EAST HAVEN, Conn. — A witch and priestess of the Goddess has won approval from the town of East Haven to display a sign promoting religious tolerance. Michelle Piercey designed the sign which now stands on the town green and reads, “Happy Holidays and Winter Solstice to all Religions” and is surrounded by symbols representing other religions, including a pentacle.
Piercey said that while she’s been working for about two years to get the town to allow the sign to go up that she’s been surprised by the amount of support she’s received.
“The town… is very accepting. It was only the former mayor that had been causing issues. It’s been wonderful to hear all of the positive responses from the community and the towns surrounding. It’s been my goal this whole time to show religious freedom and unity. I’m proud to show witchcraft in a good light, as it should be,” Piercey said.
While federally mandated to give equal space to displays of all faiths thanks to the First Amendment, religious minorities tend to have a difficult time getting municipalities and other governmental agencies to recognize them, especially in a public sphere.
Activism on the part of groups like The Satanic Temple and Lady Liberty League have pushed the discussion and acceptance of historically oppressed religious viewpoints. But, as with countless other areas of civic life, there’s been a notable regression and further entrenching of values of the dominant culture, most recently with a Christian bible on display at a New Hampshire VA hospital and perhaps most noteworthy in a U.S. Supreme Court decision from June of 2019, American Legion v. American Humanist Association. That decision overturned a ruling by the Fourth Circuit court which stated that a large concrete cross that honored fallen soldiers shortly after the First World War should be moved or razed because it sat on public land and thus gave prominence to the Christian religion over others.
Some communities have decided to forego all religious symbols on public property rather than have to give equal space.
Piercey says that she was motivated by a desire to educate people about how she sees her practice of the craft.
“Me being involved in witchcraft activism has always been a drive for me because I have seen the ignorance and lack of knowledge but really started when I started the sign. I will fight until my dying breath to show the craft the way it supposed to be understood and hope to help people that have misconceptions the truth,” she said.
While one of the biggest appeals of witchcraft is perhaps its variability and mutability from person to person Piercey sees the practice from a harmonious point of view.
“I would like (people unfamiliar with witchcraft) to know that it’s peaceful and a nature-based religion. It helps one feel balanced; and peaceful from within. We follow the moon and the sun and basically we are not evil or devil worshipers. That’s a Christian concept that we don’t believe in,” she said.
Piercey’s next plans are to host a gathering on the town green in East Haven in support of religious unity on Sunday, December 1. She said the event’s purpose is, “to have people of all different kinds of faith come together in unity and acceptance of each other.”
Details about the event and more information can be found on the Facebook event page.
Piercey said that she does plan to request the sign go up again next year.