Satanic Services on Hold in Kentucky Prisons

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, SEPT. 3, 2002 ( The Kentucky Department of Corrections has halted formal Satanic worship services at a prison while authorities work to produce a statewide policy on the practice, the Associated Press reported.

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Prisoners at the Green River Correctional Complex, in Central City, had been allowed to hold weekly Satanic services this summer as part of the official religious services calendar.

“We honestly didn’t know it was on the religious calendar,” Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Carnahan said after the news media asked about the practice.

Under federal law and U.S. Supreme Court decisions, correctional institutions may not prohibit the exercise of inmates’ religious freedom, as long as the practice of the religion does not endanger the other inmates or the staff, said Joe Weedon, manager of government affairs for the American Correctional Association.

Carnahan said the state has not suspended Wiccan services, which also are held at Green River and three other prisons. Wicca, a form of witchcraft, includes pagan nature worship. Policies in other states vary. Prison officials in Texas prohibit Satanist services.

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