House of Representatives to host Wiccan Priestess


by Stephanie Woodruff

The first ever Wiccan Priestess to host invocation at the Iowa House of Representatives this week

This week, Wiccan Priestess Deborah Maynard will be giving a Wiccan invocation at the House of Representatives. She was invited by Rep. Liz Bennett. Many say they are baffled by Bennett’s choice and it’s raising a lot of questions.

Wiccans believe in worshiping the Earth, gods and goddesses. It is often associated with witch craft. Wicca is not the only name however it is also called “The Craft” and according to, “is a way of life that investigates every potential that you have.”

Though many are confused, some are excited. MacKenzie Bills, a junior and the Interfaith Intern in Simpson College’s Religious Life Community (RLC), said she is excited about the situation.

“This is the first time in history that a Wiccan Priestess is giving the prayer or invocation at the Iowa House,” Bills said. “This is a big deal for many reasons, but the first and most important is that most commonly, priests, pastors, bishops, etc. of Abrahamic religions are asked to give the invocation.”

Christians have been dominant when it comes to the prayers.

“It is an assumption that the opening prayer can only be given by Christians,” Bills said.

Diversity has not been a trend in the House.

 Bills said, “Looking at the religious diversity in Iowa, the lack of representation at the Iowa Legislature is disappointing.”

She believes having a Wiccan will hopefully open up some opportunities in the House and maybe more religions can and will join in.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Maeve Callan, religion professor at Simpson, said that she thinks this is all a “wonderful” idea.

“I second Representative Bennett’s words that people don’t always appreciate how religiously diverse Iowa is and that, as the Statehouse is the people’s house, there’s room for everyone under the dome,” she said.

Callan also said Iowa is known for welcoming all ethnicities and religions and prides itself on such diversity.  She recently spoke about Wicca to one of her classes before the story broke.

“People are ignorant about Wicca and, when they hear about it, it’s often at best a joke to them, and how it has been demonized by it opponents,” she said. “So I understand if some people have concerns about a Wiccan giving the prayer.”

Callan went on to say that if the House of Representatives should have prayer it should “reflect the religious diversity of Iowa.” She also said with the controversy heating many people up, it’s important to remember several things regarding respect.

 “They’re human beings,” she said. “Their faith deserves the same respect and privileges that are given to others.”

She also encourages people who are bothered by this to “consider how much they really know about the faith and whether they’re letting opponents of the faith or Hollywood or something other than Wiccans themselves define it for them.”

Supporters say this is a huge step forward for Iowa, especially since this is the first time in history for this to be happening. If this was the right move in for the House, only time will tell. All Iowans can do in the meantime is express how they feel and wait.