Heroes and Gods – Deirdre Hebert
Enchantrss, Gypsy, Enchantrsss
Telergy, The Burning of the Library of Alexandria, Hypatia
Wendy Rule, Elemental Chant, Wolf Sky
Earth Magick, Todd Alan and Lady Pythia, Earth Magick
The Dolmen, Gentle Breeze, Dolmenation
Maitri, Saraswayi Uandana, Maitri
Psicodreamics, True Spirit of Nature, Ancient Wisdom
S. J. Tucker, Valkyrie Daughter, Sirens
Spiral Dane, Rise Up, Through a Sylvan Doorway
The Moors, The Snake That Coils Within Without, The Moors
Damh the Bard, The Horned God – an Unofficial Biography, As Nature Intended
Featherscale, Hail and Fairwell, Gypsy Heart
Today is June 4, 2016 It’s the 156th day of the year.
The Sun in is in Gemini, and the Moon is currently New – or it reaches New at just about the time I’ll finish recording this episode. It will reach First Quarter on Sunday, June 12 – by which time, I hope the next episode of PaganFM will be out.
Friday, June 10, marks the anniversary of the date in 1692, when Bridget Bishop was hanged in Salem, Massachusetts, for the crime of witchcraft. She was the first of 19 executed that year during the witchcraft hysteria. While, currently, in most of the modern Western World, witchcraft is not considered a crime, there are many places on our planet where it actually is, and people are still dying for their religious beliefs.
More on that in a bit.
In our PaganFM Prayer List, please keep my daughter in mind, who will be having surgery on Tuesday, to remove chronic polyps from her sinuses – not in any way what I’d consider a comfortable or easy surgery.
If you’d like to add someone to this list, please find the PaganFM Prayer List over on Facebook.
So, talking in our Almanac about Bridget Bishop got me thinking about religious persecution, and persecution by religious groups.
If you listen to right-wing radio, you’ll hear how in some places, Christians are being persecuted and killed by Muslims – and this is actually true. But the thing is that it’s all religions who are suffering persecution. And which religions are DOING the persecution? It’s whichever religion wields the greatest political power – wherever they happen to be.
Here in the United States, you see Christians trying to deny civil rights to LGBT people – going so far as to deny that transgender people even exist, while, at the same time, trying to pass laws prohibiting us from using public restrooms. You have people like James Dobson, actually lamenting the fact that people like me aren’t killed more often.
Groups like Faith2Action are doing all they can to protest companies that will actually accommodate transgender people. One of their protests was to happen today – so I showed up at my local Target store, hoping to find some protesters. The group called for a protest to run from 10 AM to 2 PM. I showed up just after 10, walked around the store for a bit but saw nobody. At around 10:30, I saw a police officer – but he was, apparently there, for an unrelated matter. I hung around for close to an hour, and saw none of those protesters – I was disappointed.
I’d brought a recorder and was hoping to interview some of these people. I had some rather pointed questions to ask – such as why is it that since all this brouhaha has been going on, that pretty much the only “men” going into women’s restrooms have been men that groups like the American “Family” Association have been sending into women’s restrooms, in order to make the case that there could actually be a problem? Why is it that while these people claim to want to keep women safe, it’s been the protesters who have actually committed crimes? Why is it that they don’t even bother to mention that it’s some of their own – people protesting transgender people’s rights to pee, who were caught holding a young girl captive in a basement?
I don’t want this to be another episode about trans bathroom issues – but I bring this up because it fits in with the whole idea of religious persecution. The groups that are in charge, typically, make the rules for whatever game it is that will be played.
And it’s not just LGBT folk that the religious right have a problem with – it’s also humanism, Paganism, and even liberal Christianity. I remember when Bishop Gene Robinson became the first Gay bishop of the Episcopal Church, here in New Hampshire. That church has had a constant history of threats of schism when women were ordained, when Gay and Lesbian priests were ordained, and when the same were elevated to the position of Bishops. But I also recall the threats against Bishop Robinson’s life. I recall protests by more conservative local churches over what Episcopalians chose to do in their own churches.
Let me tell you this: Threats against an individual’s life, for their religious beliefs, is religious persecution. And it doesn’t matter the reason. If we feel that a religious group is threatening us, and we respond in kind, that’s religious persecution on both sides. It’s a religious war.
But the right-wing idea that conservative Christianity is being unilaterally persecuted is entirely false. Whatever animosity they are feeling is because they, first, have waged war against a society – a society that sees their dogmatic view of what society should be, as largely outdated and irrelevant. Society today doesn’t see homosexuality or transgenderism as a particular problem.
What we are seeing to be a problem is a dogmatic conservatism that refuses to honor personal choices and realities – a dogmatism that purposefully misgenders transgender suicide victims; a dogmatism that will demonize anyone else for different religious beliefs; a dogmatism that is so utterly filled with hubris, that it believes it has the authority to dictate to other Christian churches. It is this dogmatic conservatism that refuses to accept that any other religious institution – if it is not based on their understanding of Judeo-Christian principles – can even be legitimately called a church.
That’s conservative Christianity here in the United States – our local religious persecutor. But it’s not – around the world – only conservative Christianity that is doing the persecuting. It happens in any nation that is ruled by a religion – it could be Islam or Judaism. Recent stories have come out of Buddhist Monks being part of a mob that attacked a Christian church in Sri Lanka.
I suppose that all of this sort of fits in with the idea of Pagan Ethics month … and here is where I see the main part of the problem – whenever religion loses its humility, it is lost. And those who are part of such religions are lost.
I think the first ethic of any religious body must be to remain humble. Humility means that we have the right to make choices, only for our selves. We have no right, no authority, to make religious choices for anyone but us. And that includes, once our children reach the age of reason, for them as well.
As Pagans of any stripe, we ought to recognize that we can’t even decide among ourselves what the word Pagan even really means – we’ve got polytheists – of multiple varieties. We’ve Got Wiccans who believe in a male-female duality, but who see God and Goddess as more archetype than beings. We’ve even got Christo-Pagans and atheistic Pagans. We’ve got Heathens, and what I’d likely call “trans-Pagans” who we count among ourselves, but whose faith is based on things other than nature or traditional religions. A case in point might be the Church of All Worlds, or Druidic groups such as the Reformed Druids of Gaia.
I’ve been pleased to see how little religious intolerance there is among Pagans. It’s true that we do have some infighting, and occasional complaining, but we haven’t got to the point of actual religious persecution. I’m hoping that’s not simply because no groups actually have amassed enough political power to do so.
Certainly, I believe that if Conservative Christianity manages to consolidate enough power in government, that religions like ours, and LGBT people, and pretty much any nonconformist, would be in serious jeopardy. But I also believe that if militant atheists, exclusionary radical feminists, and even Pagans, gained enough political clout, that they would be every bit as dangerous as are conservative Christians right now.
The problem remains two-fold – too much power in the hands of people who lack humility. And humility is very easy to toss out the window, once one has attained a goodly amount of power. So, on the one hand, while I lament the fact that we are still a minority religion, lacking in any sort of clout, I see that also as something of a blessing – it keeps us honest and humble. It keeps us from becoming that which we don’t wish to become.