As we understand it, Wicca is sort of a nature religion, a belief that rustling leaves or soft summer rain or golden sunsets have a spiritual essence. Followers talk of the life-giving “goddess” or pray to the spirit of the wind, etc. Some call themselves “pagans” or “witches” — but the latter means healer, not hexer. They have no Satan, hell or heaven, as far as we know. Maybe they’re a bit like ancient Druids. Some Wiccans dance naked around bonfires, we’re told (but we never saw any).
Fundamentalists often voice strong opposition when Wicca pops up. A few years ago, former far-right congressman Bob Barr of Georgia demanded that the Pentagon ban Wicca chapters at Fort Hood, Texas, and other military installations. (Columnist Tom Teepen urged the “good witches” to try to “get close enough to Barr one day to kiss him and turn him into a prince.”)
Well, Wicca apparently is causing hysteria in Clay and Nicholas counties. A Wiccan couple sued in Kanawha Circuit Court, alleging that neighbors filed police reports accusing them of sacrificing their children in religious rituals. Evidently, police came to investigate the absurd accusation.
State welfare officials filed a child protective complaint accusing the couple of witchcraft and Satanism, the suit says. Some of their children reportedly were seized by the state.
We don’t know the facts behind this mess. We hope they emerge as the lawsuit proceeds. Surely, state officials wouldn’t seize children because of the parents’ religion. We assume there must have been other grounds.
Nonetheless, the state Human Rights Commission, which protects people from various types of prejudice, should monitor this case.
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