Weekly Update: 8/21/2000|
Author: Witchvox Central
Posted: August 21st. 2000
Times Viewed: 6,843
| Reading, Writing & First Amendment Rights... |
Well, it's time for the kids to go back to school (I see that smile, Mom and Dad !) and so it is probably a good time to look into what 'back to school' might mean for our pagan children. Many of you may recall that in the last few years several school districts across the nation attempted to ban the wearing of pentacles. For instance, Hammond, Indiana high school officials had placed pentacles on its list of prohibited symbols in the school's dress code. After AREN contacted Pat Prorok, Clark High School's assistant principal, regarding the unconstitutionality of the ban, school officials changed the dress code policy to accommodate practitioners of minority religions. Perhaps the most familiar case was that of Wiccan Crystal Seifferly who was forced to ultimately file a lawsuit against the Lincoln Park school board concerning its school ban of not only the wearing of pentacles, but a ban on even the practicing of the belief systems of Witchcraft or Paganism. Crystal won her case with the aid of the ACLU and the various pagan organizations who filed letters of support on her behalf.
Already this season, we have heard of one school in Texas that bans the wearing of pentacles and classifies it as a gang symbol in their dress code regulations. As more pagan parents get a good look at their children's student handbooks, there may be more such incidents on the horizon. Let's take a look at the U.S. Department of Education's guidelines on religious expression in the public schools:
"Students may display religious messages on items of clothing to the same extent that they are permitted to display other comparable messages. Religious messages may not be singled out for suppression, but rather are subject to the same rules as generally apply to comparable messages."
The entire text of the Equal Access Act is available in a printable version on the TWV White Pages. Other documents of similar interest include Education and the Pagan Child and pagan lawyer, Dana Eilers has written an informative analysis of the recent court decision, Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, on pre-game prayers at school sporting events that has other First Amendment import for pagans.
It never hurts to know your legal rights!
|Pagan Perspectives - WitchVox Question of the Week!|
Last week. the Pagan Perspectives topic was on the definition of Witchcraft or witchcraft. Interestingly enough this proved to be not an easy concept to pin down if the small number of responses that we received is any indication. It is always easier to say what we are NOT, than to forge ahead and try to hone in on what we ARE. That has been a problem for Witches in the past as many see the practice of witchcraft or the religious belief of Witchcraft as a highly individualistic thing open to a myriad of interpretations. Okay, we can go with that, but a general (and I do mean very general) definition of Witchcraft should be developed so at least when we tell folks like Britannica that they are wrong, we can at the same time tell them what is right.
This week's topic falls in with our 'back-to-school' theme. School boards across the country are voting in the posting of the Ten Commandments, legislators are attempting to pry the school prayers off of the Supreme Court desk and back into the classrooms and the voucher issue has created a sharp division between the political parties. Realizing that students 'do not leave their religion at the schoolhouse door', what should be the proper balance between church and state, religion and education? Non-US residents, how does religion in the schools play out in your country?
This week's Pagan Perspective question is...
Church and State, Religion in School... What's YOUR View?
Click to Post Your Opinion or to view the Responses
Wren's Bird Call of The Week
whistles its way to the great state of Alabama and alights upon the churll-ish behavior of a group of Pell City religious extremists. Big surprise but Alabama IS the state that gave us Judge Roy Moore's 'hang the Ten Commandments on every courthouse wall and the First Amendment be damned' campaign. During last week's full moon, a group of Wiccans held their usual monthly ritual. Well, not quite as usual. Cameramen stood outside the circle, police blocked off the section of neighborhood around the location of the circle and the aforementioned Christian religious extremists circled around the street and neighborhood yards like buzzards who just got wind of some easy free pickings. (There's plenty of buzzard bait this week in the Alabama Live Religion Forum as Wiccans, Witches and pagans have been standing firm against some very ridiculous claims. Fly on over and give your fellow pagans a wing-up.)
Was there a hoot-nanny goin' on? Nope, the 'good' folks of Pell City were there to run the Wiccans out of town. Thirty or so protesters showed up carrying signs with such spiritually uplifting messages as, "Get the devil worshippers out of the community!" Now I'm not a Christian, but I have read the Bible (many times) and I can't recall the chapter and verse of that particular part of the story where Jesus comes up on a group of Gentiles doing their private religious thing in the backyard and then turns to his disciples and says, "Go git 'em, boys! Run them pagans right outta Galilee!" Maybe it's in the footnotes somewhere. Okay, there WAS that little 'money-changer' incident, but as far as the news reports on this incident go there is no mention of any sort of foreign currency exchanging going on under the full moon in Pell City, Alabama.
Actually the proper biblical response for those folks who encounter people who are practicing a perfectly satisfying religion of their own and who refuse to swallow the 'good news' that they are on their way to a place called hell because of it, is to move out of town and shake the dust of that place from their Birkenstocks. Pell City real estate agents, get your calculators ready! But some other really good Christian neighbors obviously couldn't find that 'outta town' footnote in their Bibles either and so they came out in support of the First Amendment instead. Loving one's neighbors isn't always easy, but Jesus himself never said that it would be.
Speaking of the news reports, uh, where were they? There was a nice one on Headline News and some local radio stations have done some call-in shows, but where were the perpetually outraged political pundits? If the group happened to be a black family, Jesse Jackson would be on every news feed across the country faster than you could flip a flapjack. If skinheads had surrounded a Jewish household, Joe Leiberman and the ADL would be holding press conferences even if it were on a Saturday. And this makes the usually astute Bill O'Reilly wrong, wrong and wrong.
On the O'Reilly Factor last week, Bill poo-pooed La. Senator Mary Landreau's protestation of the Democratic Party's 'panderation' to minorities by retorting, "Every politician stands up against prejudice these days!" The implication that Bill was making is that politicians find defending minorities a very nice politically correct feather-in-their-sparkly-red, white and blue-hats.
