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!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

A NATIONAL WICCAN / PAGAN
ANTI-DEFAMATION GROUP


Sponsored link.


Background:

All religions in North America exist in a state of conflict with secular groups, other religions, the government, law enforcement, etc. Most have well organized and well financed national anti-defamation groups that promote the interests of their faith and attempt to neutralize their opposition.

Wicca is currently an exception. It is almost completely lacking in any central authority. Neopaganism in North America consists of hundreds of thousands of individual Pagans; tens of thousands of covens, groves, etc.; a few umbrella groups; and many small anti-defamation groups staffed by volunteers. But there is no single, strong, national or international anti-defamation organization. Trying to get Wiccans and other Pagans to take a coordinated action on any topic has been described as like trying to herd cats. 

The closest to such a group is currently the Sacred Earth Alliance.1 This is an informal, volunteer-run umbrella organization 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.). It provides a coordination service among its agency members.

Back in 1985, Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) introduced a Senate bill S.AMDT.705. It would have prevented "funds appropriated under the Act [from being] used to grant, maintain, or allow tax exemptions to any cult, organization, or other group that has any interest in, the promoting of satanism or witchcraft." It is unknown to which of the 17 or so different activities called "witchcraft" that the amendment would apply. The amendment died in committee. It obviously would not have survived a constitutional challenge in the courts. However, it galvanized Wiccan concern for their religious rights at the time, and motivated some to organize anti-defamation groups.

During his year 2000 election campaign, now-President George W. Bush advocated that certain religious freedoms of American Wiccans' be terminated. Now that Governor Bush has become President Bush, Pagans may become galvanized to organize a well financed, national anti-defamation group staffed with full time, paid employees. 


What to do until the national anti-defamation group arrives:

There are many Neopagan individuals and small volunteer-based groups who provide individual educational and anti-defamation functions. A list of educational and anti-defamation groups is available on this site. 

Some of the programs that they provide are listed below:


Political awareness campaign: 

The Pagan Unity Campaign has started the "I am" project. Pagans are asked to send commercial post cards to their local, state and federal political leaders during the week of the Summer Solstice. For 2001, this would be JUN-18 to 23. They should be handwritten, start with something like: "I am a Pagan student," or "I am a Pagan employee" and end with: "I am free. We are united." Their press release is at: http://www.paganunitycampaign.org/iam/iamrelease.html A description of the project is at: http://www.paganunitycampaign.org/iam/ They have an online fundraising store that sells t-shirts, and sweat shirts.

As of 2001-JUN-30, "Storm Bear Williams, Chief Political Strategist of PUC estimates that the card-count came in at 152,918 total, with 40,455 going to the White House. This is based on an average of 93 cards per US House District." 2


Pagan Census:

"Kecia" is conducting a Pagan census over the Internet. She asks that you Email her, listing your name, state or country, and the number of Pagans in your household, to: pagan_census@yahoo.com Alternatively, you can use her form at: http://www.geocities.com/pagan_census/census_form.html As of 2001-JAN-14, she has listed 2,485 Pagans in the U.S. This number is quite low, probably because only a small minority of Pagans are probably aware of her census.


Letter writing aids: 


Pagan Legal Rights:


Sponsored link:


Pagan news wire service:

Telepathic Media Inc. provides a wire service with Pagan news and information. You can send headlines and commentaries to Telepathicmedia@aol.com. You can see the wire service at: http://www.telepathicnews.com/applet.asp


Dealing with the media:

Witchvox has a press kit at: http://www.witchvox.com/xwhite.html  It has information on how to talk to the media, proactive "care and feeding" of your local journalist, and comparisons between Christian and Neopagan holy days.


