North Carolina Pagan Receives Death Threat After Challenging Bible Distribution

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  January 21, 2012 — 50 Comments

Last month, North Carolina Pagan Ginger Strivelli decided to challenge her child’s school’s policy regarding the distribution of religious materials. Strivelli felt that the manner in which Gideon Bibles were made available violated the Establishment Clause, and ostracized non-Christian students who didn’t want to use a special break to obtain a Bible. The school, when challenged, said the policy applied to all faiths, so Strivelli decided to test their commitment to theological neutrality. According to local Pagan leader and activist Byron Ballard, who’s been assisting Strivelli, the school’s tune quickly changed.

Ginger Strivelli

Ginger Strivelli

“We were there to deliver the materials that she was assured would be “made available” in the same way the Gideon material was, right before the winter break. No surprise to find that, in consultation with the system’s superintendent Dr. Baldwin, the principal Jackie Byerly and asst principal Danny Fusco couldn’t do that at all because the central office was reviewing its policy regarding religious materials in schools. They suggested that they would “hold onto” the books, in case the school system needed to review them for appropriate content, once the policy was vetted.”

The school is now officially “reviewing” their policy on distributing religious materials. Since then, Strivelli’s story has been covered by a number of mainstream media outlets, including Fox News, CBC News, the Houston Chronicle, and several others. Due to the intense level of coverage for this issue, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that Ginger Strivelli recently received an anonymous death threat.

“Buncombe County investigators are looking into a threatening phone call made to a local woman who made headlines when she criticized a county school for making Bibles available to students. [...] Strivelli believes that the threat is related to her speaking out. “It’s definitely related. He (the caller) said he saw me on the news,” she said. “I’m hoping it’s just some idiot trying to scare me into shutting up.” The man called Thursday night, claiming he was calling from Moscow, according to Strivelli. He told Strivelli that he had 20 or 30 people working in this area, and “I was done for. I was dead,” Strivelli said Friday.”

The Lady Liberty League, along with a coalition of local and national Pagan organizations, are coordinating to support Strivelli during this time of trial, and have started a Facebook page for those looking to give aid and support. Here are the Lady Liberty League’s recommendations for those seeking to help.

  • Do prayers, meditations, rituals of Protection, Healing, & Well-being to Ginger Strivelli & her family.
  • Learn more & Post words of support for Ginger & her family on their support page on Facebook.
  • Speak out in support of separation of church & state in comments sections of media sites carrying news and editorials about this issue.
  • Those with interfaith and/or law enforcement contacts in North Carolina interested in working with Lady Liberty League in providing support to the family and this situation should contact: liberty@circlesanctuary.org as soon as possible.
  • Share this email & support page link with others – by email, through social networking sites, on blogs & websites.

Prominent Pagan mom-blogger Mrs. B, from Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom,  who dealt with Christian death threats over a blog ranking contest, says that “there is nothing more frightening than thinking that some nutball is threatening your family.” These threats are part and parcel of any who have the temerity to challenge Christian norms or traditions that intersect with government-funded institutions, and represent a time when their cultural dominance when unquestioned. This is the reactionary shadow side of a religion who feels its dominance fading, the anxiety over changes they can’t control. The hope is always that these threats will amount to nothing, that they are ravings of powerless individuals wanting to inspire fear, but we must practice vigilance and solidarity in the off chance that this is no idle threat.

Our prayers and best wishes go out to the Strivelli family, may they remain safe and free of fear. The Wild Hunt will be keeping an eye open for future developments. In the meantime, you can get the latest from their support page on Facebook, and from Byron Ballard’s blog at The Citizen-Times.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • guest

    Death threats? My goddess, doesn’t that go against their rules??!!

  • RivaWitch

    This also happend here in Rhode Island. A student who is an Athiest wanted a ” Christian-religious” school prayer type banner taken down from her High School. It had been hanging there for 50+ years. A judge ordered it to be taken down. No this girl is reciving death threats. One group in Wisconsin I believe wanted to send her some flowers. The florist who sent the flowers is now reciving death threats!

    • Valerie

      Yup, Jessica Ahlquist. Freedom from Religion Foundation wanted to send flowers to her, two florists refused, one was apparently closed. One of the florists actually wrote on the receipt that they wouldn’t deliver to this person. She’s been getting all kinds of nasty comments and threats. Its so sad.

  • Guest

    Let us all support Ginger and her family as they weather this storm ( of controversy). Blessed be, Ginger! You are an insipiration.

  • Anonymous

    Jason,

    Thank you the the links available to help support this woman. It is times like this when we, as a community, really need to rally around her and show her that she has the support and love of many people as well as sending a message to those who would do harm or try to repress us that it will not be tolerated.

    -Andrew Lore
    paganinsider.com

  • Silverseale

    I laughed out loud at the part of the article where it was said the school system might need to review the pagan books for “appropriate content.”

