Intolerance

Intolerance of all sorts has been making headway in the United States. The growing reports of religious intolerance and hate speech also involve Pagans. Here is a running timeline of incidents involving Pagans, and resources to raise awareness of how pernicious the problem of intolerance has become.

General Incidents

Religious Intolerance and Pagans (reload the page if timeline does not show)

This is a running timeline of intolerance directed at or by Pagans in North America starting about 2000. While not complete, it will be added to as I find published examples.

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Asatru Folk Assembly Statement Against Homosexuals and Non-Whites- Facebook, August 21, 2016

The Asatru Folk Assembly (a Heathen group) issued a Facebook post that the group only believes heterosexuality is valid, and in a membership of traditional heterosexuals and whites.  Though not atypical for the AFA, this statement is being condemned in Heathen and Pagan circles.

Official Note from The Troth– condemning the AFA position

Inmate Wins Injunction Allowing Wearing of Pentacle, Chicago, Illinois, July 13, 2016

An inmate in the Pontiac Correctional Center had his pentacle pendant removed, with the prison stating 5 and 6 point stars are usable as gang identifiers (though it otherwise complied with their jewelry policy). The inmate sued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, obtaining a preliminary injunction from the US Court of Appeals 7th Circuit allowing him to wear his pentacle.

Harassment and Neglect at Fort Hood Open Circle, Killeen, TX, February 21, 2016

The Open Circle is a non-denominational Pagan group in existence since 1997 at the Ford Hood army base. Clergy for the Circle wrote an open letter detailing years of harassment and neglect at their chapel space. This includes being locked out of the stone circle at their chapel. Circle Sanctuary has supported the Open Circle for years and is assisting at meetings to help resolve some of these issues.

Use of Term 'Heathens' to Describe Gang Members by Law Enforcement, St Landry Parish, Louisiana, February 18, 2016

Capt. Clay Higgins of the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office made a video about wanted gang members, calling  them ‘heathens‘. The ACLU was quick to criticize this use of a religious term.

Terrorist Attack, San Bernardino, CA, December 2, 2015

Daniel Kaufman (aged 42 and a Wiccan) pushed people out of harm’s way, urging them to the safety of the door before he was shot and killed. He is credited with saving 4 people’s lives.

Pagan Ryan Reyes to Attend State of the Union Address, The Wild Hunt, January 12, 2016

Planned Attack on Synagogues & Black Churches, Virginia, November, 2015

Two men arrested in a plot to attack synagogues and black churches in Virginia are alleged to ascribe to a white supremacy extremist version of the Asatru faith. One has been sentenced so far.

Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, Oregon, October 1, 2015

The shooter in this incident asked if people were Christians, but their answers did not seem to determine who he shot (9 people were killed). Kim Saltmarsh Dietz was closely connected to the Covenant of the Goddess, and died at the scene. One survivor, Tracey Heu, is a practitioner of Hmong Shamanism.

'Hindu Witch' fired at Dental Clinic, Ft. Meade, Maryland, September 2, 2015

Deborah Schoenfeld, a Hindu and student of Wicca, was fired from her job as a dental technician at a Ft. Meade (US Air Force) clinic. She states that after months of harassment due to her religion she was fired on the same day that she submitted a formal complaint.

Air Force Pledges to Review ‘Witch’ Complaint from Fired Hindu, Military.com, November 13, 2015

New Orleans HexFest, New Orleans, LA, August 7, 2015

With less than 2 weeks notice HexFest in New Orleans, Louisiana was forced to change the location of a ritual on the steamship Natchez when their contract was canceled for ‘religious reasons’. (The nature of Hexfest and the ritual was disclosed to the Natchez staff repeatedly before the contract was signed.) Another riverboat company was found for the opening event.

Credit Card Company Cancels Account of Pagan Company , Kalamazoo, MI, August 2015

Conjured Cardea, a company that provides supplies for African diasporic religions had it’s credit card service cancelled over their association with voodoo. They have moved on to another credit card company.

Alledged 'Witchcraft' Killings, Pennsacola, FL, July 31, 2015

The July 31, 2015 murder of three residents of Pensacola, Florida was blamed on witchcraft and a recent blue moon by Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan. No specifics were offered, and even though this Sheriff has a bad track record the national media reported the story without verification. No proof of witchcraft has been provided as of February 2016.

