Wiccan Chaplain Battles for State Recognition

February 18, 2010

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Beliefnet/Religion News Service

https://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/news/2010/02/wiccan-chaplain-battles-for-st

 

A volunteer Wiccan chaplain is headed to a federal appeals court in an attempt to get California to hire prison clergy outside five religious categories.

Supported by interfaith scholars and church-state separationists, the Rev. Patrick McCollum argues that the state policy has the "pernicious effect" of depriving inmates of other religious backgrounds from getting the services they need and deserve.

The court challenge began when McCollum, 59, a prominent leader in Wiccan and correctional circles, applied and was rejected for a full-time position as a chaplain in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

"When I got to the personnel office, they refused to give me an application to apply for a state job because they knew that I was a Wiccan," said McCollum, director of Our Lady of the Wells Church in Moraga, Calif., and leader of the National Correctional Chaplaincy Directors Association.