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Pagan Wins Prayer Lawsuit in Virginia

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Pagan Wins Prayer Lawsuit in Virginia  (AP)
Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2003 07:17:01 GMT,1282,-3386007,00.html

Friday November 14, 2003 6:16 AM


Associated Press Writer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Pagans can pray, too, a federal judge
ruled Thursday in a case brought against county officials by
a Wiccan who was barred from saying a prayer to open board
of supervisors meetings.

U.S. District Court Judge Dennis W. Dohnal said the
Chesterfield County board discriminated against Cyndi
Simpson when it prohibited her from joining a list of clergy
who deliver the invocations.

Wiccans consider themselves witches, pagans or neo-pagans,
and say their religion is based on respect for the earth,
nature and the cycle of the seasons.

"Chesterfield's nonsectarian invocations are traditionally
made to a divinity that is consistent with the
Judeo-Christian tradition," County Attorney Steven L. Micas
wrote in a letter to Simpson in September 2002.

The judge said the board violated Simpson's constitutional
right of equal and free expression of her religious beliefs,
while allowing Christians to practice theirs by delivering
the "legislative prayer," which has been upheld by the
U.S. Supreme Court for use by a governing body.

Micas did not return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.

Simpson, who had not seen the written opinion, was delighted
with the decision and said it would bring credibility to
witchcraft as a religion.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and Americans
United for Separation of Church and State filed the lawsuit
on behalf of Simpson, 47, last December after she was turned
down by the board.

Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU, called the
ruling a victory for non-majority religions.


On the Net:

Americans United:


Chesterfield County:

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