Top Story: New York City Councilman (and out Pagan) Dan Halloran, despite attending a Tea Party event looking for challengers to Congressman Gary Ackerman in November, and gaining some vocal grass-roots support, has decided to not run a new campaign so soon after gaining political office. “I’m flattered and grateful they think I’m that caliber of a candidate,” Halloran said. “But right now I’m worried about running the district. I just came off a cycle in a bitter election, so I’m not ready to run another race.”
Of course, like any good politician, he did leave the door of opportunity open just a crack, in case the situation changes. “I’ll sit down and talk to [local party leaders], but I’m not inclined to run …
Halferty Unrepentant: A few quick notes for you today, starting with an update on the high school industrial arts teacher in Iowa who has been put on temporary leave after telling a Wiccan student he couldn’t build an altar table in shop class. Teacher Dale Halferty of Guthrie Center High School, claims he was simply enforcing separation of Church and State, but now that he’s been informed that current local, state, and federal law allows independent religious expression by students, he’s falling back on demonizing the religious “other”. “Personally, I think it’s offensive to worship rocks and trees,” Halferty said of Wicca, a religion based on ancient beliefs and a reverence for the Earth. “I am just trying to be moral. I don’t know how we can profess to be Christians and let this go on.”
Top Story: A high school industrial arts teacher in Iowa has been put on temporary leave in the wake of a controversy concerning a student who was told to stop building a Wiccan altar in shop class. Dale Halferty of Guthrie Center High School claims he was simply enforcing the separation of Church and State, and that he had prevented a Christian from building a cross previously, but school officials claim that neither of those actions actually line up with guidelines regarding religious expression at school. “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.
The DesMoines Register does a great job illustrating why legalizing same-sex marriage isn’t only about gay rights, but the rights of religious minorities as well. The paper profiles Toni Heard and Michelle McBride, a Nebraskan couple who were handfasted in a Wiccan ceremony two years ago, but are now hoping to gain legal recognition thanks to the Iowa state Supreme Court. “Kelly McBride’s eyes filled with tears. Both her daughter and Heard had been victims of crimes as youngsters and only started healing when they found each other, she said. “They found love – and then the state told them they couldn’t show their love,” Kelly McBride said.
The Sioux City Journal is currently running coverage of Lawrence Harris’s murder trial. Harris is accused of first degree murder in the deaths of his two young step-daughters, which he said was the result of a “spell gone bad”. The trial will determine if these were premeditated killings, or if Harris was clinically insane during the murders. Lawrence Douglas Harris was under pressure, unmedicated and trying to find a way to gain control of his life when he attempted to cast a spell in the basement of his house the day his stepdaughters were killed, his attorney told jurors in his trial today. In a packed courtroom with tight security, Assistant Public Defender Mike Williams delivered his opening statements, saying his client was insane that day.