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Hi everyone! I received the following on a bulletin on Myspace this morning and thought I would share it here:

Hello, My name is Ashley. I work at Hot Topic, store number 286, in Glen Burnie, Maryland. I am writing today to ask for your support in having Hot Topic's policies changed around, especially the one that is currently allowing me, a practicing Pagan, to be singled out.

Hot Topic does not tolerate pentagrams, calling them Satanic. I have been forbidden to wear mine during work hours, having been told Witchcraft is not a religion that Hot Topic recognizes. A manager has decided that she cannot work with me, due to my religious choices, and now is attempting to have me fired.

I have been "written up" and sat down twice, once by her and once by the store manager, because of a conversation involving three other people about drugs, WHILE THE STORE WAS CLOSED, and because I answered the manager's questions about another associate's missed time. No one else was punished for the drug conversation. I work in a store full of practicioners of other beliefs. The manager trying to get me fired is always covered in Christian jewelry and keychains. I am denied any of my own religious wear.

I wrote to the A.C.L.U. last night, and am currently awaiting a response.

During this time, I am asking that everyone repost. I am not the only Pagan being punished. Every time someone wearing a pentagram walks in, the manager trying to get me fired talks badly about them when they leave.

My mother comes in in her jewelry, and I have to wonder, what is said then?

Together, as a community, we can make a difference. Pagans make up 80% of our sales, and if we stop shopping there, they will have to make a change. I am already petitioning to have this change brought about, by calling the A.C.L.U..

Pass this around. Religious persecution was supposed to have died with the witch trials.

Don't let this store, the only place these kids have to go, continue to push us away!

Ashley ( )
Employee at Hot Topic store number 286,
Marley Station Mall
Glen Burnie, Maryland

I'm currently waitng for a response from this individual and may try to organize a protest at as many Hot Topic stores as possible.

Your comments on this matter are welcome! Please feel free to repost on your Myspace page or any other sites you belong to!

Thanks and BB )O(

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ibought my first pentacle there...well now im irked
sue, get this to court. 1st Amendment. work at Spencers ^^ they sell stuff with pentagrams and other pagan stuffs.
Hey all....
This article was just sent to me on via another site I'm's interesting. Apparently there has been at least one similar situation regarding Hot Topic.

**Start Article**

July 22, 2003
Call for a boycott of 'Hot Topic' stores over religious discrimination
Below is a news release published today by New Witch magazine. First, let me state that I'm not endorsing the magazine. I saw a piece about it at The Barbaric Yawp and was a bit curious to check it out, since the info he had quoted from the magazine in his piece seemed just a bit off from my own experience. (When I first started exploring Paganism, Wicca was the easiest of the Pagan paths to find information on, so that was where I started. As such, I have a fair amount of experience with Wiccan and "witchy" practices and beliefs.) Personally, the magazine is a bit "fluffy bunny" for my tastes, but the issue itself is one that deserves an airing.

An additional caveat: New Witch Magazine isn't an uninterested bystander in this case. The issue arose because New Witch was trying to get Hot Topic stores to carry their magazine, and Hot Topic indicated that they would not be able to because they had made a corporate decision not to carry any merchandise related to "Witches" or "Wicca" due to pressure from the Religious Right. If you decide to participate in the boycott or to write to Hot Topic's management to protest their decision, I would suggest focusing on the general issue of religious discrimination rather than on their specific decision not to stock New Witch. I think that such an approach would be more readily accepted by management as a legitimate market concern, as opposed to a "stunt" by a specific product maker who is trying to get their product stocked.

One last comment: I fully recongize Hot Topic's right to make such decisions about what products they will or won't stock. I'm actually quote surprised that Hot Topic would make such a choice since, as the release below notes, there is a significant overlap between Goth/Alternative Lifestyles demographics (Hot Topic's primary customers) and Pagans.

