Crafting Gentleness

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pacifist Cal State teacher gets job back

(03-07) 18:22 PST HAYWARD -- A Cal State East Bay math teacher and practicing Quaker who was fired for refusing to sign a state-required loyalty oath got her job back this week, with an apology from the university and a clarification that the oath does not require employees to take up arms in violation of their religious beliefs.

"It's the best possible outcome," said Marianne Kearney-Brown, 50, a graduate student in mathematics who was teaching a remedial class for undergraduates. "My concerns have been addressed."

As a Quaker, Kearney-Brown is committed to nonviolence and was unwilling to sign the state oath of allegiance that required her to "swear (or affirm)" that she would "support and defend" the U.S. and California constitutions "against all enemies, foreign and domestic." She tried inserting the word "nonviolently" in front of the word "support," but was told by university officials that altering the oath was unacceptable.


Kearney-Brown said she initially tried to tell herself that signing the form was no big deal because it would just get stuffed in a file cabinet.

"But I thought, if I'm going to sign it, I'm going to take it seriously," she said. "All I was asking was, 'Does this oath require taking up arms?' If nonviolence is incompatible with this oath, I can't sign that. ... It was a visceral thing."



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