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Murderer wins right to Wiccan religious items behind bars
AP ^ | 12/8/5 | Wayne Parry

Posted on 12/08/2005 6:15:13 PM PST by Crackingham

A convicted murderer who practices the Wiccan religion won the right Thursday to receive religious books and items while behind bars. The state Department of Corrections settled a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey on behalf of Patrick Pantusco, who was convicted of murder, aggravated assault and other offenses in Bergen County in 1998, and sent to East Jersey State Prison at Avenel.

He began practicing Wicca in 2002, while serving a 30- to 50-year prison term. Wiccans say their religion is based on respect for the earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons.

Pantusco, 30, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Newark in 2003 after prison officials denied his request for religious books and items such as beads and scented oils, a small bell and flute, ritual powder and a necklace, said Edward Barocas, the ACLU's legal director.

"They were comparable to rosary beads or Muslim prayer oils," he said. "Everything he asked for had a similar counterpart with the Christian and Muslim religions that was allowed into the prison."

Among the books Pantusco sought was "The Book of Shadows" by Lady Sheba, who registered Wicca as a religious organization in 1971. It includes secret initiation rites, laws of the religion, consecration rituals, invocations and chants and dances for calling on the gods. He also wanted to receive "The Encyclopedia of Wicca and Witchcraft."

The lawsuit claimed the state violated the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which protects the religious rights of inmates.

"All Mr. Pantusco wanted was to have the same rights as the Muslim and Christian inmates," said Steven Latimer, who served as his attorney. "He asked for no special privileges."


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; US: New Jersey
KEYWORDS: hellbound; inmates; moralabsolutes; pagan; paganmurderer; religion; unsaved; wicca

1 posted on 12/08/2005 6:15:14 PM PST by Crackingham
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: Crackingham

Damn that slippery slope.


3 posted on 12/08/2005 6:17:17 PM PST by so_real ("The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.")
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To: Crackingham

If in prison, my religion would include hacksaws, files, and an oxy-actylene torch as necessary for worship.


4 posted on 12/08/2005 6:17:31 PM PST by jim_trent
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To: Crackingham
Wiccan Religious items:


5 posted on 12/08/2005 6:17:38 PM PST by Michael.SF. (Paris Hilton - Living proof that one need not be poor to be White Trash)
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To: jim_trent
If in prison, my religion would include...

You forgot the blonde!

6 posted on 12/08/2005 6:18:50 PM PST by Michael.SF. (Paris Hilton - Living proof that one need not be poor to be White Trash)
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To: Crackingham

Ironic. The ACLU is right there to defend the rights of a murderer who practices witchcraft, but is nowhere to be found when a private homeowner is harrased by their homeowners association for the nativity scene in thier front yard.


7 posted on 12/08/2005 6:23:04 PM PST by Guard Dog (Beware of the Dog)
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To: Crackingham

So when does the ACLU call this "Literally, a witch hunt"?


8 posted on 12/08/2005 6:29:19 PM PST by Darkwolf377 (If you like Hillary for prez, vote third party!)
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To: Crackingham

Who cares. He is behind bars. Thats my concern. His religion is his own business.


9 posted on 12/08/2005 6:29:25 PM PST by jecIIny (Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini. Qui fecit coelum et terram.)
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To: jim_trent

>>>"If in prison, my religion would include hacksaws, files, and an oxy-actylene torch as necessary for worship"<<<

Those items are just for projects, I would also need 24 hrs per day of un-interupted freedom in the State or Nation of my choice, no supervision and a small weekly stipend to make sure I have enough cash to live the way that my Religion dictates.

(Guess they'd just send me back to New Orleans)

TT


10 posted on 12/08/2005 6:44:56 PM PST by TexasTransplant (NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSET)
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To: Crackingham

Sounds pretty lame but I say just let him have his Wiccan crap. Makes no difference to me. I guess if people are allowed Bibles or Rosary, et al, let him have his stupid Wiccan stuff.


11 posted on 12/08/2005 6:47:09 PM PST by Bones75
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To: Crackingham
Wait!!! Witches' pharmacopoeia traditionally includes ointment for magic disappearances and transvection [flying through air mounted on brooms, goats, pigs and the like]. Neither it nor its ingredients should be allowed in the prison. And, indeed, the due process [as described in "Malleus Maleficarum"] ought to be followed. Whenever a witch is brought in the judge's [or warden's] presence, it is to be brought backwards, so that the witch cannot cast the first glance on the judge, to prevent bewitchment. Everyone on the prison staff is to be equipped with crucifixes, receive daily Communion, be anointed with consecrated oil and frequently sprinkled with holy water. And of course, do not forget the Spanish boot and thermal treatment.
12 posted on 12/08/2005 6:48:26 PM PST by GSlob
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To: jim_trent

"If in prison, my religion would include hacksaws, files, and an oxy-actylene torch as necessary for worship."

(*chuckle*)

Yep, I myself am a member of the Worldwide Church of Mapp Gas


13 posted on 12/08/2005 6:48:28 PM PST by Bones75
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To: Crackingham

Wicca is not a religion for two reasons:

1. It was invented by the Gardiner fellow in the mid 20th century, as an eclectic mix of this and that.
2. There is no God in Wicca, it is merely faux paganism without the real traditions. If Wicca can be a religion, anything anyone says, does or makes up can be a religion.


14 posted on 12/08/2005 7:19:39 PM PST by little jeremiah
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To: little jeremiah
True.
Wicca is a recent cult, pretty much the same as all the quasi-religious cults that sprang up during the 1960s and early 1970s that eventually either died off, or suicided themselves.
Anyone remember Jim Jones?
The Moonies don't seem to hang out at airports anymore, either.

There might still be actual "witches" living and practicing their "faith" here and there.

The chances of finding one of them in a jail cell, anywhere, is rather minute, given their supposed natural abilities.
15 posted on 12/08/2005 7:52:50 PM PST by sarasmom ("The French are revolting." Some phrases are true on so many levels, it's mystical!)
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To: Crackingham

And they're trying to keep Christian groups out of jails when they allow this? I guess we can figure out who is in charge of *the system*.


16 posted on 12/08/2005 8:07:10 PM PST by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: Crackingham

Wiccans say their religion is based on respect for the earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons....


------Just not respect for human life. Yep, there is a place for him in hell.


17 posted on 12/08/2005 8:16:06 PM PST by WasDougsLamb (I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed man)
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To: Michael.SF.

but does she float?


18 posted on 12/08/2005 9:45:18 PM PST by Rakkasan1 (Peace de Resistance! Viva la Paper towels!)
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To: William Creel

The problem here is RLUIPA. It says that before a prison can "substantially burden" an inmate's religious practices, it must show a "compelling state interest."
In practice, this tends to mean that if a prison cannot show that whatever the inmate wants is a direct threat to prison security, he can have it. Prior to RLUIPA, we had RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act), which more or less did the same thing, but was thrown out by the Supreme Court for other reasons. Prior to either one, all the prison needed to show was basically that there was a legitimate correctional reason for banning something.

Ironically, I think RLUIPA and RFRA were passed with the support of otherwise conservative Christian groupsl. Makingd it more ironic that the ACLU is involved.


19 posted on 12/09/2005 4:28:50 AM PST by bigcat00
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To: Guard Dog

That my dear friends is the truth trying to hide in the darkness.


20 posted on 12/09/2005 6:58:30 AM PST by red irish (Gods Children in the womb are to be loved too!)
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: eastwitch69
You're a strange one, aren't you?

Prepare to be zotted at the stake.
22 posted on 12/26/2005 11:52:29 PM PST by decal (Mother Nature and Real Life are conservatives; the Progs have never figured this out.)
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