Hate Crime/Incident Update information

So, what is going on right now, is that we are pursuing this with the authorities, and we have prayed as a group about this, now we are opening up to join others of different faiths in prayer for Religious Tolerance. This will be a POSITIVE event, with press present, and prayers of numerous faith traditions.

An Afternoon of Interfaith Prayer for Religious Tolerance
Hosted by the Antelope Valley Interfaith Council

Join us Sunday, May 19th at McAdams Park in Palmdale, on 30th West and just north of Avenue R, at 2pm for a day of song and prayer and Interfaith Sharing. There will be Muslim, Christian, Native American, and Wiccan prayer for Religious Tolerance and revelling in our diversity. There will be representatives of many different faiths there, as well as food vendors, and an awesome raffle, all to raise funds for the Interfaith Council and the awesome Interfaith Choir, who will be performing several songs, and among them, one called, "We all Come from the Goddess"!! Hope to see you there! For more info, email Ariadne at dragonhearth@earthlink.net.

Bright Blessings! This is the letter to the editor which was sent, and an explanation of what is going on currently is below.

A plea for Religious Tolerance-

an Open Letter to the Lancaster Sheriff's Station and the Religious Community.

Imagine going to a church picnic, or to your church, and before your service begins, a number of non church members appear, with portable stereos, blaring their religious message, and march around your gathering,) disrupting your worship service. Outrageous? Maybe so, but it happened Saturday, March 16 in the Antelope Valley town of Lancaster, California. A group of peaceful Wiccans and Pagans were re-dedicating a local store, the Witches Brew, with a new name, The Witches Grove. We were joined simply to celebrate the Spring and to have a re-naming ceremony and instead were harassed by some people in the name of Christianity.

Several car loads of people sat in their vehicles quietly watching. They were welcome. One particular family of three, a man, woman and small infant, in a large SUV, chose to turn up Christian Rock music on their auto sound system as loudly as they possibly could, with their windows rolled down, to disrupt a quiet service attended by about 50 Pagans and Wiccans. When politely asked to turn down their music and please respect us, we were told that it was a public parking lot, and they were entitled to be there.

More disconcerting was the fact that they had a young infant in a backwards-facing car seat, with a bottle propped in its mouth, SUV windows rolled down on a very cold and windy day, the music loud enough to endanger their child's hearing. Several men from the vehicles walked counterclockwise around our worship circle praying loudly from their Bibles. While we thank them for contributing the energy of their prayers to our circle we would like the peace to worship in our own faith without interruption.

Even more disappointing was that despite a telephoned appeal for assistance no response was forthcoming from the Lancaster Sheriff's Station. The behavior of these individuals protesting, qualifies as a hate incident, if not a hate crime, by the standards listed on the LA County Sheriff's web page. [Ed. comment: we have since learned that the call the the Sheriff's Station did not clearly identify the protestors as committing a hate crime, nor were the police made aware we were having a religious gathering, due to fear on the part of the caller, that they would not come if told we were witches. ]

Have we, as a nation, as a state, as a city forgotten so soon the lesson of 9-11, which was carried out as an act of religious intolerance? We, as witches and Pagans do not come into others' places of worship and attempt to disrupt services. Under our belief system and path to the Divine this would be beyond unacceptable to us. We believe, as declared by the Parliament of World Religions; "Every people, every race, every religion must show tolerance and respect, indeed high appreciation - for every other." and "When they [representatives of religion] stir up prejudice, hatred and enmity towards those of different belief, or even incite or legitimize religious wars, they deserve the condemnation of humankind and the loss of their adherents." All we ask is to be granted the peace and respect that we show for other faiths.



Lisa Morgenstern

In the mean time, the police did come out to take a hate incident report... and the pagans out here are offering to educate the Sherrif's Station about Paganism and Wicca, since the deputy who responded was not aware that Witchcraft is a religion. Once he was apprised, he was very helpful. We are encouraging people who would like to protest the treatment of Pagans and Wiccans to email Lancaster... because they need to be educated too.
Latest info, in related news... we have been unceremoniously 'kicked out' of our MOOT location by the Elks Lodge.. they don't want us there anymore. And they admitted to Cyndia (why did they call Cyndia and not Ariadne, whose phone number they have as contact?) that it was because of what happened at the shop. Hmmmm. We love Cyndia anyway! Please express your support to her by shopping in the store, or going to The Witches Grove and buying something line if you can!

Latest news: We still never did get the 'incident' recorded as a hate crime, but we did get national attention, and the people in our town now know that we are not going to roll over and die without fighting for our rights as Americans to practice our religion. Ariadne has become active on our local Interfaith Council, which has helped a great deal, by putting on an Interfaith Afternoon of Prayer for Religious Tolerance, and overall the outcome of this event has been to educate and bring the community together. We are working with the police now and they know who we are, and are willing to be supportive should we call again. We held an open Midsummer which went quite well, with no protestors. :) Thank you to all who have lent your support to Cyndia and the Witches Grove and the community- as I said, it has served to bring us closer together as Pagans and a community. Keep your eyes peeled for details on the upcoming Pagan Pride day that we hope to hold in Lancaster!!!

Ariadne aka Lisa

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