HERTFORDSHIRE, England — Members of the U.K.-based Police Pagan Association were involved this week in the launch of Faith and Police Together. This new initiative to link the faith and policing communities was kicked off at Westminster Hall in the houses of Parliament on April 18, hosted by MP Holly Lynch. PPA representative Andrew Pardy was invited to speak on the work of the PPA in line with recent policing policies. On the website of Faith and Police Together is a statement of purpose: “#FaithAndPoliceTogether is a collaboration of several faith based organisations [which] each have a long standing track record of working alongside police and statutory bodies with outcomes that have helped towards wider community transformation within police related priorities. “We believe that faith is a massive force for good and by promoting the concept of police and faith groups working together we can: help bring about community cohesion; help serve some of the most vulnerable within our society; offer various levels of support to those working within the police force; equip and support volunteers to deliver projects that bring about community and individual transformation; help faith communities offer insight and intelligence around policing issues.”
The launch, which involved a range of faith groups, included discussion of issues including the faith response to disasters such as the Grenfell apartment block fire, and a number of grassroots faith-led projects.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas – David Brown, Jr. reached a plea agreement with the state for the murder of 2015 murder of Marc Pourner, who was known to the Wiccan community as Axel. Pourner, who was 28 at the time of his death, had disappeared for several days, after which authorities found his body and his burned truck in a field alongside a road. 24 hours later, Brown was arrested. According to local reports, “In an agreement to a lesser charge of first-degree felony murder from the original indictment of capital murder in February 2016, Brown pleaded guilty to the murder and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Brown will be eligible for parole in 30 years.”
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It’s been a hell of a winter here in the UK. The Pagan community has had to come to terms with the issue of child abuse within our community, as no fewer than four pedophiles, identifying as Pagan, were sent to prison. Generally, there have been many child abuse court cases recently. The British police and justice system has had a change of culture in recent years, and is now proving itself committed to detecting and prosecuting child sex abusers. Well-known British television personalities and even government ministers have been investigated and some convicted.
Last night the ABC news program Nightline ran a “Sign of the Times” segment featuring Sgt Simon Wood of the Hampshire Constabulary in the United Kingdom. Wood is a member of the Pagan Police Association, an organization that formed in 2009 and was officially recognized as a Diversity Staff Support Association in 2010. The report mentions the tabloid-headline generating Metropolitan Police diversity handbook, which discusses the fact that some Pagans practice skyclad, and may be bound and blindfolded during rituals, and (inaccurately) references the UK Charity Commission’s approval of The Druid Network‘s application for religious charity status as Paganism “being given the status of a religion” (Pagan faiths in Britain were already recognized as legitimate religions long before that). While it’s nice to see a mainstream news outlet pay some attention to gains made by modern Pagans, the segment was something of a flashback for me. The announcer invoking “goats blood” at the introduction, the overly theatrical narrator, and the flashing jump-cuts that emphasize the strangeness of Pagan ritual all brought to mind the more sensationalist days when network news channels would go out to find a Witch for Halloween and bring the smoke-machines along for added effect.