Recognition of Heathen Religion by US Army Stalls, July 2015

After 6 years of petitions and a rescinded approval in early 2015, Heathens are still not recognized as a religion by the US Army.

Etsy Bans Sales of Metaphysical Items, April 2015

Online retailer Etsy banned the sale of metaphysical items in June 2015, leading to the closure of many Pagan stores. Etsy claimed this was a simple policy clarification, but users point out that similar items in Christian and Judaism sections were not effected. Subsequently, Amazon sent email invites to Etsy store owners inviting participation in their ‘handmade’ marketplace.

Sorry Witches, You Won’t Be Able to Buy Spells on Etsy Anymore, Time.com, June 22, 2015

Man Killed in Near-beheading for Alledged Practrice of Witchcraft, Stillwater, OK. October 2014

Jacob Crockett was a college student and was killed in a near-beheading by his brother’s roommate, Isaiah Marin. In a police affidavit a witness stated the two had disagreements because Crockett allegedly practiced witchcraft and Marin “had strong Christian beliefs.” (It’s not actually clear that Crockett had anything to do with witchcraft, and was described in his obituary as a born again Christian.)

Christian zealot beheads teen for practicing witchcraft, Patheos, Oct. 30, 2014

Wiccan Uninvited to Give Opening Prayer at City Council, Huntsville, AL , June 2014

Blake Kirk, a Wiccan was listed as “A leader in earth-based spiritual communities” and gave an invocation to the Huntsville City Council 0n January 23, 2014. However, when Mr. Kirk was scheduled for an invocation on June 26th as “Blake Kirk, priest of the Oak, Ash and Thorn tradition of Wicca” he was uninvited. The Council later changed their position, and on November 6th Mr. Kirk gave the invocation at another council meeting. (All of this followed a 2012 lawsuit brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which led to the City instituting a policy to rotate prayers from among different faiths.)

Tarot Readings and Magic Art Ordinance , Front Royal Virginia , May 2014

After being asked to cease reading Tarot in a downtown store in Front Royal, Virginia, Priestess Maya Sparks White found and advocated against an old, unenforced ordinance banning fortune telling and other magic arts.
 
Council backs repeal of fortunetelling ban, The North Virginia Daily, August 12, 2014

Jewish Community Center & Village Shalom shootings, Overland Park, Kansas, April 2014

Frazier Glenn Cross (an avowed white supremacist and Odinist) shot and killed 3 victims at a Jewish community center and care home. (It turns out all three victims were Christian.) He has been sentenced to death for these crimes.

CNN Ties Accused White Supremacist Killer Frazier Glenn Cross to Odinism, Wild Hunt, 4-15-15

Iowa Representatives Shun Witch's Invocation, Des Moines, IA, April 2014

Asked to provide an invocation for the Iowa House of Representatives, Pagan Witch Deborah Maynard found more than half of the representatives did not attend, among other actions showing disrespect.

Pagan Temple Denied, Beebe, Arkansas, January 2014

Bertram Dahl wanted to move his existing Arkanas church to a home he purchased in Beebe, Arkansas. Originally supportive, once the city found out the place of worship would be Pagan their attitude changed. Mr. Dahl states that city officials banned him even before he had applied for permits, citing his Pagan (non-Christian) religion. Mr. Dahl reports ongoing harassment.

Arkansas town bans pagan temple after finding out it’s not Christian: Your ‘God isn’t my God’, RawStory.com, June 18, 2014

Wiccan Invited to High School Class, Carthage, Illinois, October 2013

Following a planned presentation by an invited Wiccan at a high school senior elective class in Carthage Illinois, a few parents complaints were lodged. But this grew into a larger outcry from outside the school, and the school board canceled the class. Following this, students, parents, and members of the community banded together and the school board reinstated the class.

Small Town Teacher Invites Wiccan Guest Speaker into Classroom, The Wild Hunt, December 29, 2013

Florida Pagan Summer Solstice Festival, Florida, June 2013

The Florida Pagan Summer Solstice Festival in Pahokee was the target of anger and protest by several Christian pastors, with one pastor calling the event “an abomination” at a city Commission meeting.

