Someone in my discord server told me the following after someone made an offensive joke to her.

I try to be tolerant with people of different backgrounds.

I am pagan and I practice witchcraft. I understand SW are a part of the Navajo culture, but they intertwine in paganism. I am offended because that is not a creature to joke about. In paganism just like the Navajo culture it is a relentless witch who practices one of the darkest shades of magick. Even if I wasn’t pagan and got offended, when someone asks you to not make fun of something in another culture. It’s best to not make fun of it.

The thing is back during the ancient times, people were wrongly executed for witchcraft.

But since this person explicitly says she practices witchcraft, would the freedom of religion protect her or would she be on the government's kill list?

  • I assume you mean in the US as you mentioned Navajo. Witchcraft is not recognized as a religion in all countries, which is why I added US.
    – Trish
    Dec 6, 2022 at 22:20
  • 3
    Can you define 'SW'? Dec 6, 2022 at 22:36
  • "Skin walker" .
    – user6726
    Dec 6, 2022 at 22:53
  • 1
    Closely related prior answer although I'm not convinced it is a duplicate. law.stackexchange.com/questions/35597/…
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 6, 2022 at 23:36
  • Freedom to mock another's beliefs is just as protected as that persons right to believe. Dec 7, 2022 at 3:11

1 Answer 1


Actually, there is not a government kill list, that is just a meme. The First Amendment says (starts) "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...". That means a number of different concrete things: there shall be no laws prohibiting any religion, or preferring a religion, not may there be laws impeding or promoting the practice of a religion. The government therefore cannot reward or punish a person for believing in skin walkers, nor for turning themselves into a coyote (if they can do it). The old practice of burning witches at the stake is illegal, similarly at least under current understandings of the law it would be illegal to punish those without a religion with a fine or death.

The aforementioned person can thus practice witchcraft – up to a point. One cannot get away with murder by claiming that they are just practicing the Ásatru ritual of blót. Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah is an example of how the government can not restrict a religious practice (banning animal sacrifices of a particular religion), Employment Division v. Smith is an example of a neutral prohibition which happens to impinge on a religion (outlawing certain drugs limits a religious practice).

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