Melissa Rants - Pussy Church of Modern Witchcraft

Recently, we at Haven Craft were sent a question on our Tumblr for our Ask a Witch series on YouTube - “What is your opinion on the Pussy Church of Modern Witchcraft and how TERF they are?”

Firstly, let me take a moment to define TERF for those unfamiliar with the terminology. TERF is an acronym for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” We at Haven Craft prefer the term “anti-trans faux feminist”, as there is nothing feminist about excluding trans women from being identified as women or being welcome in women-only spaces.

The Church of Modern Witchcraft was founded in 2017 and has these appalling descriptions of its own practices:

  • “We come together to form a congregation of adherents to our female born, lesbian-feminist-based religions beliefs and traditions.”
  • “Women are oppressed globally on the basis of our biological sex.”
  • “We are a global Circle of female-born, lesbian-led Women devoted to the liberation of Women and Girls from the oppression we face based on our sex.”
  • “How do you define “Woman” and “Girl”?
    A Woman is an adult female human. A Girl is a minor female human. The Pussy Church serves Women and Girls only. Males are not permitted to participate, regardless of how they identify. We expressly reject the concept of gender identity as meaningful to defining what a Woman or Girl is.”

Before I get into some of my rather large issues with some of that, I would like to state that my main issue with the Pussy Church of Modern Witchcraft is one that I have with other religious organizations, as well, such as Z. Budapest’s Susan B. Anthony Coven #1 and the Westboro Baptist Church. I have a major issue with using the term “religious liberty” as a veil to thinly disguise hate speech.

Evermore egregiously, during the ongoing Trump administration, religious liberty is being used as a smokescreen by various hate groups in order to condone and justify their violent discrimination towards groups that they have dehumanized.

They use a combination of pseudo-religious rhetoric and stochastic terrorism (I'm going to pause here and define stochastic terrorism - the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act - an inciter stands behind a podium saying that certain groups of people aren't actually human and should be targeted with violence, then someone else acts on that othering rhetoric and commits violence, and then the inciter claims there is no blood on their hands, as they didn’t actually pick up the weapon, even though they used the other person as a weapon) to create an atmosphere of fear. That atmosphere of fear allows the inciter and the cult of personality that inevitably surrounds them to create dependency fostered in “us versus them” mentalities.

Religious groups preach anti-LGBTQIA, anti-poor, anti-Latine, anti-black, anti-Muslim, and anti-anybody-who-isn’t-them sentiments that get people killed and then disavow all responsibility.

Now the Pussy Church of Modern Witchcraft is using the language of really white second-wave feminist pseudo-Paganism in order to disguise their anti-trans teachings.

The Internal Revenue Service has declared that the Pussy Church of Modern Witchcraft is officially a church and granted it the special coveted Church 170(b)(1)(A)(i) status, which translates to being on a national list of charities that a person can look up and see that the organization has been nationally recognized. This is the same status that the Westboro Baptist Church and the Church of Satan have.

The difference is that the Church of Satan uses theirs to actively oppose the disintegration of the boundary between church and state, or at least make clear the hypocrisy of when it is enforced and when it isn’t, and to oppose religious liberty laws. The Pussy Church of Modern Witchcraft and the Westboro Baptist Church use the status to discriminate and get away with it.

Once an organization is a church, that organization can say anything they want to, and do much of what they want to, and be completely protected from being sued for discrimination.

Religious liberty laws and the religious status that is given these churches are being used to justify:

  • Religiously affiliated schools firing women because they became pregnant while not married.
  • Religiously affiliated so-called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” giving inaccurate medical information to clients, including that foetus is viable that is not or that abortion causes cancer.
  • Business owners refusing to provide insurance coverage for contraception for their employees.
  • Graduate students, training to be social workers, refusing to counsel gay people.
  • Medical professionals that refuse to treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients.
  • Pharmacies turning away people seeking to fill birth control prescriptions.
  • Bridal salons, photo studios, and reception halls closing their doors to same-sex couples planning their weddings.
  • Social service organizations that receive government funding denying services to same-sex couples.
  • Adoption agencies that receive government funding denying adoption to same-sex couples.

While the circumstances may differ, one thing remains the same: religion is being used as an excuse to discriminate against and harm others.

This isn’t a new concept. Institutions and individuals have claimed to have a religious right to discriminate in the past. In the 1960s, religious institutions, including churches, objected to laws requiring integration in restaurants because they claimed God wanted the races to be separate. Religiously affiliated universities refused to admit students who engaged in interracial dating.

In those cases, the nation recognized that requiring integration was not about violating religious liberty but about ensuring fair and equal treatment under the law. But this new wake of churches engaging in anti-LGBTQIA rhetoric is using the same arguments that were debunked then.

Religious freedom in the United States of America gives us all the right to our religious beliefs but does not give us the right to use our religion to discriminate against and impose those beliefs on others who do not share them.

Now that I’ve been clear that I have an overarching issue with hate groups dressing up their discrimination in the language of liberty, let me be clear that I additionally have issues with The Pussy Church of Modern Witchcraft because they are vocally spreading anti-trans ideology, using flagrantly bad science and misinformation.

It is by no means secret that it is a hate group that was founded on exclusionary eugenics based biological essentialism that is grounded in a terrible understanding of biology. The biological essentialism they rely on is by no means of legitimate scientific standing.

Not only is the Pussy Church of Modern Witchcraft vehemently anti-trans, it is also anti-bisexuality, anti-pansexuality, and anti any kind of healthy sexual exploration that permits the recognition that a person's sexuality and sexual expression may change or evolve over time.

To be elected as a church trustee of the Pussy Church of Modern Witchcraft, the Articles of Incorporation say that one must have been assigned female at birth, always identified as female, and present evidence of a “consistent lesbian life.”

So any lesbian who once identified as straight or bi or pan or who didn't realize they were a lesbian until later in life cannot ever be a trustee.

The church also requires that trustees provide testimony to an experience of a “new birth in lesbian feminism,” which honestly sounds to me like the structure of 17th century Calvinism in New England. How exactly are you supposed to prove that you've been saved?

The entire church seems to exist just in order to get around existing anti-discrimination laws so they can gather, foster hatred, and spread misinformation without any kind of legal repercussions, and in fact, with extensive legal protection.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court recently confirmed in Masterpiece Cake Shop versus Colorado's Civil Rights Commission that religious liberty erases the need to recognize the fundamental humanity and equal rights of all persons.

It is very unlikely that the IRS will revoke the tax-exempt status, and it's very unlikely that the church will ever be labeled a hate group.

Similar efforts have already been made, and failed, in the fight against the virulently anti-LGBTQIA Westboro Baptist Church. In 2013 the White House responded publicly to five separate public petitions with signatures totaling nearly six hundred and seventy-five thousand demanding that the IRS 170(b)(1)(A)(i) status for the Westboro Baptist Church be revoked.

Although the White House said the Westboro Baptist Church’s “God Hates Fags” logo and habit of protesting funerals was reprehensible, it declined to officially recognize the church as a hate group.

Haven Craft doesn’t predict anything different happening with the Pussy Church of Modern Witchcraft.

I feel it is therefore the responsibility of all witches, Pagans, lesbians, and actual feminists to not condone or be complicit in their message of hatred and discrimination.

Stand up against it everywhere that you can. Don't sit by and let them present at your local Pagan Pride or permit them to host trans exclusionary events at Pantheocon, like Z. Budapest has gotten away with for years.

Don’t let the Pussy Church of Modern Witchcraft define witchcraft, Paganism, lesbianism, or feminism as being built on hatred.