From the Washington Post's blog:
Catholic Parish Cans Organist For Selling Sex Toys
Wisconsin Parish Says Sexual Consulting Inconsistent With Vatican Teaching
From a teacher losing her job because of a Myspace photo to a professor being fired for discussing the Virginia Tech shooting, 2007 may become known as the year of wrongful termination. The latest victim appears to be a church organist from Wisconsin who lost her job for moonlighting as a sex toy sales rep.
Linette Servais had played the organ and directed the choir at St. Joseph Catholic Parish in rural New Franken, near Green Bay. Much of that work she did as a volunteer, and she was by all accounts an active member in the church community. And so when Father Dean Dombroski called her into his office, Servais says, she had been expecting a "thank you," not an ultimatum. However, the 50-year-old organist was told to either quit working for Pure Romance (an Ohio-based "romance-enhancer" business) or quit volunteering at St. Joesph's. After a good deal of soul searching, Servais decided her job was not "incompatible with her faith as a Catholic." Unfortunately for her, the church did not agree, and over the next few months she was gradually relieved of her duties.
Now, before going any further it should be explained that Servais does not view her work with Pure Romance as peddling sex toys. rather, she sees it as "empowering women and helping them strengthen their relationships." She is a cancer survivor whose treatment left her "sexually dysfunctional," and she found solace in a friend and fellow cancer patient who confided that she was similarly "broken." As a result, Servais felt "called as a Christian to help women, especially those who have sexual problems resulting from cancer."
It doesn't matter how Servais might "view her work"; it's either kosher or not kosher. And the thing is this: there is nothing wrong with married couples using sex toys or what not as long as the procreative ends of the marital act aren't frustrated. But Pure Romance doesn't stop with simply marketing such "marital aids"; they market them also as masturbatory aids and to, among other groups such as new brides, the "suddenly single":
It's a party to celebrate her new beginning. At this party we have the perfect "man" for anyone; we call him B.O.B., our battery-operated boyfriend. The only thing he doesn't do is pay for dinner! At a Pure Romance party no one ever has to leave "single".
Their website is here: https://pureromance.com/; see for yourself if you're not the sensitive type.
But Father Dean decided that sex gratification toys and organ music did not mix, and as such sent a letter to the parish which stated the following: "Linette is a consultant for a firm which sells products of a sexual nature that are not consistent with Church teachings." Because in his opinion she no longer "model[ed] the teaching of [their] faith," she was let go late last year. Since that time however, most of the choir has quit in protest and begun meeting at Servais' house. The fallout over her dismissal now appears to be tearing apart the parish community.
A parish church can hire and fire as it sees fit, of course. But by firing Servais, St. Joseph's and by extension the Catholic Church risk sending the message that female sexual gratification, or at least consulting about it with married couples, is somehow sinful. If it is, many parishes could find themselves as divided as St. Joseph's.
I'm sure people will get the "message that female sexual gratification, or at least consulting about it with married couples, is somehow sinful" once you media types get done with the story.