Law and the Church, #5

How do laws of your nation, state, or local area respond to Paganism and Neo-Pagan clergy? Are there laws that prohibit certain functions our clergy usually serve (such as divination, counseling, or conducting marriages or funerals)? Does your country implicitly or explicitly state that Neo-Pagans cannot have clergy, or that they cannot perform certain functions or receive similar rights as those from other religions?

From what I’ve been able to research, there are no current laws that prevent Neo-pagan clergy from practice in the state of Pennsylvania.  There was a House Bill 1099 Session of 2007 of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania that attempted to amend laws on persons qualified to solemnize marriages by stating that:

Definition.–As used in this section, the term “regularly established church or congregation” excludes churches or congregations through which ordination is available by mail order or via the Internet or any other electronic means (House Bill No. 1099 Session For 2007.).

I feel this was mostly targeted to the Universal Life Church, but could potentially affect ADF Grove’s as well.

Additionally, there are some old time Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore laws that were established over a century ago against Fortune-Telling called TITLE 18 CRIMES AND OFFENSES  § 7104.  Fortune telling that reads as follows:

Offense defined.–A person is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree if he pretends for gain or lucre, to tell fortunes or predict future events, by cards, tokens, the inspection of the head or hands of any person, or by the age of anyone, or by consulting the movements of the heavenly bodies, or in any other manner, or for gain or lucre, pretends to effect any purpose by spells, charms, necromancy, or incantation, or advises the taking or administering of what are commonly called love powders or potions, or prepares the same to be taken or administered, or publishes by card, circular, sign, newspaper or other means that he can predict future events, or for gain or lucre, pretends to enable anyone to get or to recover stolen property, or to tell where lost property is, or to stop bad luck, or to give good luck, or to put bad luck on a person or animal, or to stop or injure the business or health of a person or shorten his life, or to give success in business, enterprise, speculation, and games of chance, or to win the affection of a person, or to make one person marry another, or to induce a person to make or alter a will, or to tell where money or other property is hidden, or to tell where to dig for treasure, or to make a person to dispose of property in favor of another (Section 7104 – Title 18 – CRIMES AND OFFENSES § 7104. Fortune Telling).

Further Research into former incidents regarding the fortune-telling law, an incident in 1999 involving a Pow-Wower named Marie May states that she was arrested for fortune-telling after a complaint was made against her to the State Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection (Bilardi, C. R).  Because of this, many occult shops across the state no longer offer fortune-telling such as tarot reading and such.  However I do know of a shop on a main Gettysburg street that advertises Tarot readings, so perhaps the law is becoming less effective.

Apparently the state of Pennsylvania used to also license hexenmeisters (sorcerers) in order to ensure they had an education.  This is referenced in The Red Church or the Art of Pennsylvania German Braucherei which also references  another book I don’t have access to in order to find out more information on licensed hexenmeisters called “Hex and Spellwork: The Magical Practices of the Pennsylvania Dutch”


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