CHRISTIAN & WICCAN CONFLICTS
History of recent clashes
Some examples of recent Christian attacks on Wiccans:
||Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) sponsored
1985-SEP-26. This was an amendment to H.R. 3036, an appropriations
bill to fund various federal government agencies. The amendment was passed
by a House vote. It would have prevented "funds
appropriated under the Act [from being] used to
grant, maintain, or allow tax exemptions to any cult,
organization, or other group that has any interest in, the
promoting of satanism or witchcraft." It is unknown to
which of the 17 or so different
activities called "witchcraft" that the amendment
would apply. The amendment died in
committee. It obviously would not have survived a constitutional
challenge in the courts. This bill is not a recent event.
However, it is included here because of its importance. It galvanized
Wiccan concern for their religious rights at the time, and motivated
some to organize anti-defamation groups.
|| Governor Mike Johanns of Nebraska signed an official
proclamation supporting the 1999 "March for Jesus Day."
When asked whether he would sign as similar declaration for a Wiccan day
of celebration, he allegedly answered: "Nope. Something
that I personally disagree with...I'm not going to sign it." He
later carried out his word when he refused to proclaim the summer
solstice, a festival which is celebrated by many Neopagan, and Native
American groups. More details.
|| Representative Bob Bar (R-GA) demanded
in 1999 that the right of
Wiccans to celebrate their religion on U.S. Army bases be terminated.
Soldiers at Ft. Hood, TX, had previously negotiated the right to conduct their
rituals on base. More details.
||Governor G.W Bush of Texas, referred to the above case
soldiers. He allegedly said in a TV interview on 1999-JUN-24: "The military should rethink their
position. That's not a religion." 1
||Unknown U.S. location:
Writer Carol Matthews wrote: "in one instance of which the
author is personally aware, a neo-pagan was lynched by a group of
fundamentalists who deemed him a threat to the community."
||Jonesboro AR: In the early
1990's there was an attempted multiple murder by stoning. This
happened during a march which involved many local Wiccans. The
demonstration had been organized to promote religious tolerance
and freedom in the area. One or more local ministers had preached that in
Bible times, the people knew how to handle
individuals of other religions -
they stoned them to death. A prominent conservative Christian
teleminister had arranged to bus fellow Christians to the march site.
They emerged from the bus -- many carrying rocks. Numerous
injuries and deaths would probably have resulted, if it were not
for the prompt, combined action of over 5 local police forces. They
formed a protective circle around the marchers.
||By municipal governments:
||Dallas, TX: Bryan
Lankford, a Wiccan and the first officer of the Texas Council of
the Covenant of the Goddess, had been invited to give the opening
invocation at the Dallas TX City Council meeting on 2000-SEP-27.
Someone leaked the information to a local Christian radio station
who asked their listeners to call the city and threaten to protest
if a Wiccan was allowed to speak. The invitation was cancelled and
a Christian minister was substituted. Bryan did deliver his
invocation on that day -- from the steps outside of city hall. A
local Christian TV station called for actions against the Wiccans.
Their listeners were asked to do "whatever they had to, to
stop the invocation." It was said that the "Satanists
are taking over the city." Bryan was finally allowed to give the
invocation on OCT-3. More details.
||By public school boards:
||Scattered minor conflicts have occurred in many public school districts. They
seem to have reached a peak during 1999. The main sticking point appears to be the
clothing worn by Wiccan students, particularly jewelry. This usually involves upright
pentagrams (five-pointed stars with one point upwards) and pentacles
(pentagrams enclosed in a circle). Often, this jewelry is banned because
school officials confuse it with gang symbols. One school banned them
because they were seen to symbolize violence. Ironically, the school
allowed Roman Catholic students to wear a crucifix, which portray a
being tortured to death on a cross. It was not judged to be a violent
symbol. Yet, school authorities viewed a five pointed star, seen by the
dozens on every U.S. flag, to be a symbol of violent behavior.
||By conservative Christian groups:
||The Free Congress Association:
In 1999, Wiccans
received the same religious rights as followers of other religions at Ft.
Hood -- they were permitted to conduct their rituals on base. The Free Congress Association
(FCA) initiated and coordinated an anti-Wiccan
boycott. 13 Fundamentalist Christian groups initially joined. This
included the Christian Coalition, the American Family Association (AFA),
and at least four other Christian groups that specialize in the field of
religious freedom. Paul M. Weyrich, president of the FCA issued a
joint statement on behalf of the coalition. It said in part: "Until the Army
withdraws all official support and approval from Witchcraft, no
Christian should enlist or re-enlist in the Army, and Christian parents
should not allow their children to join the Army." Many of the
organizations, including the AFA, the Christian Coalition, and the Home School
Legal Defense Association, later withdrew their support for the boycott. 3|
|| Family Research Council: Lt. Col. Robert L
Maginnis (U.S. Army, Ret.) wrote an essay "Brewing up trouble:
Wicca and the U.S. Military" in 1999-JUN. He argued that the
existence of Wiccans in the U.S. Armed Forces was having an adverse
affect on military readiness. This conclusion was based on the following
||A slippery slope argument: that if Wiccans are allowed then "any
fringe religion will now have to be granted special benefits"
by the DOD. He does not list what those "special benefits"
are. [We are unaware of Wiccans having been given any special
consideration in the Army.]
||Willingness to murder: Wiccans
are less willing than Christians to kill others on command.
[While it is true that Wiccans are generally peaceful, spiritual
individuals, there is no evidence that the subset of Wiccans who
have enlisted in the Army are any less willing that the average
Christian to kill people on command.]
||Religious intolerance: "Today’s military is
overwhelmingly Christian. The Bible labels witchcraft as an
abomination. Accommodating witches who engage in behaviors that are
antithetical to the 'law of nature and nature’s God' will cause
unit friction, undermine morale, and impair recruitment and
retention." [The Army introduced racial integration even
though some whites objected to working along side of African-Americans;
this is no different. We can hardly expect that Army to make
allowances for various group's bigotry.] More details
||Other conflicts: Wiccan
periodicals and anti-defamation mailing lists frequently contain
stories of Wiccans losing their job, accommodation, child custody and
child access because of their religion. There have been many
shootings, fire-bombings, instances of arson directed against Wiccans.
Starting in 1999-FALL, we have attempt to record
as many of these events as possible|
Governor G.W. Bush (R-TX). Interviewed on ABC's Good Morning America,
1999-JUN-24 by Peggy Wehmeyer.
Carol Matthews, "Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft,"
in Timothy Miller, Ed., "America's Alternative Religions,"
SUNY Press, (1995). Page 343.
R. L. Maginnis, "Brewing up trouble: Wicca and the
U.S. Military," Family Research Council at:
Printed copies of the essay can be requested from the Family Research
Council at (800) 225-4008. This is a toll-free number accessible from
the U.S. and Canada.
Copyright © 2000 & 2002 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2000-OCT-13
Latest update: 2002-SEP-3
Author: B.A. Robinson