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WICCAN NEWS IN THE MEDIA

YEAR 1999

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Wiccan news for 1999:

We started this list in 1999-OCT, but added one earlier news item because of its seriousness. It will take some time to build the list up.

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1999-JUN-29: USA: Senator attacks religious rights of soldiers: According to the First Amendment Center: Last week, Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC) submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee suggesting that the religious freedoms of Wiccan soldiers be terminated. He wrote: "Army soldiers who consider themselves to be members of the Church of Wicca are carrying out their ceremonies at Fort Hood in Texas.  "The Wiccas [sic] practice witchcraft. At Fort Hood, they are permitted to build fires on Army property and perform their rituals involving fire, hooded robes, and nine inch daggers. An Army chaplain is even present...I do not dispute that individuals may believe what they wish, and they can practice their religion in private life. However, limits can and should be placed on the exercise of those views, especially in the military. I do not believe that the Armed Forces should accommodate the practice of witchcraft at military facilities. The same applies to the practices of other groups such as Satanists and cultists. For the sake of the honor and prestige of our military, there should be no obligation to permit such activity. This is an example of going too far to accommodate the practice of one's views in the name of religion." 1

bullet1999-OCT-19: NC Carolina: Local Earth Religions proclamation: A group of 25 people, some of them Christian clergy, gathered at the Asheville NC city hall and protested an earlier decree by the mayor, Leni Sitnick. The proclamation recognized the week starting OCT-25 as "Earth Religions Awareness Week." She commented: "I don't tell anyone how to believe, but I support everyone's right to freedom of religion. Being aware of different religions, of all religions ... should not be feared." In her proclamation, she wrote, in part: that Earth-centered religion are "among the oldest spiritual systems on the planet." It continued that its followers "have given us practical knowledge of herbal remedies, midwifery and alternative forms of healing." Ken Lewis, pastor of the West Asheville Baptist Church, said "We just wanted to counter that by making a positive statement that we believe Jesus is Lord."  Rev. Jim Dykes, chairman of the Community Council for Biblical Values, asked the mayor to designate "Lordship of Jesus Christ Week" instead. Albert Bishop, minister of the Riverside Baptist Church said he was worried that some students might have their curiosity raised about witchcraft and might try it out. He said: "If they see these things happening, they may see it as exciting, and that may send them to hell.2
bullet1999-OCT-?: Wales: Pagan buried as Christian: Bones of a man who lived about 3,000 years ago were found in the Dan-yr-Ogof Sow caves at Abercrave in South Wales, UK. The manager of the caves, Ashford Price, decided the local minister of the Church in Wales, the Reverend Dr. David Phipps should give the Bronze Age man a Christian burial. Price felt that the isolated farming community was mainly Christian. This distressed Mark Kay, a member of the local Celtic Neopagan group, Isis Brigantia. He said: "This is an insult to Pagans everywhere. I would hate to think that someone who found my remains in 3,000 years times would take it upon themselves to bury me as a Christian." The Rev. Phipps disagreed: "We live in a Christian culture and at the end of the day we all believe a God." 3
bullet1999-DEC-9: South Africa: Anglican Archbishop wants Pagans removed: On the occasion of the Parliament of the World's Religions (PWR), Njongonkulu Ndungane, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, suggested that restrictions should be placed on participation in the PWR. He commented that "it should not be opened to everybody who says 'I am religious'. For instance I was talking to the Chief Rabbi the other day. He was telling me that he asked somebody what's your religion and this person said Paganism. In the wider religious family they ought to be some kind of limits that are set."

When asked about Witches, he replied that he did not know how Witchcraft was practiced in the United States. He declined to give his opinion whether they should be admitted to the PWR. 

The national chairman of the Council of African Traditional Religion, Nokuzola Mndende, said: "If South Africans are true to their liberation, they must learn to be tolerant. It is the focus of religion to unite people - not to define others from one's own perspective."

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References:

  1. "Senate Republican joins call to end military accommodation of Wicca," First Amendment Center, at: http://www.freedomforum.org/religion/1999/6/
  2. "Ministers decry N.C. mayor's proclamation honoring 'Earth Religions,'" CNN.com, 1999-OCT-21. Online at: http://cnn.com/US/9910/21/earth.religions.ap/index.html 
  3. "Pagans in burial bust-up," The Sunday Mirror, London, UK. Online at: http://www.ic24.net:80/mgn/THE_MIRROR/NEWS/P9S4.html

Copyright 1999 to 2001 incl., by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Originally published: 1999-OCT-22
Latest update: 2001-NOV-2
Author: B.A. Robinson

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