Statements of law and fact on Wicca and all other forms of paganisim as a religion

The First Amendment

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."


The Witches Federal Law Memorandum

Statement of the Facts:

Witchcraft in the United States is a living, growing religion. As a religion, Witchcraft is protected by the Constitution. The Law has the obligation to serve and protect Witches in their religious endeavors, equally as much as it protects the rights and freedoms of other groups. In the United States today, Witches are entitled to the same rights and protections as other groups under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.



Is Witchcraft recognized as a legitimate religion in the United States?


Witchcraft is recognized in the United States as a legitimate religion. In 1985, Dettmer v Landon (617 F Supp 592) the District Court of Virginia pursuant to rule 52 (a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ruled that Witchcraft is a legitimate religion and falls within a recognizable religious category In 1986 in the Federal Appeals court fourth circuit. Butzner, J. affirmed the decision (799 F 2d 929) Since in most cases Federal law, even case law supersedes state law in this type of matter, the affirmation by judge Butzner clearly sets Witchcraft as a religion under the protection of constitutional rights. The Church of Wicca (or Witchcraft) is clearly a religion for First Amendment purposes.

Members of the Church sincerely adhere to a fairly complex set of doctrines relating to the spiritual aspect of their lives, and in doing so they have ultimate concerns' in much the same way as followers of more accepted religions. Their ceremonies and leadership structure, their rather elaborate set of articulated doctrine, their belief in the concept of another world, and their broad concern for improving the quality of life for others gives them at least some facial similarity to other more widely
recognized religions.

While there are certainly aspects of Wiccan philosophy that may strike most people as strange or incomprehensible. the mere fact that a belief may be unusual does not strip it of constitutional protection. Accordingly the Court concludes that the Church of Wicca. of which the plaintiff is a sincere follower. is a religion for the purpose of the free exercise clause." 1985 Williams. J. Dettmer v. Landon Supra. We agree with the district court that the doctrine taught by the Church of Wicca is a religion." Butzner. J. 19864th Circuit. Dettmer v. Landon Supra.



Does the practice of Witchcraft fall within the parameters of the First Amendment? protection clause?


The first amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of religious belief. The USCA states that a practice is a religion if it is for an individual a belief system for their whole life. The constitution does not wish to dictate what an individual should hold as a belief system or how it is practiced and will not enter into a ruling on that. "Court may not inquire into worthiness of parties' religious belief to ascertain whether they merit. First Amendment protection, but need only consider whether beliefs are 'religious' in parties' own scheme of things and whether their beliefs are sincere. USCA Const. Amend. I "To be a bona fide religious belief entitled to protection under either the First Amendment or Title VII, a belief must be sincerely held" and within the believers own scheme of things religious. USCA Const. Amend. 1: Civil Rights Act 1964 701 et seq., 717 as amended 42 USCA 2000e-16"



Are Witches entitled to rights under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?


The equal protection clause is guaranteed to all people and groups. If one group of people is entitled to equal protection than all groups are. Witchcraft is accepted as a religion, therefore, Witches are entitled to the same protections as all other religious groups; under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. ³First and Fourteenth Amendments insures without qualification that a state may not forbid the holding of any religious belief or opinion, nor may it force anyone to embrace any religious belief or to say or believe anything in conflict with his religious tenets. USCA Const. Amend. 1, (14 Africa v. Anderson 542 F. Supp. 224.") (16 FPD 212-216)



Are Witches entitled to the same rights and protections under State Laws. applicable to where they live, as they are under Federal Law?


USCA ARTICLE VII # 2 states: ³This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be The Supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."In light of the fact that Dettmer v. Landon supra, being a Federally Adjudicated case. it is thereby protected by the Constitution. No state can override this Federal adjudication. No Witch can be denied his/her civil liberty and right to be a Witch, open and free, in any state in the land; within the parameters of the Law.



Witchcraft is a legally recognized religion in the United States and Witches are entitled to every right and protection for freedom of religion, including freedom from harassment and prejudice as every other recognized religion in the United States.

The United States Constitution, under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. supports the right of all peoples in the United States to practice their own belief system and to enjoy this in each their own manner.

