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Man Files $10 Million Lawsuit against Hospital after Being Fired for Being Wiccan
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4 Jun 2017 02:26 PM EST

-by Anthony Bell, Contributing Writer; Image: The five elements of Wicca with a pentagram (Image Source: Jakub Jankiewicz [Jcubic] via Wikimedia Commons)

A former nursing aide has filed a lawsuit against the supervisors and employees at Staten Island's Sea View Hospital Rehabilitation Center and Home for firing him based on his belief in Wicca, a modern form of paganism.

According to SILive.com, DeLuca claims that his former co-workers and bosses misunderstood his pagan religion and accused him of "Satanism" and called his beliefs a "hate crime" against Christianity. A director also reportedly asked him if he was a terrorist.

As a result of the harassment and his eventual firing, DeLuca has filed a $10-million lawsuit.

The complaint states that DeLuca was "the victim of a continuous pattern of religious discrimination resulting in termination" despite being "well-qualified for his position and ... highly regarded by tenants and co-workers."

"[DeLuca] alleges his work was good, but people do not understand Wicca and feel it is a dangerous religion, when in reality, it is a harmless modern version of ancient European paganism which existed before the advent of Christianity," the complaint notes. "Non-Wiccans, unfamiliar with the religion, associate it with devil worship and often feel it involves dangerous 'satanic' practices antithetical to Judeo-Christian traditions."

The complaint also notes that his co-workers were upset by a drawing of a pentagram, a five-pointed star, on DeLuca's locker. He was reportedly asked to remove the symbol despite others having more traditional religious symbols on their lockers.

DeLuca was reportedly told that co-workers were "scared" of his use of the pentagram, yet other employees were allowed to display crosses and other religious imagery. A supervisor also allegedly ordered DeLuca to cover up a Wiccan pendant depicting the "Greenman," a horned man wearing a mask of leaves. The head of security told him that the pendant was "offensive" and represented "Satanism" and called it "a hate crime against Christianity."

Co-workers also made false complaints about DeLuca, he claims. One man said he allegedly left a note on his locker threatening to "blow it up," while another falsely claimed that DeLuca was keeping guns in his locker.

According to public record DeLuca, 27, currently lives in Pennsylvania. He was allegedly fired on February 22, 2016, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in state Supreme Court, St. George, against the city Health + Hospitals Corporation.

DeLuca's argument seems valid in terms of the "freedom of religion" that many American voters—especially republicans—have been focusing on lately. As for his former employer's views, they seem to have gotten their facts wrong.

Wicca is a "contemporary Pagan new religious movement," according to Wikipedia. Developed in England in the early 20th century, it became public in 1954 thanks to Gerald Gardner, a retired British civil servant. Wicca combines ancient pagan and 20th-century hermetic beliefs. There is no central "god," and it is not related to Satanism. Wiccans may worship a goddess and/or a god, though there are many included in the beliefs. While some identify as witches, not all Wiccans practice "witchcraft," as Wicca and witchcraft are not the same.

According to newworldencylopedia.org, Wicca is "generally considered to be distinct from witchcraft, which does not of itself imply any specific religious, ethical, or ritual elements, and is practiced in various forms by people of many religions." It incorporates some aspects of witchcraft, particularly ritual practices involving spells, herbs, and divination, yet the religion's ethics limit magical activities to good purposes.

Aside from $10 million in damages, DeLuca also would like his job reinstated, the report notes.

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