BARNEVELD, Wis. – This year marks the 35th anniversary of the founding of Lady Liberty League, an organization that has been at the forefront of Pagan civil rights.
In September 1985, Senator Jessie Helms (R-NC) amended the Post Office Appropriations bill with an amendment that would have barred “tax exemptions to any cult, organization, or other group that has any interest in, the promoting of satanism or witchcraft.”
Helms’ proposed amendment generated a civil rights resistance movement among Pagans and Witches. Out of that resistance, Lady Liberty League, a Pagan civil rights organization, emerged.
Selena Fox of Lady Liberty League (LLL) explained that Lady Liberty refers to the Goddess, Libertas of the Roman pantheon. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes the goddess, Libertas as the “female personification of liberty and personal freedom.” According to Fox, in our own age, she has taken the form of the Statue of Liberty.
Circle Sanctuary sponsors LLL. As a Pagan organization, LLL has attuned itself to Libertas, Goddess of Freedom. LLL educates others about working with her. The administrative staff, however, works on the mundane plane to address Pagan civil rights issues.
The Wild Hunt recently spoke with the volunteer staff of LLL. They included the Rev. Minerva Duggan (Deputy Director), the Rev. Casey Pope (Case Manager), and the Rev. Selena Fox (Executive Director). In addition, TWH examined the YouTube video of the League’s 35th annual meeting.
Lady Liberty League in Action
Rev. Minerva Duggan described the goal of LLL as ensuring that Pagans and Witches are free from “discrimination based upon their faith and practice.”
LLL does not represent clients. It does network with other organizations that do represent clients.
Duggan said “Our volunteers may assist a Pagan in networking” to solve problems or to educate legal, political, and/or education officials. It may help a Pagan plan to deal with anti-discrimination issues.
She continued, “Religious freedom is a fundamental right.” Selena Fox added that LLL works to enhance “public understanding about Paganism and related Nature Religions paths.”
According to Duggan, “LLL does not engage in lobbying or partisan political advocacy. We may need to contact or get involved with political officials, but we do not do that to advocate for any specific political agenda.”
On Sunday, September 27, at 6 p.m. CDT, the staff of the League will talk on “Nature Mystic with Selena Fox” about Lady Liberty League. They will discuss its history, what it does, and what it has done.
The Annual Meeting of the LLL
The YouTube video of its annual meeting discussed some of the LLL’s accomplishments over the last 35 years. That meeting began with Fox invoking Libertas.
Fox and Jerrie H. had developed a curriculum to educate school districts about Paganism. An incident in Jerrie’s life began this development. Jerrie learned that other children were harassing her son in school about their religion. The school in question was located in, of all places, Salem, Mass.
For Jerrie H., the biggest frustration was that she just wants to help everyone, but she can’t. She said, “You can just guide them to what they need. They have to take the ball and run with it. It’s often sad when they don’t pick up the ball to run with it. That’s the hard part.” She said, “The fun part was keeping Selena’s head on her shoulders.”
The annual meeting ended with Duggan giving a shout out to Black Lives Matter. She said, “All lives will not matter, until Black lives matter.” Fox closed with a chorus of “Libertas be with us.”
The Pentacle Quest formed one of the LLL’s major efforts and successes. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had allowed veterans to have crosses engraved on their headstones. They failed to allow veterans to choose to have a pentacle engraved.
LLL worked with Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and other organizations to gain that recognition. LLL won that battle. Since then, the Awen and Thor’s Hammer have gained approval for Veterans’ headstones.
On Sunday, October 4 at 6 p.m. CDT, LLL will host an encore broadcast of “Stories of the Veteran Pentacle Quest.”
Duggan reported that LLL has worked for the rights of students to wear Pagan symbols. She said that LLL has worked to ensure inclusive holiday programming. When “cases became focused on the parent’s faith rather than on what was best for the children,” LLL works on custody and divorce issues.
On September 30 at 7 p.m. CDT, Selena Fox will speak about Pagan Power and Pagan Rights on her weekly Nature Spirituality podcasts.
Team Lady Liberty
Besides the volunteer staff, LLL depends on its networks of activists, advisers, former clients, former staff, volunteers, and friends of Circle Sanctuary. These networks expand the resources available to the League.
Fox reported that the network of “advisors, assistants, and supporters is very diverse and includes Pagans of many traditions, gender identities, ages, abilities, sexual orientations, racial/ethnic backgrounds, and nationalities.”
Part of LLL’s network, Chip Brown has worked as Circle’s Legal Advisor and Pagan Spirit Gathering’s Special Issues Coordinator. During LLL’s annual meeting, he discussed some of his work.
Brown has worked with Fox and others to create the Green Pagan Cemetery at Circle. He did legal work on the Pentacle Quest and helped write new state legislation to protect Native American burial sites. That legislation involves all Native American Nations in Wisconsin the process of protecting burial sites.
LLL works mostly within the U.S., and Duggan reported that “We have had a few queries from folks in Europe and Africa. These occur rarely. Mostly, we monitor situations in other countries.”
Fox clarified, saying that on occasion, “we have assisted Pagans and Pagan organizations in other parts of the world on Pagan rights cases. Usually, this takes the form of us providing networking support for individuals and groups in other nations, such as the Pagan Federation International and South African Pagan Council.”
She added that LLL has “done some networking support for Human Rights organizations and others engaged“ in work around witch killings.
LLL cannot win civil rights for Pagans on its own. Duggan said, “We all must work every day to combat discrimination.”
Lady Liberty League has published a pamphlet, “So You Think Your Religious Rights are Being Violated, What’s Next?”
For anyone interested in learning more about Lady Liberty League, or is interested in supporting their work, they can visit their website.
Editorial Note: The Wild Hunt congratulates Lady Liberty League on 35 years of success!