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Ryan_ZOOM_Turner
03-02-2010, 01:58 PM
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20100302/NEWS02/3020372/1004/NEWS02/Wiccan-altar-puts-teacher-officials-at-odds




Wiccan altar puts teacher, officials at odds

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."

Treacle
03-02-2010, 02:03 PM
He's in the wrong. Based on the quote below, his stance has nothing to do with "practicing" religion during classtime and everything do with an irrational fear of pagans.


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.

Ryan_ZOOM_Turner
03-02-2010, 02:05 PM
He's in the wrong. Based on the quote below, his stance has nothing to do with "practicing" religion during classtime and everything do with an irrational fear of pagans.

I agree, he really doesn't even know what Wiccans practice. He probably thinks it is like the movie The Craft.

RickLM
03-02-2010, 02:08 PM
Yeah, let the kids express themselves, what's the big deal. Hopefully the same rules will apply when the valedictorian wants to discuss her Christian faith in her graduation speech.

Ryan Elliott
03-02-2010, 02:09 PM
He's in the wrong. Based on the quote below, his stance has nothing to do with "practicing" religion during classtime and everything do with an irrational fear of pagans.


I was getting ready to jump on the "I agree that no one should practice religion in school" bandwagon that I thought this guy was on, but then I read that.

Fuck him with a rusty razorblade.

michealdark
03-02-2010, 06:56 PM
He's in the wrong. Based on the quote below, his stance has nothing to do with "practicing" religion during classtime and everything do with an irrational fear of pagans.

I would have understood his point if he had just left it as "Well, I think church and state should be seperate. That's why I denied a Chrisitan student the chance to make a cross." But no, he hand to keep going and expose his ignorance of my faith. If he really had any clue what Wicca and paganism in general really taught, there's no way he'd call it a dark and violent path. He might not agree with it, which his his perogative, but he'd at least have some clue what he was talking about and be able to point out why he disagreed instead of falling back on old superstitions.

Benel Germosen
03-02-2010, 07:13 PM
One of those "right thing for the wrong reason" deals.

The Crushtacean
03-02-2010, 07:20 PM
He would have been wrong to prevent the making of a cross, too:


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


As long as he actually completes his assignment, if a kid works his religion into it, he's allowed to do so. Seperation of church and state laws mean that the assignments can't require religion be part of an assignment. They don't mean it can't be part of the student's completion of it.

Magnum V.I.
03-02-2010, 07:25 PM
You know what, fuck it. It's all superstitious irrational bullshit.

michealdark
03-02-2010, 07:25 PM
Good point. But at least he'd have more of a sound base to stand on than just "WITCHCRAFT IS EVIL!"

Thudpucker
03-02-2010, 07:35 PM
You know what, fuck it. It's all superstitious irrational bullshit.

As far as religion goes it's one of the more ridiculous ones. How the kid spends his time is his business though.

Magnum V.I.
03-02-2010, 07:39 PM
As far as religion goes it's one of the more ridiculous ones. How the kid spends his time is his business though.

Not in school he shouldn't!


He should either be working at a sweat shop or banging the fat chick who plays flute behind the cafeteria!

Thudpucker
03-02-2010, 07:43 PM
Not in school he shouldn't!


He should either be working at a sweat shop or banging the fat chick who plays flute behind the cafeteria!

I see what you did there! You took part of a conversation from a previous thread and carried it over to this one.

Well done good Sir. I lol'd.

Magnum V.I.
03-02-2010, 07:44 PM
I see what you did there! You took part of a conversation from a previous thread and carried it over to this one.

Well done good Sir. I lol'd.

Then my mission is accomplished!

Dreaded Anomaly
03-02-2010, 07:53 PM
Re: the "witchcraft" comments: in what century are we living, exactly? It boggles my mind that Americans in the year 2010 would actually speak those words.


Yeah, let the kids express themselves, what's the big deal. Hopefully the same rules will apply when the valedictorian wants to discuss her Christian faith in her graduation speech.

Yes, they should.


He would have been wrong to prevent the making of a cross, too:



As long as he actually completes his assignment, if a kid works his religion into it, he's allowed to do so. Seperation of church and state laws mean that the assignments can't require religion be part of an assignment. They don't mean it can't be part of the student's completion of it.

