Monday, August 10, 2009

PAGAN RIGHTS NEWS: McCollum Case Continues!

PAGAN RIGHTS NEWS: McCollum Case Continues!

Rev. Patrick McCollum, Wiccan Elder, Circle Sanctuary minister, and director of the Lady Liberty League Prison Ministry Task Force, continues to be engaged in a major legal battle for free religious exercise and equal rights for Wiccans and other Pagans in California's state correctional system.

In 2004, Patrick brought a lawCircle and others on behalf of himself and Pagan prison inmates challenging the state's "five faith" policy as unconstitutional and in violation of prison religion law. The five "recognized" faiths in the California correctional system are Protestant Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Native American, and Islam. Islam and Native American were added as recognized faiths as a result of battles with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Now, Paganism is having its battle with the CDCR!

Over the past five years, Patrick's case has met with many challenges. Yet the fight continues as it takes its next step. On July 2, 2009, Plaintiff Rev. Patrick McCollum and the inmate plaintiffs, who were added to the case in 2006, filed a notice of appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the federal court system in the case known as McCollum, et al. v. California Department of Corrections, et al.

Rev. McCollum is appealing, among other things, the lower court's ruling that Rev. McCollum did not have standing to sue about a discriminatory hiring policy, which favors five faiths to the exclusion of others, without any unbiased, neutral justification for the policy. Some of the issues on appeal will be: (1) whether a job applicant has standing to sue under Title VII about a discriminatory hiring policy as a violation of equal employment opportunity; (2) whether a job applicant and/or taxpayer has standing to sue under the Establishment Clause of the U.S. and California Constitutions about a preferential hiring policy as an establishment of religion (i.e., in effect, "establishing" five preferred faiths); and (3) whether inmates' freedom of religion and religious discrimination claims under the U.S. and
California Constitutions and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act were sufficiently alleged in their CDCR grievances.

Although no one can predict how the appellate court will rule, there is good precedent in favor of plaintiffs' claims, which the appellate court will be likely to address in its ruling. Briefs for the appeal are due late Fall. We expect the appeal to take several months. Lady Liberty League will keep the Pagan community informed as the case proceeds.

(1) SEND SUPPORT: Please send support to Patrick McCollum and this Quest for equal rights for Pagans in your meditations and rituals. Send him and those working with him strength, protection, and blessings of success.

(2) STAY INFORMED: To stay updated on this and other cases, join the Lady Liberty League Network, now on Facebook and Twitter (@LadyLibertyLeag).

(3) NETWORK: Please share this update with others. More information:;

Circle Times: Thursday, August 06, 2009

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