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2011 Winter Solstice

December 21, 2011 by staff 

2011 Winter Solstice, As the sun rises tomorrow, 400 inmates in British prisons will be celebrating a day off — some of them with a sip of wine and a ceremony involving Tarot cards and rune stones.

For December 22 is the winter solstice, one of eight pagan festivals that prisons must now recognise. Pagan prisoners are allowed to choose two out of eight festivals on which to take a day off from the work they would normally do in jail, which might be cooking, cleaning and so on.

If this sounds pretty outrageous, the fact is that prisons are expected to provide a means of worship for dozens of religions, many of them obscure.

Kitchens are expected to cater for the dietary practices of particular faiths, and prison officers are expected to observe hundreds of sacred festivals, excusing prisoners from work duties — as they will do with the pagans today.

You may not be surprised to discover that all this madness is a result of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees ‘the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion’.

The great irony, of course, is that law-abiding citizens who are not in prison seem to be offered scant protection from this law when it comes to respecting their own rights.

For example, there was the case of a Christian couple who were successfully sued after refusing to allow a gay couple to share a bed at their B&B establishment, or the case of another Christian couple, from Derby, who were forbidden from fostering children because they refused to drop their belief that hmosxl acts are wrong.

Yet inside jail, the right of inmates to freely practise their faith has been taken to extraordinary lengths.

Recently, Broadmoor Hospital — which houses some of Britain’s most notorious criminals, including Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe — was reported to be recruiting wicca (white witchcraft) and Rastafarian representatives to join its chaplaincy team following an official audit of patients’ religious needs.

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