OakGrove Archives
Past News and Issues
3rd Quarter 2000
9/27/00:  Dallas mayor yanks invitation to Wiccan minister, later apologizes
Michael Saul - The Dallas Morning News
Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk apologized to members of the Wiccan religion Wednesday and promised to reschedule a leader's invocation for a future City Council meeting.
"I want to apologize for the confusion and thank them for the information that they left for us," Mr. Kirk said.
"We will look forward to hearing from them at a future meeting."

Claremore Man Accused Of Child Abuse
Allegedly Branded Teen Girls As Part Of Ritual
A Claremore man is facing child abuse charges Wednesday for allegedly branding teenage girls.
Prosecutors said that Richard Elwood Swinney, a self-proclaimed Wiccan medicine man, marked the breasts of the teens using a piece of wire he heated with a candle.

9/25/00: U.S. Restores Special Protections for Religious Groups
 Law: President Clinton signs legislation that defends worship sites in local land-use disputes. But church leaders don't expect the law to go unchallenged.
WASHINGTON--President Clinton signed into law Friday a bill designed to restore strong legal protections for religious freedom when conflicts arise with cities, zoning boards, prisons and nursing homes.
"Religious liberty is a constitutional value of the highest order, and the framers of the Constitution included protection for the free exercise of religion in the very first amendment," Clinton said in a statement after signing the bill. "This act recognizes the importance the free exercise of religion plays in our democratic society."
The law, which requires local officials to give special treatment to churches, synagogues and religious assemblies or lose their federal funding, is aimed at protecting historic cathedrals and storefront churches. Often these congregations run into conflicts with neighborhoods and business districts over parking, traffic, zoning or new construction, particularly if the members bring with them a new religion or style of worship.

Dying in Indian Country
Native Americans Claim Racial Hatred Persists in South Dakota
Robert Many Horses was found dead, stuffed upside down in a trash can. Authorities ruled his death was the result of alcohol poisoning.
David Fitzpatrick - ABCNews.com
MOBRIDGE, S. D., Sept. 22 — You hear the same thing over and over again in Indian country: If other minority groups anywhere else in the nation are being treated as badly as we believe we are being treated now, public scrutiny would have escalated to an unprecedented level.
But as it stands today, Native Americans say they encounter discrimination and hostility daily that is virtually ignored. Indian activists claim that, in general, white authorities have little or no interest in correcting what Native Americans see as injustice, racism and apathy among the overall population of the state.

9/23/00:  God goes to school
Religion in education has its supporters, critics, legalities
David Keim and Jeannine F. Hunter - News-Sentinel staff writers
When Dr. Patricia Cox wrote a letter to the editor in May suggesting Union County schools shouldn't let students out of classes to attend a Christian religious crusade, those who disagreed reacted quickly.
"One said he remembered the days when if anybody had objected to the crusades, they would have been run out of town on a rail," said Cox, who teaches biology at the University of Tennessee.
Others, however, supported her, although saying they didn't dare express a public opinion. "I wouldn't want crosses burned in my front yard," one woman told Cox.

School board likely to drop opening prayer
Decision by 6th Circuit Court prohibits praying
David Keim, News-Sentinel staff writer
The Knox County school board is likely to stop praying before its monthly meetings, a decision that's already made by at least a half dozen other East Tennessee systems.
More than a year ago the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against school board prayers in a case originating in Cleveland, Ohio.
A student there, Sarah Coles, was "shocked and surprised" to hear a prayer when she attended aCleveland school board meeting to get an award for a high ACT score. A teacher who objected to prayers joined her in a lawsuit.

Faith in your Face: Scriptures in Schools project
Jeannine F. Hunter, News-Sentinel staff writer
As students in Blount County voluntarily participate in Scriptures in Schools Week by bringing Bibles and witness materials and wearing clothing with religious messages, some argue they will also offend and ostracize in the process.
Each day has a different theme and students are encouraged to bring Bibles and religious tracts to be passed out to those who ask.
Its creator, Trenton, N.J. elementary school teacher Robert Pawson initiated the effort in 1998 as "academic evangelism," a way to restore biblical precepts into America's schools.
Opponents see it as covert evangelism.

9/21/00:  Pagans turn out to say 'We too belong'
Dale Neal - Asheville Citizen-Times
ASHEVILLE - Pagans struck patriotic notes Wednesday in a rally for religious freedom - not only for their misunderstood beliefs, but those of all minority faiths.
"We pray too. We pay taxes. We are citizens and our children attend these schools. We don't want our children forced to pray the prayers of other faiths," said Diotema Mantineia, associate editor of the Witches Voice, an Internet Web site that links some 23,000 witches, druids and other pagan believers. "There is room in this country for all religions. There is room in our schools for children of all religions."

9/20/00:  Happy Mabon!
Mabon, or Autumn Equinox, is a festive spiritual holiday for us, a feast celebrating the bounty of the harvest that sustains us through the winter months. Of course, this is now largely symbolic since most of us no longer grow our own food.  This year Mabon falls on September 22, according to my SageWoman Feasts of the Goddess calendar.
Harvest festivals do seem almost universal, don't they? I think almost any culture outside the tropical regions probably has some variation on them. When you consider what harvest time would have been like in early agrarian societies, it's not surprising that with all that sudden bounty of food being processed for winter storage, the excess would have been a welcome feast with which to celebrate.
Harvest festivals have traditionally served many purposes: Spiritually, this would be a time to honor the gods for the gift of life (ours) that was derived from death, (of the plants and animals we use for food) making this time an important part of the Wheel of the Year. Economically, the feast from the excess crops and meat prevented waste; Anything more than what could be consumed before the next year's crops began to come in would most likely spoil anyway. Physically, the same behavior that causes us so much grief after the holidays when we step on the scales was adaptive back then; A few extra pounds in the form of a nice layer of fat sometimes meant the difference between illness and death, and surviving the bitter cold months ahead.
Hmm.. Anybody going to eat that last slice of pumpkin pie before we look at the news?

Judge strikes down law banning books
Issue centers on First Amendment and who decides what kids may read
WICHITA FALLS, Texas, Sept. 20 —  A federal judge struck down a local law that allowed signers of a petition to yank “objectionable” books from the public library. U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer said the resolution was unconstitutional. It allowed the removal of books if 300 library-card holders signed a petition. Meanwhile, a Canadian school board has agreed to remove restrictions on the wildly popular “Harry Potter” series of books.

