INTERFAITH COUNCIL
Salem Clergy Welcome Witch

Salem has come full circle. Three centuries after 20 people suspected of witchcraft were executed in this Massachusetts town, the Salem Religious Leaders Association has officially welcomed a high priest witch into its ranks. Shawn Poirier, 27, leads a Wiccan coven, the Temple of the Black Rose, in Salem. Two hundred temple followers gather to “worship the raw forces of nature,” based on lunar cycles.

Randal Wilkinson, priest at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church, says nobody in the interfaith clergy support group “could think of any compelling reason” to forbid Poirier from joining. The group has no admission guidelines.

“We are very sensitive to issues of religious intolerance,” Wilkinson told CT, citing the witchcraft hysteria of 1692. “We needed to make a positive statement about including people of different religions. These [witches] don’t mean any harm. We don’t discriminate based on creed.”

Ken Steigler, a United Methodist pastor, says the group should become more ecumenical by inviting Mormons, Buddhists, and Muslims to participate.

LITERACY CAMPAIGN
Robertson Helps Adults to Read

More than 72,000 adults have learned to read thanks to a literacy program launched in Mississippi five years ago by Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.

Because of Robertson’s political profile and his promotion of the phonics method, which has been replaced in many school systems, the $3.2 million Heads Up Literacy Campaign initially met with skepticism. Now it is receiving praise.

“Lo and behold, he had something that was very good, and it was nonpartisan,” says Don Rahaim of the state literacy resource center.

“Before I started in these classes, I felt powerless,” says Sherrie Wright, a fifth-grade ...

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