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Stand Up and Speak Out Campaign
Crafted From: Baton Rouge/Livingston, La, Louisiana
Vox Acct.: 161792
Link ID: 24051
Website Profile: Stand Up and Speak Out began in the year 2000 after Kiria Gypsy's (Jamie Cain) shop in Walker, La was closed due to bigotry and threats. ACLU and Monte Plaisance with Church of Thessally from Houma, La stepped up and stepped in and we thank Joe Cook and Monte Plaisance for their hard work and endeavors.
See Article below:
NewsWeb Media Coverage
Witches Protest Walker, Louisiana
by Bob Anderson
WALKER [Louisiana]-- Witches converged on Walker to protest the treatment of one of their own, a Witch who says people have threatened to set fire to her small shop stocked with books, cauldrons, herbs and candles. The operator of the strip mall where her store is situated declined to comment publicly about the matter, but gave the young Witch until Friday to remove her inventory, said Jamie Cain, the professed witch.
The shop, which opened a month ago is in the rear of an existing shop in the 9400 block of Florida Boulevard.
While Cain feels the short notice she was given to vacate the shop is unfair, she said her greater concern is the death threats directed at her as well as the threats to burn down her place of business. Pulling a Bible from her shelf of religious reference books, Cain opened it to the Book of Exodus and pointed to a verse she said one Scripture-quoting Christian read aloud to her:
"Suffer not a Witch to live." Police Chief Elton Burns said officers have been patrolling the neighborhood because of the unrest.
By late afternoon, about a dozen members of the Wiccan faith from Walker, Denham Springs, Baton Rouge, Covington and Houma arrived at the shop to support Cain. Those at the gathering said they also plan a religious -freedom march as soon as they can obtain a town permit. Another visitor who arrived to support Cain was Monte Plaisance, owner of the Buckland Witchcraft Museum in Houma. Plaisance said his museum has been a big success, and that he plans to open another in New Orleans. Plaisance said there were no difficulties with authorities or residents when he opened his witchcraft museum in Houma.
Cain's situation is sad, "but we'll get her up and running again in no time, " he said. Cain said she plans to reopen for business at another location in Walker.
The store offers for sale a couple of cauldrons as well as books not only on what Stockstill said is the legally recognized religion of Wicca, but on astrology, dream interpretation and alternative spiritual paths.
Neither the shop nor the Wiccan religion makes any attempt to lure people from other faiths, said Cain, who added that she was reared as a member of a fundamentalist Baptist church. She said she became a pagan seven years ago and has practiced as a solitary witch -- as opposed to being a member of a coven -- for the past four years. She said she is not aligned with a coven whose members live south of Walker.
A lot of people believe in Wicca, but do so in secret because of fear of religious persecution, she said. It should be all right for these people to be able to come out and say they are herbalists and believe in the worship of nature, she said. She said they believe in the "Great Mother, who is the goddess of 10, 000 names."
Cain said she also is concerned about the welfare of her son, who she said attends a school where he earns top grades and always has gotten along well with his classmates. "He's devastated" about the threats to his mother and the fact that she's being forced to move her shop, Cain said. At one end of her small shop hangs a handmade broom, which in the Wiccan religion has the symbolic power of sweeping away negative energy. "The only riding around I do on it is to sweep the floor, " Cain said.
The Advocate, 525 Lafayette Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802 USA
Monte Plaisance sued the Town and Won! Again thank you Joe Cook and ACLU and Witchvox!
Fortune Telling Bans
In Houma, Louisiana, the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) has recently filed suit against a fortune telling ban on behalf of Wiccans Monte Plaisance and Anthony Foret. A police detective visited Plaisance's place of business, (Crossroads) warning him that his Tarot readings were illegal and hinting at a future arrest. Foret, who himself practices palmistry, and Plaisance have both refrained from these activities for fear of prosecution. The fortune telling ban began in 1965. It is a misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and a $500 fine. Joe Cook, executive director of the ACLU in Louisiana, notes that the Supreme Court has consistently rejected the notion that the government can punish freedom of speech because it is against someone's religious beliefs. Lawyer Marjorie Esman, who is handling the case for the ACLU, pointed out that many actions that constitute fortune telling, and are therefore banned by the ordinance, are permitted to continue, including publication of horoscopes, weather forecasting, fortune cookies, and medical prognoses. An article about the situation can be viewed at: http://www.theadvocate.com/news/story.asp?StoryID=16524.
