Another Quaker Fired at Cal State

Earlier this year a faculty member was fired from Cal State East Bay over the wording of a loyalty oath. The oath states that the employee defend the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. In February, Marianne Kearney-Brown, a Quaker, inserted the word "nonviolently" in the oath and was dismissed as a math instructor. Later she was reinstated as part of a compromise involving the state Attorney General.

The L.A. Times now reports that another Quaker at Cal State has been fired over the same passage in the loyalty oath. The state apparently requires all employees sign the oath, although there is evidently wide latitude among state agencies in terms of how they handle objections, which typically come from Quakers and Jehovah's Witnesses. The L.A. Times story documents several such cases over the years, one involving a Methodist minister who has on three separate occasions butted heads with the law.

That the state allows its agencies great latitude in how they interpret the law adds to the confusion. Some school districts apparently ignore the law altogether, while Cal State University strictly enforces it, allowing no alterations or clarifying statements be added by the employee. In between these extremes is the University of California, which offers suggestions to people who object regarding how they can add a statement such as "This is not a promise to take up arms in contravention of my religious beliefs," or "I owe allegiance to Jehovah," according to the Times report. The resulting confusion needlessly complicates the lives of people who take their beliefs and actions seriously.


Anonymous said...

LA Times reporter Richard Paddock typically fails to mention the 1994 "loyalty oath" lawsuit in which Fresno City College was court-ordered to pay a mother-daughter pair of Jehovah's Witness job applicants $259,000.00.

To read what the LA Times doesn't tell you, go to the following website which summarizes over 500 Jehovah's Witnesses Employment related lawsuits, etc,:



Anonymous said...

It appears that the case may be resolved soon, at least in the sense that Cal State is receptive to a revised statement that was written with the help of People for the American Way, a civil liberties group. Details are found in this LA Times story. In the time this has taken, however, the teaching position has been filled.

Michael Nielsen said...

Cal State now allows employees to append a statement clarifying their position, according to this item from Inside Higher Ed. Apparently the situation may be improving for people who hold religious objections to violence or to the loyalty oath.