Apr 11, 2013Print This Post
A longtime substitute teacher in Phillipsburg, NJ, who was fired after he gave a student a Bible has filed a religious discrimination and retaliation complaint against the school district.
Walter Tutka was dismissed after he was found guilty of breaking two policies – distributing religious literature on school grounds and another policy that directs teachers to be neutral when discussing religious material.
Liberty Institute and a New Jersey law firm filed the complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office.
“It is shocking that the school district is forcing Walt to file a complaint with the EEOC for religious discrimination,” attorney Hiram Sasser told Fox News. “All Walt did was respond to a student’s intellectual curiosity and the school district suspended Walt and then terminated him.”
Tutka’s trouble started last October when he was standing by a door waiting on middle school students to enter the building. One student trailed behind the rest.
“Just remember, son,” Tutka told the tardy student, “The first shall be last but the last shall be first.”
A few days later the student asked about the origins of the quote. Tutka told him it was in the Bible.
On Oct. 12th, Tutka was eating lunch in the cafeteria when the student approached and brought up the Bible verse. So Tutka took out his Bible and showed the student the verse.
At some point the student mentioned that he did not have a Bible. Tutka, who also serves in Gideons International, happened to have a spare book.
“Walt basically said, ‘would you like mine?” said Joe Imhof, a friend of Tutka’s and a fellow Gideon. “The student said yes and so Walt gave him his personal New Testament.”
Liberty Institute said the district took action against Tutka simply because he handed the child a Bible — a book that is often referenced in works of Shakespeare.
“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 said it’s amazing to note the religious hostility in American schools – while other nations embrace religion.
“One of the Gideons in our local camp is from the Soviet Union,” Imhof said. “In most countries overseas we are allowed to go into public schools and give Bibles to students. But since this is America – you can’t do it here.”
“When the Soviet Union fells, Bibles were allowed in the schools, people could pray in the schools,” Hussey said. “It seems we have more persecution in America than they do in Russia.”
Tutka’s firing brought condemnation across the community.
“It is so awful,” said Tutka’s pastor, Chris Hussey. “I’ve never seen something so absurd in my life.”
Hussey, the pastor of Abundant Life Community Church, told Fox News that he’s been disturbed by Tutka’s treatment.
“Walt is a spiritually strong guy,” he said. “He knows not to hold any animosity or bitterness – but it is emotionally taxing on him.”
Pastor Hussey said the incident should serve as a stark reminder to Christians that there is a war on the culture.
“Christianity is under attack in America,” he said. “It seems our government officials are afraid of Muslims and yet they capitulate to them and any other religious group. But when it comes to Christians – they are completely intolerant of Christians.”