bonfire of freedom
If you have been reading this blog for a few months (or longer, bless you!), you know that my community spent rather a lot of sweat equity in convincing/persuading the county school system to follow the law where religion in public schools in concerned. We are grateful to our allies and friends at Lady Liberty League, Americans United, and the ACLU for helping us “keep the faith”–or perhaps I should write–keep the inappropriate use of faith out of tax-payer supported schools.
The superintendent created a Faith-Based Leadership Advisory Council and that group is meeting this summer to guide the process of training school staff in what is and is not legal. We will be policing the system for the foreseeable future but I don’t see any way around that. I also suspect that the fall will see a widening or our horizons as neighboring counties face similar situations.
In the meantime, Mother Grove has continued with our year-long clergy “finishing school”. I write that because the women who will be ordained in August have been working in these earthy fields for many a long year, have studied with private teachers, are writers and professionals and priestesses.
But this process has been designed to prepare them for ordination as Mother Grove clergy–a thing that is both similar and different. One reason it is different is that this set of women is being ordained to serve this temple and one of those acts of service will be performing rites of passage, including marriages.
So I was saddened today to read Literata’s account of her recent encounter with the Clerk of Court in Arlington, Virginia. Here’s a link to her blog post–
After reading about it, I got to thinking–something I do sometimes. I’ve been doing interfaith work for a long time. In fact, I was part of an interfaith peace program only last night. Early on, it seems like I was always hearing murmurs and intimations that what I practice isn’t a “real” religion. Too new, no holy book, no central authority, no hierarchy. Poor Wicca! It hardly matters that we have congregations that we serve and rites of passage that we plan and execute, often under difficult conditions. We have holy days and rituals and we visit the sick and the incarcerated.
But there’s that litany of problems listed above. Add to that the wrinkle Literata discovered–you have to have a building to be a real religion.
(That reminds me on an old joke–what’s the difference between a cult and a religion? A cult isn’t big enough to have its own university and football team.)
The problem is the same one we dealt with in the school situation, the same problem we face with “same-sex marriage,” and that we face when corporations don’t want to offer their female employees insurance that conflicts with the corporation’s religious sentiments. It’s that pesky Establishment case in the goofy First Amendment.
It’s a nation that gives lip-service to religious freedom but isn’t very good at including everyone in that notion.
This is the United States and people like Literata shouldn’t have to do all the work of being a clergy person (in a religion that doesn’t usually pay its clergy) while also proving that hers/ours is a real religion.
I hope she gathers her allies and sues the pants off the County of Arlington. Enough is enough. Either we have freedom of religion and from religion, or we don’t.
And if we don’t, then perhaps we need to call a Continental Congress and draft a legal statement that grants that to American citizens.
What a novel ideA.