In late Summer 1985, federal legislation was introduced in both houses of Congress that would have taken away equal rights for Wiccan churches and practitioners. In the House, Representative Robert Walker of Pennsylvania introduced HR 3389 and Congressman Richard T.Schulze of Pennsylvania introduced a similar amendment to the Tax Reform Bill of 1985. Senator Jesse Helms introduced Amendment 705 to HR 3036, the Treasury, Postal, and General Government Appropriations Bill for 1986. All three pieces of proposed legislation would have taken away tax exempt status from Wiccan churches. Helms' amendment was approved by a unanimous voice vote of US Senators on September 26, 1985.
Lady Liberty League emerged as a result of the nationwide networking that emerged and successfully defeated this first federal legislative attempt to take away rights from Wiccans and other Pagans. The Helms amendment was defeated on October 30, 1985 when it was removed from the Appropriations Bill in a joint conference committee. Shortly thereafter, Schulze withdrew his amendment, and the Walker Bill was set aside, eventually dying with the close of the 99th Session of Congress.
More details: United for Liberty: Special Report by Selena Fox
First published Winter 1985, CIRCLE Magazine (then, Circle Network News)
Following the defeat of the Helms amendment, Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary invited those who had worked together with her and others in this action to continue to collaborate on upholding Pagan rights through the formation of the Pagan Strength Web, which later expanded in scope and became the Lady Liberty League.
Religious freedom support for Wiccans, Pagans, and other Nature religion practitioners worldwide. An international information and networking organization sponsored by Circle Sanctuary.
Lady Liberty League Statement - Mr. Patrick Evans
July 31, 2018
In response to Mr. Patrick Evans', Brown County Supervisor, comment about Wiccans praying to Satan, we want to take this opportunity to correct that misconception. Wiccans are followers of a Nature-based religious tradition that does not include Satan.
We take issue with Mr. Evans' lack of correct information and his apparent demonizing religious practices that are different than his.
We suggest that Mr. Evans and others who are misinformed become better educated and be more understanding about various world religions and the need to provide equal accommodation to all and by all in the public sector. In addition, it would be useful for any similarly-minded government representatives to become better versed in the separation of church and state within our country.
Assistant Director, Lady Liberty League
Upholding Civil Rights & Religious Freedom for Wiccans & Pagans worldwide since 1985
Founded in 1985 by Selena Fox and others, Lady Liberty League (LLL) is the religious freedom and civil rights support organization sponsored by Circle Sanctuary, an international Wiccan church and Pagan resource center headquartered in Wisconsin. LLL provides information and networking assistance to individuals and organizations concerned with religious freedom issues pertaining to Wiccan ways, Paganism, and other forms of Nature religions.
LLL members include specialists in a variety of focus areas, including public relations, countering harassment, employment issues, child custody issues, military affairs, law enforcement relations, legal affairs, interfaith relations, scholars support, and others.
The annual networking meeting of Lady Liberty League takes place each June at Summer Solstice time during the Pagan Spirit Gathering.
The Lady Liberty League does referrals as well as education, networking, counseling, and publishing as part of its work.
To send news of cases and concerns; to request help; to volunteer legal, counseling, or other services; and/or for other information, contact:
Lady Liberty League
Circle Sanctuary, PO Box 9, Barneveld, WI 53507, USA
phone: (608) 924-2216
Wiccan Pentacle Wreath Vandalized,
but Yuletide Celebrations Continue
Wiccan Pentacle Wreath Vandalized, but Yuletide Celebrations Continue
The Wiccan pentacle wreath next to the nativity scene above City Hall in Green Bay, Wisconsin was removed and damaged by a vandal shortly before 1 am today, Monday, December 17.
"What a way to begin Solstice week!" said Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary upon learning the news about the vandalism. Last wee, representing Circle Santuary, Rev. Fox and Assistant Minister Robert Paxton contributed the Pagan Yuletide wreath with pentacle last week to the public holidays display above the entrance to the City Hall building in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
"Winter Solstice, also known as Yule, has been celebrated by peoples of many cultures and religions since ancient times, and we are among the thousands of Pagans today around the world who continue to celebrate it," Fox continued. "Winter Solstice is a sacred time of religious observances for us, not just the official start of Winter."
