This article is about another issue that as of late seems to have backslid from the progress I naively believed we had made; tolerance among Christians. In my naivete, especially after watching my local Pagan community grow to proportions I would never have believed possible (though still in the minority) and after meeting so many wonderful people of varying faiths who saw past religious labels and accepted me wholly for who I was, I had thought that Paganism & Traditional Witchcraft was no longer thought of as an obscure occultist sect of Satanism by most modern Christians - a misguided belief encouraged by pastors and parishioners who mistakenly think we believe that Satan even exists.
Hey, it's not our fault that we were here first and you took all our deities and declared them to be demons from hell to try and frighten us into conversion. Satan, as far as we're concerned, is about as real to us as Cernunnos is to Christians (Cernunnos being the Horned God of the Hunt for us witches).
Apparently, the litany of books published on the topic clarifying these false perceptions and detailing what we do believe in (which, in reality, is not so very different from what Christians believe) had nary an Evangelical hand touch them, because here again are we in a society where citizens and even lawmakers still vehemently cling to these archaic notions of witchcraft. They would see us all burnt at the stake, for in the words of Front Royal citizen Elizabeth Poel;
"You need to understand that most parents want neither pagan practitioners nor homosexuals to have access to the minds, bodies and souls of their children."
Because we all know witches delight in feasting upon the souls of children after a nice, long ritual goat sacrifice. Are you fucking kidding me?!
So, not only does this woman believe that Pagans spawn from Satan, but also homosexuals. Naturally, godless heathens that we are, we spend every waking hour plotting how to lure the neighborhood children into the woods so we can brew a potion before the sun rises and thus become immortal.
Front Royal, located south of Winchester in Virginia, is home a healthy-sized Pagan community both in town and scattered among the surrounding mountains where we live in peace with nature in the beauteous forested regions outlying the cities along the West Virginia border. Recently, a High Priestess who was giving tarot readings inside a shop on Main Street was sent packing thanks to a nearby Christian bookstore (who probably stock Michael & Debi Pearl's "To Train Up A Child" book... you know, the one that was linked to three child deaths from parents following the advice given within its pages) calling police and getting her removed from the premises as they deemed her actions to be "not appropriate".
The High Priestess, Maya White Sparks, was understandably upset and wrote an impassioned Letter to the Editor to NV Daily, citing discrimination and calling on area Christian leaders to extend tolerance to those of different beliefs and spiritual paths.
By the way, the police were able to remove Maya because of this blatantly discriminatory and outdated law:
110-17 FORTUNETELLING OR PRACTICING MAGIC ART
A. It shall be unlawful for any company of gypsies or other strolling company or person to receive compensation or reward for pretending to tell fortunes or to practice any so-called "magic art."
B. Every person violating this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not less than five hundred dollars ($500.) or confined in jail not less than one (1) nor more than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
On August 12th, the town council finally struck down the ban... but not without complaint from a few closed-minded citizens who apparently forgot that this nation was founded on religious freedom.
One of the citizens that spoke out in favor of the ban, Ms. Elizabeth Poel, made comments that were particularly sickening. Not only did she call witchcraft "silly and stupid" (profound words, aren't they), but she even went so far as to extend her disgusting intolerance to include the LGBT community.
Here are her exact words verbatim:
"We do not advocate abuse or harm to any homosexuals," Poel said. "Such would be contrary to the virtue of charity. However, homosexuals do not usually extend such charity much less tolerance toward homosexuals who do not agree with them."
"You need to understand that most parents want neither pagan practitioners nor homosexuals to have access to the minds, bodies and souls of their children."
Poel also declared there to be a "strong connection" existing between homosexuality and Paganism, which of course indicates how learned and wise she must be in her old age. (Yes, that was indeed sarcasm.)
Even further, she asked the council "why it would take the action to benefit pagans -- a small part of the population", suggested the town "adjust the license fee for inflation to $2,987 by her calculations and include more questions on the business license application". According to NV Daily, "she also linked the thrift store on Main Street and the tarot-card reading operation to the Center for Workforce Development and its efforts to provide opportunities to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Poel said she surmised the center plans to recruit youth to increase the number of homosexuals in Front Royal."
I'm sorry... what?! Are you serious, bitch?
I'm thinking this woman may have escaped from a mental infirmary to testify at town hall.
Poel, however, was not the only idiot of the evening. Thomas Centrella apparently had this to say:
"Do you want it to be your legacy that you are the ones who opened the door in this community to make Front Royal a haven for witchcraft, fortunetelling and other pagan practices?" Centrella asked council. "I guarantee you that no American family, religious or not, will want to raise their children next to a shop that sells fortunetelling, tarot cards, witchcraft and so forth."
Well, to be fair Mr. Centrella, I wouldn't want to raise my child within the vicinity of Christian bookstore that condones violence against children, either. But hey, that's just me talking.
For all the fear-driven ignorance that came out of the woodwork that day, there were some voices of light and support in attendance to help defend their good-natured Pagan neighbors - whether or not they shared the same beliefs. Linnette Nicholas, bless her, said the wisest words of the evening.