Lawyers and Law Enforcement Agencies have the obligation to protect the rights of all people in their religious endeavors, no matter what they may be, without bias or prejudice

Witches desire only to retain their right of religious privacy and to practice their Craft as they see fit within the parameters of the law.



Florida:  Mesa v. Mesa, 21 Fam. L. Rep. (BNA) 1280 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1995).

"A dissolution court may not prohibit a noncustodial parent from exposing her children to her church's religious practices, unless there is a clear, affirmative showing that these religious activities will be harmful to the child.  Allowing a court to choose on parent's religious beliefs and practices over another's would violate the first amendment.  "



Dettmer Vs. Landon


The case was Dettmer v. Landon. A 29 year old inmate incarcerated at the Powhatan Correctional Center in State Farm, Virginia claimed that his First Amendment right to the free exercise of his religion, the Church of Wicca, was violated by prison officials who refused to give him any access to his religion's worship materials. Prison officials said that the worship materials that Dettmer seeked--candles; a statue; a white robe; incens; and either sulfur, sea salt, or uniodized salt--would be hazardous to prison security. The prison officials also claimed that the Church of Wicca is not a religion entitled to First Amendment protection.\par During the time from 1983-1985, Dettmer repeatedly sought permission to obtain the certain items (stated above), and the prison officials, understandbly sensitive to potential security problems, denied each request, asserting that the items posed a threat to the security of the intstitution. For example, the prison officials stated that the incense could be used to mask the odor of drugs, a statue could be used as a weapon, sulfur could be used to make gunpowder, and a hooded robe could be used to hide a prisoner's face in an escape attempt.\par Recognizing that the prison officials had legitimate security concerns with several of the items, Dettmer consulted his religious leaders and offered to substitute sea salt or uniodized salt for the sulfur, to remove the hood from the robe, and to use a plastic statue rather than a wooden or ceramic one. (If you notice, Dettmer didn't fight for the right to have an athame because he realized that such an item could not be kept within a prison facility.) However, despite Dettmer's efforts to provide a workable solution, and even though officials never questioned the sincerity of Dettmer's beliefs, the prison still denied Dettmer's access to the items. At the same time, prisoners worshipping more conventional religions such as Catholicism and Hinduism were given access to candles, incense, and crosses, and all prisoners were routinely given access to bathrobes and boxing robes.\par Throughout this trial, the Court had to determine whether the Church of Wicca is a religion for purposes of the First Amendment. Because religion is so highly personal and private, dealing with spiritual rather than temporal matters, courts have traditionally been reluctant to examine and pass judgment upon these beliefs. However, when confronted with a dispute between religious conviction and the needs of the state, courts have a duty to make at least some inquiry into the nature of the faith to ensure that purely secular beliefs and practices are not accorded the special protection afforded by the First Amendment. The courts have ruled though that the belief in a religion is different from the actions of a religion. (Ex. If a religion believed in killing a person at least one time during your life, obviously, the courts are not going to allow this. You may believe in it, but acting is different from believing.)\par A decision was then reached: "Members of the Church of Wicca sincerely adhere to a fairly complex set of doctrines relating to the spiritual aspect of their lives, and in doing so they have 'ulitmate concerns' in much the same way as followers of more accepted religions. Their ceremonies and leadership structure, their rather elaborate set of articulated doctrine, their belief in the concept of another world, and their broad concern for improving the quality of life for others gives them at least some facial similarity to other more widely recognized religions. While there are certainly aspects of Wiccan philosophy that may strike most people as strange or incomprehensible, the mere fact that a belief may be unusual does not strip it of constitutional protection. Accordingly, the Court concludes that the Church of Wicca, of which the plaintiff is a sincere follower, is a religion for the purpose of the free exercise clause."\par The second part of the decision, though not actually dealing with the foundation of Wicca legally, is now discussed here. This decision was made in response to whether Dettmer should have the items at anytime that he requests.\par In 1985, the District Court found that Dettmer shall have the items he requested. The prison officials, unsettled by this part of the decision, appealed this case and in 1986, the case was heard by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge J. Butzner then affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the District Court. He reaffirmed the fact that Wicca is a religion but denied Dettmer the right to have the items he requested based on the fact that even though those prisoners of more conventional religions had incense, candles, and whatnot in their services, none of the prisoners ever touched them, the preacher or minister always handled them, and never the prisoners themselves. \par \fs18 If you want to get the above information in full, go to your local law library and ask for the Federal Supplement #617, p. 592-597 for the first case Dettmer v. Landon 1985, and for the Federal Supplement #799, p. 929-934 for the appealed case Dettmer v. Landon 1986


Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District


Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District No. 91-2024 SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES Feb. 24, 1993 June 7, 1993 508 U.S. 384 New York law authorizes local school boards to adopt reasonable regulations permitting the after-hours use of school property for 10 specified purposes, not including meetings for religious purposes. Pursuant to this law, respondent school board (District) issued rules and regulations allowing, inter alia, social, civic, and recreational uses of its schools (Rule 10), but prohibiting use by any group for religious purposes (Rule 7). After the District refused two requests by petitioners, an evangelical church and its pastor (Church), to use school facilities for a religious-oriented film series on family values and childrearing on the ground that the film appeared to be church-related, the Church filed suit in the District Court, claiming that the District's actions violated, among other things, the First Amendment's Freedom of Speech Clause. The court granted summary judgment to the District, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. It reasoned that the school property, as a "limited public forum" open only for designated purposes, remained nonpublic except for the specified purposes, and ruled that the exclusion of the Church's film was reasonable and viewpoint neutral. Held: Denying the Church access to school premises to exhibit the film violates the Freedom of Speech Clause. Pp. ___. (a) There is no question that the District may legally preserve the property under its control, and need not have permitted after-hours use for any of the uses permitted under state law. This Court need not address the issue whether Rule 10, by opening the property to a wide variety of communicative purposes, has opened the property for religious uses, because, even if the District has not opened its property for such uses, Rule 7 has been unconstitutionally applied in this case. Access to a nonpublic forum can be based on subject matter or speaker identity so long as the distinctions drawn are reasonable and viewpoint-neutral. Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense and Ed. Fund, Inc., 473 U.S. 788 , 806 . That Rule 7 treats all religions and religious purposes alike does not make its application in this case viewpoint-neutral, however, for it discriminates on the basis of viewpoint by permitting school property to be used for the presentation of all views about family issues and childrearing except those dealing with the subject from a religious standpoint. Denial on this basis is plainly invalid under the holding in Cornelius, supra, 473 U.S. at 806 , that the government violates the First Amendment when it denies access to a speaker solely to suppress the point of view he espouses on an otherwise includible subject. Pp. ___. (b) \b Permitting District property to be used to exhibit the film would not have been an establishment of religion under the three-part test articulated in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 . Since the film would not have been shown during school hours, would not have been sponsored by the school, and would have been open to the public, there would be no realistic danger that the community would think that the District was endorsing religion or any particular creed, and any benefit to religion or the Church would have been incidental\b0 . Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263 , 271-272 . Nor is there anything in the record to support the claim that the exclusion was justified on the ground that allowing access to a "radical" church would lead to threats of public unrest and violence. In addition, the Court of Appeals' judgment was not based on the justification proffered here that the access rules' purpose is to promote the interests of the general public, rather than sectarian or other private interests. Moreover, that there was no express finding below that the Church's application would have been granted absent the religious connection is beside the point for the purposes of this opinion, which is concerned with the validity of the stated reason for denying the application, namely, that the film appeared to be church-related. Pp. ___. 959 F.2d 381 (CA2 1992), reversed.


Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah

The case Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah was a landmark decision that declared any law specifically concerning a certain religion unconstitutional. This case dealt with a Hialeah, Florida restricting the sacrifice rituals of the religion of Santeria. The Supreme Court declared this law unconstitutional on the grounds that it specifically dealt with a religion. This is different than the Oregon case Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith that restricted the Native American's use of peyote because of the fact it was an "across the board" law that declared it illegal for anyone to use, not specifically the Native Americans. If you would like an interesting quote, look at the lines I have highlighted. Now here's the case itself:

Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah No. 91-948 SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES Nov. 4, 1992 June 11, 1993 508 U.S. 520 Syllabus Petitioner church and its congregants practice the Santeria religion, which employs animal sacrifice as one of its principal forms of devotion. The animals are killed by cutting their carotid arteries, and are cooked and eaten following all Santeria rituals except healing and death rites. After the church leased land in respondent city and announced plans to establish a house of worship and other facilities there, the city council held an emergency public session and passed, among other enactments Resolution 87-66, which noted city residents' "concern" over religious practices inconsistent with public morals, peace, or safety, and declared the city's "commitment" to prohibiting such practices; Ordinance 87-40, which incorporates the Florida animal cruelty laws and broadly punishes "[w]hoever . . . unnecessarily or cruelly . . . kills any animal," and has been interpreted to reach killings for religious reasons; Ordinance 87-52, which defines "sacrifice" as "to unnecessarily kill . . . an animal in a . . . ritual . . . not for the primary purpose of food consumption," and prohibits the "possess[ion], sacrifice, or slaughter" of an animal if it is killed in "any type of ritual" and there is an intent to use it for food, but exempts "any licensed [food] establishment" if the killing is otherwise permitted by law; Ordinance 87-71, which prohibits the sacrifice of animals, and defines "sacrifice" in the same manner as Ordinance 87-52; and Ordinance 87-72 which defines "slaughter" as "the killing of animals for food" and prohibits slaughter outside of areas zoned for slaughterhouses, but includes an exemption for "small numbers of hogs and/or cattle" when exempted by state law. Petitioners filed this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of their rights under, inter alia, the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Although acknowledging that the foregoing ordinances are not religiously neutral, the District Court ruled for the city, concluding, among other things, that compelling governmental interests in preventing public health risks and cruelty to animals fully justified the absolute prohibition on ritual sacrifice accomplished by the ordinances, and that an exception to that prohibition for religious conduct would unduly interfere with fulfillment of the governmental interest, because any more narrow restrictions would be unenforceable as a result of the Santeria religion's secret nature. The Court of Appeals affirmed. HELD: By the Supreme Court, the judgment is reversed. 936 F.2d 586, (CA 11 1991) reversed. Opinions JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, IIA-1, II-A-3, II-B, III, and IV, concluding that the laws in question were enacted contrary to free exercise principles, and they are void. (a) Under the Free Exercise Clause, a law that burdens religious practice need not be justified by a compelling governmental interest if it is neutral and of general applicability. Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 . However, where such a law is not neutral or not of general application, it must undergo the most rigorous of scrutiny: it must be justified by a compelling governmental interest, and must be narrowly tailored to advance that interest. Neutrality and general applicability are interrelated, and failure to satisfy one requirement is a likely indication that the other has not been satisfied. (b) The ordinances' texts and operation demonstrate that they are not neutral, but have as their object the suppression of Santeria's central element, animal sacrifice. That this religious exercise has been targeted is evidenced by Resolution 87-66's statements of "concern" and "commitment," and by the use of the words "sacrifice" and "ritual" in Ordinances 87-40, 8752, and 87-71. Moreover, the latter ordinances' various prohibitions, definitions, and exemptions demonstrate that they were "gerrymandered" with care to proscribe religious killings of animals by Santeria church members but to exclude almost all other animal killings. They also suppress much more religious conduct than is necessary to achieve their stated ends. The legitimate governmental interests in protecting the public health and preventing cruelty to animals could be addressed by restrictions stopping far short of a flat prohibition of all Santeria sacrificial practice, such as general regulations on the disposal of organic garbage, on the care of animals regardless of why they are kept, or on methods of slaughter. Although Ordinance 87-72 appears to apply to substantial nonreligious conduct and not to be overbroad, it must also be invalidated because it functions in tandem with the other ordinances to suppress Santeria religious worship. (c) Each of the ordinances pursues the city's governmental interests only against conduct motivated by religious belief, and thereby violates the requirement that laws burdening religious practice must be of general applicability. Ordinances 87-40, 87-52, and 87-71 are substantially underinclusive with regard to the city's interest in preventing cruelty to animals, since they are drafted with care to forbid few animal killings but those occasioned by religious sacrifice, while many types of animal deaths or kills for nonreligious reasons are either not prohibited or approved by express provision. The city's assertions that it is "self-evident" that killing for food is "important," that the eradication of insects and pests is "obviously justified," and that euthanasia of excess animals "makes sense" do not explain why religion alone must bear the burden of the ordinances. These ordinances are also substantially underinclusive with regard to the city's public health interests in preventing the disposal of animal carcasses in open public places and the consumption of uninspected meat, since neither interest is pursued by respondent with regard to conduct that is not motivated by religious conviction. Ordinance 87-72 is underinclusive on its face, since it does not regulate nonreligious slaughter for food in like manner, and respondent has not explained why the commercial slaughter of "small numbers" of cattle and hogs does not implicate its professed desire to prevent cruelty to animals and preserve the public health. (d) The ordinances cannot withstand the strict scrutiny that is required upon their failure to meet the Smith standard. They are not narrowly tailored to accomplish the asserted governmental interests. All four are overbroad or underinclusive in substantial respects because the proffered objectives are not pursued with respect to analogous nonreligious conduct, and those interests could be achieved by narrower ordinances that burdened religion to a far lesser degree. Moreover, where, as here, government restricts only conduct protected by the First Amendment and fails to enact feasible measures to restrict other conduct producing substantial harm or alleged harm of the same sort, the governmental interests given in justification of the restriction cannot be regarded as compelling.



