WICCAN NEWS IN THE MEDIA
Wiccan news for 2005:
News about Wiccans and other
Neopagans in the media appears to be drying up.
We suspect that some of the reasons are:
||Many new conservative Christian web sites and books have accurately
reflected Wicca instead of reprinting misinformation based on religious
propaganda from the Burning Times
||The public has generally become much more aware of Wicca, and have
accepted it as a valid minority religion.
||Enough Wiccans have enforced their rights through the court. Few public school districts
continue to ban religious jewelry; few municipal councils reject
non-Judeo-Christian representatives for the delivery of invocations.
||2005-FEB: Chesterfield County,
VA, rejects Wiccan priestess: Cynthia Simpson, a Wiccan priestess, was
informed that she could not lead the opening prayer at a Chesterfield County
Board of Supervisors meeting. The county asserted that her beliefs as a Wiccan
were not consistent with the Judeo-Christian tradition. A trial judge ruled that
it was unconstitutional to deny her the chance to deliver the invocation. The
county has appealed the decision.|
Simpson said that she was excluded because
of a lack of understanding. She said: "People just don't know about...[Wicca]
and there has definitely been a misrepresentation of Witchcraft...I understand
all that ignorance and confusion." She plans to appeal the decision of the
appeals court if it does not rule in her favor.
8 News referred to Simpson as "a self-proclaimed witch." We
have found no evidence of the media outlet referring to Christians, Jews,
Muslims etc. as "self-proclaimed." 1 More info.
||2005-MAY-26: IN: Divorced parents
prohibited from religious expression: When Tammie Bristol and Thomas
Jones Jr. applied for a divorce in 2004-fall, Judge Cale J. Bradford of the
Marion Superior Court added an unusual -- perhaps unique -- provision
to their divorce. They could not no longer expose their 9-year-old son to
the Wiccan religious beliefs, which both of them
Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, interviewed the couple and sent
their recommendations about custody and visitation rights to the court. The
Bureau detected what they judged to be a problem: the son attends a local
Catholic parochial school and the parents follow a non-Catholic,
non-Christian religion. The Bureau's report stated that: "There is a
discrepancy between Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones' lifestyle and the belief system
adhered to by the parochial school....Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones display little
insight into the confusion these divergent belief systems will have upon
(the boy) as he ages." The Bureau appears to regard the religion of
Wicca as a "lifestyle" and Roman Catholicism as a "belief system."
The judge prohibited both parents from exposing their son to "non-mainstream
religious beliefs and rituals." He did not define what a "mainstream"
religion is. Both parents were outraged by this ruling and, with the support
of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, have filed a request with the
appeals court to have the restrictive clause deleted. The father said: "This
was done without either of us requesting it and at the judge's whim. It is
upsetting to our son that he cannot celebrate holidays with us, including
Yule, which is winter solstice, and Ostara,
which is the spring equinox." 2|
likely that the judge is unaware:
||Of the nature of Wicca. A great deal of misinformation and disinformation is still
being circulated about Wicca.
||That many non-Catholics attend Roman Catholics parochial schools.
||The sizeable and growing percentage of families in which children
are exposed to religious diversity because their parents follow
different religions or different faith groups within the same religion.
adults regard themselves as both Wiccans and
Above all, the judge appears to be unaware of the
First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which guarantees freedom of
religion and requires separation of church and state.
||2005-AUG-17: Appeals court overturns
judge's ruling concerning Wicca: As expected, the Marion Superior
Court ruling was overturned on appeal. The Indiana Civil Liberties
Union based the appeal partly on the unconstitutionally vague
instruction that the son was not to be exposed to "non-mainstream
religious beliefs and rituals." But the appeals court based its ruling
on state law which gives custodial parents the right to determine a child's
upbringing, including religious training. 3|
Covenant News covered this news item in its web site in its "Abominations"
section. They follow their abstract with a quotation from the King James
version of the Bible: Exodus 22:18: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to
2005-OCT-11: Appeal to the U.S.
Supreme Court rejected: Cyndi Simpson is a
Wiccan priestess who is affiliated with the
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. She
lives in Chesterfield County, VA. The county board starts its meetings with
a Judeo-Christian invocation. She tried to have her name added to the list
of religious persons who gave invocations but was refused. She sued and her
case eventually was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Rebecca Glenberg of the American Civil
Liberties Union told the court that the county issues invitations to deliver
prayers to all Christian, Muslim, and Jewish religious leaders in the
county, but refuses to invite Native Americans, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs,
and Wiccans. Local Hindu, Buddhist, and Native
American groups filed a brief on her behalf. The Supreme Court refused to
hear Ms. Simpson's appeal. As is normal in these cases, the court did not
offer a reason. Simpson feels that the legal effort was worthwhile because
it informed the public in an area of the U.S. that is particularly
religiously intolerant about Wicca and Unitarian Universalism.
2005-OCT-28: ON: Toronto Board
of Education issues memo on Halloween/Samhain: The Board issued a memo
titled "Hallowe'en at Toronto District School Board Schools: Scarrrrry
Stuff!. " It asked the schools to hold culturally sensitive Halloween
celebrations. It urged schools to respect the celebration as a Wiccan holy
day. It also noted that some students have had "first-hand traumatic
experiences of violence that make talking about death, ghosts, etc.,
extremely alienating." 4
2005-NOV-02: MD: Spiral Dance
Circle discussed in media: ReligionNewsBlog described a
Saturday morning meeting in Baltimore County, MD, of Spiral Dance Circle
No. 101. The meeting includes a half-dozen children in the age range 4
to 8 and their mothers. They are members of the SpiralScouts, an
international youth group composed mainly of Wiccans,
Druids, and other Neopagans.
The group sang a song about a Halloween pumpkin, heard about the first
jack-l'-lanterns made from turnips to scare away evil spirits, and prepared
for trick or treating on their seasonal day of celebration, Samhain.
Spiral Scouts International was formed in 2001, partly in response to
discrimination against homosexuals by the regular Boy Scouts. 5
"Witch Prayer Flap," 8 News, WRIC, Petersburg/Richmond VA, 2005-FEB-17, at:
Kevin Corcoran, "Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs,"
Indianapolis Star, 2005-MAY-26, at:
Mike Smith, "Appeals Court Tosses Judge's Wiccan Order," Associated
Press, 2005-AUG-17, at:
Tess Kalinowski, "Board urges 'inclusive' Halloween," The Toronto
Star, 2005-OCT-28, Page B2.
Matthew Brown, "Flourishing, pagan groups get organized," at:
Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally published: 2005-FEB-17
Latest update: 2005-NOV-02
Author: B.A. Robinson