Freedom of Religion Means Any Religion
The Salisbury Post, North Carolina
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The Salisbury Post's mission statement says in part:
"We are a marketing and customer driven company whose mission is to inform, educate and entertain. We strive to mirror the unique communities we serve and offer responsible public forum."
We fail to see how denying a Pagan/Wiccan study group an equal space with other congregations fulfills this mission statement. The decision was made with personal prejudices and not handled with a professional demeanor.
Regardless of whether or not Paganism is The Salisbury Post's religion, it is our religion. The Federal Government recognizes Paganism/Wicca, as an official religion. Military Courts of Justice in the U.S. have also found Wicca to be a valid religion, deserving of protection under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In the case United States v. Phillips, (42 M.J. 346) in 1995) the concurring opinion by Judge Wiss stated: "First, Wicca is a socially recognized religion. It is acknowledged as such by the Army. See Dept. of the Army (DA) Pamphlet 165-13-1, Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains (April 1980), revising A Pamphlet 165-13, Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains (April 1978). Further, it is acknowledged as such in courts of law."
Pagans and Wiccans are a part of your community. We are your neighbors, your coworkers, your children's teachers; we are professionals, but most importantly we are your readers - your customers! As engraved on your building and imprinted on the Opinion/Editorial page of the paper "The truth shall make you free"; misconceptions about pagans, and being denied access to public forum makes it all the more difficult for the truth to make any of us free.
Due to the fact that this request was handled in an unprofessional manner and with personal bigotry, we, the undersigned, as well as members of our family and friends, who are both of the Christian and Pagan faith will not support The Salisbury Post. We will no longer be a part of your readership until this matter is reconciled with a formal apology and the list is made public in The Salisbury Post.
"We are not evil. We don't harm or seduce people. We are not dangerous. We are ordinary people like you. We have families, jobs, hopes, and dreams. We are not a cult. This religion is not a joke. We are not what you think we are from looking at T.V. We are real. We laugh, we cry. We are serious. We have a sense of humor. You don't have to be afraid of us. We don't want to convert you. And please don't try to convert us. Just give us the same right we give you--to live in peace. We are much more similar to you than you think." - Margot Adler