Bob Barr: Witch Hunt 1999 - Week one
Article ID: 2376
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 7,553
Times Read: 21,608
Posted: May 25th. 1999
Times Viewed: 21,608
Bob Barr's Witch Hunt
This time it's the real thing!!!
Regular readers of the Nest know that I usually do not post news items without the supporting url for the story. We like folks to read the full articles for themselves and then decide whether to take action, write comments or otherwise address the issue according to their own will.
However, in this case, I did receive not only several emails, but also a phone call from a very reliable source. So here is the article (which as far as I can discover is not yet posted at the Atlanta Journal on-line) as received from the good folks at The Magickal Cauldron.
Walk in Light and Love,
Rev. Wren Walker
Chairperson-The Witches' Voice, Inc.
Witches Say Barr Threatening Their Beliefs
-by Gayle White, Religion Writer
By calling witchcraft "nonsense" and speaking out against the practice of Wicca in the military, Rep Bob Barr (R-Ga) is stirring up a potful of trouble with witches-some of them his constitutents.
The Magickal Cauldron, an Atlanta based national network of witches and pagans, plans to have representatives at Barr's town hall meeting May 29th at the main branch of the Marietta Library. And several of the metro area's leading witches are trying to arrange meetings with Barr.
After reading a newspaper report about a Wiccan celebration at Fort Hood Army Base in Texas, Barr sent a letter to the commanding officer, Lt Gen Leon S. La Porte, asking that LaPorte "stop this nonsense".
"In my opinion, your policy of encouraging the practice of witchcraft at Fort Hood is based-at best-on a severely strained interpretation of the First Amendment's "free exercise" clause, " Barr wrote.
Barr said in an interview Friday that his concern is not about "what people do in the civilian sector but solely with practice on military bases by active-duty personnel." "The fact of the matter is--and witches won't like this--our country was founded on a basic belief in God, " Barr said.
The US Military attempts to train "moral soldiers, " he said, "and we have always been a country that recognizes that moral foundation as coming from God--not from a tree, not from a blade of grass, not from the sun, but from God. If people want to go out on their own and worship trees or grass or the sun, they can do that. But I don't think it's appropriate for our military to say we won't draw any lines or set any standards about what people can do with military sanction."
Barr said he has not decided his next move on the matter but that he plans to pursue the issue.
Witches say Barr's position is a threat to their civil rights. "His demands are not only outrageous, they are unconstitutional, " said Ginger Wood, spokesperson for the Magickal Cauldron network, who has practiced witchcraft for about five years. "He must not have realized that Wicca is a legally recognized religion. If he did knowt hat, it makes his demands even worse."
Wood said the high priestess of her coven is a Barr constituent and will attend his meeting. Candace Lehrman, who as Lady Santana founded Atlanta's Ravenwood Church and Seminary of Wicca, the first Wiccan church granted tax-exempt status in Georgia, said, "In this great land of freedom, you would think when groups want to come together and worship they should have that right, especially on a military base."
"They come after me, then they come after you, " said Lehrman, who now lives in Washington State.
Barry Lynn, executive director of the Washington based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, is firmly in the witches' corner. "I don't believe the military has to provide religious services to anyone, " he said, "but if they allow some, they must allow all. Wiccans don't seem to be asking for extraordinary treatment. What they have is no different than what Christians, Jews, and Muslims have."
The Fort Hood celebration that interested Barr was described in the Austin American-Statesman as a "rite of spring" marking the vernal equinox with more than 50 witches, male and female, participating.Wicca, also known as witchcraft, is a nature-oriented belief system rooted in pre-Christian Europe.
On Friday, Col. Tom Begines, a Defense Department spokesman, said granting permission to hold religious meetings or ceremonies does not mean that the military approves "of a particular religious belief or practice." (end)
This article originally ran in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday Edition, Page B-1.
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