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Article ID: 2302
Age Group: Adult
Posted: March 23rd. 1999
Lincoln Park High: Victory for Witches
For Immediate Release
March 22, 1999
The Witches' Voice
The Witches' Voice welcomes today's announcement by the ACLU of Michigan that the case brought forward by Teen Witch Crystal Seifferly against the Lincoln Park School District has been satisfactorily settled.
U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen
declared the terms of the "consent judgment" as follows:
"This judgment should send the clear and concise message to all public school districts that policies which single out any religion, religious symbol or other mode of religious expression for restriction will not go unchallenged," stated TWV Chairperson, Rev. Wren Walker. "Religious freedom as guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States applies to all religions and religious beliefs equally. This right has once again been verified and reinforced here today."
- The words "Pagans" and "Witches" will be removed from the Lincoln Park policy.
- An exception is made for students wearing "jewelry or other symbols in the profession of their religion."
- Students do not need to initiate the contact informing the administration of their religious preference. If the student is approached by the administration or a security officer, the student simply needs to inform them the symbols are for the professing of their religion.
- The school agrees to pay the ACLU attorneys fees.
- The school will republish the policy within five school days.
"Public school students who express an deep religious belief quite simply are guaranteed their rights under a "higher authority" than that allocated to the local school board."
"The settlement terms announced today," added TWV President Fritz Jung, "should aid in setting a new standard on how similar types of school code policies will be implemented in the future."
The Witches' Voice
P.O. Box 4924
Clearwater, FL 33758-4924
Visit the W.A.D.L. (Witches Anti-Discrimination League) Home Page
to read their statement on this case.
From American Civil Liberties Union
For Immediate Release
For more information contact:
Kary L. Moss, Executive Director or Tom Schram,
Public Education Director (313-961-7728)
http://www.aclumich.org/ March 22, 1999
Lincoln Park Changes Policy On Witch
As part of a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union, Lincoln Park High School changed its policy prohibiting the wearing of pentagrams Monday, allowing senior Crystal Seifferly to outwardly wear the symbol of her religion for the first time since October.
At a March 2 hearing before U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen, the ACLU argued that the district's policy violated Seifferly's religious rights. Seifferly, 17, is an honor student and a witch - a member of the Wicca religion. Wiccans consider pentacles - five-pointed stars enclosed in a circles - icons of their religion.
On Monday, Lincoln Park High School agreed to make an exception to its gang policy for students wearing religious jewelry or other symbols as a profession of their religion. It did away with the provision of its policy that stated that pagans and witches are inappropriate in a school setting. And it agreed to pay attorney's fees to the ACLU.
"I'm happy; I'm pleased; I'm glad it's over," Seifferly said. "The longer it went on and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn't just about me and just about Wicca. It was about a lot of other people and religions," she said.
ACLU Michigan Executive Director Kary L. Moss applauded the school district for amending the policy and Seifferly for bringing the issue to the forefront.
"We are pleased that Lincoln Park High School recognizes the importance of religious freedom for its students. Ms. Siefferly should be applauded for her courage in standing up for what she believes is right."
The Wicca religion has been recognized in United States courts and by the United States Army Chaplain's Handbook. It stresses individual enlightenment and celebrates the seasons and the four elements: earth, wind, fire and water. Proselytization is forbidden.
Founded in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union is the nation's foremost advocate of individual rights -- litigating, legislating, and educating the public on a broad array of issues affecting individual freedom in the United States.
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