Article Archive – Circa 2005 – Pagan America

Pagan AmericaThis article was originally going to be about the myriad American conservative Christians who are complaining long and hard about how God is being removed from American culture (and thus, we are all going to hell in a hand basket). However, with the impending legalization of gay marriage, the neo-cons seem to be moving northward. As such, my focus is going to start out more localized.

Reprinted within the text of the article is a challenge written by a retired United Church minister attacking many of the changes that are being made. Now, while I personally find many of the Reverend’s views offensive, I can understand his anger at the turn the church is taking.

The last several years have seen a dramatic decrease not only in current church membership, but in conversion rates as well. People all over the world are coming to understand that they are not stuck with the church of their childhood when they find the theology lacking. Alternatives such as Paganism are more accepted in the general public than they ever have been before.

The change of the church doctrines to be more inclusive of quasi-pagan beliefs strikes me as a shallow attempt to bolster membership. I see it as dishonest and ultimately futile effort. It will not stop the steady stream of people leaving Christianity. At best it will slow it down; at worst, it will force disillusioned Christians into more conservative (and more dangerous) right-wing churches and political groups. Nothing gets people more active in politics than a threat to their faith.

Beyond lagging membership and changing church tenants, American Christians in particular are pitching fits over the more stringent enforcement of the separation of church and state, the removal of school and municipal government prayers, and casual television references to pagan concepts such as ‘the gods’, ‘the fates’, etc (I have seen these things myself in shows like Friends, Spin City, and even the Simpsons).

Most of the western world won’t even notice these things, but to conservative Christians intent on feeling like persecuted martyrs, it is an attack on their place of power within mainstream society. I, and many other Pagans, see this as a good thing … a move towards balance and diversity.

Unfortunately, the religious right is not going down without a fight. Recent months have seen a massive influx of neo-conservatives from the United States protesting and boosting the numbers of our own conservatives as they try to force through legislation that will actively discriminate against gay couples seeking to marry. In England, fundies are coming out of the woodwork in an attempt to force Jerry Springer: The Opera off the air, even going so far as to threaten a cancer charity with picket lines outside their main office, if they accepted a donation from the show.

As outrageous and aggravating as these tactics seem, we must see them for what they are – desperation. It is naive to think that Christianity, as we know it today, will ever disappear all together, but their strangle hold on western society is waning, and things are going to get uglier before the new ‘norm’ is established.

At times I think that the best thing to do is just sit back and watch the fur fly, but the truth is, that we don’t have the luxury of believing that this doesn’t affect us. We have already seen what happens when we sit back and watch rather than get involved. The re-election of US president George Bush is a lesson that many of us won’t soon forget.

The best thing that we can do to ride out the religious and political whirlwind is to stay active in local government. Write your MP (or congressman if you live in the states), and make sure that your opinions on important issues are known. Emails are good, but paper letters are much harder to ignore. Professional language is also essential if you want to be taken seriously. It isn’t easy, I know (I am still trying to find a civil way of saying ‘hey buddy, get your head out of your ass and join us in the 21st century’).

I don’t take pleasure in the turmoil that faces Christianity in the next several years, but I am also unwilling to allow that to be and excuse for the more vocal among them to scream persecution at every turn, and launch so-called ‘morality campaigns’ against basic human rights and freedoms.

We can’t afford to assume that the rift within mainstream Christian churches is not our concern. As more and more people turn from the church of their youth in search of a better spiritual fit, Paganism is now often the first place they look. What we are fighting now is not a battle to gain ground, but rather to hold onto the legitimacy and acceptance we already have.

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.