Yuletide is about connecting with family, friends, and community in the spirit of peace, love, and joy. These spiritual values will continue to be part of our Winter Solstice celebrations this year despite the disrespectful actions of the Grinch who tried to steal Solstice," says Fox.
Circle Sanctuary is celebrating Winter Solstice with a series of events this week, including a talk and open house tomorrow night at church headquarters near Barneveld, a multicultural and interfaith Winter Solstice Pageant at the First Unitarian Meeting House in Madison on Friday night, and a Community Yule Festival on Saturday. More information about Circle Sanctuary's Winter Solstice events are on-line: http://www.circlesanctuary.org
Shortly before 1 am today, Monday, December 17, Green Bay police received a report about the vandalism. Circle Sanctuary's Yuletide pentacle wreath was found, damaged, in the bushes near where the nativity scene still stands. The nativity scene, purchased and placed at the building last week by the City Council President, was not removed or damaged by the vandal, who left his ladder at the scene of his crime. Both ladder and pentacle wreath are presently in police custody, and the police are continuing their investigation.
"Circle Sanctuary contributed the pentacle wreath to the display at Green Bay City Hall for several reasons," according to Fox. "First of all, we contributed the pentacle wreath to celebrate Yuletide. We wanted a symbol of Winter Solstice represented in this public display in addition to the nativity scene representing Christmas since both religious holidays are celebrated at this time of year."
Fox adds: "The opportunity to contribute to the public display occurred during Wisconsin's Interfaith Awareness Week. Circle Sanctuary viewed our contribution of the pentacle wreath as an additional way of participating in this annual celebration of Wisconsin's religious diversity. Furthermore, since the Mayor publicly announced that the display was open to symbols of other faiths, we thought that it was important to take him up on this invitation and begin the process of having this public display on a government property be interfaith."
Fox continues: "If there are to be religious emblems in the public square, this means this opportunity must be open to many religions, not any particular one - - in other words: "Many, if Any."
Fox has been involved in interfaith work and religious freedom activism for more than forty years. Her own ancestry reflects some of America's religious diversity. In addition to having Native American ancestry, she is descended from Anabaptists, Roman Catholics, Quakers, and others who settled America in the 17th and 18th centuries to escape religious persecution in Europe.
"America has been religiously pluralistic since its earliest beginnings. In addition to the religions of Native American peoples, there has long been a wide variety of Christian denominations and other faiths in this land. The founders of our nation wisely put religious freedom and separation of church and state as cornerstones of the United States of America. It is important that we uphold philosophical and religious freedom for all in this country."
Although Fox and Paxton are disappointed that Circle Sanctuary's pentacle wreath was removed and damaged, they have already been in touch with the City Attorney and other staff in Mayor's office today. They have requested that their pentacle wreath, or a replacement which they are willing to provide, be returned to the display area. In addition, Fox and Paxton plan to contribute a Circle Sanctuary Yuletide pentacle wreath next year and in future years if the Green Bay City Council decides to have this public holidays display at City Hall in the future. The City Council meets tomorrow night, Tuesday, December 18, to discuss the future of the display.
Green Bay Press Gazette - Monday, December 17
For more information, contact:
Rev. Selena Fox
Phone: (608) 924-2216
Postal Address: Box 9, Barneveld, WI 53507
Circle Sanctuary Press Release
Monday, December 17, 2007
WICCAN PENTACLE JOINS NATIVITY SCENE
on City Hall in Green Bay, Wisconsin
Pagan Yule Wreath & Wiccan Pentacle Bring Old Meanings to Happy Holidays
On Friday afternoon, December 14, in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the City Hall holidays display became interfaith when a Pagan Yule wreath encircling a gold-ribboned Wiccan pentacle celebrating Winter Solstice took its place next to a Christian nativity scene celebrating Christmas.
