OakGrove Archives
Past News and Issues
4th Quarter 2000

12/31/00: HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Well, here we are at the end of an era, the 20th Century. A lot has happened during the past hundred years that no one would have believed at the end of the last century. While we didn't quite achieve flying cars or time travel, we did find ways to communicate instantly with each other all over the globe, transmitting voice and pictures by phone, television and finally the internet. This last method has proved invaluable in dispelling lies and misconceptions about Witchcraft and Paganism through making factual information available to the general public, and in enabling us to stand together and make our voices heard in individual cases of religious discrimination, no matter where they occur.
What changes are in store for "the grove" in the year 2001? Beats me. I've been thinking about the turns this site has taken since it's creation in October, 1998. Like far too many websites, this one started out with no direction or purpose, other than as a personal webspace mostly devoted to my long-defunct Dalnet chat channel, #OakGrove, and was mostly a collection of links to other Pagan sites I liked around the web. Additions such as the Parenting and Religious Rights sections were an improvement, but like too many other sites, I tossed banner links all over the place, and focused more on how many search engines I could get listed with than with content. Thankfully, about the time Amber and I were married I either outgrew or got bored with this approach, and began to use this as my personal place to vent. Somewhere along the way it occurred to me that there were many issues of importance to the Pagan community that needed to be aired, and this "What's New" section was born.
So, what's new for 2001? Only time will tell. Stick around; It's bound to be good, whatever it is!

And now the news:

Heather Miller to do time far away - Court doesn't want her jailed close to husband she attempted to poison.
HAL MARCOVITZ - The Morning Call
Kevin Miller asked the judge to send his wife to a prison close to home; instead, Heather Miller will likely be spending the next 4 to 10 years in a jail some 300 miles away.
The woman convicted of trying to kill her husband by poisoning his potatoes asked Bucks County Judge David W. Heckler Thursday to reconsider her sentence so that she could serve time in the Bucks County Prison, just 20 miles from her Richlandtown home.
Heather Miller was convicted last September in a bizarre plot to kill her husband that involved witchcraft and infidelity. Police alleged that she attempted to poison her husband's shepherd's pie with belladonna, an herb she believed to be lethal. Kevin Miller has always stuck by his wife, though, claiming that she perpetrated the plot because he had subjected her to mental abuse.

Pope to Receive Victims of Black Magic and Sects
Four Million Italian Families Affected
ROME, DEC. 22, 2000 (ZENIT.org).- Tomorrow morning, the Holy Father hold a special audience for the victims of black magic and sects. The "Anti-Witchcraft Telephone" group calculates that in Italy alone 4 million families suffer from the influence of "false saviors."
The average age of victims is 45, and 58% are women. Education statistics show 46% with elementary school education, 39% with high school diplomas and 15% with college degrees.
In response to these statistics, volunteers for the group are collecting signatures to reinstate a law making witchcraft a crime.
The previous law was repealed by the Constitutional Tribunal in 1981. Their efforts are often met by derision and attack, but they maintain that they are only trying to provide help and support for those who are suffering under such influences.
[Well, so much for the "Papal Apology." - Oak]

ACLU sues California school district for pulling gay books
LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- The American Civil Liberties Union said Friday that it is suing an Anaheim, California, school district for removing 10 biographies of prominent gays and lesbians from the shelves of a junior high school library.
The suit, filed Thursday in a U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California, is intended to protect children's First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution from "viewpoint-based censorship" imposed by adults who disagree with homosexuality, ACLU attorney Martha Matthews said.
According to the lawsuit, a school librarian at Orangeview Junior High School in Anaheim, California, was unpacking some 300 new books last September when she was told by a history teacher to remove a series of 10 volumes titled "Lives of Notable Gay Men and Lesbians," because he thought them inappropriate.

12/18/00:  Dress code fuels pentacle dispute
Scott Rochat - The Emporia Gazette
A 12-year-old Lowther North student claims the school violated her freedom of religion when it confiscated her pentacle necklace in November.
“I want to put the word out to my school it´s not Satanism, it´s not gang-related, it´s nothing evil or bad,” said Nicole Sumpter, a practitioner of Wicca. “Everyone has the freedom to choose their religion.”
Pat Smiley, principal of Lowther North Intermediate School, said she would not comment on a disciplinary action. She did say that the pentacle, a five-pointed star surrounded by a circle, violated the school´s dress code.
“I just followed the school rules, and that´s what I did,” said Smiley. “There´s a lot more to this story than a pentacle and I cannot comment on that.”
 The school´s dress code states when students dress in a manner “considered indecent or disruptive to school in the judgment of counselors, teachers or principals, the student may be required to change to appropriate clothing or alter the disruptive appearance.”

Want to help inform Principal Smiley about students' First Amendment rights, or help her define the meaning of "disruptive?"  Here's how:
216 W. Sixth Ave.
Emporia, KS 66801
Tel: (316) 341-2350
Fax: (316) 341-2331
or contact the school Superintendent: Dr. John Heim at jheim@usd253.org

[Much thanks to Wren Walker of The Witches' Voice
for passing along this story! - Oak]

Hong Kong woman in bid to mend ozone layer
A Hong Kong woman is in southern Chile trying to close the hole in the ozone layer by staring at the sun for 49 days.
Madam Yu Shuk Man, 58, is a self-styled miracle healer who gave up her business and her life savings to travel to Punta Arenas.
She began her mission on December 6 and, wearing an anti-sunburn robe that exposes only her eyes, she has set herself the task of staring at the sun continuously for seven hours a day.
Hong Kong newspapers have mocked her, comparing her to the mythological Chinese goddess, Nuwa, said to be the creator of mankind.

Judge dismisses state challenge of liquor ban on Yakama Nation
SEATTLE -- (AP) -- A federal judge on Friday dismissed the state's challenge of a reservation-wide liquor ban imposed by the Yakama Nation, saying it had filed its complaint prematurely.
The state filed suit shortly after the ban took effect on Sept. 16, seeking to prevent its enforcement against non-Indians. But enforcement was not to begin until Jan. 4.
The 1.2-million-acre reservation in south-central Washington is a patchwork of tribal and non-tribal land, with 20,000 non-tribal members living on the reservation along with 5,000 tribal members. The Yakama Tribal Council approved the ban last spring in a bid to fight alcoholism within the tribe.

12/14/00:  Man asks high court to hear Friendship Bell case
DON JACOBS - Scripps Howard News Service
Unsatisfied with rulings from two federal courts, an Oak Ridge, Tenn., man now wants the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his contention that Oak Ridge's International Friendship Bell is an unconstitutional religious symbol.
A federal judge in Knoxville and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati already have rejected Robert Brooks' argument that the bell is a Buddhist symbol and violates the First Amendment. And on Sept. 14 the appellate court refused to reconsider its July ruling.
Brooks has asked his attorney to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

12/11/00:  Keeping the Faith(s)
Anneli Rufus - myprimetime.com
Remember all those old jokes in which a priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk are waiting side by side for a bus, sharing a lifeboat, or jumping off a cliff? Well, they aren't funny anymore.
At least not so funny.
Tradition has it that leaders of different religions keep to themselves and their flocks follow suit. Yet, and not a minute too soon, a worldwide movement is afoot to get them together and keep them together — at least long enough to talk.