Exactly. The First Amendment starts: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Thudpucker
03-02-2010, 08:02 PM
Re: the "witchcraft" comments: in what century are we living, exactly? It boggles my mind that Americans in the year 2010 would actually speak those words.

I thought wiccans themselves refered to their rituals as witchcraft. If that is not the right word to use what is?

Dreaded Anomaly
03-02-2010, 08:11 PM
I thought wiccans themselves refered to their rituals as witchcraft. If that is not the right word to use what is?

I don't mean simply the use of the word witchcraft. I was referring to the petition and the "leads them down a dark and violent path" quote.

michealdark
03-02-2010, 08:13 PM
Some of us call ourselves Witches, but it's more in the way that black people use the N-word around eachother. By taking a usually derogatory word and re-contextualizing it into something far more positive and as a term of endearment or greeting, you rob all the power from that word. We describe ourselves as witches because we believe that pagan beliefs and rituals similiar to the ones we use dominated rural Europe for centuries before Christianity forced its way in, using the term "witch" to demonize us an our beliefs. By reclaiming that word, we are attempting to steal the power away from it. We remove the stigma the church gave to us by using THEIR WORD in the opposite way it was meant to be used.

Pia Guerra
03-02-2010, 08:34 PM
Some of us call ourselves Witches, but it's more in the way that black people use the N-word around eachother. By taking a usually derogatory word and re-contextualizing it into something far more positive and as a term of endearment or greeting, you rob all the power from that word. We describe ourselves as witches because we believe that pagan beliefs and rituals similiar to the ones we use dominated rural Europe for centuries before Christianity forced its way in, using the term "witch" to demonize us an our beliefs. By reclaiming that word, we are attempting to steal the power away from it. We remove the stigma the church gave to us by using THEIR WORD in the opposite way it was meant to be used.

Witch, please.

michealdark
03-02-2010, 08:39 PM
You must have a mental disease/Assume the position and get back down on your knees?

*shameless Eminem reference. Sadly, also the most sexist lyric I have ever heard in my life!*

Ryan Elliott
03-02-2010, 09:05 PM
Word to your wiccan?

ShortStack
03-02-2010, 09:16 PM
I used to have teachers that would hassle me for being pagan in high school. The fear is so irrational. Standing in circles and praying to the goddess has yet to cause any systematic genocides, to my knowledge. Unless we count the hysterical genocides brought against us by people afraid of the warmest, fuzziest religion on earth.

michealdark
03-02-2010, 09:23 PM
Actually some of our ancestors did partake in some forms of sacrifice that wouldn't be considered legal today. But that went for almost all pagan religions of that time, and even some that still exist today.

And the Burning Times...actually, even if the numbers are lower than people liked to think they were, the fact is that was such a fucking silly period of time. No one should have ever had to die, rather we're talking 1 person, 50,000 people, 100,000 people, or 9 million people.

Treacle
03-02-2010, 09:50 PM
I am constantly amazed at how diverse the Benbo is on every possible axis.

Pia Guerra
03-02-2010, 10:02 PM
Actually some of our ancestors did partake in some forms of sacrifice that wouldn't be considered legal today. But that went for almost all pagan religions of that time, and even some that still exist today.

And the Burning Times...actually, even if the numbers are lower than people liked to think they were, the fact is that was such a fucking silly period of time. No one should have ever had to die, rather we're talking 1 person, 50,000 people, 100,000 people, or 9 million people.

Yeah but the "Burning Times" were really not about persecuting witches. The majority of those killed were Christians who got on someone's ergot-addled nerves. If it wasn't ignorant superstitions that demanded scapegoats for the latest plague, famine or rain of toads it was malicious targeting of widows who inherited valuable land and property coveted by local churches.

