19 years ago today, the California Department of Corrections approved and distributed the Wiccan Chaplain’s Guide for the California Department of Corrections to all 33 of its state prisons. This was the very first official act by a prison system in the United States recognizing the rights of Pagan religious traditions to both practice their religion and to be protected under the United States Constitution.
I wrote the manual and it later was requested and utilized in multiple other states correctional systems across the country, ultimately opening the door for accommodations of dozens of other minority faiths.
It was a tough road to walk at the time but I am proud to have stood my ground until my dream of shifting religious equality in prisons became a reality.
There are plenty of marginalized groups who are still unable to practice within different states systems, but once the door was opened with the distribution of that original Wiccan’s Chaplains Manual, it could never be closed again!
May equality become a reality for all people, and may diversity itself one day be seen as sacred!
Rev. Patrick McCollum