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Community Rallies Around Gay Teacher Who Was Fired

A Facebook group with more than 2,300 members has been started in honor of fired Holy Ghost Prep teacher Michael Griffin.

A Facebook group with more than 2,000 members has been started in honor of fired Holy Ghost Prep teacher Michael Griffin. Courtesy: Facbeook
A Facebook group with more than 2,000 members has been started in honor of fired Holy Ghost Prep teacher Michael Griffin. Courtesy: Facbeook
Barely 24 hours after a gay teacher from a Bensalem-based Catholic school for boys was fired for applying for a same-sex marriage license, thousands of people offered support. 

Michael Griffin, a Holy Ghost Preparatory School alum who until Friday had worked for 12 years as a French and Spanish teacher at the private school, may not have a job, but he has the support of the community. 

Following his firing on Friday, Griffin, of Mount Laurel, N.J., wrote on his Facebook page that he had applied for a marriage license that day in New Jersey. 

"After 12 years together I was excited to finally be able to marry my partner," Griffin wrote. "Because of that, I was fired from Holy Ghost Preparatory School ... I feel hurt, saddened, betrayed and except for this post, am at a loss for words."

James McCloskey, the school's president, told the Bucks County Courier Times that the school's policy "requires all faculty and staff to follow the teachings of the Church as a condition of their employment."

Holy Ghost's loss of a teacher could be another district's gain. Bensalem Township School District board member Kevin McKay–along with dozens of other posters–shared his condolences on Griffin's Facebook page.

"I would be happy to take your résumé to Bensalem school district," McKay wrote. "Congratulations on your impending nuptials. You've lost a job, but you've gained a partner in life. I hope you will remember today joyously for what you've gained."

Rand Geiger, who wrote on Facecbook that he was a member of Griffin's first Spanish class at Holy Ghost in 2001-2002, said he and a "great many of us" support Griffin.

"I remember thinking 'Mr Griffin's a little timid in his first year here (as any teacher would be), but a really sweet guy,' " Geiger wrote. "You've certainly shed any timidity and have shown a tremendous amount of courage and bravery in being true to yourself and your husband. That's the best lesson you could have taught us students and fellow alumni (no offense to your lesson on past participles)."

Griffin's Facebook post from Friday has gotten more than 550 shares on Facebook, netted dozens of comments, as well as local and national media coverage. Almost instantly, it spiraled into a full-fledged Facebook page Support Mr. Griffin  & the HGP Community. The page, which has since been made private, had more than 2,300 members in less than a day of operation, according to Holy Ghost alum Nicholas Covone. 

Covone told Patch that he was "outraged and upset" over Griffin's firing, as are the more than 2,300 other page members.

"This says a lot as the school itself has only about 400 students," Covone said of the volume of support in such a short period of time.

Do you think Holy Ghost Preparatory School was justified in firing Michael Griffin? Tell us in the comments.

