Here are basically two stories which I think are related, but there may be more to this than meets the eye. First, we have the case of Patrick McCollum which is summed up by Jason over at The Wild Hunt Blog:
"...About Patrick McCollum: Patrick McCollum has been working as a Pagan chaplain and activist for well over twenty years. He was one of the founding members of the Lady Liberty League, and has been involved in numerous legal struggles involving modern Pagans. In recent years he has received attention for his appearance before the US Commission on Civil Rights in Washington, DC, to speak at a briefing focused on prisoners’ religious rights (full transcript of the proceedings), and for his meeting with Obama Administration officials concerning interfaith relations and discrimination against minority faiths in America. On Imbolc of this year, McCollum was installed to the Executive Board of Directors of a United Nations NGO, Children Of The Earth. McCollum currently serves as an unpaid statewide correctional chaplain for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in all 33 CDCR correctional institutions.
Patrick M. McCollum; et al., v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; et al.: The current case, which has been in litigation for five years, and is currently before the 9th Circuit, centers on the State of California’s “five faiths” policy. This policy limits the hiring of paid chaplains to Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Native American adherents." ...(Cont.)...
Second, we have is a report from our California central valley about occult related jobs springing up in this rural for the most part agricultural county. This recent story is from the Visalia Times Delta.
"Once each week Visalia resident Joseph Nichter packs up his candles, incense and crystals and heads off to Avenal State Prison to minister to the prison yard.
The former Army forward observer and Iraq war veteran is an imposing sight, standing at 6'4", close-cropped hair, dressed from head to toe in black. But once inside the prison walls, his mission at Valley correctional facilities is a surprising one.
Nichter ministers to what he calls the prison's "minority faiths." One day it might be a group of odinists; on another day a Buddhist inmate may want counseling. Then there may be rastafarians, druids or santerians who need him to stand by or conduct a religious ceremony.
He's one of a growing number of Tulare County residents whose job choices may seem a little offbeat to many of their friends and family. But from ministering to a little-known religious faith, to photographing auras to investigating the county's haunted locations, a growing number of residents are making a living traveling down a path much less traveled." ...(Cont.)...
The question is, is Mr. Nichter being paid for this work, and if so how does that relate to Mr. McCollum's case before the courts? Is Mr. Nictor's job a positive development indicating that the state is ready to settle Mr. McCollum's suit providing Pagan inmates with equal religious access, or is something else going on here? I believe there are folks in our Northern California Local Council who work with Partick and can find out some answers. When they do, I will report it here as more becomes known.