Well, Bill, last week in Pell City a gaggle of religious fundamentalists from the local Christian churches surrounded a group of peaceful Wiccans celebrating a peaceful religious ceremony in their back yards and called them derogatory, nasty names and want them run outta town simply because they do not practice one of the more 'acceptable' religions available. And we have yet to see or hear of one politician-either local or national- stand up and express the politically proper degree of outrage against such bigotry.
So which political cash cow do you think will be the first one to stand up and openly declare itself to be the 'party of Witches'?
Prejudice against Witches, Wiccans and Pagans is still that hot little toad that no politician wants seen hopping about on their party's bandwagon. It's unfair, it's a silent seal of approval to those who do it and it's as wrong as Bill O'Reilly is on that point. But, Bill, if any politicians call me for a press conference on this subject, we'll make sure that you get the interview.
In Your Service,
The Witches' Voice
Year 2000 - August 21st.
NEW Page Up This Week!
Cats of WitchCraft - 1/4 of a Million Visitors!
In an effort to dispel one of the many myths about the craft, we began featuring pictures of Witch Cats back in '97 when we went online. Flash forward to this past week and guess what? The Cat pictures just keep coming in! Thanks to help from several of you we have not only caught up but are actually on top of this. The latest pages were authored by Daven (#16) and Flicker (#15)... Thank YOU both for this community work. Of late, we have been barraged with submissions... A recent plea for help rendered some fine work by Lady Ostara, Daven, Stephen, Naomi Armitage, and Napoleon (page 13 AND 14). Thank YOU allfor authoring our latest cats of the craft pages. Cats 15 and Cats 16
Note: The cat to your left is named Sebastian... He is a star of a Online comic strip called Clan of the Cats. "It is the story of a young witch and all the bizarre goings on in her life. It does push the envelope of fantasy quite a bit, so I have a link to Witchvox on my site for those who are interested in the "real" thing". Thank YOU Jamie from what you have done and what you are doing. (Fritz & Wren).
| Witches of the World - Version 5.0 coming this fall!|
Get Psyched! - Get Connected!
Over the past few weeks we have initiated the work on a complete rewrite of our networking pages at WitchVox.net. This, long overdue, "dynamic" version of W.O.T.W. will take the busiest Pagan networking resource on the net to an exciting new level.
We started this networking section back in our days with the WLPA and restarted it as a major section on the day we launched the Witches' Voice. Over the past 3 years the networking section of TWV has experienced 4,536,004 page views.
Our goals for this rewrite are numerous and after checking out many stock cgi's it is clear that they only way we can accomplish our end result is to actually write the programming ourselves. Yes, there are many wonderful cgi programs that sorta do this, but they all fall short as related to our dreams. Simply collecting and listing contact info is easy enough, keeping it accurate, up to date, de-duped and cleaned on a daily basis is a entirely other issue.
Information IS Power: Presently W.O.T.W. consists of People contacts, links, events, groups and local shops. It is cumbersome to maintain and a pain in the butt to evolve. Version 5 will be much more robust, modular in design, expand the data of the current listings and will be, hopefully, faster (have you been to our California pages lately?). All current data will not only be ported in its entirety, BUT will be enhanced in a big way.
We proudly make this announcement to a) let you know that this IS coming and to b) solicit YOUR feedback on what YOU would like to see in this County, State/Province, City listing of our wonderful Pagan community. We will reveal more about version 5.0 in the weeks to come.
Feel free to celebrate the Pagan path with your brothers and sisters at our Witches' of the World pages and tell them that Fritz, Wren, Dio, Christina and Steve said "Blessed be Well"!
Blessed Be Well,
WebCrafter - Witchvox
August 21st., 2000
Witches, Wiccans, Pagans
Circles, Events, Festivals
Witch Shops in your Town
Thousands of Pagan Links
Covens and Groups
|Witches of the World Pages... |
Submissions up Dramatically!
Can we talk? Nothing thrills us more than getting email thanking us for having a powerful networking section. People are getting together on the physical plane forming groups, sharing magick, doing rituals, educating their town and some are actually falling in love.
This past month we have seen an explosion (in the range of plus 40%) of submissions to our networking pages.
With a current listing of over 23,000 Witches, Wiccans and Pagans, keeping this list de-duped, sorted and clean is quite the chore. Recent systems have automated much of this... This critical 1,000 page 6-part section of WitchVox (Adults, Teens, Covens/Groups, Events, Shops and Pagan Links) continues to network thousands on a daily basis. Many of the newspapers we talked to this past Samhain were "blown away" at the sheer numbers of Witches, Wiccans and Pagans who DO choose to come out and be listed.
WOTW also includes (as of this writing) 1,675 Covens and Groups, 574 CURRENT Festivals and Events, 4,441 annotated links to Pagan Web sites and 642 Pagan shops of the World.
In closing... Education has always been one of the most basic tools in the kit for building up people, patching up the things that can go wrong in a society and laying the foundations for open and meaningful communications between people who may come from very different and diverse backgrounds. As our horizons expand into the future generations and the world becomes smaller due to the new technologies, education becomes even more important for our children and for the joining together of all Gaia's peoples. Through education, we can not only plan for the future, we can help insure that there will actually BE a future for this one small and incredibly beautiful planet.
As always, our heartfelt thanks go out to the many of you that believe in, contribute to and continue to support this mission in your own heartfelt ways...You ARE the Witches' Voice.
In Your Service,
Wren, Fritz, Peg, Dio, Christina and Steve
The Witches' Voice
Year 2000 - August 21st.
Location: Clearwater¼, Florida
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