12/10/00:  A world of faith online
Web connects cultures and creeds and is slowly changing face of religion
MARY LOUISE SCHUMACHER and TOM HEINEN - Journal Sentinel staff
The phone rang. It was crushing news. Her 10-year-old nephew had run into the road and been smacked by an oncoming car.
Ruthi Norman was in Ohio. Her nephew Nathan was comatose miles - states - away. Her body shook. She sat stunned. She paced. She felt helpless, wishing she could do something.
Then, she prayed.
Then she asked the world to pray.
With moist palms, her fingers slipped over the keyboard at her computer in the kitchen, key by key, typing: "Please pray . . . Nathan was hit by a car . . . several attempts to arouse him have been unsuccessful."
In moments, dozens of people from around the world responded to the plea posted at the Beliefnet.com Web site.
"My heart aches for you," said one person with the screen name "goldie."
"God, lift Nathan and his family up with your loving hands . . ." messaged "frances."
"I am a mother . . . I believe the souls of mothers and children are eternallyconnected . . . I pour my heart into my prayers for your little one," wrote "Bethany."
And then one day, there, in the stream of comforting postings came yet another shock: the prayers of a woman identifying herself as a pagan and a druid.
"She said she believed in witchcraft," said Norman, 46, a Christian. "I thought, 'Oh, my God, I don't understand this. How do I deal with this?' "
In the weeks that followed, young Nathan recovered, beating the odds. And Norman shed her fears about the pagan woman. She treasured everyone who "screamed to God for help" with her, regardless of their creeds.
"It has caused me to be a lot more open," she said. "These were all beautiful thoughts. Now I can see that."

Catholics cry foul over DIA intercom rule
Tillie Fong - Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer
A Catholic civil rights organization blasted Denver International Airport officials Friday as "cowardly and offensive" for halting announcements of times for Mass over the public address system.
"DIA officials have delivered a 'compromise' which compromises no one's rights, save Catholics," said William Donohue, president of the Catholic League.
"Since it was only Catholic services that were being announced, the decision to neuter this information by going with a generic substitute is both cowardly and offensive."

Musician drums up support for music therapy
NEW YORK (CNN) -- For a year, Mickey Hart's grandmother didn't speak his name. She was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease, an affliction that kills brain
                  cells causing dementia, memory loss and other neurological problems.
But one day the former drummer for the Grateful Dead played for his grandmother. Her fog lifted briefly, and he became convinced of the healing power of music.

12/8/00:  Christian group plans mailing
'Jesus' film will be sent to thousands in Shawnee County
The Associated Press
 Topeka — Residents of Shawnee County can expect to receive a free video about Jesus Christ in the mail, just in time for Christmas 2001. A few months later, they'll be asked by telephone if they have seen the video and if they wish to become Christians.
  However, some religious leaders in Topeka expressed concern about mailing the video to all households, saying doing so doesn't take into consideration the religious preferences of others.

Bah Humbug
Lawyer Wants to Bar Christmas as Federal Holiday
John Nolan - The Associated Press
A federal appeals court is considering arguments that Christmas should no longer be observed as a national legal holiday.
During today’s hearing, a federal appeals judge asked Christmas opponent Richard Ganulin show how nonbelievers are harmed by the holiday. Philosophical or religious objections aren’t enough to support a lawsuit to scrap the holiday observance, Judge Boyce Martin Jr. said.
“You don’t have to celebrate Christmas. You can ignore it,” Martin told Ganulin during a hearing in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  “Sometimes, we must accept those tenets of others that we don’t necessarily agree with, in order to live in peace,” he said.

Same-sex unions on Presbyterian’s agenda
Allison Williams - Ashville Citizen-Times
Presbyterians from southeastern North Carolina will gather in Fayetteville today to discuss whether their ministers should be allowed to bless the commitments of same-sex couples.
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted this summer to prohibit such ceremonies. Now, the denomination’s 173 presbyteries must decide. If a majority agrees with the General Assembly, the prohibition becomes part of the Book of Order, the constitution for the Presbyterian church.

12/7/00:  City Christmas tree ban smolders
SCOTT MABEN - The Register-Guard
Eugene's Christmas tree hullabaloo is showing no signs of waning, much to the chagrin of city officials.
City firefighters vowed Tuesday to wage a long legal battle if necessary to overturn the ban on religious holiday decorations. Christmas trees are a tradition in fire stations, and their absence will be a disappointment for employees, they said.
At the same time, officials are trying to clear up confusion about the policy and quell a rumor that they may cancel employees' Christmas  holiday altogether. The city also has had more than 300 phone calls, e-mail messages and letters from people upset about the ban.

Trial to test Utah's 104-year-old ban on polygamy
High-profile case part of a statewide crackdown on practice
Associated Press
NEPHI, Utah – They live in a remote desert outpost near the Nevada border, in a collection of 30 mobile homes christened "The Farm." And every night before bed, Tom Green picks up a Harry Potter book and reads to the youngest of his 28 children while his five wives tend to other household tasks.
"We're a family like any other," the 52-year-old Mr. Green insists, "only a little larger."
He is the modern-day poster child for polygamy, an outspoken advocate  who's taken his zeal for multiple marriage on national television shows ranging from Jerry Springer and Judge Judy to Dateline NBC.
In January, he goes on trial for bigamy in a rare test of Utah's 104-year-old ban on plural marriage.

11/30/00:  Herbal products recalled because of kidney damage risk
WASHINGTON (AP) -- An Oregon company is recalling two brands of Chinese herbs because they may pose a serious health hazard: They were contaminated with a chemical that can destroy the kidneys.
East Earth Herb Inc. of Eugene, Oregon, said it has detected the chemical, called aristolochic acid, in certain batches of the following products: Jade Pharmacy brand Meridian Circulation tablets and liquid extract, and Jade Pharmacy brand Quell Fire tablets.
Do not consume the recalled products, which may be returned to the place of purchase for a refund, East Earth said. Consumers with questions may call the company at 1-800-827-4372.

Woman charged with child's stabbing
Sharon E. Crawford - The Macon Telegraph
CRISP COUNTY - A Cordele woman told her neighbors that God told her to stab her 2-year-old daughter Monday night on the front steps of her church, the neighbors said.
It was the second time in less than three years a member of Sharon Cross Gray's family has been charged with attacking her own child.

Tree that was protester's home for two years cut by chainsaw
STAFFORD, California (AP) -- A thousand-year-old redwood tree which served as a pulpit for environmentalist activist Julia "Butterfly" Hill has been cut by a chainsaw, authorities said.
Hill drew worldwide attention for two years as she perched on top of the tree she called Luna -- 18 stories high -- to protest timber logging. She descended last December after its owners, Pacific Lumber, agreed to spare the tree and a surrounding buffer zone.
One of Hill's supporters discovered the damage over the Thanksgiving weekend. Humboldt County sheriff's deputies said the chainsaw had cut a quarter of the way through the trunk.
The tree is still standing, but Hill's  organization, Circle of Life Foundation, said the cut had left Luna vulnerable to windstorms.

11/25/00:  Spiritual at heart: Outside organized religion, parents develop ways to teach
values to their kids
Susan Hogan/Albach / The Dallas Morning News
Michael Ball was 5 years old when images of the Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City flashed across a television screen. He absorbed everything – the rubble, the carnage, the tear-streaked faces of grief.
When a tornado rumbled near his Texas home that night, Michael asked his mom, "Is it a bomb?" He became terrified of death, to the point of crying when flowers wilted. He wanted to know, "What happens when we die?"
Linda Ball of Garland didn't rely on the answers given by the world's religions to help her son. She's part of a burgeoning segment of the U.S. population that defines itself as "spiritual but not religious."

Indianapolis Baptist Temple protest still calm
Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS -- The scene at the Indianapolis Baptist Temple remained peaceful Thursday and supporters remained steadfast as they celebrated Thanksgiving with a meal and a service.
"I'm thankful for all these individuals who are here today to eat Thanksgiving dinner with us," the Rev. Greg A. Dixon told Indianapolis television station WTHR. "And I am glad that we could be a blessing to them because they have been a blessing to us."
The church -- which owes $6 million in taxes -- was supposed to be seized by federal marshals on Nov. 14. That didn't happen, and church members and their supporters have staged a round-the-clock vigil at the temple since then.

