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    Subscribe to the Chicago Freedom Fighters - Archive: The Bush Years
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    Chicago Freedom Fighters

     
    "Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual." --Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1819.
     
    "Those who give up essential liberty to secure a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~Benjamin Franklin
     
    "Why of course the people don't want war...naturally...that is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." -Hitler's #2 Man, Hermann Goering
     
     
    During the next four years we have many important issues, with the President having outright said that he doesn't think we are a real religion, Republican congressman will have no qualms about trying to restrict our 1st Amendment rights, as they view this election as a mandate to push forward the agenda of the Republican party and her Religious Right puppet masters (see Congressman Bob Barr of GA). Here is what our esteemed president, George Bush has to say about Wicca:
     
    "I don't think that witchcraft is a religion. I wish the military would rethink this decision."
     
    -- George W. Bush, earlier remark, June, 1999, to ABC News, regarding Ft. Hood's decision to allow Wiccan rituals just as all military bases allow rituals of the Christian faith (in a letter to Cliff Walker, the Bush Campaign HQ back pedaled, calling this Bush's personal opinion; later, however, it becomes an integral part of his campaign)
     
     
    "Religious freedom and tolerance is a protected right. I am committed to the First Amendment principles of religious freedom, tolerance, and diversity. Whether Mormon, Methodist, Jewish, or Muslim, Americans should be able to participate in their constitutional free exercise of religion. I do not think witchcraft is a religion, and I do not think it is in any way appropriate for the U.S. military to promote it."
     
    -- George W. Bush, second remark, October 15, 2000, Web, White & Blue 2000, Rolling Cyber Debate question: "With religious diversity increasing, what are your thoughts on the protection of religious freedom and the separation of church and state? Should religions like Wicca be banned from recognition by the military, as some legislators suggest?" Bush honors diversity, but only within certain bounds, saying nothing in favor of one's Constitutional right to freedom from religion (he's against it: see below) and speaking out once again against Americans' right to practice the Wiccan religion with the same freedoms enjoyed by those who practice Bush's own religion of Evangelical Christianity. Notice how Bush does away with the Wiccan's right to religious liberty by redefining Wicca as not a religion and further denigrating it with the term witchcraft. In the same way, atheism, that is, the freedom from government-imposed or government-sponsored religious intrusion, being not itself a bona fide religion, is twisted by Bush to become a viewpoint or practice or right that is not covered under the First Amendment guarantee of religious Liberty.
     
     
    Things like faith based Charitable Choice threatening to further break down the walls that separate Church from State. Christian organizations having secret meetings with White House officials trying to make it easier for them to discriminate against people of other faiths, while receiving federal funds (The Salvation Army). Legislation like the Patriot Act, Patriot Act II, and the Homeland Security Act are serious threats to our Constitutional rights in general. We have an uphill battle to keep the battle line at least where it is and not lose any ground. Never before have we had an administration that was so opposed to what we stand for and what we believe. Every action of this administration has been to limit our freedoms in the name of the "War on Terror." Many believe that this has been nothing but a ruse to destroy our freedoms. Even Bush himself claimed he wanted to be dictator. Everything from the attacks on 9/11 to the present illegal war in Iraq has present the administration with the opportunity to destroy our freedoms. Adolph Hitler would have been proud of his financier's grandson. Just to give an example of his lack of caring, here is the footage from 9/11 where Bush is in the Florida schoolroom at the time of the attacks. The video starts just as Andrew Card informs Bush of the second plane hitting the second tower at the World Trade Center (click here - 12.6 meg download...either click the link to view or right click and select save target to download to your hard drive - video courtesy of the MemoryHole) We do have some sympathetic voices in congress, for example, here is a letter sent to me by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) in response to my letter to him in regards to Representative Barr's comments... (Letter).
     
    Seems even in our very conservative Supreme Court, the voice of reason pops up. Here's a decision handed down by them in regards to having "Intellegent Design" taught in classes as an alternative to evolution. It's long and you will need Adobe Acrobat reader to view it. Download Document...
     
    Here is what the courts and other government documents have to say about Wicca and it's legal status...this is from the Religious Tolerance website.
     
    What can you do?
     