Evidence for court cases:

Welsh Witchcraft have a list of links to documents that establish the legal status of Wicca as a religion. See: "Evidence used in Earth Religion cases" at: http://www.tylwythteg.com/legal.html 


Pagan educational/anti-defamation mailing lists:

The main mailing lists within the Pagan community are:


Organizing non-profit groups:

Daphne Stephanotis has written a detailed essay regarding the creation of Pagan non-profit organizations. See: http://www.witchvox.com/white/wnonprofit.html 


A Pagan quilt:

The Covenant of the Sacred Moon proposes to create a quilt to demonstrate to the President and aides that Wiccans and Pagans consist of a numerous and united minority. The quilt will be outlined in the "colors of America, red, white and blue." "Solitary practitioners, Wiccan Pagan organizations, covens or other defenders of religious freedom" are invited to send in patches. The rules:

  • Start with a 6" square piece of material.
  • Decorate it with your coven emblem, organization emblem, colors, name and tradition, or something relating to you. For solitary practitioners and organizations, include your state.
  • Leave a 1/2" border for sewing.
  • If paint is used, select a washable fabric paint.
  • Coven members' squares will be grouped with their coven emblem; use the same color square.
  • Insert the quilt piece in a clear plastic bag for protection.
  • Enclose the group name or magical name.
  • Send to: The Goddess Shoppe, c/o Covenant of the Sacred Moon, 214 Depot Street, Clark Summit, PA 18411.
  • Questions can be sent to  Covenant_of_the_Sacredmoon@yahoo.com
  • Deadline is 2001-JUN-30.
  • Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope if you wish to be notified of dates and time for the peaceful religious rally to be held in Washington, DC.

Unmet needs: 

We believe that there are certain badly needed educational and anti-defamation functions which are not currently being addressed by existing groups. We may be wrong; some of these functions may already have been tackled:

  • Neopagan mailing list: This would regularly disseminate Pagan news to the media and to general-purpose religious news lists, like Newsroom, Interfaith News Network, World Faith News, and Religious News Service.
  • Dictionary and encyclopedia upgrade: This would involve an effort to persuade publishers of dictionaries and encyclopedias to update their definitions of such terms as: Neopagan, Pagan, Paganism, Witch, Witchcraft, etc. Many publishers have done this already. But the most poplar American dictionary, Webster, retains very negative definitions that are decades out of date.
  • Calendars: Interface with calendar manufacturers and urge them to include Wiccan/Pagan sabbats.
  • Style and usage guides: These are books which help reporters and other writers to adopt current writing styles. They should all cover:
    • Appropriate capitalization of such terms as: Witch and Witchcraft.
    • Differentiating between various Neopagan religions and Satanism.
    • Differentiating among various definitions of terms as Witchcraft, Paganism, cult, etc.
    • Avoidance of phrases like "so-called Witch" or "self-identified Witch."

    Some style and usage guides are "The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual," World Almanac's "Guide to Good Word Usage," Glenco's "The Gregg Reference Manual," HarperCollins "The New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage.

  • A Pagan crisis and information center: This would be a service for  Pagans in the U.S. or all in North America. Secular crisis - info centers already exist. They are telephone lines that are typically open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and staffed by trained, empathic volunteers. Some are called crisis centers, distress lines, suicide prevention bureaus, hotlines, CONTACT®, Telecare, Tel-Aide, community information centers, etc. There are also special purpose hotlines, such as centers for runaway teens, parents in crisis, Christian prayer lines, etc. But, to our knowledge, there is no Pagan equivalent. Such a line could be able to direct a caller to contacts in their state who are active in anti-defamation work. They would be able to give emotional support to a solitary practitioner who lacks Pagan friends to call on for help. Such a line would form a default support network that could respond instantly to help a Pagan in crisis.

Reference:

  1. "A call to action," Sacred Earth Alliance at: http://members.aol.com/lcorncalen/SEAHomepage.htm
  2. Email from Pagan Unity Campaign Political Action Committee (PUC PAC), 2001-JUL-3

Copyright © 2000 & 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-FEB-15
Latest update: 2001-AUG-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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