    Have these people even *read* their Bibles? That Bible which contains stories about murder, infanticide, rape, dismemberment, torture, racism, avarice, hypocrisy… aided and abetted by a deity who openly admits he is a jealous bastard and who followed some people around the desert in a spaceship and had them kill off massive numbers of people who got in the way … not to mention a king who visits a witch, children hearing disembodied voices, and guys having trance visions and shamanic journeys, (those last three are stuff that we pagans are pretty cool with, broadly speaking) …

    Seriously?! :-D

    • RB

      I’ve actually made this same argument at least a dozen times in the last few weeks. Most schools have a set of rules of a book can and can not contain, and even just the NT alone wouldn’t cut it. They didn’t vet one religious text they have no right to vet another.

    • Anonymous

      iirc there’s also condoned incest in there as well.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        Yup, Lot and his daughters after his wife got petrified for peeking.

        • Anonymous

          And the rape of Tamar by her half-brother.

          And Adam and Eve’s kids had to come from somewhere, as did the offspring of Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their children.

        • http://entdinglichung.wordpress.com Entdinglichung

          after trying to hand over his two daughters to the inhabitants of Sodom for rape

    • Anonymous

      Not to mention incest (several times!), equating “Oh, wow, she’s pretty” with cheating on your wife, and pretty much the entire book of Revelation.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        Regarding your second example, I don’t think that’s what Jesus meant. The man who lusts after another man’s wife and starts calculating, “Hmm, her husband will be out of town on business while my wife is off visiting her mother…” that man is committing adultery in his heart.

        • Obsidia

          Jesus and the Old Testament are 2 different things.

          • http://profiles.google.com/vanye111 Jason Hatter

            Not as demonstrated by the current Christian movement that we are discussing.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            Obsidia: “Jesus and the Old Testament are 2 different things.”

            The relationship between Christianity and the Tanakh is very far from being a settled matter. The historical Jesus, if he existed, was an observant Jew whose only sacred scriptures were the “Old Testament”. This was also true for all of his “disciples”. It was not until after Jesus was dead and buried that “Christians” began flirting with such ideas as creating new sacred texts, abrogating the Mosaic Law, etc.

        • Anonymous

          But that’s not how it’s written. It doesn’t say “the man who looks at a woman and starts actually plotting adultery.” It says “a man who looks upon a woman with lust.” Lust doesn’t imply that you’re actually thinking about how to seduce her, just, “Man, she’s pretty. I’d love a roll in the hay with her.”

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I suspect something was lost in the transition from oral to written account, and translation into “modern” language.

  • Ursyl

    This is what the Gideons and the Bible have unleashed.

    Frankly we (spouse and I) think the school should be investigated for distributing terroristic materials, given the terroristic threats and behaviours that are now happening based upon some defending that book being somehow above the law of the land.

    He sees no difference between what the middle eastern madrassas do and what this school with the Gideons did.

    • Malaz

      I was all smiley when Saskatchewan passed their “Bible As Hate Speech” law…alas…it was overturned in 2006.

  • Buddrick

    no matter what you say you believe in or how you live and how you raise your little ones we will be responable, to God alone, joe

    • Anonymous

      Which is why the school board won’t be happy when they come face-to-face with the PTB in the end! :)

  • Ckane

    It’s worth noting that these folks, although they call themselves Christians, are not acting in a Christian manner.

    • Anonymous

      Well, considering the fact that their Bible condones all sorts of horrible and immoral atrocities…as well as the fact that Christians have ALWAYS acted pretty atrociously, from the first records of Christians in the Roman Empire…I’d say the ones who DON’T act like raving lunatics are the ones departing from the specifically “Christian” manner.

      The “No True Scotsman” defense (*), of course, will be used to ensure that there is no Christian accountability for these actions, as happens in pretty much 100% of cases regarding people doing anything bad in the name of Christianity.

      (* In other words, “No TRUE Christian could ever have done such a thing…”)

      • Anonymous

        My rebuttal is usually “SO then why are the ‘true’ christians being very quiet and not loudly condemning these ‘false’ christians?”

        • Me

          Well not really. There are lots of web sites & FB pages such as “The Christian Left” & “Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented” that get into it. It doesn’t make such interesting cover so you won’t see it on the 11:00 news.
          The problem I have with this thread is that it sounding like the people (a lot of whom identify as Christians, to my continuing embarassment, but then the J-man teaches humility & also as long time Wiccan I spoke to numberous such who were into the same trip) who want all Moslems to take the rap for 9/11. Oh Well. When we all truly realize we swim in & drink from the same river … “Oh what a time it will be” as the song says.

    • kenneth

      They may not be acting in accordance with what people attribute to the example of Jesus’ life, but their actions are entirely consistent with that of institutional Christianity and Christian culture over the last 1500 years plus.

    • http://profiles.google.com/zainyginger Susie Nix

      disagree Ckane, they are behaving exactly like a christian.

      • Anonymous

        Hey, my family is Christian!! :(

  • RB

    The CBC news article is full of inaccuracies.

  • http://www.thedallemagnes.info Angel

    It’s sad when you have to live in fear for standing up for what you feel is correct. No matter what faith belief people hold one should not be favored over the other in an institution meant for public academic education.

