Paganism

Controversy over Religious Rights of Pagans in the Military

June 19, 1999

Source: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

On June 19, 1999, an article in The Atlanta Journal and Consititution stated that " Readers responding to last week's ethics question overwhelmingly voiced their belief that Wiccans have the constitutional right to practice their religion --- even on military installations. 'I support the right of people of all religious backgrounds and faiths to practice as their beliefs and hearts require,' Teresa Downing commented. 'Religious freedom is one of the cornerstones of our country.' ... 'People of other religions...

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Controversy over Religious Rights of Pagans in the Military

June 11, 1999

Source: The Houston Chronicle

On June 11, 1999, The Freedom Forum Online offered an Associated Press article reporting that Religious groups urge Christians to boycott Army over Wiccans. The Houston Chronicle published a similar article stating that "conservative Christian organizations this week called for a nationwide boycott of the Army, demanding it reverse its policy of accommodating soliders with alternative religious beliefs."

Controversy over Religious Rights of Pagans in the Military

June 8, 1999

Source: The Washington Post

On June 8, 1999, The Washington Post published an article on the current situation of Wiccans in the military. The first Wiccan group to be recognized by the military was the Fort Hood Open Circle, which was formed two years ago at the largest military post in the nation, Fort Hood, Texas. Since then, groups have formed on military bases in Louisiana, Alaska, Okinawa, and Florida. The group in Fort Hood drew public attention in March 1999, when they invited a photographer to witness their spring ceremony and photos were printed...

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Controversy over Religious Rights of Pagans in the Military

May 18, 1999

Source: No source given.

On May 18, 1999, Representative Bob Barr's press release called for the exclusion of the Wiccan religion and Witchcraft from the countries' military bases. Barr's attack has been countered by many voices from within the Pagan community. The Witches' Voice reports that "John Machate, Coordinator/CEO of the Military Pagan Network responded in a letter to Congressman Barr, "This is a direct attack on the Constitution of the United States. All religions are protected, not just those...

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High School in Wisconsin Apologizes to Teen for Restricting Internet Access to Wicca

March 31, 1999

Source: Star Tribune

On March 31, 1999, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported that a battle between the Winter School District in Wisconsin and Burklin Nielsen, a 16-year-old student at Winter High School, has been resolved. Nielsen filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction claiming that her freedom of religion was violated when she was prevented from accessing material over the internet about Wicca in a school computer lab for public use during non-school hours. Nielsen, a Lutheran, was the target of many small-town rumors...

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Pagan Celebrations of Vernal Equinox

March 19, 1999

Source: The Boston Herald

On March 19, 1999, The Boston Herald featured an article on Pagan celebrations of the vernal equinox, which honor the arrival of spring and Eostra, the Teutonic goddess of spring. Pagan lore recounts that a rabbit so wanted to please Eostra that it laid sacred eggs in her honor. The rabbit then decorated the eggs and presented them to Eostra. She was so pleased with the eggs that the rabbit was sent across the land to distribute the eggs. Although vernal equinox celebrations differ from coven to coven, many Pagans do paint the eggs...

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Lawsuit Brought Against Lincoln Park Public Schools in Michigan

February 20, 1999

Source: The Detroit News

On February 20, 1999, The Detroit News published an editorial noting that a 17-year-old high school student in Lincoln Park High School, Crystal Seifferly, is suing the school system for not giving her the right to wear a pentagram, the symbol of her Wiccan faith. In an attempt to curb violence and gang activity within the school system, the principal of the high school announced a policy that would target "inappropriate activities" such as "graffiti," "gang colors/styles," "cult dress/styles," "black nail polish," and "Pentagram...

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Pagan Education Network Creates Pagan Community Fund

December 25, 1998

Source: Pagan Education Network

On December 25, 1998 Pagan Education Network released a press release stating that "The Pagan Educational Network, Inc. is proud to announce the founding of the Pagan Community Fund. This fund, formerly known as the Wiccan Community Fund, provides cash assistance to Pagans in need. Recipients may use the assistance to put food in the cupboard, pay bills, recover from some natural disaster, or fund legal efforts in the case of religious discrimination."

Winter Solstice Celebrants Arrested

December 23, 1998

Source: The New York Times

On December 23, 1998 the New York Times reported that 33 participants in a Winter Solstice celebration were charged with trespassing. The Staten Island beach is technically closed after dusk, and the ritual fire was seen as problematic. "Ms. Henes, 53, said she had held at least 15 solstice ceremonies on South Beach and never run into a problem before. 'In the past,' she said, 'sometimes the Fire Department has come because someone has seen the fire, and we say, look, this is our religion, and they have been very respectful and...

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Massachusetts Candidate for Governor Runs Advertisement That Stereotypes Witches

November 1, 1998

Source: Chicago Tribune

On November 1, 1998, the Chicago Tribune issued an article concerning a television advertisement that was run by acting Massachusetts Governor Paul Celluci in his bid for election. In the advertisement, which is supposed to attack the priorities of his opponent Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, a "black-hatted, green-faced crone" was featured while an announcer said that Harshbarger once threatened to prosecute a Christian group for harassing a group of Wiccans in Salem. In reaction to the advertisement, a rally was...

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Wiccan Reflections on Halloween/Samhain

October 31, 1998

Source: St. Petersburg Times

On October 31, 1998, the St. Petersburg Times published an article entitled, "Witches Rejoice, Reflect on Halloween." Robin Spaulding, a Wiccan priestess who lives in northeast St. Petersburg, says that "on Samhain, that is the time you are most likely to communicate with the spirits that have passed on." Susan Granby of the Compass Coven in St. Petersburg suggests that Samhain is both a celebration of life and a time to say farwell to the spirits of those who have died this year.

Wiccan Reflections on Halloween/Samhain

October 29, 1998

Source: Los Angeles Times

On October 31st, while many Americans celebrate Halloween as trick-or-treating and costume-wearing, Wiccans celebrate Samhain or Hallowmas, which is the Wiccan New Year. Two articles were written which engage Halloween as a Wiccan holiday. On October 29, 1998, the Los Angeles Times published an article entitled, "Their Guiding Light." Ruth Barrett, instructor and co-founder of Circle of Aradia in Southern California, describes Samhain as the "night where the veil between worlds is thinnest: between this world and the spirit...

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Wiccan Wedding Ceremony in a Public Park

September 20, 1998

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On September 20, 1998, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Christina Francis and Rick Beckner had exchanged wedding vows on September 19th in Scout Lake Park in Greendale, WI. Describing the Pagan community of her youth in Milwaukee as "very hush-hush," Francis now sees the Pagan community as "more comfortable with visibility," such that she is now able to enjoy her wedding ceremony in a public park. Francis and Beckner were joined in a ceremony known to Wiccans as second-degree handfasting, which is a legal...

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