Believe it or not, this comes up from time to time: whether or not witches are tax-exempt.

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

1 Believe it or not, this comes up from time to time: whether or not witches are tax-exempt. Witches think they are, and the state of Rhode Island is the latest to agree. The state granted tax-exempt status to Our Lady of the Roses Wiccan Church in Providence. The witches claim it's not the money, it's the principle of the thing. (Won't anybody ever admit it's the money?) The witches say they hope the state's approval will make people accept witches as legitimate. This is something witches want. There's even a Witches' Anti-Defamation League. Boy. If you can't bad-mouth witches, who can you bad-mouth? (I am actually considering starting some kind of minority subculture that is willing to be defamed and perhaps actually seeks out defamation. I bet it will be the most popular minority group ever.) I'm not sure the witches will get their wish. Some folks probably liked witches better when they weren't hustling a free ride from the government. Now, you probably get people scuffling around Providence muttering, "If they treated us half as good as they treat them witches...." Witches, it turns out, are also bothered and bewildered about the whole, as our president has taughht us to say, Satanism thing. You mean it was all a big misunderstanding? Whoo, are our faces red. I am willing to concede that current practitioners of Wicca are causing no more trouble for the commonweal than, say, the Elks, but I've got to assume that, way back when, a few witches stepped out of line. I mean, if they were all bent on curing shingles and landscape beautification, they never would have got this bad rap. It only takes a few rowdy witches to spoil things for everyone else. The Rhode Island witches say they don't mess around with newt eyes and Downey warts the way we have been led to believe. The high priestess at Our Lady, one Jouce Siegrist, even put down crystal balls. I like the way these new witches talk. Talking about root canal, a friend of mine once said, "It might not be so bad, if only they called it something else." Rhode Island tax officials took a similar position about witches. If the folks at Our Lady called themselves Episcopo-Channelers or Left-Brain Lutheran Spirit-Extruders, nobody would bat (you should pardon the expression) an eye, the tax guys decided. Still, don't expect the kind of perestroika here in nearby Connecticut, witches. This isn't Rhode Island, where life is cheap. Before you get a tax break, we're going to insist on some heavy-duty licensing. Put you through some testing just to make sure you got all the basic witch moves, too. Otherwise, everybody would be saying, "Me, too. I'm a witch, too." (And in connecticut, it would be the money. To beat our current 73 percent sales tax, most folks would be prepared to claim they worshipped tartar from Judd Nelson's teeth if they thought it would help.) Also in Connecticut, we'd have to insist on you witches carrying some hex insurance. It's guaranteed in our state constitution that everybody has to have lots and lots of insurance and-even though you say you don't do that stuff anymore-what if there's a big party and somebody gets turned into a skink? Believe me, the litigants would have a field day. Siegrist predicts the day will come when witchery is so pedestrian that when people ask a witch "What's your religion?," the witch will say, "I'm a witch," and the asker will say, "That's nice." Except who dares ask anybody about their religion anymore? Hardly anyone. By the time public opinion swings around in the witches' favor, the question will be totally taboo. Too bad. Employers might actuallly like hiring witches, especially if they were willing to work on Christmas. Of course, they would probably want all those witch holidays off. Elizabeth Montgomery's birthday. That kind of thing.


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank