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ACLU backs Wiccan suit
The Washington Times ^ | 8-10-05 | Dionne Walker

Posted on 08/10/2005 11:25:50 AM PDT by JZelle

RICHMOND -- Civil liberties lawyers have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to allow a Wiccan priestess to offer prayers before a public board's meetings. Cynthia Simpson was turned down in 2002 when she asked the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors to add her name to the list of people who customarily open the board's meetings with a religious invocation. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the suburban Richmond county. In their petition, received by the court yesterday, American Civil Liberties Union lawyers accuse the federal appeals court of trying to "obscure with legal smoke and mirrors" Chesterfield's preference for mainline religions. "Although Establishment Clause jurisprudence may be beset with conflicting tests, uncertain outcomes and ongoing debate, one principle has never been compromised ... that one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another," ACLU attorneys wrote in their 13-page filing. County officials said they had the right to limit the prayers to Judeo-Christian beliefs and religions based on a single god.

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtontimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: aclu; chesterfield; churchandstate; lawsuit; vaaclu; virginia; wiccan
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To: FormerLib
Just because someone claims to follow another faith doesn't mean that we can recognize it as a religion. Wicca is one that clearly fails that test in our society.

For all meaningful purposes, Wicca is considered a religion in our society. The IRS considers it legit. The military has Wiccan chaplains. You can be buried in Arlington cemetary in a Wiccan ceremony.

Some people might not consider Wicca a true religion, but our society has extended Wicca the same protections as Christianity.

101 posted on 08/10/2005 2:10:32 PM PDT by Modernman ("A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy." -Disraeli)
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To: Dunstan McShane
in neither case did I feel that either party was acting out of a love for their alternative religion , or out of a desire to preserve religious diversity, but in an attempt to push their views into the faces of the majority present and outrage or hurt them

That is interesting but not relevant. You cannot extrapolate from your own experience and use that limited experience to deny one religion the rights enjoyed by others.

102 posted on 08/10/2005 2:11:35 PM PDT by highball ("I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." -- Thomas Jefferson)
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To: skip_intro

"I think the way to go is simply to forgoe the swearing in and use the threat of perjury prosecution against lying. "

I fully agree, I'm just thinking "baby steps".


103 posted on 08/10/2005 2:11:54 PM PDT by ndt
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To: Modernman; FormerLib

Exactly. Wicca has already passed FormerLib's test.


104 posted on 08/10/2005 2:12:15 PM PDT by highball ("I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." -- Thomas Jefferson)
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To: exile



What the ROMANS said about the early Christians and I qoute

"First of all, (Christians) Wiccans are not a religious sect. They are a bunch of (wankers with only one god,ick ) sexually confused, (ok this one was the same)birkenstock wearing , (flaggelating)henna tattoo getting, (believers in wine turning into blood)patchouli-scented, (Fish eating on Friday)Cherry Garcia eating, (worshipping in catacomb losers) tree-hugging losers, (with jesus fish on the back of their carts)who think that if they wear enough (rags and sack cloths) black and say the (right prayers) right incantations, the (Lord of Hosts) lord of darkness will appear and get them (Money, fame, salvation, a wife you name it god can do it)a date. That is why you never see blond (gladiator)cheerleader types (going to church)going for the occult.

Second, fine if they want to say their little prayers to some (God)goddess or (his Son)a fern or whatever, let them. However you'd have to give the opportunity to every mental patient and crackpot out there.


105 posted on 08/10/2005 2:14:22 PM PDT by Sentis (Visit the Conservative Hollywood http://www.boondockexpansionist.org/)
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To: highball
"But when they start giving special benefits to one faith (such as free advertising), they can't deny them to any other faith."

"Free advertising", what are you referring to here cause it escapes me.
106 posted on 08/10/2005 2:18:03 PM PDT by Texas_Jarhead
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To: highball

Wicca does not fit the definition of "a religion" period.

It is not cohesive, has no set of principles, every practitioner is independent of every other practitioner.

I know of those who claim to practice "wicca". Crazy lonely cat lady comes to mind.

Just to keep this legal, the santarians do not have similar problems with their animal sacrifices when they conflict with zoning laws.

