Sunday, November 15, 2009
Because the federal census does not ask about religious affiliation, and because ridicule or discrimination has tended to keep Pagans closeted in the past, statistics on the number of adherents in the United States are imprecise and probably too low, according to an article in the New York Times. Still, the recent growth in their numbers is evident in surveys done in 1990 and 2001 by the City University of New York. And the acceptance of the religion by the military and others has increased in recent years. In the 1970s, Wiccan groups began seeking and obtaining tax-exempt status from federal and state authorities, said the Rev. Selena Fox, the founder and spiritual leader of an early, influential Wicca church, Circle Sanctuary in Barneveld, Wis. By the decade’s end, Wicca was included in the handbook for military chaplains. Since then, Wiccans have served as chaplains in prisons and hospices, as well as in the armed forces. Recently, Ms. Fox supplied the invocation for the daily session of the Wisconsin State Assembly.