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Wiccan Professor Suing Her Catholic Employer for Discrimination

Wiccan Professor Suing Her Catholic Employer for Discrimination

“says things began to go south between her and her administration around Halloween 2011”

Here’s a tip. If you practice Wicca, maybe don’t take a job at a Catholic university.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

Not Bewitched

St. Bonaventure University didn’t let a professor of communication advance in her career because she’s a woman — and a witch — according to a lawsuit filed last week in a federal court in New York.

The professor, Pauline Hoffmann, says things began to go south between her and her administration around Halloween 2011, after she alerted a university communications officer that student journalists wanted to interview her about her Wiccan beliefs.

In spring 2012, her then provost, Mike Fischer, allegedly told her to sign a “morals” clause vowing to uphold the university’s Roman Catholic values.

Worried she was being singled out on account of her religion, Hoffmann says she asked if she would have to sign the clause if she were Jewish — meaning not Catholic, but not Wiccan. Fischer allegedly told her verbally, “I guess not.”

Fisher also allegedly once said, “You might not want to be so overt about being a witch if you want to move up.”

St. Bonaventure follows the Franciscan Catholic tradition, but many of Hoffmann’s colleagues, and many students, are not Roman Catholic. Indeed, the norm at Catholic colleges and universities is to have many non-Catholic professors.

Hoffmann says she also asked then president Sister Margaret Carney if other employees would have to sign the morals document. Sister Margaret allegedly said it was just for her.

In 2012, Hoffmann became dean of Jandoli School of Communication. She served in that role through 2017 but was first awarded only a two-year contract when all other male deans got three-year contracts, she says. She also believes that she made less money as dean than all other deans on campus, who were male.


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Only a two-year contract that must have been renewed because she served for 5 years. That’s pretty generous discrimination.

This story smells fishy.

healthguyfsu | June 11, 2019 at 11:55 am

Private schools are allowed to require statements of faith (which often do include morals clauses) if they are applied equally.

Any updates on this case would be interesting.

Antifundamentalist | June 11, 2019 at 3:20 pm

Does the University have a policy stating that all faculty much be some form of Christian? If there was no such policy, why shouldn’t she accept the job? Did she lie about her religion to get hired? Why would it be okay for an employer to single out One Person to sign a statement of faith? Legally, shouldn’t it be everyone or no one? Seems like there are missing facts here.

Here’s a tip. If you practice Wicca, maybe don’t take a job at a Catholic university.

What if you practice Judaism? Should a Catholic take a job at a Jewish or Protestant or Wiccan university (if there is such a thing)?

I attended a small Jesuit college for a few years, most of the teachers were Catholic or actual clergy, but not all. My understanding is that at most large Catholic Unis there’s more diversity. For example, a religious studies department may well have actual non-Catholics teaching religious studies classes – for example a Rabbi teaching Judaism classes.

If you trace back far enuf, most early American unis were religious in their founding, it’s only the Catholics who still (sometimes) take seriously the mission statement of teaching both scholarship and morality. Since she dates her “difficulties” to a particular Halloween, I suspect she was having too much fun flying her Freak Flag to Freak The Mundanes and it bit her in the hindmost. She has a perfect right to practice whatever faith she desires, but going too much in your face about it I suspect is just as counter productive if you’re Wiccan as it is for those street preachers who seem to believe insults and disrespect will win converts….

I’ve known NeoPagans, worked with one lady who took it seriously enuf to need to take a Worship Break if she was working the night of the full or the dark moon. We used to talk religion, Wican vs. Catholic Altar Boy. We found each other interesting and could talk religion without taking offense. At one point I got her to admit her main initial reason for converting was a desire to PO her Mom.