Friday, April 29, 2005

The power of magick

Via Amanda Marcotte and DED space comes interesting news:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has filed a petition on behalf of Cynthia Simpson, a witch of the Wiccan faith, seeking to reverse a ruling that upheld Chesterfield County's decision to bar her from giving the invocation at Board of Supervisors meetings.

In its petition yesterday to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the ACLU said it has asked the full court to reverse a three-judge panel ruling that allowed government officials to discriminate on the basis of religion when choosing people to pray at their meetings.

If religious officials are brought in to perform functions closely tied to government -- whether it be with regard to invocations, faith-based charities, or funding for religious schools -- it'd be neat if some Wiccans, Pagans, Hindus, Muslims, Ba'hai, and other minority faiths would assert themselves and claim the benefits and positions involved. I'd say Jews too, but they're probably mainstream enough that it wouldn't have such a pointed effect. Showing that church-state separation is the only way to maintain coven-state separation would increase many moderate voters' enthusiasm for the former. (And if not, we get to see more fun pagan stuff. Maybe it's a throwback from my Hindu upbringing, but I still like idol-worship.) Of course, this requires that the ACLU defend equal treatment of all religions, but I'm guessing they can get that.

There's a strange dark side to this strategy -- it involves using people's anti-Wiccan prejudices to defend church-state separation. But it's better if those prejudices get employed that way than in asserting the hegemony of the Christian religion over others. Besides, we utilitarians feel mischevous pleasure when we can use people's vicious motivations for virtuous ends.

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