Too Much Like A Prayer?  Flouting a Supreme Court ban on the practice, football fans appeal to the Lord on game day
Whether it's the snap of a football or an act of civil disobedience, the execution is in the timing. Ten minutes before the big game in Forest City, N.C., pastor Danny Jones waits ever so patiently in the press box at Chase High School. As echoes of "the home of the brave" fade away, a local radio broadcaster passes him the microphone. In the stands below, Trojan fans who have brought radios and boom boxes in anticipation of this moment tune in and turn up the volume. "Father in heaven, please bless the game," Jones intones. "Give us safety; give us a good spirit of sportsmanship."
And the Supreme Court be damned.

9/17/00:  "We Still Work Magic" scheduled for September 20
Pagans to meet at school
Dale Neal - Asheville Citizen-Times
ASHEVILLE - Pagans from around the country will attend Wednesday's public rally at Reynolds High School, urging equal time for all religions in the schools, according to a local organizer.
 "You can have no religion in the schools. You can have all religions in the schools, but you can't have only the Christian religion in the schools," said Ginger Strivelli, high priestess of the Appalachian Pagan Alliance.
Strivelli and her group requested use of the school property for their event following last month's "We Still Pray" rally, which drew thousands of area Christians upset by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against school-sponsored prayers before football games.
(Courtesy of Wren Walker, The Witches' Voice)

Hate mail has SAFE official on guard
Trent Seibert - Denver Post
When Tom Mauser was driven by the murder of his son at Columbine High School to fight for tougher gun laws, he never expected he would be threatened with the same fate.
During his effort to close the so-called gun show loophole, Mauser has received dozens of hate letters and nasty e-mails.
Some letters have threatened his life. Mauser has filed two police reports over the past year when anonymous letter writers said they would kill him.

What we really want to know is, did the brides carry yellow roses?
Marriage, change form a union
TODD ACKERMAN - Houston Chronicle
In the weeks before Saturday's historic marriage between Robin and Jessica Wicks, the couple's attorney made no bones about the fact that she hoped to attract as much attention as possible.
Phyllis Randolph Frye opted to represent the Houston couple, after all, partly to highlight what she said was the "stupidity" of a recent court ruling that meant Jessica is considered a man, regardless of the sex-change operation she had years ago. But Frye's appeals were not directed merely at the media and the transgendered. They also sought to energize the homosexual community.
"Items that gay and lesbian activists are still missing on this issue," Frye wrote in an e-mail update last week. "A): We are getting two women legally married. B): We are getting two women legally married. C): We are getting two women legally married."

Moore critical of teaching evolution in nation founded by faith in God
Bill Poovey - Associated Press Writer
MONTGOMERY - Judge Roy Moore, the Ten Commandments judge campaigning for Alabama chief justice, criticized numerous court rulings related to religion Thursday and said creationism deserves at least equal billing with evolution in school instruction.
Moore, an Etowah County circuit judge who is the Republican nominee for chief justice, is matched against Democratic Alabama Court of Civil Appeals Judge Sharon Yates in the Nov. 7 election.
Speaking at a Capital City Young Republicans lunch, Moore said that after America's forefathers included references to God in the nation's founding documents at almost every turn, ''it's strange today when we live in a world that teaches evolution.''
[Yeah, they laughed at the "round earth" theory, too...]

Official: Religious freedom under attack
GREG GARRISON - The Birmingham News
The state of religious freedom worldwide rates as "pretty depressing," an official who monitors religious persecution in the world told Cumberland Law School students at Samford University on Thursday.
"Religious freedom is definitely under attack," said Steven T. McFarland, executive director of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The agency was created by Congress in 1998 to give the issue a higher profile in American foreign policy. http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/Sep2000/15-e508735a.html

Senator Releases Massacre Letters
MATT KELLEY - Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Nearly 136 years after Colorado Militia troops ambushed and massacred more than 150 American Indians on the banks of Sand Creek, a senator related to a survivor of the attack is sponsoring a plan to create a memorial at the site.
At a hearing on the proposal Thursday, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell read from two recently discovered letters written by soldiers who objected to the 1864 atrocity. One, Capt. Silas Soule, detailed the gruesome scene where troops slaughtered Cheyenne and Arapaho women, children and elderly men.
"It was hard to see little children on their knees have their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized,'' wrote Soule, who was murdered in Denver shortly after testifying at a congressional inquiry.

Two babies' deaths reignite debate on religious freedom
JULIE LEWIS - theage.comThere are no birth certificates for baby Jeremiah Corneau, or his 10-month-old cousin Samuel Robideaux. There are no death certificates either. Yet both certainly lived, and it is also almost certain that both children are dead, though their corpses are missing, presumed buried in an isolated corner of a rugged state park in Maine waiting for the next winter to freeze the ground around them.
The two boys and their fates are the focus of an investigation that has riveted the New England region and revealed again the devastation that results when a misguided search for religious truth spins out of control. The case has also challenged Americans to ask at what point the rights of a child over-ride their long-cherished constitutional right to freedom of religion, or the still controversial right of a pregnant woman to control her own body.

Many in central La. fear Bigfoot
CAIN BURDEAU - Associated Press writer
Bigfoot has been the talk of the diner in the little western Louisiana town of Zwolle since word got out that Hosea Remedies sighted a hairy monster a month ago.
"Customers kept on talking about it and talking about it, so I told them I'd start serving a Bigfoot burger," said Sharon Leone Pearce, manager of Bill and Sissy's Diner.
That lasted but one day. Some customers didn't find it funny to see their fears about a lurking beast posted as a joke.

9/14/00:  Family Matters (WEB)
Take 1:  John and Ramona Garrett are responsible American parents practicing Attachment Parenting with their three emotionally-disabled children.
Take 2:  John and Ramona Garrett negligent child-abusers, unfit to raise their own kids.
Is this Texas family the victim of an over-zealous Child Protective Services Specialist and an out-of-touch Judge?  Read their story and decide for yourself at http://www.pookiedoos.com/.

