With all your whining about a lack of federal protections keeping you from being fired from your job simply for being gay, I bet you forgot about another class of people who are hard up for work but being denied jobs because of their status. You know, the single male pastors who are being blocked from re-entering the job marketing because they’re unmarried and, possibly, suspected of being gay.

The New York Times alerts us to this crisis of faith:

Like all too many Americans, Mark Almlie was laid off in the spring of 2009 when his workplace downsized. He has been searching for an appropriate position ever since, replying to more than 500 job postings without success. But Mr. Almlie, despite a sterling education and years of experience, has faced an obstacle that does not exist in most professions: He is a single pastor, in a field where those doing the hiring overwhelmingly prefer married people and, especially, married men with children.

Mr. Almlie, 37, has been shocked, he says, at what he calls unfair discrimination, based mainly on irrational fears: that a single pastor cannot counsel a mostly married flock, that he might sow turmoil by flirting with a church member, or that he might be gay. If the job search is hard for single men, it is doubly so for single women who train for the ministry, in part because many evangelical denominations explicitly require a man to lead the congregation.

[…] Some evangelical churches, in particular, openly exclude single candidates; a recent posting for a pastor by a church on Long Island said it was seeking “a family man whose family will be involved in the ministry life of the church.” Other churches convey the message through code words, like “seeking a Biblical man” (translation: a husband and a provider). “I’ll get an e-mail saying ‘wonderful résumé,’ ” Mr. Almlie said in an interview. “Once I say I’m single, never married, I never hear back.”

“Prejudice against single pastors abounds,” contends Almlie. And ya know what? It’s perfectly legal! Thanks to religious exemptions, federal workplace protections that generally bar employers from considering marital status do not apply to churches looking to bring on new pastors. Which means denying single guys like Almlie a job simply because he’s unwed is perfectly kosher under the law. And if Almlie were gay and single? Well, double word score! [photo via]

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