"All that I've heard is just total judgment against witchcraft," Nicholas said. "You know there are abominations within the Catholic Church and within the other religions that happened and we're not focusing on that and condemning people for being Catholic. We're only wanting to practice our spirituality."
Exactly. We forgive you for burning us at the stake, for terrorizing our homes and trying to force us to worship your God. We forgive you for destroying the advanced technology and wisdom of Pagan ancient Rome before you burned it down to pave the way for the Vatican. We overlook the countless acts of judgment and discrimination we have faced in our communities, in our schools, and at our places of employment. We don't even judge you when your religious leaders continually fall into scandal for sexual perversion or swindling well-meaning seniors and gullible adults into sending televangelists buckets of money so they can buy six cars and multi-million dollar mansions.
Why then are you so quick to exact judgment upon us, even when your own God commandeth you to leave the judging up to Him? What has any witch or Pagan (or homosexual, for that matter) ever done to you or your children? I'm willing to bet, nothing. What the blindly devout fail to understand that the propensity to commit crimes has nothing to do with what religion one may be.
Rather, it has everything to do with whether or not they have a conscience.
There is bad and good in all of us. I don't care if Jesus Christ or Satan is your fucking savior, we are all born with both light and darkness inside of us. Those who strive to be good people, who show kindness, generosity, caring and compassion to their fellow men and women deserve universal respect no matter your creed or ideology. Those who strive to injure, harm, cheat, steal and manipulate are the ones that deserve your scorn and your contempt.
"Evil" knows no denomination. It does not select those of a certain religion nor compel them all to collectively do harm to the world. It is without bias, without sense, and without bounds or parameters. It chooses its servants indiscriminately, and those who do evil can come from any walk of life, any background, any demographic, and any religion.
Adolf Hitler was himself a Catholic... and his intolerance almost plunged the entire world into despair.
Let us not forget that there are plenty of villainous characters who identified as Christian or some variation of the broader Catholic/Christian faith - although for some reason, most of them manage to escape or circumvent having to serve time behind bars or invoke any other consequences for that matter. Just guessing here, but perhaps that reason is again the same reason we who practice in the minority are so oft dealt with unjustly; because devout Christians are undoubtedly looked upon more kindly thanks to the stigma of the wholesome church-goer cemented in the brains of thousands.
For example, youth minister Robert Stoner from Wilmington was the only defendant among 15 rape cases and never spent time behind bars for his crime.
Let us not forget the famed Bill Gothard, founder of the Christian-based Institute of Basic Life Principles who's teachings are favored and implemented by Jim-Bob & Michelle Duggar (side note: Gothard has endorsed the abuse-advocating "To Train A Child" book, which almost certainly implies that the Duggar children are being subjected to barbaric and cruel "training" practices that include striking an infant child with a plastic ruler to keep them obedient, and beating your child if they don't carry a happy demeanor and a smile). Gothard recently come under fire for allegedly sexually harassing and molesting several female employees. The claims had been publicized on Recovering Grace, a website and support group for former followers of Gothard's teachings. As many as 34 women who worked for Gothard claim that he harassed them; four claim that he molested them, and one of the accusers claims that Gothard molested her when she was 16 years old.
Yet interestingly, Gothard has had no charges filed nor actions taken against him, besides being placed on "indefinite administrative leave" then voluntarily resigning (he felt "compelled" to resign... I can only imagine why). He walks the earth a free man, and with the continual support of devotees to IBLP.
Oh well. They'll probably never find out about the charges anyway because followers of IBLP or ATI (which is associated with IBLP) are restricted from accessing anything on the internet that is not on their list of 75 "safe" websites. I'm sure Wikipedia and this website are not among them.
It's not limited to just Christianity, though. Any religion with a mainstream following seems to grant loopholes to the criminals who identify with them. Scientology's L. Ron Hubbard (referred to in my house as the tripped-out sci-fi writer who got a little too engrossed into one of his books) in 1978 was convicted of illegal business practices, namely, making false claims about his ability to cure physical illnesses in France. He was sentenced to four years in prison, which was never served. Even stranger, the FBI has a whole huge (and now public) file on him, with some of the letters indicating that he had kidnapped his own wife subjected her to torturous scientific experiments - yet in the very same letter, they conclude that an investigation is unwarranted. Probably because by 1953 he had already exceeded one million dollars in revenue for his books on "Dianetics", which was (and is) nothing more than the claptrap machinations of a "hopelessly mad" science fiction writer.
I use "hopelessly mad" in quotations because his own wife made that claim. To the FBI.
There's also his successor, David Miscavige, who is likely 15 times more devious than that of his predecessor. Actress Leah Remini made headlines when she filed a missing person's report for David's wife, Shelly Miscavige, who had not been seen by anyone in the past 7 years. What became of their investigation was even more chilling, as no details were given other than that the claims were "unfounded". Miscavige still operates with impunity worldwide, counting the steady flow of cash from wealthy celebrities and public figures (not to mention his booming slave trade).
