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3 Bumps

Because he's in prison, or because he's not a Christian?

A Wiccan prisoner in Minnesota has sued because the prison is restricting his ability to practice.  The state Dept of Human Rights did an investigation and is supporting him in the suit, because they found the reasons the prison gave for refusing him religious ritual items are overlooked in non-religious items sold in the prison store.  (they say he can't have incense because it might mask marijuana smoke, but they sell air fresheners and hygiene products in the store that are scented just as strongly).

What's interesting to me isn't so much the article I was reading about it, but the comments section below it:

"Give him some books about witches and lock him in a broom closet styled cell forever. Then he can practice his religion and save the tax payers money at the same time."

"He will win. The ACLU and a liberal judge will find that he has been discriminated against."

"But then if we allow this person to have his oils and incense, by him burning things and oiling things, isn’t he maybe violating the other prisoners “rights” as well as the prison staff, what about their health concerns, I think we need also to take their “rights” into consideration."

"2 murders and now he's a Wiccan. "Where's my oil? Where's my incense?" Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The dead have no oil or incense and neither shall you."

Would the reaction be the same if he were a Christian being denied a Bible, or a Lent observing Christian denied meat-free options on Friday?

(for those interested in the entire article, it's here:

Answer Question

Asked by NotPanicking at 6:56 PM on Apr. 9, 2011 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (14)
  • He's committed 2 murders? I think he hould be allowed to have the comforts of other prisoners and if his freedom of religion is being violated, I think these questions need to be asked:

    If he were Jewish, would he be given candles and matches for the Sabbath?
    If he were Christian, woudl he be allowed to fast for Lent or would they treat him as if he were on a hunger strike?
    If he were Wiccan (yes, I know) Pagan, Hindu, Buddist etc, should someone convicted of murder really have access to insense, oils, etc?

    Give prisoners a pastor, rabbi, priest, monk of their order to talk with. Give them their sacred books. Things you can swallow, light or throw at/on others. Not so much.

    Answer by irishcoffee at 7:19 PM on Apr. 9, 2011

  • Would the reaction be the same if he were a Christian being denied a Bible, or a Lent observing Christian denied meat-free options on Friday?

    For me personally? My reaction would be about the same. "Tough shit. If you want to keep all your rights, don't murder people." For the prison? Maybe not. Their reason for not letting him have incense sounds like BS, since they allow air fresheners. However, if incense is banned for everyone, and oils are not allowed in any cells, I'm not sure why he should get special treatment. It would be a different story if Christians or people of other faiths were allowed these things and he wasn't - but if no prisoner is allowed those things, regardless of religion, then I'd be inclined to think he's looking for discrimination where they may not be any.

    Answer by DusterMommy at 7:22 PM on Apr. 9, 2011

  • Double murder- enough said- would not matter if he wanted a Bible- I know its un-Christian of me to judge-I never said I was perfect ;)

    Answer by soyousay at 8:05 PM on Apr. 9, 2011

  • Sounds like the MN Dept of Human Rights decided the right thing for exactly the right reasons. Good for them!

    The commenters sound eerily familiar. You see them everywhere, about every group. Less so with Christians, just because there are so many of us, but you see them right here on CM occasionally. And you'd see the same sort of comments about certain races, ages, sexes, about Muslims and still occasionally against Jews. And don't forget the Mexicans.

    Don't get me wrong, loads of us are capable of hating on murderers and their too-comfy cells, TVs, 3 square meals and free healthcare. But in this case, it's a mixed bag of anti-Wiccan slurs, anti-prisoner-luxury/cost and backwards Christian messages. Yay.

    Answer by Tracys2 at 8:05 PM on Apr. 9, 2011

  • You should be free to worship however and whoever you want. But am I the only one failing to see a problem with giving a prisoner a lighter or a match? Anything that can be used as a weapon (even the cross of Jesus) should not be given to a murderer!

    Answer by Renee3K at 8:59 PM on Apr. 9, 2011

  • Sorry, but he doesn't NEED incense and oils to perform rituals. Besides that fact, he murdered two people, he LOST his RIGHTS when he was found GUILTY. If he was such a devotee to his chosen religion, then why did he take the lives of two people? Remember, the Wiccan Rede is to HARM NONE. Followed that real well, didn't he?

    Answer by SpiritedWitch at 9:02 PM on Apr. 9, 2011

  • Would the reaction be the same if he were a Christian being denied a Bible, or a Lent observing Christian denied meat-free options on Friday?

    I don't know, but it is a prison. I didn't know prisons were supposed to cater to inmates desires. Anyway, I think Sabrina said it quite nicely.

    Answer by popzaroo at 9:31 PM on Apr. 9, 2011

  • I don't care what religion a person is, but a part of me really thinks murderers should loose all rights besides bread and water.


    Answer by Mom2LM at 3:11 AM on Apr. 10, 2011

  • Would the reaction be the same if he were a Christian being denied a Bible, or a Lent observing Christian denied meat-free options on Friday?


    HELLS YEAH the reaction would be different!


    Answer by MamaK88 at 11:47 AM on Apr. 10, 2011

  • Both. As I understand it, even christian prisoners are not allowed religious jewelry. I presume the same is true for other religions. If you want to take a cross/star of David/pentacle with you to prison, you'd better tattoo it right on your body. I tend to doubt his dedication to wicca, just I would doubt a murderer's conversion to christianity. The Wiccan Rede states "Do what you will, but harm noone." He violated that. Twice. Prisoners are there for punishment--not to be catered to. Punishment means losing your rights. Losing your freedom. You don't get to dictate what's for lunch and you don't get candles and incense in your cell. He'll win, of course. And the punishment he's receiving for his crimes will be even less effective. And less meaningful.

    Answer by witchqueen at 12:02 PM on Apr. 10, 2011

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