    Write your congressmen and write them often. I think Senators Dick Durbin (D) and Barak Obama (D) as well as Representative Judy Biggert (R) probably know me by name as much as I write, email, and fax them. Let get it to the point where all of our Senators and Representatives know us by name because they have a 10 foot stack of letters and faxes from us. Be active and be active often ;-) The only way we will be able to ensure our rights and make this a place where no one has to be in the broom closet, or any closet for that matter is if we stand up and be counted. Vote, correspond regularly with your elected officials, and just stay on top of things as best you can.
     
    Where can I go to find information on issues?
     
    There are organizations like the Pagan Unity Campaign Political Action Committee that organized the I AM campaign Summer solstice, 2000, which netted approximately 150,000 postcards to our elected officials, 40,000 of them going to the President. It even incurred a blanket "No Comment" response from republican Congressman and the White House. I think we got their attention :-D We need to stand up and be counted. We need to let our elected official know that we will no longer tolerate our rights being trampled on by religious zealots. We will no longer lose our jobs or our children by those who would spit on the Constitution and violate our rights. Knowledge is power. Know your rights!
     
    We will not tolerate any more Tempest Smith's (the young girl in Michigan, who committed suicide because her classmates teased her ruthlessly for being Wiccan, while the school administrators and teachers turned a blind eye). This can never, ever, happen again. We have to support those who are in need in our community, even if just moral support when they stand up in the face of oppression. Let them know that we appreciate what they are doing, as they are also standing up for all of our rights. With each case that get shot down, we gain. With each one that does not get fought, we lose ground. Without the Constitution, this country has no meaning. It is the cornerstone and the foundation. It is worth fighting for. Even as imperfect as our government is...it is worth the fight to help steer it towards the perfect ideal: Freedom for everyone, no matter what their faith may be.
     
    Additional links...
    Copley First Amendment Center
    Religious Tolerance website
    The Witches Voice (Witchvox)
    Alternative Religions Education Network(AREN)
    Witches Against Religious Discrimination (WARD)
    United State Constitution
    The Declaration of Independence
    Illinois State Constitution
    Illinois General Assembly
    Illinois House Democrats
    Illinois House Republicans
    Illinois State Website
    Illinois Supreme Court
    US District Court, Northern Illinois District
    US District Court, Southern Illinois District
    Illinois Department of Human Rights
    Illinois Department of Labor
    Office of the Illinois Attorney General
    American Bar Association
    Illinois Paralegal Association
    Dupage County Bar Association
    State and Local Bar Association Listing
    Government Publications (Federal)
    Project Vote Smart
     
    Community
     
    The other issue we need to work on is our community. There are many factions within our community that a lot of times just can't seem to get along because of personal differences. We need to bridge over these personal differences and keep the personal stuff away from the organizational level. If you don't like someone...that's fine...just leave the pagan Community out of it. We have been hurt too many times by these petty squabbles that only end up hurting the community and not the intended target. This is something that requires diligence on all of our parts. If we see this coming up, we need to recognize it is squash it before it can cause damage to the community. We need a united front.
     
    Take the example of what happened to the Russians after the Bolshevik revolution. There were several factions that did not cooperate with each other because they all had their own agendas and personal hatreds of each other. The Bolsheviks took advantage of this and defeated each of these factions individually. Even though all of them were enemies of the Bolsheviks, they couldn't bridge over their personal hatred and come together to defeat the Bolsheviks. In turn, each was defeated and the Bolsheviks won, thus the Soviet Union was born.
     
    The Soviet union equates to the religious right and the Christian Coalition. They would gladly trample on the constitution and prevent us from practicing our religion. If we are fragmented, we will be easy pickings. But together we are strong and they will not be able to mess with us because we would be a united front to be taken seriously. Let's stand up and be heard. Let them know that we will fight for our rights. As one of my favorite bumper stickers says...
     
    "We shall not fly silently into the night..."
     
    With Love and Bright Blessings,
    Rev. Eric Roberts
    woad@witchnet.org
    High Priest, Temple of the Sacred Craft http://www.sacredcraft.org
    Webmaster, Witches of the West, http://www.witchnet.org
    Midwestern US Pagan FAQ, http://www.midwestpagans.org