But while I do believe they have the right to make this choice, in this case, I strongly disagree with their having done so, and, as such, am happy to give publicity to an effort to change their minds, not through the force of law (such as via a lawsuit), but through the force of the market demands (letting them know that customers and potential customers want a certain category of products to be made available). New Witch magazine has not said anything to indicate that any kind of lawsuit is even under contemplation. They have said absolutely nothing, in fact, about using any tactics other than a boycott, publicity and a petition. This I can support wholeheartedly, and if you agree, I ask that you do also.

July 21, 2003
*removed from post - available at link below*


In an email sent July 15, 2003, to newWitch Editor-In-Chief Anne Newkirk Niven, California-based apparel and accessory retail chain Hot Topic ( admitted a company policy of religious discrimination in merchandise selection for their stores.

According to Papergoods Buyer Marissa Mitchell, "[newWitch] sounds great, and potentially would have been a good fit for our stores a few years back when we used to carry Wicca merchandise. Unfortunately, about 4 years ago we ran into some complicated issues and as a company, we had to make some difficult decisions. One of those decisions included not going forward with merchandise that reads the word 'witch' on it." In a phone conversation with Niven, Ms. Mitchell admitted that some of these 'complicated issues' involved pressure from the Religious Right to Hot Topic's management to ban all Wicca and witch-related merchandise from its stores -- despite the fact that there is a considerable demographic overlap between Hot Topic's customer base (goth and other alternative lifestyles) and Paganism. It appears that Hot Topic has chosen to give in to said pressure rather than insisting on equal religious rights for all their customers.

newWitch Magazine would like to encourage the Pagan community -- as well as all other persons who shop at Hot Topic and who believe in religious rights and the importance of tolerance in America today -- to respond in one or all of the following ways:

1) Boycott Hot Topic and its affiliated chain, Torrid (;

2) Write letters to Hot Topic, encouraging them to forgo their discriminatory policy in favor of protecting the rights of all Americans to practice whatever religion they consider appropriate, and to provide Hot Topic with some idea of the number of Pagans and Pagan-sympathetic persons in Hot Topic's potential customer base;

3) Write emails to Hot Topic, with the same goal in mind. Or,

4) Sign our online petition at . This petition will be sent to Hot Topic's corporate management on October 31, 2003, the Third Annual Out Of The Broom Closet Day.

Do not call Hot Topic! Phone calls, while perhaps more immediately satisfying, are harder to document and more likely to anger the customer service people answering the phones -- who are not the people who made or who enforce this discriminatory practice. Also, please keep your communications with Hot Topic professional, polite, and respectful -- we're not going to get anywhere if we're rude or juvenile.

The boycott will continue until Hot Topic rescinds its company policy of entrenched discrimination against Wiccan, witch-related, and other metaphysical merchandise.

Posted by thorswitch at July 22, 2003 09:27 PM
**End Article**
Taking the link your article provides lead me to this:

August 10, 2003

Dagonet Dewr, Managing Editor, newWitch Magazine


In a phone conversation on August 3, Hot Topic Chief Operating Officer Betsy McLaughlin spoke to Dagonet Dewr, Managing Editor of newWitch Magazine, in reference to an alleged policy of religious discrimination in Hot Topic's merchandise selection. At that time, it became apparent that Anne Newkirk Niven, newWitch's Editor-in-Chief, had been given wrong information by one of Hot Topic's merchandising buyers. After that conversation, Ms McLaughlin sent a formal statement to Dewr, the text of which is reproduced below.

Thank you for allowing us the chance to clarify our item selection.

"It is my understanding that you were given incomplete information from one of our buyers so I appreciate the opportunity to articulate our policy. About 7 years ago, we made a company decision not to carry any products that contain a religious symbol. These include crucifixes, rosaries, pictures of Jesus, stars of David, pentagrams, etc. We felt that unless we could do justice to all religions, it was not appropriate for us to selectively decide which symbols were important. We also changed our employee dress code. This decision was based on input we received from customers, employees and mall developers. The overwhelming feeling was that we market to teenagers and unless we could offer a full selection of products (as a bookstore is able to do), we could possibly give the appearance of favoring one religion over the next. The only exception is music, which we will not censor. So, you will find religious symbols and references on our music licensed products (rock tees, CD's, and music stickers).

