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Article ID: 2250
Age Group: Adult
Posted: December 14th. 1998
Gov. Johanns - 'March For Jesus Day'
Neb. Gov. Johanns Signs Proclamation For "March For Jesus Day"
From the - Lincoln Journal Star
May 22 will be "March for Jesus Day" and all citizens are urged to take "due note," Gov. Mike Johanns has declared.
"March for Jesus Day was established as a time for us to join together as people of many faiths so that we may pay homage to our divine authority," reads part of a proclamation Johanns signed Wednesday.
The signing, similar to Johanns' actions as Lincoln mayor, was criticized by Carole Shields, president of People for the American Way Foundation in Washington.
"This action, far from promoting religious faith and freedom, would undermine it by creating a second-class status for all faiths other than Christianity in Nebraska," Shields said in a written statement.
Johanns indicated he would sign similar proclamations for other faiths, saying, "I wouldn't hesitate to sign a proclamation for the Jewish faith, Hinduism, whatever," Johanns said.
He is willing to sign such proclamations, he added "so long as it doesn't require me to sign something I personally don't agree with." In response to a hypothetical question, Johanns said he would not sign a proclamation for Wicca.
Wicca is a pagan religion not recognized by some Christians, who maintain witches, as some Wiccans call themselves, have a pact with the devil.
Gays and lesbians have previously criticized Johanns for not signing proclamations for gay pride events.
WitchVox Press Release
The Witches' Voice, Inc
P.O. Box 4924
Clearwater, FL 33758-4924.
Contact: Rev. Wren Walker
Web Site: http://www.witchvox.com
For Immediate Release:
May 7, 1999
The Witches Voice, Inc. Urges Neb. Gov. Johanns To Rescind 'March For Jesus Day' Proclamation, Apologize For Anti-Witch Remarks
On Wednesday, May 5th, Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns ignored both the federal and Nebraska State Constitutions and issued a proclamation declaring May 22, 1999 as "March For Jesus Day."
"March for Jesus Day" was established as a time for us to join together as people of many faiths so that we may pay homage to our divine authority," reads part of the proclamation.
Such a proclamation issued by the governor of a state clearly violates the First Amendment which prohibits government from promoting religion, giving preferences to any religion, or supporting or establishing a religion under the Establishment Clause.
The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
This action by Gov. Johanns does not meet constitutional scrutiny under the 1971 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lemon vs Kurtzman, which held that, to be constitutional, a government action must: (1) have a secular purpose, (2) neither promote or inhibit religion and (3) not entangle the government with religion.
Even more disturbing are the statements allegedly made by Gov. Johanns to reporters concerning future proclamations.
In an article printed on May 6, 1999 in the Lincoln Journal Star, Johanns is reported to have made the statement that while he would consider similar proclamations "for the Jewish faith, Hinduism, whatever," that he would not issue a proclamation for Wicca. His only criteria for determining future requests for similar proclamations he said was, "" so long as it doesn't require me to sign something I personally don't agree with," thus elevating his own personal opinion of what constitutes a valid religion in his state above the law. A statement such as this on the religion of Wicca issued by the chief government official of the state of Nebraska, is not only constitutionally unsound, it is an blatant act of governmental discrimination against those citizens of his state who are Wiccan.
With this proclamation, the Governor of Nebraska is trampling not only our nation's guarantee of the separation of church and state, he is publicly ostracizing a religion followed by thousands of the Wiccan citizens that he has sworn to protect and violating the laws that he has sworn to uphold.
We strongly urge Gov. Johanns to rescind the proclamation of "March For Jesus Day," apologize for his offensive remarks to the Wiccans in his state and to remember that Nebraska- as well as the entire nation- is a land of diverse religious beliefs, all of which are considered equal under the law.
Rev. Wren Walker
Chairperson-The Witches' Voice, Inc.
Walk in Light and Love,
The Witches' Voice
Honorable Governor Johanns:It is with great sadness that I read of your recent statements defaming my religion, Wicca, and denying its validity. Any holder of public office in this country, and more particularly such a singular leader as a governor should, once elected, give thought to the greater good of all constituents and not merely those who may have elected him or her -- and not merely those with whom he or she agrees.
By confusing such exclusionary and bigoted religious positions as your statement reflects with the codified though unconstitutional legislation and regulation of our national actions, you espouse bigotry, discrimination, falsity, and hatred. Such a posture worries me in the extreme. Your words and actions, by the accident of your office, carry vastly more weight, and hence should be vastly more thoughtful, than those of the thousands of responsible justices, academics, professionals, and law officers who have reviewed the evidence and affirmed Wicca's validity as a religion and itsresponsibility as an ethical system -- whether or not they agree with its principles. Such individuals form the crucial core of the voting public.