    I said this in reference to your last post and I’ll say it again here. Faith no matter what your faith might be placed in is a very personal matter and for that matter it should be left to the individual to decide where it is placed. Public schools serve the public and our public as a whole has supported religious freedom from the foundation of our country. We (the public) decided long ago we wanted academic education for our children from public schools and that we would teach them about faith at home.

    Should you desire religion mingled with your child’s education there are plenty of other schools in which you can enroll your child. But taxpayer funded schools need to leave religion alone.

  • Charles Cosimano

    Never worry about death threats. Those are just nuts letting off steam. I worry about the ones who are smart enough to keep quiet.

    • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

      Unfortunately for Ms. Darla Kaye Wynne it went beyond threats to trashing her house, killing her pets, and throwing a brick at her.

      • Charles Cosimano

        That is when you have the means of retaliation handy. And retaliation can take many forms, not the least of which being videos going viral and the Justice Department getting involved.

    • Anonymous

      Reminds me of the advice I gave my brother once “Don’t worry about me when I’m running my mouth.. panic if I get quiet.”

  • http://ladyimbriumsholocron.wordpress.com/ ladyimbrium

    I’m going to let my originally planned tirade against hypocrisy go, since it’s already been dealt with. Sadly, I no longer have any personal contacts of that nature in NC. I’m still keeping this situation in my “this needs to get better” list. My thoughts and well-wishes are with everyone involved!

  • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    I will make the same suggestion to Ms. Alquist and Ms. Strivelli that I previously made to Ms. Darla Kaye Wynn when death threats were made to her… and townsfolk actually carried through with causing harm to her pets and home… never fear, the second amendment is here. Protect your home and family. Good locks on doors and windows, an alarm system, put pets in at night, keep a gun by the bedside, and a can of pepper spray in the purse. Prayers and best wishes are great. Personal protection is better. “Harm none” unless they do harm first…

  • Obsidia

    Let’s hope the ones who would terrorize this brave family are few. Let the true Christians come forward, and let all good people come together in the strength of our love for each other.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Some of them will violate any boundary to avoid facing their loss of monopoly. Safety and security blessings to the Stravellis.

  • Anonymous
    • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

      That was a really well-written blog, thank you for pointing it out. In the comments, the Christian “chaplain” busted himself for illegal activity.

  • Daniel SnowKestral

    This is just horrid! Sending Ginger a death threat because she has the courage to stand up and say this wasn’t right?

    This brouhaha over a persecution complex evangelicals, etc., have been trumpeting about lately is about the fear and hatred within themselves being projected onto minority Faiths. If they would at the plank in the own eye before the point out the percieved splinters in others. Only look at the last 1500 years of organized Christianity, and they still are the pot calling the kettle black.

    May the Emerald Mantle of the Exalted One enfold Ginger Stravelli, her family, and friends with the utmost protection.

    • Merofled Ing

      That’s it, precisely. These Christian fundamentalists know exactly what kind of behavior they deem acceptable towards others – and they then believe that others would act towards them in the same way, return all that hate and vitriol in kind. In other words: the thought of being at the mercy of their own kind gives them (absolutely justified, and even educating) nightmares.

      The comments below the article by Byron Ballard linked to by Hecatedemeter illustrate that. I deeply admire Byron Ballard for her considered responses. (They’re a positive example for me, given that I tend to instantly fire up, not always helpful.)

      Incence lit and offerings given for Ms. Strivelli and her family. May they feel strong and safe (and be safe). May goddess walk by their side.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003141590394 Apollodōros Phlamandos

    The same happened to a sixteen-year-old atheist who also opposed the distribution of Gideon Bibles at the school, and she won when the whole thing went to court. Even a Rhode Island (the state where she lives) member of the government called her an “evil little thing”. WTF, US of A?

  • Guest

    I find it funny that whenever we give any criticism of Christianity, a ton of “Good Christians” pop in to comment on the article and assure us that they “aren’t all like that.” But when their fellow Christians send death threats to someone, the only comments are “Well, they aren’t TRUE Christians.” When are the “Good Christians” going to stand up against the “Bad Christians” instead of just washing their hands of the situation and making excuses? Until they do, they aren’t much better than the Christians sending death threats in my book.

  • Ipep

    While I attended Sunday School (United Church of Canada), mass (Roman Catholic Church), and Sacrament Meeting (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) as well as meetings of various other belief systems, I learned the Ten Commandments and the two Great Laws of Christianity. As an adult, I chose to follow a pagan path and now live with only ONE “law”, which seems to encompass the whole of all the other teachings … “First, do no harm”. Interesting, isn’t it? I have nothing against any religious system whose members live what is taught (i.e. – love, peace, forgiveness). I DO take issue with people who threaten and attempt to control through fear. There is room on this planet for all!!

    • Anonymous

      This. I have nothing against Christians, but keep your little pocket bibles to yourself! When I was a kid, I got enough of them to fill a good sized cardboard box because I was always afraid to say no. I ended up with dozens of the things!