Official Statement: EMLC on Escambia County Murders

We at Everglades Moon Local Council (Covenant of The Goddess) are saddened by the violent Deerfield Drive triple homicide, in our home state of Florida. We hope the person(s) responsible are swiftly brought to justice. We are also disappointed that the mainstream media chose to twist the statements made by the Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan and Sgt. Andrew Hobbs. The media, with intent to make a tragic story go viral, portrays members of our community in an inappropriate and ignorant way.

The Public Information Officer of EMLC spoke with Sena Maddison, ECSO Public Information Officer, and she was also disappointed about the way the news outlets chose to headline the story. She stated “The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff David Morgan and Sgt. Andrew Hobbs never used the word Wicca and by no means, in any way, ever intended for Wicca or any religion to be maligned.”

We at EMLC are always ready to help educate others, including the media and the criminal justice community, about our religion. We hope by providing education to help the broader community understand that Wicca has a code of ethics centered on harming none, and in no way endorses or requires violence, murder, ritual human or animal sacrifice.

EMLC asks if anyone in the Florida community has any information about this case to please call Crime Stoppers at 850-433-STOP or call the ECSO non-emergency phone number at 850-436-9620. You can request to remain anonymous.


EMLC is not alone in speaking out against the media handling of this tragic event.  Lady Liberty League has issued a statement, as they have also been in touch with ECSO and are working to respond to the situation. The Wild Hunt also has ongoing excellent coverage as well.

Several media agencies, including The Washington Post and The Guardian have updated their stories to include not only better research into what exactly Wicca and Witchcraft are, but also information from local pagans who reached out to help bring more understanding and education about what Wicca is to the media.

Update 08/07/2015: Discovery News has a great article taking each point in the story and identifying why it would not or could not be used to link the murders to Wicca. Good job!

For those who would like to watch it, here is the full press conference presented on 08/04/2015 by ECSO regarding this horrific event. The full transcript is available by clicking this link:

 

Will 2013 be the Year of the Witch?

2013Witches and Wicca have certainly been in the news a lot during these first few months of 2013.  Will 2013 see more stories of tolerance (and, unfortunately, intolerance) of Wiccan and Pagan religions?  Only time will tell.  But if the rest of the year follows suit with the activity of 2013, this might very well be the Year of the Witch!

You could say that some of this started last year.  Back in December, the current Grand Master of the Freemasons of Florida issued his edict that Pagans, along with other groups, would not be eligible to petition for membership in their fraternal organization. This is an issue that is still being discussed in the halls of Florida Freemasonry, as well as among the brotherhood nationwide. Everglades Moon issued a Media Statement about this situation, and our site quickly become one of the places pagans visited for more information.

Also last year, the University of Missouri updated their Guide to Religions: Major Holidays and Suggested Accommodations to include Pagan holidays. While this happened in 2012, it wasn’t until Fox New on-air personalities discussed Wicca rather unfavorably that this update sparked national media coverage.  Rather, it sparked national media coverage of Fox News’ coverage of the story.  It resulted in an apology Tweet from Tucker Carlson and an on-air apology… of sorts. Covenant of the Goddess issued a statement on this situation.

In other news….California’s Department of Corrections has been taken to task for it’s “Five Faiths” policy, where it limits the hiring of paid chaplains of the  Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Native American faiths. Inmates brought a complaint to court, saying that while the Department of Corrections does have Wiccan volunteers, they are not able to come in as often as the chaplains of the other religions.  While the suit was dismissed in 2011, this latest suit asserted that the prisons may not be using neutral standards when deciding how best to spend money on the prisoners’ religious need, and may be in violation of the constitutional ban on a governmental “establishment of religion”. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling now allows for the case to proceed in court.

We return back to Missouri for the last bit of Wicca in the news.  Last week, a judgement in the case of  Hunter v. Salem Public Library Board of Trustees was reached. In this case, the Salem Public Library system was actively blocking sites it deemed “occult” which included, according to the ACLU complaint, “prevented access to sites such as the official webpage of the Wiccan Church; the Wikipedia entry for Wicca; Astrology.com; and the Encyclopedia on Death and Dying.” A federal judge ruled against the library, saying that while the library can have filters for obvious instances of pornography, as well as anti-virus filters, they cannot block viewpoints with which they disagree.  Even Rachel Maddow covered it, saying “At least this Salem Witch Trial worked out better than the last.”

And while Wicca and Paganism have been in the news, let’s not ignore the bounty of movies featuring witches that come out in 2013.  These include Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Beautiful Creatures,  and Oz: the Great and Powerful.

With so much activity so far in 2013… could this year be the Year of the Witch?

Covenant of the Goddess Responds to the Media’s Comments on Wicca

For Immediate Release
DATE OF RELEASE: February 19, 2013
CONTACT:  Heather Greene, National Public Information Officer
WEBSITE:  www.cog.org
The Covenant of the Goddess, a Wiccan advocacy organization, responds to the recent media commentary on Wicca and Paganism
San Bernardino, CA – The Covenant of the Goddess, a 37-year old organization supporting Wiccans and Witches in the United States, is profoundly disappointed at the string of negative, inaccurate and sensationalized comments made by various media anchors and reporters about Wicca and Paganism.  Over the past two weeks, ABC News, CNN’s Headline News and Fox News Network have all allowed their commentators to broadcast misinformation and to publicly ridicule a recognized religious faith.
The Covenant of the Goddess recognizes and respects the opinions and beliefs of all people, of faith or no faith.  We applaud the University of Missouri and any other organization that strives for community awareness and interfaith peace.  We do not expect special treatment for Wiccans or Witches on campus or otherwise. However, we do expect the national media to report with reasonable accuracy and to offer a modicum of respect to people of all faiths and all practices.
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