The current political climate in this country has caused me to consider a few things more deeply. Although the Pagan/Wiccan community has made incredible strides in the last few decades, we are seeing ourselves challenged more and more.
Admittedly, with the incredible rise of non-Christian faiths growing like wildfire in the U.S., Christians are most certainly feeling threatened and invaded. I do think we must keep this in mind when dealing with them. However, part, if not most, of the current challenges that the “Christian Right” has levied towards us is due to our own apathy. This “apathy” is at the crux of the issues.
Almost all flavors or Paganism and Wicca dictate an adhering to a non-confrontational communication philosophy. Indeed, the Wiccan Rede, “An it harm none, do as thou wilt” is very indicative to this issue. We try to have a very “laid back” or “easy going” way of doing things. But is this attitude really successful for our long-term longevity?
One of a few things the Christians are really good at is that they are very proactive in defending their faith from outside influences and they are very good at recruiting. These two things combined are surely some of the more significant reasons they have been so successful. Let’s face it; there are a lot of Christians in the world. They weave the two above principals into their very faith. By doing this they form a self-perpetuating religion that depends not on the faith itself, but on the current members nullifying all the competition. For them, its not good enough to be just Christian, but everyone else must be too because anything else is a threat. Indeed, these very principals nearly wiped us out.
For a minority religion such as Paganism or Wicca, the avarice of the Christians to recruit new members and eliminate other faiths must be very alluring. It is very tempting to incorporate these principals and practices in our faith. But is it as simple as that?
If we look at other hugely successful faiths that have widespread success, such as Hinduism or Buddhism, we find that they do not use the same tactics. Granted, there are huge cultural differences between most Hindus and Buddhist contrasted to Christians, but nevertheless, why is Christianity so slow to make inroads in these areas?
Part of the reason is that the cultures that are primarily Buddhist or Hindu incorporate said faiths into a way of life or a life style. You are a Buddhist at home, at work and at play. Their faith is not only their religion, it’s the way they live. It defines who they are, not only religiously or philosophically, but also personally and practically. They have a devotion to their faith that is unquestionable.
The problem with westerners choosing Paganism or Wicca as their faith, is that we are not born into it usually. Most Pagans and Wiccans now days are converts from Christianity. We do not have generations and generations behind us that share our faith. We must break from our family and friends to make this choice. This creates an inherit problem.
Instead of having years of tradition and convention behind us, we must makeup a lot of what we do through trial and error. We don’t have fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters showing us the way. We must make our own traditions, rituals and customs from scratch. We don’t meet in big cathedrals and mosques. We don’t see our rituals being preformed on television every Sunday. We don’t have twenty-four hour Pagan/Wiccan channels. We don’t have a coalition of Pagans/Wiccans controlling one of the biggest political parties in the country. We don’t have an organization or a particular person who can speak for us as a whole. We don’t have millions and millions of followers.
However, even with all of the above we are growing everyday. The demand for Pagan/Wiccan books relative to raising children and hand-fasting is growing. New books dedicated to our faiths are being published. These same books are being distributed increasingly to a more main stream audience. There are more educational and entertainment programs either aimed at us or made about us. We are popping up everywhere. We are becoming more legally recognized and usually we are winning in the courts. Some would even say we are becoming “normal”.
Even with all of our gains and acceptance, we are becoming a bigger target. We have a huge metaphorical bull’s-eye painted on us. As we try to grow people notice, especially the Christians. As far as they are concerned, we have evolved from a bunch of silly kids dressing up in goofy robes to a force to be reckoned with. We are beginning to matter and have influence. And they don’t like it one bit.
So what are we to do? My friends, we need to come together. We need to put aside the differences we have with each other and focus. Focus on making our faith, not something we only do when its convenient. We need to make a pledge that our faith will dictate how we live. We have to create tradition. We need to lead our children by example. We need to show the Christians that even though we do not actively recruit, we are extraordinarily devoted to our faiths. Our dedication will not be shaken by anything. We must not be afraid to stand up for our rights. We must show them that even though our numbers may be few, our resolve is unfaltering.
We are at a crossroads. We will either prosper or disappear once again. We must not let that happen. We owe the ones before us who sacrificed so much for us to be here. We must re-devote ourselves. We have come so far. The idea of returning to the broom closet is too much to bear and too unacceptable. We must never return to the atrocities of the burning days. We must draw the line here and say once and for all, “never again”!