Fearing tax-payer backlash, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has nixed a recent request to hire a Wiccan chaplain to provide services for Wiccan inmates in British Columbia prisons. The position would have cost between $25,000 and $50,000, the Toronto Star reports.
Toews’ director of communications has stated in a press release that freedom of religion is “paramount.” Nevertheless, the minster decided that Wiccan services alongside other religious services in B.C prisons is not a good use of taxpayer money.
Wicca is a nature-based religion believed to have emerged from conceptions of ancient paganism during the 20th century. The chaplain would have been expected to lead rituals and hold regular services for Wiccan holy days.
It’s unclear just how many Wiccans practice in Canada, but B.C priestesses have estimated the number at anywhere between hundreds and thousands in B.C. alone.