Michael Hicks December 14, 2013 at 09:53 AM
@Edith Murcer: isn't it ironic that one could uphold Catholic Standards by committing - and others covering up - institutionalized pedophilia while at the same time admonish and ostracize a member of its own community whose sin is falling in love with and committing to another human being? That's not a Standard in which I'd proudly pronounce my belief so publicly.
Sheriffchris December 14, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Liberal and Gays do not support Catholic schools. I'm sure this teacher knew the conditions of his employment, besides being gays he appears to have no morals regarding the contract he signed. No one forced him to teach in a Catholic school just as no one is forcing anyone to send their kids there. This is about education...not Gay rights
Susan December 14, 2013 at 09:45 PM
When you sign a contract to work at any job they have rules. If you do not agree with the rules then do not take the job. According to NJ law he can get married but under the contract he signed with the school he can not marry a person of the same sex. Private Religious schools have the right to set their rules to coincide with their teachings/beliefs.
jim eisenhower December 14, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Another reason why millions of us are ex-catholics. When they finally allow priests to marry or women to be priests MAYBE more reasonable thinking will prevail, lastly / the teacher doesn't need that school in any way. they need good people like him. He will be better off being an ex-teacher of any catholic institution. A t eighty years of age ive seen this institution slowly destroying itself due to insanity like this.
Rich Weiss December 14, 2013 at 11:26 PM
I fail to see how an employer can pose their restrictions on an employee's private life. I think this private school needs to go out of business. It's corrupt and totally out of line. I think this needs to go to court, and the school needs to lose.
Susan December 15, 2013 at 07:07 AM
@ Rich Weiss, you're entitled to your opinion but honestly it isn't any different than a company who says you cant have a beard or that you must wear a certain uniform. They make exceptions for religious beliefs so that people my wear jihabs, beards etc so disallowing a gay marriage is within their rights. You don't support the school with your tax dollars as it is private and you don't have you don't have to send your child there either. The teacher who was fired didn't have to work there. It was his choice to take the job knowing full well the terms of his contract.
Christine Comella December 15, 2013 at 08:12 AM
So let me ask this...do they also fire every teacher who does not attend church EVERY Sunday, has pre-marital sex or uses birth control? I highly doubt it.
B. Strong December 15, 2013 at 10:07 AM
Christine Comella, to answer your questions...yes, they would. If that person made that info public knowledge and was proudly announcing it to their classroom full of children...then yes, they should and would. Parents who send their children to a Catholic school want teachers who are positive Catholic role models for their children. Not sure why people are quicker to accept the fact that Obama wants to FORCE Catholic institutions to pay for abortions and birth control and that should be okay, yet Catholics are "imposing restrictions and beliefs" on others'. Complete insanity.
Jonathan Kratz December 15, 2013 at 11:02 AM
Christina's question gets to the way this feels unfair: "the teachings of Jesus" include a wide range of behavior detailed throughout the old and new testament. Yes, including homosexual behavior (reference Leviticus 18 and 20, for very specific statements, part of God's law.) That this school does not apply that standard for everything called wrong by scripture, like haughtiness or divorce or cursing, is inconsistent, but could be viewed as a sort of mercy (unspoken, cheap, and self-administered, granted, but the school NOT applying it's right to fire for out-of-teaching behavior, so to speak. It could, but it isn't. It would rather you behave better than fir you for doing wrong. But I think Griffin's decision to marry says, "Here I am going to do this thing counter to church teaching, and it creates a situation in a permanent and public way." And to that the school felt it had to respond. Unfair that the theoretical fornicators and thieves on staff aren't also called on their behavior? Yes.
Ryan Shultz December 15, 2013 at 11:17 AM
"Who am I to judge them if they're seeking the Lord in good faith?" "When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person.” ~The teachings of The Church
Patti Pender December 15, 2013 at 11:37 AM
Jonathan, are you seriously seriously suggesting teacher is marrying the man he has lived with as if married for TWELVE YEARS is along this to make a point? Are you insane? Also, the principal doesn't seem familiar with this most recent Pope's teachings. You remember, that guy catholic teaching says is infallible in matters of faith and morals?
Patti Pender December 15, 2013 at 11:47 AM
Be Strong, the ACA doesn't force catholic institutions to "pay for" abortions or birth control. It forces insurance companies to cover birth control and abortions only in situations the catholic church approves of anyway-to save the life of the mother. Insurance that covers these things costs LESS than insurance that doesn't. They ARE NOT being forced to "pay for" abortions & birth control. Now get along and read what your new pope is saying. -It may upend your world.
