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'Witches Ball' banned from church hall

June 18, 2009 at 12:02 PM

STOCKPORT, England, June 18 (UPI) -- A British witches' coven said the Roman Catholic church's decision not to let them use a parish social center for a party amounts to religious persecution.

Sandra Davis, 61, high priestess of Crystal Cauldron group in Stockport, England, said she originally booked Our Lady's Social Club in Shaw Heath, England, for the family-friendly "Witches Ball" in October, but was told by the manager when she came in to pay that the Diocese of Shrewsbury had decided not to let them use the hall because the group is not compatible with the church's "ethos," The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.

"It makes you think that there is still a little bit of that attitude from the past of the Catholics wanting to burn witches," Davis said. "I thought we had made progress, that we could accept other people's religious paths."

Davis said she has found a new venue for October's event.

"It is a full family thing and it is a posh do too," she said. "It is evening dress or fancy dress, last year most of us went in medieval costumes."

Rev. John Joyce, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic diocese of Shrewsbury, said letting a pagan group use church-owned facilities is strictly against policy.

"Parish centers under our auspices let their premises on the understanding users and their organizations are compatible with the ethos and teachings of the Catholic church," he said. "In this instance, we aren't satisfied such requirements are met."

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