There are acceptable limits. Human sacrifice is outlawed despite some "very sincere" people who believe in it as part of their religion. Canibalism is not allowed despite some "very sincere" people who believe in it as part of their religion.

It is as looney as the "gaea" envirowakos who believe the earth is a living INTELLIGENT organism capable of thought. Christianity was built upon a prior religion and has been demonstrated over time, a dictionary definition of religion.

It is not an issue of "knowing right". It is simple the fact that Wica is a scam to get one laid. It was a scam at the inception by Mr. Gardner, and it is a scam today.

I bet this woman believes her mood ring is a religious symbol too.


107 posted on 08/10/2005 2:21:22 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE!)
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To: Texas_Jarhead

The right to speak at a public meeting is the right to spread the message of the specific church.

Free advertising. With the government's stamp of approval implicit.


108 posted on 08/10/2005 2:22:32 PM PDT by highball ("I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." -- Thomas Jefferson)
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To: longtermmemmory

You don't get to decide that Wicca isn't a "real" religion for the purposes of the government.

If you don't like it, don't follow it. But you don't get to decide for the state.


109 posted on 08/10/2005 2:24:39 PM PDT by highball ("I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." -- Thomas Jefferson)
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To: highball

The perception that public prayer or public religious speech is "free advertising" says more about your attitude towards people of faith than anything else. I guess you're all for free speech unless it's religious in nature. The left is full of your kind.


110 posted on 08/10/2005 2:28:53 PM PDT by Texas_Jarhead
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To: FormerLib

"Just because someone claims to follow another faith doesn't mean that we can recognize it as a religion. Wicca is one that clearly fails that test in our society."

Flatly not true. For you and some apperantly thats the case, but the U.S. government has acknowledged Wicca as a religion, legally on par with Christianity. I'm not sure what you mean by society, but you aren't referring to the U.S.

Also, from a legal standpoint, you might want to rethink not recognizing Wicca as a religion. If Wicca is not a religion, then Wiccan documents COULD be posted on courthouse lawns. Somthing I think we can both agree should not happen.


111 posted on 08/10/2005 2:33:53 PM PDT by ndt
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To: Texas_Jarhead

Ah, insults. Better than honest debate, eh?

You cannot deny that allowing one religious group to speak in a public forum grants a certain ligitimacy or prestige upon it, can you? And if that's granted to one, is it right to deny it to others just because the others don't share your personal faith?


112 posted on 08/10/2005 2:37:06 PM PDT by highball ("I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." -- Thomas Jefferson)
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To: highball
That is interesting but not relevant. You cannot extrapolate from your own experience and use that limited experience to deny one religion the rights enjoyed by others.

God in heaven, man, I have to run my brain into exegetical overdrive to get from "I doubt the motives of some who pray in public" to "Therefore, I intend to deny them the right to their religion." I am Christian, and I doubt the motives of many Christians who pray in public.

I was--or had thought I was--commenting on individual motives, not the constitutionality of their actions. It seems that it's getting harder for people to distinguish between the two.

113 posted on 08/10/2005 2:37:23 PM PDT by Dunstan McShane
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To: Dunstan McShane

Well, I'm sorry if I misread your intent.

But when you post on a thread about a city denying the right of some religions to participate in the prayer before a public meeting, and post doubts on whether followers of that faith really believe what they say they believe, I think confusions are understandable.

Thank you for the clarification. I apologize if you were offended by my misunderstanding.


114 posted on 08/10/2005 2:43:00 PM PDT by highball ("I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." -- Thomas Jefferson)
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To: highball; Stone Mountain; Modernman
They cannot discriminate against any segment of the community when granting another segment special access.

Doesn't the Board usually invite someone to give the benediction? That's the way that I've always seen it work. Seems the witch's real problem is that no one wants to invite her to the party.

But then again, no one really has a right to be invited so she has no right to inflict her prayers on the community in that particular setting.

Perhaps she should run for a position on the Board? That would settle the whole matter now, wouldn't it?

