Believe it or not, this comes up from time to time: 
whether or not witches are tax-exempt.
      Witches think they are, and the state of Rhode Island is
the latest to agree.  The state granted tax-exempt status to Our
Lady of the Roses Wiccan Church in Providence.  The witches claim
it's not the money, it's the principle of the thing.  (Won't
anybody ever admit it's the money?)
      The witches say they hope the state's approval will make
people accept witches as legitimate.  This is something witches
want.  There's even a Witches' Anti-Defamation League.  Boy.  If
you can't bad-mouth witches, who can you bad-mouth?  (I am
actually considering starting some kind of minority subculture
that is willing to be defamed and perhaps actually seeks out
defamation.  I bet it will be the most popular minority group
      I'm not sure the witches will get their wish.  Some folks
probably liked witches better when they weren't hustling a free
ride from the government.  Now, you probably get people scuffling
around Providence muttering, "If they treated us half as good as
they treat them witches...."
      Witches, it turns out, are also bothered and bewildered
about the whole, as our president has taughht us to say, Satanism
      You mean it was all a big misunderstanding?  Whoo, are our
faces red.
      I am willing to concede that current practitioners of
Wicca are causing no more trouble for the commonweal than, say,
the Elks, but I've got to assume that, way back when, a few
witches stepped out of line.  I mean, if they were all bent on
curing shingles and landscape beautification, they never would
have got this bad rap.  It only takes a few rowdy witches to spoil
things for everyone else.
      The Rhode Island witches say they don't mess around with
newt eyes and Downey warts the way we have been led to believe. 
The high priestess at Our Lady, one Jouce Siegrist, even put down
crystal balls.
      I like the way these new witches talk.
      Talking about root canal, a friend of mine once said, "It
might not be so bad, if only they called it something else." 
Rhode Island tax officials took a similar position about witches. 
If the folks at Our Lady called themselves Episcopo-Channelers or
Left-Brain Lutheran Spirit-Extruders, nobody would bat (you should
pardon the expression) an eye, the tax guys decided.
      Still, don't expect the kind of perestroika here in nearby
Connecticut, witches.
      This isn't Rhode Island, where life is cheap.  Before you
get a tax break, we're going to insist on some heavy-duty
licensing.  Put you through some testing just to make sure you got
all the basic witch moves, too.  Otherwise, everybody would be
saying, "Me, too.  I'm a witch, too."  (And in connecticut, it
would be the money.  To beat our current 73 percent sales tax,
most folks would be prepared to claim they worshipped tartar from
Judd Nelson's teeth if they thought it would help.)
      Also in Connecticut, we'd have to insist on you witches
carrying some hex insurance.  It's guaranteed in our state
constitution that everybody has to have lots and lots of insurance
and-even though you say you don't do that stuff anymore-what if
there's a big party and somebody gets turned into a skink? 
Believe me, the litigants would have a field day.
      Siegrist predicts the day will come when witchery is so
pedestrian that when people ask a witch "What's your religion?,"
the witch will say, "I'm a witch," and the asker will say, "That's
nice."  Except who dares ask anybody about their religion anymore?
 Hardly anyone.
      By the time public opinion swings around in the witches'
favor, the question will be totally taboo.
      Too bad.
      Employers might actuallly like hiring witches, especially
if they were willing to work on Christmas.  Of course, they would
probably want all those witch holidays off.  Elizabeth
Montgomery's birthday.  That kind of thing.