Uproar Over Wiccan Chaplain Hired at Wisconsin Prison

January 7, 2002

Original Source: Los Angeles Times


On January 7, 2002, the Los Angeles Times reported that in Wisconsin, "a state representative from... West Salem is leading a drive to yank funding for Witch's $32,500-a-year post, saying taxpayers 'shouldn't be forced to accept this hocus-pocus.' Two other lawmakers have joined him in outrage; one called Witch's appointment 'morally dangerous.' Meanwhile, callers have swamped the prison switchboard, the state Legislature and radio talk shows with pro-Witch or anti-Witch tirades... Witch said she's received mostly supportive calls. Aside from a few death threats, she said, 'the overwhelming'consensus has been: 'You go, girl. We're behind you''... Witch notes that a large part of any chaplain's job is to bring in volunteer ministers of other faiths, so that all spiritual needs can be met. For instance, she recently organized a religious feast, presided over by a visiting imam, for Muslim inmates to mark the end of Ramadan... Chaplains also are responsible for making sure all prisoners have the tools they need to worship, be it a Bible or sacred crystals. In fact, Witch said, very little of her job involves one-on-one spiritual ministry, although when called upon, she said she can offer guidance to anyone of any faith. Without resorting to witchcraft... Exact numbers are hard to come by, but religious scholars estimate there are at least 50,000 Wiccans in this country and perhaps as many as 200,000."