Gods Bless America!
In a stunning show of tolerance that defies theocon C-Streetism, the GOP in Queens, NY will not replace Pagan high priest Dan Halloran as their candidate for District 19 city council in the November 3 election. Considering George Bush administration officials objected to giving author J.K. Rowling the Presidential Medal of Freedom because the Harry Potter books “encouraged witchcraft,” that’s a very open-minded stance.
Halloran is First Atheling or king in his faith, Theodism,
a cultural, religious, and martial organization; dedicated to reviving the folkways of the Norman peoples of Northern Europe…
Theodism is basically a reconstructed/revisionist form of pre-Christian Northern European polytheism, which differs doctrinally from the similarly Norse-based Astaru and the more familiar Celtic based-based Wicca; though they share some of the same holidays, based on solar and lunar cycles. In Theodism, kings are also the high priests; the gods Tyr, Odin and Freyr offer their blessings in the form of luck on the priest-king and thus down through the people.
Halloran–an attorney and partner in the firm Palmieri, Castiglione & Halloran, served as legal counsel and incorporating attorney for the New York City Pagan Pride Project, and the chairman of the state Republican Liberty Caucus–has been endorsed by the Queens County Republican Party.
And to most folks, he seemed like your basic lower-taxes-no-Obama-care tea party attending speechifying Republican. Oh yeah, he did talk about the need for volunteerism and being greener, but he’s a GOP party animal through and through.
Phyllis Curott, a New York-based attorney, author, activist and Wiccan high priestess doesn’t know Halloran; but isn’t surprised to find a Pagan running for office, though the party affiliation was a little eye-opening. She told us exclusively:
Pagans are everywhere, I’ve been saying it for years. Doctors, soldiers, bankers, lawyers with all sorts of political views. But an official Republican Party candidate! Move over Christian right, here come the Pagans. I certainly disagree with his politics, but it’s great that he’s running.
Queens GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa and the GOP executive committee were aware of Halloran’s religious beliefs when he announced his candidacy; and Halloran was the odds on favorite to win the city council seat in Queens against newcomer Kevin Kim until the Queens Tribune ran a story about Halloran’s faith, managing to bring up "blood sacrifice." On Halloran’s New Normandy website, since taken down, but available in internet archives, it states:
When a feast is made using the meat of an animal sacrifice, it is known as a sacrifice-feast (ON blótveizla)
which, honestly, in paganism is about as sinister throwing a steak on the barbecue and thanking God you made the mortgage this month, or butchering one’s own meat, as is done in rural communities across America. Uh "Thanksgiving" anyone? That turkey–and the money and time it takes to assemble the green bean-mushroom soup casserole and all the trimmings, then do the dishes after suppressing your desire to strangle family members over their political views–is a sacrifice, a way of giving thanks.
Attorney Curott, who is High Priestess of the Temple of Ara, along with being an Ambassador to the Parliament of World’s Religions, says:
It’s just too bad that Dan was "outed" with such a negative media portrayal. Fighting that kind of stereotype is one of the reasons I’m public as a Wiccan priestess and have worked on so many religious discrimination cases.
Turns out the article was far from objective, because, as reports the Village Voice:
a Kim campaign consultant also happens to be the VP of the Queens Tribune, and because Queens congressman Gary Ackerman, who founded the paper and still holds a chunk of it, used to be Kim’s boss and who urged his old employee to make the race…
After the Tribune article hit, it looked like the local GOP honchos were going to replace Halloran on the ticket with a conservative Democrat and slip Halloran into State Supreme Court post–except that Halloran, admitted into the bar in 2003, lacks the required 10 years as an attorney to take the judgeship. But on Thursday, the Republicans stood by their man.
Queens County GOP Vice Chairman Vince Tabone, who is also the spokesman for Halloran’s campaign, told local reporters:
I think it’s particularly repugnant to have a religious test. We saw people trying to do that with [President Barack] Obama and Mitt Romney. Flushing is a birthplace of religious freedom. It’s part of Queens’ heritage. It’s a community where Protestants and Catholics and Sikhs live side by side.
State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) who has known the candidate since he was an Eagle Scout, said he thought Halloran’s religion was not relevant to the District 19 race:
Queens has every conceivable religion on the face of the Earth and as long as they are honorable toward their basic goals, then that’s all anyone should be concerned about. Our Constitution provides freedom of religion and as long as they don’t run counter to the law of the land, then it’s not something that should be at all political. Anybody who makes it political is suspect. I’d rather someone have a religion — even if it’s not a mainstream religion — than their being atheist.
Calling Halloran "a traditional person" who "seems like a regular guy" (Theodism has a tradition of ritualized drinking, according to their archived website, which for many guys is pretty darn regular), Queens GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa told the Tribune:
If a person performs and does what he has to do for his district, then he will be a welcome breath of fresh air.
Curott optimistically sees this as an opportunity for greater acceptance of pagan faiths, "a welcome breath of fresh air" in Republican politics:
Attitudes have certainly changed–the Republican Party apparently already knew he was Pagan! They’re defending his religious freedom, advocating religious tolerance and condemning a religious test for office as repugnant. Marvelous. Quite a change from Jesse Helm’s introducing legislation to take away the tax-exempt status of Wiccan religious institutions. Or Bob Barr’s condemnation of religious observances by Wiccan soldiers on military bases, or President Bush’s remarks that he didn’t think Wicca was a religion so he "hoped the military take another look at it." Let’s hope it’s change we can believe in.
And Halloran himself says:
I don’t think any of this is really relevant to the City Council race. It’s like talking about what church you pray at. That you understand the divine is the most important part…As long as we proceed in our civic lives with dignity and honor, that’s what matters.