A have a few items that just can’t wait till Saturday! Starting with a rather awful editorial from The Chicago Tribune’s “The Seeker” blog that seemingly equates tolerance towards Pagan soldiers within the military with a look-the-other-way atmosphere that led to the horrendous Fort Hood murders.
“Fast forward to 1999, when an Austin, Texas newspaper published photos of a Wiccan ceremony at Fort Hood. Theologically conservative Christian clergy joined with indignant Congressmen to protest the Army’s acceptance of Wiccan practice. As reported in Hannah Rosin’s contemporaneous account for The Washington Post, these clergy threatened to disrupt the protests, going so far as to call on Christians not to enlist or reenlist in any branch of the military until Wicca was banned from military posts. But the Army brushed off the threatened protests. Again, according to the Washington Post article, Fort Hood spokesman Lt. Col. Ben Santos said at the time that as long as a religious minority does not interfere with discipline, the military will help it find an off-base leader and a place to practice its beliefs … in light of the fact that the Army and various government agencies appear to have disregarded warning signs about the shooter’s contact with religious radicals who have since praised his murders, a tragic irony bubbles to the surface: might the emphasis on religious inclusion and interfaith acceptance have allowed the sinister to walk, undaunted, disguised as the spiritual?”
It is hard to tell what, exactly, author Tom Levinson is suggesting. That the military should be less accommodating to religious minorities? That only certain faiths should be allowed or tolerated? That their fair treatment towards Pagan soldiers inevitably led to these shootings by a disturbed Major Nidal Malik Hasan? Frankly, using the story of the Fort Hood Pagans in conveying his “tragic irony” is insulting to the Pagan men and women who serve, and have served, in the military. Already several Pagans and Pagan vets have spoken out against Levinson’s badly-thought-out piece with more, no doubt, to come.
The James Arthur Ray sweat-lodge death saga continues to have repercussions. While the police investigation is still ongoing, the Lakota Nation has filed a lawsuit against Ray and the Angel Valley Retreat Center for fraud and the “desecration of our Sacred Oinikiga by causing the death of Liz Neuman, Kirby Brown and James Shore”.
“In the aftermath of the tragedy at Angel Valley Retreat Center, where an incompetently conducted “sweat lodge” held by Californian self-help guru James Arthur Ray killed three participants, political steps are being taken by several native people across the United States. While local Indians from Arizona are forming a Council for Indigenous Traditional Healing to reclaim native ceremonies, the Lakota tribe of North and South Dakota has filed a lawsuit against the United States, the state of Arizona, James Arthur Ray and the Angel Valley Retreat Center.”
This issue seems to have truly galvanized some tribal nations and activists, leading to actions that could have long-standing repercussions in the often tense relations between Native peoples and New Age communities. Meanwhile the daughter of one of the victims wants Ray behind bars and is filing a wrongful death lawsuit. So it looks like only a matter of time before Ray is brought before a judge. Hopefully before his next “spiritual warrior” retreat, scheduled for September 18-23rd.
In a final note, blogger Rob Taylor has alerted me to a group of anti-pedophile activists who have allegedly uncovered the identity of a Wiccan man who brags of his sexual involvement with children and until recently was advertising for a coven on Witchvox.
“He is Wiccan and participates in and goes to Wiccan festivals in which he likes to view children running around naked.”
It seems Witchvox (or the person in question) may have removed the listings since word went out at the beginning of November, as they are now gone. Sadly, there isn’t a picture, or further outside confirmation, so we have no way of telling who exactly this man is at public gatherings (as he could no doubt use a variety of aliases if he wanted). I was planning use this information within the context of a longer investigation of predators within the Pagan community, but I felt it was important to pass this information along now if it could potentially help parents and children be safer at gatherings. As always, be careful, do your own research, and leave law enforcement to law enforcement officials.
That’s all I have for now, have a good night, see you tomorrow.