady as our art teacher - I love and adore her, she is a great mentor, and she retired after last year- and she participated in our ministries and during our faith celebrations. She had students produce art pieces for our chapel and should quietly stand during certain times at Mass.

    During the interviews at my school, the topic of faith did come up, but I never had to talk about it unless I was comfortable sharing.
     
  8. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Our non-Catholic teachers sit and stand when we do, but do not actively pray or sing.

    Maybe it is our school, but even in religion class discussions about other faiths happen all the time, so our students get that not everybody is Catholic or even Christian. We teach respect of all traditions, faiths, and beliefs, even if they are not our own.

    Our Catholic students are use to non-Catholic students/teachers not receiving Communion, so it doesn't come up in conversation.

    As for prayer, that would probably be only if the teacher has a homeroom or has to sub for a homeroom or religion class. I teach science, but I've also taught and subbed for a few religion classes, which I'm comfortable doing since I'm Catholic, however, if a teacher is uncomfortable sharing Catholic prayers with students they might request not subbing/teaching those particular classes if possible.

    Non-Catholic teachers in my school are allowed to let students know they are not Catholic, they are "x y z" but they don't go past that. I don't think the teachers at my school would have a conversation with a student about why they don't believe in God.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I may have missed something, but I didn't see where the OP said they were raised Catholic? (or maybe you were and this is how you would answer?). Again, some thought needs to go into honestly assessing whether one can truly 'support the school's mission'. Botoomline, one shouldn't lie to get a job....especially in a school with a religious affiliation! :2cents:
     
  10. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    If this is a college position, would they have the same requirements for services, etc.? Somehow the intense interaction seems more K-12, but hey, what do I know? Never interviewed for jobs at either level with a Catholic affiliation. I, personally, would not be comfortable working somewhere that was diametrically opposed to my strongly held beliefs. I think is would grate on my nerves. Just ask yourself how you would cope with always hiding your opposing beliefs.
     
  11. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    BioAngel, those are all positive and respectful actions by your teachers. I just wanted the op to realize what the environment would be like. Some people could not wholeheartedly function in that setting.
     
  12. Boba

    Boba Companion

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    I've gone on 2 interviews (1 at a Catholic school and 1 at a Baptist school). They did ask me things like what church I belonged to and things about the "faith requirement". From this board, I seem to be the only one who has had this experience.

    I'll be honest I would be uncomfortable working at religious schools which is why I stopped interviewing.
     
  13. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    You will have to pray with your students at the beginning of each class. We are also required to maintain a prayer table and a religious bulletin board in our classroom. As a parent who paid for Catholic schools, I would not want your views to show in any of your teaching.
     
  14. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    I can't imagine that most of these would be applicable at the college-level. Are colleges really having teachers lead prayers in class and accompany them to Mass? That sounds like K-12.
     
  15. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I think it's definitely worth applying, especially if the application doesn't ask any questions about religion (if it does, then it might not be worth it). Just based on my experience, I think the only colleges that have stricter rules tend to be evangelical Christian ones. My college was technically Lutheran but I really don't feel that we were all that different from any other school. There was a chapel on campus and a pastor (priest? I don't remember what Lutherans call them, lol) on staff, but the school offered all kinds of church services and no one was required to attend any type of service, take a religion class, or be involved in religion at all. I didn't have any professors who were openly religious in class. In fact, I had at least one that I can think of who was very open about the fact that he didn't believe. Political issues definitely wouldn't have been an issue at all. I would imagine that a Catholic college would be similar.

    However, just down the road was a Christian college that had very strict rules. They had a church service every single day that all students and staff were required to attend, a very strict dress code (obviously very modest clothing, but they also required all students to be dressed up at all times), curfew, no students of the opposite sex in your dorm room building for any reason, etc. In that setting, I would imagine that if they would even hire you at all, it would be very difficult to survive without agreeing with the religion.
     
  16. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I personally wouldn't be comfortable working in a Catholic school (being gay and atheist and all), especially if I had to teach abstinence-only curricula or "creation science" (I don't think most Catholic schools teach "creation science" anyway so it's kind of a moot point).

    I might apply though if I didn't have any other available job just on the off-chance that they really don't care and it's a more secular open-minded Catholic school, but if I were you, I'd be completely blunt about who you are.

    You are not religious and from what it sounds like, you're not comfortable doing many of the things Catholic schools do. It may reduce your chance of getting the job, but if you have to lie to get the job, you'll have to lie (perhaps for years) to keep the job, and that just doesn't feel good.
     
  17. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I'm an atheist and I interviewed at one Catholic school and was actually offered the job. They never once asked me about my religious affiliation and there didn't seem to be any religion in the school besides a religious class. I declined the job a) because I was offered another and b) I didn't feel comfortable working in a religious environment.

    I think if it was the only gig I could get, I might consider it. I grew up in the Bible Belt so I'm used to being around religion (the public schools I attended prayed quite often which I later realized was completely illegal). I'm very good friends with people who have very different beliefs than I. We can have discussions about certain beliefs, and chose to avoid other topics. But I must say I'm very happy to be in a secular school.
     
  18. vateacher757

    vateacher757 Cohort

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    I have filed out a few applications locally for Catholic and Christian school and they both asks on the application your religious backgrounds, beliefs, church you attend one actually asks your favorite bible verse and other questions requiring detail answers.

    I also went to a catholic school growing up and I am not catholic we had a "religion" class, we went to mass and celebrated the religious holidays in school such as ash wednesday. I remember the stations of the cross.....we prayed at the beginning of school and sometimes in other classes.
     
  19. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Not sure what you experienced, but student initiated prayer is not illegal.
     
  20. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    It's going to vary a lot by where you teach and what school but most do have a morality clause. The catholic school I attended was very low key. Religion was required but a religion teacher taught it obviously. We only prayed in religion class. We had mass about every other month so only a few times a year. Our fundraisers and things went to mission trips students would take. There were student groups for kids more into the religious aspect than I was. However, the teachers still had certain restrictions about what they could and couldn't say to us. I don't remember covering creationism at all though. Overall it was a great school. Very close knit community and I still love following what they're doing.
     
  21. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    It was teacher run prayer. As in- before we ate in a group the teacher would ask us to bow our heads and would pray. Or during assemblies we would be asked to pray. Someone would always be around to "bless the food" before we ate at school events. If I started eating before the food was "blessed" I would be called out and asked to stop. It was definitely not okay. And it wasn't until college (where it was still happening) that I got up the courage to politely decline to participate.
     
  22. SuperFudge

    SuperFudge Rookie

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    I have taught in 3 Catholic elementary schools. I've worked with divorced teachers, teachers with gay children, and non Catholics. They are very open to hiring those who are not Catholic. However, the contract states "you must teach in accordance with the Catholic tradition." So to answer your question, yes, when you are on their dime during working hours, you would have to go to mass during a school day and answer faith questions that align with the teachings. Our non Catholic teachers had another teacher teach their religion classes. In an interview, you could explain that you'd be strongest and best suited in your certified subject areas.
    My advice to any teacher, no matter what your beliefs are, Catholic or public school, is not to take strong positions on social media or publicly anyway because of professionalism. Is it worth it to lose a job or not get hired because an employer or parent finds your Facebook rant? Be careful in that way no matter what your faith or beliefs are. I'd err on the side of being professional and respectful of the faith at work.
     
  23. bros

    bros Phenom

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    If you want to teach at a religious school, be open with them about your beliefs. I am an atheist, if I were interviewing at a religious school, I was tell them if asked about religion "I was raised without any religion, but my parents raised me with some spirituality." (Pretty much my parents sort of believe(d) a god exists, but nothing other than that. Learned the other stuff from various forms of media. My mom was raised Episcopalian and my dad was raised Roman Catholic, my mom stopped practicing after HS, my dad stopped in college - but were never deeply involved, just went to church on occasional Sundays.)
     
