Press Release 2/28/2016

Press Release  02/28/2016

by Rev. Joy Burton and Jo Butler, Board of Directors, Living Earth Church in Denver, CO


Living Earth Church Responds To Recent “Conservative Christian” Media Criticism Regarding USAF Academy Cadets Attending Its Church Retreat in 2014


Recently Living Earth Church and our annual retreat known as Beltania have been referenced in a series of articles about expenditures from the Air Force Academy’s Chapel Tithes and Offering Fund.  Some of the articles are not presenting fair and balanced information. There were several inaccuracies in both the facts and insinuations presented in the article originally published by Judicial Watch at  

http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-air-force-academy-uses-chapel-tithes-and-offering-fund-to-pay-for-cadets-attendance-at-festivals-celebrating-witchcraft-faery-magick-and/

and repeated nearly verbatim in several other media outlets. Prior to publishing the above article, no reporter contacted any representative of Living Earth or our Beltania Festival to clarify or verify information. We have been contacted by reporters and journalists since the original publication and are also in close contact with other organizations and individuals directly touched by it.


Living Earth Church invites you to consider the following:


  • Religious freedom is guaranteed to all Americans in the First Amendment of the Constitution, “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.   The Air Force Academy has repeatedly affirmed the cadets’ right to practice the religion of their choice and provided reasonable accommodations.

  • The payments referenced are in line with the Chapel’s Tithes and Offering Fund’s normal expenditures for spiritual retreats and events of many different faiths. The Tithes and Offering Fund comes from free-will donations from individuals, and received oversight by the USAFA.

  • The cadets who attended Beltania were present to observe a ceremony to honor active duty military and veterans. Our special guest speaker was Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary and the Lady Liberty League, who has championed civil and religious rights of Pagans in the military for decades.

  • The family-friendly festival offers workshops, prayer, ceremonies, rituals,, and music in addition to a maypole dance similar to maypole dances held at Christian churches, schools, and groups around the world.

  • Living Earth and Beltania are not exclusively Wiccan. We welcome all who embrace an Earth-centered spiritual path. We at Living Earth Church respect all faiths, all people, and each person’s spiritual path.  


We are very thankful for the outpouring of support and new interest this has generated around the country. We thank Judicial Watch and other reporters for directing so many people to our websites, our church, and our fundraising retreat, who without their articles would not otherwise have found us, nor so clearly seen the contrast between Living Earth’s welcoming, positive spiritual community and those writing about Living Earth and Beltania. Our community and our connections grow with loving purpose.


Living Earth, as always, genuinely welcomes inquiries from those within and outside our Earth-based faith tradition. Anyone wishing to contact us to receive factual corrections to any published article, get information about what we believe or do, or participate in any of our religious services, is genuinely welcomed to do so via our websites www.livingearthcolorado.org and www.beltania.org, via email to Rev. Joy Burton at joy@livingearthcolorado.org, or in person by appointment. We pray for peace, brotherly love, and respect among all the beings on Earth.