The Limits of Christian Tolerance: Florida Edition, May 30, 2013, The Wild Hunt
Lady Liberty League Update on Pahokee Florida Pagan Festival Support, 6-1-13, Circle Sanctuary

Kryja Withers, New Port Richey, FLorida, Spring 2013

Kryja Withers, a Pagan Witch, reported that her home had been the target of hate crimes.

Lady Liberty League and Pagan Community Helps Kyrja Withers, 4-30-13

Florida Masons, November 28, 2012

The Florida Grand Master Decides Pagans (and others) can’t be Freemasons.

Reports Surfacing: Ban Against Pagan Masons Overturned, Florida Pagan Newswire Collective, 6-5-2013

Anti-Pagan Wikipedia Editor, November 2012

In November 2012 an alert went out that someone was systematically flagging Pagan entries and information for removal on Wikipedia. in June 2013 Salon.com revealed this troll as Robert Clark Young, a man who had abused the Wikipedia editing system by carrying out personal vendettas.

Public Safety Minister cancels contracts for non-Christian prison chaplains, Canada. October, 2012

In September 2015 Public Safety Minister Vic Toews suspended a new job with Corrections Canada to hire a Wiccan prison chaplain in B.C. In October 2012 Toews followed this by cancelling the contracts of non-Christian ministers at Canadian prisons.

Carrol County School Harasses Pagan Student, Bowden, Georgia. November 2011

An 11-year old boy was singled out and lectured by his teacher for taking Samhain as a religious holiday. He was told that ‘Paganism is not a religion’. The boy was also subsequently suspended for speaking Spanish on the bus.

Wisconsin Prison Chaplain Accused of Alleged Prison Hostage Plan After Rape, Omro, WI, September, 2011

Pagan prison chaplain Jamyi J. Witch was hired in 2001 (after a controversy) as the first Pagan prison chaplain for Wisconsin. On August 10, 2011 she was made hostage and sexually assaulted by an inmate. However, she was then brought up on criminal charges when it was alleged she staged her own rape and hostage-taking by that inmate. On August 26, 2013 all charges were dropped after the facts came out. (These included the inmate changing his story, and the room the assault happened in being under surveillance the entire time.)

Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO. February 3, 2010

The Air Force Academy in Colorado built the Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle, an outdoor space dedicated primarily for use by cadets and staff who follow Pagan, Native American, and Earth-based religious traditions. The circle was vandalized in 2010 when a large wooden cross was found placed in the circle.

Cross found at Air Force Academy’s Wicca center, Los Angeles Times, 2-3-2010
Air Force Academy Defends Pagan Circle, The Wild Hunt, 1-6-2012

Lawsuit filed by fired Google employee, Atlanta, GA. October 2009

James Bara (Wiccan) files a lawsuit on Oct. 29 in federal court alleging both sexual and religious discrimination from his superior at an Atlanta-based Google data center.

Bath & Body Works Employee Fired, Hartford, Connecticut. November 2008

A sales manager and 8 year employee at a Bath & Body Works store in Hartford, Connecticut was allegedly fired by her new regional manager for making her annual religious pilgrimage for Samhain.

Today Show Host Disparages Pagans, New York, NY. June 25, 2008

On the Today Show host Kathy Lee Gifford expressed her opinion about pagans during a segment about wedding customs.  She stated, “Pagans … the nasty, bad pagans believed it was bad luck to carry metal on your right side.” Following petitions and complaints from some in the Pagan community Ms. Gifford ‘apologized’ without referencing what she was apologizing about.

University of Nebraska Fires Employee, Lincoln, Nebraska. c. 2008

A University of Nebraska employee was allegedly fired for being a Witch (in the Reclaiming Tradition). She subsequently filed a lawsuit, which the University settled for $40,000.

Divorce Order Banning Exposure of Child to Parents Wiccan Faith Overturned, Indianapolis, Indiana, August 18, 2005

A Wiccan couple’s original divorce order in early 2004 directed them “to take such steps as are needed to shelter [the child] from involvement and observation of these non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals.” The parents, represented by the Indiana Civil Liberties obtained a reversal when the Indiana Court of Appeals invalidated the order.

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