girl ipsa loquitur: "Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?" Email me!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

"Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?"

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We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. But we don't have to go far to reach the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections where our story begins...

This term the Supreme Court will consider 2 establishment clause cases. Thankfully, they have denied certiorari (isn't that a fun word? It means 'to be more fully informed' but to me it will always be a legal breath mint) to Judge Roy Moore's plea to be allowed to install 2 tons of religious indoctrination in "his" court room. I'm glad that they have not wasted their very valuable time telling Roy that he is a nut; Time better spent finding Roy's former Constitutional Law professor and figuring out how Roy managed to get through law school.

One case that they will consider involves the constitutionality of a federal statute that I have not now, and do not intend to ever, read. Here at Girl Ipsa we are concerned only with the interesting issue of

"Does the religious right realize that all their yammering about religious restrictions has opened the door to those pesky Wiccans?"


That's right. Roving bands of imprisoned witches, demanding their statutory rights to religious freedoms. Now, Wicca (whether you like it or not you cannot deny that it is by definition a religion) is a polytheistic pre-christian religion which seems to be mostly interested in nature. There are a few other, less than main stream, religions involved including Satanism. (Yikes! Would we ever consider entertaining Judge Moore's request to hang Satanic iconography in "his" court room?) It seems that the legislation, in an effort to protect the religious freedoms of some (could they be Christian?) has spilled over into the protection of these other (highly questionable!!) religions.

Well, it's all for one and one for all here. As free as you are to believe that God favors you, others are equally free to believe that God favors them or that there is no God to issue favor at all. The United States, however, does not get to tell us what it believes in terms of who God favors. Which is a pretty good rule. What in the world we we do if for some reason the United States decided to be Wiccan?

In this case, SCOTUS will decide if the will of the people, as enumerated by Congress in the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) is constitutional. If they decide that it is, and therefore uphold the legislation, it will apply to Christians and Wiccans alike. On the other hand, if they find that it is violative of the Constitution then it will not protect Christians and Wiccans alike.

What I wonder is whether the Bible Bangers (Oh my goodness, that looks so derogatory but its also apropos) understood that they were advocating more religious freedom for witches when they lobbied congress for this law? And I wonder if they now regret it.

These issues may appear to be so simple on the surface, when decided from just one point of view. It is easy to sit in our homes and deride the Supreme Court for not thinking the same way that we think. However, religious beliefs are deeply personal. It is certainly not for me to select a religious belief for you. It is also not for a government, a school or Judge Moore to select a religion for you. Ultimately, these non-personal legal decisions made by a court have to come down to a balancing of interests: Yours, mine, the States and even those of Wiccans.

So? You are now wondering "Hey, Girl Ipsa! Are you a good witch or a bad witch?"

As I already admitted, I have not read the law... (Bad legal commentator!) so I can't tell you how I think the court will decide. And even if I could, I am likely to be wrong. Therefore, I will just wear these really neat sparkley shoes and hope that no one drops a house on me.

7 Comments:

Blogger Garrison Steelle said...

Having grown up in a conservative religious environment, I've often run into considerable disfavor for bringing up this very point. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If one person can pray to God in public, then another must have the equal right to pray to Zeus if that is whom they choose to worship. Should their religious practices insist upon stripping naked to pray, guess what!

Freedom is a two-edged sword. We can't give to one without giving to others.

-G

6:54 AM  
Blogger Christopher Chopin said...

Ah, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act...fun stuff.

http://www.rluipa.com/generaldocs/RLUIPA_Text.html

There's the link, if you change your mind.

And yes, the Cutter case deals with Wiccans, and even one dude that worships Thor, I kid you not. Cutter himself is a Satanist.

And long story short, the holding below is that by guaranteeing greater protection of the constitutional protections of religious practice constitutes an establishment of religion. Judge Gillman's problem with the act is that it "has the effect of impermissibly advancing religion by giving greater protection to religious rights than to other constitutionally protected rights." The law "also has the effect of encouraging prisoners to become religious in order to enjoy greater rights,"

And the scariest thing of all? It makes sense, in a wierd sort of way. If you consider the prohibition against establishment of "a" religion to include establishment of religion in general as a preferable choice...because at that point hey, if we give anything extra to the religious types, then religious types get more than the non-religious.

Now my question on this is simple. Does this mean that allowing conjugal visits in jail is equally improper for the sake of the unattached who can't participate?

(and, btw, does this mean prisoners can't wear yarmulkes anymore if they're Jewish? After all, the act got started in part because a synagogue wanted to meet in a private home, and a homeowner's association objected...gotta read the amicus brief by the American Jewish Congress, they helped draft the bill in the first place. Great stuff)

4:51 PM  
Blogger Christopher Chopin said...

By the way. Welcome back.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

You go Garrison Steele. Yeah I agree with him. Everybody gets to pray and in that tone, that's why I don't think things like the 10 commandments belong in courthouses or any other government buildings.

2:14 PM  
Blogger The Zero Boss said...

"It seems that the legislation, in an effort to protect the religious freedoms of some (could they be Christian?) has spilled over into the protection of these other (highly questionable!!) religions."

Are you calling Wicca "highly questionable"? That's your right to believe that, of course - and it points out the inherent problem in any legislation "protecting" religion: it puts the government in a position of deciding what constitutes a religion in the first place. It'd be much more straightforward to consider "religion" a subcategory of "freedom of expression", and get the government out of the establishment business altogether.

Non-lawyer talking, mind you, so YMMV.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Girl Ipsa said...

Wow! I am certainly not calling Wicca "Highly Questionable". What I was doing, apparently not so aptly, was inferring an opinion I suspect is held by the religious right radical bible thumpers... Wait. Should I say this? Will the question then be posited: Is Girl Ipsa taking a shot at Christian fundamentalist special interest lobbyists? GASP! I will answer now and avert the confusion.

Yes.

Thanks for reading!

4:42 PM  
Blogger narniafan123 said...

Just found some interesting stuff on the upcoming Chronicles of Narnia film. c.s. lewis

12:24 PM  

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