20th Annual American Library Association "Banned Books Week"
NEW YORK (AP) -- Harry Potter made the list. So did "The Catcher in the Rye" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
The most popular children's books? No. The ones adults most wanted removed from library shelves in the 1990s.
"This just proves no book is safe from censorship attempts," said Judith Krug, director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom.
The top 100 titles were compiled and released in advance of the 20th annual Banned Books Week, which runs Sept. 23-30. The ALA, the American Booksellers Association and the American Society of Journalists and Authors are among the sponsors.

N.J. lawmaker drawn into religious Web site squabble
THOMAS HARGROVE - Scripps Howard News Service
WASHINGTON - An advocacy group dedicated to ending persecution of Christians around the world has removed several anti-Muslim remarks from its Internet presentations after Islamic leaders complained the group was hate-mongering.
American Muslims also asked Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., to "repudiate" his past support of the Washington-based International Christian Concern organization. The lawmaker has disavowed the Internet remarks, but also promised to support the group's global human-rights efforts in the future.
The Christian group had placed essays on the Internet that included claims that African Americans are attracted to Islam because of "two primeval lusts: power and possessions" and that "it is dangerous to believe that Islam and Christianity are  at all similar and that both worship the same God."

9/12/00:  Gothic Tasmanian Tour Rises Again
Ghosts Draw Tourists to Australian Ruins
Andrea Hopkins - ABCNews.com
P O R T   A R T H U R, Australia, Sept. 12 — In the pitch black of a winter’s night, tourists huddle together in the sprawling ruins of Australia’s most notorious penal colony, Port Arthur.
You can hear a pin drop as tour guide Dianne Briggs narrates past horrors of the 19th century site, which locals on Tasmania, an island state off southeast Australia, believe is haunted.

Dutch Parliament OKs Unprecedented Gay Marriage Rights
Anthony Deutsch - The Associated Press
 T H E  H A G U E, Netherlands, Sept. 12 — The Netherlands, long among the gay rights vanguard, enacted a bill converting the country’s “registered same-sex partnerships” into full-fledged marriages, complete with divorce guidelines and wider adoption rights for gays.
Proponents say the legislation will give Dutch gays rights beyond those offered in any other country.

Hmong shaman inhabits 2 worlds
STEPHEN MAGAGNINI - Scripps-McClatchy Western Service
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Shortly after 8 a.m., Xong Lao Vang sees his first client: a man who has lost his wallet. When exactly did you lose it? Vang asks, then plots the information on an ivory calendar etched with X's and dots in domino patterns.
According to the calendar, a Hmong fortune-telling device, Vang figures the man lost his wallet at home, somewhere low to the ground.
Lost wallets, sick babies, sore-backed grandmas, accident victims, funerals, weddings, marital discord ... Vang, 73, works them all.
For half a century, he's been a Hmong shaman and flute player, making him an indispensable part of Hmong culture.

Abortion Pill Could Be in the Hands of the Voters
Although FDA approval on RU-486 is pending, whomever the public elects as the next president will play a major role in the drug's future.
WASHINGTON--When the nation's voters go to the polls in November, they may help decide, perhaps unknowingly, whether American women will have access to RU-486, the "abortion pill" that is already available in most of Western Europe as well as Israel and China.

9/10/00:  History of Rock Music?
Scientists Create Stone Instruments to See if Early Man May Have Played Them
Amanda Onion - ABCNews.com
Sept. 8 — The sound is like a gentle rain of quick, high-pitched notes, accented by an occasional “ping.” It’s played from an unlikely source and scientists believe it could be a model of man’s earliest music.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it"
Policy on prayer not needed, say school officials
VICKI FERSTEL - The Advocate OnlineSchool officials in Ascension and Livingston parishes said they do not need to  create policies banning school-sponsored prayer at football games in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Texas case.
The high court ruling involved a school policy that authorized prayer at athletic events.
Because the Louisiana school districts lack prayer policies, officials in Livingston and Ascension parishes said the court decision does not apply to them.

Maybe they wouldn't need vouchers if they just spent the money on the schools?
Voucher ad campaign starts
The Associated Press
Advertisements in the school voucher war are expected to begin airing soon, as the Nov. 7 vote quickly approaches.
Supporters and opponents will spend at least $10 million on advertisements designed to catch the attention of Michigan voters.

9/9/00:  Etowah again opens game with prayer
Adrienne Nettles - Times Staff Writer
ATTALLA - For the second week in a row, Etowah High School students have led a prayer over the microphone before the school's football game - this time with Friday's game against Gadsden High - although a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June stated
that similar public displays are unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court, ruling in a Texas case, stated that public prayer over a microphone at school-sponsored events is in violation of the constitution's requirement for separation of government and religion. Despite the high court's ruling, Etowah High conducted prayer at its season-opening game against Clay-Chalkville last week.
Etowah High has vowed to continue its tradition of prayer before football games and did so at the opening of its football game against Gadsden High School on Friday. The prayer was greeted with applause from the crowd. Before the game, a press conference was held by supporters at the high school to confirm the school's position on prayer.

Rights of Passage?
The 'good death' - Take time to talk about dying
Kristi L. Nelson, News-Sentinel staff writer
For decades, theologians have debated the question of when life begins.
But equally important now is the question of when it ends.
"I think everyone wants to live until they die," said Norma Lindsey, director of hospice and home health for St. Mary's Health System, "but I think we as a society ... are living past when we should in a lot of instances, and it's just unfortunate."

Couple uses alternative energy to power home
 Some people call them weird. Others call them environmentally aware and willing to take action about it.
Scott and Kathy Curran began researching ways to preserve the Earth's resources in the early 1980s, and they have a home in Galveston that now does exactly that. They pondered the questions about how to provide for their family in times of disaster, ensure their security and safety, and reduce their consumption of natural resources at the same time.

Candidates find it easy to discuss their faith, but how beliefs influence policies is less clear
Jeffrey Weiss / The Dallas Morning News
PEORIA, Ill. – Sen. Joe Lieberman professes a deep and literal religious faith. But like other politicians this campaign season, he says it's difficult to explain how his beliefs affect his decisions about public policy.
In a presidential race that has been heavy with talk about God since the primaries, the faith-laden language of the first Jewish member of a major ticket has reignited a debate about the place of religion in politics.

