Pagan Ceremony Faces Hostile Christian Protests

April 30, 2002

Source: Los Angeles Times

On April 30, 2002, the Los Angeles Times reported that on the evening of the spring equinox, 50 local pagans gathered in Lancaster, CA. Their rituals were interrupted by "about 20 Christians [who] had driven up to pray for the pagans' souls, and two were walking around the circle reading Bible verses... A praying man, who turned out to be a sheriff's chaplain, was blaring Christian pop tunes through his SUV speakers... The pagans said they felt intimidated and called the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Although the Lancaster station is three blocks away, it took deputies 4 1/2 hours to respond... The events of the evening of March 16--since dubbed 'Wiccagate' by the local media--have ignited an intense debate among residents over 1st Amendment rights, hate legislation and the limits of tolerance in the High Desert, a bastion of Christian conservatism that is grappling with growing racial and religious diversity... Many of the pagans call the interruption of their services a hate crime. But Lancaster Sheriff's Capt. Tom Pigott said no one was assaulted, no property was damaged and no laws were broken... In recent years, valley leaders have founded a number of politically correct institutions to combat the area's reputation for narrow-mindedness, including a hate crimes hotline, a human relations task force and an anger management course for teens drawn to bigotry."