Witchvox Weekly Update for 6/29/1997|
Author: Witchvox Central
Posted: June 29th. 1997
Times Viewed: 6,823
| A Real Bad Day For Witchcraft |
Supreme Court Strikes Down Religious Freedom Restoration Act!
June 25th, 1997 c.e.
With a few strokes of the judicial pen, the Supreme Court today crossed out four years of tolerance toward minority religions. By declaring the RFRA unconstitutional, the country is tossed back to the year 1990 -the year of the Smith decision
|A BRIEF DISCOURSE ON THE RFRA: |
According to Barry Lynn of Americans United"
"In Employment Division v. Smith the justices gave government greater authority to restrict religious practices. Under the judicial standard used by the courts before Smith, government at any level could not restrict a person's religious freedom without first demonstrating a "compelling state interest." Government was also required to show that it has used the "least restrictive means" in passing or enforcing a law that might suppress religious practices. The Smith ruling, authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, wiped that standard off the books and said that instead all "generally applicable" statutes would be constitutional, even if their effect was to eviscerate religious practices. Only laws that specifically targeted religious practices for suppression would be unconstitutional.
Scalia conceded that the new approach could place religious minorities at a "relative disadvantage" in comparison with majority faiths. But that, he said, is an "unavoidable consequence of democratic government."
To the layperson, the legal terms at the heart of the judicial debate over the reach of the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause may sound abstract and confusing. The bottom line is that many religious liberty advocates believed that the Smith ruling gave government too much power over religion and handed the state a dangerous new weapon it could use to restrict religious practices."
"Once on the books, federal and state judges began looking to the new law as a standard for deciding religious freedom conflicts."
Now that "new standard" is gone. And without it, minority religions such as Wicca and Witchcraft are once again totally dependent-not on a legal standard of religious tolerance-but solely upon the "good will" of their local communities and government officials. We remember well what the flames and the "good' intentions of communities have inflicted upon those who are considered different.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU AS WITCHES, WICCANS AND PAGANS?
The Smith decision allows that any "neutral" law may be enforced EVEN IF IT INFRINGES ON YOUR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM! Before Smith, the Court maintained a much friendlier view toward religious practice and routinely handed down decisions based on a true understanding of the Free Exercise Clause. With Smith, this all changed and was the reason that the RFRA came to be introduced by Congress as a countermeasure to the now hostile stance (after Smith) by the Court toward individual religious belief.
As long as a law does not DIRECTLY target one religious group, it is considered "neutral" and applies to all. That does not sound dangerous until you begin to realize that any belief outside the mainstream could be restricted by these "neutral" laws. And that you would have no recourse....
To show you the real impact of this devastating blow to religious freedom, we offer the following examples:
With the RFRA out of the picture, your federal, state or city government can now-
Pass and enforce laws which prohibit home worship.
While seemingly a "neutral" law that prohibits any church within a residential zone, any groups practicing a ritual could be considered as conducting a church service. Christian Bible groups could be considered exempt as they are not conducting a "ritual" just studying. They have their official church building for their services.
Pagan groups may have to rent public buildings-or build their own- to have religious services just like everyone else.
But Pagans do not build church buildings and home worship is a basic practice of our religion, you say?
"Too Bad", says the Supreme Court.
Pass and enforce laws which ban the possession of ritual tools.
If your town passes a law banning double edged implements, you can no longer legally own, sell or purchase an athame-even in your own home. If found on your person while you are on your way to a ritual (which you may not be able to now have in your home), or if it found in your home during a 'routine search", you have broken the law.
| But this a religious tool and part of our religious beliefs, you say? |
"What a shame!', says the Supreme Court. "Use a stick!"
In Prison and want access to items used in your religious practice?
"Nope, Can't do!"
Want to burn incense in that public ritual?
"Nope...Clean Air Act, ya know!"
"Uh-uh, disturbing the peace!"
Your condo-agreement or trailer park lease prohibits use of candles, incense or the performance of home worship or outdoor gatherings on the premises.
You protest? - You're evicted!
You can easily see where a "neutral' law can directly affect you without not necessarily be directed AT you....and that does not rule out the fact that your town may decide to enact a law which MAY target just one group or family. It would be up to you to prove it...and meanwhile, you are restricted from practicing your religious beliefs, because remember, there are no longer any accommodations or leeway for those beliefs to be granted an exception under the same law.
What can we do?
1. Get those educational brochures out in the mail, on the street and in the media!
By dispelling the myths about Witchcraft, we can ease the fears of our communities and lessen the likelihood that they will file reports against us.
2. Include your local police department in your educational campaigns!
Invite the local police to rituals and offer to speak on the beliefs of Witches to police academy training classes.