So you see, it's not just limited to polytheists and monotheists here. He doesn't even need a real god - or at least not a human one - he has enough cash that he could (and quite possibly has already) gotten away with murder.
One could argue that the more popular religions are, the greater their power, and with power comes inevitable corruption... therefore, it is far more likely for a really dastardly crook to come from a Christian or Catholic house than it is to come from a Pagan (or house of ill repute, if I may translate for all you Bible-thumpin' hard-right wingin' extremists).
Without going into too much more detail here, I am going to try and explain this one more time in the hope that if I publish it enough, eventually it will start to sink in with all the gullible masses that bear such unfounded hatred towards us.
- Pagans/Witches/Wiccans ARE NOT godless savages. We in fact have many gods (and goddesses) and maintain a working relationship with them to enrich our daily lives, similar to what many super-devout Christians do, except our gods respect us as equals and we needn't sacrifice anything that gives us joy to appease them.
Our gods do not belittle us or judge us. They are simply there, and if we need them and ask for aid, they will do what they can.
Our gods also do not go running around ordering us to kill people or make war against another religion, because there is but one rule that every witch and Pagan endeavors to follow:
An it harm none, do what thou wilt.
- There are good and evil people from all backgrounds.
Stave your judgments at least until you get to know an individual for who they are. There are many wolves in sheep's clothing and sheep in wolves clothing. There are plenty of criminal in suits and plenty of charitable souls with tattoos and pentacles.
Just as you should never judge a book by its cover, nor should you ever judge a person based off of their religious affiliations or their outward appearances. Appearances can be easily deceived.
- Pagans DO NOT even believe "Satan" exists.
We just don't believe in this "Satan" character you keep accusing us of worshipping. Mind you, Satan was just the early Christian's take on the hunter gods that were prevalent since the Mesopotamian era, gods that predated Judaism and Christianity by over 3,000 years. The goal was to frighten Pagans (which was the predominant religion for quite a while) away from the gods they had so long revered by taking their likenesses and twisting them into the stuff of nightmares, because ruling over and controlling a people that believed in a vengeful God was just too easy. It put an incredible amount of power into the hands of elites to take away the last thing Pagans had to empower themselves - their working relationship with the gods.
- We like you.
I have fond memories of days spent with my Christian family, all the way up until they started treating me like I was a dirty criminal after I came out of the broom closet. I have many Christian, Jewish, and Catholic friends whom I love dearly. I have nothing against Christianity whatsoever.
- We love kids, too. I have a son and he seems pretty happy in my care, despite whatever awful things you may think of me. He laughs all the time. Why do you think I would be a harm to your children? Why then would someone be a harm to your child if they were a witch or if they were gay? Do you seriously think your kid will "catch the gay" or start watching Harry Potter because we want to bring them to the dark side?
Gimme a break, we don't have that kind of time.
On a serious note, though, one thing wary Christians need to understand is that Pagans fully understand their beliefs are not in the majority. You do remind us about every fucking five minutes that we are a smaller group of people compared to the legions of Christians out there. That's why we are some of the best people to have around your kids; we are sensitive to that and we will never "preach" to your children or try and persuade them to believe what we do.
You are, of course, free to
trainbring your kids up in your religion, if you really want (and most Christian parents do), but we struggle enough with whether we should acquaint them in-depth about what we believe as we want the choice to be theirs.
We don't want religion thrust and forced upon them like our mothers and fathers did. We want them to ask their own questions and follow the path that calls to them, whether or not it is the same path we chose to take.
And as far as gay/lesbian people are concerned, well, they are usually the best with kids. Many LGBT men and women that I've met have been sweet as sugar! I don't think I can even recall meeting any gay person that wasn't an absolute treat to hang out with.
If I were you, I'd be far more concerned with the youth pastors in your vicinity and whether or not any of them have taken liberties with children (because I promise you, there's at least one in every state at any given time). There's a reason even the fucking Pope said something about it. There has been a literal epidemic of sexually deviant priests and clergy, most of whom targeted younger children.
So, if you're trying to say you don't feel your kids are safe around a witch, then don't be offended when I say I'm not bringing my child within 10 feet of a Catholic church.
See? It doesn't feel good to be discriminated against, does it?
- Do not fear that which you don't understand. STRIVE TO UNDERSTAND IT and the fear will vanish.
Never believe anything without first researching the facts. Google is a wonderful tool. It will tell you, accurately (most of the time, anyway) about any religion you wish to learn about. Learning about it is not going to anger your God, but treating others unkindly might. So do both them and you a solid and look it up before you judge. I bet you'll be surprised at how similar all religions are at their cores, just as we are all similar in our makeup.
We all have hearts, we all have minds, and we all have feelings. We will all be rewarded for spreading positivity in the end, so be tolerant and your life will be far more enjoyable... as will the lives of everyone you encounter.
Thank you and brightest blessings.
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