February 12, 2003 News & Features » Cover Story



Wiccan Cyndi Simpson for standing up for the First Amendment's freedom of religion clause.

After the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors denied her request to deliver a pre-meeting invocation, an honor regularly bestowed upon Christian clergy, Simpson took legal action Dec. 6, filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging "official governmental disapproval of a religious tradition."

She didn't do it because the supervisors called her names. Though they did. In an Oct. 5 article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Chairman Kelley E. Miller was quoted as saying that Simpson's religion is "a mockery." Supervisor Renny B. Humphrey expressed his hope that Simpson was "a good witch like Glinda."

And she didn't file suit because she wants to convert others to Wicca, she says, though she'd prefer that the general public -- including public servants -- learn about Wicca from Wiccans and not "The Wizard of Oz."

She feels that, spiritually speaking, we have a lot to learn from one another. "All our lives can be enriched by the sharing of religious paths," says Simpson, who plans to attend seminary in the fall and hopes to become an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister.

"I look forward to the day when all faiths are given equal respect and understanding in this country founded on religious freedom," Simpson says. Her pending lawsuit may bring us a little closer to that day.

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