115 posted on 08/10/2005 2:45:08 PM PDT by FormerLib (Kosova: "land stolen from Serbs and given to terrorist killers in a futile attempt to appease them.")
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To: Modernman
"Public meetings don't require invitations. They are open to all."

But to be a speaker at that meeting requires an invitation, and being a speaker is what we are talking about.

116 posted on 08/10/2005 2:46:25 PM PDT by joebuck
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To: highball
And if that's granted to one, is it right to deny it to others just because the others don't share your personal faith?

No one's denying her anything but an invitation to this particular forum.

What about you? Did YOU invite HER to your last party? If not, you're just as guilty of discrimination as the Board is.

117 posted on 08/10/2005 2:48:07 PM PDT by FormerLib (Kosova: "land stolen from Serbs and given to terrorist killers in a futile attempt to appease them.")
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To: highball
If you consider my assertion that your comments say more about your attitude then the subject at hand as an insult then not much I can do about that. As for comment about the left, would you deny that many on the left would agree with your contention?

I'm an originalist, traditionalist, and federalist. With that info you should be able to easily identify my position. If you have a problem with the local school board opening their session with a prayer then I doubt my arguments from either a traditionalist or federalist viewpoint would do much to change that.
118 posted on 08/10/2005 2:48:09 PM PDT by Texas_Jarhead
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To: joebuck
But to be a speaker at that meeting requires an invitation, and being a speaker is what we are talking about.

A town board couldn't pass rules that only people who supported a certain initiative by the town board would be allowed to speak. They would have to give opposing views equal time, or at least institute a first-come, first-speak policy.

This is more or less the same situation. If the town board wants to allow prayer at the opening of its sessions, it needs to set up some sort of neutral system to determine who gets to speak.

119 posted on 08/10/2005 2:53:32 PM PDT by Modernman ("A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy." -Disraeli)
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To: FormerLib
Doesn't the Board usually invite someone to give the benediction? That's the way that I've always seen it work. Seems the witch's real problem is that no one wants to invite her to the party.

Perhaps. But government bodies are subject to different rules than private organizations. When it comes to religion, they can't get around the 1st Amendment by simply refusing to invite Wiccans to pray.

But then again, no one really has a right to be invited so she has no right to inflict her prayers on the community in that particular setting.

It's all or nothing. The government doesn't have to allow prayers by anyone. Once it does, though, it has to allow prayers by everyone

120 posted on 08/10/2005 2:57:34 PM PDT by Modernman ("A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy." -Disraeli)
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To: Texas_Jarhead
As for your insinuation that Jesus had a problem with public prayer all I can say is that I guess we each take away different things from reading the Bible. In my readings of the NT such an assertion was never made apparent to me.

There's this from Matthew right before he gives the Lord's Prayer:

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.(Matthew 6:5-6 ).

121 posted on 08/10/2005 3:18:24 PM PDT by Stone Mountain
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To: JZelle

Tell the ACLU that Wicca is not a legetimate religion and to go pound sand.


122 posted on 08/10/2005 3:21:36 PM PDT by bk1000 (A clear conscience is a sure sign of a poor memory)
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To: hinckley buzzard
Anything which weakens the bonds of community, they are for.

How exactly would government officials praying privately instead of praying publicly weaken the bonds of community?
123 posted on 08/10/2005 3:21:51 PM PDT by Stone Mountain
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To: Stone Mountain
It is my belief that in context the Lord is condemning personal prayer in public which is done for personal attention. Instruction on personal piety if you will and condemnation of those that pray in public so "that they may be seen by men." Others, like the Quakers, accept those verses literally.
124 posted on 08/10/2005 3:58:43 PM PDT by Texas_Jarhead
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To: Texas_Jarhead

I don't know - it sure sounds like a condemnation of public prayer to me... or at the very least, saying that the ideal form of prayer is alone behind closed doors. Now the specific case we are talking about here is a group of politicians praying in public. Wouldn't the spirit of this passage suggest that those politicans would be better served if they prayed alone rather than as part of a group that has gathered for political purposes?


125 posted on 08/10/2005 4:25:46 PM PDT by Stone Mountain
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To: Texas_Jarhead; Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain's solution is hardly stifling religious expression of people that happen to hold public office. They are still free to worship as they see fit.

