Pagans Plan Response to Labor Day Anti-Witch March in Texas
Lady Liberty League News #6 Wednesday, September 1, 1999
Pagans, Christians, and others supportive of religious diversity are planning to make a peaceful and centered stand for religious freedom, and against bigotry in response to an anti-Witch march scheduled to take place on Labor Day (Monday, September 6, 1999) in local communities near Fort Hood in Texas. The march is being organized and led by an anti-diversity Christian preacher who has been one of the most vocal opponents of freedom of worship for Wiccans in the US military. He has tried repeatedly to stir up public pressure to stop the Sacred Well Congregations Fort Hood Open Circle from having Wiccan rituals at Fort Hood.
This preacher, Rev. Jack Harvey of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Killeen, calls his action, march against wickedness. He plans to start the march in Killeen on Monday morning and end it in the afternoon at a Pagan owned metaphysical store in Copperas Cove. He has spoken out against Witches and the Wiccan religion both publicly and privately.
Some of his anti-Wiccan propaganda is quoted in an article written by reporter Barry Schlachter which was published in the August 7, 1999 issue of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper. The entire article is on-line at: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/doc/1047/1:METRO73/1:METRO730807 99.html
This is war, thundered the Rev. Jack Harvey of nearby Killeen, who has vowed to run the witches off base. Harvey, who has announced a Labor Day march against wickedness, sees no difference between Wicca and devil worship or voodoo. He has instructed that at least one member of his congregation carry a handgun at services in case a warlock tries to grab one of our kids.
Ive heard they drink blood, eat babies. They have fires, they probably cook them. This is unbelievably wrong, said Harvey, who repeatedly pounded his desk during an interview at Tabernacle Baptist Church, then apologized for his hell-broth boil.
Sorry. I get very emotional about this, he said.
There was no sign of human, or animal, sacrifice at the Lughnassadh or first harvest service on July 31, which was followed by a potluck turkey dinner. Adherents insist that Wicca, a nonproselytizing faith traced back to pre-Christian nature worship but largely reborn, with a strong feminist influence, during the 1970s, has nothing to do with Satanism.
Like others at the Saturday night rite, Jessica Ek said she had been a solitary Wiccan, practicing in secret for years until discovering the Killeen open circle, which she joined after moving from Arlington. The caped 19-year-old said she has lost count of the bonfire vaults she made with young soldiers caught up in the emotional exuberance of the moment.
Fort Hood officers, citing their soldiers constitutional right to religious freedom, have allowed Wiccan worship since August 1997. And they have not buckled under to critics or rethought their policy, as Gov. George W. Bush, R-Tex., urged in an interview broadcast nationally on ABC- TV.
The legally incorporated Sacred Well Congregation of San Antonio had been quietly sponsoring the base rituals with little outside notice until the Austin American-Statesman ran a lengthy piece in May.
Its photo of the congregations high priest, Fort Worth-reared psychologist David Oringderff, hurdling a Fort Hood bonfire was widely reprinted, raising the ire of fundamentalist Christians in Congress such as Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., and Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga.
Whats next? Barr wrote in a letter to Lt. Gen. Leon S. Leponte, the base commander. Will armored divisions be forced to travel with sacrificial animals for Satanic rituals? Will Rastafarians demand the inclusion of ritualistic marijuana cigarettes in their rations?
In keeping with the original compromise with the Texas Wiccans, there is still no traditionally skyclad, or naked, bonfire jumping at Fort Hood.
In June, 13 conservative religious groups announced a boycott of enlistment and re- enlistment until Wiccan worship is taken off Fort Hood. The call drew national attention. But the boycott hasnt affected potential recruits, Army spokeswoman Maria Taylor said from the Pentagon. Moreover, Pat Robertsons Christian Coalition and another group have withdrawn from the boycott.
In July, Barr was rebuffed in an attempt to insert a provision in a military authorization bill that would have prevented Wiccans from using base facilities or getting Army-supplied candles. It never made it out of committee, his staff said.
Bush, a conservative Christian and the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, told ABC in June: I dont think witchcraft is a religion. I would hope the military would take a second look at the decision they made.
According to Heidi Morrow, who owns the New Age Connection, the store in Copperas Cove, Texas, being targeted by Harvey and his march on September 6, Harvey has told her and other area Witches that all Witches should be dead. He has repeatedly quoted a passage from Exodus 22:18 of the King James Version of the Bible: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Although the word witch in this version is a mistranslation of ob meaning poisoner, from his remarks, Harvey appears to have no understanding of this and seems to be taking the words of the King James version of the passsage quite literally.
Lianna Costantino-Mead, a Wiccan high priestess, has heard similar rhetoric from Harvey. He also told her that all Witches should be killed. He proclaimed this after refusing her invitation for him to join in an interfaith dialog meeting between local Christian and Pagan religious leaders about religious freedom concerns. Due to threats Harvey has made against her, Lianna filed a report with the police.
On Saturday, August 28 at the Killeen Community Center, an interfaith dialog meeting, organized by Lianna and facilitated by a religiously neutral (agnostic) local therapist, went well. David Oringderff, executive director of the Sacred Well Congregation, was among the Pagan leaders who spoke, as did Marcy Palmer, high priestess of the Fort Hood Open Circle, SWC. Lianna and Heidi also were among the Pagans who spoke. A variety of Pagan paths were represented as well as several Christian denominations. Some of the Christian ministers who took part in this dialog meeting are planning to join Wiccans and other Pagans at Heidis store on Labor Day in a show of solidarity against the bigotry espoused by Harvey.
how you can help
- Send blessings of strength, centeredness, protection, well-being, and other support to the Pagans, Christians, and others who will be at Heidis store on Labor Day. Also send blessings to the store itself, its owner, employees, and customers. Invoke the blessings and protection of Lady Liberty.
- Send well wishes for the continuance of interfaith dialog efforts begun in the local area by Lianna.
- Send blessings of support to the Wiccans in the Fort Hood Open Circle, SWC, at the nearby Fort Hood Army Post.
- Pass the word about this situation on to others who may be interested in contributing support for religious freedom and for greater acceptance of religious diversity in this region.
If you and/or others you know are interested in being part of the peaceful and centered presence at Heidis store during the day of Monday, September 6, please contact Lianna and Heidi for more details. Those being part of this presence at the store should be adults who can stay centered and silent in the face of taunts and other possible harrassment by bigots. In addition, participants should be dressed conservatively and be willing to have their faces appear in the media, since both national and local media have indicated they plan to cover the event. Furthermore, adults should not bring any children with them. Although police will be monitoring the situation, it is uncertain what those taking part in the anti-Witch march will do. Pagans, Christians, and those of other religions who support religious freedom and oppose religious bigotry are welcome to contact Lianna and Heidi for more information about the gathering at the store.
PO Box 4247, Killeen, TX 76540
organizer of the interfaith pro-diversity response to the March organizer of Pagan-Christian interfaith dialog in the Killeen area
home: (254) 542-8123
store: (254) 518-3434
fax: (254) 518-2669
Witch & owner of the New Age Connection, Copperas Cove, Texas
If you make arrangements with them to be part of the pro-religious freedom gathering at the store, please send an email to LLL (firstname.lastname@example.org) and share your perspectives about what occurs.
If you see press coverage of this event, please email reports and/or send press clippings to LLL Archives.
Lady Liberty League (LLL) is an international Nature Religions civil rights organization. More information and links about efforts to preserve first amendment rights for Wiccans in the US Military is on-line at the LLL website (http://www.circlesanctuary.org/liberty).
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