AP 10/28 1245 Inmate's Witch ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - A prison inmate and the superintenden
AP 10/28 1245 Inmate's Witch
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) -- A prison
inmate and the superintendent are
awaiting advice on whether the
prisoner's minister -- a witch -- can
worship with him.
Prison Superintendent William McRae
said he asked the state attorney
general's office to determine if
witchcraft can be considered a religion.
Even if it is, he said, Robert Edwards'
request would violate a policy
recommending that inmates not convert to
another faith after they enter prison.
Edwards, 35, who listed himself as a
Protestant when he entered St. Cloud
Reformatory five years ago for a
16-year, nine-month sentence for
second-degree murder, says he's being
persecuted for his religious beliefs.
"Someone once said, What man does
not understand, he seeks to destroy,"'
he told the St. Cloud Daily Times in an
interview published Monday. "I think
that's what's happening to me in this
Edwards said he began corresponding
with Antiga, a practicing witch and
licensed minister, about six months ago
after he saw her on a TV program. He
said he thinks officials are stalling
because they misunderstand witchcraft,
which he said has nothing to do with
Satanism or the occult.
Witchcraft, Antiga said, is an
ancient Earth-honoring religion that
predates Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism
and Hinduism and takes its inspiration
from nature, the movement of the planets
and the cycle of the seasons.
McRae said witchcraft has evil
connotations for him.
"I don't rush out and embrace
witchcraft or Satanism or voodoo, or any
of those things. They seem more founded
on evil than good. Therefore, I don't
see any advantage to inmates or to
myself in having them in here," he said.
The rule against inmate conversions
is recommended by the state Chaplaincy
Advisory Committee to protect vulnerable
prisoners, McRae said. If the attorney
general says witchcraft is a religion,
he said, he may appeal to the Chaplaincy
Advisory Committee, which advises
prisons on religious matters.
If the attorney general's office
decides witchcraft is not a religion,
then McRae said, he would not allow
Edwards to have a ceremony.
AP 10/31 0244 Prison Witchcraft
By LAURA WILKINSON Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A prison inmate
won a fight to have a witch perform a
ritual in his cell after corrections
officials decided he has a right to
worship as he chooses.
Robert Edwards, serving time at the
Minnesota Correctional Institution in
St. Cloud for a second-degree murder
conviction, was granted permission
Thursday to have a witch visit him.
"It seems to me appropriate that the
prison treat the request for religious
services ... the way that it treats
requests for religious services by
inmates who profess more orthodox
religious beliefs," said Richard L.
Varco, counsel to the state Department
"The witch seems to perform functions
parallel to those performed by priests
and ministers," Varco said.
Antiga, a 54-year-old priestess of
the Covenant of the Goddess who declined
to reveal her full name, said she didn't
know when she would visit Edwards at the
prison, but that it wouldn't be today,
She said she planned a private
ceremony today, by invitation only, "for
those in the craft." Edwards said he
would celebrate Halloween "very
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