Susan Watkins December 15, 2013 at 12:53 PM
As already stated::: When you sign a contract it is binding. Also we are dealing with one person's actions who decided to test the waters out on the public forum. BTW please go back and Google what Pope Francis actually said regarding homosexuality. We are to love and be more excepting of everyone but they cannot expect church doctrine to change to suit individuals lifestyles. As one of the first things Pope Francis said was that including himself we are all sinners...be careful not to cast the first stone. Good luck Mr.Griffin in your search for employment. Looks like you already have a good lead.
Maria December 15, 2013 at 01:31 PM
Amen, Susan!
B. Strong December 15, 2013 at 01:58 PM
Then why are there so many lawsuits, Patti, against HHS where we, as Catholics are fighting to uphold our religious freedom? http://www.lifenews.com/2013/11/20/catholic-college-renews-lawsuit-dont-make-us-comply-with-the-hhs-mandate/ This is just one you can read to actually know the truth. You can find many many lawsuits online. Just google it. Stop living in the dark, secular shadow, patti.
Edith Murcer December 15, 2013 at 03:23 PM
The ACA does force birth control and abortions on Catholics,. It's why we have lawsuits. And why the Bishop said to Obama " to hell with you"
Caroline December 15, 2013 at 04:34 PM
The church says we are all sinners and we are all called to stop sinning (to the best of our ability…..we are also instructed to call on God to help us overcome). So, we are a church missioned on repentance and forgiveness. Sins include everything from unkind words to murder and yes, fornication comes in that line up. Some sins are more grave than others. The church is consistent in saying that that sex is for the purpose of children and as well as to nurture the marital bond (again, to strengthen the family). That means all the pre marital sex and extra marital sex and homosexual sex is in direct conflict with the teachings. Should everybody be fired? Yes, if they shout from the rooftops "I am a liar and Im proud and you better accept that or I am going to call you all unloving hypocrites" or "I love my mistress and she loves me more than my wife ever did so how dare the Catholic church judge me…" or "I had a lot of sex as a teen and highly recommend sowing your oats before marriage, and contraception is not a sin …". Switching the attitude around to "Forgive me God for I have sinned…", with action towards repentance. Right or wrong, that is how and why they "forgave" the priests. (Not handing them over to authorities was another sin, which has yet to be repented-agreed…) There are homosexual catholics who pray for help with their gender identity disorder and they should have a RIGHT TO CHOOSE THAT LIFESTYLE. How dare the secular world tell them and their church that their choice to practice celibacy is inhumane as if sexual expression and marriage was the only way to be human and loved and God like. If we don't choose to follow the strict sex/marriage/family guidelines then we should not be catholic. That is an awful lot of us….. and perhaps time to reconsider our faith. The gay marriage debate has certainly brought that into the light.
Charlie L December 15, 2013 at 07:56 PM
The Catholic Church opposes dog fighting and white supremacy. If Mr. Griffin practiced either of these evils I wonder how much support he would have garnered from those members of the general public who want to tell the Church how to run its affairs.
Lavender Green December 16, 2013 at 01:02 PM
Its sad that people do not realize that religion should be a personal belief, its sad that the Christians do not practice what they are taught. So abortion is wrong but molesting and abusing children is ok? Letting families starve or freeze is ok as long as the church gets their donations on Sundays! And lets not forget that the concept is everyone is created in gods image, it doesn't say everyone but those who are gay, or those who are whatever, it says everyone. So when all you who want to exclude someone because they are not what you think they should be remember that is a sin!
Jonathan Kratz December 16, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Religion is both a private and a public matter, and since this is a public forum about a religious institution, that's why we're discussing this. I'd like to appeal to the authority upon which any argument I make must be founded: we look to scripture to see what God says or doesn't say, so if we pull phrases out of the popular lexicon like "Doesn't religion teach us to love everyone" or "the Pope seems to suggest this or that", or even, "the church teaches this or that", please understand that they don't matter. No opinion of man or woman, if contrary to God's word, will stand. That's a hard statement, but as we're examining the actions of one individual of a certain inclination (the teacher) and an institution aligned with a major organized religion (the RC church), then I choose to bypass all the opinions and appeal to scripture. For any behavior contrary to God's law, there is justice due; that's the concept of sin. It's not something we find yucky or harmful or unfair, it's anything or thought that separates us from God's will. The Christian knows that the penalty has been paid by Christ, but the behavior itself is still wrong, and it is clear