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Bookstore’s hosting of Wiccans prompts pastor’s low-key boycott

GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)–A low-key bookstore boycott is under way in Greensboro, N.C., the effort of a pastor who disapproves of the local Borders allowing a Wicca group to hold regular meetings at the store.

Dan Alderman, pastor of Jessup Grove Baptist Church in Greensboro, told Borders manager Lynne McNeil he will not shop at the store as long as it continues to host the Wicca group.

“Here is the great danger,” Alderman wrote in the June 2000 Piedmont Baptist Association newsletter. “An air of legitimacy is lent to witches in this environment. Borders is knowingly giving vicarious credibility to witches as just another harmless group in our diverse society.”

Alderman has called on members of the association’s churches to boycott the store, asking them to write the store manager to voice their concerns.

“I’m asking individuals to do what I am going to do,” he said. “If enough people do it, then maybe they will listen.”

The pastor isn’t interested in a demonstration or an influx of telephone calls that will categorize the callers as representing local Baptist churches.

“We need to be wise about how we do that,” Alderman said. “We want them to see a broad spectrum of people.”

Alderman let the store manager know of his plan to call for a boycott.

“I felt it was only fair to let her know,” he said. “She said she appreciated it.”

Wicca is defined by its members as “the Craft of the Wise” and dedicated to “the preservation of Mother Earth,” the webpage for the Wiccan Religious Cooperative of Florida, Inc., for example, says.

At a 1974 meeting in Minneapolis, the Council of American Witches met and affirmed that “a witch seeks to control the forces within him/herself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well, without harm to others and in harmony with Nature.”

“Not only do we believe in and worship God, we honor the Divine as Goddess,” the Florida Wiccan group explains on a “Questions” page. “Most followers of Wicca hold that all traditions and religious practices are valid.”

On the subject of Jesus as Lord, the website notes: “Many Wiccans acknowledge Jesus as a prophet or Enlightened Being. These individuals honor Jesus as they would any of the other spiritual prophets, including, but not limited to, Mohammed, Moses, Krishna and Buddha. Some Wiccans honor Jesus and Mary as patron Deities, their personal image of the Lord and Lady, but this is probably not common practice.”

Borders’ McNeil said the company’s policy to respect the First Amendment rights of every person allows for a variety of groups to use the store’s facilities.

Alderman said he asked McNeil if Borders would include the Ku Klux Klan or a para-military group in its list of those whose First Amendment rights it respects, and was told “no.”

McNeil said managers “use common sense” in determining which groups may use store facilities.

“We haven’t been approached by anybody we felt like we had to turn away,” she said. “We have First Amendment rights, the freedom of speech, and we encourage diversity.”

Although store space — both inside and out — is offered for use by the community, “we do not give money” to any groups, nor are activities promoted, McNeil said.

Alderman said the Wicca meeting was listed in the in-store newsletter and on the store calendar, but McNeil was uncertain about those listings.

“We’ve had church groups hand out balloons and leaflets,” McNeil said. “We’ve had an Easter music festival, Girl Scouts selling cookies, civic groups, and Christian and Jewish groups here.

“It’s really a broad mix,” she said.

While Alderman was unable to convince McNeil to disallow the Wicca meetings, “I witnessed to her,” he said. “I told her there is One who tells me right from wrong and it is absolutely flawless.”

Unless Christians stand up for what they believe is right and wrong, organizations like Wicca will continue to increase, Alderman said, and “non-Christians will think it’s OK.”

McNeil said she has not received letters from others about their concerns, although Alderman is hoping at least two people from every church in the Piedmont Baptist Association will write.

“We could make a whopper of an impact,” he said. “Then maybe they’ll listen to us.”

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  • Suzy Barile