11/19/00:  ACLU plans prayer lawsuit
Houston Chronicle News Services
The Louisiana affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union plans a federal lawsuit against the Beauregard Parish school board for allowing certain student-led prayers.
The district sent letters to parents asking permission for children to participate in the "Partners in Prayer for Schools" program, in which churches adopt classrooms and pray for their students. The ACLU responded when a parent objected.
The school board has also voted unanimously to allow "nonsectarian, no-proselytizing, student-initiated voluntary prayer" at school-related events. Many residents support public school prayer and have opposed previous ACLU efforts.

Christian Coalition: Group admits guide mistake
 CHUCK ERVIN World Capitol Bureau
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma Christian Coalition admitted Friday that it was mistaken when it accused Sen. Lewis Long, D-Glenpool, in its Voter Guide of voting to repeal laws against sodomy and bestiality.
Long narrowly lost his bid for re- election to Republican Nancy Riley of Tulsa in last week's general election.
The veteran senator believes the erroneous Voter Guide prepared by the Christian Coalition and distributed by local churches may have cost him the election.
"I only lost by about 270 votes, so I would only have had to turn less than 150 around to win," he said.
He also said he has no intention of dropping a libel suit he has filed against the Oklahoma Christian Coalition.

Sacred calling
Former tribal chief gives tourists a sense of Indian spirit and culture
Colleen O'Connor / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
SEDONA, Ariz. – Early one autumn morning, a small group follows in the footsteps of Uqualla, a full-blooded Havasupai Indian, as his moccasins whisper down paths in the crimson bluffs of Boynton Canyon.
"This is the most powerful healing canyon with native peoples," he explains, gesturing toward a wilderness of red-rock canyons nearly 65 million years old, dotted with ancient ruins of Native American cliff dwellings. Revered by the Apache as the birthplace of their tribe, the panoramic Boynton Canyon is the site of sacred rituals held by the tribes for centuries – secret ceremonies that Uqualla, grandson of a Havasupai medicine man, attended each year as a boy.
"All the four-legged people found sanctuary here," he instructs, pointing to a roving band of javelinas. "And all the two-legged people were given great blessing to be part of that. In this great harmony, all is one. This is the Indian garden of Eden."

11/18/00:  Temple occupiers come and go as sides seek way out
Terry Horne - Indianapolis Star
As the waiting game stretched into a fourth day, a few more supporters trickled Friday into the Indianapolis Baptist Temple.
And some who had left, like Ed Gish, a 52-year-old horse rancher from Missouri, returned.
    A group ranging at times from 60 to 120 people kept vigil Friday evening at the fundamentalist church in defiance of a federal judge's orders to vacate.
U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker has ordered the U.S. Marshals Service to take possession of the buildings so they can be sold to satisfy a $6 million tax judgment.
Some expected the quick arrival of federal agents after church representatives said they had reached an understanding Thursday with U.S. Marshal Frank Anderson for a peaceful end to the situation.

Judge promises prompt 'blessed day' ruling
 Gregory Weaver - Indianapolis Star
A federal judge conducted a six-hour hearing Thursday to determine whether an Indianapolis employer can prohibit a worker from wishing people a "blessed day" while on the job.
 U.S. District Court Judge John Tinder said he will decide with "deliberate speed" whether to issue a preliminary injunction against USF Logistics, a shipping and warehousing firm based in Illinois.
But he noted that such injunctions are rare in employment law cases.

Native effort underway in Mounds
 Nora K. Froeschle World Staff Writer
Nigiel Bigpond co-founded Two Rivers Native American Training Center and is pastor of Morning Star Evangelistic Center.
MOUNDS -- Historically, Christian missionaries do not have a great reputation with American Indians.
"Their mission was to train people in moral standards and give them an education. Unfortunately, they attacked their culture and language," said Nigiel Bigpond, co-founder of Two Rivers Native American Training Center and pastor of Morning Star Evangelistic Center.
"We call our church the church of all nations. This is not a Native American church per se - all are welcome," he said.

11/16/00:  Worker asks judge's approval for 'blessed day' greeting
Greg Weaver - The Indianapolis Star
Liz Anderson testified for three hours this morning as she attempted to persuade a federal judge that she should be allowed to wish people a "blessed day" while at work. She is seeking a preliminary injunction against her Indianapolis employer, USF Logistics, which has prohibited her from using the phrase and threatened her with termination if she persists.
 Anderson told U.S. District Court Judge John Tinder that using the phrase is a religious practice and "part of her relationship with Jesus."
"It just means I am trying to live a Christian life in my walking and in my talking," [said] Anderson.
 USF attorney Nina Stillman questioned, however, whether it is a true religious practice or merely a personal expression. She noted in her questioning that Anderson had previously told reporters that the practice was "not that religious" and was the equivalent of wishing folks a "happy day."

Satanist's companion sentenced to 16 years for church arsons
INDIANAPOLIS (CNN) -- The female traveling companion of a serial church arsonist was sentenced to 16 years in prison Wednesday for her role in a string of church fires in several states.
Angela Wood, 25, of Athens, Georgia, was sentenced in Indianapolis by the same federal judge who Tuesday sentenced avowed devil worshipper Jay Scott Ballinger to 42 years in prison for setting 26 church fires in eight states.

 Temple backers call in support from the right flank
Terry Horne - Indianapolis Star
 Forty-eight hours after their eviction deadline, the members of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple still had their church. There was no sign at noon today of federal marshals coming to remove them for failing to pay taxes.
The occupiers of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple settled in, hoping for a prolonged standoff. The fundamentalist church's refusal to obey a federal judge's eviction order has brought together radical right-wing activists from Patriot Movement leaders such as James "Bo" Gritz to anti-abortionist Bruce Murch.
Both sent out calls Wednesday for their followers to descend on Indianapolis.

Second Mexican 'faith healer' arrested
KERRI GINIS - Scripps-McClatchy Western Service
FRESNO, Calif. - Kings County sheriff's deputies arrested another self-proclaimed Mexican faith healer late Tuesday night on suspicion of having sex with a 17-year-old girl so he could remove evil spirits from her body.
Jose Angel Carranza Ojeda, 46, of Coalinga is being held in the Kings County Jail on two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse through fear and fraudulent means and one count of conspiracy. His bail is set at $40,000.

Flame-broiled indeed: Priest 'excommunicates' hamburgers
Peggy Polk - Religion News Service
ROME -- A Roman Catholic priest from Tuscany has added fuel to the fires of Italy's debate over fast food by condemning the hamburger, french fries and Coke as "the fruit of a Protestant culture."
"Fast food reflects the individualistic relation between man and God introduced by Luther," the Rev. Massimo Salani said in a full-page interview published Wednesday in the Catholic daily newspaper Avvenire.
With Italians deeply divided over the arrival of McDonald's and other fast food chains in a country that takes its three-hour lunches more seriously than it does politics and religion and almost as seriously as soccer, other newspapers leapt on the story with obvious glee.
"Theologian Excommunicates the Hamburger," said a headline in the Rome daily Il Messaggero Thursday. "The Hamburger Is Not for Catholics," the Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera declared.
[But, what about "Fillet o'Fish" on Fridays? - Oak]

11/14/00:   Church signs on school grounds sparks separation debate
Janet Jones - OnlineAthens Staff Writer
Ronny Barnes never thought he would spark a debate over the separation of church and state.  But when the Baptist minister and his church members hammered a 3-by-5 foot banner into the ground on the campus of a Clarke County school last month, they sparked questions among Clarke County Board of Education members and the community regarding the issue.
Barnes and members of his Second Baptist Church congregation have been using Whit Davis Elementary School as a place of worship every Sunday for two months -- the church is fairly new and has no building of its own. To make community members aware of their presence, the church had a professional printer make five 10-inch by 12-inch-signs reading, ''Second Baptist Church meets here.''
Members initially put the signs on the right-of-way in front of the school. However, after being warned by a community member that placing signs in the right-of-way violated a county ordinance, the church began placing the signs on school property.

