SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) -- In the very conservative, very Christian upstate section of South Carolina, a group of pagans met to welcome the autumnal equinox, celebrate the harvest and study the tenets of their various faiths.
The event was held Saturday at Croft State Park.
Pagan is a broad term to define a person who is not a Christian, Jew or Muslim. It also can incorporate nature or earth worship. Under this umbrella also fall mystic practices, such as Wicca or witchcraft.
Human free will, say followers, is paramount, as manifest in the slogan, "If it harm none, do what you will."
Bob Null, 33, is a founder and high priest of Cat's Lair Temple, a 17-member Wicca temple in Fountain Inn.
He earns his living as a security guard but is ordained in Dianic and Celtic branches of Wicca. He also follows Lakota Sioux and Cherokee traditions and some Eastern religious practices.
"A lot of modern-day Pagans and Wiccans are very eclectic," he said. "They will take bits and pieces from here and there and incorporate them into what they believe."
While surrounded by mostly conservative Protestants, Null and other pagans said they feel free to practice their faith.
Gareth Scott, superintendent of the Greenville District of the United Methodist Church, said pagans are not a threat to Christians.
"This is America and they should have the right to do that. If our faith can't withstand it, we're in trouble," Scott said.
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