A Christian Industrial Arts teacher told one of his students that he couldn’t build a Wiccan altar and wound up in hot water once the school officials found out. He’s since been suspended without pay and is whining about it.
Dale Halferty, who has taught industrial arts at Guthrie Center High School for three years, said he was asked to meet with the school district superintendent and high school principal when he returns to work Tuesday.
Halferty said Wednesday he still doesn’t understand why school officials are forcing him to act against his own beliefs as a Christian and allow the student to disrupt his class with a project based on a religion he believes is wrong and bad for youth.
“Personally, I think it’s offensive to worship rocks and trees,” Halferty said of Wicca, a religion based on ancient beliefs and a reverence for the Earth. “I am just trying to be moral. I don’t know how we can profess to be Christians and let this go on.”
No doubt the same sentiment was shared in Salem.
You’re not trying to be moral, sir. You’re trying to force everyone to think and do as you do, and it’s uncool and not very nice.
Problems started in Halferty’s industrial arts class when the student, a senior whom officials have not named, told the teacher the table he was building was actually a Wiccan altar.
After the student told him he was a practicing witch, Halferty said, he told the student he could work on his project but must keep any religious materials at home. He said the student kept returning to class with a book of witchcraft, which prompted him to tell the student he couldn’t build the altar in his class.
Halferty has 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.
Some other blogger (sorry, forget who) pointed out that a cross is too easy for shop class and any sensible teacher would say no to allowing such a project as hammering two pieces of wood together and calling it done.
Maybe the kid continued to bring the book because he was modeling his project off a picture in it and couldn’t be bothered to photocopy the relevant pages. Or he doesn’t consider Wicca to be a religion so much as a philosophy and lifestyle and therefore he was carting a reference book around the classroom, not a religious one.
Superintendent Steve Smith and Principal Garold Thomas placed Halferty on leave Friday and Monday while they conferred with the school’s attorney. They said more than one school policy, and state and federal law, prohibits discriminating against students who express religious beliefs in school assignments.
Almost 70 students signed a petition last week saying they didn’t want witchcraft practiced at the school.
Why would they assume he’d use the altar on school property anyway? That’s just retarded. The whole petition is retarded. It follows from the idea that witch magic actually works to do good or harm and it mystifies me why anyone would be scared of those who follow a wiccan way of life. “An’ ye harm none, do what you will,” is their mantra after all. No student is going to wake up in the morning craving flies. None normal, anyway. And how is this boy going to deal with the fact that at least 70 kids in his school are rejecting his beliefs? I doubt that he won’t care. Good thing there aren’t many more months of school left for him. What a way to finish high school, though. Hopefully he has friends he can count on that will support him, even if those wankers don’t.
Thomas said Halferty has every right to return to his job. But the matter will not likely be over if Halferty still refuses to allow the student to build the altar.
“It’s sort of like, what if I had a biology teacher who does not want to teach evolution?” Thomas said. “If a teacher doesn’t do the job to which they are assigned, they are insubordinate.”
Thomas said if Halferty refuses to go back into the classroom, it will be up to the superintendent to decide what to do next.
I don’t know if he needs to get the sack over this. Maybe he needs a kick in the sack and a reminder that the world is filled with people who aren’t Christians and will never want to be Christians. Don’t judge his choice of project, just grade him on the quality of his work and be done with it.
It didn’t have to be newsworthy. Now it is, and now the whole world can see how yet another Christian just wants the world to go his way and nobody else’s. How predictably selfish of him.