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Remember the Wicca?

posted by awelborn

The parents who were told by a judge they couldn’t share their Wicca religion with their son received a different decision this week:

The court declared that a Marion County judge erred in approving a divorce decree last year that also directed the man and his ex-wife to shelter their son from "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

Thomas E. Jones Jr., a practicing Wiccan who waged the court battle, said he’s relieved that his life can return to normal.

"Because of this, I think a lot of education has gone on about religious freedoms," said Jones, who planned to tell his son the good news when he got home from school Wednesday, his first day of fourth grade.

That’s a good thing. Let’s hope the child’s education in a CATHOLIC SCHOOL (not mentioned in this article, but indeed, the case) plants some seeds in that lovely Wicca garden, as well…



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Maureen

posted August 19, 2005 at 4:50 am


I’m glad. If there’s no right to practice their beliefs for Wiccans, there’s no right for Catholics, either.
(Especially since some folks in this country still think the Mass is a necromantic black magic spell to talk with the dead and eat the Death Cookie. Especially since robes and candles are E-VILL.)



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dcs

posted August 19, 2005 at 8:38 am


If there’s no right to practice their beliefs for Wiccans, there’s no right for Catholics, either.
Why not? The State is obligated to profess the Catholic faith, but it is certainly not obligated to permit Wicca, especially if the latter is contrary to the common good (and, since Wicca doesn’t save souls, one can certainly argue that it is contrary to the common good).
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot. But because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.” (Apoc 3:15,16)



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Susan Peterson

posted August 19, 2005 at 8:41 am


The state is obligated to profess the Catholic faith?
Not in this country. …no law regarding an establishment of religion…or preventing the free exercise thereof.
And this is good because it means religious decisions can be made in freedom of conscience, which freedom is something which is proper to man.
Susan Peterson



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Mike L

posted August 19, 2005 at 8:59 am


It seems to me that we, as Catholics, often seem to believe that since we were once persecuted for out religion, that we have the right to pursecute others of different religious beliefs. Do humans never learn?



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Ian

posted August 19, 2005 at 9:31 am


Talk about vines “choking” the wheat…



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amy

posted August 19, 2005 at 9:45 am


Mike L:
To whom is your comment directed? The original court decision was roundly criticized here and other Catholic sites as a threat to religious freedom. Be clear.



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Sandra Miesel

posted August 19, 2005 at 10:03 am


According to an editorial in this morning’s Indianapolis paper, the judge was under the impression that Wiccans were Satanists, which they are not.
Demanding that the State “profess Catholicism” is a tenet of the absolute Kingship of Christ theory, beloved by some RadTrads. Did they miss the part about “my kingdom is not of this world”?



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bruce cole

posted August 19, 2005 at 10:11 am


Would “dcs” care to elaborate on his assertion?



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dcs

posted August 19, 2005 at 10:30 am


Demanding that the State “profess Catholicism” is a tenet of the absolute Kingship of Christ theory, beloved by some RadTrads.
Err, no. It is the teaching of the Church that the State profess the true religion. You will kindly note that Dignitatis Humanaeleaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.” (DH 1)
Here is a helpful article from the EWTN library on “religious liberty”: Declaration on Religious Liberty. I also recommend the work of Fr. Brian Harrison in this regard.
Wiccans have no right to publicly practice and spread their religion; they have only the right to be free from coercion in practicing and spreading their religion, insofar as it does not conflict with the common good.



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bruce cole

posted August 19, 2005 at 10:49 am


“Wiccans have no right to publicly practice and spread their religion; they have only the right to be free from coercion in practicing and spreading their religion, insofar as it does not conflict with the common good.”
That makes the eye of the needle look like the Grand Canyon.



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Kevin Miller

posted August 19, 2005 at 11:14 am


dcs:
I don’t know what I think of this Wicca case (I do know what I think of Wicca per se, which is something less than nothing). Regarding DH, though, I think there are some problems with Harrison’s rather minimalist interpretation; and the fact is that at its beginning, the document also says that it intends to develop Catholic teaching on religious liberty, and that it goes on to state very broadly that there’s a right to such liberty. And since most religions do not, per se, “save souls,” you make the document self-contradictory if you claim that because a religion doesn’t do so, it’s at odds with the common good and people’s liberty with regard to that religion disappears.