Frankly, I agree that public meetings of political boards should not include an overt prayer. There are simply too many denominations. As a Catholic, although I respect freedom of religion, I don't find it particularly meaningful to participate in the prayers of a rabbi, an imam or wiccan priestess. I also don't want to participate in the prayers of Episcopal homosexual clergy even though that is a wholly mainstream Christian religion, in and of itself. If they feel the need to ask God's blessing upon them as they take up the business of the board, a period of silence when they can all pray in their hearts in any way they see fit would be much nicer and would still serve the same purpose.

Of course, it would be far more logical for the ACLU to take this position to preserve the "civil liberties" of people of all faiths, but that is not their goal. Their goal is to support any non-Christian group they can so as to render Christianity to the fringes of society.


126 posted on 08/10/2005 4:37:43 PM PDT by GatorGirl (God Bless Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: Modernman
It's all or nothing. The government doesn't have to allow prayers by anyone. Once it does, though, it has to allow prayers by everyone.

Think so? Then, by all means, go to the next session of Congress and demand that you be allowed to offer your prayer since they start every session with one.

The simple fact is that the Board invites a single person, not a mob, to offer a benediction at the beginning of their meetings. Multiple benedictions are nonsense, rendering the "come one, come all" concept moot.

The Atheist/Communist Litigation Unit will garner some headlines for themselves and waste much taxpayer money support some loon who they laugh at when she's not around, and nothing good will come of it.

127 posted on 08/10/2005 4:49:08 PM PDT by FormerLib (Kosova: "land stolen from Serbs and given to terrorist killers in a futile attempt to appease them.")
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To: Stone Mountain
"I don't know - it sure sounds like a condemnation of public prayer to me... or at the very least, saying that the ideal form of prayer is alone behind closed doors. Now the specific case we are talking about here is a group of politicians praying in public. Wouldn't the spirit of this passage suggest that those politicans would be better served if they prayed alone rather than as part of a group that has gathered for political purposes?"

The closet is a metaphor used a number of times in the NT by Jesus and others. I can't tell you how to interpret the Word. Heck, I don't know that you even care about understanding it in the first place or if you are one that uses selective quotes, without contetxt, offered by the secularists to support their various positions. Whatever the case, if you're looking for me to disavow public prayer then you're just wasting your time.
128 posted on 08/10/2005 5:27:43 PM PDT by Texas_Jarhead
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To: Modernman
Like it or not, government is required to treat all religions equally.

Not by the Constitution, only by black-robed tyrants.

129 posted on 08/10/2005 5:42:37 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Modernman
They would have to give opposing views equal time

Ah the old leftist "equal time" doctrine. That dog just won't hunt.

130 posted on 08/10/2005 5:44:44 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: ndt; Junior; Modernman; Madeleine Ward

Sorry, you can't lawyer your way out of this one. If I or anyone else has to explain to you what's wrong with this picture, then you are incapable of understanding.


131 posted on 08/10/2005 6:01:33 PM PDT by Future Snake Eater (The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.)
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To: Future Snake Eater
No. You haven't even attempted to explain, which gives me the impression you really have no rational explanation for your position.

On the other hand, as I pointed out, in the interest of fairness if one religion is invited to give the invocation, then all religions must be offered the same opportunity.

Now, I'm more than capable of understanding any proposition you put forth, provided YOU PUT ONE FORTH.

132 posted on 08/10/2005 6:08:48 PM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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To: highball

That is exactly the point of the ACLU suit. They seek to "establish" the wiccanism of Gardiner as legitimate. In essence to USE the 1st amendment to have government establish a religion.

That alone is enough to stop the game playing.

After a millenium or two they are free to reapply if they have established themselves like legitimate religion.


133 posted on 08/10/2005 6:10:03 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE!)
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To: joebuck

But it is a "public" meeting, which means "open to the public."


134 posted on 08/10/2005 6:10:37 PM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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To: longtermmemmory

I think you are putting the cart before the horse here. Wicca has been a recognized religion for some time. There are even Wiccan chaplains in the armed forces. All that the ACLU is asking for here is that what's sauce for the goose be sauce for the gander.