3. Become legally ordained in your state!
By registering as clergy in your state, you can gain public recognition of your sincere religious practice. Contact and work with other clergy in mainstream religions where possible and network with them.
4. Support religious rights organizations!
We shall probably need their support more than ever before. Most depend on donations, so please be generous. Think of it as an investment in your own future.
5. Get together - and STOP fighting amongst yourselves!
It is only the voice of the entire Pagan community that will establish the future of our religions. It is time to forget those petty local differences for the sake of the greater good of our entire community. The next few years are crucial to our survival as a viable religion!
In his remarks at the White House on November 16, 1993, when signing the RFRA, President Bill Clinton said:
"The power to reverse by legislation, a decision of the United States Supreme Court is a power that is rightly, hesitantly and infrequently exercised by the United States Congress. But this is an issue in which that extraordinary measure was clearly called for. As the Vice President said, this act reverses the Employment Division against Smith and reestablishes a standard that better protects all Americans of all faiths in the exercise of their religion in a way that I am convinced is far more consistent with the intent of the Founders of this Nation than the Supreme court decision.
More than 50 cases have been decided against individuals making religious claims against the Government action since that decision (Smith) was handed down. This act will help to reverse that trend by honoring the principle that our laws and institutions should not impede or hinder, but rather should protect and preserve fundamental religious liberties."
Mr. President, thank you for trying. But now it is up to us to carry on the fight for our religious freedom.
We will find a way...
Because we shall never again allow anyone to turn us in...
Because we shall never again allow anyone to turn us out....
Because we shall never again allow anyone to turn us around....
Never again shall we be made to be silent, powerless or invisible...
| Celebrating YULE Down Under... (Australia 6/21/97) |
Merry Meet Fritz & Wren,
Well were we in for a surprise at Yule... It went so well! We even Had Christians on the other side of the river singing to us :)
SERVANTS of other Gods...
Circle organizers Lilly Wuttke and Garfie.
(photo by Adam Hollingworth)
| The night was clear and the circle was held in a beautiful park (with council approval) near a river with trees and everything required for a nice Public Yule. The people started coming and coming... We ended up with just under 200 people including entire families. It was the biggest Circle I have ever cast (over 60 people) and the most smudging I have ever done! What a blast! Everyone was happy and the Christians singing at us on the their side of the river got in trouble with the police as they were making too much noise. |
A national TV Network came and were very good about it all and we will get a spot on TV next Saturday with Bits of the Circle, interviews with some of the families that attended as well as with us... Over all it was, as far as we can tell, a HUGE step in the right direction for Pagan acceptance in Penrith and the Local areas of Australia. I am still a bit wasted from it all so I will Email you again soon when I can think clearly.
Love and Light,
Garfie (Pagan Awareness Network)
ACTION ALERT - Save the Rollright Stones! - UPDATE
| A WitchVox Feature... |
| This weeks feature is a celebration of some very powerful/recently upgraded Pagan Web sites. At this point the Pagan Web has grown to over 500 glorious sites all celebrating their love for the Old Religion. The following web sites are unique and powerful in many ways and represent a diverse approach in serving the Pagan Web. |
| ||The Salem Tarot Page (salemtarot.com) |
Created by Sandra Power and Christian Day from Salem, Mass. this site is nothing short of incredible. The Salem Tarot Page features sections on Tarot Decks, Tarot History, Salem Tradition, What's a Witch?, Magic Spells, Psychic Readings, Tarot Meditations, Pagan Customs, a Witches Library and the SalemTarot Journal. One could spend hours just surfing the nooks and crannies of this site. The blinding speed and beauty of this site makes it a model for the entire pagan web. World class navigation with a stunning look and feel. The magic of the tarot... The magic of the Salem Tarot Page. - So Mote it be!
CraftWise in the Woods
|The Brushwood Folklore Center (brushwood.com) |
These wonderful people are near and dear to our hearts... The Brushwood Folklore Center hosts some of the most powerful festivals and gatherings in America including Starwood, Sirius Rising, CraftWise in the Woods, the Church of the Subgenius "X-Day Drill", OBOD Summer Camp and the Great Lakes Drum & Dance Camp. Although this site is relatively new it's a must bookmark for those that want the latest on the events hosted there. Brushwood is located in southwestern New York State were the land is pure and the air is fresh and clean. We love you Frank, Darlene and Roy!
"Serving the Magickal, Occult, and Pagan Earth Community."
|The Pagan WebCrafters' Association |
PWA is a HOT, new and loose coalition of WebCrafters from the Pagan/Occult Web... Born just last week, PWA already offers a sterling site and an outstanding reference for all things related to your web weaving needs and related questions. Hosted by the incredible Craig of EarthWisdom.com, PWA features the work of some of the best of the Pagan Web. The Witches' Voice is both proud and thrilled to be a part of this wonderful venture. If you are a Pagan web designer you will want to join this group for sure...