2000-OCT-31: LA: Pastors unite to pray away Wiccans: According to ABC News: "Houma residents fear Wiccans are bringing dangerous, anti-Christian spirits into the community and are resurrecting an old parish ban on fortunetelling." René Monette is the pastor the Living Word Church, one of 100 in Houma, LA The city is in Terrebonne Parish, and has a population of 30, 495. He is leading an anti-Wiccan group of 30 Protestant churches in the community. They meet each month to pray for salvation for the Witches. Pastor Monette said: "The Wiccan church is against everything we stand for as a Christian nation and as a Christian faith. And we wanna [sic] stand up and say no in our community. We wanna say no, absolutely not!...We don’t want that atmosphere here in Houma they may, can, have it in the French quarter, that’s fine. But we don’t want it here." In an apparent reference to a belief that the presence of Wiccans will lure evil spirits to his town, he concluded: "We feel like a lot of baggage is going to come with all that stuff."
The Right To Practice Witchcraft
When it comes to spirituality, New Orleans is a city of contrasts.
A Sunday morning could mean mass, followed by visits to a fortuneteller and voodoo queen.
But the kinds of practices that go mostly unnoticed in New Orleans are causing quite a stir just 70 miles down the road in Houma, a conservative bayou city that is home to more than 100 churches and a coven of witches.
"The main belief is witchcraft, " says Monte Plaisance, the Wicca high priest. "The main tenant is harm none."
Not everyone in town thinks these witches, who call themselves Wiccans, are harmless. Many fear they are introducing dangerous occult spirits into the community.
René Monette is the pastor of one of the largest churches in Houma, the Living Word Church.
"The Wiccan church is against everything we stand for as a Christian nation and as a Christian faith, " says Pastor Monette. "And we wanna stand up and say no in our community. We wanna say no, absolutely not!"
Pastor Monette is leading a citywide effort by 30 protestant churches to pray away the witches. The group meets monthly to pray the witches will see the light and be saved.
"We don't want that atmosphere here in Houma they may, can, have it in the French quarter, that's fine, " he says. "But we don't want it here. We feel like a lot of baggage is going to come with all that stuff."
But Monte Plaisance Won!!!!!!!!! So keep fighting!!!!!!!!
Ancient Law Forbids Fortunetelling
In an effort to stop the spread of witchcraft in Houma, a Houma resident filed a complaint against the witches, using a very old Louisiana law that forbids fortunetelling. The witches believe that through these rituals and the reading of the tarot cards, their gods and goddesses will help direct their futures. Local officials, enforcing the parish ban on fortunetelling, sent a detective to the coven to photograph the evidence. "All of a sudden, boom, we get a knock on the door, " says Monte Plaisance. "He said, 'I'm gonna turn these pictures into my superiors and whenever they look at them, they're gonna determine if it is fortune telling. And if it is, I'm gonna come back to arrest you.'"
The American Civil Liberties Union is trying to abolish that threat once and for all. The civil liberties group is now suing Louisiana on behalf of the witches to abolish the 1928 law it considers unconstitutional. "Things that are outside the mainstream bother people, " says Joe Cook, who represents the ACLU in Louisiana. They want to suppress speech that doesn't agree with their idea of they way things should be."
"If we don't protect the Wiccan free speech right, " he adds, "then the Baptist and Catholic free speech rights are at risk." Houma officials now admit that since fortunetelling is part of the Wiccan religion, they don't have a case against the witches.
"Fortunetelling and palm reading, if it is an integral part of their religious practices and beliefs, we will not prosecute and they should be allowed to do it, " the Assistant District Attorney for errebonne Parish, Carlos Lazarus, acknowledges.
But these Wiccans say they fear the witch hunt will continue until the fortunetelling law is off the books for good.