Scientists experiment with ancient Egyptian art of mummification
Ben Nuckols, Associated Press
BALTIMORE -- A glass-top coffin allowed a filtered view of the plain white linen keeping the mummy preserved.
A small crowd was assembled around the coffin and curious to learn about the creation of this modern-day King Tut, a corpse named Mumab that was treated with preservation techniques reserved for pharoahs and their families.
The mummy was embalmed in 1994 by Ronald S. Wade of the University of Maryland Medical Center and Bob Brier of Long Island University. It was the first mummy in at least 2,800 years to be made using the tools and techniques of ancient Egypt. It was on display recently while Wade conducted a seminar at the annual convention of the National Funeral Directors Association.
[Note to the squeamish: This one gets a bit graphic. - Oak]

Photographer now world's ambassador to sacred sites
Martin Gray travels globe, taking images of holy places
FORT WORTH, Texas Martin Gray speaks to the Earth through his camera lens, and the Earth speaks back in kind. The conversations are thunderous and dramatic sometimes, subtle and delicate at others. On occasion, they can be frightening.
But they are nearly always awe-inspiring.
For 17 years, Gray has journeyed to the most remote as well as the most visited sacred sites on the globe more than 1,000 in some 70 countries. He travels to these spots as a spiritual pilgrim, a student of religion, a devotee of archaeology and, lucky for us, a photographer of the most incredible endeavors known to humankind.
[Martin Gray's images can be found at his website, http://www.sacredsites.com]

11/11/00:  School Board challenges ACLU with decision on school prayer
The Associated Press
DeRIDDER -- The Beauregard Parish School Board voted to allow certain types of student-led prayers in its schools, an action that the American Civil Liberties Union said will be challenged in federal court.
School officials said they were on solid legal ground in making their decision.
But a lawsuit was being prepared Friday and will be mailed to the federal District Court in Lake Charles, said Joe Cook, executive director of the Louisiana ACLU.

Group seeking unity among diverse religions finds words often divide
PATRICIA C. STUMB - Times Staff Writer
We're all God's children: That's a nice, inclusive statement - unless it's said at a dinner table with a Buddhist and a couple of Muslims.
When John Haley said that to his dinner companions at Thursday's reorganization of One Huntsville, he did it to let them know he considered them his brethren. Then, Sharelle Haqq, a Muslim, told him believing that God begot children is blasphemous.
And Steve Jaekle, a former Episcopalian who has been a Buddhist for 27 years, said "God" isn't what he puts his faith in. Instead, it is "the universal law."
How much hope can there be for religious understanding when people who have made a public stand to embrace diversity can't even agree on creation?

11/9/00:  Filtering programs block candidate sites
A conservative Republican changes his stand on software filters after his political site is blocked.
Lisa M. Bowman, ZDNet News
Congressional candidate Jeffery Pollock used to advocate Internet filters.
Then he learned that popular blocking software Cyber Patrol has been banning some people from visiting his campaign site.
It turns out that folks who enabled Cyber Patrol's blocking of "Full Nudity," "Partial Nudity," and "Sexual Acts/Texts" may not have been able to get to the site -- a revelation that floored the conservative Christian candidate.
"I was quite baffled," said Pollock, a Republican who waged an unsuccessful campaign for the 3rd Congressional District seat in Oregon. "Now to find out that a lot of schools may have filtered out my Web site is very disturbing to me."
[Well, well, well... So, Jeffery, filtering software is only a good thing when it blocks somebody else's website, huh? - Oak]

11/8/00:  Another ring on the tree
Guess what? Today's my birthday! Ol' Oak turned 44 today, amid all the confusion and frustration of the still-undecided 2000 Presidential election. Someone asked me if I planned to stop counting birthdays now. Naw... I've gotten this far, I might as well see how many I can rack up! The kids presented me with some wonderful cards they cranked out using a publishing program we have, and Amberflame gave me my present last week, a new camcorder so I could tape the kids' performances in Sleeping Beauty. She said she has another surprise for me but I have to wait until the kids are in bed before she can give it to me. (Hmm... I'm guessing, perhaps, powertools?)

And now the news:

Judge's order abruptly alters Missouri River operations
BISMARCK, North Dakota (AP) -- A federal judge has ordered that water levels at a key reservoir be maintained because of a tribal lawsuit over eroding gravesites, a decision that experts say threatens Missouri River dam and reservoir operations.
The temporary restraining order was issued in response to a lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which contends erosion from water releases on the river has exposed as many as 100 American Indian graves.

Court watchers consider future of U.S. Supreme Court
(CNN) -- The makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court has become an issue in this year's presidential campaign, with Vice President Al Gore telling voters that the next president could appoint as many as four new members to the court.
Both Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush have said that they will not use any litmus tests to select nominees.
In the first presidential debate, Bush said he would appoint "people who will strictly interpret the Constitution and will not use the bench to write social policy." He said his nominees would be similar to Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
Gore said that was "code" for saying Bush would appoint people who would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Gore said his appointees would "very likely" uphold it.

CBS shoves Dr. Laura into late night slots, or dumps her
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Citing low ratings, CBS told its stations Tuesday to move the syndicated television series "Dr. Laura" to a less desirable time slot or replace it altogether.
"The program got off to a slow start when it premiered nine weeks ago, and has since seen further ratings erosion," a CBS statement said, adding that it wants its stations to make the change by Monday.
Gay-rights groups had pushed for the show's cancellation because host has called gays and lesbians "deviants" and "biological errors" on her radio show.

Clinton orders better cooperation between agencies, tribes
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Clinton ordered federal agencies Monday to work more closely with American Indian tribal governments and give tribes "the maximum administrative discretion possible" in enforcing federal law and regulations.
The order also prohibits federal agencies from proposing legislation that would hurt tribal governments, and requires agencies to designate an official to handle relations with tribes. Agencies would have to consult with tribes early in the rule-making process and detail the financial effect of agency decisions on tribal governments.
"We must continue to engage in partnership, so that the first Americans can reach their full potential," Clinton said in a statement. "We must respect Native Americans' rights to choose for themselves their own way of life on their own lands according to their honored cultures and traditions."

Spiritual healing noted
Medical schools across the United States are recognizing the importance of spirituality in the healing process, according to Rabbi Samuel Karff, the main speaker at Temple Israel's Scholar's Weekend.
Five years ago, he said, three or four U.S. medical schools had programs dealing with spirituality -- Harvard University was the first -- and now there are 62 such programs.
Karff founded the human spirit initiative at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston a year and a half ago, and is an adjunct professor in the program.
"The purpose of the program," he said, "is to help future doctors, nurses, dentists and other health workers understand that the healing process involves more than just high-tech medicine."
"It requires connecting with the person -- entering their world of faith and belief; their yearnings, and fears and hopes."
"It's the spiritual dimension of healing."

New high school group focuses on reducing hate
Juanita Crawford Muiga - World Staff Writer
A new club at Sapulpa High School aims to build tolerance among people of diverse backgrounds and stop the hate.
Organized by two students who believe education is the key to eliminating hate in the world, a new group called Teaching Hate is Not Okay, addresses issues that people usually don't like to think about.
"We believe the more knowledge someone has, the less likely they are to discriminate against someone else," said Senior Anne Nelsen who established the club with Junior Mary Beth Allen.
An excerpt from the club's statement of objective reads: "We seek to break down the barriers of stereotypes formed from ignorance and make a difference in the world around us."

