Psychic Wars in Livingston: It looks like a legal battle over a religiously-motivated Livingston Parish ordinance banning fortune telling will be headed to court. Despite being warned by their lawyer that they would most likely lose a lawsuit, the Parish Council decided to not address the issue at their most recent meeting, much to the dismay of some Parish residents.
“Taxpayers might question the council’s insistence on spending public money to fight a lawsuit on an issue that has no purpose other than to pacify a particular religious group. The council’s attorney, Blayne Honeycutt, has advised that it probably would lose the Wiccan suit if it persists in defending the ordinance. When no member of the council would offer a motion to repeal the soothsaying ordinance, Honeycutt advised the council it needs to hire special counsel to handle such a case. Parish government, which has a history of being strapped for funds, could be putting that money to proper uses on roads, drainage, water and sewage rather than waging war for or against particular religious groups. Instead, the council will spend money it says is in short supply defending a lawsuit against a problem its attorney told council members apparently doesn’t even exist in the parish.”
The Parish is being sued by local businessman and Wiccan Cliff Eakin, who wishes to offer fortune-telling and divination services at his store, Gryphon’s Nest Gifts. Eakin maintains that the ordinance is an attempt to promote Christianity over Paganism.
Thelemites Fight Pedophillia Charges: Australian couple Vivienne Legg and Dyson Devine have been released from prison after apologizing to a judge for defying an order to remove material from their website that groundlessly implicated a local O.T.O. organization in an underground pedophile ring. The couple served two months of a nine-month sentence for contempt of court.
“Yesterday both apologised to Judge Harbison and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, and undertook not to repeat, or help anyone else to publish, the vilifying material about the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). But David Leggatt, for the OTO, complained that the vilification had a “grapevine effect”. It had been removed from the pair’s website, Gaiaguys.net, in December, but soon appeared on Adam Dodson’s site. Simon Moglia, for Mr Devine and Ms Legg, said they had not helped the new website. He said they at first saw their non-compliance as individuals standing for their beliefs. But when they realised that resisting the tribunal encouraged others to disobey the law, they closed down their website.”
While the OTO in Australia have certainly won this battle, they may find themselves pestered by dozens (if not hundreds) of conspiracy theorists who see Legg and Devine as martyrs in the quest for “the truth”. The original actionable paper written by Dr Reina Michaelson inflated in importance and virally spread across the Internet.
Fighting For (Christian) Religious Expression: Arizona joins Oklahoma in trying to pass a “student religious expression” law similar to the one recently passed by Texas.
“On Wednesday, the Arizona House Education Committee narrowly approved, and sent on to the full House of Representatives, HB 2713, a bill that would prohibit public schools from discriminating against students on the basis of their religious belief or expression. It permits students to engage in prayer and religious activity on an equal basis with other activities, but does not permit the school to require participation in religious activities. It includes provisions prohibiting banning of religious attire and jewelry when similar secular items are permitted and another section that prohibits discrimination for or against a student in grading coursework in which the student expresses a religious viewpoint or religious content.”
While these laws may sound innocuous enough to some, they ultimately benefit the religious majority, a point driven home by the Texas House’s own research organization who stated: “the bill could serve as a tool to proselytize the majority religious view”. These proposed laws claim to protect a student’s freedom to express religious viewpoints, but I fear they instead encourage a hostile environment towards religious minorities, dis-empower teachers from keeping order in their classrooms, and give Christian students a sense of immunity from consequences. I encourage Pagan groups in in Arizona (and Oklahoma) to send a message to their representatives ensuring them that Pagans, Witches, and Heathens oppose this legislation, but will gladly use their new “rights” as often and as loudly as possible if it is enacted.