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Patti Wigington

Louisiana Soothsaying Fight Underway

By March 4, 2008

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A while back, I blogged about Wiccan minister Cliff Eakin, who has filed a suit in Livingston parish, Lousiana. Eakin runs a metaphysical store, and has challenged a local ordinance which bans "soothsaying". Shortly after Eakin announced his intent to file, an attorney for the parish went on record as saying that the battle was one legislators had no hope of winning in court. Now, it appears that some local folks see it as a huge waste of time and money, no matter what your religious persuasion.

Advocate writer Bob Anderson rips into Livingston's parish council in this fantastic editorial. He points out, "A person does not have to agree with other people’s religious practices in order to support their right to follow those beliefs." Not only that, he reminds readers that the original ordinance prohibiting soothsaying is pretty darn vague and badly written. Finally, he wraps up with a note to elected officials that they might be better off spending their money on things like roads, drainage, and infrastructure issues, instead of blowing it "waging war for or against particular religious groups."

Big props to Anderson for thinking outside the box, and writing an editorial that is fair and balanced towards people of ALL faiths.
Comments
March 7, 2008 at 9:18 am
(1) Friend says:

Here is another example of anti-wiccan religious persecution, this time from the United States:

An inebriated woman from Waukesha (in Wisconsin, near Milwaukee) was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after neighbors complained that her “Witch chants” were too loud.

“When an officer arrived, he heard the woman yelling in the backyard and found her wearing headphones, a T-shirt and underwear, Babe said. The officer tried to get her attention by shining a flashlight on her but she continued yelling her chants. At one point she poured lighter fluid on the fire, which was 10-feet from her residence, he said. She was burning rubber car mats and a cooler, Babe said. When the officer was able to get the woman’s attention she refused to cooperate telling the officer she was performing a religious ritual. She continued to be belligerent and the officer could smell alcohol on the woman’s breath, Babe said.”

Brenna K. Barney (aka Brenna Raven Moonfire) is claiming that the police were infringing on her religious beliefs, but I haven’t found any new moon ritual that calls for the incineration of plastic coolers or rubber car mats. Maybe it’s a Waukesha thing.

http://www.wildhunt.org/labels/Alliance%20Defense%20Fund.html

March 11, 2008 at 1:55 pm
(2) Friend says:

After a one-day trial yesterday, a Texas federal district judge ruled against a Santeria priest who wanted to sacrifice animals at his home in Euless, Texas. Jose Merced sued after the city refused him a permit to sacrifice animals, saying that the refusal infringes his religious freedom. The city cites prohibitions on animal cruelty, keeping livestock and disposing of animal waste. U.S. District Judge John McBryde, apparently in a ruling from the bench, said that the city has a compelling interest in public health that justified its refusal. The court said that Merced can perform his religious rituals elsewhere. Yesterday’s Houston Chronicle reported on these developments. (See prior related posting.)

Oh, will the persecution never end? It is getting so a person cannot sacrifice a goat or pig anywhere these days.

March 13, 2008 at 6:00 am
(3) Decca Gaeafgwyrdd says:

Has it never really occured to you that people lie, Friend?

Clearly someone is lying in the Wisconsin incident. Bonfires are often part of Wiccan rituals, but comprised of certain woods and herbs, not any old thing from the garage. The woman could be clutching at any straws to prevent being charged with disorderly conduct – perhaps the religious discrimination angle was one she had thought up to prevent being charged and she wasn’t really Wiccan anyway? Who knows?

Or perhaps she *was* Wiccan and this whole thing was invented by neighbours who don’t like her practices, not burning rubber mats and cavorting drunkenly, but holding the usual ritual bonfire and circle? Slander is sadly a very, very common thing Wiccans have to face from their neighbours and people are prepared to believe these nasty lies because they have no other experience of Wiccans than what the media portrays. The truth is out there, hopefully the police and the media will uncover it – it will either show a woman persecuted or a woman bulls***ing!

As for Mr Merced’s case, I don’t think you will find anyone here who will disagree with you, Friend. The sacrifice and abuse of animals does *not* take place in Wicca or witchcraft (which are seperate practices) and witches are great stewards of the earth and all her creatures, a great many of them being vegetarian or vegan rather than harm our fellow creatures and refusing to wear animal products or use products tested on animals.

Santeria is actually a syncretic religion comprised of indigenous tribal mystery beliefs (Animism, rather than Paganism) and Christianity, just so you know. Who knows, the sacrifice of animals could be Mr Merced’s way of getting in tune with the Old Testament patriarchs who regularly sacrificed animals in temples to God?

March 13, 2008 at 8:38 am
(4) Friend says:

Thanks for the clarification, Decca G. With so many pagan denominations now, it is difficult… never mind.
Perhaps the Wisconsin native was from a different branch of the pagan tree. Let us respect everyone’s freedom of religion.

March 14, 2008 at 3:52 pm
(5) Roy Hilbinger says:

So has anyone heard what the outcome of the February 11 public hearing was?

March 14, 2008 at 7:16 pm
(6) Ronnie says:

Very sad about Livingston Parish. But then… Louisiana does seem to like to live in the Dark Ages. Seems not too long ago retailers were fighting the ridiculous “Blue Law” when it was unlawful to open stores on Sunday. Seems like they would be more concerned about real crimes… rather than whether or not a person gets their cards read. What a joke!

July 17, 2008 at 11:27 pm
(7) PJ says:

Erm, “Friend”, sounds like the officer arrested her for legit reasons, not because she was supposedly performing a seemingly non-existant Wiccan ritual which supposedly included the use of rubber items to pollute the environment. You don’t help Wicca by defending everyone who calls his or herself a Wiccan even when they’ve done something wrong.

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