Some of you may recall my post on Agora last year about the soi-disant “Religious Freedom Bill” then wending its way through the Georgia legislature. At the time, I advocated skyclad (ie, naked) rituals in protest of the law if it went into effect. (And having bail money). Well, the stupid happened again, only this time it actually passed the Senate. It is now on the way to the Georgia House, where if it passes by Sine Die on April 2 (the day after April Fool’s), it will become state law.
Dusty Dionne (yes, that Dusty) greets this news with less hostility than I, also with a list of new freedoms the law could grant to Wiccans. (BUT HE LEFT OUT NAKED RITUALS IN PUBLIC! an oversight I’m sure.) He got the attention of Jim Galloway, who is a local columnist on political matters and who seems confused about whether it’s a hoax.
I’ve actually met Jim, though he probably doesn’t remember me, so I’ll offer a bit of perspective. It’s not a hoax exactly, and I hesitate to call it a joke even though Dusty is definitely having a bit of fun. There are actually a whole bunch of Wiccans in Georgia (thirty-five different organizations of various sizes currently listed on Witchvox, and I know of many more), and have been for decades; Georgia actually recognized Ravenwood Church and Seminary of the Old Religion as a legal religious organization in the mid-70s, before the Federal government recognized any Wiccan group as such. And Wiccans (as well as other modern Pagans) tend to welcome people of all sexual and gender orientations. Laws that oppress or harass them, or that have the effect of allowing them to be oppressed or harassed, are laws against our own. We will fight for our own.
Look: The Georgia state constitution already offers very robust protections to religious expression, even more than the First Amendment. Unnecessary laws are generally a pack of trouble on principle, and many people feel…I am one of them…that the only “protection” this will actually offer is for bigots in mainstream faiths. However, that won’t stop us religious weirdos from challenging the law in various ways to demonstrate its flaws or poke holes in it. I personally don’t care if someone takes a blood sample…but I might well, as clergy of a minority faith which absolutely does sanction same-sex marriages, go help a nice couple get a license and see what happens.
As folks of our ilk have demonstrated lately, we are not fans of dogma. But there is a relevant principle we tend to agree on. Be careful what you wish for.