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Der Tommissar

posted August 19, 2005 at 11:59 am


Demanding that the State “profess Catholicism” is a tenet of the absolute Kingship of Christ theory, beloved by some RadTrads
As opposed to the Occasional Kingship of Christ theory, beloved by some liberals.
Christ is King of nations as well as people, after all. We cannot expect non-Christian or even other Christians to understand the ramifications of that statement, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask it of other Catholics. We must conform ourselves to the Will of God, then conform our societies to that same Will. If we support something for any reason which would be opposite of what God has revealed as Truth to us, we sin. I don’t think that’s such a tricky concept.
That said, I think the reversal is good. The state must not support or endorse a false religion. This ruling didn’t do that. The state cannot coerce a person to worship any specific religion. The conscience of the individual and the right of a family to raise its children as it sees fit must come first.
Besides nine will get you ten that if the kid’s going to a Catholic school, he’ll learn plenty about Wicca.



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Nance

posted August 19, 2005 at 12:22 pm


I know a young reporter who sat down for an interview with some people who, she knew going in, were not Christians. “So,” she said, sitting down, “you’re what? Pagans?”
She was 23 years old and happily ignorant, however. You’d think a judge would know basic tenets of non-mainstream religions, or if he didn’t, and especially if he had a case involving one before him, he might study up a bit. Sheesh.



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Maureen

posted August 19, 2005 at 12:33 pm


If we lived in a Catholic country and in the best of all possible worlds, then yeah, it might well be right for that country to profess as a government that the country was Catholic, but that anybody from any other religion could live there without being coerced not to practice their religion. (Though if you have to make announcements about religion as a nation, you obviously already don’t believe it, and if you have to profess non-coercion, somebody’s probably being coerced.)
But seeing as the vast majority of posters here don’t live in such a fabled country or situation, and we usually don’t even have universal agreement about having a Judeo-Christian heritage, I’m thinking this kind of talk is unproductive and misleading. To say the least.



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Liam

posted August 19, 2005 at 12:36 pm


Btw, folks, in case you don’t realize it, we may have another candidate for a 100+ comments within 24 hours, treating in numbing virtual detail speculation about what DH did/did not purport to do, and what The Tradition requires still, et cet.
It won’t be pretty.
If you are feeling like an insomniac tonight, check in for a possible sleep aid.



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Der Tommissar

posted August 19, 2005 at 12:55 pm


But seeing as the vast majority of posters here don’t live in such a fabled country or situation, and we usually don’t even have universal agreement about having a Judeo-Christian heritage, I’m thinking this kind of talk is unproductive and misleading. To say the least.
Maureen, there’s a big difference between saying a nation should reflect the social teachings of the faith, and saying the state should enforce the social teachings of the faith.
The first is a gradual process of preaching, conversion, and zeal. The second is a short cut that will short circuit. Of course non of us live in such a perfect state, we’re all still alive after all. That doesn’t mean the effort is not worth making.
Some problem automatically assume making the effort means faxing your congressman the documents of Vatican II (or the Council of Trent) and saying, “There you go, get to it.” It doesn’t. It means starting with yourself, then your family, then your neighbors…
Are we supposed to see results overnight? No. Are we going to attain a “perfect” society? No. That doesn’t mean we’re relieved from the obligation of trying.
I also think the Austro-Hungarian Empire deserves a bit of credit. All else being considered, they did a reasonable job, compared to nearly everyone else. Ecuador too, IIRC.



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Christine

posted August 19, 2005 at 3:55 pm


“I also think the Austro-Hungarian Empire deserves a bit of credit.”
Well, of course the United States has never lived under a lengthy monarchial system so the points of reference are not the same, even though for years a kind of Protestant cultural ethos informed the country before the waves of immigration from Catholic (and now other) countries.
Still, it is an intriguing thought — if the Austro-Hungarian monarchy had survived, if Czar Nicholas had not been assassinated — would the world have been spared the horrors of Hitler and Stalin?
Just wondering.



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Patrick Sweeney

posted August 19, 2005 at 4:27 pm


“Wicca” is not a real religion but the product of Gerald Gardner’s imagination.
However, it was recognized as religion for the purposes of permitting a prisioner, Herbert Dettmer, to obtain its reading material and other cultic items. “Dettmer v. Landon” September 4, 1986 (Landon was in charge of prisions in Virginia)
Given that precedent, all sorts of pro-”Wicca” court cases have been won. The idea of there being a court-determination of “mainstream” is suspicious in itself.