The Christian Action Network, a Religious Right group based in Forest, Va., today announced plans to place ads in the New York media suggesting that First Lady and New York Senate candidate Hillary Clinton is a lesbian.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today said the action is a typically sleazy move by the group and its president, Martin Mawyer, a former employee of the Rev. Jerry Falwell's now-defunct Moral Majority.
"The Christian Action Network's rhetoric is so extreme and far out that people may be tempted to dismiss the entire organization as a joke," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "But there's nothing funny about hate-mongering.

9/8/00:  Apology offered to American Indians - Indian Affairs head condemns U.S. agency’s ‘legacy of racism’
ASSOCIATED PRESS  WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 - The head of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs apologized Friday for the agency’s “legacy of racism and inhumanity” that included massacres, forced relocations of tribes and attempts to wipe out Indian languages and cultures.

9/6/00: "Pot Calls the Kettle Black"
Bush Insults Reporter Who Wrote Critical Articles
NAPERVILLE, Ill. (Reuters) - George W. Bush, who has promised to bring a new tone of civility to politics, displayed little warmth for a reporter on  Monday, whispering to his running mate that the journalist  was a "major league asshole.''

9/5/00:  OakGrove goes big-time!
Sooner or later I think everybody with an internet connection tries their hand at setting up a web page, and I was no exception. Now after only about 2 years, what I still lovingly refer to as my "cheesy vanity page" has just hit the big time with a recent mention in the September 4 edition of The Number 1 Pagan resource site in the world, The Witches' Voice.
Needless to say, Amberflame thinks I've discovered the secret to levitation because my feet haven't touched the floor all day long.  Thank you, Wren and Fritz; You made my week!

Pagans support leader despite sex offense conviction
Members of an Upstate pagan church learned last week that the woman who has led them for two years is a convicted sex offender.
Yet according to church member Theresa Murphy of Anderson, the group is standing behind Janet Lynn Hawkins despite her 1994 conviction on charges she had oral sex with a teen-age boy.
(Above story courtesy of Wren Walker)

Support Sought for "We Still Work Magic" Rally
"We still work Magic" Rally
Asheville, NC  September 20th  7-9pm
On August 17, 2000, a "We Still Pray" rally was held at the Reynolds High School Stadium in Asheville, NC which, according to an 8/25/00 article in the Asheville Tribune "attracted over 13,000 people who were able to get inside the stadium and an approximately 24,000 who tried but were turned away, congesting traffic for hours in
Asheville" In response to this rally a regional Pagan group, the Appalachian Pagan Alliance, has sent letters to Reynolds principal Tony Baldwin and Buncombe County Superintendent Cliff Dodson asking to hold a "We Still Work Magic" rally, citing that if Reynolds had been used by one religious group, it should be made available for all
"I thought it was an inappropriate place to have it at the public school," said Ginger Strivelli, leader of the alliance. "I'm all for them having their religious gathering, but it struck me as being a poor decision to have it at the school system." "I don't think it's
the right place to have a religious gathering. But now they've done it, and they need to open up to respect the diversity of the religious groups in this area."
Lady Ginger Strivelli and the APA have received a great deal of positive feedback from the Pagan community, not only in and around the Asheville area, but from across the country and all around the Mother Earth! The APA greatly appreciates the support that it is being shown from fellow Pagans. Realistically we know that it is next to impossible to show the support for this rally on the scale that the "We Still Pray" rally showed with sheer number of people attending.
While we are positive that many of our fellow Pagans across the country would show up to this event if they could, it is just not possible for them to do so. We would still like to have some sort of "physical" support to show at the rally. What "physical" support can you give? Letters. The APA may not be able to have thousands of
people physically there with them at the rally, but they could have mounds of letters from supporters with them there to show a kind of "physical presence by proxy."
Please show your support by sending letters, cards, and postcards to:
Appalachian Pagan Alliance
P.O. Box 1498
]Skyland, NC 28776
Thank you and may all the Gods and Goddesses bless you!
The Appalachian Pagan Alliance

God, Guns, and "Good ol' Boys"
Family in Texas holes up, defies law - Sheriff in no hurry to nab assault suspect
TRINIDAD, Texas With holsters strapped to their hips, three bearded men wearing camouflage hats and torn jeans sit in folding chairs at the end of a dirt driveway.
Homemade signs hang on the gate, barbed-wire fence and trees: ``We are militia and will live free or die!'' ``Disobedience to tyranny is obedience to God!'' ``Notice to all public servants. No trespassing survivors will be prosecuted.''

9/4/00:  Pagan Profiles is back!
I was digging through my bookmarks and saw Pagan Profiles. Clicking it with a sigh, I fully expected that it would still be gone but like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it  finally opened up!
Pagan Profiles is probably the definitive Pagan networking site, with over 10,000 listings worldwide. Returning to the internet on September 1st after several months of inaccessablity during their last upgrade, this valuable resource is once again available for Pagans trying to find like-minded others in their communities.
URL: http://www.paganprofiles.com/

9/3/00:  LC character program draws fire
 Alicia Gooden - The Daily News
LEAGUE CITY - At least one resident worries that taxpayer funded character training for city employees is another ploy to advance a conservative Christian agenda. On the heels of a possible resolution with the American Civil Liberties Union over its controversial godly principles resolution, former council member Elaine Kosty said that the Character First! program put an undue burden on city employees and on the residents who would foot the bill for the seminar.
"This continues to be Christianity in your face," she said.

Most Americans are driven to good by peace and reason, not God
BILL MAXWELL - St. Petersburg Times
Cornell University professor R. Laurence Moore writes that "American religion, as a category of thought, is protean. Statistics suggest its complexity. Compared to organized religion in Western European societies, the disestablished churches of the United States enjoy enviable institutional health."
He says that to appreciate the full texture of religious thought in the United States, we must discuss it from many sides. Vice President Al Gore's selection of Joseph Lieberman, a devout Jew, as his running mate and Lieberman's insistence on making religion part of the national debate, obligate thoughtful voters to consider the role of religion in public life and its impact on developing the average person's sense of right and wrong.

