Title: Magical Community Skeptical of Alleged Former Wiccan Priest Turned Christian The Of

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Title: Magical Community Skeptical of Alleged Former Wiccan Priest Turned Christian From: AMER Intelligence The Official Journal of the Alliance for Magical and Earth Religions, Volume 1, Number 1. copyright 1991 by AMER and the respective authors. All rights reserved. (Permission to reprint has been granted by AMER.) AMER, Circle Network, and the Coalition for Religious Freedom worked together successfully this spring to help a Georgia pagan being denied her First Amendment rights by a technical college. "Raven", a Unitarian Universalist Pagan and an honor student, was the victim of serious religious discrimination at the technical college. Although Christian Bible study groups were allowed to meet openly in campus buildings, Raven was not allowed to speak about her religion to her fellow students, even informally. She was told not to keep religious objects or an altar in her room, and was subjected to a number of unpleasant interviews with one of the college's Deans, who screamed repeated accusations that her group had been involved in animal sacrifices and bizarre rituals in the dormitories. Raven is Priestess of a small neo-pagan church, and had four pupils on campus at the time of the incidents. Although Raven held her classes off-campus and had not been recruiting members among the largely Baptist student body, the Dean accused her of "proselytizing", and issued a memo forbidding proselytization on campus by "non-denominational groups", and forbidding students establishing "worship altars" in dorm rooms. When Roman Catholic students complained about the altar policy, they were told that they were free to have religious objects, since they were not followers of "nondenominational religious concepts". Raven was also the victim of malicious gossip by her fellow students. When one of her students suffered from a severe allergy attack, the rumor mill turned it into a case of demonic possession. Another favorite story claimed that Raven and her students paraded up and down dormitory hallways carrying live cats and chanting, while wearing elaborate hairstyles and black outfits. (This story was apparently taken at face value by at least one campus official, who spent quite a bit of time questioning Raven about the "rituals".) At the height of campus hysteria, one of Raven's fellow students walked up to her outside a class building and attempted to rip the pentagram pendant from her neck. Fearing for her safety, Raven's friends began to accompany her as guards whenever she left her dorm room or classroom. As a result of this hysterical dorm gossip and the Dean's suspicions, Raven was awakened one night in mid-April by a campus police officer demanding to "know who else was in there with me, and what type of Satanic rituals were being performed." He demanded to search her room. He did not have a warrant, and, after he found only a few candle holders, left to search the room of one of Raven's students. Raven complained about the search to the college's president, but was rewarded by more unpleasant interviews with the Dean. At that point, Raven turned to Circle Sanctuary for help. After talking to her, Selena Fox called Frank Medina, one of AMER's members. Frank contacted former Board Secretary Jay Stewart, who passed on the details to Board President Chris Carlisle. Chris investigated the matter and wrote to the college's president to point out that Raven's constitutional rights were being abridged, and that the college, as a state institution must surely be anxious to protect those rights. Daniel Holdgriewe, Executive Director of the Coalition for Religious Freedom, also wrote several letters to the college, and made several phone calls to the Dean who had been dealing with Raven. The Dean attempted to deny that the searches and memo were directed at Raven, claiming that her room was searched only for missing salt and pepper shakers and for possible fire hazards. He also claimed the "proselytization" memo was aimed at a Christian fundamentalist group which had been harassing students. The Dean asked Mr. Holdgriewe to assure Raven that she could keep religious objects, including an altar, in her dormitory room as long as there were no health or fire hazards or "substances which emit unpleasant odors". In a personal interview, the Dean told Raven that he would no longer prevent her from speaking about her religion on campus as long as she did not do so in a classroom setting where "fellow students might be upset." After this interview, Raven called Chris Carlisle to thank her for AMER's support and for the letters and comforting phone calls she had received from our members. Raven does not wish to subject her fellow students and the college to further publicity,so she will not be filing a lawsuit. She has asked that we not reveal her name or the name of the institution. A final note: the federally required "affirmative action statement" in the college's catalog states, "This institution does not discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin (Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964), sex (Title VI of the Educational Amendments of 1972 and Carl Perkins Vocational Educational Act of 1984), or handicap (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) in educational programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance." Nowhere does the catalog state that it does not discriminate on the basis of creed or religion. Students beware, read your college catalogs carefully, or you may suffer as Raven has! /end of article/

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