Future of Paganism
Ad Futura: The Ancient Religion of Rome in Modern Life
On the positive side, Nova Roma has steadily improved on the information it collects about the Religio Romana and its traditions, and therefore improved on the quality of scholarship in the information it disseminates about the Religio Romana for all cultores Deorum to access. The Societas Via Romana, Gentilitas and other organizations have likewise improved the knowledge of the general public about the Religio Romana, attracting more practitioners and cultores Deorum into the tradition. In the past two years, Nova Roma has also developed its own modern rituals, based closely on historical examples, and thus provides a standard model of ritual practice for cultores Deorum Romani both within and outside Nova Roma. As a source of information on the internet, Nova Roma, Gentilitas, the Societas Via Romana, and similar organizations have fueled greater interest in the Religio Romana as a post-modern religious tradition. In addition, such organizations have brought together cultores Deorum from different parts of the world in face-to-face conferences and established bonds of cooperation. But these have been internal conferences, with few exceptions, leaving different organizations of the Religio Romana isolated from one another even when some individuals are members of more than one organization.
The history of the modern and post-modern Religio Romana lends insight to the future of this ancient tradition. Past attempts to revive and reconstruct a modern version of the Religio Romana have generally begun with an organizational structure at the top, establishing priesthoods in some instances, before establishing communities of worshippers. That is, they began with a focus on the organizational structures of the developed state religion of imperial Rome of the Augustan Restoration. They then sought a state on which to place their hopes that would adopt the Religio Romana as its organized state religion, as Reghini and Evola had toward fascist Italy of the 1920s, or else to create a quasi-state or "micronation" as Bradford and Bloch attempted with Nova Roma in 1998.
In these early days of 1998 to 2001, the Religio Romana was involved in seeking legal recognition in the United States. It first came in a child custody case in Texas where the court accept the Religio Romana as an authentic "religious tradition," and later in the courts of two other states on similar grounds. By 2008 it was recognized a religious tradition by the U.S. military and federal government. While such instances were encouraging, they still represented state authorities deciding matters from above in regard to the development of the modern practice of the Religio Romana.
Greater success has resulted instead when individuals formed into local communities of worshippers. This has been the story of the Temple Religio Romana that formed in the Los Angeles area in 2003. It was the first organization of the Religio Romana to incorporate in the United States. That same year Nova Roma incorporated as an educational and fraternal cultural association. With the assistance of Antonia of the Temple Religio Romana and the advice of M. Horatius of the Societas Via Romana, the Clarian Temple of Religio Terranova next incorporated in the Philadelphia area. Both of these temples, on either coast of the United States, formed around core groups of around thirty people each. Smaller associations like the Sacred Grove of Egeria at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the Temple of Neptune in Georgia have yet to build communities with which to incorporate a stable organization. In 2006, Gentilitas was able to incorporate as a religious association by combining small local groups and families across Italy into one organization, and then each local group began to grow further.