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Liam

posted August 19, 2005 at 4:42 pm


Patrick
Suspicious, but then you’d could easily game the system as many, many fraudulent groups have tried. Religious organizations are privileged in many ways because of their constitutionally protected status. Imagine if La Cosa Nostra had tried to pass off its rituals as religion if a court was not empowered to pierce the illusion. After all, someone has to determine what does and does not constitute protected activity for the purpose of sane administration of the civil and criminal law, and there are always issues of interpretation.



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Liam

posted August 19, 2005 at 4:48 pm


And modern wicca is indeed a wishful anachronism, a veritable cafeteria of faux folkways.
As for the fallen dynasties of Europe, the Romanovs were pretty doomed after the assassination of Alexander II, given the tension between the spectacularly reactive and ineffective dynasty and the enormous social transformations being wrought through industrialization. It’s only through the sheer size of Russia that inertia took so long to break, and it took WW1 to do that. Had Russia not overreacted to Austria, we might indeed have had a different central Europe (the real problem spot there being Hungary’s historically prickly relationship with its neighbors, and the last emperor, beatified he be, did not help things there post hoc), but eastern Europe would still be a mess.
And then there’s the Ottoman empire we are cleaning up after to this day.



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Der Tommissar

posted August 19, 2005 at 5:07 pm


Still, it is an intriguing thought — if the Austro-Hungarian monarchy had survived, if Czar Nicholas had not been assassinated — would the world have been spared the horrors of Hitler and Stalin?
I always felt bad for the Austro-Hungarian Empire. If anyone had a cause for fighting WWI it was those guys. After all, they’re boy was the one who got sniped by some radical to start the whole thing off. Fran Ferdinand wasn’t bothering anyone!
At the end of the war, the Allies (particularly Wilson) were near incredibly zealous over the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Why? It was in many ways very similar to the British Empire when it came to containing numerous nationalities and ethnicities. There was already bits of autonomy for many of the peoples inside the empire, and the new Emperor was rapidly pushing for more. It had far more of a historical existence than that thing which Bismark coereced into the German state, and it was nowhere near as culpable for the bloodiness of the war. Germany they kept, Austro-Hungary they destroyed.
There is a case to be made that a lion’s share of the trouble in Europe today is the result of the lack of a strong power in Central Europe.



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michigancatholic

posted August 19, 2005 at 6:47 pm


Patrick, it is constitutive of the Christian faith that we have doctrines (truth claims) which are defined. They come from the careful development of our legacy from Christ and Jewish Scripture.
Wicca and other New Age movments do not have doctrines and truth claims in the same sense that we do. Therefore, they can appear with various changeable characteristics. But do not make the mistake of believing they are not a religious movement or that they are not used to fill religious needs. They are.



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dcs

posted August 20, 2005 at 6:32 am


Regarding DH, though, I think there are some problems with Harrison’s rather minimalist interpretation; and the fact is that at its beginning, the document also says that it intends to develop Catholic teaching on religious liberty, and that it goes on to state very broadly that there’s a right to such liberty.
I don’t see Fr. Harrison’s interpretation as problematic. If DH is subjected to a broader interpretation, then ISTM that it conflicts with prior Catholic teaching. One simply can’t assert that men have a right to publicly spread their religious errors.
DH defines “religious freedom” or “religious liberty” in its second section:
“This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.”
It does not say that men have a right to spread the errors of their religion; it only says that they are immune from coercion if they do so, “within due limits,” “provided that just public order be observed.” The Catechism uses the term “common good” in place of “public order.”
And since most religions do not, per se, “save souls,” you make the document self-contradictory if you claim that because a religion doesn’t do so, it’s at odds with the common good and people’s liberty with regard to that religion disappears.
On the one hand, one has the obvious fact that non-Catholic religions are not salvific. Therefore it is contrary to the common good to prohibit the practice of them. On the other hand, one has to consider the number of souls that could be lost because they take scandal at the restriction of religious freedom. Therefore it might be contrary to the common good to prohibit the practice of non-Catholic religions. In a nation that is strongly Catholic, the benefits of prohibiting the private practice of other religions are obvious. In other nations, it is not so obvious. That said, the State still has the duty to profess the true religion.
I would not shed a tear if the pratice of Wicca were prohibited.



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Kevin Miller

posted August 20, 2005 at 8:22 am


dcs: Exactly – one has a “right” (you left off the previous sentence in your quotation from DH 2, which uses that term) not to be coerced into practicing the true religion (or into not practicing false ones – and “practicing,” when DH is read as a whole, clearly includes talking to others about it). It’s not simply a prudential judgment that coercion would be scandalous or something.



