Vanderbilt University now recognizes Wiccan holy days as part of its list of school-sanctioned observances.
The Tennessean newspaper reports that the Office of Religious Life at the prestigious university in Nashville sent professors a calendar of upcoming religious holy days and observances. No less than four observances on next year's religious calendar fall into the Wicca/Pagan category.
Vanderbilt's policy says students must be excused from classes on days when their religious traditions put restrictions on labor or forbid it outright, such as Eid for Muslims and Yom Kippur for Jews, according to the Tennessean. The policy says professors, department chairpersons and deans can decide if absences will be excused for religious days that aren't work-restricted, including the Wiccan and pagan days.
Wiccans (or in the case of women, witches) practice a form of paganism. Some followers of the three Abrahamic religions -- Christianity, Judaism and Islam -- don't consider Wiccans to practice a mainstream religion. An Episcopal priest, Glyn Lorraine Ruppe Melnyk of Malvern, Pa.,, outraged followers of that mainline Protestant denomination when she revealed seven years ago that she was a Wiccan/witch.
Vanderbilt spokeswoman Princine Lewis told the Tennessean that Wiccan and pagan days are on the Vanderbilt calendar because it follows the BBC Interfaith Calendar. She told the newspaper there was no way of knowing the Wiccan population on the campus of more than 12,000 students and 22,000 employees.