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Wiccan to Brief Civil Rights Commission

I know alot of folks don't necessarily keep an eye on what's happening news wise both within Heathenry, as well as the more general Pagan sphere. But there is one topic that I think everyone should know about.

"Patrick McCollum has just been selected to be on a special panel to be one of 6 people to brief the United States Commission on Civil Rights -- for presentation to the United States Congress and to the President of the United States -- about the state of religious discrimination in America.

He will talk about the differential treatment that Wiccans and Pagans receive in government institutions and programs, with the hope that our legislators will enact new policies to further pluralism and end religious discrimination. This briefing will be held in Washington, D.C .on February 8th, 2008 and will become an official part of the Congressional Record.

This is obviously an incredible honor and it will be the first time in US history that a Wiccan has been selected to present a briefing to advise the United States Government. He reports he will also be sworn in to the Goddess, which is also an important first.

More as I hear about it."

Source: Chas Clifton

So why is this important?

(I quote from the Wild Hunt):

"In addition to these events, 2007 saw politics become ever-more Christian focused and identified. With non-Christian expressions of faith being shoved to the margins by Presidential candidates, and non-Christian prayer getting shouted down in our halls of government. With monotheist modes of belief becoming more blatant and forceful across the political spectrum, will there be a place for Pagans (or any religious outsiders)in the near future?"

Additionally, there was at least one-story that had a marginalized religious view claiming that his so-called brother-in-arms threatened fragging (killing him by means of 'friendly-fire') him for his beliefs. There's even reports of a military Chaplain bragging about stalling some pagans from having a place to worship until they gave up. To read up on a summary of concerns about pagans in the military, read this and the connected links: http://www.wildhunt.org/labels/Military.html

So this has definitely been an issue I've been keeping an eye on.




So cool. There are getting to be enough pagans that even if most of us are fairly quiet about it we do show up in odd niches across the board. It will be nice to get official recognition.

Hopefully there will be a report issued and available online through the Government Printing Office and the depository library program.

There is some good military news -- I saw a newspaper report some time in the last year where a National Cemetery had approved a pentacle for a symbol on a grave marker for the first time. The soldier's widow had fought to get it accepted as what would have been his religious symbol of choice and it had taken time, but she had prevailed.

Re: Wow!

Yep I remember that article. There was a whole campaign there for a while, there was even an Asatru demonstration in DC in regards to it. While a symbol related to Asatru is not yet recognized (as far as I know), the military standing says until someone of that faith has died, the next of kin of the dead soldier can't petition for recognition and use of a not-yet-recognized religious symbol on the military grave. And to date, while I know there has been at least one Asatru soldier killed, I don't know if the family has filed for this. If the family opted to bury him in a non-military cemetery it may also not be an issue.

Edited at 2008-02-05 07:15 am (UTC)
This is the sort of thing that Heathens should work on, even with the Pagan community. The problem is that most of the stuff that gets worked on has no relivance to Heathens. Heck, my local community banished a woman from their events and lists simply because she mentioned that she was a Republican. The community is active in the Progressive and Democratic causes but by simply stating Honestly that she was a Republican, she was shunned. This was the last straw for me with our local community....
We do have some things in common. The wish to practice or Particular Ways without Oppression. The problem with Pagans is that there is no definition of what IS required as part of heir Way so anything can(and HAS) been used. As someone who was BTW, I Know what was originally required by the FOunders of Modern Pagansim. Much of what I've seen as Oppression hasn't been that. Extreme Hairstyles, Piercings, Tatts, Jewelry(beyond a Pentacle), etc in the WOrkplace isn't Oppression. Refusing to let you off for a holy day when you put in for it due to work place rules when CHristian, Jewish and Muslim members ARE...that Oppression. Not being able to wear your holy symbol while coworkers get to do so with theirs, IS. Dressing like Laurie Cabot or Gandalf generally is NOT...
Honestly that's part of the problem just within the Heathen community at times, a wide range of interpretations of belief, which has led to conflict and differences.