I get a little annoyed about those who attach victimhood to Wicca, especially on such a scale as the witch burnings... nope, sorry, Wicca is a 20th century creation loosely based on ancient folklore, and while Wiccans do deal with a lot of shit from stuck up Christians, it's nowhere on a Holocaust scale so... no.

dasNdanger
03-02-2010, 10:16 PM
If the TEACHER wanted to teach the class how to build the alter, then it would be wrong because of the whole church/state thing. However, this is a student wanting to build something for personal use, not to impose his beliefs on the other students. If a student wanted to make a Buddist altar, or Hindu, or Shinto - they would probably be allowed to do so, so why not this?


das

michealdark
03-02-2010, 10:27 PM
Yeah but the "Burning Times" were really not about persecuting witches. The majority of those killed were Christians who got on someone's ergot-addled nerves. If it wasn't ignorant superstitions that demanded scapegoats for the latest plague, famine or rain of toads it was malicious targeting of widows who inherited valuable land and property coveted by local churches.

I get a little annoyed about those who attach victimhood to Wicca, especially on such a scale as the witch burnings... nope, sorry, Wicca is a 20th century creation loosely based on ancient folklore, and while Wiccans do deal with a lot of shit from stuck up Christians, it's nowhere on a Holocaust scale so... no.

You're right. It was still a stupid, crazy period of time though, and regardless of motivations and people involved, it never should have happened.

stevapalooza
03-03-2010, 04:00 AM
Wiccans always kinda sadden me. With just a little extra effort they could've been Atheists.

"Screw this organized religion crap! It's all horseshit!"

Yes!! Now youre getting it! Come into the light!

"From now on I'm all about Father Winter Solstice and his ice goblin horde!!"

Awwww crap.

Big McLargeHuge
03-03-2010, 04:13 AM
The bees! Oh my God the bees!

Pia Guerra
03-03-2010, 05:19 AM
Wiccans always kinda sadden me. With just a little extra effort they could've been Atheists.

"Screw this organized religion crap! It's all horseshit!"

Yes!! Now youre getting it! Come into the light!

"From now on I'm all about Father Winter Solstice and his ice goblin horde!!"

Awwww crap.

Yeah, but there's more poetry in paganism. for some Carl Sagan throwing up his arms saying "billions and billions!" doesn't have the same appeal as imagining the dalliances of ancient Scandinavian gods during a great big thunderstorm.

Atheism can be scary and difficult whereas as Paganism gives you a sense of connection with your surroundings while still pointing out the horse shit. It's for people who like analogies really.

Thudpucker
03-03-2010, 05:24 AM
Wiccans always kinda sadden me. With just a little extra effort they could've been Atheists.

"Screw this organized religion crap! It's all horseshit!"

Yes!! Now youre getting it! Come into the light!

"From now on I'm all about Father Winter Solstice and his ice goblin horde!!"

Awwww crap.

:lol:

Thudpucker
03-03-2010, 05:34 AM
Wiccans, for the most part, are like LARPers right? They don't actually believe in magic or Horned Gods or whatever. They just want to dress up in costumes and run around parks at night yelling 'Magic Missle! Magic Missle!"

Thudpucker
03-03-2010, 05:36 AM
Speaking of LARPing people are doing Avatar now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yk2vR8w2sjc

Fascinating.

SidekicksRevenge
03-03-2010, 05:40 AM
One of those "right thing for the wrong reason" deals.

This. If you're going to keep religion out of the classroom (and as a card-carrying Methodist, I still believe you should), then you have to keep religion out of the classroom.

If the underlying thing behind his enforcing of the rule was "I'm scared of people who believe different things than I do," then he's an asshole, but still enforcing a good rule.


Hopefully the same rules will apply when the valedictorian wants to discuss her Christian faith in her graduation speech.

Those rules should apply, but I agree with the implication that they probably won't.

stevapalooza
03-03-2010, 05:46 AM
Yeah, but there's more poetry in paganism. for some Carl Sagan throwing up his arms saying "billions and billions!" doesn't have the same appeal as imagining the dalliances of ancient Scandinavian gods during a great big thunderstorm.

Atheism can be scary and difficult whereas as Paganism gives you a sense of connection with your surroundings while still pointing out the horse shit. It's for people who like analogies really.

Oh I can definitely appreciate it on an poetic and academic level. I'm very interested in Tengriism, which is the pagan sky worship of the Central Asian nomads. I just like to tease the pagans because their hot, crazy women never want to sleep with me.

Ryudo
03-03-2010, 05:49 AM
Wiccans, for the most part, are like LARPers right? They don't actually believe in magic or Horned Gods or whatever. They just want to dress up in costumes and run around parks at night yelling 'Magic Missle! Magic Missle!"