Green Bay City Council President Chad Fradette purchased the nativity scene for placement on City Hall to counter an atheist group's challenge of a nativity display on public land in a smaller Wisconsin community. After obtaining permission of Mayor Jim Schmitt and the majority of the Advisory Council, on Tuesday, December 11, Fradette placed the nativity scene on the City Hall building above one of its entrances.
News about the placement of a Christmas manager scene on City Hall resulted in an outpouring of citizen comments, pro and con, to local government officials and the media. On Wednesday, December 13, in interviews with reporters covering the controversy, Schmitt stated that symbols from other faiths could be included.
"When I learned that Mayor Jim Schmitt publicly invited the contributions of other expressions of faith, I decided that our church should offer to contribute a Yule wreath with pentacle to the holidays display. Our pentacle wreath represents our celebration of Yuletide and the new solar year, and also is part of our observance of Interfaith Awareness Week in Wisconsin which we have been celebrating all week," said Rev. Selena Fox, Senior Minister of Circle Sanctuary.
Circle Sanctuary, one of America's oldest and largest Wiccan churches, is headquartered near Barneveld and has members throughout the state, across the USA, and in more than twenty other countries. Rev. Fox has been active in interfaith work for more than forty years and is serving her third term as President of the Greater Madison Interreligious Association: http://www.madison.com/communities/GMIA
Interfaith Awareness Week has been celebrated in Wisconsin annually since its founding ten years ago. The proclamation of December 9-16, 2007 as Interfaith Awareness Week was signed by Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle as well as the Mayor of Madison, the Dane County Executive, and others. This year, Rev. Fox was involved in several Interfaith Awareness Week activities including speaking at the Human Rights Day celebration on Monday December 10 and contributing a Yuletide display to the educational exhibit on Wisconsin's religious diversity, both in the Rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol Building in Madison.
Fox first called the Mayor's Office on the morning of Thursday, December 13 and left a message expressing interest in contributing a display and mentioning Interfaith Awareness Week. On Friday morning , she did a follow-up call and talked with an assistant to the Mayor who told her that Circle Sanctuary's Yuletide pentacle wreath could be added to the display.
Rev. Fox then met by telephone with Assistant Minister Robert Paxton, whose Circle Sanctuary ministry includes facilitating ceremonies, organizing festivals, and providing other services to Pagans in the Green Bay-Appleton area. After agreeing on the design of the Yuletide pentacle wreath, Paxton crafted it and delivered it, along with its display stand to the Mayor's office yesterday afternoon.
City Hall staff added Circle Sanctuary's Yuletide pentacle wreath to the holidays display at day's end. Fradette contacted Paxton to let him know it had been erected, and Paxton expressed his appreciation for Circle Sanctuary's wreath being included.
Shortly after the City added the pentacle wreath to the holidays display, the expanded display began making news in press, television and AP.
"I am happy that the City of Green Bay chose the path of inclusiveness in placing the symbol of my Wiccan belief in the public square," says Paxton. "If there are to be religious displays on public property, then let all the richness of American religious life be fairly represented."
Fox agrees "In holiday displays that reflect religious diversity at this time of year, it is important that Yule, also known as Winter Solstice, is included as well as Christmas. Winter Solstice has been celebrated as a sacred time by people of many religions and cultures through the ages. In fact, in the fourth century, early Christian leaders in the Western church selected December 25 for the celebration of Jesus' birthday because it coincided with the culmination of the Pagan Roman Winter Solstice celebration known as Saturnalia."
"For more than 1700 years, Pagan Winter Solstice traditions and Christian Christmas celebrations have intermingled. What we have today in holidays celebration is a multicultural and interreligious mix. The evergreens, wreaths, mistletoe, exchanging of gifts, kindling of lights, time off from work, focus on peace, feasting, making merry, and other customs associated with Christmas and New Year's celebrations all have their origins in the Pagan Winter Solstice traditions of antiquity," says Fox.
