Unequal Religious Permissions in TDCJ

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[Religious Repression] [Texas]

Unequal Religious Permissions in TDCJ

TDCJ started allowing pagans to have a "service" once a week. We get 1 hour for non-outside-leader peer-to-peer, and 2 hours for groups led by an outside teacher. But the problem is that they don't even follow the policy that they themselves put into place, and 90% of chaplains and corrections officers (COs) are anti-pagan. These so-called Christians are the ones who oppress everybody who is not a Jesus follower. They cannot understand why we, those liberated from a "slave religion," refuse to follow their way. So they oppress us all as "satanists," which is funny when most of us don't even believe in the guy.

The chaplains will "lay us all in" (give a pass) to attend "pagan services" at a pre-determined time and place. It's almost always at count time when no movement is to be allowed, or at shift change when the COs are trying to get gone. So it's impossible to get out the door most of the time. When we do, they expect all of us, Wiccans, Ásatrú/Odinist, Druids, etc., to group up together and do our thing in a common circle. This does not work! We are so different from each other that it would be like making Muslims, Catholics and Christians all group up and have church together. I've had kingsmen (fellow followers) get locked up for asking to speak to the major or warden to get permission to be in separate groups. The unit chaplain didn't like the idea that we may get our way over what he had in mind. We tried to do some simple rites, based on what TDCJ policy lays out that we can do but this was shut down. Administration claimed that we require an outside leader. They don't understand that we don't require a priest or the equal to lead our groups. Most of the time who lead a rite is rotated or chosen by knowledge of the purpose and/or reason for said rite. Most of the simple rites don't require anything more than a cup and bowl, which we can get from unit commissary. But they want to try to oppress us by saying that we can only get together and study our lore during our hour long session.

I want to ask all Texas Pagans to come together and fight to get equal rights as the other religions. It would even be good for any oppressed Pagans of other states to join the movement for our "services." Don't let the powers that be use scare tactics to stop the equal rights. All it takes is a unified front to stand together and it will work in our favor.