  24. renard

    renard Companion

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    This will really depend on where you are.

    In my district, you are expected to stand for prayer, sign the cross, and there will be discussion about the pro-life issue. Marriage is not really discussed, but when it is, it will be expected to be part of the man/woman tradition. Transgender students exist, but GSA does not. It's in flux. Prayer is twice a day, including the staff room before lunch.

    I get that this would probably put off athiests, but this is a major reason parents choose our schools. Parents prefer teachers who support their philosophy.

    So, I'd do some digging and see how this school's philosophy will effect your personal beliefs.
     
  25. renard

    renard Companion

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    Sorry, I didn't realize this was a college. In that case, a morality clause might be expected.
     
  26. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    First, can we clarify what level we're talking about here--K-12 or university?

    Second, in my experience most Catholic schools are actually (perhaps surprisingly, to some) quite liberal. Although pretty hardcore and devout, Catholics don't tend to live their lives with the same sort of fervor that other Christian denominations do, especially the "born again" ones. I worked in a Catholic seminary in college and we employed many non-Catholics.

    It's true that in some positions you must be Catholic--for those, they will ask you about your religious beliefs. For other positions where being Catholic is not required, you probably won't be asked about your religious beliefs because it's irrelevant. In either case, I think that it's important to be truthful, for their benefit as well as yours.
     
  27. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    Catholics do not believe in a literal bible and do believe in evolution. We believe that it was all started by God but it did not happen in 7 days, etc. like the bible says. I taught AP Biology in a Baptist School that taught "creation science" and they wonder why none of their students ever do well on the AP test when you cannot mention the words evolution or Charles Darwin in the classroom. I would not have a problem with a gay or lesbian teaching my children in a Catholic School but I would have a problem with an atheist.
     
  28. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    This is true - a well-known Catholic university in my area just recently fired their priest (I think he was a professor too) because it came out he was gay and openly supporting gay groups. I believe he had been working there for awhile, but just recently decided to be more open about his sexual preferences and that's what got him fired.
     
  29. BioChemTeacher

    BioChemTeacher Rookie

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    I would not teach at a religious school but then I'm a science teacher and I don't believe science and religion are compatible especially when the school has a policy to interject religious dogma into the teaching of science. If I were to teach a non-science course that may be a different story as long as I was able to be open about my non-belief in the supernatural and that was OK with the administration.

    Sometimes the need to eat and pay the bills can overcome one's moral and religious (or lack thereof) preferences so that may come into play.

    I would teach science at a religious school before I'd live in the streets...
     
  30. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    This makes me sad to hear, especially since Pope Francis has expressed views promoting acceptance of gay Catholics. It goes to show that Catholic parishes and schools can differ greatly in terms of their culture and acceptance.

    I haven't read all the replies, but to the OP, it sounds as if you are someone who is interested in being able to express your personal beliefs openly, which might not work out depending on the school culture. You could always apply and see how the interview goes, though.
     
  31. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Yeah. I agree. I was raised Catholic, and I actually really respect the Catholic faith even if I don't agree with it. One of my favorite people growing up was my priest. He was just a very chill Irish Catholic priest. We were very sad when he passed. But overall Catholics tend to be more liberal than other religious groups.

    I think the official Catholic dogma submits to the evidence for evolution as you suggest, but I've met quite a few individual Catholics who were staunchly young-Earth creationists as well, so sometimes it's hard to figure out where people stand when they just say they're 'Catholic' if you're trying to understand their views on science.

    As for gay and lesbian people, I think the official Catholic stance is it's okay to be gay or lesbian (meaning you have the attraction) as long as they're not engaged in a gay or lesbian relationship or marriage. There are plenty Christian/Catholic gays and lesbians, so I think that's what you mean when you say you'd be okay with that. I understand where you're coming from. (not that I agree with it, being an atheist)
     

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