It’s Election Day!

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Today is the day, elections are being held, and we’ll soon find out if two out/outed Pagan candidates will win their respective races. The higher-profile story, that of Republican New York City Council candidate, and Heathen Theodsman, Dan Halloran, has gotten a bit ugly in the final hours.

“Though he once wrote on his PaganSpace webpage that “Theodism regularly practices blood sacrifice,” Halloran told the paper that the ritual is similar to Jewish dietary laws. That riled up Kim supporters. “By comparing animal blood sacrifices with the Jewish dietary laws of keeping kosher, it’s no wonder that Dan Halloran’s religion is supported by neo-Nazis and white supremacists,” Michael Dovid Sais, a Jewish Kim backer told the Daily News.”

Looks like the Village Voice piece conflating racist Heathens in prison with Halloran’s campaign has been somewhat successful in putting Halloran, once again, on the defensive when it comes to his faith. He’s now dealing with protesters outside Republican headquarters accusing him of anti-Semitism, some who are directly quoting the Village Voice article. As for the Village Voice, they defend their original piece, saying that they made it clear Halloran wasn’t a racist, even if large parts of the article happened to be about racist Heathens.

“We did point out that there’s an alarming trend in the country’s prisons of white supremacists adopting neo-heathenism for their white nationalist agendas. Experts tell us that as much as 50 percent of the country’s tiny neo-heathenist movement has connections to white supremacy. But we also made it clear, several times, that we found no tie between Halloran’s New Normandy and those white supremacist groups. Yes, Halloran seems to have found some fans at the white nationalist forum Stormfront, but that’s something he can hardly control.”

Meanwhile, both Halloran’s and Democrat Kevin Kim’s camps have been accusing the other of harassment and sabotage. All of which makes me think this is going to be a close one. But while Halloran’s story has gotten most of the attention from the press, Pagan or otherwise, he isn’t the only Pagan on the ballot this election day. Alice Richmond, who is the Democratic candidate for District 1 Supervisor in Page County, Virginia, is facing Republican Robert Griffith in a race that has seen Richmond’s religion used as a weapon against her.

“On September 18th the conservative talk-show SpeakOut interviewed Alice Richmond, Democratic candidate for District 1 Supervisor in Page County, Virginia. During the program a “Jim Logan” called and asked Richmond if she was “Lady Raya”, author of two books on Wicca. Richmond repeatedly denied the allegation on the air, causing her to backtrack later when a local television channel followed up on the story .. While her outing as a Wiccan may be damaging to the campaign, it is also very likely that opponents may have over-stepped in their out-the-Witch campaign, bringing her more free publicity and new supporters than she may have otherwise gotten. Meanwhile, a commenter on Richmond’s blog points out that accusations of a set-up by the hosts of SpeakOut were all but confirmed on the program’s next episode.

So we have two Pagan candidates, both of whom are trying to move past the public revelations that they belong to minority faiths in a country where being Christian seems to be almost a prerequisite for gaining political power. If you’re not, then you have to endure increased scrutiny, and often, insinuations of anti-Americanism. It isn’t pretty, but perhaps Wilfred M. McClay, a professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is right when he says that “it’s something that these neo-pagans have to go through”. See you all tomorrow for the results.

ADDENDUM: Halloran wins, Richmond loses, more on both of these races early tomorrow morning!