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17 August 1996
Yemaya Fund Established to Assist Burned Churches
In response to the burning of African-American churches across the South, the Pagan Community Fund (PCF) and the Pagan Educational Network (PEN) announce the birth of the Yemaya Fund. This fund is to provide a specifically Pagan response to the terrorizing of African-American congregations. As Pagans and practitioners of women's spirituality, we have experienced the pain of not being able to worship freely. Now is the time for us to reach out to other communities in compassion, recognizing that religious freedom must be preserved for all faiths.

The birth of this fund springs from PCF's mission to assist those in need regardless of their faith and PEN's commitment to build community and religious freedom for all. Donations of any size may be sent to PCF, PO Box 121, Garden City, MO 64747. Please make checks payable to PCF and write "Yemaya Fund" on the memo line. Take action today to support freedom of worship! Thanks and Blessed Be!

[The letter below accompanied this press release]

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

Since 1989, numerous black churches in the South have been targets of arson, with over 70 churches burned since 1995. In Dixiana, SC, the St. John the Baptist congregation was terrorized for years before the church was finally torched in August 1995. In a 1985 attack, the church was vandalized, leaving the piano smashed, coffins exhumed and desecrated in the church graveyard, and a sacrament cloth defecated on. One woman who spoke out against the terror was run off the road, had her house fired upon, and found both of her dogs beaten to death.

As Pagans and practitioners of women's spirituality, we understand this kind of terror campaign. It is the fear we feel when we talk about "the fundies." It is the fear left over from the Burning Times, when those who refused to bend were burnt or broken. It is the human fear that the pogrom du jour will be turned against us.

Because we understand this kind of terror so well, and because we are committed to religious freedom, we are in a unique position to take a strong stand and assist our brothers and sisters in the South. That is why the Pagan Community Fund (PCF) and the Pagan Educational Network (PEN) have founded the Yemaya Fund. By offering financial support to African-American congregations, we make a strong statement for freedom of worship and the end of all forms of discrimination. The birth of this fund springs from PCF's mission to assist those in need regardless of their faith and PEN's commitment to build community and religious freedom for all.

There are many reasons why we, as a movement, need to make the Yamaya Fund a success. The first is the simplest: this outrageous conduct cannot be tolerated in a free society. If we, as Goddess people, are to have any hope for religious freedom, we must support our Christian sisters and brothers now. Some may ask why we're establishing a fund to help Christians when there are so many Pagans in need. The answer is that the PCF already exists to assist Pagans. Helping Christians doesn't mean we're supporting Pagans any less. Rather, we help ourselves by giving to others, since it allows for education and positive interaction. This is an opportunity for us to come together as a movement, speaking clearly that we support religious freedom and diversity of religious expression. For many of these churches, this will be their first introduction to Pagan and feminist spiritualities -- and what a positive introduction! Educating other faiths about Pagan and feminist religions is critical at this time, as many of the fires will no doubt be attributed to "Satanists." We must act proactively so that we don't find ourselves targets of even more misperceptions. We now have the opportunity to build up tremendous good will with other faiths, as well as strengthen interfaith networking overall. We cannot let this opportunity pass us by.

Please support the Yemaya Fund with donations of any size. Donations may be sent to PCF, PO Box 121, Garden City, MO 64747. Checks may be made payable to PCF. Please write "Yemaya Fund" on the memo line. Support freedom of worship today! Thank you and Blessed Be!


Lady Jana, Treasurer, PCF