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NJ teacher fired for giving student Bible

new jersey distributing religious literature gideons international

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#1 Hum

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 15:27

A longtime substitute teacher in Phillipsburg, NJ, has been fired after he shared a Bible verse with a student – and upon request gave the child a Bible.

The Phillipsburg School Board voted Monday night to terminate the employment of Walter Tutka. He was accused of breaking two policies – distributing religious literature on school grounds and another policy that directs teachers to be neutral when discussing religious material.

“It’s unfortunate the Phillipsburg School District chose the path of religious hostility and intolerance against a retired man serving his community and simply responding to a student’s intellectual curiosity,” Hiram Sasser, director of litigation at Liberty Institute, told Fox News. “What’s next – are they going to ban Shakespeare because his plays have Bible quotations?”

Joe Imhof, a close friend of Tutka, was at the school board meeting.

The school board, he told Fox News, was basically telling God to “go to hell.”

“Just because this guy gave a student a pocket New Testament on his lunch hour – that’s enough to throw you out of school,” Imhof said. “They have said tonight, ‘God, we don’t want you in this school.’”

Imhof and Tutka serve together in Gideons International – a ministry known for providing Bibles to school children across the world.

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#2 shakey

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 15:49

Good. Religion has no place in the public, and should be left to the family and individual to study on. The rules are clear, and the teacher broke them.

#3 jerzdawg

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 19:19

Good. Religion has no place in the public, and should be left to the family and individual to study on. The rules are clear, and the teacher broke them.

Id agree except for the part that the student asked for a copy. However, since a policy was in place about distributing on school grounds they had a reason. If this guy was a regular teacher in the union with tenure this would have only been a slap on the wrist. Here in NJ if you have tenure you are basically a "made-man" and untouchable short of a felony. Pretty sure I just read a story about a teacher throwing a book at a students head had just returned to work after suspension... but thats not grounds for termination?

An Atlantic City High School teacher returns to class today following a 120-day suspension for throwing a book that hit a student in the head.
Piano teacher Christopher Lorge admitted tossing the paperback in February because the student was talking on a phone and wearing earphones.
The district suspended Lorge and started proceedings to terminate him.
But The Press of Atlantic City reports a state Education Department arbitrator found while the teacher displayed a "serious lack of judgment," he showed remorse and had worked 10 years without disciplinary action. The arbitrator declined to fire him.

http://www.nj.com/at...#incart_m-rpt-1

#4 paustin

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 19:45

Good. Religion has no place in the public, and should be left to the family and individual to study on. The rules are clear, and the teacher broke them.


here here

#5 Charisma

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 19:46

Oh ffs, its a book, and the kid asked for one. The teacher wasn't pushing anything on anyone. Political correctness is getting really old.

#6 Sandor

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 19:48

I'm atheist but this seems a bit excessive.

Guess it's "any excuse to cut the wage bill"

#7 Secular Humanist

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 19:51

agreed, just as the teacher can't give out the ebola virus, employment conditions are employment conditions. Had he done it after school, off school grounds, whatever that's cool.

to those that will comeback with "what harm does it do?" Think about the other teachers who want to start handing out pamphlets on other cults or even there own cult. They are there to teach, not influence.

#8 Javik

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 19:51

On the one hand I believe religion should be kept out of school, "God" doesn't belong in school, as to force everyone to worship a god they don't believe in would be wrong. However I also believe in discretion, and in this case as the student asked for the bible I really see no problem with the teacher providing him with one. There was no need to fire him for it as he wasn't forcing his beliefs upon the student.

#9 Colin McGregor

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 19:55

On the one hand I believe religion should be kept out of school, "God" doesn't belong in school, as to force everyone to worship a god they don't believe in would be wrong. However I also believe in discretion, and in this case as the student asked for the bible I really see no problem with the teacher providing him with one. There was no need to fire him for it as he wasn't forcing his beliefs upon the student.


This. However the law was no trading religious material so the teacher could have waited till they got off grounds or something or told the kid where to get a copy.

#10 Cheatyface

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 19:57

If the teacher had two brain cells to rub together, he would have thought about it for two secs and told the student "Come see me after school, I can give you one then." As it is, he knew the rules. "Don't hand out religious material in school." It's not not a hard rule to follow, and certainly not one worth risking your job over.

#11 Windows Nashville

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 20:02

Please. If he'd given the student a copy of The Communist Manifesto he would have been given a teaching award.

#12 HSoft

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 20:07

Id agree except for the part that the student asked for a copy. However, since a policy was in place about distributing on school grounds they had a reason. If this guy was a regular teacher in the union with tenure this would have only been a slap on the wrist. Here in NJ if you have tenure you are basically a "made-man" and untouchable short of a felony. Pretty sure I just read a story about a teacher throwing a book at a students head had just returned to work after suspension... but thats not grounds for termination?

An Atlantic City High School teacher returns to class today following a 120-day suspension for throwing a book that hit a student in the head.
Piano teacher Christopher Lorge admitted tossing the paperback in February because the student was talking on a phone and wearing earphones.
The district suspended Lorge and started proceedings to terminate him.
But The Press of Atlantic City reports a state Education Department arbitrator found while the teacher displayed a "serious lack of judgment," he showed remorse and had worked 10 years without disciplinary action. The arbitrator declined to fire him.

http://www.nj.com/at...#incart_m-rpt-1

mmm fire a teacher for giving a student a book that he asked for but allow a teacher to keep working for physically harming a student. Yeah, that's not hypocrisy at its finest.

#13 Charisma

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 20:08

It's not not a hard rule to follow, and certainly not one worth risking your job over.

that's the thing though--I certainly can't claim to know what this teacher was thinking, but I think it would barely occur to me. People get so worked up about the Bible they forget: It's a piece of literature. Are people really so scared of one book that they can't let curious people read it? We roll our eyes when "controversial" books are banned from school due to certain content, but suddenly there's a double standard regarding censorship on this one, wat. Reading it isn't suddenly going to make you... I don't know, whatever people think is going to happen by reading it. It's a book. Whatever your religious beliefs are (or aren't), the simple act of reading a Bible/Qur'an/etc isn't going to change anything.

#14 Nothing Here

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 20:08

I agree that this was excessive. However, even a sub knows the rules. He should have waited till after school. But that might have been viewed as something else and no telling what could have happened then. He should have been warned and/or suspended. But not fired.

#15 HawkMan

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 20:08

While it may be a bit extreme. I'm more shocked that this American school actually has sensible rules about religion in school...