All content copyright Our Freedom: A Pagan Civil Rights Coalition. All rights reserved.
TO SCI-FI CHANNEL
Sent 18 May 2003
We are a coalition of organizations representing the growing numbers of Pagans who reside throughout the United States. As leaders committed to public education and interfaith dialogue, we note with concern your recent call for "a practicing Witch who can cast spells and conduct moonlit rituals" for participation in the so-called "reality" show "Mad Mad House."
You may not be aware that your show's premise is inaccurate and derogatory. Your emphasis on finding "outrageous, eccentric and entertaining individuals who live very alternative lifestyles" demonstrates your lack of understanding that Wicca (also called Witchcraft) is a Pagan mystery religion rooted in European-based shamanic practices and traditional healing arts. It is not an "alternative lifestyle."
Your premise that participants "try to entice 'Joe Normal' contestants to their way of living" violates the deeply held Pagan belief that proselytizing is immoral. Witches and other Pagans hold the individual's right to choose or respond to a sacred calling as our most fundamental belief. We do not proselytize or in any way try to "recruit" or "entice" non-Pagans to any particular spiritual path.
Wiccan rites celebrate a relationship with a Goddess and God through the phases of the Moon and the cycle of the seasons. Wicca has no relationship with Satanism; all Pagans, including Wiccans, emphatically disavow Satan or any other personification of evil. Wiccan ethical principles temper personal freedom with personal responsibility. "Daring" a so-called "Joe Normal" person to live with a Wiccan is akin to daring someone to live with a Presbyterian or a Jew.
Federal and state courts recognize Wicca and other forms of Paganism as religions entitled to First Amendment protections. If you substitute the word "Muslim" or "Roman Catholic" for "Witch" in your call for participants, it becomes clear that your premise is inflammatory and could lead to negative consequences for your program's participants and for Pagans as a whole.
The beliefs and practices of Pagans are still widely misunderstood. The perpetration of negative stereotypes, particularly those which reflect religious bigotry and ignorance, not only fosters erroneous beliefs, but causes terrible consequences for the victims of these stereotypes.
In a country whose bedrock principles include religious freedom, Pagan parents should not fear losing custody of their children; Pagan students should not fear expulsion from school; Pagan workers should not fear discharge from employment; and Pagan citizens should not suffer from harassment, violence, and discrimination based solely on their religious beliefs. These things do happen to Pagans in our country; our organizations expend significant resources assisting the victims of this type of discrimination. We are sure you agree that such religious bigotry has no place in this country.
We strongly recommend you do not move forward on this project. Clearly your perception of Wicca is based not in reality but in outdated stereotypes and unfortunate ignorance. We ask that you stop this project now before the ill will and concerns it is generating among Pagans and others increases further. Some national and regional Pagan leaders have already begun planning possible boycotts, public anti-defamation campaigns and other actions in the event that this project continues. There are thousands of Pagan groups and website throughout the United States and other countries. As you may be aware, many Pagans are avid science fiction fans and are generally enthusiastic about your program offerings. However, we are more enthusiastic about being able to practice our religion free from discrimination and prejudice, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard our First Amendment rights.
If you have any questions or would like to receive further resources, please contact one of the representatives listed below. Thank you for your time and attention. We look forward to your response to our request. We hope you will do your part to uphold America's proud traditions of tolerance and religious freedom.
Our Freedom: A Pagan Civil Rights Coalition
Anne Newkirk Niven
BBI, Media, Inc.
M. Macha NightMare
Covenant of the Goddess (Elder)
Cherry Hill Seminary (Faculty)
Rev. Selena Fox
Consultant & Advisor, Lady Liberty League
Admin Team, Our Freedom Coalition
Rev. Skip Elison
Archdruid - Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF)
Rev. Kirk C. White
Executive Director, Church of the Sacred Earth
Academic Dean, Cherry Hill Seminary
National Public Information Officer, Covenant of the Goddess
Pagan Pride Project, Inc.
"Cecylyna Dewr" Egbert
Pagan Pride Project, Inc.
Ellen C. Friedman, MA
Rona J. Coomer Russell
Isis Invicta Military Mission
Pagan Educational Network, Inc.
Andras Corban Arthen
Director, The EarthSpirit Community
Ellen Evert Hopman
Druid Priestess Order of the Whiteoak
(Ord Na DarachGile)
Pagan author & herbalist
Drake Spaeth, PsyD
Lady Liberty League
Charlayne Elizabeth Denney
Sea Myst Moon Circle
Rev. Rose Wise and Rev. Tom Dixon
Ozark Avalon Church of Nature
Rev. Elizabeth Barrette
Managing Editor, PanGaia
Assistant Editor, SageWoman
Blessed Bee, Inc.
Earth Religions Legal Assistance Network
Vice President, Alternative Religions Educational Network
Journey, An Interfaith Study Group
Rev. Drema Baker
Rev. Angela L. Buchanan
Marilyn E. Dillon
Owner and publisher
Three Moons Media