The Clergy of Come As You Are Coven, an Interfaith Pagan community in Northern California, take exception to the statements about Pagans and Wiccans made by Fox Network commentators Anna Kooiman, Clayton Morris, Tucker Carlson, and Tammy Bruce on-air February 17, 2013. The inaccurate and slanted reporting and commentary permitted by the Fox Network on the topic of the recognition of Pagan and Wiccan holy days by the University of Missouri was an incident of egregious misinformation, lack of research, blatant sexism, religious prejudice, and personal invective. The remarks made by these Fox Network hosts were especially irresponsible in light of the increasing diversity of religious tradition in America, where members of minority religions still struggle to establish equality and fair treatment in their schools, local governments, civic organizations, and communities.
Given the current politically divided climate, it is crucial for the media to hold a high standard of integrity and commitment to reporting fairly about the diverse cultures in this country and the countries with which the United States interacts. This is achieved through unbiased reporting, sensitive yet unemotional delivery of factual material, and thorough research to establish the verity of assertions made by reporters and commentators. The media has a responsibility to act with conscience and accountability in the selection and appropriate preparation of the individuals who are professionally tasked with informing large portions of the population. In this case, accurate factual information about Pagan and Wiccan holidays is widely and readily available online, in libraries, in government documents such as the US Army Chaplain’s Handbook, and in a number of state and district court cases where Wicca was specifically recognized as a religion protected under the First Amendment. There is no sufficient excuse for the gross misrepresentations allowed by Fox Network on February 17.
We request that this issue be addressed by Fox News Network via an immediate, prominent, on-air apology; significant on-air retraction of specific comments with factual corrections; visible dialogue with practicing Wiccans and Pagans conducted in a respectful manner; and appropriate commitment by the Network to providing the individuals responsible with a mandatory professional course of diversity training in religious and sex/gender sensitivity.
As an Interfaith Pagan organization that recognizes Wicca as a major influence, and that also recognizes the First Amendment right of each individual to choose a personally meaningful spiritual path, we denounce any effort to undermine the sacred nature of any religion/practice, holy day, and/or celebration, especially but not limited to those growing, emerging, and/or marginalized religions/practices.
We applaud the University of Missouri’s sensitivity to the needs of its Pagan and Wiccan community members via recognition of their holy celebrations, and encourage other academic, government, and business institutions to include similar awareness of these holy days in their own administration and planning.
We support the varied and diverse efforts of the concerned individuals and groups who are bringing this issue to public attention and mobilizing Pagans and Wiccans to demand public accountability and fair resolution.
The Clergy of CAYA Coven are each going to be sending this statement to the Fox Network and the FCC at the following addresses:
1211 Avenue of Americas, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10036
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
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