Quick Notes: Dale Halferty, Dan Halloran, and Watkins Books

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No Wiccan Altars for Halferty: A few quick notes for you this Saturday, starting with an update on the Iowa industrial arts teacher, Dale Halferty, who was temporarily suspended for prohibiting a student from building a Wiccan altar in shop class. It seems that Halferty, who was supposed to return to work on Monday, isn’t backing down from his discriminatory views concerning a student’s right to religious expression, and is now on indefinite unpaid leave.

“Guthrie Center Superintendent Steve Smith met with Industrial Arts teacher Dale Halferty Tuesday morning. At the end of the meeting, Halferty remained on unpaid leave from the high school for an indefinite period. Superintendent Smith told the Times that all parties are attempting to resolve the conflict. Asked for specifics, Smith declined to comment. Smith did say the resolution process is ongoing and that no specific time has been set for the next meeting between Halferty and himself.”

It looks like both parties are waiting to see who’ll blink first in this “resolution process”. Kudos to Guthrie Center Superintendent Steve Smith for not backing down in protecting the Wiccan student’s constitutional rights. In the meantime, one hopes the Wiccan student isn’t being bullied and harassed by the young mob of 70 students who signed a petition stating they didn’t want witchcraft at their school. This issue is already generating interest among far-right Christians, so it’s only a matter of time now before Halferty is proclaimed a victim of religious “persecution” for misunderstanding and misapplying the notion of separation of Church and State.

Halloran The Pagan Tea Partier: Ben Smith at Politico has taken notice of Tea Party support for New York City Councilman Dan Halloran, noting that he is one of the movement’s first electoral success stories.

“…on the theme of the Tea Parties and the Christian Right, that one notable success of the new conservative grassroots came in New York, where a prominent figure in local Tea Party circles was elected as a rare Republican on the New York City Council. The Councilman, Dan Halloran, is also a pagan king, something that doesn’t seem to have bothered the local Republican Party, his conservative supporters, or voters.”

This issue of whether the Tea Party is or isn’t being co-opted by the Christian right’s social agenda is currently being debated within the media, with no clear unified narrative emerging yet. What is clear is that many moderate-to-conservative Pagans are interested in the Tea Party, and have found a place there. For ongoing coverage, be sure to check out Cara Schulz at Pagan+Politics for insider reporting on the movement.

London’s Oldest Occult Bookstore Saved: It looks like Watkins Books in Cecil Court, a shop that can brag it had Aleister Crowley and W.B. Yeats as customers, recently in danger of being liquidated, has been saved from permanent closure by an American investor.

American entrepreneur, Etan Ilfeld is purchasing the business in its entirety for an undisclosed sum.  Ilfeld … is keen to preserve Cecil Court’s heritage. Ilfeld said: “It’s not everyday that you have the opportunity to save a century old business. I don’t believe that spirituality in London is dead and will do my best to ensure that Watkins Books will be sustainable and survive the 21st century.”

A bit of good news for the metaphysical book trade, which could use some good news as the economy continues to be uncertain, and with high profile stores, like the Bodhi Tree in Los Angeles, and Shaman Drum in Michigan, closing their doors.

That’s all I have for now, but before I go, I’d just like to note that Pagan scholar Chas Clifton’s blog, Letter From Hardscrabble Creek, has moved to a new address. You can now find the blog at:


So please update your links and RSS subscriptions!

Have a great day!