Religion

New Zealand Atheist Teacher Denied by Employment Authority After Claiming Assault

| by Allison Geller

Christopher Scott Roy, an atheist teacher in New Zealand who claimed he was pressured to resign due to his beliefs, lost his bid to make a claim before the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

The New Zealand Herald reported that Roy, a former art teacher who resigned from Tamaki College in Auckland in 2010, told the ERA that he was assaulted and intimidated by staff and that he had taken the $6,500 settlement under duress when he was "constructively dismissed."

Roy said the school saw Christianity as "a core responsibility to which he was indifferent," according to the Marlborough Express. He refused to attend Christian-based powhiri events, a traditional Maori ceremony.

His more scandalous claim, however, was that Alfred Ngaro, a board of trustees member who is now an MP with the New Zealand government, punched him in the back of the head when he refused to pray at a post-rugby match dinner.

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Roy claimed that Kings College officials asked if anyone objected to prayer. Roy did not take part as everyone else bowed their heads. He said that Ngaro later came up to him outside with the school’s principal, Soana Pamaka, and hit him.

Both Ngaro and Pamaka deny the assault occurred.

ERA member Tania Tetitaha found numerous holes in Roy’s case. He changed the evidence, including the location of his injuries and Pamaka’s involvement. The ERA also concluded that there was no evidence of bullying behavior and that the motivation for the assault didn’t “ring true.”

Sources: The New Zealand Herald, Marlborough Express