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It has come to the attention of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) that a new law known as The Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been passed by the Senate with an overwhelming majority, and is on its way to the House with hopes to pass just as easily. It is the firm belief of the ATC as one of the largest Wiccan bodies in the world, and the only Wiccan church with an Umbrella 501(c)3 legal status to create affiliate churches, that to help with the states transition to a more church-valued existence we should make it clear and easy to recognize the new rights of all Wiccans within your state.
We thank the state of Georgia for its forward thinking and dedication to religious freedom. It has been a reality long-held by Wiccans that the laws did not extend far enough toward our own exercise of religion [50-15A-2. line 71] to be truly encompassing of our freedom to worship. The original Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as passed by our illustrious president Bill Clinton, was a landmark move that opened the door for minority religions, and small local churches to have more safety to worship within their communities than ever before. This new bill will create sweeping changes that will open the doors for the Wiccans within Georgian communities to worship, work, and LIVE their religion to its fullest.
The first course of action will be to itemize line by line, with bill precedents, the new rights of the Wiccans in state.[15-23]
1: Multi-Partner Wiccan relationships in Georgia (known communally as Polyamorous relationships) will now have legal right to marry. [43-49] Marriage is a religious institution. A uniting of souls before the almighty. It is also a way to legitimize heirs. Many Wiccans live in multi-partner households, and until now have been unable to realize their religious right to marry the partners they are in love with. Many of these partnerships have children from multiple partners all living under the same roof. SB 129 has now opened the way for those children to all be under family insurance/health plans, as outlined in lines [22-23]. And if lines [34-35] hold true to their intent, then the least restrictive means of enforcing this change, is a simple revision to existing policy.
(1a) The government (as defined within lines [77-83] of SB 129) will of course make the small changes needed to the tax code to allow for multi-spouse filing. As stated in lines [34-35] “Courts have consistently held that government has a fundamental, overriding interest in eradicating discrimination” and Government as defined above includes “[79-80] every department, agency, board, bureau, office, commission, authority, or similar body thereof.” Ipso facto, with SB 129 in place, it would be the burden of the tax bureaus to create a tax code that no longer infringes upon the rights of Wiccan Multi-Spousal Families. It will also allow for the abolition, or a general exemption of all cohabitation laws that may still be present, and effecting unmarried couples with children from separate marriages.
2: Wiccans have been, and will always be, a nature based community. Our followers feel an intrinsic connection to the Earth, and the plants and animals that dwell upon it. Historically our followers have been ‘Wortcrafters’ (Using plants in our practice and healing), ‘Wise Women’, ‘Sage Men’, and ‘Witch Doctors’. We have always been ones to learn about the sacred mysteries of plants and animals. Their healing properties, and the use of their parts as ‘fetishes,’ totems, and components is well documented through literature and academic works too numerous to list here. With the passing of GRFRA, the ATC will be informing all Wiccans within the state of GA that there are no longer restrictions on which plants they may grow, own, harvest, ingest, distribute, or refine into compounds that the practitioner finds need to use within their religious practice, so long as no other laws besides substance abuse are broken. Wicca is a peaceful religion, and it is not within the scope of our religious practice to purposefully cause harm. As Governments definition also includes lines [82-83] “authorities; […] or other person acting under color of law” it should be a matter of course to inform all officials to begin their refrain from detaining the practitioners for, and impeding the lawful use of said plants and animal parts. This includes, but is no way limited to this non-comprehensive list, all plants currently residing upon any list of banned substances, plus any and all animal parts that may be found on the property or in the possession of anyone practicing the faith of Wicca within Georgia State limits.
3: Wiccans believe in magick and intent. It is the belief of our people that we do not allow someone to have our hair, saliva, urine, skin, nail clippings, teeth, bones, or any other part, excretion, fluid, growth, or any other possible matter that may come from our bodies. The reason is highly spiritual, and personally held by each person within our faith. To allow someone to have these items, is to allow them to have our essence, or access to our essence. This means that all Wiccans are to be free to choose to be exempt, at the individual’s discretion regarding the sanctity of their essence, with no repercussions from Government bodies [77-83] upon an employer adhering to these inalienable religious rights, from urinalysis, blood tests, hair follicle tests, breathalyzers, tattooing, rfid chipping, or anything else that adds to or removes parts of our essence. This list should by no means be considered comprehensive, and it is with full awareness that we understand these rights are removed to some extent when a Wiccan is incarcerated. Hopefully with time, the scope of this bill will encompass those of our faith who are in penal institutions. But within the scope of lines [84-88] these rights should fully extend to anyone who is not yet incarcerated in a ‘penal institution.’
It is the full belief that these new rights for Wiccans fulfill the needs of the Wiccan people, as well as the letter of the new law. From striking a sensible balance between religious liberty and compelling government interests [28-29] through removing neutral laws that unknowingly put undue hardship on our practitioners [20-21], upholding the government’s fundamental, overriding, interest in eradicating discrimination [34-35], and finding the best way to fulfill the compelling need of the government to find the least restrictive way of furthering their interests, which has been reaffirmed, in part, as upholding a persons right to free exercise of religion [16-17].
This is sweeping news that opens many doors for our brothers and sisters of the Craft. It will be the burden of the government to institute the appropriate policy changes to infrastructure, and the training needed to properly uphold the new rights that Wiccans hold within the new truly religiously free state of Georgia. But we at the ATC will work hand in hand to help craft the new laws regarding the proper care of those that are our charges: the Wiccan Community. Blessings to you and may the Lord and Lady always shine their thanks upon you, the state of Georgia.