CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A male inmate who identifies as a woman has sued the Lanesboro Correctional Institution in North Carolina for not accommodating his practice of Wicca, also known as pagan witchcraft.
Duane Fox, who goes by the name Jennifer Jasmine, alleges that chaplains at the institution have violated his constitutional right to religious exercise, including his specific dietary needs.
Fox says that he has been denied his request for vegan meals, and states that he was told that if he wanted vegan accommodation, he must be Rastafarian or a Buddhist. He outlines that each Wiccan festival entails a specific focus, such as dairy or dried herbs.
“The plaintiff … shouldn’t have to change [his] religion to get on the proper diet,” the legal challenge states, according to the Charlotte Observer.
He also contends that he is only allowed to observe the eight Wiccan festivals, while Christian-identifying and Native American prisoners can worship several times a week. Fox wants to practice Wicca outside twice a week.
He has requested a copy of “The Book of Shadows,” Tarot cards, runes, a wand, candles, a bell and a black robe, and is also seeking permission to light the candles and start an outdoor fire. He says he submitted a religious assistance request form this month, but has yet to receive a response.
Fox alleges that Wiccans have been “discriminated against and persecuted for hundreds of years without just cause” and is asking for a jury trial over the matter.
He filed a similar lawsuit in 2015 against the Maury Correctional Institute in Hookerton.
Fox was sentenced to 16 years behind bars in 2014 for a second-degree sexual offense, and has been accused of committing dozens of infractions while incarcerated, including tampering with locks, threatening staff and engaging in sex acts.
An appeals court described him as a “cantankerous, foul-mouthed defendant” in a separate matter, according to the Charlotte Observer.
According to the World of Wicca, “Wicca is [a] Neo-Pagan religion that is centered around the love of nature and its elements, primarily earth, air, fire, water, sun, moon and so on.” Adherents “are free to worship any god or goddess of any pantheon—not only of their own religion, but of any other religion as well.” Several that are named on the site include the Roman goddess Venus, the Norse prankster god Loki, and the Greek goddess Demeter.
However, the Bible repeatedly speaks against engaging in witchcraft or worshiping false gods, including in Galatians 5, which reads, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”