Update on local activities for Stand Up and Speak Out
Tarot Law Passes in Livingston Parish-2007
We (Church of Thessaly) would like to thank Night Fairy for their gracious comments below, BUT, other pagans from various parishes showed up after the ordinance had been passed and the council had heard our speeches.
The pagans from Covington had left BEFORE other pagans had showed up.
It was a very chaotic evening for all involved.
This just in from Covington...
The tarot ordinance was passed in Livingston Parish, La banning any and all divination.
BUT...thanks to the great efforts of yet again Kiria Gypsy and Monte Plaisance of Church of Thessaly, the Council of Livingston Parish has agreed to regroup and look at the ordinance from a different perspective since they hurriedly passed the ordinance WITHOUT asking for outside objections. ILLEGAL!
At the beginning of the meeting no one else from the pagan community was present and Kiria Gypsy stood first as she is familiar with the council and has the respect of all of it's board members and treated them as such.
She politely reminded them that ALL must be allowed to speak concerning laws and ordinances and they agreed and allowed her and Monte the floor.
Kiria Gypsy has been a resident of Livingston Parish for over 16 years and she knew the best approach with the good ol boys was understanding and respect...AND IT WORKED!
Kiria Gypsy and Monte Plaisance are well known activist and they have already had this law appealed and won in Terrebone Parish Louisiana as is seen in the above articles and Kiria Gypsy won her case in Livingston Parish for religious discrimination back in 2001.
They both agree with what the council is trying to do and that is to keep individuals without a business license from just setting up anywhere and because of their gentle approach to the situation the council is NOW reconsidering re-wording this law.
The council sat back and diligently listened and inquired on their Church and Clergy credentials and were satisfied with what they were hearing.
(MORE PAGANS SHOWED UP LATER)
Thank you Annwyn and Valli!
Church of Thessaly is 501 Certified and has been up and running since 1994
Kiria Gypsy and Monte Plaisance have meetings set up with several of the council members later in the month and will be working along side them every step of the way to gain a better understanding of one another and their religious beliefs.
There is nothing these two cannot do when they put their minds to helping our pagan community!
It is wonderful to see that the ACLU does not need to become involved nor does there need to be a "media circus" surrounding this situation as of late.
We encourage everyone to continue to Stand Up and Speak Out
Post by NightFairy2001
We would like to thank Night Fairy for their gracious comments, BUT, other pagans from various parishes showed up after the ordinance had been passed and the council had heard our speeches.
Several pagan magazines have requested a copy of the speech given at the council meeting and we thought we would share our passionate activist words with Witchvox viewers.
We ask that if you decide to use our article, please contact us at MpThessaly13@aol.com for permission as other magazines and newspapers have done.
Speech by Church of Thessaly to the Livingston Parish Council (c)
I would like to begin by introducing myself, my name is Monte Plaisance, and I am a resident of Livingston Parish, 13639 Henry Drive, Denham Springs.
I am 36 years old and I speak on behalf of Church of Thessaly and its members, two of whom are present here today with me.
One is Ms. Jamie Cain, (Kiria Gypsy) who some of you may remember as the previous owner of the Merry Meet Metaphysical shop in Walker, which was shut down several years ago, with a fair degree of media coverage and who is now the co-founder and a Priestess of Church of Thessaly.
Before I go any further, I would like to say that while there are other contingents in the area that may benefit from our stand against this ordinance, we do not consider ourselves to be part of those groups.
To be blunt, we are not followers of the Wiccan religion, nor do we speak on their behalf.
We are followers of the ancient Greek religion known as Hellenismos or Hellenism and an important part of that faith resides in methods that could be deemed illegal according to this ordinance, thus the reason for our presence here this evening.
There are two ways to dispute the proposal of this ordinance, one is by reason and logic and the other is by religious feeling.
I will present my argument against this ordinance from the logical and reasonable approach first.
My first question to Mr. McCoy is: “On what grounds is this ordinance being brought forward?
You state yourself that there are no fortune-tellers in this area that you know of, yet you want to pass this ordinance as a way to prevent a future problem?
Isn’t that a prediction in itself?