"I hope this helps you to understand our assortment choices. Most importantly, we are not excluding any one particular religion. We have many Wiccans working for Hot Topic (and Catholics, Jews, Buddhists, etc.) so I can assure you that as an organization, we are supportive of all religious preferences.

Betsy McLaughlin
CEO & President
Hot Topic, Inc."

At this time, newWitch Magazine is satisfied with this response. It was never for us a question of whether or not Hot Topic chose to carry our particular merchandise; it was the appearance of a specific policy against Pagan and Wiccan materials that we objected to. With that policy clarified and corrected, we once again encourage the Pagan community to shop wherever their personal tastes say works for them. To the over 1400 people who signed our online petition -- not counting the many emails Hot Topic received -- we thank you for standing up for the Pagan right to choose not to support policies of disenfranchisement, even if in this case, we were thankfully misinformed.

We have changed the format of our online petition, located at, to reflect this information. We are encouraging people to sign the petition to thank Hot Topic and Ms McLaughlin for their speedy and helpful response.
I cannot confirm or deny your experience... however, I have not seen any explicitly religious iconography since I worked there which was before the change in policy. I would also argue that a cross is NOT explicitly Christian as it is a common "goth" aesthetic, along with ankhs, unless it has a little figure of Jesus on it.
I really don't see it as splitting hairs. Crosses (in a secular sense) have always been a big deal in costume jewelry in general and were part of the goth aesthetic since the beginning. Cross jewelry was an especially big deal in the 80s which is when the goth scene really took off in popularity. Pentacles/Pentagrams are a fairly new edition to the goth scene, ushered in by the merging of goth with other genres, such as black metal, and its expansion into new territory in the 90s and 00s.

I do agree that they are doing a disservice to themselves and their customer base. There's so much really interesting merch out there with Pentacles and Christian iconography that the customers are being denied with this policy.
I stopped shopping there years ago, but I will continue to not shop there if that helps. The whole thing sucks for you and I feel your pain sortof. I think you should light some candles when you have some free time to enjoy your magick. Just the same it's nice to know that happened and that things like that still happen. I mean, that it's good to be informed when that happens. So sorry about that.
Wow, did I sleep through the Apocolypse and did the Church manage to take the heck over, or what? Excuse me for not having been to a Hot Topic in awhile, but Gothyness (is that a word?), metal clothing/music/accesories, alternative stuff and imagery, and frankly about 98% of the shit they sell is 'dark' in some way or other, WTF?
P.S. I bought my oldest son his first pentacle there. WTF pt. 2..
P.S.S. I am on my way over to post this to my Myspace, and anywhere else I can think of. How very disappointed in them I now am, and will no longer be their customer.
I could never boycott Hot Topic for this... because I already boycott them for sucking ass.

I don't shop there because 1. They're Jewelry is cheap 2. The few food band tees are over priced. 3. The store is always full of Vampire Wannabes and Emos.

Fuck Hot Topic.
I haven't bought anything at a Hot Topic in years, to expensive and I can't fit in most of the cloths(even when I was younger). It's intresting that they call a pentigram a satinist symbol as the sell Manson, Rob Zombie, Insane Clown Posse(though technically a lot of that really brutal gospel).

I'll most definately not shop there now/ Good Luck
Sounds like to me a more 'local to personal' issue with the Ashley in question...the Hot Topics here has 2 young girls wearing pentacles and other such items.I wont endorse a 'boycott' just because someone says so or even as much MAY have a personal agenda and needs others who are in a more likely state of mind to go along with it.

In a point of reference I dont go into Hot Topics but I walked past the store one day a few months ago,a young girl wearing said Pentacle outside the store on break said ..

'Nice Hammer'

I relied

'Nice Pentacl'e.

Thats how I know so I suggest to get the (real) facts first...
I've bought my daughters a pentacle at Hot Topic in NH.... When did this happen???


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