Dear Ms Ashby,
on the Fort Hood child molestation case involving the Fort Hood
Open Circle just came to my attention. I thought that the rumors and
misinformation had been finally put to rest, to include the apology and
retraction from the woman who authored the original message
(IrishShamrock). Unfortunately, the unabridged, unqualified letter is still
surfacing at various points in cyberspace, to include Europe.
I do not know what messages you may have seen, but there are still some
points that need clarification. As Director of the Sacred Well
Congregation, the Denominational Sponsor of the Fort Hood Open Circle,
feel it is my responsibility to make a response directly to you, and ask
you to disseminate this information where ever you deem necessary.
There are two issues here. One concerns allegations of a criminal
against an individual. The second issue concerns the false statements made
by misinformed individuals alleging that this individual was in a
leadership position in the Fort Hood Open Circle. Two of the three
individuals involved with propagation of the erroneous information later
issued retractions and apologies, but the damage was already (and continues
to be) done. I am enclosing a copy of a message in response to Rev
Bitting's (PAL NJ State Coordinator) forwarding of the original message.
Rev Bitting replied with regrets, and noted that the original message
should never have left PAL channels.
Concerning the issues:
1. There is a person at Fort Hood under investigation for an alleged
criminal act. This person has in the past attended Fort Hood Open Circle
Rites. It is an Open Circle and attendance is unrestricted. He could just
as well have chosen to worship in the First Baptist Church of Killeen, or
the Catholic Chapel on Post. The matter of his guilt or innocence in the
criminal allegations is for the courts to decide.
2. The person accused of this crime is not, nor has he ever been,
of the Sacred Well Congregation. The person accused of this crime is not,
nor has he ever been, in any official leadership position in the Fort Hood
Open Circle as sanctioned by the Sacred Well Congregation and recognized by
the Garrison Chaplain's office as Denominational Service Leaders (DSL).
3. The Leadership of the Fort Hood Open Circle continues to serve
community with the full confidence and support of both the Sacred Well
Congregation and the Garrison Chaplain.
Any questions regarding the status of the Fort Hood Open Circle, the
Deaconess and two Deacons who form the Leadership Council as officially
sanctioned DSL should be directed to the Sacred Well Congregation, the Fort
Hood Garrison Chaplain, or the Leadership of the Fort Hood Open Circle.
Further dissemination of incomplete or inaccurate information does us all a
disservice, and sullies the collective credibility of the pagan community
at large. I hope this clarifies things for you and your group.
=================begin enclosed message==================
Dear Rev. Bitting,
First let me say that I understand and fully appreciate the spirit and
intent in which you forwarded this message. I also appreciate the fact that
you made the disclaimer up front. Disclaimers, unfortunately,
ignored, and since the post contained some serious allegations and some
gross inaccuracies, I feel the responsibility to address them directly to
1. The Fort Hood Open Circle is recognized by the Army as a Provisional
Congregation sponsored and sanctioned by the Sacred Well Congregation of
Texas, a legally constituted Church chartered by the State of Texas.
2. The Leadership of the Fort Hood Open Circle is vested in the
and competent hands of one Ordained Deaconess and two Ordained Deacons of
the Sacred Well, and all are recognized as Denominational Lay Ministers by
3. The Deacon who officiates as High Priest at the Open Circles
retired Lieutenant Colonel, a registered nurse, has been married for 23
years, and he and his lovely wife have no children.
4. The Fort Hood Open Circle continues to grow and provide a much
service to the greater Fort Hood area military and civilian community. The
Leadership of the Fort Hood Open Circle enjoys the confidence and support
of both the Fort Hood Chaplaincy and the Sacred Well Congregation. In
fact, chaplains often attend the Open Circle in support of our efforts and
to learn about our religion.
The person who authored the original post claims to have been friends
the "High Priestess" who did most of the ground work in securing official
recognition for the Fort Hood Open Circle. If this were indeed the case,
she should have been more familiar with the historical facts and
circumstances surrounding the evolution of this group. It is true that a
pagan group at Fort Hood attempted for almost 18 months to gain recognition
from the Army to allow them to conduct open rituals on Federal property,
and that the effort was led by a lovely and dedicated woman with a passion
and a vision. Despite their best efforts, they ran into one bureaucratic
road block after another. After we were contacted, the Sacred Well was able
to assist her and the group in overcoming the last of these obstacles. We
ordained her as a Deaconess and issued a Warrant for the Fort Hood Open
Circle to constitute and practice as a Provisional Congregation of the
Sacred Well. The Fort Hood Open Circle was authorized to operate and
conduct open rituals on Fort Hood as of 1 August 1997. Regrettably, our
Deaconess received PCS orders shortly thereafter, and the effort began to
retain continuity for the Provisional Congregation.
During the period of transition, the Sacred Well elected to ordain the
three members to assume leadership of the Provisional Congregation. While
general membership is non-binding, free and unrestricted, appointment to
leadership positions and sanction to serve as Lay Ministers is quite
another matter not appropriate for this posting. The current leadership of
the Fort Hood Open Circle became effective 31 October 1997. And as I
mentioned, they have done an outstanding job, and continue to have the
support and respect of the Garrison Chaplain.
Any further questions or concerns raised by this issue should be addressed
to the Fort Hood Chaplain's Office, the leadership of the Fort Hood Open
Circle, or the offices of the Sacred Well Congregation.
The point is, material such as that contained in the forwarded post
as damaging to our collective credibility, if not more so, than the
material promulgated by the Fundamentalists and other various and sundry
spiritual and intellectual bigots. I do not know what agenda the author of
the original correspondence was operating on, nor do I really care. But I
think that it is incumbent upon us all, particularly those of us engaged in
high visibility efforts to safeguard the rights and privileges of the pagan
community at large, to exercise a high degree of caution. We should
carefully check the credibility of sources and reliability of information
before making wide spread distribution of material. At a minimum, we should
ask ourselves, who is this person, what is the purpose of this material,
and what does this person have to gain by producing it? Again, I
understand the spirit and intent with which this was done, and I believe
that both you and the Pagan Awareness League are performing good and
valuable services for the protection of our religious freedom and rights.
In Love and Light and Kindred Spirit
Rev. David L. Oringderff (Taniquetil)
Pastor and Executive Director
The Sacred Well Congregation of Texas
===============================================end enclosed message===
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