In this troubled economy, many people are having a hard time getting a job. Though, most of those people probably aren't denied opportunities because of their marital status. Not so for Evangelical Christian clergy folk, some of whom are now speaking out about "singlism," job hiring discrimination against lonely single ministers.

The New York Times reports on this injustice:

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.

Gay! Flirting! Ohh it's all so soapy! Sounds kinda fun, actually. Why wouldn't you want church to be fun??

Unmarried women looking for employment as pastors face a doubly high uphill battle, for being single and for, y'know, having sinful girl bits. For their part, various church officials say they're just looking for the best, Godliest man (or, sigh, woman) for the job, that's all:

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said it was unfair to accuse churches of discrimination because that word implied something "wrongful."

"Both the logic of Scripture and the centrality of marriage in society," he said, justify "the strong inclination of congregations to hire a man who is not only married but faithfully married."

Other Evangelical insiders suspect the preference for married male pastors has to do with churches hoping to squeeze some free labor out of the guy's wife, who could run Sunday School, organize the choir, etc., all pro bono.

Obvious gripe about this: Gee, doesn't it suck to be discriminated against because of your romantic life.

Less obvious gripe: I dunno. Is there one?

[Photo via AP]