DALLAS, Oct. 4 (UPI)--Despite a handful of protests, a Wiccan follower delivered the invocation at Wednesday's Dallas City Council meeting after being turned away a week ago.

Bryan Lankford, a leader of the Texas Council of the Covenant of the Goddess, originally was invited to give the invocation a week ago, but when a group of Christians protested that Wiccans were witches Mayor Ron Kirk canceled the appearance.

Kirk changed his mind after learning more about the religion, and he invited Lankford back to deliver the two-minute invocation Wednesday in which the Wiccan minister prayed for "honesty, love, compassion, and faith."

One man who stood in the audience said allowing a Wiccan to deliver the invocation was not an exercise of religious freedom because he said the faith is not a true religion.

Cathie Adams, a local official of the Eagle Forum, made a formal protest from the podium.

"Just like it would be unwise for the American Jewish Congress to invite the American neo-Nazis to address them, it is unwise for you to invite witches to pray for you," she said.

Lankford, who was accompanied by a large group of Wiccan followers, later said he was "gratified" that the city council could "see beyond the prejudices and stereotypes."

The Wiccan religion is a neo-pagan faith based on nature that practices witchcraft in some forms, but its members deny any worship of Satan. Kirk was lighthearted in his response to the fuss.

"They don't come to advance a political agenda," he said. "They come to invoke the blessings of a higher being on this body. Having been here five years, we need all the blessings we can get."

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