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Protests follow ouster of Muslim and Wiccan from Wisconsin clergy group

Posted: Friday, November 01, 2002

WAUPUN, Wis. (AP) -- The first Wiccan to serve as a prison chaplain in Wisconsin and a Muslim chaplain were both ousted from the Waupun Clergy Association, which now allows only Christians as members.

Muslim Imam Ronald Beyah said last week's action included him so it wouldn't appear the group was targeting the person who caused concern, Jamyi Witch, the Wiccan chaplain.

Some state legislators and others criticized her appointment last December, but the warden at Dodge Correctional Institution said the law prevented religious discrimination.

Members of the association in this community 55 miles northwest of Milwaukee said it was founded for Christian ministers, but ambiguous bylaws meant Beyah was included two years ago, followed by Witch last December.

Lutheran pastor Kenneth Spence, who proposed the new policy, said he had nothing against Witch and Beyah ''as persons, but it's a matter of principle.''

Beyah said he respects Witch as a professional and equal even though Islam strongly opposes pagan views. ''She's an excellent chaplain,'' he said. ''Her religious faith or tradition has nothing to do with her as a chaplain.''

Wiccans celebrate nature and worship various gods and goddesses. Followers are sometimes called witches, though many prefer the term Wiccan.



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