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October 19- Pagan Feels Heat as She Tries to Fight City Hall (AP)

    REPUBLIC, Mo. (AP)-- There are times, Jean Webb admits freely, when she
thinks of running, just as far and as fast as she can from this quiet little
town that has become her personal hell.

    The times when the phone rings and a caller lets loose with a string of
obscenities.  The times when a formerly amiable supermarket clerk sees her in
line and closes the register.  The times when a neighbor stands outside and
shouts that Webb is a witch who will face eternal damnation for what she's done.

    "There is a part of me that would just love to pack and run," says this
outgoing, 30-year-old mother of two teen-agers who, in fact, considers herself a

    "But if I did that," she continues, "all it would do would send them a
message. That if there was any other minority they dislike, all they would have
to do is be nasty to them and they would run."

    And so Webb, who was born and raised a Baptist, married in the Baptist
church and then, in her mid-20s, converted to the pagan faith Wicca, Says she is
in this fight for the long haul.

    She won't run, and she won't drop the lawsuit she and the American Civil
Liberties Union have filed against this bedroom community, just west of
Springfield, for refusing to remove the fish symbol of Christianity from its
city seal.

"I know how important the ichthus symbol is to some people," she says, of the
small, simple fish drawing that has graced the city seal since 1990.  It's as
important, she realizes, as her symbols are to her.

But such symbols don't belong on a government seal she says, adding that having
the fish there is not only a violation of the constitutional separation of
church and state but also a signal that Republic is a town where only Christians
are welcome.