Word has been circulating on a right-wing Christian effort this fall to stage a full-scale "prayer war" on DC and the Goddess from whom the city was named for, Columbia. The effort is headed by John Benefiel, head of the Heartland Apostolic Reformation Network. The event which will run from October 3 through November 11 (during the High Holy Time of Samhain) is called DC 40: 40 Days of Light Over DC. Their plan to "divorce Baal" aims to separate DC's alleged Pagan origins, targeting DC's name "District of Columbia." As most of us know Columbia adorns the Capitol building and is one of the many names of the Goddess of Liberty, Libertas, or Maat. I am confused where Baal plays into this, other than being a random god-figure who also has pre-Christian associations. Regardless, the organizers would have our city renamed "Washington, District of Christ."
The schedule on their website states they are planning an action at "Drums in DC" on October 28th. The Annual Samhain Drumming at the Jefferson will be on October 28th so I fear this may be their intended target.
I have received a statement from the Open Heart Foundation on this group's general presence in the area.
The Open Hearth Foundation will take precautions that are necessary in preparing for Samhain festivities in the light of this new campaign. We recommend that Pagan groups who are holding festivities in the DC area during this time take extra care and make sure to have a plan in mind with what to do if protesters or dissenters showed up at their events. While it is not likely that they would confront us in the physical, we could only be so lucky that dissenters would give us this kind of warning before arriving. We will stay alert and informed, making sure to monitor the situation and make adjustments to our plans as deemed necessary for the safety and security of all.
Literata had this to say on her blog about the attack
Hecate on her blog questions the effectiveness of passive reactionAs someone who has a strong devotion to religious liberty, I find this “siege” dangerous and disgusting. It fundamentally misunderstands the nature of religious liberty which was built into our country at its founding. Whether one sees liberty as an idealization or as a personification, Liberty is a very strange creature: she says right up front, “Of course you have other gods besides me.”Her law is to allow others their reverence so long as it harms no one. In direct contravention of that principle, these people are actively seeking to change the government of the United States so that my religion – indeed, any religion except their specific sub-sect of Christianity- would be disallowed, and public laws would compel private adherence to their interpretations of their spiritual directives, at the specific expense of religious liberty, and even personal liberty, for all who disagree.
We will keep you posted on the developments on this campaign and the community reactions to it.As a devotee of the Goddess Columbia and a Witch who lives and practices in the greater Washington, D.C. foodshed, I don’t intend to simply stand by and ignore this. I think there’s a tendency among many Pagans (and I include myself) to find this stuff pretty freaking distasteful, to view Dominionsits as nutjobs, and to not want to engage. And, of course, sometimes, giving energy back to these attacks just feeds them.But I just have to ask: How’s that approach working out for us?
Do you think our Samhain activities will be threatened with their presence in DC?