9/2/00:  Prayers raise turbulent issue
Neal Falgoust - The Daily News
SANTA FE - Spontaneous convocations like the one carried out Friday night might cause more confusion for school officials looking for a resolution to their yearlong battle over game-time prayers.
On the one hand, organizers of the rally want to exercise their free speech rights and could sue the school district if they are stopped from going forward with their prayer. But if the school district gives even the appearance that it is involved with the sponsorship of the prayer, they could face another round of litigation from those who back the separation of church and state.

[Apparently common sense prevailed: See below - Oak]

Faithful drowned out in Santa Fe
By Neal Falgoust - The Daily News
SANTA FE - At any other time, in any other place, it would have passed as just another football game. And in this town of 8,500, where many residents wear their faith on their sleeve, it almost did, except for a prayer.
For the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school officials violated the
                 constitutional separation of church and state, many faith-filled residents of Santa Fe gathered in the football stands for the annual rites of fall. And together, they attempted to thumb their nose at the nation's highest court.
But what had been touted as a mass act of civil disobedience, instead was a quiet vocalization of the people's faith.

Boy Scouts can still use federal land
Reno says group’s gay ban won’t prevent Jamborees
ASSOCIATED PRESS - The Boy Scouts can still hold their Jamborees on federal lands even though they bar gays from being scouts or leaders, Attorney General Janet Reno says.

Texas turnout falls short in protest of Supreme Court school-prayer ban
SANTA FE, Texas -- At the high school football stadium where the issue of school prayer touched off a constitutional debate, a protest planned Friday to defy the U.S. Supreme Court fell flat.

Santa Fe fans open football season with prayer
KEVIN MORAN - Houston Chronicle
SANTA FE -- The multitude that had been predicted failed to materialize, but virtually all of the fans at Santa Fe High School's opening game Friday recited the Lord's Prayer just before kickoff.
And for the local folks who have struggled to keep alive the tradition of prayer at football games, what happened in their new stadium was just fine.

9/1/00:  Group reports prayer protests as school year begins
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As schools open their doors across the country this fall, a national group that tracks church/state issues said Friday that it had received one dozen reports of individuals praying aloud at rallies or football games, apparent protests of a
                  recent Supreme Court decision.
Rob Boston, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, described most of these incidents as informal protests in which at least one individual simply prayed out loud. He knew of only one organized protest -- in South Carolina -- that was organized by activists and sanctioned by school officials to specifically defy the court decision.

On Religion: Mistaken to say freedom to pray is under attack
Religion in public life is one of the big national themes of the moment, with the pious presidential campaign unfolding and the anything-but-spontaneous power pray-in scheduled prior to tonight's high school football game in Santa Fe, south of Houston. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/editorial/651443

Santa Fe prayers would mock the rule of law
EARLIER this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the policy of the Santa Fe Independent School District of sponsoring prayer before high school football games violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The purpose of the establishment clause is to keep the government and all government agencies -- including local school boards -- from endorsing any particular religion or religious practice, or even from endorsing religion in general over nonreligion.

Clovis considers pregame prayer - The Associated Press
CLOVIS, N.M. (AP) - School officials and student leaders will decide today whether a prayer should be offered at tonight's Clovis High School football game despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that school-sponsored prayer at sporting events violates students' constitutional rights.

Critics against prayer demonstration
 Neal Falgoust - The Daily News
                 SANTA FE -- Thousands of Christians activists are expected to descend on Santa Fe tonight in an act of civil disobedience brought on by divine inspiration.
If all goes as planned, they will join together in prayer after the singing of the National Anthem at the high school football game.
Though the mass convocation is being touted as a "spontaneous prayer" in order to
                 circumvent a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, ministers and others have been organizing the event for the past week.

8/31/00:  Alliance embraces prayer plan
Neal Falgoust -  The Daily News
SANTA FE -- Local religious leaders have a simple message for this largely Christian town: Prayer will return to the football field, U.S. Supreme Court be damned.
Kody Shed, a 27-year-old Temple businessman and director of the No Pray No Play movement, met with area ministers Tuesday, issuing a call to action for Christians to converge on the town for what he calls a spontaneous prayer during the first home football game of the season.

Security patrols increased for game
Neal Falgoust - The Daily News
SANTA FE -- Police and school officials will beef up patrols along state Highway 6 and in areas around the high school football stadium Friday night as thousands are expected to converge on the city for a prayer rally during the city's first home football game.
Police Chief Barry Cook said officers would be on alert to deal with any traffic problems along the city's major thoroughfares and to keep an eye on the crowds.

8/30/00:  10,000 may say prayer in Santa Fe:  'Spontaneous' act response to ruling
KEVIN MORAN - Houston Chronicle
 SANTA FE -- As many as 10,000 people may surround this small town's public stadium Friday to "spontaneously" recite the Lord's Prayer before Santa Fe High School's first football game of the season, Christian ministers predicted Tuesday.
No Pray, No Play, a group with headquarters in Temple, had urged people from throughout the state to come to Santa Fe to pray before the game.

Anti-Defamation League criticizes Santa Fe prayer
KEVIN MORAN - Houston Chronicle
SANTA FE --The Anti-Defamation League today labeled as insensitive plans by as many as 10,000 people to come to this small town's public stadium Friday to "spontaneously" recite the Lord's Prayer before Santa Fe High School's first football game of the season.
The ADL's Houston office issued a statement calling on school officials to ensure that the law be upheld and encouraging "all people to recognize the importance of protecting today's students from socially coercive situations."

4 Alaska farms may lose 'organic' label
S.J. KOMARNITSKY - Scripps-McClatchy Western Service
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Alaska organic farmers who just last year began officially certifying their produce as organic are now worried they may lose the label if standards that the federal government is considering pass.
Why? Because of a chemical called ethoxyquin, an antioxidant used as a preservative in pet food and in spices like paprika. It's also used in processing the fish meal and fish bone meal that many farmers, including organic ones, rely on to fertilize their fields. http://www.knoxnews.com/shns/story.cfm?pk=ORGANICLABEL-08-29-00&cat=AN

Millie's arrival gives UT spot in cloning history
 Jennifer Lawson and Nellann Young, News-Sentinel staff writers
Millie the cloned calf wore UT orange and was fed from a bottle as she was introduced to the world Monday.
The Jersey calf placed the University of Tennessee into the history books when she was born seven days ago, the product of one cow's DNA, another's egg, and a third's womb.
A father was not necessary.