*snort*

Fake Pat
03-03-2010, 05:51 AM
I used to have teachers that would hassle me for being pagan in high school. The fear is so irrational. Standing in circles and praying to the goddess has yet to cause any systematic genocides, to my knowledge. Unless we count the hysterical genocides brought against us by people afraid of the warmest, fuzziest religion on earth.

When you defend one religion, you defend them all, so yeah, there's plenty of blame to go around.

Dreaded Anomaly
03-03-2010, 06:52 AM
Actually some of our ancestors did partake in some forms of sacrifice that wouldn't be considered legal today. But that went for almost all pagan religions of that time, and even some that still exist today.

And the Burning Times...actually, even if the numbers are lower than people liked to think they were, the fact is that was such a fucking silly period of time. No one should have ever had to die, rather we're talking 1 person, 50,000 people, 100,000 people, or 9 million people.

There were plenty of sacrifices happening in the Old Testament, too.

Big McLargeHuge
03-03-2010, 07:25 AM
When you defend one religion, you defend them all, so yeah, there's plenty of blame to go around.

Your brain is one interesting place.

Fake Pat
03-03-2010, 07:32 AM
Your brain is one interesting place.

You can't demand respect for something based solely on personal belief and then claim that the same respect shouldn't be applied to all other concepts based solely on personal belief.

Big McLargeHuge
03-03-2010, 07:55 AM
You can't demand respect for something based solely on personal belief and then claim that the same respect shouldn't be applied to all other concepts based solely on personal belief.

Of course you can. It happens all the time.

Akira
03-03-2010, 09:03 AM
I get a little annoyed about those who attach victimhood to Wicca, especially on such a scale as the witch burnings... nope, sorry, Wicca is a 20th century creation loosely based on ancient folklore, and while Wiccans do deal with a lot of shit from stuck up Christians, it's nowhere on a Holocaust scale so... no.

You're absolutely right. Everyone wants to be a victim these days, it's just sad. Wicca has been around for , maybe, 40 or 50 years. No pogroms to speak of.

Foolish Mortal
03-03-2010, 09:17 AM
Of course you can. It happens all the time.
Yep, it happens all the time, but it's not what our country is supposed to stand for.

stevapalooza
03-03-2010, 09:21 AM
You can't demand respect for something based solely on personal belief and then claim that the same respect shouldn't be applied to all other concepts based solely on personal belief.

That's why religion is so popular. Because god says "yes you can!"

Big McLargeHuge
03-03-2010, 09:46 AM
Yep, it happens all the time, but it's not what our country is supposed to stand for.

Most certainly not. But I was just referring to personal principles anyway.

NATE!
03-03-2010, 10:07 AM
When you defend one religion, you defend them all, so yeah, there's plenty of blame to go around.

I'll actually agree on this. I've always found it hilarious when certain types slam religions like Christianity, but will go on to heap praise upon religions they find more exotic, such as Buddhism, Islam, etc.

Religion is religion. People like to claim they're "anti-religion," but more oft than not, they're using that as a cover to hide their own personal bigotry against a specific sect.

Dreaded Anomaly
03-03-2010, 10:19 AM
I'll actually agree on this. I've always found it hilarious when certain types slam religions like Christianity, but will go on to heap praise upon religions they find more exotic, such as Buddhism, Islam, etc.

Religion is religion. People like to claim they're "anti-religion," but more oft than not, they're using that as a cover to hide their own personal bigotry against a specific sect.

I would describe my general position as "pro-people keeping their religion to themselves," which ends up being anti-religion in practice because most people don't seem to be able to do that. (I would like it if fewer people were religious, but that's my subjective personal stance, rather than my objective societal one.) I think that all supernatural or spiritual beliefs are at the same level of absurdity, but I dislike Christianity more than, say, Judaism, because members of the former make constant attempts to influence public policy while members of the latter are generally content not to push their own beliefs on others.

Jef UK
03-03-2010, 10:23 AM
Of course you can. It happens all the time.

You're clearly using "can" differently than Pat. I can't tell why you're bothering, though. Do you really not get what he means?