Wallace vs. Jaffree

The case Wallace vs. Jaffree declared the Alabama "moment of silence" unconstitutional. Now, before you go off and sue your local school board, make sure that the wording of you local moment of silence is the same. Alabama's statute stated that the minute of silence was for the purpose of "meditation or voluntary prayer." The reason that it was declared unconstitutional was the fact that it recognized prayer, a tool of religious worship, in it's public schools, plus the intent of the legislatures with their quote "to return voluntary prayer in our public schools and return to the basic moral fiber." If you would like an interesting quote, look at the lines I have highlighted. Now here's the case itself:

Wallace v. Jaffree No. 83-812 SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES 472 U.S. 38 December 4, 1984 June 4, 1985 APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT Syllabus in proceedings instituted in Federal District Court, appellees challenged the constitutionality of, inter alia, a 1981 Alabama Statute (§ 16-1-20.1) authorizing a one-minute period of silence in all public schools "for meditation or voluntary prayer." Although finding that § 16-1-20.1 was an effort to encourage a religious activity, the District Court ultimately held that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment does not prohibit a State from establishing a religion. The Court of Appeals reversed. Held: Section 16-1-20.1 is a law respecting the establishment of religion, and thus violates the First Amendment. Pp. 48-61 . (a) The proposition that the several States have no greater power to restrain the individual freedoms protected by the First Amendment than does Congress is firmly embedded in constitutional jurisprudence. The First Amendment was adopted to curtail Congress' power to interfere with the individual's freedom to believe, to worship, and to express himself in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience, and the Fourteenth Amendment imposed the same substantive limitations on the States' power to legislate. The individual's freedom to choose his own creed is the counterpart of his right to refrain from accepting the creed established by the majority. Moreover, the individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or none at all. Pp. 48-55 . (b) One of the well-established criteria for determining the constitutionality of a statute under the Establishment Clause is that the statute must have a secular legislative purpose. Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 , 612-613 . The First Amendment requires that a statute must be invalidated if it is entirely motivated by a purpose to advance religion. Pp. 55-56 . (c) The record here not only establishes that § 16-1-20.1's purpose was to endorse religion, it also reveals that the enactment of the statute was not motivated by any clearly secular purpose. In particular, the statements of § 16-120.1's sponsor in the legislative record and in his [p*39] testimony before the District Court indicate that the legislation was solely an "effort to return voluntary prayer" to the public schools. Moreover, such unrebutted evidence of legislative intent is confirmed by a consideration of the relationship between § 16-1-20.1 and two other Alabama statutes -- one of which, enacted in 1982 as a sequel to § 16-1-20.1, authorized teachers to lead "willing students" in a prescribed prayer, and the other of which, enacted in 1978 as § 16-1-20. l's predecessor, authorized a period of silence "for meditation" only. The State's endorsement, by enactment of § 16-1-20.1, of prayer activities at the beginning of each schoolday is not consistent with the established principle that the government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion.


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