Desert quest, survival test
Woman goes it alone for 40 days
Jeannine F. Hunter, News-Sentinel staff writer
Six years ago Debi Holmes-Binney entered the Great Salt Lake Desert with rice, lentils and 64 gallons of water.
Then 31 years old and seeking refuge from what she described as a stifling marriage, she camped for 40 days and nights alone in the desert, emerging with an account that showcases the tenacity of the human spirit.
The free-lance writer departed with hundreds of journal pages filled with her engaging account. The result was her first book, "Desert Sojourn: A Woman's Forty Days and Nights Alone."

Faith healer arrested on sex charges
KERRI GINIS - Scripps-McClatchy Western Service
AVENAL, Calif. - An Avenal man who called himself a Mexican faith healer, or "curandero," was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of having sex with at least two juveniles, claiming he could remove evil spirits from their bodies.
Fernando Magdalano Flores, 54, is in jail on a $100,000 bail. He is charged with one count of unlawful sexual intercourse and five counts of unlawful sexual intercourse through fear and fraudulent means.

Quarter of world has religious freedom
Religion News Service
About 75 percent of the world's population is subjected to restrictions and violations of their religious freedom, according to a survey released last week by the Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom. Some 36 percent of people live in countries in which religious liberties are "fundamentally violated," while 39 percent practice their faith under constraints, declared the global survey. The report cited Burma, Turkmenistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, North Korea and Tibet as countries with the broadest and most systematic violations.

11/1/00: Ft. Hood Samhain Altar Desecrated
Ft. Hood Open Circle (TX) was the center of controversy last year after Wiccans on base attracted media attention by holding open worship services. This year, on the eve of Samhain, one of the most sacred Pagan holidays, the Ft. Hood group found their sacred space desecrated and their altar destroyed, according to the following letter dated October 28, 2000:
"I am writing this letter to ask for positive energy from the Pagan community. We here at the Ft Hood Open Circle have had a terrible thing happen to us. We have our circle at a camp ground on the Ft Hood military installation and this year for Samhain we decided to have a Haunted Forest.
     When we got to camp yesterday to get ready for it we found that someone had been in there and had messed with our props. We called the MPs and reported it and thought that was the end of it. Tonight when we went out, we found our altar smashed to pieces and our quarters gone and all of our props destroyed and thrown in the dumpster. Our altar was made out of a 4' by 4' foot, 1' foot thick solid piece of stone. It took a lot of hate to smash it.
     But I am happy to say that at this moment the circle has come together to do our Samhain ritual anyway. We set up a temporary circle. We will be stronger because of this. The pain will be with us binding us together, not tearing us apart. Please send us energy to make us stronger to bear this. And hopefully we can all be a little stronger because of this.
Blessed Be
 Carol Powers"

[Carol Powers may be contacted at angel@seacove.net]

10/31/00: Blessed Samhain, everyone!
Amberflame's setting out the Dumb Supper for departed friends and relatives, and the kids are in bed. Silverwing and Willow didn't get to go trick-or-treating this year because of rehearsal for their roles in the local Missoula Children's Theatre performance of "Sleeping Beauty."
That's okay, because in this house it's always been a tradition that on Halloween night the kids set their cauldrons by the hearth, where Witches (yeah, real ones!) fill 'em with candy while they sleep. (It's sort of like when Santa comes at Christmas..)
The kids are really excited this year because they both got good parts: Willow will be on-stage most of the play, and has some lines, while Silverwing earned a title role as the young "Sleeping Beauty" (before the enchantment.)
So with that from a "proud papa," on with the news for October 31:

Update on Brandi Blackbear: School Board to Fight Lawsuit
 The Tulsa Union School Board issued their response Tuesday to the allegations saying that they did nothing wrong when they suspended Brandi Blackbear, 15.
The School Board members said that they do not suspend students for their religious beliefs and that they will fight the lawsuit.

New Witch Book Provides Perspective
MARK PRATT, Associated Press Writer
BOSTON (AP) - The voices behind the Salem witch trials have come alive,  but they aren't meant to conjure up a Halloween haunting.
British author Frances Hill has written a book that provides a genuine historical perspective on the witch hunt by using first-person accounts from the infamous 17th century trials that led to 20 people being executed and hundreds of others sent to prison.
Hill also discusses the fears of white settlers in the Massachusetts Bay colony that led to the trials, and she examines their impact on pop culture.
``The point of this book is that people can read all the texts for themselves and decide for themselves what the truth is,'' Hill said.

Herbs for prostate cancer?
 PC-SPES shows promise in advanced cases
An estimated 10,000 men take PC-SPES, a mixture of Chinese herbs thought to battle prostate cancer.
An herbal remedy for prostate cancer called PC-SPES appears to help patients with advanced cases of the disease. But some researchers are raising questions about the safety of the popular supplement.
[Advanced cases? You mean the ones that are considered terminal?? Yeah, we sure don't want anyone trying something "unsafe" at that point, do we? - Oak]

Potter Halloween mania draws warnings of Satanism
Rebecca Harrison
LONDON (Reuters) - Harry Potter mania has prompted children across the world to swap their devil's horns for a pair of broken spectacles this Halloween, but for some the craze for the fictional boy wizard proves that Satan is in our midst.
Campaigns against the smash-hit tales of fantastical adventures are gaining momentum as Potter fans prepare to wield their magic wands to mark Tuesday's pagan festival.
"The Harry Potter Books are...recruiting tools for witchcraft and the occult," American Christian group Freedom Village USA said on their Web site.
[Yeah, I had one too, but the wheels fell off... - Oak]

Godsmack's 'Awake' Arrives In Time For Halloween
The new album by Godsmack, Awake, is appropriately released today (Halloween, October 31), given that the founder and leader of the band, Sully Erna, is a Wiccan. Those who believe in the pagan religion celebrate Halloween as a symbolic nod to the end of life and rebirth and the end of summer. With tunes like "Black Magic" and "Vampires," the album is certainly a worthy Halloween treat.

10/29/00:  Happy Halloween!
Yeah, it's still a couple few days away, but we recently held a Halloween party for a dozen or so of Silverwing and Willow's friends and classmates. The house was decorated from the "graveyard" next to the front walk all the way down to the "haunted basement," and the kids had a great time!
The best part of the party was the food, however (IMHO!): Baked babboon brain cookies, wizard punch (with severed hands and vampire eyeballs,) "meathead" and monster pizzas were all big hits with the kids.
We've gotten lots of requests for the recipes that went into the party menu, so it's now posted along with several other recipes in the latest update to the Pagan Parenting page.
We hope you'll enjoy it, too!

And now the news:
Are Christian scaremongers making it 'Helloween'?
DAVID WATERS - Scripps Howard News Service
- BOO!
Did that scare you? Didn't think so.
Maybe this will.
"Purchase a meat product that closely resembles pieces of a baby."
That's an instruction for setting up an exhibit depicting an aborted fetus. It's from a Hell House Outreach Manual, published by a church in Colorado.
[Does this mean that one can assume that they all pretty much know what "pieces of a baby" look like? This is just plain sick! - Oak]

A World of Fright A World of Fright
Eduardo Verdugo - The Associated Press
A street vendor sells Halloween masks and skeletons Wednesday in Mexico City. Halloween has been catching on in Mexico for at least a decade, but it has yet to supplant and never will, many Mexicans vow, the centuries-old All Souls' Day.
Ng Han Guan - The Associated Press
In Singapore, a store manager dresses up a mannequin at a costume rental store along Liang Seah Street. As an American export, Halloween is taking root around the world.
More from around the world...

