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SAN ANTONIO, Texas (AP) -- An Air Force woman who says she is a witch has
been granted permission to observe her faith's eight holidays, including
All Hallow's Eve.
Airman Patricia Hutchins, 21, who says she has been a wiccan, or witch, for
four years, asked the Air Force to allow her to take time off for
religious holidays just as it does members of other religions.
Wiccans generally believe that the sun, moon, Earth and all life are divine
and are personifications of all creative energy.
Col. David Engler, chaplain at Lackland Air Force Base, wrote a letter to
Hutchins' supervising officers at Wilford Hall Medical Center, asking
that they follow Air Force regulations on religious freedom, Lackland
spokesman Bob MacNaughton said.
Air Force regulation 35:53 states: "members of the Air Force are free to
express religious beliefs in a manner that is consistent and fair to
all," MacNaughton said.
Hutchins, a physical therapist at Lackland, said she was surprised by the
chaplain's expedient help.
"I have found that chaplains in the Air Force are very open-minded," she
said. "I was surprised they did it, but I'm very grateful."
"As far as we're concerned, wicca is not a hostile type of faith,"
MacNaughton said. "Her being a witch has not presented any problems for
her in her working place or anywhere else."
Among the days she'll be allowed to observe are All Hallows Eve, Oct.
days marking the changes of the seasons. Hutchins traces her faith to
Hutchins, daughter of a Protestant minister, said she doesn't know of any
others in the Air Force who practice witchcraft, including her husband.
She said colleagues and co-workers haven't shunned her for her beliefs.
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