8/28/00:  I've been such slug.  Between trying to play catch-up with my email and following 3 forums, "the grove" has been a bit neglected lately. Oh, well. It's not like I get paid for this or anything. Still, I hate letting things go, so I've added another essay to Oak Bark tonight where I wander down memory lane and talk about my first festival, MotherDrum '94. While not specifically billed as a Pagan festival, it did spark my interest in drumming, and I got to meet several Pagans there.
Speaking of festivals, anyone planning to attend "2000 Fall Gathering of the Tribes" (Virginia) should be advised that the location has been changed from New
Quarter Park to Isle of Wight, VA, about 30 minutes away. For more information about this and other festivals, workshops and gatherings, see the Festivals page.

Agent Green casts shades of Vietnam over Colombia
 IN PUERTO ASIS, in the remote, coca-rich hinterland of Colombia, Father Luis Alfonso Gomez is preparing for war. As President Bill Clinton arrives this week to promote efforts to fight the drug trade and end the 30-year civil war on which it has
thrived, the priest fears his country may drag the superpower into a new Vietnam.
The parallels are all too apparent: not only is the local terrain as forbidding as the forests of southeast Asia, but America is even developing a toxic herbicide known by its Colombian opponents as Agent Green - a thinly veiled allusion to Agent Orange, the
toxin that killed and maimed Vietcong and American soldiers during the Vietnam war.

8/26/00:  Pell City: A Blessing in Disguise?
The recent events involving the Christian backlash against a Pagan church in Pell City, Alabama (links below) may have been a blessing in disguise for the Pagan community. Not only did The Covenant of the Sacred Circle find a more private place to hold their worship services, many Pagans worldwide found each other when they voiced their comments on a message board sponsored by a news site that carried the original story.
To drop in and see what's going on, visit the al.com Religion Forum at http://www.al.com/forums/religion/

Georgia Attorney General Urged to Find Teaching Students to have 'Respect for The Creator' is Unconstitutional (Press release Tuesday, August 22, 2000)
New Ga. 'Character Education' Law Violates First Amendment by Mandating the Teaching of Religious Belief
People For the American Way Foundation and the Atlanta law firm of Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore, LLP, today urged Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker to inform the state Department of Education that teaching students to have "respect for the creator" and displaying posters laden with religious messages as part of such instruction runs afoul of the First Amendment.

Genetically altered foods violate bounds of creation
Thursday, August 17, 2000
LAWRENCE TROSTER - Special to The Record
Genetically modified foods (GMFs) have become a major focus of concern for environmentalists and consumer activists. Though the food industry claims that these products can help alleviate world hunger by increasing productivity and improving vitamin content, critics warn of dangers in a number of areas.
In Europe and the United States, there has been such a negative reaction that major food companies such as Gerber and Frito-Lay have begun eliminating them from their products.
 In much of the discussion, however, the voices of religious communities have not been considered. Yet religious traditions offer three major areas of objections to GMFs: ritual, ethical, and theological.

8/21/00:  Beliefnet.com devoted to global religions
William A. Davis, The Boston Globe
NEW YORK, N.Y. — Seeking old-time religion (or New Age spirituality) online can be a hellish business of sifting through myriad sites. They are as diverse as the home page of a Minnesota-based sect that practices “spiritual dreaming” and the official Web site of the Holy See.
With Yahoo! listing almost 7,500 Christian sites alone, cyberspace promises as much daunting journey as heaven-sent opportunity for believers and searchers.
Into this online chaos comes Beliefnet.com, maybe the first Web site for all the world’s religions and belief systems, and created early this year by two journalists with strong roots in traditional print media launched.

Native American Catholics meld culture, faith bind and spirit
LINCOLN, Neb. As a girl growing up on the Winnebago Indian Reservation in northeast Nebraska, Sarah Berridge was warned by the nuns about the consequences of embracing the spiritual teachings of her native tribe.
 ``I was told I would go to hell,'' she said. ``I was always scared to be an Indian as far as the Catholic Church went. I was scared of my Native American beliefs.''
 The 44-year-old now is at the forefront of a burgeoning movement to encourage Native American Catholics to meld their native culture with their Catholicism. She recently served as chairwoman of a conference on the subject that brought together more than 1,000 Catholic Native Americans.

8/20/00:  Witches In Warrior
(Al Ratcliffe) Pell City witch coven moving to Warrior
Lease house and 75 acres for rituals
 After a Tuesday night full moon ritual was harrassed by protestors  the leader of the Pell City [group] announced the lease of a house and land in  North Jefferson County.

8/19/00: Group denies protesters' claims of devil worship
 David Atchison - The Daily Home Online
About 30 people gathered on 30th Street North in Pell City Tuesday to protest what they say is a group of people worshipping the devil.
One woman held a sign that read, "Get the devil worshippers out of the community." Another sign read, "We want Robert Hamilton, the devil worshipper and satanic fool, gone today."
Hamilton is on the board of directors and is the leader of The Covenant of the Sacred Circle, a non-profit corporation established last Friday to support, publicize, research and teach the religious traditions, practices, beliefs and values of Wicca, which incorporates the practices of witchcraft.

People For the American Way reacts to Chicago Public Schools "endorsement"
When a private group such as the Total Living Network distributes Ten Commandments book covers to Chicago public school students, that's protected free speech. But when the school expresses it's support, that becomes a problem.

8/17/00:  Pagans cross about discrimination
Symbol of Christianity and racial slurs found in yard of pagans
TIM UNRUH - The Salina Journal
MILTONVALE - Pagans are quiet, peaceful and non-threatening, said believer Sarah Leslie, and not deserving of intimidation.
She and her husband, William Leslie, found a cross Monday in the yard of a house they're preparing to move into, with a racial slur and a reference to witches.
A friend of the Leslies, Candy Ayres, also a pagan, said rumors have circulated through Miltonvale that those who practice paganism will have their houses burned and be run out of town.

Chicago supports biblical book covers
Martha Irvine - Associated Press
                   CHICAGO -- Chicago public school officials are giving their blessing to religious groups that are distributing Ten Commandment book covers to students -- as long as the groups stay off school property and give the material only to children who want it.

