Polk County Pagan Market Expands Vision: PCPM Spearheads Efforts for Inclusive Community
In a bold move to foster an inclusive and supportive pagan community, Jason McLelland, the
visionary behind the Polk County Pagan Market, envisions a space where attendees can freely
celebrate their spirituality without fear of external disruptions.
However, not all residents of Polk County have been so supportive.
The Pagan-Christian Clash in Polk County:
After the Polk County Pagan Market was announced over social media in July of 2022, the
flame of controversy was lit by Keven Hendrix, the very first pastor who decided to take a stand
against Pagan gatherings in Polk County. His Facebook post, still highlighted on his page,
marked the beginning of a movement that sought to challenge the growing influence of Pagan
events in the region.
Following in Hendrix’s footsteps, Pastor Tom Owen took the protest to the next level. Despite
being denied as a vendor for multiple Pagan events, Owen remained undeterred. His
commitment was such that he not only set up shop outside the events but also went to the
extent of paying without vendor approval, only to be later refunded. A member of the Christian
Motorcycle Club, Owen’s persistent efforts spilled over into multiple complaints to the city when
he was denied the opportunity to vend.
While other Pastors such as Josh Poage, a pastor at Crawford.tv church in Lufkin, displayed a
contrasting approach. Initiating contact through a seemingly friendly Facebook message, Poage
later revealed his true intentions in a sermon. His actions suggested an attempt to baptize and
“turn” members of the Pagan community and even promised them a stage presence in his
“The Stand” comes to the market:
In a bid to counter the Polk County Pagan Market’s annual Samhain Festival, Pastor Tanner
Crawford, a local religious figure, initiated a proclamation online calling for a rival event titled
“The Stand.” The counter-event aimed to challenge the principles associated with The Satanic
Temple, an invited guest vendor at the market. Despite the ultimate relocation of said members
of “The Stand” away from the event, tensions escalated as some of Pastor Tanner’s followers
independently decided to attend the two day park event and express their opposition to it. The
night preceding “The Stand”, a prayer group associated with Pastor Crawford walked the
grounds of the venue, chanting protective prayers and littering the venue with sticky notes
scribed with Bible verses. The act was seen as an attempt to assert a religious presence and
met with a commendable response from the vendors and guests who promptly cleaned up the
grounds. However, amidst the heightened tensions, four protestors—Jon Hale, Christopher
Morrison, James Goff, and Roger David—defied the rules set forth by both “The Stand”
organizers and Polk County Pagan Market by trespassing onto the grounds. Their objective was
to confront The Satanic Temple and publicly challenge their beliefs. This act was in direct
opposition to the event’s explicit “no proselytizing” rule. Jon Hale and Christopher Morrison went a step further, documenting their incursion and sharing videos from inside the event.
Addressing these incidents through a post on social media, McLelland emphasized the
challenges faced by event organizers who strive to maintain a peaceful and inclusive
environment amid the clash of religious ideologies within the community. This incident further
adds to the series of challenges the event organizer has faced, including repeated acts of
vandalism at the organizer’s commercial store location throughout the summer. Despite the
hurdles and incidents leading up to the event, the Polk County Pagan Market’s Samhain
Festival proved to be a resounding success. The steadfast commitment of the organizers,
vendors, and attendees to create a space of inclusivity and celebration prevailed over the
attempts to disrupt the event. The clash of religious beliefs continues to be a significant
challenge, but the resilience of the Pagan community remains unshaken, showcasing the
strength of unity and the power of inclusivity in the face of adversity. The Polk County Pagan
Market stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of a community dedicated to fostering
understanding and acceptance, even in the midst of religious rivalry.
A Girl Scout Leader’s Stand:
In the midst of a clash between Pagan and Christian communities at the Polk County Pagan
Market, Kris Tate, a dedicated Girl Scout Troop leader and recruiter, is taking a stand for
inclusivity and acceptance.
Tate discussed the troop’s dedication as she stated, “The girls wanted to make sure that people
out there knew that someone in Polk County loved them no matter who they were.” The
sentiments were expressed after the children of the troop heard about the protestors at the
As a troop leader, Tate emphasizes a non-discriminatory environment within her group and is
welcoming to all individuals regardless of their religious affiliations. Her commitment to being
diverse, prompted the troop’s attendance at the Polk County Pagan Market. Aiming to spread
love and acceptance in the face of protests.
Tate recounted an unsettling experience during the troop’s first visit to the market. A pastor,
addressing a sensitive and inappropriate topic in front of the children.Despite this incident, Tate
remains undeterred in her mission to create a safe and welcoming space for the girls.
The attendance of the event also led to a reduction in the troop’s size, from 40 members to 20.
Tate strongly criticizes the protesting methods employed by some individuals at the market,
deeming them “unAmerican.” Her perspective on the Polk County Pagan Market is one of
admiration for its accepting atmosphere. She encourages skeptics to attend the market, stating,
“It is a place where we can all just be people there. And that is so rare in today’s society.”
Unity Prevails Amidst Challenges:
Despite such challenges, The Satanic Temple of Houston expressed their excitement and
gratitude for the opportunity to participate in Polk County Pagan Market events. From the moment they
entered the Polk County Pagan Market, it became evident that they were stepping into a space
that transcended traditional boundaries, brimming with a dynamic exchange of knowledge,
passion, and creativity.
“The Polk County Pagan Market is a crossroads of old traditions and new ideas. This has
provided a platform for TST Houston to connect with others and dispel misconceptions through
rituals such as their Unbaptism ceremonies. Even in the face of opposition, the market stood
strong, embodying the resilience of a community bound not by rigid dogmas but by a shared
commitment to celebrating religious diversity and personal freedom,” a representative from The
Satanic Temple states.
For TST Houston the experience at the Polk County Pagan Market has been a perfect
opportunity to engage with a welcoming community. Despite initial reservations and undeserved
negative judgment, the warmth and acceptance received by TST Houston has been nothing
short of profound.. The market has become a symbol of the benefits derived from being part of a
pluralistic society that values each individual’s unique contributions.
In the spirit of reciprocity, TST Houston expresses deep gratitude for the chance to support the
Polk County Pagan Market community. The love and acceptance extended to them has
reinforced the idea that, even in the face of challenges, unity prevails when people come
together to celebrate diversity and shared values.
The Future of Polk County Pagan Market:
Looking ahead, McLelland’s vision for the Polk County Pagan Market includes the introduction
of overnight camping facilities, aligning with his vision of creating a communal space beyond
market hours. Education on Paganism will take center stage, with workshops serving as
platforms for open discussions, dispelling myths and fostering a more informed and tolerant
community. The event organizer is also taking significant steps to secure private property for
future events, ensuring a safe space free from protests.
McLelland actively seeks collaboration with other Pagan events, aiming to expand the Pagan
network and create a ripple effect of inclusive gatherings. Community outreach programs,
championed by McLelland, aim to make a positive impact on individuals facing challenges,
fostering unity and compassion.
As the organization pioneers transformative changes, the Polk County Pagan Market is poised
to become a vibrant hub for education, community-building, and cultural exchange. With a
commitment to fostering an inclusive and diverse Pagan experience, McLelland is setting the
stage for a new era of spiritual celebration in Polk County and beyond.