Hazards to U.S. Freedom of Religions

Dear Friends, Pagani, and U.U.’s,

Patrick McCollum, Wiccan prison Chaplain and respected Pagan Elder is in the news lately (summary of some of the stories at The Wild Hunt) because of a lawsuit in federal court to fight for religious freedom in the California Prison System.

“In 1997, after the settlement of a case involving a Wiccan inmate, the California Attorney General’s Office asked Rev. McCollum to serve as a Wiccan chaplain, making him the first government-recognized Wiccan chaplain. [3]. Subsequently, he has served as a statewide correctional chaplain for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. According to the Finding of Fact by the U.S. District Court[13] in McCollum, et al. v. CDCR, et al.,

“Plaintiff Patrick McCollum is a Wiccan [footnote omitted] clergyman who became a volunteer chaplain at the California Corrections Institution (“CCI”) Tehachapi in January 1998. By February 2000, McCollum served as a volunteer, non-salaried Wiccan chaplain for all 33 CDCR correctional institutions.”

He is currently engaged in litigation in the US 9th Circuit Court (McCollum, et al. v. CDCR, et al., C 04-03339 CRB) challenging the California Department of Corrections’ “Five Faiths” policy [4] which recognizes only five major world religions for inclusion in California’s prison chaplaincy program. A summary judgment was filed on February 23, 2009 [5], claiming that Rev. McCollum did not have proper standing in the case, and is currently under appeal[6]. Appellants’ brief was filed on November 19, 2009. Three amicus briefs in the case have been filed by (1) Americans United for Separation of Church and State [7] , the Anti-Defamation League[8], the American Jewish Committee, the [[Interfaith Alliance], and the Hindu American Foundation, (2) Interfaith Community Representatives (i.e., numerous individuals and organizations “committed to facilitating dialogue between the faiths and ensuring that all faiths are treated fairly,” including the American Correctional Chaplains Association), and (3) Florida Justice Institute and Legal Aid Society of New York City.

Rev. McCollum is a member of the American Correctional Chaplain Association, the Program Chair for the National Correctional Chaplaincy Directors Association, and the Chaplaincy Liaison for the American Academy of Religion.

On February 5, 2008, Rev. McCollum testified before the U.S Commission on Civil Rights [9], and his remarks were widely quoted in the Commission’s report entitled “Enforcing Religious Freedom in Prison” [10]”

~Taken from the Wikipedia entry on Mr. McCollum 02/22/10 4:37pm

There is an excellent audio  interview with Patrick McCollum over on Anne Hill’s Blog of Gnosis.

The results of this case could affect Religious Freedom rulings across the United States.   Please, please, take some time to listen to this interview, and to read up on the case.  Especially if you are living in the U.S.




The On Faith blog has a great guest editoral related to todays topic…

One thought on “Hazards to U.S. Freedom of Religions

  1. This is a hugely important case, and depending upon which way it goes, the precedent that it sets has the potential for being disastrous for minority religions.

    I’ve put a specific link on my sidebar to The Wild Hunt’s article on this.

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