Truly serving the Magical community - So Mote it Be!
|Dramatic Upgrade to Witches' League - Virginia |
Witches' League - Virginia: In an effort to keep Witches around the world informed of happenings in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the WLVA Homepage offers a listing of State Representatives to assist you; an index of State Chapter Affiliates; a compendium of our favorite Pagan/Wiccan Site Links; a Guide to Upcoming Pagan Happenings; an Eco-Pagan Resources Page; a Creative Pagan Page, spotlighting Fiction, Creative nonfiction, Poetry, Artwork and Photography by Pagans everywhere; and other information which may be of help. WLVA is an Unofficial Affiliate of The Witches' Voice Inc.; its Mission Statement and Operations Policy are in line with those of The Witches' Voice; its State Chapter Members all support the Work and the Mission of The Witches' Voice.
|KIVA - Live at the Forest Inn |
Major News... Ariana of Kiva has informed us that KIVA - Live at the Forest Inn Volume I and II is now available soon on both CD and cassette. Apparently this is a two part release with the second part due to arrive sometime this fall. Those that have experienced this band live will be thrilled to hear that the following tunes will be on the initial release....Star of the Sea, Witchin Hour, Empowerment, Twa Corbies, Green Man, Devi Puja, The Basin, Durge Durge, Ariana's Blessing, Go Now. . Official release details have just come in and can be found at the KIVA HOME PAGE.
472 Pagan Web Sites
|And What about the rest? |
Here at the Witches' Voice we feature a current listing 472 Pagan web sites... Each and every one is annotated by the WebCrafters themselves. Broken up in to several categories for easy look up and navigation this section also flags all the new ones that have been listed during the current moon cycle. Sections include: Witch/Pagan Links, Religious Freedom Fighters, International Witch Sites, Pagan/Witch NEWS Sites, The WVOX "Voice of the Week" Award winners, a way to list YOUR Pagan/Witch Web Site, Witch Products & Supplies, Mystical/Occult Sites & Friends of the Voice. If you are a Witchcraft or Pagan Web site and would like to be listed here, fill out our simple form and grab one of our logos.
The Witches' Voice is proud to celebrate the fine work of...
|June 28th, 1997 c.e.|
Dancing Sidhe Pagan Resources
This weeks Voice of the Week goes to our 'Dear Abby' of Witchcraft! At the Crone's Cauldron, you can write to the Crone and ask what it is that troubles you. "She may not give you the correct answer all the time, but she will definitely let you know her opinion. Remember to take everything she says with of salt but really listen carefully..." is the caution we get from Rowan Sidhe of Dancing Sidhe.
Visit Dancing Sidhe for fantastic Celtic Path information, a Pagan Basics area that contains many articles including one about Pagan Manners (I love this one!), a Moon Phase Chart for 1997, Magick Basics, an Interactive Message Board, and much more! Congratulations to Dancing Sidhe-keep up the great work! - Lady Alexcia
| Magic Beans Coffee House... Now O-Pan! |
Do you... Wanna yak with other Witches ? Have a question about Witchcraft ? Wanna meet some wonderful Witches ? Wanna join in our Cyber Circle ? This is where the action is. Over the past few weeks our Live Feedback Forum has once again re-invented itself and those of you that stopped in last week had the pleasure of experiencing one of the most magical online circles to date. This Coffee House welcomes all and anything can happen... Click on the delicious image just to your left for the latest in discussions related to the Craft of the Wise... Check in and bring a friend to the Magic Beans Coffee house here at the Witches' Voice.
|The Witches' Voice SiteMap Index Page is a quick way around the Voice... Designed to be both fast and precise our site map is a must bookmark and a quick way to get an overview of our 135 pages. Blessed Be Well - The Witches' Voice Staff |
|Double Double Toil and Trouble - WIRED Magazine grooves on WVOX.|
"The saying 'Those who walk in love and truth shall grow in honor and strength' greets each connection to the Witches' Voice. Grounded in Boston, Massachusetts, the undiluted threads of digital magic that make up this informative cyberspace offer a profound mythos for our increasingly obvious interconnecting global/universal web of life. A news and education network for WitchCraft as a pagan religion, this site is rich with compassion, honoring the sacrifices of the past. Elemental texts like the Witches Rede and the Three-Fold Law share the spotlight with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Advanced Bonewits' Cult Danger Evaluation Frame, stories of modern witch persecutions, and a Witchcraft FAQ. Plunge into the hyper-techno spell of electronic modem handshakes and know the light of pure and true Magick." Wired Magazine - June '97
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