Ellicott City, MD June 4, 1999– On May 30th the office of John Machate, the Coordinator of the Military Pagan Network, Inc. issued a prepared statement detailing the activities of Barr over a two-week period. In that statement the he explained in brief the verbal attacks Barr has made and the lack of response from other legislators. John also has spoken out on behalf of religious freedom for Wiccans and other Pagans in the U.S. Military through a series of media interviews, including one with National Public Radio. In many of those interviews he stressed that Barr was just talking and had not made any legislative attempts to outlaw Wicca.
On June 3rd MPN received a faxed copy of an article from the June 2nd issue of “The Hill”, a newspaper published on Capital Hill and sent to 22,000 subscribers, as well as every public official and aide on the Hill. The article entitled “Barbells, no witches proposed for Defense” detailed the attempt of Rep. Barr to add and amendment outlawing the practice of Wicca on military bases to “The National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2000” H.R. 1401.
Over the course of the following 24 hours, June 3 – June 4, Military Pagan Network, Lady Liberty League and Witches Voice contacted the author of the story, congressman and contacts in the Pentagon and Capital Hill. It was determined that at some point the amendment was added to the bill, but while the bill was in the House Rules Committee on May 27th, the committee removed them. No Congressional evidence of the amendment been found though from our research all House Resolutions and Reports are available.
MPN still feels that Barr’s attempts at stopping the practice of Wicca on military bases is ineffectual. However, the reality is he may try again, depending on the media spin and public opinion. To prevent this kind of “stealth” legislation from passing, religious liberty organizations must keep a close eye on Rep. Barr, inform the public when the facts are known, and propose organized plans of action.
Founded in 1992,incorporated in 1997 the Military Pagan Network Inc. acted as a store and group information resource for Neopagans in the military. The corporation now provides material regarding various Neopagan religions to the Chaplaincy, as well as fulfilling its original goal of providing contacts near military bases around the world. In 1997 the corporation expanded its services to include assisting military members with the proper handling of harassment and discrimination. In 1999 the IRS gave the Military Pagan Network, Inc. tax-exempt status in accordance with Internal Revenue Code 501(c)3.
Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on MPN, please visit the MPN website at https://www.milpagan.org/ .
Copyright 1999, Military Pagan Network Inc.