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Catholic college prof is a Wiccan — and is suing school for religious discrimination after being denied promotion

Pauline Hoffmann is a professor St. Bonaventure University in New York — a Catholic college.

Hoffmann also is a Wiccan.

And that is turning out to be a problem.

What happened?

Hoffmann said she resigned under pressure as dean of the communication school and claimed the college denied her a promotion to provost, the Buffalo News reported — because of her religion and gender.

So Hoffmann — who is still with the school's faculty — filed a lawsuit in Buffalo federal court over the issue and is seeking her job back, lost pay, and unspecified damages, the paper said.

"I was angry but also confused and hurt," Hoffmann told the News. "It was like someone telling you, 'Don't be you.'"

Court papers indicated that Hoffmann said the school was aware of her religion but that in the fall of 2011 things turned sour when she announced she wanted to talk about Wicca with the student television station, the paper said.

"They always want to talk to the witches at Halloween," Hoffmann told the News regarding St. Bonaventure's student media, "and I just wanted to give the school a heads up."

Then Michael J. Fischer, provost at the time, approached Hoffmann a few months later and demanded she sign a document vowing to uphold Catholic values, the paper said, citing the suit.

'You might not want to be so overt about being a witch'


"I asked him, 'Would this be happening if I was Jewish?'" she said during an interview with the News. "And he said probably not."

Hoffmann added to the paper that Fischer also told her, "You might not want to be so overt about being a witch if you want to move up."

She told the News that she was the only faculty member asked to sign the school's "morals code," which angered her.

"I just wanted to explain what Wicca was," Hoffmann also told the paper, "but no one seemed to want to hear about it."

More from the News:
The lawsuit claims Sister Margaret Carney, then president of the university, knew about Hoffmann's religion early on but came to regret making her dean.

"I took a big chance hiring you as a Wiccan," Carney told her, according to the suit.

Hoffmann said the consequences of her decision to speak publicly about her religion quickly became apparent — she was denied the provost job and eventually forced to resign as dean.

The suit suggests Carney was instrumental in Hoffmann's resignation and claims current Provost Joseph Zimmer was told to "solve the Pauline problem."

The suit also claims Michael Hoffman, vice provost and chief information officer, told her, "Sister Margaret really has it in for you."
The paper added that Hoffmann was raised in a Christian home and actually learned about Wicca as an undergraduate student at St. Bonaventure.

"Ironically, St. Bonaventure made me a witch," she told the News.

A college spokesman declined to comment on the matter, noting he issue is a personnel matter and now in litigation, the paper said.

Here's a clip of Hoffmann being interviewed recently:


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