Yesterday’s post stirred up a lot.
(Clearly, as this is a record breaking consecutive days blog post. Quick! Don’t post again for two years!). Nevertheless, Here I am to proudly proclaim: change happened.
Here’s the Clifs Notes version:
After suggesting a class on Ritual Etiquette and being asked to change the name, I learned that Pagan Pride day has been censoring certain verbiage from the event for going on five years. (Supposedly at the behest of the City of Belmont.) Naturally, being the pain in the ass that I am – I stirred unholy hell about this clear violation of religious liberties. I withdrew my participation entirely from the event contingent on this issue being corrected. Well, a few hundred angry Facebook messages/posts, possible whiplash from following an intense amount of thread updates, and 24 hours later – it’s done.
We have back our identity free of censorship.
Today began with calls to the City. Angry, vehement, calls.
Just kidding. Polite friendly conversations with the awesome Sarah down at Belmont Parks and Rec ensued, who was decidedly confused to start her day with a whole lot of people calling.
It’s hard to post this without it sounding like a confusing mess (you should have been following along in real time if you think this is bad), but basically – the Interfaith panel dream team of Rev HP Tony Brown, Duston Barto, Chuck Chapman, Olive Branch, Sekhti and myself (special thanks to Donald Irvin, whom I will forever call Druid Don, for joining us there at the end.); as well as Cameryn Rhosyn and her backup on the committee (Kimberlee, Sinaloa, and Kristy) shook the trees today until all the facts fell out.
It would seem, that Mr. Christopher Annon (Rook McMorrigan to the Pagan community), acting on behalf of Piedmont Pagan Pride day, had passed this information of censorship down to the event leadership under the misguided belief that these were the rules for Belmont City Parks. I suppose I’ll never know Mr. Annons/Rook McMorrigans true intention; but as the facts came out that this was not in fact a City of Belmont policy – nor had it ever been – he seemed to double down with the notion that this was in fact a State or Federal Law (It isn’t). As he sullied their good name, I’d like to clear the air for the good people of Belmont Parks and Rec, and post the statement from city hall on the matter verbatim:
“Belmont Parks and Recreation Department’s rental agreement policies are consistent with the City of Belmont. The facilities and services of Belmont Parks and Recreation are available to all without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, or disability. Our primary concern of any event is and always will be the safety of patrons within our parks. As long as all park policies are followed and the event is contained, any individual or group can proceed without limitation.”
In addition to that, Pagan Pride Day offered the following statement after we sorted this all out:
“In the past it was understood that religious ceremonies, or references to such, were a violation of the agreement to hold events in Belmont city parks, and we complied by renaming our rituals and other activities. We did this in favor of holding a fun and educational family event that would be beneficial to the community at large. While this was a committee decision, we do understand that many in the community did not agree with said decision, and we understood that stance. In bringing this problem to light, the circumstances surrounding our decision were brought into question, and we were shocked, to say the least.
Further review of city policy and our rental agreement for Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park revealed that this choice was based on a misconception. The rental contract signed by Piedmont PPD did not include any restrictions on religious expression, and moving forward, we will be working under these rules. While this has impacted our past advertising and media releases, and will not be retroactively altered, future Piedmont Pagan Pride Day literature will refer to rituals, altars, ceremonies, and offerings as their proper names, and will not be censored. Please allow us time to alter our class listings and schedule to reflect this change over the next few days.
We, as Piedmont Pagan Pride Day, are pleased to announce this change in our operations, and we do apologize for any problems and ethical dilemmas this may have caused. We are proud of our culture, religion, and community, and we look forward to moving forward with a renewed sense of identity with our Pagan roots.
This was a mess. I feel like that was all reflected in how discombobulated (What? It’s a word!) this post is. I would like to offer sincere thanks and admiration to Cameryn Rhosyn for all that she’s done to keep this event a success, and for not murdering me in general while I was being righteously indignant at things. To Mr. Annon/Rook McMorrigan: I’d sure love to find out what happened one day if you ever feel like sharing with the rest of the class – we’re all dying to know what really happened back stage.
Lastly, it was asked of me if I’d be amending or retracting my original post.
No. No I will not.
I won’t answer censorship with censorship.
These stories make up our history. They are a reminder of things we’ve overcome, and what we’ve achieved. This year at PPD we will stand proud knowing that we are who we are loud and proud with the full support of the City, and our Nation – and I say that’s a history worth keeping.
*Note: Personal names and craft names used as used in public forums or with permission.