New Zealand Teacher Claims He Was Fired for Being an Atheist

Christopher Scott Roy, a former teacher at Tamaki College in Aukland, New Zealand, is claiming he was fired for being an atheist.

Roy, who left the public school in 2010, describes the school’s outlook as being one that “saw Christian/Mormon faith as a core responsibility to which he was indifferent and reluctant to accept or practice as a condition of his employment.”

According to the reporting by APNZ, Roy had originally settled his grievances with the school, but now claims that he was “under duress and had no access to legal advice at the time the record of settlement was signed.” The school so far has not commented.

From here, it’s impossible to know for sure what might have really happened, but a hearing is now scheduled for sometime in May.

About Paul Fidalgo

Paul is communications director for the Center for Inquiry, as well as an actor and musician. His blog is iMortal, and he tweets as @paulfidalgo, and the blog tweets as @iMortal_blog.
The opinions expressed on this blog are personal to Paul and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for Inquiry.

  • SeekerLancer

    Not a lot to go on here. I guess we’ll know more in May.

  • Charles Honeycutt

    Even the original article is remarkably short on info, so much so that I’ll have to be skeptical until learning more. It’s ridiculously more likely that a teacher would be fired for not being Christian enough than for being too Christian, but that says nothing about this case.

    The two and a half year wait seemed unusual at first, but the article seems to indicate that he and the school had been trying to reach a settlement for a while and finally did last November. It implies that he might have not understood his rights and at the same time been under such serious financial stress that he felt he had no choice but to sign.

    Mormonism is a big thing in Auckland?

  • David Pearce

    I live in Auckland. I have to say, I’m pretty skeptical about this. In answer to Charles, Mormonism is certainly present, but I wouldn’t say it is big. Many suburbs have a Mormon church (along with a Catholic one, and Anglican one, etc), but NZ as a whole is pretty non-religious. I think in the last census only around 50% of the population self identified as Christian. Many churches are closing down parishes, or the church buildings are being taken over by immigrant communities with stronger Christian attachments. South Auckland probably has higher percentages, as Christianity and Mormonism have a strong hold on many of the Pasifika population who make up a large part of the population in that part of Auckland.

    That said, Tamaki College is a state school, and it would be pretty much unprecedented for a teacher in a state school in NZ to have problems because of atheist or secular beliefs – certainly none that have made it into the media that I have seen. State schools are regularly inspected by the Ministry of Education’s Education Review Office, and any issues with inappropriate religious influence in a state school would almost certainly be picked up and dealt with pretty quickly. Be interesting to see what comes out in the hearing, but if I were betting on it, I would say there were other problems unrelated to religion, and the teacher is using atheism as a cover for some behaviour on his part that was unacceptable.

    New Zealand is not antagonistic to atheists and secularists. While religionists do try and proselytise inappropriately in schools, and religion gets preferential treatment in some cases as it does elsewhere in the world, we have many openly atheist or agnostic politicians and leaders – both our current and immediate past Prime Ministers have both openly stated atheist or agnostic positions.

  • Sam B

    I too live in Auckland, and couldn’t have written a more approriate comment. The whole thing just doesn’t seem quite right.

  • Garret Shane Brown

    He waited far too long, even if it is true. I doubt he has much of a chance.