By Patti Wigington, About.com Guide
One issue that is often a bone of contention in the Pagan community is that we don’t have a universal set of guidelines – some of us may not even identify as Pagans, but as witches or something else. There have been repeated attempts to unify the various branches of the Pagan community, but in general, these are unsuccessful because we’re so diverse and varied in our beliefs and practices. Back in 1973, a group of witches decided to give this a shot, spearheaded by Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, the president of Llewellyn Worldwide. They formed the American Council of Witches, and attempted to define what the standards of modern witches and Neopagans could be. The group then disbanded after only a year or so of existence.
Now, it appears that the group is re-forming as the US American Council of Witches, in order to take a stand against the ever-increasing notion in American politics that non-Christian beliefs are somehow less valid than Christian ones. The group intends to “engage in an interfaith dialogue to identify and address the legal and social needs of members of our religions,” and will be composed of members of a wide variety of Pagan paths.
A press release states:
Newly Formed Group Defends Witchcraft Rights And Beliefs
The United States is a nation whose very foundation, the Bill of Rights, guarantees its citizens freedom of religious beliefs. Yet those citizens with beliefs that fall well outside of Christianity are often misunderstood and persecuted. There seems to be a rising voice in American politics that non-Christian beliefs are somehow less valid than Christian beliefs. One arena where we have seen this is the attack on our President by those claiming he is Muslim, which they appear to believe invalidates his ability to lead our nation. Another arena is such outspoken organizations as David Barton’s Wallbuilders, who advocate a Federal acceptance that the Unites States is a Christian nation.
In light of these attacks upon our basic religious freedoms, members of the community of Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, and other polytheists have united to re-form the American Council of Witches. First formed in 1973, the Council was a group of over seventy Witches and Pagans who drafted a set of principles outlining the common practices of Neopagan religions in North America. This statement was adopted by the Unites States Army for inclusion in their Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains in 1978.
Though the Council was disbanded in 1974, individuals who each follow a Pagan, Neopagan or Witchcraft Tradition feel it is time to reform the organization in order to achieve certain goals that were not addressed by the original council in the early Seventies. Among these goals are: to revise the original council’s Thirteen Principles of Belief Common Among NeoPagans; to re-submit revisions to the United States Army Handbook for Chaplains; to provide government and law enforcement on Federal, State and County levels with information on NeoPagan beliefs and practices to be used in creating and upholding laws, allowing NeoPagans their Constitutional rights, and ministering to the beliefs of Pagan inmates.
The revised American Council Of Witches will be composed of Pagans,Wiccans, Witches and other NeoPagan practitioners from each of the fifty United States. We will engage in an interfaith dialogue to identify and address the legal and social needs of members of our religions, and we will create policy and documents as deemed necessary. And we hope to dialogue with members of other faiths to foster a basic understanding of our beliefs.
For information, interviews and membership, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org