Aren’t you predicting that there may be a perceived problem in the future and by your putting this ordinance forward you are circumventing that possibility?
In that case, doesn’t the forwarding of this motion contradict the very purpose for which it is being brought forward?
Secondly, I would like to know if the ordinance is being proposed as a way to keep others from falling victim to what you may think is fraudulent activity?
If so, then on what grounds do you judge an activity as fraudulent?
Have you studied the methods, have you consulted those who perform these activities, have you interviewed those who have benefited from these consultations, as well as those who feel that they have not benefited from them?
Have you experimented with them yourself and found them to be utterly false?
Even if you have, how can you say without reasonable doubt that others do not achieve some benefit from the practice and use of these methods?
Asprin works to alleviate headaches in some people, while other people need something different.
We do not label asprin as ineffective or fraudulent because it only works for some people.
Thirdly, is the ordinance being proposed as a way to keep those who practice these methods from taking money in exchange for their services?
If so, then explain to us how the receiving of money for a spiritual consultation using the methods you refer to, differs from the receiving of money by a faith-healer, preacher, minister or clergy from any other mainstream faith?
There are as many ways of faith as there are people who believe in them.
All of these ways are valid to those who believe in them and it is not the right, nor the responsibility of any human being, be they minister, politician or layperson, to single any practices out as inappropriate in comparison to another.
The forwarding of this proposed ordinance encompasses a lot of gray areas which we feel Councilman McCoy is not taking into consideration.
For example, how many people here today read their horoscope in the newspaper?
If you propose to put a stop to this, then we would have to infringe on the rights of the press to print what they want as well.
Also, how many of you have gone to a Chinese restaurant and read your fortune cookie?
Shall we put a stop that as well?
Are you not paying for these items?
Let us also consider the concepts of weather predictions, stock predictions, financial advisors, medical diagnosis, and the thousand other everyday predictions that we depend on.
Let’s put a stop to Ground Hogs Day as well.
If you are going to ban the citizens of a parish from engaging in an activity or practice, you cannot pick and choose what you like or dislike based on personal feelings, assumptions or ideals.
In order for this ordinance to be fair, it will have to ban the activity in its entirety and from all aspects of it, or it crosses the line from concern for public safety into public oppression and tramples the Constitution of the United States under your feet.
Now, if we approach this issue from a religious standpoint, then the problems that can arise from the proposal of this ordinance become even more convoluted.
Nearly all religion is based on some form of prediction.
Faith can be defined as the human response to the communication with divine power.
How can anyone claim the right to renounce how the divine speaks to us as human beings?
There are people who walk on fire to prove their faith, others handle poisonous snakes, others crucify themselves, and some receive direct messages in moments of ecstasy and trance.
Some of these methods appear to us, to be a bit more dangerous to the individual than sitting at a table and laying out some cards, looking at a palm or gazing into a glass ball, yet you are not putting forward proposals to ban these other – more dangerous – practices, why is that?
Stop and ask yourselves, what is this really about?
Is it about public safety or is that the veil, behind which is hidden the true motive of trying to oppress a constitutionally protected right of individuals to practice what they believe in?
The book of Revelations is a book of predictions and therefore would fall into some of the categories that this ordinance proposes to ban.
Even though I do not consider myself to be a Christian, I do consider myself to be an American and a lover of freedom, and I would not like to see any religious text, belief, or practice deemed ‘inappropriate’ by the legislative side of our government.
My argument is not for or against any specific belief, but rather an argument for the rights of individuals to believe what they wish to believe without those beliefs being questioned or banned as false, fraudulent or inappropriate for the public good.
With that said, I would like to ask this council and those present here today to detach your religious feelings and look at this situation with your minds and your logic.
If you do that, I am sure that you will see this ordinance as an unnecessary waste of legislature.
Look at the past news headlines and you will see that this type of ordinance has been ruled unconstitutional over and over again across the country and if you allow it to go into effect here, it will only cost the tax-payers more money and this council more time, because somehow and someway it will be contested and deemed unconstitutional and be struck from the books.
Kiria Gypsy and Monte Plaisance
Church of Thessaly
Council Meeting Speech Livingston Parish-2007 (C)
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