8/16/00:  Residents protest group that embraces elements of witchcraft
The Associated Press - 8/16/00
PELL CITY, Ala. (AP) -- Protesters demanded that a group that embraces witchcraft and magic leave town because they allegedly worship the devil, but the leader of the local Wiccans says his critics are uninformed.
One woman held a sign that read, "Get the devil worshippers out of the community," as about 30 residents protested Tuesday outside a residential home where members of The Covenant of the Sacred Circle met.
(Link may be down. See article posted 8/19, above.)

Digital Goddess Productions Releases "Riding the Broom"
This short film featuring several Witches discussing love spells can be viewed online through the link below, and VHS copies are available for purchase.  A feature-length version is also in production, scheduled for release in May, 2001.

Four national advocacy organizations, along with four concerned community residents, filed a federal lawsuit today against the City of St. Petersburg, Bayfront Medical Center and BayCare Health System over the operation of a public hospital under religious doctrines.
The suit charges that direct and indirect support of the hospital with taxpayer funds violates the separation of church and state because the medical facility operates under the religious tenets of the Roman Catholic Church, an unconstitutional religious entanglement for the city-owned hospital.

8/13/00: Whether the next vice president is a Jew is irrelevant
DAVID WATERS - Scripps Howard News Service, August 10, 2000
The next vice president of the United States might be an Orthodox Jew.
That's interesting. Historically, it's significant.
It's also irrelevant.

"Here We Go Again" Department
"witchcraft: the use of supernatural means for harmful or evil ends. In traditional and popular English usage it is practically synonymous with sorcery."
So begins the online version of ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA at http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/1/0,5716,115001+1+108515,00.html
Here's where to send your comments:

Legal religious study outlined at Louisiana Family Forum workshop
KRISTEN KING - Advocate staff writer
Just because school-sponsored prayer is off-limits doesn't mean public schools must be devoid of religion, speakers at a Louisiana Family Forum workshop said Saturday at Central High School.
Students can start religious clubs, schools can offer classes on the Bible and teachers can design bulletin boards with historical references to God, said the speakers, who included state Rep. Tony Perkins, R-Baker, and state District Judge Bob Downing.

8/12/00:  Question: What Happens when a Jackass Bites The Onion?
Answer: You get a frantic chain-letter filled with all kinds of terrible reasons why Harry Potter books should be banned.
Quoting a tongue-in-cheek article on The Onion, a well-known satire site, this letter is now making its way through the e-mail, apparently having been taken seriously by some of the same people who believe that the ball pit at McDonalds is filled with venomous snakes and that Bill Gates is really going to pay people $10,000 for forwarding spam.

Alabama Law Saves Unwanted Babies
(From The Gadsden Times Online Editon, July 31, 2000)
Law goes into effect Tuesday to allow babies to be taken to hospitals
By Lisa Rogers - Times Staff Writer
If a law which goes into effect Tuesday saves one baby's life, it's worthwhile, legislators said.
A law that allows newborn babies to be left at a hospital without the mother or father being charged with abandonment was passed in the House of Representatives with overwhelming support, said Rep. Jack Page, D-Gadsden.
The bill was passed after instances of babies being abandoned all over the state, Page said. Some of the abandoned babies survived. Others did not.
The concept of the law has already shown it can drastically lower the death rate of newborns, said Rep. Blaine Galliher, D-Gadsden, who, with Page, voted for the legislation. Several infant deaths have been related to abandonment, he said.
"If a baby is abandoned at a hospital, it has a chance to survive,"

8/10/00: FL County Refuses to Protect Gay Couples from Domestic Violence; ACLU Vows to Fight 'Unconstitutional, Unconscionable' Practice
     Monday, August 7, 2000
BRADENTON, FL -- It was both "unconstitutional and unconscionable" for a Florida judge to refuse to issue a restraining order to protect a gay man from domestic violence, the American Civil Liberties Union said today. The ACLU said it was investigating reports that lesbians and gay men are now considered ineligible for protection from domestic violence in parts of Florida.
     A Bradenton county judge denied a gay man a restraining order earlier this year that would keep his allegedly abusive partner away from him, saying the state law mandating such injunctions applies to couples who have resided together or "are presently residing together as a family."
In the months since the judge ruled that gay and lesbian couples are not legally recognized as families, county clerks have not issued applications for domestic violence injunctions to lesbians and gay men.

8/9/00: Okay, now that I've got a little time on my hands I can explain why this site's been so neglected the past few weeks...

While the kids were gone for the Summer visiting with their biomom, we completely remodeled their bedroom: Tore down and replaced the drop ceiling with bleached burlap and false beams, sanded and refinished the hardwood floor found when we tore the carpet out this Spring, painted the walls and trim, hung closet doors where none were before, replaced the entry door due to a combination of old crayon scrawls, thumbtack holes and cat scratch damage, hauled every stick of furniture out and painted it except for their old desk, a plywood and 2x4 monstrosity so warped it wouldn't sit level if you stood it in a sandbox; That was replaced by a new desk and swivel chair. Completed the project with new bamboo window shade and valance, and new pillows and bedsheets with matching comforters... *Phew!*

Didn't breath a word of what was going on to them. When they walked in you should have seen them. Their eyes got the size of dinner plates and their jaws hit the floor;
They LOVED it!

Anyway, now that the dust has settled and tools are put away for a little while before we start tackling the kitchen, we shouldn't be the strangers we have been recently. (At least no stranger than usual *g*)

Meanwhile, here's what's been going on lately outside the grove:

Wednesday August 09
      Harry Potter Meets Gloucester Cathedral
      The owl delivery just arrived and we have the latest news on the movie
      version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
      The much-anticipated big-screen adaptation of J.K. Rowling's best-selling
      phenomenon is taking shape, with producers settling on a real-life castle to
      double as Harry's home away from home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft
      and Wizardry.

Aug. 9, 2000
Self-described witch accused of sex crimes involving girls
Christina Leonard - The Arizona Republic
 Police say a self-described witch lured young girls into his home to practice witchcraft but ended up playing inappropriate games of "Truth or Dare" with them.
 Jamie Vernon Benton now sits behind bars, accused of 17 felony sex-related offenses.

Pro-evolution candidate wins education board primary
KATE BEEM - The Kansas City Star
A year after the Kansas Board of Education de-emphasized evolution in state science standards, voters on Tuesday rejected three conservative Republicans and restored control of the board to moderates.

