Catholic News - Catholic Telecommunications, a devision of Catholic Resources





Peace deacon forced to resign from teaching job over protest

A deacon teaching at a Christian Brothers school in New Jersey resigned from his job rather than follow the school's directive that he remove the 'peace buttons' he was wearing as a protest action.

Before the war in Iraq started, teacher Gary Tankard let his students at Bergen Catholic High School know where he stood, wearing a button that read, "War is not the answer." Several of his colleagues did the same.

School authorities objected and said the red, white and blue buttons had to go. The other teachers relented, but Tankard resigned.

"This was a matter of conscience," Tankard, 63, told The Record of Bergen County for Wednesday's editions.

Although he quit several weeks ago, Tankard said he decided to discuss the situation after viewing battle scenes on television.

"The absolute horror of seeing our troops get killed, and cities get bombed," he told the newspaper. "It brought home to me why I put that button on in the first place."

The principal of the 850-student boys school, Joseph Fusco, said the student dress code bars slogans on clothing, and that the rules generally apply to faculty as well.

"I encourage teaching that (anti-war) point of view because it is a teaching of the church," Fusco said. "I just feel a button is not a vehicle to teach."

Private schools and employers can impose such rules, unless barred by a contract, Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said Wednesday. She was not immediately aware of other incidents involving anti-war sentiment.


Bergen Catholic High School
Parishioners outraged over priest's anti-war sermon (Times-Union)
An oasis of peace
Nobel Peace Prize winner arrested outside White House (Ananova)
Iraq: Fr. Lacunza: This War to be Big Lesson for Desiring Peace (Vidimus Dominum)

28 Mar 2003