Only the Religion of the Majority is Acceptable to the Legal System

Found this on the blog Non Fluffy Wicca:

Today's story from the Washington Post follows.

A federal appeals court yesterday upheld the way Chesterfield County conducts the invocation at its Board of Supervisors meetings, dismissing a lawsuit filed by a local Wiccan priestess who said she was excluded from leading the brief prayer. County officials had told Cynthia Simpson that she could not be on the list of religious leaders allowed to deliver the invocation because it was limited to members of "Judeo-Christian" religions.

Backed by civil liberties groups, she filed a federal lawsuit in 2002 alleging that the policy amounted to religious discrimination. Simpson has said that Wicca -- interchangeable, she said, with witchcraft -- is a peaceful religion that focuses on reverence and respect for the cycles of nature. She said she wanted to offer the prayer to help dispel images of wicked witches on broomsticks.

A federal judge in Richmond backed Simpson, ruling in 2003 that the Chesterfield board was discriminating against minority religions and violating the constitutional mandate for separation of church and state. The judge ordered the county to change the policy to include all faiths or to stop using it altogether.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit reversed that decision yesterday, ruling that Chesterfield's policy complies with Supreme Court requirements for legislative prayer because it does not advance or disparage any particular religious faith. The decision by a three-judge panel, written by Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, says Chesterfield, a suburban county south of Richmond, has allowed a diverse group of religious leaders to conduct the prayer, including a Muslim imam who was involved in giving an invocation at a board meeting shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Civil liberties groups criticized the decision. "This is a deeply disturbing ruling," said Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, one of two groups that brought the lawsuit. "The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors, a governmental entity, is endorsing the Judeo-Christian religious tradition while discriminating against all other religions. This kind of government preference for some religions over others is exactly what our Founding Fathers sought to avoid when they gave us [the] First Amendment," Willis said.

But County Attorney Steven L. Micas said in a statement that he is gratified by the decision. "Chesterfield County's invocation policy was developed shortly after the Supreme Court of the United States established the constitutional ground rules for legislative invocations. Our policy exceeds the inclusiveness standards set by the court," he said.

Mikki wrote on this decision and here is a sample:

"It is unfortunate that Cynthia Simpson stated that Wicca and witchcraft were interchangeable. They are two different (but sometimes overlapping) things. Wicca is religion, and "witchcraft" is one possible means of expressing that religious preference, but is by no means limited to Wicca. Many have likely heard of "Christian Witches." They are not Wiccans yet use witchcraft. This distinction is important in not only dispelling knee-jerk misconceptions some may have of certain practices as being "anti Christian" but also to define the actual religious belief known as Wicca.

I am having extreme difficulty in understanding the 4th Circuit's reasoning that a governmental body picking and choosing religious practices is not establishment. The obvious choices of book based religious practices (Moslem, Jewish, Christian, etc.) vs. others is a clear endorsement of one class of religious practice over another. "

I actually do not agree with Mikki completely.

"The Craft" is the universal system, not "witchcraft". It is sometimes referred to as The Craft of the Wise but that term "Wise" was claimed to be the english equivalent of Wicca or the antecedent of it or whatever, I really don't know. The Wiccan religious organizers (oops I mean priests and priestesses) did to The Craft what the Christans did to the pagan practices they found popular at the time their religion was developing. They both incorporated the practices and the language of the more pervasive other. The religious people grabbed the words wicca, wiccan and witch meaning craft of the wise and wise woman. Since it started with the mutual celebration of the earth holidays the corruption was gradual. Gardner and all that.

The Craft is taught in families and in friendship groups who often don't appreciate all the religious trappings of Wicca. Wicca is viewed by Crafters as more of a social club/religion with a lot of foolish rules and hierarchies actually antithetical to the teachings of The Craft. There is only one rule in The Craft and that is "Harm None" (for very sound non religious reasons, 3x3).

The Wiccan religion is taught in covens to "initiates" and has a lot of scary sounding oaths designed to keep all the minds working together for the purposes of gaining control over external things. Wicca is basically a power trip. Like Christianity and all organized religion. The question is, what power do you give up to effect the group's goals? The answer depends on the vibes of the coven you belong to just like all churches.

Wicca religion is attractive to people who want a priest or to be a priest/ priestesses and want to belong to or lead a group which provides them with an identity larger than their self.

The Craft, on the other hand, urges each individual to recognize that everyone is the God of their own Universe which they create and where they find their own power. "Don't follow leaders" "know yourself by paying attention to the self and to nature" could be the Craft's mottoes. It appeals to people who are loners and who value knowledge, personal freedom, autonomy for the self and also for others.

Mikki was correct when she said these traditions overlapped in the same way the Christians have Christmas and the Craft and Wicca have the Winter Solstice. Wicca puts a whole myth over the actuality of what happens in nature at this time of year like the Christians. Crafters emphasize how the earth sun and moon are actually affecting each other.

Now having said all that, witchcraft is an interesting word. If witch is the female version of magician or occultist, (simply meaning wise woman) then I guess it does or can attach to The Craft. But we don't say magiciancraft, or occultistcraft. That is why witchcraft as one word seems odd to me. I had never heard the term Christian Witches although I know christians use The Craft.

But the term witch was absorbed by and is now usually associated with the Wiccan religious practitioners who call themselves witches and argue endlessly about what to call the males in the groups. People who practice The Craft don't generally label their self anything or else they call their self many things, sometimes including witch.

it is possible that now the Wiccan religion is becoming so institutionalized and respectable that they are trying to lose the word witch and substitute words like" goddessing" which fits better with traditional religion. I would like that. They can have" goddessing" and the Craft should have wise women back or witch. The religionists should give up Wicca/n too because there is nothing wise about any religion. Religion is about power and they should have the names of their idols like CHRISTian or Buddha or Confucius rather than claiming wisdom.

And as far as the 4th circuit's decision? While Mikki wants to argue Wiccan priestesses should have equal rights, I would argue that none of the religious people have any right to be at a political meeting doing anything in an official capacity. Geeze people, grow up.

On the other hand, perhaps this challenge is the way to get the majority to see the light and drag their "faith" back to their tax exempt religious palaces and keep it off our government
in-common meetings.


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