Citing “community fears,” the Huntsville, Alabama City Council refused to allow a practicing Wiccan to give the opening invocation at its meeting this week.
Blake Kirk — a “Priest of the Oak, Ash and Thorn tradition of Wicca,” according to the meeting’s original agenda — was scheduled to offer the prayer at the June 26, 2014 meeting, but at the last minute the council decided “to pull back, to do some education, and introduce him more gently at another time,” city attorney Peter Joffrion told AL.com.
According to WHNT News 19, the council needs to introduce Kirk “gently” because many in the community believe that his invitation was connected to a lawsuit the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened to file because city council meetings were only opened with Christian prayers.
The council responded to that threat by allowing practitioners of the Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Baha’i, and Confucian faiths to deliver the opening prayer. But the community was not, it seems, ready for a member of the Wiccan faith to do so.
“I guess somebody got the collywobbles,” Kirk told AL.com. “Although this has been an attempt by the city to increase the diversity of those delivering the invocations, apparently diversity only goes so far. But the fact is, the First Amendment protects my right to practice my religion as much as anyone else. And governments are not supposed to pick and choose or to favor one religion over any other.”
“It is not right,” he said. “The city can not pick and choose what faiths they want to support and allow to speak and give the prayer.”
Watch WHNT News 19′s report on the story below.
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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