Family group warns Midland officials: school newspaper’s promotion of witchcraft may expose children to harm
MIDLAND, Mich. — A statewide family values group Tuesday praised Midland Central Middle School Principal Paula Geller for pledging to ensure that the middle school’s student newspaper will not publish articles in the future encouraging its 11- to 13-year old readers to consider experimenting with witchcraft.
Gary Glenn, Midland, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, contacted school officials in response to the Winter 2005 issue of the middle school’s Cavalier Chronicle, which included an article entitled “Good Witch or Bad Witch?” in which an 8th grade member of the student newspaper staff wrote that “most people believe that witches don’t exist, and I am here to prove them wrong.”
“My family is a normal family, except that my aunt is a Wiccan witch,” the Central Middle School 8th grader wrote. “…I have decided to experiment with this religion and see if this is the way for me. I also think that some of the kids in school would like some of the things that Wiccans do, like: We gather in meetings every week and talk, gossip, and learn about the Wiccan way. We cast spells and potions. …So, if you are interested, you can look up some books…and learn all you want about Wiccans.”
Glenn, in a statement delivered by e-mail Tuesday to Geller, Midland Public Schools Supt. Dr. Gary J. Hughes, and members of the MPS board of education, warned that public school officials must take care not to allow the promotion of activities that may put expose children to harm and put taxpayers at risk of legal liability for a tort of negligence.
“We appreciate Principal Geller’s stand that using a middle school newspaper to promote the practice of witchcraft to 11 year olds is inappropriate and wrong, and her commitment to ensure it will not happen again at Central,” Glenn wrote school officials after discussing the issue by phone with Geller.
“To protect all students from harm and protect school personnel and local taxpayers from potential legal liability, we encourage the Midland Board of Education to take similar steps district-wide to ensure that witchcraft and other potentially harmful activities will not be promoted at any public school in Midland,” he wrote.
Glenn said Geller is right to avoid the possibility of future legal liability for a “tort of negligence” that might result if (1) the middle school’s personnel, policies, or publications were viewed by students as encouraging or endorsing the practice of witchcraft, and (2) a student, relying on such an understanding, thereafter engaged in such activity and suffered physical, mental, or emotional harm as a result.
He also said the school newspaper’s promotion of witchcraft “violates the sincerely held religious convictions and values of many Christian families and students who live in Midland.” He urged school officials to publish a retraction in the Central Middle School newspaper apologizing to students and their parents and clarifying that the school does not condone or encourage teens and pre-teens to experiment with witchcraft.
Glenn cited two cases in recent months — one in Muskegon and the other in neighboring Ohio — in which the practice of witchcraft and Wicca was a motivating factor in criminal cases in which children were sexually molested and murdered, respectively.
The Muskegon Chronicle reported December 3rd: “A female teacher accused of sexually assaulting a former student, a 14-year-old girl, had developed such a trusting relationship that the two ‘married’ in a pagan ritual, state police said Thursday. ‘They also participated in witchcraft together,’ Detective Sgt. Dianne Oppenheim said. …(The lesbian teacher) lives in the Heritage Hill neighborhood with another woman and their adopted son.”
The Grand Rapids Press reported December 4th that “the girl and her teacher lit candles, ‘did some chants’ and exchanged vows among the trees, (State Police Sgt. Diane) Oppenheim said. There were no priests or witnesses. ‘They followed the ritual,’ which also included exchanging a braided piece of cloth, she said. During a week in the woods, after the vows, the teacher and the girl had the first of five sexual encounters, police said. …(The teacher) said she gave the girl a book on witchcraft, ‘because she knew she was interested in it,’ Oppenheim said.” http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/base/news-18/1102158925286650.xml
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported February 26th regarding the murder of a 13-month old baby girl by her mother’s boyfriend, writing that according to trial testimony, the woman and her boyfriend “were raising (the now deceased infant) as a Wiccan. …Wicca is a nature-based earth spirituality that includes rituals and spells. …(The boyfriend) discussed rituals and puncturing (the baby’s) skin. An eight-inch tattoo needle found under (her) playpen was used to make the inch-deep punctures, according to testimony.” http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/summit/1109414152261902.xml
The Akron Beacon Journal reported March 1st that what happened to the baby “has been called torturous, brutal and bizarre. …She suffered bruising from head to toe, a severed liver, multiple broken ribs, a fractured ankle and a fatal blow that separated her skull from her neck and killed her instantly. In addition, minutes to hours before her death, Jacqueline’s feet and cheek were punctured more than 40 times with a tattoo needle, in what prosecutors say was an initiation ritual of sorts in a neopagan religion. …(The baby’s mother and the mother’s boyfriend) told investigators they were followers of the Wicca religion.” http://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal/11026388.htm
Glenn also expressed concern that encouraging middle school children to attend local coven meetings to experiment with witchcraft might also expose them to adults who engage in homosexual activity and encourage children to do so, as was true in the Muskegon case.
“Wicca generally accepts all sexual orientations as normal and natural: heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual,” according to the web site ReligiousTolerance.org.
That opens the door to further health risks to children, Glenn said, citing a Harvard Medical School study which found that youth who engage in homosexual behavior “report disproportionate risk for a variety of health risk and problem behaviorsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦engag(ing) in twice the number of risk behaviors. …(including) increasedÃ¢â‚¬Â¦use of cocaineÃ¢â‚¬Â¦using tobacco, marijuana, and cocaine before 13 years of ageÃ¢â‚¬Â¦sexual intercourse before 13 years of age, sexual intercourse with four or more partnersÃ¢â‚¬Â¦and sexual contact against oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s will.” Other medical research associates such behavior with a dramatically higher incidence of mental illness, eating disorders, AIDS and other life-threatening diseases, and premature death by up to 20 years, Glenn said.
Glenn noted that according to a web site called WitchVox.com, there are two witch covens located in Midland:
The Green Creek Sanctuary Circle of Moonlight
The Spiral Path
A web site called MagicWicca.com reports that new recruits to witch covens go through an initiation ceremony in which they are blindfolded and bound, have all clothing cut away with a sword, are bathed and kissed by all coven members on the feet, knees, stomach, breasts, and lips, are marked with an “X” on the forehead, breasts, and genitals, and are then carried around in a circle three times by other coven members “laughing and shrieking” until the recruit is placed on the ground before the altar. http://www.magicwicca.com/wicca/coven.html