Region 8 Town Readies for Pagan Pride Festival

August 25, 2005 – Posted 5:12 p.m. CDT

BATESVILLE, AR -- A Region 8 town prepares for a controversial weekend. Batesville will be hosting the first annual Pagan Pride Day Festival on Saturday. The event is scheduled to be held at Kennedy Park on White River. While the event is only days away, the controversy is already brewing.

Pastor David Insell of the Believer's Community Church said, "As far as the church, we haven't taken an officials stance on it. We've talked about it in our worship service. I made the congregation aware that it was happening and invited them to pray about."

Pastor Insell may not agree with pagan beliefs, but he does believe in the freedom speech and freedom of religion.

"As citizens of America we all have a right to worship as we choose to worship. If we say they can't have it then maybe we can't have it," said Insell.

While the small town of Batesville is preparing for the weekend, city officials are treating the day like any other.

"I do not expect any controversy. I don't look at it as a big deal. It's one event in our park. We treat it no different then anything else," said Batesville Parks Director Randy Palmer.

The city doesn't plan to have any additional security at the park. The pagan group is holding the event as a fundraiser for rescued horses.

"Just in the Christian community itself there's such a diversity of beliefs and I think as Americans we have to be tolerant of everybody's beliefs," said Insell.

The Pagan Pride Festival isn't the only thing going on this weekend in Batesville. The park will also be hosting a disaster relief effort in one area, and on the opposite side of the White River, a back to school event for kids is called the Riverside Jam featuring 30 bands.