Are Your Rights Safe?
Pagan Awareness | America's
Secular Government | Pagan Awareness
- The Burning Times
- A term used by neo-Pagans and witches as a label for an era
in history of intense witch-hunting and executions. The period
began in the mid-15th century to the mid-18th century.
- The Burning Times are attributed to Saint Augustine who said
that pagans, Jews and heretics would burn forever in eternal
fire with the Devil unless saved by the Catholic Church. This
began the first trials of the inquisition. Witches were labeled
as heretics who worshiped the Devil and and could only be saved
by the purification of fire. However, burning was not the only
means of purification. England and America often hung or drowned
witches. In France, Scotland and Germany most prisoners were
throttled or strangled as a sign of mercy before they were burned
- There are no accurate figures for the total number of people
who were murdered during this era, but estimates put the number
between 30,000 in Europe during the 150 years of the Inquisition
to a minimum of 100,000 in Germany alone where these hunts were
their most intent.
- In 1692 to 1693 the Salem Witch Trials began with 141 people
being accused of practicing the craft. Of these people 19 were
hung, and 1 was pressed to death under the town leadership of
Roger Conant. However, it was Rev. Samuel Parris who caused the
witch hysteria when he brought a slave couple into the village
to work in his home. The couple, John and Tituba were originally
from Barbados where a practice of Voodoo is widely used and accepted.
Tituba was given the task of caring for Rev. Parris' children,
telling them stories of her home land and of the mysteries of
some voodoo practices. As with most children, the Parris children
and their friends began to dabble in the Occult as soon as they
learned these topics shocked their Puritan parents.
- It's important for every American to remember that the United
States was founded based on a secular society. Not a Christian
society as some would have you believe. America's
Government Is Secular was proclaimed by a little-known
U.S. document signed by President Adams in July 1820. ALL of
the founding fathers had strong opinions about this fact. Something
that has gotten lost in the rhetoric of Christian fundamentalists.
- In 1985 United States Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina
and United States Representative Robert Walker of Pennsylvania,
introduced legislation in both Congressional Houses which would
deny tax-exempt status to witchcraft and Neo-pagan groups. The
legislation was introduced, with a Walker assistant saying, "If
a person is praying for horrible things and sticking pins into
voodoo dolls, that is not the kind of religion that should be
supported by a tax exemption."
- The underlying essence of these measures were to deny recognition
of these alternative religions and would have been a precedent
for further more restrictive legislation. Thankfully both bills
- At the time, Helms questioned Secretary of the Treasury James
Baker concerning witchcraft groups. In a letter Baker replied
that several organizations that "espouse a system of beliefs,
rituals and practices derived in part from pre-Christian Celtic
and Welsh traditions which they might label as `witchcraft'"
did certainly have tax-exempt status" if they applied for
it. Also, Baker stated, that any group that is sincere in its
beliefs, does not break the law and conforms to "clearly
defined public policy" and can qualify for tax exemption.
- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and several witchcraft
and Neo-pagan organizations including the Covenant of the Goddess, in Berkeley, California,
who not only represents 70+ Witchcraft groups around the country
but are a tax-exempt organization themselves; seriously contested
the bills. Along with Church and School of Wicca, in New Bern,
North Carolina, the Circle Sanctuary, an international Wicca
and neo-Pagan networking organization based near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
and many other grass roots groups and organizations.
- The ACLU released a statement declaring the two bills "the
crudest example of First Amendment infringement." Adding
that, "Witches, who organized a massive letter-writing and
flyer campaign, termed the bills a throwback to the witch-hunts
of the Middle Ages." This entire issue became known as the
- Not long after Secretary Baker's letter to congress, the
U.S. Army included a section in the Army
Chaplin's Handbook on Wicca.
- If you think these time are long ago and remembered only
in history books, you're wrong. Although a little more subtle
than death, witches are still persecuted today in many ways and
all over the world. With presentations like the Helms Amendment
described above, Neo-pagans still face the threat of losing the
right to practice their beliefs.
- Take the case of Bill, a friend of mine who was arrested
recently in Chicago for practicing witchcraft. Yes, that's right
he was arrested, arraigned and paid bail to get out of jail.
In his case, Bill was casting a small circle in a quiet wooded
area of a public park. Two policeman came across Bill, and upon
learning what he was doing, they arrested him. Had he been lighting
a white candle and praying to Jesus, would he have been given
a warning about the dangers of fire in a public park? Or had
he been banging a small gong and chanting to Buddha would he
have been escorted out of the park for using public lands for
- Take the policy of the internet's popular 'babysitting' services.
These organizations have decided that any sites on the internet
which relate to paganism or witchcraft are not suitable for family
viewing. Thus this site and many more like ours are banded by
these internet servicers.
- Now look at your rights on a larger scale.
Your Right to Religious Freedom
- The best way to protect your freedom is to learn what your
legislators are doing to limit your rights. Get involved, not
only in federal politics, but in local resolutions as well. Take
the case of Rep. Bob Barr (R.Ga) who recently attacked the military
for allowing pagan practices on Army bases. This is a modern
day U.S. Congressman who is pushing his bigotry and ignorance
into YOUR House on Capital Hill. Take a few moments to read the
letter we sent to our Congressman and Mr.
Barr in response. Then use your own voice to protect your
rights as well.
attacks on your free right to practice continue even further.
Take George Bush, as an example. During October 1999, artwork
that seemingly insulted Christianity's virgin Mary was displayed
in Brooklyn Museum Of Art. George Bush. criticized the art work
saying "From what I've read, the exhibit besmirches religion,"
adding "It denigrates someone's religion. I don't think
we ought to be using public monies to denigrate religion."
However, on June 23rd 1999, Governor Bush appeared on Good Morning
America, stating ".. I don't think witchcraft is a religion.
I would hope the military officials would take a second look
at the decision they made." allowing Wiccan practices on
bases, such as Fort Hood.
- Unfortunately, legislators are not the only people who propagate
mis-information. As a spiritual education organization, we do
a great deal of research to create our postings or answer questions.
To our dismay, we have found many "reference" material
to contain drastic measures of mis-information. Take the case
of AOL's partnership web site with Compton's New World Encyclopedia. Here is
an organization that makes it's living at providing reliable
research information, and yet they can't even document the meaning
of the word Witch properly.
- The following Pagan resources will help you focus on those
resolutions and government proposals that affect your rights.
Most of these are geared toward the United States, so I would
like to invite any of you to email us and let us know of other
organizations around the world who focus their work on other
- Following these resources, you'll find links to several Government
Resources around the world. We encourage you to write your all
your representatives and let them know how you want them to vote
on up-coming issues. Your voice can make a difference, but you
must use it to affect change!
- Additional Reading: