Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wiccan Alleges Religious Discrimination

A woman who practices the Wiccan religion has filed a lawsuit against the University of Nebraska alleging that she was fired from her position because of her religious beliefs.

The filing says the woman, who practices witchcraft as her religion, was hired by the university in February 2007 to direct a youth program. She was fired when it was discovered that she was a witch.

While I don't know the whole story here, if the allegations are true they reflect some pretty ignorant behavior on the part of what is supposed to be an institution of higher learning. There might be grounds for the firing if the plaintiff was prosletyzing or attempting to promote her beliefs to students, but barring that there really is no excuse for this sort of religious bigotry.

It always amazes me when some Christians try to claim that they are some sort of persecuted minority despite being the majority religion in this country. It's usually those who hold less popular beliefs who find themselves threatened with tangible sanctions like job losses.

UPDATE: In response to the comments, I want to make it clear that I am in no way accusing Christians of being behind this firing. Since I haven't heard the University's case, I have no idea who initiated it or for what reason. However, if the firing was solely because of this woman's beliefs, I stand by my description of it as religious bigotry - no matter who initiated it or what their own religious beliefs might be.

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6 comments:

AISh MLChMH said...

It always amazes me when Christians try to claim that they are some sort of persecuted minority despite being the majority religion in this country.

How do you know that Christians are persecuting anyone in this instance? Why couldn't it be secularists who are uncomfortable with any religious affiliation whatsoever?

If there is a direct connection to Christians, then you've got a point. But minus that connection, you're engaging in a non sequitur.

Ananael Qaa said...

How do you know that Christians are persecuting anyone in this instance?

I don't, and I certainly didn't mean for my comment to come off that way.

My point is that (1) that there are some Christians who seem to think that they are persecuted for their beliefs, but (2) this case is an example of what really tends to go on in society - people with unusual beliefs get targeted and face serious consequences.

As far as who's doing the targeting in this case I can't say, nor did I intend to imply that I could. But whether religious or secular people are doing the targeting, the result tends to be the same - the person with the odd belief is the one who usually is singled out.

I'm sure that there are plenty of Christians at the University of Nebraska, but as far as I can tell none of them were fired under similar circumstances. Not because Christians are necessarily behind this firing, but because Christianity is considered "normal" in our culture.

AISh MLChMH said...

My point is that (1) that there are some Christians who seem to think that they are persecuted for their beliefs

One could easily posit that about "some" members of any number of religious groups. Would a Christian be defacto wrong with thinking that over a Wiccan who thought the same thing?

Moroever, how exactly does that pertain to a Wiccan being discriminated against at a State University? I could just as easily point to any number of Atheists who think that they are being persecuted as a result of something as banal as Christmas.

Personally,I'd be more than a little surprised if the firing of an individual at a State University has its roots with a Christian individual. University environments typically aren't beacons of religious indoctrination but of secular indoctrination. Personally, I'm finding this to be the case at a Lutheran college as well.

(2) this case is an example of what really tends to go on in society - people with unusual beliefs get targeted and face serious consequences.

This can happen, but I'm not seeing how this statement significantly differs from your initial one.
Christians also have "unusual beliefs".

I'm sure that there are plenty of Christians at the University of Nebraska, but as far as I can tell none of them were fired under similar circumstances.

Isn't this is another non sequitor? Couldn't I just as easily assert that: there are plenty of atheists at the University of Nebraska, but as far as I can tell none of them were fired under similar circumstances.

Not because Christians are necessarily behind this firing, but because Christianity is considered "normal" in our culture.

Simply because Christianity is the "norm" religion currently within this country, it doesn't follow that Christianity is then the defacto cause of this particular incident of asserted religious discrimination.

Ananael Qaa said...

Simply because Christianity is the "norm" religion currently within this country, it doesn't follow that Christianity is then the defacto cause of this particular incident of asserted religious discrimination.

Of course it doesn't, and that's not what I'm saying. I'm talking about majority versus minority beliefs.

Christianity is the majority religion in the United States, so I couldn't really bring up, for example, Islam to make the same point - though I could have if this had happened in Saudi Arabia. And while I agree with you that some Christian beliefs could certainly qualify as "unusual," being a Christian does not, at least according to the general culture of the United States.

I'll reiterate that I'm not accusing Christians of anything related to this case. I honestly thought that was pretty clear, especially in my last comment.

AISh MLChMH said...

I'm talking about majority versus minority beliefs.

Right, and you mention Christianity specifically as it is the majority religion. However, what I've questioned is that within a university environment - would those majority beliefs be Christian? I'd argue that secular humanism is much more at play within a State University than Christianity by a long shot.

so I couldn't really bring up, for example, Islam to make the same point - though I could have if this had happened in Saudi Arabia.

Does Saudi Arabia allow for secular humanism to co-exist alongside Islam? I think this is an important difference.

And while I agree with you that some Christian beliefs could certainly qualify as "unusual," being a Christian does not, at least according to the general culture of the United States.

Being a Christian isn't unusual within the U.S. However, I think that's in the process of changing:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_prac2.htm

"Large numbers of American adults are disaffiliating themselves from Christianity and from other organized religions. Since World War II, this process had been observed in other countries, like the U.K., other European countries, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand."

Being a member of an organized religious group, I'm obviously interested in understanding the cause of this increasing disaffiliation.

I'll reiterate that I'm not accusing Christians of anything related to this case. I honestly thought that was pretty clear, especially in my last comment.

I think you were and apologies if my last statement seemed to argue against that.

Ananael Qaa said...

I'd argue that secular humanism is much more at play within a State University than Christianity by a long shot.

This could very well be the case, but I'm deliberately adopting a "wait and see" attitude rather than jumping to conclusions one way or the other.

Being a member of an organized religious group, I'm obviously interested in understanding the cause of this increasing disaffiliation.

I started to put together some thoughts on this, but they're long enough to justify a new article on that particular subject. I'll try to get it posted soon.