135 posted on 08/10/2005 6:14:42 PM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Ah the old leftist "equal time" doctrine. That dog just won't hunt.

And yet Christians are demanding "equal time" for creation science in the science classroom. Go figure.

136 posted on 08/10/2005 6:17:58 PM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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To: Junior

I support local control of schools.


137 posted on 08/10/2005 6:19:02 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Okay... And that has what to do with what I posted to you?


138 posted on 08/10/2005 6:19:58 PM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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To: Junior

If schools want to teach intelligent design theory, that's fine with me. It shouldn't be up to a federal secular supremacist to decide.


139 posted on 08/10/2005 6:21:32 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

But what about the folks who don't want their kids indoctrinated into the Christian religion? What recourse do they have? That's why the court system is structured the way it is -- so that folks have a recourse. And, since the Constitution forbids favoring one religion over another, I'm thinking the plaintiff in this story has a case.


140 posted on 08/10/2005 6:34:09 PM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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To: Junior
Teaching intelligent design theory is no more indoctrination than teaching evolution. It's up to the student what they want to believe. If schools are controlled locally, then different schools will teach different things. If someone doesn't like it, they should send their kids to a different school. The Constitution does not forbid favoring religion, it forbids the establishment of a national religion.
141 posted on 08/10/2005 6:39:50 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Intelligent design has nothing to back it up and it is a transparent attempt to bring creationism back into the curriculum. And not just any creationism, but Christian creationism. The only non-Chritian pushing for ID is a fundamentalist Moslem. Evolution at least has the benefit of being as much a scientific theory as atomic theory, or the theory of gravitation.


142 posted on 08/10/2005 6:51:00 PM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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To: Junior

You have a right to that opinion, but you have no right to impose your opinion on everyone else.


143 posted on 08/10/2005 6:53:17 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Junior

Santarians asking for an animal sacrifice before the meeting would be treated the same.

It is a loony fring and the fact the communist founded ACLU is involved speaks volumes to the LACK of legitimacy.

This is not a case of equals but a matter of using an absurd notion, "wicca" is a legitimate religion.

It was clearly and convincingly created as a fraud in the 50 and it remains so today. As for your referance to army chaplains, that is laughable since the politicians have been pushing the army as social experiment now for some time. (see don't ask don't tell)

It should be treated the same way as the surf and turn religion and the santaria religion. No invite.


144 posted on 08/10/2005 7:02:03 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE!)
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To: longtermmemmory
There is a difference between a sacrifice and an invocation. The Wiccans are only asking to supply the latter, just as their Christian counterparts.

And, as I pointed out, Wicca is already a recognized religion.

145 posted on 08/10/2005 7:29:57 PM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

No. There is no imposition of opinion. Indeed, there is an attempt to give the Wiccans the same right to voice their opinion in a public forum as is now enjoyed by Christians. If anyone is imposing an opinion, it would be the latter.


146 posted on 08/10/2005 7:32:04 PM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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To: Junior
On the other hand, as I pointed out, in the interest of fairness if one religion is invited to give the invocation, then all religions must be offered the same opportunity.

So if I found a religion based on worshipping guys named Daryl, I should be allowed to pray over a government body?

You would probably say "yes," therefore, you have no idea what you're talking about. Your claims of rationality and enlightenment don't mean anything in this argument. You have no idea what this could mean.

147 posted on 08/10/2005 7:36:52 PM PDT by Future Snake Eater (The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.)
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To: Junior

I was talking about your right to impose an anti-Christian agenda in public schools. The witch doesn't have the right to impose her religion on a free people or their representatives.


148 posted on 08/10/2005 7:42:34 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Future Snake Eater

Do you have a fairly substantial following? One of the criteria for determining whether something is a cult or a religion is the number of followers. Wicca has a pretty good sized following. Hell, it has enough of a following that chaplains serve in the military.


149 posted on 08/10/2005 7:54:34 PM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

I am not "anti-Christian." I merely point out that what's sauce for the goose (Christians) is sauce for the gander (Wiccans). The government cannot favor one over the other.


150 posted on 08/10/2005 7:56:25 PM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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