Correction: The email address listed below for contacting Brandi Blackbear has been returning mail marked "recipient unknown." I've been in contact with a spokesperson for Brandi's attorney and should have a corrected address (or an explanation) by Monday evening.
Meanwhile, you can still leave messages for Brandi via snail-mail, phone or Fax:
Brandi Blackbear c/o
John M. Butler , OBA #1377
 Aundrea R. Smith , OBA #18470
 6846 South Canton, Suite 150
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74136
 Phone: (918) 494-9595
Fax: (918) 494-5046

10/27/00:  Parents sue Union over alleged `witch hunt' of daughter
 BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
 The ACLU says religion, speech rights were violated.
A 15-year-old girl who was suspended from Union Public Schools last year after she allegedly was accused of being a witch and putting a hex on a teacher filed a federal lawsuit against the district and several officials Thursday, claiming that they violated her civil rights.
Brandi Blackbear and her parents, Tim and Toni Blackbear, are being represented by an American Civil Liberties Union attorney in the lawsuit and have asked for a jury trial.
"It's hard for me to believe that in the year 2000 I am walking into court to defend my daughter against charges of witchcraft," Tim Blackbear said.

[A couple of notes: NBC's The Today Show is planning to do a live segment on this case on Monday morning, October 30. Check your local listings for broadcast times in your area.
Also, anyone wishing to email Brandi Blackbear may do so through her attorney, who will see that she receives a copy. To send words of encouragement to Brandi, email her care of johnbutlerlaw@aol.com. - Oak]

Many heads bowed on football nights
JASEN CORNS World Staff Writer
Field of Prayers
FORT GIBSON -- It's going to take more than the Supreme Court to separate God and high school football in Fort Gibson.
Under the Friday night lights in this small eastern Oklahoma town, more and more students are turning a weekly sports tradition into an evening of worship.
From a popular pregame prayer service to a halftime show of Christian music to a church-sponsored post- game party, Fort Gibson has joined the congregation of Southern schools that are cleverly circumventing the Supreme Court's recent ban on school-facilitated prayer at football games.
Fort Gibson takes to its home field Friday night against Okmulgee.
For years, Tiger home football games were preceded by a school-led prayer over the stadium's loudspeakers. But when the nation's highest court ruled in June that public schools cannot let students say prayers over public address systems at high school football games, Fort Gibson students weren't ready to obey.

Christians and Witches Face Off in Historic Salem
Halloween is a time of tension between Christian pastors and Wiccan pilgrims to witchy Salem.
SALEM, Mass., Oct. 25 (RNS)--On the surface, Halloween season in this city of witch fame appears to mean little more than a ghoulish good time for 500,000 tourists and $42 million worth of  serious fun for the retailers who sell to them.
But witch-emblazoned T-shirts and signs for "eerie events" mask the genuine October tension here between Wiccan pilgrims and Christian pastors who see them as ambassadors of something insidious, even evil.
A few thousand of those who flock to Salem every year at this time are self-proclaimed witches. Local witches, who count themselves at 2,000-plus in this city of 39,000, say their counterparts come from around the world to gather in circles, communicate with the dead, and pay homage to the 20 alleged witches who died nearby in the Witch Trials of 1692.
"It's safe for someone to be a witch in Salem," said witch and spiritual counselor Therese Pendragon. "That's why Salem is a witch mecca."
The Rev. Kenneth Steigler also knows Salem is a witch mecca. He came here in 1991 not only to pastor Wesley United Methodist Church but also to use his expertise in cults to expose what he sees as dangers of witchcraft.

10/26/00:   Student accuses school of rights violations
DANNY M. BOYD, Associated Press Writer
TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A 15-year-old high school student allegedly accused of being a witch and casting a spell on a teacher filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against public school officials who suspended her last year.
 Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma say school officials also violated Brandi Blackbear's rights over an earlier suspension in which a short story with a reference to an armed student was taken from her.
“This little girl has suffered tremendously emotionally,” attorney John Mack Butler said. “Her constitutional rights have been trampled on.”
Defendants include the Union Public Schools, which encompasses part of the city of Tulsa, and nine school board members, principals and counselors.
 The lawsuit claims violations of the first, fourth, fifth, ninth and 14 amendments to the U.S. Constitution and various breaches of the Civil Rights Act.
[Not to mention the school district's own policy manual, which specifically states that "Individuals shall not be required to disclose their personal religious preferences nor that of their family members," and that "The school may educate about religions, but may not promote or denigrate any one religion or religion in general." (Section 1850) - Oak]

Related story:

Civil rights lawsuit filed against Union Public Schools
 A 15-year-old girl filed a federal lawsuit against Union Public Schools and several officials Thursday, accusing them of violating her civil rights when they suspended her last year for allegedly casting a spell on a teacher and writing about a fictional story about a school bus shooting.
Brandi Blackbear, represented by American Civil Liberties Union attorneys, said she was treated as an outcast after Union Eighth Grade Center officials suspended her for 19 days in April, 1999, for writing a fictional short story about a shooting on a school bus.
Officials, acting on rumors, found the short story while searching Brandi's locker and backpack, which contained several pieces of creative writing, the lawsuit states. The suspension came on the heels of the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado.
In December 1999, at Union Intermediate High School, Brandi was suspended for 15 days after she was accused by officials of practicing the pagan religion Wicca and putting a hex on one of her teachers who had become ill, according to the lawsuit.

To express your opinion, contact:
Union Public Schools
5656 South 129th East Avenue
Tulsa, OK 74134
Phone: (918) 459-5432

  WB Brews Midseason 'Sabrina' Spinoff
Michael Schneider
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - The WB has conjured up a new pot of witch's brew: the network plans to introduce a potential ''Sabrina, the Teenage Witch'' spinoff later this season.
The ``Sabrina'' spinoff's conceit will be introduced in the 15th episode and will revolve around a bad witch who's sent off to a school for mischievous witches and warlocks.
In the episode, Sabrina's bad witch cousin is sent by the ''powers that be'' of another realm to stay with Sabrina's aunt. The aunt can't control the witch, who is sent off to the boarding school, which is led by two teachers -- one mortal, the other not.
[There's that word "warlock" again... Sheesh! Haven't they learned anything since the old Bewitched series? - Oak]

Halloween Treat!
Discovery.com's Halloween Central offers more holiday tips, tricks and treats than you can shake a broomstick at!
To discover for yourself, visit:

10/24/00:  Complaint lodged about prayers at football games
ALAN SAYRE - The Associated Press
  Student-led prayers at public school football games, a practice ruled unconstitutional nationwide this year by the U.S. Supreme Court, have led to a parent's complaint against Natchitoches Parish schools and a threat of a lawsuit.
The Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, in a letter dated Monday and faxed to the school system, asks that the school district stop the practice within 10 days, or a lawsuit will be filed.
Through a spokeswoman, Superintendent Elwanda Murphy said: "We will abide by the law."

Santa Fe ISD denies religious discrimination
School officials were unaware a Jewish student was the target of threats and jeers because of his religion, according to documents filed by lawyers for the Santa Fe Independent School District.
Eric and Donna Nevelow filed suit against the school district in August, claiming it did nothing to discourage their 14-year-old son, Phillip, from being harassed by fellow students.
The family is seeking $5 million in damages for the suffering Phillip allegedly endured for two years.
But school district officials have denied the family's claims, saying they couldn't respond because they didn't know anything was amiss.

