More than a week ago, I posted about Rev. George Nedeff, a substitute teacher in West Virginia’s Wood County Schools, who wanted to wear priestly garb when working in the classroom.
Nedeff, who is a member of the religious order SOLT, the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, wears a gray ankle-length habit as a representation of the order and his vows. Nedeff also wears a crucifix and a rosary.
“I am a priest. I am proud of it,” he said Wednesday. “I’m proud of the religious order I’m part of, and this is my life now.”
Obviously, this crossed a line. Nedeff also made it very clear that he would discuss his journey to becoming a priest with the students, which could be considered a form of proselytizing. He said, incorrectly, that “students would have a sense of reassurance by having a religious priest substituting in their schools.”
The administrators weren’t sure what to do but said they would have their legal team check with local and state laws on the matter before making a decision.
They did just that and came to the obvious conclusion: This would be considered an establishment of religion by the District and therefore illegal.
The District told Nedeff he would not be allowed to wear his religious outfit in the classroom, so he did the right thing and resigned:
Nedeff said he has instead decided to concentrate on his duties as a substitute priest with the Catholic Diocese of Charleston-Wheeling, though he noted those duties are primarily on weekends and would not have interfered with being a substitute teacher.
“I’m 75 years old. I don’t know how much time I have left,” Nedeff said. “Whatever time I do have, I’m going to serve the church wherever and however they need. I’m going to be happy doing that. I think that’s what God wants me to do.”
That’s precisely the problem. He’s welcome to serve the church, but he won’t be doing that in a public school classroom unless there’s a District looking to throw away money in a lawsuit.
Nedeff may be a great teacher, by the way, but he clearly puts his religion (and the distraction it would cause) over the needs of the students. For that reason, he has no place working in a public school, even as a substitute.
And if you disagree, just imagine what the reaction would be if a Muslim imam, dressed as such, tried to do the same thing. It would never even be considered. That’s why Nedeff doesn’t deserve any sympathy either.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Sonja for the link)