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Wiccan Priestess Blesses Iowa Legislature; Legislature Responds With Ignorance and Intolerance

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It’s always something. In an attempt to show how diverse and inclusive Iowans are, Iowa State Rep. Liz Bennett invited Wiccan High Priestess, Deborah Maynard, to deliver the morning blessing at the Iowa Legislature this past Thursday. They’ve had Christians, Jews, and Muslims deliver the blessing, and Rep. Bennett has also approached Zen Buddhist leaders and others. But this was the first time in the Legislature’s history that a Wiccan had been given the opportunity. In fact, Maynard is only the third Pagan every in the country to be invited to deliver a blessing at a state house. Cause for celebration, right? Apparently not.

More than half the representatives didn’t show up for the prayer at all. Others turned their backs on Maynard during the prayer. Still others attended specifically to pray for Maynard’s soul. (Thanks, but no thanks?)

From The Washington Post:

Michelle Gute came to pray so as to counteract Maynard’s Wiccan prayer. “I don’t want any demonic influences on the people who are making decisions on our behalf,” she said to the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

It’s always amazing to me when supposedly tolerant people can’t even bear to be in the same space with someone who doesn’t share their beliefs without being disrespectful in some way. Even more amazing is where they draw their lines: We’re totally tolerant of all religions…as long as they’re the RIGHT religions. As long as they’re religions that make sense to us. The fact that Rep. Gute was talking about “demonic influences,” shows a fundamental ignorance of what Paganism and Wicca even are. This should’ve been a learning opportunity, but was instead turned into another round of Whom Can We Hate Today?

Meanwhile, I’m sure there are atheist Representatives in that legislature thinking to themselves: Do we even NEED a blessing? Can I just lead the morning prayer with a high-five and a ‘Good job, everyone! Let’s kick some ass today!’? Yeah, they probably wouldn’t have a welcome turn up at the mic either.

I applaud Rep. Bennett’s attempt, and hope that other state representatives elsewhere follow her example. Government is supposed to represent everyone, and it’s time we started acting like it.

Le sigh.

(via Jezebel)

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