Spirituality taking on new, more personal forms
Lexington Herald-Reader
I know a retired couple in Iowa on a little hobby farm living what some would say is a bizarre lifestyle. What most people do not realize about this  couple is that they are on the hunt for energy spiritual energy that will make them feel better and allow them greater productivity.
Several times a week, they walk to their labyrinth, a large circle with intricate paths in the woods on the edge of their property. Inside the glen of oaks and maples, they walk slowly for an hour or more. Occasionally, they will stop when they feel energy drain from their bodies or when they feel a surge of healing coming from the earth. Then they continue on the sacred paths again, meandering around the circle until they are filled with a life-giving force.

10/23/00:  Hate-crime foes aim to light fire
BRYON COPPENS - South Bend Tribune Staff Writer
SOUTH BEND -- Brandon Slabach couldn't help but think this was a fire waiting to happen.
He and about 50 other people in attendance Sunday evening at the Candlelight Vigil for Hate Crimes and Domestic Violence on the IUSB campus, stood with lighted candles in their hands amid a healthy scattering of dried maple leaves.
"I thought about how easy it would be to drop a candle and set all these leaves on fire," Slabach said. "And that's exactly what needs to happen."
Slabach and other speakers at the vigil, sponsored by OUT IUSB and the Office of Campus Diversity, encouraged others to be adamant and vocal opponents of hate crimes and domestic violence in their communities.
"So that wherever we are, other people will catch on to our flames," Slabach said.

Public prayer sends wrong message to those of other faiths
Ina Hughs - Knoxville News-Sentinel
Sometimes it helps to step back and look at emotional issues from a different perspective. Take for example the issue of prayer in the schools -- most specifically, the public prayer chains Christians at Roane County High School in Kingston have insisted on performing at their football games.
Arguing against prayer, making illegal and unconstitutional for one to talk to her or his God --  well, right there you've painted yourself in a corner. What evil lurks in the mind of anyone who would hush up your prayers?

10/13/00:  Friday the 13th superstitions rooted in ancient cultures
Gary Massaro
Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer
If you're reading this, chances are that Friday the 13th is off to a good start. You're alive.
So pull your spouse from under the bedcovers and take off that wreath of garlic. Just don't throw any rocks at mirrors or walk under a ladder.
For many people, at least those who give great superstitious significance to a day like today, Friday the 13th can be downright spooky.

Alabama Judge Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore is running for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. This is his website: http://www.judgemoore.org/
Adam Butler created a World Wide Web site that appears to link Moore with the Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon. This is HIS website:
NOW: Guess which one Moore's supporters posted a link to recently in a mass fundraising e-mail?
Story: http://www.gadsdentimes.com/roy1013.html

Scouts' policy on gays divides communities nationwide
NEW YORK (AP) -- For 90 years, the Boy Scouts have helped foster togetherness and civic pride. Over the past few months, in communities across America, they have become a catalyst for conflict.
In June, the Supreme Court upheld the Scouts' ban on gay Scout leaders. Denouncing that policy as discriminatory, numerous school boards, city councils, corporations and charities have halted or reduced support for the Scouts.
Yet this fall there is increasing evidence of a backlash against that backlash. Parents, business executives and conservative political groups are speaking out against those who are retaliating against the Scouts.

Dallas City Council Invocation - A Photo Essay
Professional photographer Nicholas Wright captured some great pictures of the history-making event in Dallas when Wiccan minister Brian Lankford gave the invocation for the City Council meeting. These never-before published photos can be seen at his website,http://celt.drak.net/nwright/DallasInvocation/1.htm

New Products: Halloween stuff galore
Maureen Bavdek
NEW YORK, Oct 10 (Reuters) - There is no question that Halloween has become one of the most popular ``holidays'' in the United States, not only for candy lovers, but for those who like to go all out in their costumes and decorating.
Even craft queen Martha Stewart has gotten into the act.
She has created a special edition of her magazine, Martha Stewart Holiday -- Halloween, in which she is featured on the cover in full Black Widow makeup.
[Amberflame just got her copy in the mail, and it's fantastic! Recipes for Lady Fingers (and Man Toes) that look like the real things, "blood-rimmed" glasses for Pina Ghouladas, incredible "no-sew" costumes and "Pumpkin Carving 101" are just a few of this year's Halloween offerings from the "High Priestess of Homemaking."
Hmm. Do you suppose that ol' Martha just might be..??
Naw! - Oak]

10/10/00:  Couple Needs Help After House Fire
[An appeal to the Pagan community, from my e-mail]
"Jay and Alice Lynch of Newnan, GA, members of the South Eastern Asatru community, and regular attendees of Moondance, FallFling, and Church of the Spiral Tree events, completely lost their entire home and all contents to a devastating fire on October 5, 2000. Alice is pregnant and is currently on bed-rest only. She is due the first week of December. They have a daughter age 13 and a son age 11. Temporary shelter has been provided by Alice's parents who are heathen/pagan supportive but can only do so much. So, we have already begun a drive to find furniture and appliances of all types. If you would like to help monetarily, please make checks or money orders out to:
Jay and Alice Lynch
and mail to:
Carol Thompson (AKA Stormsdottir/Stormy)
PO Box 3651
Auburn, AL 36831-3651
Needless to say if anyone in the S.E. has anything in the way of household furnishings, bedding, blankets, kitchen utensils, pots, pans, small or large appliances, furniture, beds mattresses please let me know. I will arrange pick up and delivery to them. If anyone has a unused TV, radio, clock CD player, computer etc, those too would be appreciated.
This is a heathen/pagan family who really need and deserve everything we can do to help. Cards and letters of support encouragement and care would also be appreciated, and can be mailed to the above address."

Ivory Coast Finds Solace in Craft
TIM SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) - The talisman's power is strong, she insists, smiling through eyes tinged a milky yellow by malaria. The cost is just a reflection of its quality.
Counting on one hand, Adike Abiaty then ticks off her payment for the protective charm: $65, a sheep, a bottle of gin and three large squares of fabric. It's an astronomical sum by the standards of the working class Abidjan neighborhood where she has her small office, more than most people earn in months.
But the customers are lining up.
In a country caught at the nexus of military, economic and political turmoil, where soldiers mutiny over unpaid bonuses, commodity prices bounce around near record lows and residents worry that an upcoming announcement on who can run in Oct. 22 presidential elections could bring widespread unrest, an ancient craft is booming: the making of protective talismans.

10/5/00:  An update to the Dallas City Council stories.
(From my friend Charlayne, reprinted with permission)
Bryan Lankford DID give the invocation today. We had gotten word there would be protests from evangelicals.
There were 4 protesters there, one of whom was escorted from the chambers after trying to disrupt the invocation.
One woman called the pagans "Nazis" (she's the president of the Texas Eagle Forum--Phillis Schafly's group). Talk about getting the mirror pointed at yourself!!!
In other words--the protesters made themselves look REAL foolish.
Our community had over 25 present, many of them having left jobs to come and stand with Bryan.
One observation from one of our pagans there at the event:

>>Would like to add to this. The last  "Fundie" speaker made a reference to Bryan's invocation being a mis-use of prayer to further a politicalagenda (Radical Multi-Culturalism; whatever that is...).Mayor Kirk's (Dallas Mayor) response was fantastic! To paraphrase, he simply said that he didn't believe this particular invocation was being used to further a political agenda any more than were the invocations given by Rabbi's, Catholic Priests, Baptist Ministers, etc. before. He also said he was "Quite moved by this morning's invocation." Oh, it was soooo cool! Y'all, this morning at Dallas City Hall was an incredible success.<<
From all reports it was an awesome event.