from the law what that behavior: the sin of ________ can be forgiven and our relationship with God restored, but it is still wrong. Patti, I was only speculating as to how the school may have been showing mercy but had to respond to his announcement. Rhetorically and for the record, no, I'm not insane. I also suggested here somewhere that none of us were privy to the councils the came up with their policy, their tolerance of his private relationship, or their response to his public announcement. Further, I don't give a fig for what the pope says if it doesn't square with scripture, except that 1.21 billion souls hang on his every word: that's a lot of responsibility for a man. I respect his position, I hope he reads his Bible. Please tell me what he says, if anything, that contravenes the very clear language of Leviticus 18 and 20 regarding the homosexual act, and ask yourself who has more authority, this man or God? I'm assuming you believe in God and that He has spoken to us through scripture. If not, of course, then we are simply pitching opinions at each other, in either case, I hope I am being clear and inoffensive in my language. Lavender's list of wrongs is offered rhetorically: I'm not sure she could point to a specific instance of each of the issues mentioned, and I wouldn't try to defend any body of faith that did any of that. Yes, lack of integrity, abortion, child molestation and abuse, ignoring the poor and cold, and mishandling church donations are all wrong. But on what authority do you say that? Where does "it say" "everyone is created in gods image"? And where does "it say" to exclude someone is a sin? One of those ideas can be argued from scripture, one not. Do you know which? In fact, much of the old testament is about God people being set apart from the other nations, in both ceremonial and practical ways, being exclusive. More to the point: on what authority or basis are we arguing what God thinks or doesn't about a certain behavior? For the believer, it had better be scripture: not the church, not the pope, not a nice warm feeling about an idea. Otherwise, as I've said, we're just pitching opinions at each other.
Lavender Green December 17, 2013 at 12:35 PM
I give everyone so much credit for not only voicing their opinions but also those who are standing up for this person! As a ordained reverend I must say its good to see people choose to speak out. However it is most important to understand that no matter what god/gods one believes in the bottom line is that discrimination is down right wrong! If a person chooses to partake in that then when they get to those pearly gates and are asked if they accepted people (love thy neighbor) and didn't discriminate, didn't vote for war, and didn't cast stones unless of course they are perfect, then they will wonder why their god does not let them in! As for the teacher its wrong no matter what religion anyone is, discrimination is wrong!
B. Strong December 17, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Lavender, what about standing up for God? The Catholic stance cannot be one where we accept the continuance of sin. We must acknowledge our sins and shortcomings, go to confession, and do better next time. We can't show approval of a sin where someone shows pride in their sin. Having a school teacher deliberately and publicly going against his and our religious beliefs is just not acceptable behavior for someone who is a role model for children. Loving others does not = allowing them to just do "whatever makes them happy". If he does not believe in Catholic teaching, go and get a job elsewhere. It is pure ignorance and pride to think you are above the rules.
Lavender Green December 17, 2013 at 01:02 PM
I personally agree that he should go elsewhere because if he isn't wanted there then why be there, but not because he is gay, because of the ignorance, again its ok to have male priests molest little boys that acceptable or swept under the rug. As for me I am not Christian, yes I am ordained but I follow the oldest known religion Witchcraft! And we accept everyone even those who are pig headed
Caroline December 20, 2013 at 11:43 PM
Lavender, I don't know why you keep stating/asking "it's OK to have male priests molest little boy but…….", as if anyone said it was OK. No one, not even the molesters feel that it is OK to sin. The fact that they sin so badly is gravely evil and depraved and for sure they know it. They are perverted criminals and know they deserve the punishment, and the ones still unaccounted for are still wrong. It is slow but justice will be served. If the abortionists and and the starvers and freezers that you mentioned think what they are doing is OK, and proud of it and belligerent against those who don't accept their philosophy then any organization not wanting to teach that behavior is allowed to fire them. On the other hand, the abortionists and freezers and starvers as well as the money solicitors and even the sexual abusers are encouraged to practice their faith of repentance and forgiveness, even if jail or other negative consequences are also called for. This teacher and all his supporters have banded together to change the minds of the world in accepting homosexuality as equal to heterosexuality in marriage. This "coming out of the closet" has been a wonderful thing for everyone because same sex attractions exist and it is important to accept that they are as human as the next person. Their familiar faces have normalized them……. in every way except marriage according to many religions, but also to many non religious. It is the community support of the institution of marriage between a man and woman who are raising their biological children that is the definition of marriage. And it is hard. And it is falling apart in this modern culture. And the Catholic church (as the states previously) wants to put that on a higher sacramental platform than any other loving union, whether it be platonic friends, or homosexuals, or polygamists, or polyamorist, or incestuous siblings. The Catholic church should be allowed to encourage and promote this fragile and volatile union. Mr Griffin can practice the sacrifice of celibacy and join this religion or choose a different life path.
