AUSTIN, Texas — Governor Greg Abbott signed into a law the Texas adoption bill that aims to protect “the rights of conscience for child welfare services providers.” As we reported in May, the controversial bill has generated both national support and criticism. Proponents claim that the new law will help an ailing child care system by protecting faith-based service organizations, which make up a sizable bulk of the potential child welfare providers. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. James Frank (R), posted on Facebook: “HB 3859 bans no one.” The aim, as he has said, is to improve the system and find stable families for troubled children.
Contrary to that, critics say that the law will allow for open discrimination based on religion, marital status, or sexual preference. Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said, “With his signature [..], Gov. Abbott has joined the lieutenant governor and other lawmakers in taking Texas down a dark and cruel road.” Miller added that the bill is a “clear attempt” to discriminate against not only the LGBT community but “also people of other faiths.”
In May, we spoke with blogger John Beckett, a Texas-based Druid and Unitarian Universalist. He said that while he understands the sentiments behind the bill, he stands in opposition, saying, “Its real-world impact will be to make it harder for LGBT families, Pagan families, and other non-Christian families to adopt children.” However, he did note that that the situation is complicated.
The new law will go into affect September. Several LGBT organizations have reportedly planned to challenge the new law.
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BRAZIL — Members of the Piago Paganism organization inaugurated a new polytheistic temple dedicated to the religious traditions of the area. Located in the Piauí in northeastern Brazil, the temple is located in a “large rural area dedicated to the preservation of polytheist cultural and religious preservation: Vila Pagã.”
Held May 28, the inauguration ceremony was attended by members of the Pagan community, as well as political and religious leaders, including those from the Catholic, Neopentecostal, and World Messianic churches, as well as Candomblé and Umbanda.
According to organizer and leader of Piaga Circle, Rafael Nolêto, the “event was started with a presentation of children from the community, who [presented a theatrical piece] representing the formation of Piaga Paganism, a polytheistic tradition that celebrates the spirits and deities native to Piauí and Brazil.” Piaga Paganism also honors the gods of 15 foreign pantheons.
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UNITED STATES – Today is June 19th, also known as Juneteenth. As columnist Crystal Blanton noted in a June 17 article, “Juneteenth is just that – an historic day of freedom for Black Americans. Filled with celebrations, festivals, and remembrance, the date June 19 marks the end of chattel slavery in all of the states within the U.S.”
Celebrations are taking place throughout the country. Blanton lists a number of ways that Pagans can celebrate the holiday with the help of several websites, one of which is Lilith Dorsey’s Voodoo Universe. In a 2015 post, Dorsey discussed the honoring of ancestors with food. She writes, “Many of the recipes I feature here on this blog Voodoo Universe would be suitable dishes to make this Juneteenth for your own illusion. For at it center Juneteenth is about celebrating our hard won freedom on every level…. nourishing ourselves no matter what illusions life dishes out. Enjoy this Juneteenth and your freedom.”
In other news
- Where did everyone go? Circle Sanctuary’s Pagan Spirit Gathering, one of the biggest and oldest week-long Pagan camping festivals, got underway yesterday. Look for blog posts and updates in social media from that community over the next week.
- Speaking of festivals, Eight Winds is less than a month away. This four-day festival is ADF longest-running event. Held in Trout Lake, Washington, Eight Winds will offer “great food, rituals, workshops, fireside chats, and lots of bardic shenanigans.” Featured guests include: Lupa Greenwolf, Phaedra Bonewits, Shauna Aura Knight, and Rev. Kirk Thomas. The festival runs July 13-16.
- Another summer Pagan event is New York City’s popular WitchsFestUSA: A Pagan Street Faire. The three-day-long annual event happens near Astor Place in the West Village. Last year, the event drew loud protesters, who irritated some attendees but did not stop the festivities. This year’s event will take place Saturday July 14-16.
While it’s not news to labyrinth aficionados and Google Maps fiends, a Wiccan in Enola, Pennsylvania has built a pentacle labyrinth with his own two hands. Lord Fairy Bottom Educifer, high priest of the Coven of the Mighty Oak (part of the Blue Ridge Mountain Clan tradition) told a Wild Hunt reporter that he first created it in 2006, but upgraded and expanded it in 2014 over two months to make it usable in wheelchairs. Visible in satellite photography, the new version is 60 feet in diameter with paths lined with limestone dust three inches thick. More details about the labyrinth are available here, including the address and details on how to make an appointment to walk it.
- A new issue of the Dolmen Grove Chronicles is available online. The midsummer edition features articles, reviews, and photographs that capture a Pagan spirit. For example, Rachael Moss offers seasonal sowing charts and Andrew Cowling writes about St. John’s Wort. The digital journal is the publication of the Dolmen Grove, a UK-based organization of mixed spiritual paths that was established in the 1990s.