NATE!
03-03-2010, 10:25 AM
I would describe my general position as "pro-people keeping their religion to themselves," which ends up being anti-religion in practice because most people don't seem to be able to do that. (I would like it if fewer people were religious, but that's my subjective personal stance, rather than my objective societal one.) I think that all supernatural or spiritual beliefs are at the same level of absurdity, but I dislike Christianity more than, say, Judaism, because members of the former make constant attempts to influence public policy while members of the latter are generally content not to push their own beliefs on others.

I can see where you're coming from.

What about people who believe in "karma?" Very often, I've seen people make fun of religious folk, and then, on another subject, start talking about karma. The hilarious thing there is that they're attaching the same principles of intangible cosmic forces on everyday events, but they label it as something else.

Dreaded Anomaly
03-03-2010, 10:44 AM
I can see where you're coming from.

What about people who believe in "karma?" Very often, I've seen people make fun of religious folk, and then, on another subject, start talking about karma. The hilarious thing there is that they're attaching the same principles of intangible cosmic forces on everyday events, but they label it as something else.

I would include that in the category of "supernatural or spiritual beliefs," along with some other stuff like "holistic/alternative" medicine.

Ray G.
03-03-2010, 10:56 AM
Speaking of LARPing people are doing Avatar now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yk2vR8w2sjc

Fascinating.

I've never wanted to beat the shit out of a group of nerds until now. :lol:

MIKE D
03-03-2010, 10:58 AM
Speaking of LARPing people are doing Avatar now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yk2vR8w2sjc

Fascinating.

I need help figuring out with one is Tom.

Ray G.
03-03-2010, 10:59 AM
When you defend one religion, you defend them all, so yeah, there's plenty of blame to go around.

Religions aren't just about belief. They're about the culture that spins out of it. Not to mention the different philosophies.

So, yeah, not all religions share the blame for other religions' crimes and failings.

Ray G.
03-03-2010, 11:00 AM
I can see where you're coming from.

What about people who believe in "karma?" Very often, I've seen people make fun of religious folk, and then, on another subject, start talking about karma. The hilarious thing there is that they're attaching the same principles of intangible cosmic forces on everyday events, but they label it as something else.

That kind of non-specific new-agey stuff always bugs the hell out of me. :)

At least display some commitment to your beliefs.

Wigner's Friend
03-03-2010, 11:06 AM
When you defend one religion, you defend them all, so yeah, there's plenty of blame to go around.

This is an interesting statement to me. It's like saying, "if you defend one philosophy, you defend them all". Overgeneralizing and compartmentalizing others for the sake of your own argument seems incredibly lazy.

If I defend the UCC's policy towards acceptance of gay marriage am I also defending the Shi'ite policy of persecution of gays?

Big McLargeHuge
03-03-2010, 11:11 AM
You're clearly using "can" differently than Pat. I can't tell why you're bothering, though. Do you really not get what he means?

I thought I did. I was clearly wrong :(

Thudpucker
03-03-2010, 11:15 AM
I've never wanted to beat the shit out of a group of nerds until now. :lol:

I love that video so much. :lol:

SidekicksRevenge
03-03-2010, 11:31 AM
Speaking of LARPing people are doing Avatar now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yk2vR8w2sjc

Fascinating.

That's a bit. Right? I mean, they play it pretty straight for the most part...but that last shot?

This is a bit. It's not a real thing. Right?

Ryan_ZOOM_Turner
03-03-2010, 11:46 AM
I need help figuring out with one is Tom.

:lol:

stevapalooza
03-03-2010, 11:53 AM
That's a bit. Right? I mean, they play it pretty straight for the most part...but that last shot?

This is a bit. It's not a real thing. Right?

Yeah that's a bit. You can tell by the fat shirtless guy. There's only two situations where a fat guy will take his shirt off in public. A) for comedy purposes or B) if his shirt is on fire.

michealdark
03-03-2010, 12:37 PM
Wiccans, for the most part, are like LARPers right? They don't actually believe in magic or Horned Gods or whatever. They just want to dress up in costumes and run around parks at night yelling 'Magic Missle! Magic Missle!"

Why are you even bothering to post in this thread if you think the entire religion is one big practical joke? Do you like making your cultural ignorance apparent to everyone?


There were plenty of sacrifices happening in the Old Testament, too.

Point conceded