BeliefNet Article Looks at Wiccan Chaplain’s Lawsuit

As mentioned here previously and at The Wild Hunt, Patrick McCollum, volunteer Wiccan prison chaplain in California, has sued the state to overturn a policy of hiring paid chaplains only from certain religions.

A new article at BeliefNet summarizes the case. Excerpts:

Supported by interfaith scholars and church-state separationists, the Rev. Patrick McCollum argues that the state policy has the “pernicious effect” of depriving inmates of other religious backgrounds from getting the services they need and deserve.

The court challenge began when McCollum, 59, a prominent leader in Wiccan and correctional circles, applied and was rejected for a full-time position as a chaplain in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“When I got to the personnel office, they refused to give me an application to apply for a state job because they knew that I was a Wiccan,” said McCollum, director of Our Lady of the Wells Church in Moraga, Calif., and leader of the National Correctional Chaplaincy Directors Association.

“They never reviewed my qualifications.

 Religious-studies professor and lawyer Barbara McGraw responds to an amicus brief in the case–from a conservative Christian group supporting the state’s position–here:

In other words, genuine Christianity supports religious rights for all. Christianity was not at the founding, nor is it now a monolithic “ism” that justifies the domination and suppression of others–not even Wiccan/Pagans.

An amici curiae brief on McCollum’s side filed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Anti-Defamation League, and other groups is also available (PDF file).