Edith Murcer December 21, 2013 at 10:21 AM
Best for all parties to go their separate ways
Franks N Beans December 22, 2013 at 03:37 AM
LOL. I'm always amused at how organized Religion, which is supposed to teach love and forgiveness, causes the most arguments among people. And also the reason why I call Christians the greatest hypocrites that ever walked the face of the earth. You people worship "God". Who the heck is GOD???? I've never met the man. I've invited him over for coffee and some cake or something, but he's never showed up. God?? Really. God is the "Placebo" for those people who's lives have spiraled so far out of control, they can no longer handle it themselves, and need someone... anyone, to take it over for them. So we pray to this "God" that we've never seen, heard, or met. So, let's take a look at this "God". This is the same God who murdered children, burned and toppled cities full of women and children, sent Sampson and David to slaughter the Philistines, and many other horrid acts. So you people basically worship John Wayne Gacy? But wait! There's a new main character in the "New Testament"! He's a friendlier character, he's the son of God, and now more of a "people person". So since we were kids, we were taught about this great person who rose from the dead, turned water into wine, cured the lepers, and everything else. And even though we never met this person, our faith tells us he exists because we read about him in some book that we don't know who wrote. I mean, isn't that what faith really is? Wanting to believe so badly in something, that since we have no physical proof or evidence, we rely on our Faith. But in the new testament, Jesus never really mentions homosexuality? Yea, come on Christians, you should know that. So we now have to flip back to the old testament, where it states homosexuality is an abomination. BUT WAIT!! We're Christians!! That gives us carte blanche!! We can pick and choose what parts of the bible we want to follow!! Leviticus states that homosexuality is wrong (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). But the same Leviticus says not to eat shellfish (Lev. 11:9-12), use mixed seed or fabrics (Lev. 19:19), harvest the corners of fields (Lev. 19:9), cut your sideburns, approach God's alter with less than perfect vision, and several others. Well damn, I like shrimp, Lobster, clams..... OK, I like all shellfish. But I'm a Christian, so I can ignore that. Mixing fabrics is a sin??? Does God know how much good silk is these days? And God killed babies. So what! I mean, babies are born every day. But those damn evil homosexuals.... they must be stopped!! Imagine, 2 men or 2 women having such a strong an undying love for each other.... It just sounds so evil. That of course might make the divorce rate go even higher than the heterosexuals have done themselves(which is also against the teachings of the church). If you people wish to live your life according to some book, about some guy to the equivalent of Santa Claus, that someone we don't know wrote, I say you need help. But hey, that's just my opinion. And we all know what they say about opinions. By the way, didn't God in the old testament say "I'm a jealous God. You shall worship nothing before me." YET....... Everyday, Christians worship this book, and some live their lives according to it. They do the exact opposite of what God taught them in the Old testament?? Damn people, make up your minds. I don't like or follow organized Religion. I treat everyone the way I wish to be treated. Gay, straight, trisexual, who the hell cares. If 2 people love each other and want to get married, who am I to judge them? Especially, if it doesn't affect me one way or the other. I just think people like typing comments to prove they listened in Sunday school. If it helps you all sleep better at night believing some superhero is coming back to judge the living and the dead, please don't allow me to piss in your cheerios. As for me, I'm going to live my life on this Earth giving people the same respect I expect to get myself.
Allan Bach December 22, 2013 at 08:02 AM
Frank... I'm curious as to who disappointed you. Was it a priest, a pastor, or just some Christian you worked with? Your copy and paste post refutes your last line. I would enjoy spending time with you in dialogue but I'll never have the chance, for I truly believe you don't use your real name out of never wanting to discover the truth.
