A Few Updates and Announcements

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  January 30, 2010 — 6 Comments

I have some updates and announcements of note for you on this Saturday afternoon.

Is The First Amendment for Monotheists Only: Let’s start off with some more information concerning Patrick McCollum’s legal battle over California’s “five faiths” policy. I have here, available for download, the entire complaint, which shows that it was filed as a class action alongside several Pagan inmates. Not, as past media coverage has implied, by McCollum alone.

“The two-tier system inherent in the Five State-Sanctioned Faiths Policy creates a lack of resources and denial of access, which denies Wiccan/Pagan inmates the ability to participate in essential religious ceremonies and perform religious rites mandated by their faith. Chaplains of the Five State-Sanctioned Faiths who are hired are often hostile to Wiccan/Pagan religions, yet are called on to oversee Wiccan/Pagan religious life because of the absence of Wiccan/Pagan chaplains. In many cases, the Five State Sanctioned Faiths Chaplains discriminate against the Wiccan/Pagans when forced into such roles and prioritize the needs of the adherents of their own faiths above the needs of the Wiccan/Pagans.”

The complaint also lists the various discriminatory actions against Pagan inmates and McCollum perpetrated by the California correctional system. In addition, I was provided a copy of a document that proves the California Department of Correction’s key official and witness committed perjury before the court, regarding the most key components of the state’s case against Pagans. Finally, I have a copy of another amicus brief in support of McCollum that includes the support of several religious and chaplaincy organizations, including such Pagan organizations as Cherry Hill Seminary, Covenant of the Goddess, and The Aquarian Tabernacle Church.

Relevant Documents:

It’s becoming increasingly clear that there’s a very good reason why the State of California wants to deny McCollum standing, because if this goes to trial it could potentially explode into a huge scandal, and cost several officials their jobs. As always, I’ll keep you posted regarding the latest developments.

Pagan Benefit CD for Haiti: PaganFM! and Circle Sanctuary are teaming up to release a benefit compilation album with the proceeds going towards recovery and rebuilding efforts in Haiti.

“Pagan musicians and bands from Australia to Canada are taking part; some are very well-known, others are up and coming, and still others are well-established but have more limited audiences. The music on the album ranges from folk, to rock to ethnic and beyond. This album will be an opportunity for each of them to use their talents and skills to open the hearts of listeners across the planet, encouraging everyone to unite in purpose.”

Tentative release date is the first week in March. Once I know more concerning a track-listing or purchasing information, I’ll let you know. For more information, contact Deirdre Hebert of PaganFM!.

Sectarian Prayer in North Carolina: On Thursday a federal judge ruled that using sectarian prayer to open a North Carolina county board of commissioners meeting violates the First Amendment. This comes after a magistrate judge issued a similar ruling on the same case back in November.

“The Supreme Court has also emphasized that such legislative prayers must not advance a particular faith or belief, because to do so would have the effect of affiliating the Government with that particular faith or belief in violation of the Establishment Clause,” U.S. District Judge James A. Beaty Jr. wrote.

As I reported previously, several North Carolina counties have been anxiously watching this case, wondering if it would interfere with their own sectarian opening prayers. It now looks like they too will have to alter their practices, or else face expensive litigation on a legal issue that isn’t trending in their favor. North Carolina has been host to any number of legal issues lately that focus on a Christian majority misusing its power, could this be the start of a shift away from that trend?

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

Jason Pitzl-Waters