In short, Mr. Governor, your words and actions ill become your high office, and ill serve the nation and state you have so greatly wronged thereby.
San Jose, CA
UPDATE: Order Of The Red Grail Requests 'Earth-Religions Day'
Proclamation in Nebraska
Friday, May 14, 1999 at 18:55:07 (EDT)
Friends, Siblings, Allies, and interested parties;
The office of the Governor of Nebraska has received the following letter and
proclamation today, May 14, 1999. Please forward this information to all interested parties and, as always, pardon any cross postings.
Jason J. Blodgett-McDeavitt
Governor Mike Johanns
State Capitol Building
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509
Dear Governor Johanns,
My name is Jason Blodgett-McDeavitt. I am the president and high priest of the Order of the Red Grail, Church of Transformational Wicca, a non-profit church registered with the Nebraska Secretary of State.
In recent publicized comments surrounding your proclamation of May 22, 1999 as "March for Jesus Day," you stated that you "wouldn't hesitate" to sign similar proclamations for "the Jewish faith, Hinduism, whatever." Like myself, you apparently believe all people should be encouraged to publicly demonstrate their faith, whatever that faith might be.
The Summer Solstice, the day of longest light, will soon be upon us. This is a day held holy by a number of Earth Religions, not the least of which are the Druids, who annually gather at Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain in southern England. In the spirit of ecclesiastical equality, we ask that you proclaim the day before this year's Summer Solstice, Sunday June 20th, as "Earth Religion Awareness Day" to help dispel many of the misconceptions and negative stereotypes surrounding this ancient religious practice.
Wicca or Witchcraft-as is true of all earth religions-has nothing to do with the worship of Satan or the Devil. Tracing our roots back much further than the Judeo-Christian tradition, we celebrate the very same cycles of nature and rhythms of life as our own pagan European ancestors celebrated for millennia. In our rites, we honor the fertility of the earth and its people, the seasons of planting and harvest and the web of life that is so beautifully depicted in the floor mosaics of our own State Capitol Rotunda and main hallway.
On Sunday, June 20, we will be commemorating this year's solstice holiday in part by hosting an Earth Religion Awareness Day at the State Capitol. Your proclamation of this event will make a bold political statement for religious tolerance. There are many followers of earth religions in the state of Nebraska, not to mention those Native Americans who practice their tribe's traditional beliefs. A state proclamation by you, on the heels of the "March for Jesus" proclamation, will assure these Nebraskans that they are not considered "second-rate citizens" by their government.
Thank you for your prompt consideration and response to this request.
A Proclamation For Earth Religion Awareness Day
Whereas: The Summer Solstice is considered holy by many Earth centered religions, including Druids, Asatrus, Mithriasts, Neo-Shaman, Wiccans, Witches, Goddess worshippers, and many other Pagans, as a day of celebration and prayer for bountiful harvests in the fall; and
Whereas: Earth centered religions are a part of our European history, predating monotheistic religions, and focusing on the agrarian cycles of planting and harvesting, the celestial cycles of the sun and moon, and the life cycle of birth, death, and rebirth; and
Whereas: Earth centered religions are a form of positive spirituality which predates the belief in a being of ultimate evil, such as Satan, whose origins can be traced to the beliefs of early Zoastrianism; and
Whereas: the state of Nebraska is home to many worshippers of Earth centered religions; and
Whereas: the United States Constitution, under the First and Fourteenth Amendments supports the right of all peoples in the United States to practice their own belief system and to enjoy this in each their own manner; and
Whereas: Earth Religions are afforded the same Constitutional rights and privileges as any other religious entity within the United States; and
Whereas: Lawyers, Law Enforcement Agencies, and our elected officials have the obligation to protect the rights of all people in their religious endeavors, no matter what they may be, without bias or prejudice; and
Whereas: Participants in Earth Religions are taxpayers at the City, State and Federal levels; and
Whereas: religious diversity within a community can only strengthen that community and allow it to thrive; and
Whereas: no community can survive without the open, active and proud participation of all of its members; and
Whereas: each and every participant in the Community is deserving of respect because of that diversity and not in spite of it;
Therefore: let this Summer Solstice act as a reminder of the precious tradition of freedom of religion-any religion-within the great state of Nebraska and the contribution Earth Religions have played in this tradition.
I, Mike Johanns, Governor of Nebraska, do hereby proclaim June 20, 1999 as
"Earth Religion Awareness Day" in Nebraska and urge all citizens to honor the
constitutional principle of freedom of religion, and to contemplate with
reverence the contributions of Earth Religions in the state of Nebraska.
Copies have also been delivered to various news agencies in the city as well. We look forward to seeing the Governors reaction, if any. The reaction from the press has been positive. The Lincoln Journal Star had a wonderful political cartoon on May 11, showing Johanns painting himself into a corner.
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