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Wicca/Witchcraft

Wiccan education and anti-defamation groups

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Pentacle Symbol

The graphic was lifted from Mjolnir's Pagan and Wicca Page, with permission.

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When this essay was initially written in 1997, Wiccans suffered from one of the highest levels of unwarranted discrimination per person of any religious group in North America. Much of this was caused by:

  • Popular confusion between two essentially unrelated religions: Satanism and Wicca.

  • 500 years of negative and false beliefs about Witches which originated during the Witch burning times of the 15th to 18th Centuries.

  • Present day religious hatred and misinformation against Wiccans and other NeoPagans, spread primarily by conservative Christians. (There may be religious hatred disseminated by other individuals or groups, but we have never been able to locate any).

Most North Americans believe that witchcraft trials were last held in Salem and vicinity about 3 centuries ago. This is false. Wiccans in recent years have had their religion attacked in some U.S. family courts; many Wiccans lost custody of their children because of their religion. 1

Over the past two decades, oppression has been significantly reduced in North America. The public has become more aware of the benign nature of Wicca. Many more Wiccans have come out of the "broom closet" and gone public with their faith. Some covens are holding public rituals. The total number of Wiccans has increased rapidly, apparently making Wicca the fastest growing religion in North America, on a percentage basis.

However, the opposite trend appears to be happening in other areas of the world. Christina Engela, writing for a public information group -- Alternative Religions Forum in South Africa -- has noted:

"... increased satanic panic hysteria in media reporting in our country,"

"... a lack-luster response to attempts by Pagans and other occultists and minority alternative groups to correct misrepresentation in the Media." and

"... material disseminated and propagated by conservative elements in the local government departments including law enforcement."

She has written a document titled: "Satanism: The Acid Test" which is available online. 4

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The Sacred Earth Alliance:

An umbrella group, the Sacred Earth Alliance has been formed with memberships including the major Earth Religion rights and information leagues in North America: CLA, CRF, DL, ERLAN, ERAA, LLL, NRADG, PACT, PEN, PILG, RLLN, TCP, TWV, UFP, WARD, WPN, etc.). 2

Larry Cornett has posted an extensive list of "Topic-specific links for help and guidance concerning religious discrimination and associated legal problems," at: http://www.erlan.org/

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Wiccan public education groups, mainly in North America:

  • The Witches' Voice is a "proactive educational network dedicated to correcting misinformation about Witches and Witchcraft." They say that "Witchcraft IS a legally recognized religion in the United States (since 1985) and it is our mission to protect that right through education and awareness." They are "dedicated to fostering deeper understanding and cooperation amongst both the members of the Pagan community and society as a whole. They provide educational materials to the public. They support Neopagans which are having their rights suppressed or restricted. See: http://www.witchvox.com/

  • The TheBurningTimes.com web site "offers a provocative exploration into the historical and modern day Burning Times through artwork, articles, resources, and more..." They were located at http://www.TheBurningTimes.com but seem to be offline at this time. We continue the listing here in case their web site is reactivated

  • The International Pagan Pride Project, Inc., encourages local "Pagan Pride Day" celebrations, to be held within two weeks of the Autumn Equinox throughout North America. Local coordinators plan these events, which typically include at least:
    • A public ritual.
    • A food drive or other charitable activity. 
    • Issuance of press releases.
    See http://www.paganpride.org/
     
  • Lady Liberty League is a "National and Global referral and information exchange network of Pagan religious freedom activists." It operates within the Circle Network. The group works within Circle Sanctuary at PO Box 219, Mt. Horeb, WI 53572. Phone (608) 924-2216. See: http://www.circlesanctuary.org/ They have a twitter feed at: https://twitter.com

  • Witches' League for Public Awareness (WLPA) promotes public understanding of Wicca. It was founded in 1986 by Laurie Cabot, H.Ps. "The WLPA is a proactive educational network dedicated to correcting misinformation about Witches and Witchcraft. The work of the League springs from a shared vision of a world free from all religious persecution. Our volunteers and legal advisors respond to misinformation about Witchcraft from all over the world and we offer materials that explain the legal protection that the Religion of Witchcraft is afforded under the laws of the United States." They also maintain a Legal Defense Fund for victims of discrimination that need financial assistance. See: http://www.CelticCrow.com

  • Pagan Educational Network (PEN) "is a non-profit, proactive organization dedicated to educating the public about Paganism as well as building stronger, healthier communities through service." See: http://www.paganeducationalnetwork.org/
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Wiccan anti-discrimination groups:

  • Circle Angkar has a list of useful links to many anti-discrimination groups. See: http://www.angkur.org (Appears to be offline)

  • Officers of Avalon is a new international organization for Pagan emergency personnel: police, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs. It will have two primary roles: to educate the public about Paganism and to give support to Pagan emergency personnel. Its spokesperson is Kerr Cuhulain, who came out of the (broom) closet about twenty five years ago -- the first Wiccan police officer to do so. Officers of Avalon has a facebook page at:https://www.facebook.com/

  • The Earth Religions Legal Assistance Network (ERAL) is at http://www.erlan.org/ Their web site has many lists, including:
    • Religious Freedom Resources: Religious rights and Social Justice pointers
    • Legal Information Resources: Pointers to legal resources, particularly regarding religion and family law.
    • Topic Specific Webpages for Finding Help: More resources for fighting religious discrimination and associated legal problems.
    • Religious Rights List: A list of Wiccan/Pagan/Earth Religion contacts around the country who are willing to help fight religious discrimination.

  • The Pagans in Action, Council for Truth P.A.C.T. (formerly Pagan Awareness League, P.A.L.) is a division of the Church of the Dancing Flame. It was established on New Year's Day 1997 to give Pagans a source of information dealing with their rights in society. They expect to provide a comprehensive database of laws protecting Neo-pagans in the practice of their faith without fear of retribution or discrimination. See: http://pagansinaction.com/ Appears to be inactive.

  • Witches Against Religious Discrimination (W.A.R.D.) "is an organization with the sole purpose of maintaining the religious rights of Pagans and Witches as members of a religious minority." They apparently disbanded in 2004, and their headquarters' website appears to be no longer active. However, Google lists the web sites of some affiliates:
  • The Alternative Religions Educational Network (AREN) [originally called Witches Anti-Discrimination League (WADL)] is an information organization located in Philadelphia. It has monitored discrimination against Wiccans throughout North America for three decades. Their web page is at: http://aren.org

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References used:

    1. Jennifer Ann Drobac, "Demonized Women: Accused Witches in Recent Child Custody Cases", at: http://www.stanford.edu/class/law495/drobac.htm
    2. "A call to action," Sacred Earth Alliance at: http://www.erlan.org/
    3. image of Witches' Voice Witches' Voice has an enormous amount of information: links to Neopagan websites, lists of pagans and covens by location; teen pagans, etc.: See: http://www.witchvox.com
    4. Christina Engela, "Satanism, The Acid Test v01.03" at: http://alternatereligionsforum.wordpress.com
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    Copyright © 1997 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
    Latest update: 2014-NOV-12
    Links last checked: 2013-JAN-14
    Author: B.A. Robinson

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