News & Politics

Teacher Fired for Refusing Loyalty Oath

A California teacher is fired for refusing a loyalty oath leftover from the days of Sen. McCarthy.
From the Golden State, a bizarre and ridiculous firing of a teacher for not signing a loyalty oath.
When Wendy Gonaver was offered a job teaching American studies at Cal State Fullerton this academic year, she was pleased to be headed back to the classroom to talk about one of her favorite themes: protecting constitutional freedoms.
But the day before class was scheduled to begin, her appointment as a lecturer abruptly ended over just the kind of issue that might have figured in her course. She lost the job because she did not sign a loyalty oath swearing to “defend” the U.S. and California constitutions “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
The loyalty oath was added to the state Constitution by voters in 1952 to root out communists in public jobs. Now, 16 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its main effect is to weed out religious believers, particularly Quakers and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
This arcane requirement offended Gonaver, who is a Quaker. She in fact offered to sign the oath if she could also submit a statement explaining her objection, something commonly offered in other states under circumstances like this. That didn’t fly either.
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