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Wiccan sues Catholic university for religious discrimination after losing her post as dean

‘St. Bonaventure made me a witch’

A woman who says her time at a Catholic university turned her into a witch is now suing the school in federal court for discrimination.

Pauline Hoffmann expected to be promoted to provost at St. Bonaventure University, but instead resigned from her post as dean of the communications school “under pressure,” The Buffalo News reports. She claims it was because she is a woman and a Wiccan.

It was as an undergraduate at St. Bonaventure that she found Wicca – “ironically, St. Bonaventure made me a witch,” Hoffmann told the newspaper. “I was angry but also confused and hurt. It was like someone telling you, ‘Don’t be you.’”

Hoffman was not forced to leave the university. She still retains her post as an associate professor, but she wants her deanship back and unstated damages.

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The lawsuit claims that Hoffman notified the administration shortly before Halloween 2011 that she was going to talk to the student TV station about Wicca. A few months later, then-provost Michael Fischer singled her out among faculty by asking her to sign a statement upholding Catholic values.

He allegedly told her that this would “probably not” be happening if she were Jewish, Hoffmann told the News.

In an email to The Huffington Post, Hoffmann says the university’s alleged discrimination is due to “a fear of the unknown,” noting that Wicca is not a “mainstream” religion. “I think there are many stereotypes surrounding it that are grossly inaccurate,” she said.

The options on the table for the university to resolve the lawsuit: monetary damages, diversity training or even a “symbolic apology,” her lawyers told the News. The latter could involve a donation to a religious-tolerance organization.

Read the News and Post reports.

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