"At this holiday time, the focus should be on celebrating our diversity and finding good ways to come together in the universal spirit of peace, joy, hope, love, and goodwill -- instead of fighting about what is the best wording for holidays greetings, what name to give the tree in the Wisconsin State Capitol Rotunda, or what religion should be dominant in holidays time expressions," Fox continues.
"In this holidays season and in the years ahead, I hope that Pagans, Christians, Atheists, and those of other beliefs can find ways to respect each other and work together for a healthier environment, for peace on Earth, and for liberty and justice for all."
Circle Sanctuary Press Release
Saturday, December 15, 2007
For more information,
contact Rev. Selena Fox
Circle Sanctuary, Barneveld, Wisconsin
"If there are to be holidays displays with religious symbols on public buildings and property, those displays need to accommodate America's religious pluralism. I sum this up as: Many, if Any, " said Rev. Selena Fox, Senior Minister of Circle Sanctuary, one of America's oldest and largest Wiccan churches, which is based near Barneveld, Wisconsin.
On Friday, December 14, 2007, Circle Sanctuary contributed a Pagan Yuletide wreath with Wiccan pentacle to the City Hall holidays display in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
"We contributed the pentacle wreath to the public display for several reasons" says Fox. "First of all, we wanted Yuletide represented since this also being celebrated at this time of year. We also contributed it as part of our participation in Interfaith Awareness Week. Furthermore, since the Mayor of Green Bay invited those of other faiths to contribute symbols, we contributed it so that the process of having this holidays display be interfaith could begin."
The pentacle wreath was torn down by an unknown vandal early in the morning on Monday, December 17th. Circle offered to provide a replacement wreath, and was asked to wait for the decision of the full City Council the following day. At the December 18 City Council meeting, the Council split 6-6 on a vote to leave the Nativity alone up until December 26, then send the matter to a committee to draft better guidelines for the future. Mayor Jim Schmitt then voted to approve that plan, and a slightly altered display stayed up until December 26th.
On Tuesday, December 26, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and 14 Green Bay residents (none connected with Circle Sanctuary) filed suit in Federal court.
December 20, 2007 - Americans United for Separation of Church and State Press Release: Continued Display Of Nativity Scene Is Unconstitutional, Americans United Tells Green Bay Officials
Green Bay Press-Gazette:
12/15: Wiccan Star Shines over Green Bay City Hall Manager Scene
12/16: Festivus pole to join Green Bay nativity scene?
12/17: Green Bay mayor: No more holiday displays for time being
12/18: Green Bay mayor declares moratorium on holiday displays
12/19: Green Bay council says nativity can stay; the rest must wait
12/20: Editorial: Nativity decision violates Constitution
12/20: Lawsuit pending over Green Bay nativity scene
12/20: Public packed Green Bay City Council meeting on nativity scene
12/21: Green Bay mayor asked to take down the Nativity
12/24: Nativity controversy's effect on community still being weighed
12/25: Group filing lawsuit over Green Bay nativity scene
12/27: Downtown nativity gone, not forgotten
12/27: EDITORIAL: Leaders offered city as political football
12/29: Group to file for dismissal of lawsuit in nativity flap
12/21: Say it again, Symbols should stay in church
12/16: Addition to City Hall Display
12/20: Do Green Bay City Leaders have Nativity Displays at Their Homes?
12/21: Mayor Responds to Request to Remove Nativity and Threat of Lawsuit
12/16: Wiccan Symbol Added to City Hall Roof Display
12/18: Wiccan Wreath Vandalized at City Hall
12/19: Northeast Wisconsin Nativity Scenes to Stay Up
12/17: Wiccan Pentacle Wreath Vandalized Beside Nativity in Wisconsin
12/20: Pentacle Wreath No Longer Welcome in Green Bay but Nativity Stays
12/20: Watchdog Group Urges Removal of Nativity from Green Bay City Hall
Pagan Wreath Added to Christmas Display
Saturday, December 15, 2007
United Press International