Tuesday August 1
Press Release
SOURCE: eSpirituality.com
eSpirituality.com Introduces Free Dream Analysis; Web portal adds new feature to its interactive offerings for personal growth and enlightenment
NEW YORK, Aug. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- From frightening freefalls to cryptic visits by departed loved ones, the imagery and meaning behind dreams has been debated since the dawn of man.
To help those boggled by the symbolism of their slumber, www.eSpirituality.com has introduced free dream analysis by its resident Dr. Dream to help those boggled by the symbolism of their slumber.

JULY 27, 2000
Casting Spells:  Goddess worship, witchcraft and paganism in Colorado Springs
 Bob Campbell - csindy.com
On a deliciously mild, late-dusk Sunday evening, an immense yellow smear of full moon rose low and silent through lacey tangles of bare tree limbs -- the perfect backdrop for my journey.
Destination: the Westside Intergenerational Center in Old Colorado City, to witness a full moon observance of Ostara, the pagan commemoration of the spring equinox.

 JULY 27, 2000
Of auras and spirit guides
Bob Campbell - csindy.com
One of the keys to the pagan mindset is its polytheism (belief in multiple gods). Pagans believe that divinity ("truth," "reality," "the life force") is manifested in many ways and phases, male and female, and that all religions afford valid possibilities for growth -- much the way, say, that jogging, swimming laps or mountain-biking are equally-beneficial forms of exercise. Choose the mode you prefer, practice it diligently, and benefits will amass.

Wednesday July 26 9:59 AM ET
      Salem Witch Trial Document Auctioned on Internet
      BOSTON (Reuters) - A missing 1697 document signed by two judges who
      presided over the Salem witch trials may have been stolen and sold to the
      highest bidder on the Internet, the Boston Herald reported on Wednesday.

Thursday July 20 9:00 AM ET
      Murder Suspect Blames Black Magic
      PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - A 46-year-old murder suspect in the northern
      Cambodian tourist town of Siem Reap told police he committed the crime
      because his female victim had used black magic to kill his daughter, a local
      newspaper reported on Thursday.

7/19/00: Been busy with several projects and time's gotten away again, but here's all the stuff I meant to post before now:

7/18 -  Church Fire Set By Alleged Satan Worshipper
"Fire investigators have arrested a man for allegedly setting fire to a predominantly black church in Ontario Monday night. Authorities say that the man was carrying a satanic bible when he was taken into custody."

7/10 - Teen Wiccan charged in grave vandalism
"A 16-year-old Wiccan who says bodies should be left in the open to be eaten by animals is one of two people charged with vandalizing more than 340 graves."

7/6 - Success Stuns Harry Potter Author
Certainly, according to all the publishers that turned Harry Potter down, I was quite right in thinking that if ever it got published it was highly unlikely it would sell very many copies,'' said J.K. Rowling, creator of the boy wizard Harry Potter.

The Bogus Witch Project (Updated 7/1)
Trimark Pictures continues working on their upcoming spoof of "The Blair Witch Project," a compilation of shorts scheduled for release sometime this year.

6/21 - Prayer Ruling puzzles officials
"Three River Parishes public school superintendents are not happy about the U.S. Supreme Court decision halting student-led prayer delivered before stadium crowds at high school football games."

7/7/00:  July 7, 2000 - The Colorado State Board of Education voted 5-1 Thursday to encourage schools to display the national motto, "In God We Trust," angering groups who say the vote is yet another effort to bring religion into the classroom.
 The resolution, while nonbinding, immediately drew threats of lawsuits from at least one group that says it will sue if any schools actually post the motto.

Court Rules for Alabama, Coushatta Indian Nations
After 17 years of litigation, the U.S. Court of Claims has ruled that 2.8 million acres was stolen from the Alabama and Coushatta Indians.  The U.S. government was also cited for failing to protect the Indians' rights. Monetary settlement for lost timber, oil, natural gas and other resource rights may reach into the millions.

Editorial: Lack of Female energy disturbing - By Wendy Kale, Colorado Daily
"This week saw one of the most powerful full moons of the year, and one intense week of news that affected the spirit and the Earth. Everyone in Colorado became aware of Mother Nature as we saw wildfires devastate 21,000 acres in the state. And everyone in the nation had a reality-check when we saw the video tapes of the women attacked in New York’s Central Park."

God is Their Co-Pilot: Salon.com takes a look at the religious sides of the two front-runners in the Presidential race.

Finally, From Hinduism Today, February, 2000: "Our Druid Cousins - Meet the brahmins of ancient Europe, the high caste of Celtic society"
"The Druids of the ancient Celtic world have a startling kinship with the brahmins of the Hindu religion and were, indeed, a parallel development from their common Indo-European cultural root which began to branch out probably five thousand years ago."

7/5/00:  "2 women 'wed' as nation's first civil-union law goes into effect
BRATTLEBORO, Vt. -- Carolyn Conrad and Kathleen Peterson did something early Saturday that two women in America have never done -- they essentially got married."

"Resolution would end tribal sovereignty: If Indians don't like it, send in troops, GOP delegate says"
The Washington state Republican Party has passed a resolution calling for the abolition of tribal governments.
"We do not recognize them as sovereign nations, as governments," said John Fleming, the Skagit County delegate who was a main author of the resolution. It calls on the federal government to "immediately take whatever steps necessary to terminate all such non-republican forms of government on Indian reservations."

Love on the Brain
LONDON (Reuters) - For some people it's palpitations, a sense of euphoria and breathlessness. Others say sweaty palms, light-headedness and a gut feeling are sure signs of being truly, madly, deeply in love.
 But scientists at University College London now have more concrete proof of whether or not it's the real thing -- brain scans.
 They have shown that the first flushes of true love produce visible changes in the brains of people that can be seen with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

7/1/00: Giant Geode is a Crystal Cave
[Story released by BBC News on 6/12/00]
"A gigantic cave of crystals has been discovered in an old silver mine in Spain.
The geode, which is eight metres (26ft) long and crammed full of gypsum prisms, has been put under police guard to prevent souvenir hunters from raiding the extraordinary natural phenomenon."
"...up to 10 people could sit inside the geode - an object normally small enough to hold in your hands."

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