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Pagan Censored in School

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Forums -> Misc Topics -> Pagan Censored in School

Pagan Censored in School
By:
Post # 1
BY LEE ROOD ? LROOD@DMREG.COM ? MARCH 2, 2010

Guthrie Center, Ia. - A high school senior's desire to build a Wiccan altar in shop class has forced a community debate about free expression.

Dale Halferty, who has taught industrial arts at Guthrie Center High School for three years, was placed on paid leave Monday after he acknowledged to district officials that he told the student he could not build the altar in class.


"This is not a beef that I have with the district. It's not me against them," said Halferty, who has been an educator for much of the past 20 years. "But this kid was practicing his religion during class time, and I don't agree."

Halferty said he previously told another student he could not build a cross in shop class because he believes in the separation of church and state. "I don't want any religious symbols in the shop," he said.

His viewpoint: "We as Christians don't get to have our say during school time, so why should he?"
School officials say Christians actually do get to express themselves in the same way.

More than one school policy, as well as state and federal law, prohibit discrimination against students who express religious beliefs through school assignments.

Superintendent Steve Smith and Principal Garold Thomas said they placed Halferty on leave while they conferred with the school's attorney to decide what to do.

Both Smith and Thomas said the incident has become emotional for the high school's 185 students: Almost 70 signed a petition late last week saying they didn't want witchcraft practiced at the school.
"I think it's fear based on some of the old ideas people had about witchcraft," Smith said. "It's fear and a lack of knowledge about the unknown."

Neither Smith nor school officials identified the student at the center of the controversy, and the boy's father declined a request made through Thomas to be interviewed.

Smith acknowledged that some people have expressed fears about satanism or sacrifices.

He said they too could use some educating: Though Wicca is often subject to such myths, it is nonviolent and based on a shared reverence for the Earth and all living things.
Halferty was sent home for the first time Friday and told to think about what he was doing.

He said he had no beef with the student or his project - until the student told him he was a practicing witch.

"I said, 'Ah, you're kidding, right?'"

When the student said he wasn't, Halferty told him he could work on his project - a table that would become the altar - provided he kept religious materials at home.

However, he said, the student kept returning to class with a book of witchcraft.
Halferty said he thought about it, and decided allowing the student to make the altar "was wrong on every level."

"It scares me. I'm a Christian," he said. "This witchcraft stuff - it's terrible for our kids. It takes kids away from what they know, and leads them to a dark and violent life. We spend millions of tax dollars trying to save kids from that."

But Smith said school policies prohibit teachers from denying students access to varying points of view without just cause, and prohibit employees from denying students participation in activities on the grounds of race or religion.
The U.S. Department of Education has written guidelines for public school districts to ensure students' First Amendment rights are protected.

Ben Stone, executive director of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, said the clash appears to be a simple case of religious discrimination. All students, he said, have the right to religious freedom and to be treated equally in school.

Stone said: "The teacher may have good intentions. It's a learning process. But he needs to respect that students can exercise their religious viewpoints within the context of an assignment."
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Re: Pagan Censored in School
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Post # 2
very interesting. This is just another example as to why, even as kids, people need to stand up and try to educate their peers on their practices. The less people fear, the more they understand.
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Re: Pagan Censored in School
By:
Post # 3
this was quite interesting, and it shows how little information certain people actually have about our beliefs, and how little people actually care about "knowing" before judging from others point of view
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Re: Pagan Censored in School
By:
Post # 4
lol another example of the churchs grip on the masses
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Re: Pagan Censored in School
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Post # 5
okay i must say BOTH ARE TO BLAME!! you know why, we sit back angry at how the church is against witches, okay they are ignorant to certain facts and they are too stiff necked to learn anything however, part of this fear come from witches themselves, the younger generation of witches post out all sorts of things against them and making Christians think things for eg.

it been known that witches will sometimes in anger say "ill hex you" or something like that and due to mass indulgence of baneful magick it tends to add to the case, too many youngsters only focus on summoning demons and doing harm to others they forgot the true duties of a witch, we have an ability to connect with the universe in a way others cannot, why can't we use this for good? try actually helping out a person or two, flood the Christian community letting them know even though there is evil in the world that will not be completely gone, you cannot say all witches are bad just they same way you can't say all priest are rapists.

thanks for reading
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Re: Pagan Censored in School
By:
Post # 6
The teacher makes me want to cry. Witchcraft isn't violent, how is loving and worshiping the earth a bad influence? I very much dislike this teacher, he's so ignorant. Why can't people just be open-minded?
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Re: Pagan Censored in School
By:
Post # 7
Good Goddess, do people even know a tiny bit about what they are talking about? Witchcraft is "violent"? Anything can be used for violence; the point is that a vast majority of witches and other magick practitioners don't use magick that way. Although I'm not a Wiccan, I saw an amusing bumper sticker that said "A war has never been fought in the name of Wicca".

As a side note, I wonder how many kids have been injured in his shop class.
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Re: Pagan Censored in School
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Post # 8
I think that the student should have just built a table---was there a need to say "This is a Wiccan altar"? He should also NOT have kept taking his witchcraft book to class. It was disruptive, as much as a Bible would be if someone kept flashing it around.

The teacher DID stop a student from building a cross. Yes, he went too far in what he said about witchcraft, but for all we know, that was the press' interpretation or addition (Gods know, I've seen MANY misquotes and blatant lies in news publications).

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Re: Pagan Censored in School
By:
Post # 9
lol aelwyn ive brought a copy raymond buckland book of witchcraft to shop,hell even history. and the teacher just didnt say boo. tho you are right the kid said he shouldive just said it was table.
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Re: Pagan Censored in School
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Post # 10
If anyone is to blame it is King James, but it is pointless pointing fingers, because the cause is dead, and soon the effects will die too.
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