Column: The Dark Heart of Billy Graham

On the last day of February and the first day of March, the corpse of evangelical Christian minister Billy Graham was presented for public viewing in the rotunda of the United States Capitol Building. Graham was only the fourth private citizen whose body was honored in a ritual normally reserved for presidents, elected officials, and military officers. The only other exceptions to the rule have been civil rights icon Rosa Parks and two Capitol Police officers who died in the line of duty, Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson. Graham is the first religious leader to be awarded this honor by the government of the United States of America. The first clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Laying out a preacher’s dead body in the central building of the nation’s legislative branch does not establish his form of Christianity as an official federal religion, of course, but it is a bold break with 166 years of tradition at the Capitol, and it clearly gives an official stamp of approval to a man who made his living selling one branch of one faith.

Pagan prisoner lawsuit revived

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Pagan inmates at the Lovelock Correctional Center may finally see their day in court. Three judges on the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals ruled in March that a case dating back to the 2009 destruction of an outdoor Pagan worship area will be able to move forward. A lower court had made a summary judgment against the plaintiffs, but the appeals court panel has now found that there is, in fact, enough open questions to allow for a more detailed look at the evidence. Brian DeBarr, Chioke Gadsden, and Nathan Peterson were all inmates at Lovelock.

Pagan Invocation Makes Waves in the Florida Panhandle

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In Florida last week, a moment happened that some members of religious minorities have been anticipating since the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling on sectarian prayer at public meetings. An elected official walked out rather than hear an invocation given by a Pagan.

What’s Happening in Beebe, Arkansas?

The Arkansas Times, at their blog, notice that there’s something going on in the town of Beebe. “Heard of the Seekers Temple? If not, I expect you will before long. It’s a pagan temple and store that says it has run into a slew of headaches in attempting to pursue its business and religion in Beebe, Ark. Bertram and Felicia Dahl, the high priest and priestess of Seekers Temple, have this extensive account, “Problems in Beebe.” They say Beebe officials had welcomed their move from El Paso until they found out they were pagans.” As the Arkansas Times noted, the Dahl’s narrative is eye-opening, and a reminder of how local officials can work against you if they don’t like who you are, or what you believe. “Mayor Robertson said that we were not zoned for a church or business, so we pointed out two churches across the street.

Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than our team can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. You would think that all conservative evangelical Christians would be cheering the recent Supreme Court prayer ruling, but some have misgivings about the ramifications. Quote: “The court’s ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway is being widely celebrated by evangelicals as a victory. Is it?