from Maeven Eller at Betwixt & Between
The [Pagan] invocation [at the Dallas City Council] was a huge success. [Dallas] Mayor Kirk even said he was very moved by the invocation. We had some who tried to shout over Bryan, well one. The mayor silenced him though. We had several who signed up on the agenda to speak against it, one lady even brought a class room full of Baptist children in uniforms.
With the Texas state star hanging over the chambers, resembling the pentacle hanging from our necks, we stood and listened to Bryan's invocation. How appropriate that this happened here in Dallas.
During the Pledge of Allegiance many broke into tears of relief and realization of what we were experiencing first hand..
Then three who were on the agenda to express their indifference to our 'prayer' spoke.. When they were through the mayor said, and I paraphrase, he and the city council are not in the business of choosing religions.
He [Mayor Kirk] said he hopes to see us back in the future and that he was very moved by the invocation.
 Everything feels changed today.
We [Pagans] claimed our rights to equal representation. We held our ground with dignity and justice for all. We were magick.
All major media was represented.
Here is the invocation that will be heard around the world again.
What a blessing this day has been.
Blessed be this harvest season.
   Invocation by HP Bryan Lankford
 Mother Goddess, Father God: we thank you for life and the world we share.
We ask that you bless this council and the mayor with the wisdom to lead this city into our tomorrow's, that it may flourish in harmony and prosperity.
We ask this city be transformed with the harmony and balance that faith in a greater power brings.
Just as the ancient alchemists felt the elements of life were air, fire, water and earth, the elements of spiritual alchemy are Honesty, Love, Compassion, and Faith.
We pray that our words and deeds be open and honest, without malice or deceit, so others will always be able to trust our actions, believe our words, and see that our motivations are pure.
For honesty breeds trust, and without trust all our actions are suspect.
May our souls be lit with the light of love which shines into the dark corners of our being, removing the darkness of hatred, anger and prejudice, so no one ever need fear for their safety or be made to feel shame for their race, religion or lifestyle.
For where love shines, darkness cannot find hold.
May we show compassion for those whose lives are not as easy as our own.
Let our hearts see that the spirit inside each of us comes from the same divine source and is, therefore, deserving of dignity and respect no matter what the body's present condition.
For only with self respect can one find the strength to improve their condition.
We pray that our lives are grounded in faith because faith in something greater than ourselves gives us the power to aspire to be more than we are, reaching beyond our human limitations to propel the human spirit to new levels.
Faith brings us the comfort of divine planning, letting us understand all that happens, happens for a reason, a purpose which we, from our limited perspective, may have trouble seeing, but the Divine sees the outcome of every event and knows why each event must occur.
We pray for Honesty, Love, Compassion, and Faith, that our spirits be transformed into golden spirits, shining with the light of the Divine.
We ask this of deity in whatever form each of us perceives it.
So may it be
Bryan Lankford
 Interfaith Director
 Betwixt & Between
   I encourage you all to remember the concept of 'together we can do everything', it is not mere words, it is the proof that this harvest is based on.
Begin building your community centers. Today proves this works.
Maeven Eller

Parents demonize mascot, want new one
Acadiana bureau
VILLE PLATTE - A group of Bayou Chicot residents urged the Evangeline Parish School Board on Wednesday to change Bayou Chicot High School’s mascot, a demon.
The crowd was split in their support or opposition to the mascot, which has been around since the school was built in 1937.
The board took no action on the issue.
The Rev. Jerry Fitch, pastor of Christ Cathedral of Praise in Ville Platte, said the demon is an evil spirit.

Artisan Tries To Repeat Blair Witch Internet Magic
Amy Doan - Forbes.com
Whether moviegoers loved The Blair Witch Project or left the theater feeling used, it's hard to find fault with the movie's stealthy use of the Internet.
A deliberately underground-looking Web site and legions of paid online promoters were
used to convince people that they had discovered the movie for themselves, and that the
story of three missing filmmakers was true.
Artisan Entertainment was smart enough to make $140 million from a movie it bought for $1 million and marketed for about $10 million. It's not dumb enough to think that it can replicate that kind of success with the sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, which opens on Oct. 27.
Artisan isn't holding back. The three-day Web event will let visitors chat with genuine Wiccans, prisoners who use possession to defend themselves, and the game developers who created the Blair Witch PC games. There will be contests tied in with the movie's soundtrack and even ``scheduled Pagan rituals.''

10/4/00: School alters prayer policy
Mesquite High coaches to quit leading team prayers
Terri Williams / The Dallas Morning News
MESQUITE – When Mesquite High School football player Kirk Lannoye was asked by his coach to pray last week after the game against South Garland High School, he felt uneasy.
Kirk, a 15-year-old freshman, is an atheist, and he says most of the boys on the team know that.
"I felt a little uncomfortable," Kirk said of the prayer Thursday night. And it wasn't the first time that the coach, Todd Ritter, had asked the team to pray, often leading the boys before and after games, Kirk said.

10/3/00: Indians vow 'vigorous' protests
AIM leaders charge Columbus Day parade planned for Saturday 'another broken treaty'
John C. Ensslin - Denver Rocky Mountain News
American Indian leaders see Saturday's Columbus Day parade as "another broken treaty" and vow vigorous protests.
The American Indian Movement and its supporters Monday decried the collapse last week of an agreement with Italian-American organizers that would have kept Christopher Columbus' name out of this weekend's parade in Denver.
"We're terribly and deeply disappointed and saddened for the city of Denver as well as for ourselves that this agreement has been violated," said Glen Morris, a member of the AIM leadership council.

New Charge Against Kids Soccer League
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Reuters) - A Connecticut children's soccer league has fallen foul of the Anti-Defamation League for the second time in four days, as the Jewish organization learned on Monday of a new event coinciding with a Jewish holiday.
"We just heard that there's a girls' finals tournament scheduled for Yom Kippur,'' said David Waren, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in New Haven, Connecticut.
Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, the holiest Jewish holiday, falls on Sunday and Monday, Oct. 8 and 9.

10/2/00:  A city sparks scrutiny of ties to Scouts
A number of communities are reviewing their ties to the Boy Scouts; it all began in Wilton Manors, with Florida's only gay-majority government.
THOMAS C. TOBIN - St. Petersburg Times
WILTON MANORS -- John R. Fiore stops his blue Honda Accord in front of the modest Florida ranch home where he grew up. His mother and father still live inside, surrounded by the lawn he hated to cut as a boy.
But their son and the neighborhood around them have come a long way since then.
From the Honda's front seat, Fiore's hand sweeps in a circle to describe the well-integrated block: "Straight, straight, straight, gay, straight, gay, straight, gay, straight." At 47, he has come to know the sexual orientation at each address. As well he should.
In March, he was elected mayor of Wilton Manors with 58 percent of the vote, bringing about a political rarity: Fiore and two other men constitute only the second openly gay majority to lead a local government in the United States, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

Soccer Team Forfeits for Jewish Holiday
Junior Soccer Coach Refused to Reschedule Game
The Associated Press
 F A I R F I E L D, Conn., Sept. 29 — A clash between religion and sports is creating something of a soccer controversy.
A youth soccer team’s refusal to reschedule a game that was to be played on Rosh Hashanah has earned the team a forfeit victory, and the condemnation of the Anti-Defamation League.
The Fairfield team from the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association was to play a team from Avon Saturday in the State Cup tournament.
But several members of the Avon team are Jewish, and can’t play on the holiday. So their coach asked that the game be rescheduled.
But Don Houston, who coaches the team of mostly 10-year-old players in Fairfield, refused. As a result, Avon decided to forfeit the game, and their chance to win the tournament.

Sign size does not change 'In God We Trust' lawsuit
TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) -- The sign has gotten bigger and the word "God" has shrunk, but Shawnee County Treasurer Rita Cline still faces a lawsuit over a sign at her office proclaiming, "In God We Trust."
The American Civil Liberties Union last month filed a petition in U.S. District Court in Topeka, asking the court to force Cline to take down the sign.
In the petition, the ACLU accused Cline of inappropriately using her office to push her religion on many occasions.

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