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Wiccan prison chaplain sparks controversy in Wisconsin. (Around The States).

A Wiccan chaplain at the Waupun Correctional Institution in Wisconsin is generating complaints from state lawmakers, some of whom are recommending the state discriminate on religious grounds when hiring staff in the future.

The Rev. Jamyi Witch, who has served as a volunteer minister in the state prison system since 1999, began working as a full-time chaplain at the maximum security facility in December. According to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Witch is believed to be the state's first Wiccan chaplain and one of only a handful nationwide.

Gary McCaughtry, Waupun's warden, told the Journal Sentinel he hired the most qualified person for the job.

However, Rep. Scott Walker (R-Wauwatosa), chairman of the legislature's Assembly Corrections and Courts Committee, condemned McCaughtry's decision.

"Witch's hiring raises both personal and political concerns," Walker said. "Not only does she practice a different religion than most of the inmates -- she practices a religion that actually offends people of many other faiths, including Christians, Muslims and Jews."

Rep. Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) said he will sponsor a measure to eliminate state funding for Witch's position. Ironically, Huebsch has argued repeatedly in recent years for increasing the number of chaplains serving in state prisons.

"Taxpayers shouldn't be forced to accept this hocus-pocus," Huebsch told reporters.

As for Witch, she's anxious to get to work counseling inmates.

"I think it's very important for people to understand that when I walk though the prison walls, I am Chaplain Jamyi Witch, interfaith and non-denominational chaplain," she said. "I

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Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U3WI
Date:Feb 1, 2002
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