Project Blitz, a strategic threat to religious freedom

FLORIDA — In March 2018, Governor Rick Scott signed into law an education bill that mandates that all public schools display a sign with the words “In God We Trust” (IGWT) on it. Florida state representative Kimberly Daniels introduced the legislation, which she considered a response to the Florida school massacre in February. Daniels argued that [the Abrahamic] god is the light and “our schools need light in them like never before.”

Unlike most so-called Christian right activists, Kimberly Daniels is a Democrat. She has her own Christian ministry program and has written many Christian books. She titled one book Clean House, Strong House: A Practical Guide to Understanding Spiritual Warfare, Demonic Strongholds and Deliverance. Florida is not alone in passing such legislation.

Religious invocation dispute in a Wisconsin county

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Brown County Supervisor Patrick Evans submitted papers on July 30 to place a measure on November’s ballot. That non-binding ballot measure would uphold a Christian-style invocation before full meetings of the Brown County Board of Supervisors. The proposed ballot measure read, “Should the Brown County Board of Supervisors continue to open their monthly board meeting with a Christian-style (prayer) invocation?”

The current ordinance requires that the board’s vice chair opens each meeting with an invocation. Evans charged that some supervisors wanted to open the invocation process to “anybody who comes in.” He is reported as saying that “If they are Wiccan, they pray to the devil,” and would invoke the Christian devil. He added, “I support where we have it now, having it Christian based.”

An update and Pagan reactions to the Masterpiece Cake case

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments Tuesday for the case Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd., et, al. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, et. al. As noted on the SCOTUSblog, “Lines began forming outside the Supreme Court last week for one of the biggest oral arguments of the year, in the case of a Colorado man who says that requiring him to create custom cakes for same-sex weddings would violate his religious beliefs.” The case is being touted as the biggest and most talked-about of this court term.

“Rage Donations” among the post-presidential election impacts

UNITED STATES — Even as activists took to the streets to protest the results of the presidential election, others adopted a quieter approach that has been since dubbed “rage donating” or the giving money to organizations that support populations deemed at risk once Donald Trump takes office. A web site named RageDonate was quickly created to channel this very desire; each screen pairs a Trump quote with a donation button tied to a related cause. Reports from the offices of Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) indicate that those are perhaps the two most popular targets for post-election donations, although others also have benefited. On the season finale of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver listed a number of other organizations that he believes could use extra assistance while Trump is in office. These include the National Resources Defense Council, International Refugee Assistance Project, the Project, and the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP.

Religious Freedom under a Trump Administration

UNITED STATES — The Interfaith Council for Greater Portland called to its community to gather Nov. 10 in the Pioneer Courthouse Square to rally for peace and inclusion. As Rabbi Ariel Stone said, “Today we will seize the high ground to demand from ourselves and all others the ongoing awareness and action to demonstrate that kindness is our only hope, truth our rallying flag, and that we will never stop affirming that love trumps hate.” The interfaith rally drew members of the area’s Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, First Nations and Pagan communities, and was only one of many in the immediate area. 

T. Thorn Coyle, who offered a prayer to Brigid during the event, said, “The reason I wanted to be out last night is to make a clear statement that I stand with Muslims, with immigrants, with our trans siblings, with the poor, and with my black and brown and indigenous comrades. Leading up to and immediately following the election of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, hate crimes are on the rise in this country. We must work together in as many ways possible, to ensure the safety and well-being of those who are most at risk.” 

Coyle was joined by other Pagans, including Sister Krissy, Ravyn Stanfield, Blaedfyr, Crow Walker and Patrick Garretson. She noted that her aim is, as always, was “to work for love, equity, and justice, and to counter hatred and oppression.”