Franks N Beans December 22, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Mr. Bach, no one in particular has disappointed me. I was never molested by a priest or a pastor, if that's what you may be referring to. People in general, disappoint me every day over stuff like this. People love to quote the bible when it benefits them. But all the other writings in the bible that says they're sinners themselves, we can choose to ignore them. Organized religion is what is tearing us as a society apart. 2 men want to get married. So what? There's enough hate and violence in this world. Kids are being shot, people are being murdered, tsunamis, volcanos, the world is in turmoil. We have soldiers over seas risking their lives for our freedom to talk about stuff like this. If 2 people want to spread some happiness into this world by getting married, please do so. Why can't we as a society say "I'm happy for you." Instead, people must tell them about how it's an abomination, while trying to act self righteous in doing so. It also irks me that people are content to quote the bible, when in reality, they just have a problem in general with homosexuality. Instead of saying "I think its disgusting", people say God says it's wrong. Because it's not being racist if god says so! There is no difference in hating someone for the color of their skin, and hating them for their sexual preference. I don't pretend to be perfect, by holding a bible in front of me repeating quotes that benefit me at the time. As I stated earlier, I treat everyone the way I wish to be treated. You cant just pick and choose what bible quotes suit you. If you want to talk about homosexuality, talk about how God says handicapped people are not to approach the alter because they will soil it. Talk about how eating shellfish is an abomination, and all those who eat it are sinners right there along with homosexuals. Talk about how god says we shall not bow to other statues or idols, because he is a jealous god. But we all wear crucifixes around our neck, and pray to statues of the virgin mary. There are too many discrepancies with organized religion, but everyone seems to think they are the ones who have it figured out. And if there was a god, I would like to think he would come down to earth to set the record straight on what "his" book says. I mean, is he really that sadistic? He kills babies, AND sits back and laughs watching all his creations argue over the interpretation of his book? So Mr. Bach, I do thank you for your concern as to my faith and if anyone caused disappointment in my life. You seem like a very decent person, and I mean that sincerely. A dialogue is a wonderful idea, but very rarely stays just a dialogue. No one wins in a discussion about religion, because everyone thinks they are right. So I choose not to follow an organized religion. If homosexuality is an abomination, I'm not the person to decide that. Nor am I in any kind of special position to make sure I reiterate that to the homosexuals of the world. I have children, and I want to teach them to look at people for who they are, not what they do. Is a man who steals a loaf of bread to feed his family just as bad as a man who steals baby formula to buy crack cocaine? According to the bible, they are the same. In the real world, we know that's not correct. I don't want my children to grow up thinking that because 2 women are married, they are mean horrible people that are spawns of satan. But when you bring organized religion into the mix, that's what happens.
Allan Bach December 22, 2013 at 09:43 PM
So, Frank, can we meet and discuss your views? Patch isn't a good venue for having a dialogue about Biblical teachings. I am serious - it would be a very interesting conversation and I'm sure each of us would benefit.
Caroline December 28, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Frank, I know the bible stories sounds like disney to you, especially when viewed from an attitude of defensive rational rejection. I understand how you can come to that conclusion. Don't be surprised however if when your guard is down and your mind is open, some magic could enter your world and all of a sudden you will be able to believe how a woman could have a virgin birth or believe that there are angels making miracles happen right now. Staunch atheists have converted and it could happen to you too, even when the facts are extremely confusing, as they are. You may or may not choose to engage in the debate of the bible, but that is irrelevant. You will never say two married women are mean horrible people and many religious don't either, but maybe you will at least understand how people can can find wisdom and direction in some of the tougher life challenges as they pursuit a better world by putting something higher than popular culture as their guiding force. Putting "sexual pleasures" ahead of "what's best for the raising of children", whether heterosexual or homosexual, is the downfall of civilized society and THAT is what most 'religious groups', whether bible centered or not are against. That also condemns affairs and easy divorce, and abortion and contraception as it should. Just because people break the "rules' doesn't make take away the wisdom of the belief. It's all about what is best for children, and two mommy's or two daddy's, no matter how good the couple, are not better than a man and a woman working together (and supported by a society who helps them out), because men and women need all the support they can get. Remember, they started out at war on the playground. But how very rewarding and "magical", and complete for our children when they do. That is the goal…….. and worth fighting for.

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