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dcs

posted August 20, 2005 at 8:41 am


On the one hand, one has the obvious fact that non-Catholic religions are not salvific. Therefore it is contrary to the common good to prohibit the practice of them.
Should read: “Therefore it is not contrary to the common good to prohibit the practice of them.”
Exactly – one has a “right” not to be coerced into practicing the true religion
That’s simply a restatement of what St. Thomas noted over 700 years before.
It’s not simply a prudential judgment that coercion would be scandalous or something.
In a Catholic society, public practice of false religions would be harmful to the common good, because otherwise faithful Catholics would be led astray. Therefore such practice can be restricted. It’s as simple as that.
But all of this is tangential to the fact that the State has the duty to profess the true religion, and that it is an error to believe that Church and State should be separated. The right of Catholics to practice their religion has its foundation in Divine Law, and does not depend upon the right of Wiccans to practice their (false) religion.



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Kevin Miller

posted August 20, 2005 at 8:59 am


dcs: No, it’s not as simple as that. It’s not that at all. DH states very explicitly, multiple times, that the “right” to religious freedom (immunity from coercion) is founded directly in human dignity (and in the nature of religious assent/faith). And that the duty of the state toward the true religion can and must be distinguished from an alleged duty (or even right) to suppress false religions. You’re not taking these things into account.



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Sandra Miesel

posted August 20, 2005 at 9:55 am


By the way, the father in this Wicca custody case went to the same Catholic high school my children did, his attendance overlapping with theirs.



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Donald R. McClarey

posted August 20, 2005 at 12:07 pm


A very odd case and from a legal standpoint not a difficult one, the appellate court decision being correct. Much more usual is where the parents differ in the religion in which they wish to raise the child, which causes massive headaches for the judge hearing the case. Ironically, in my experience at least, the battling parents are often fairly sporadic in their own practice of the religions in which they wish to rear their child.



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dcs

posted August 20, 2005 at 2:13 pm


No, it’s not as simple as that. It’s not that at all. DH states very explicitly, multiple times, that the “right” to religious freedom (immunity from coercion) is founded directly in human dignity (and in the nature of religious assent/faith).
It also states explicitly that religious freedom must be accorded “within due limits,” “provided that just public order be observed.” And, as I pointed out, the Catechism when restating this uses the phrase “common good” in place of “public order.” When the common good is threatened, religous freedom can be curtailed. Period. And the common good must include a concern for the salvation of souls. It seems to me that you are not taking these things into account.



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Patti

posted August 20, 2005 at 3:49 pm


Can someone be a satanist and not know it? Where does the power of so-called white magic come from?



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Kevin Miller

posted August 20, 2005 at 5:27 pm


dcs: It is gratuitous to assert that “public order”/”common good” in the context of DH and the CCC’s treatment of religious freedom “must include a concern for the salvation of souls” of the sort you’re talking about. Neither document actually SAYS such a thing. And claiming what you’re claiming is AT ODDS with what DH DOES say about what sorts of limits are permissible. For instance, and rather specifically, in DH 6: “If, in view of peculiar circumstances obtaining among peoples, special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional order of society, it is at the same time imperative that the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom should be recognized and made effective in practice.” More broadly, DH teaches very clearly and explicitly (“This Vatican Council likewise professes its belief that it is upon the human conscience that these obligations fall and exert their binding force. The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power”; and, especially, “In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it”) that the right to freedom from state coercion in matters of religion is of such a nature that it doesn’t stem from the truth (or falsity) of the religion in question (rather, again, it stems from the nature of the human person and of religious assent). Again, therefore, if you say that SIMPLY BECAUSE a religion is false, it is therefore the sort of threat to the public order or common good that DH says may be repressed, you are making the document self-contradictory.



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dcs

posted August 21, 2005 at 3:23 pm


Again, therefore, if you say that SIMPLY BECAUSE a religion is false, it is therefore the sort of threat to the public order or common good that DH says may be repressed, you are making the document self-contradictory.
That is not what I am saying, although what you say might hold true in a largely Catholic society. What I said was that the religious nature of the society had to be taken into account, and that in a largely Catholic society other religions can be suppressed. I take it for granted that the “common good” includes the salvation of souls: how can it be otherwise? Unless the salvation of souls isn’t a “good” with which the State ought to be concerned. But that leads to a logical conclusion that Church and State ought to be separated, which we know to be false.
Frankly, your conception of DH appears to be at odds with preconciliar Church teaching on religious liberty.



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