A New Jersey substitute teacher who says he was fired for giving a student a Bible has filed a complaint Wednesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming he was a victim of "religious discrimination."
Walt Tutka, who was working as substitute teacher at Phillipsburg School District in Phillipsburg, N.J., in October, said he was merely responding to a student's intellectual curiosity when he gifted him with a Bible in October.
According to the complaint, on Oct. 12 Tutka told a student who was last in line, "The first shall be the last and the last shall be the first." The student then "repeatedly" asked where the line was from and Tutka told him it was from the Bible and asked if the student owned one. The student said no, so Tutka gave him the pocket-sized one he always carried.
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Tutka reportedly stopped subbing on Oct. 15, and claims Superintendent George Chando told him three days later that he was being terminated for giving a Bible to a student. He was fired Jan. 14, according to the complaint.
The Liberty Institute, a Texas-based conservative Christian legal group, is representing Tutka.
"It is shocking that the school district has forced Walt to file a complaint with the EEOC for religious discrimination," Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Institute, told The Warren Reporter. "All Walt did was respond to a student's intellectual curiosity and the school district suspended and then terminated him."
The school is likely to claim "separation of church and state" as a defense for Tutka's firing. Federal courts have ruled that public schools can't display religious symbols or texts because it crosses the line dividing church from state.
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Earlier this month, an Ohio school was forced to remove a portrait of Jesus
after two parents and a student filed a lawsuit claiming the painting was an unconstitutional promotion of religion in a public school.
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