The New York Times reports that paganism in its different guises is becoming just another religion. From Paganism, Just Another Religion for Military and Academia;
From academia to the military, in the person of chaplains and professors, through successful litigation and online networking, Paganism has done much in the last generation to overcome its perception as either Satanism or silliness. . . .
Because the federal census does not ask about religious affiliation, and because ridicule or discrimination tended to keep Pagans closeted in the past, statistics on the number of adherents in the United States are imprecise and probably too low. Still, the recent growth is evident in surveys done in 1990 and 2001 by the City University of New York.
Over the course of those 11 years, the survey went from tabulating 8,000 Wiccans nationally — that branch of Paganism was the only one to turn up — to 134,000 Wiccans, 33,000 Druids and 140,000 Pagans. (Others identify as Heathens.) The sociologist Helen A. Berger, who is doing research on Pagan demography, said she believed that a more accurate current number would fall between 500,000 and one million. . . .
In several ways, though, Paganism was waiting for modernity to catch up with it. The emphasis on the worship of nature in virtually all variations of Pagan faith, and the embrace of a female divinity in many, situated the religion to mesh with the environmental and feminist movements that swept through the United States in the 1970s.In the 1970s, Wiccan groups began seeking and obtaining tax-exempt status from federal and state authorities, said the Rev. Selena Fox, the founder and spiritual leader of an early, influential Wicca church, Circle Sanctuary in Barneveld, Wis. By the decade’s end, Wicca was included in the handbook for military chaplains and had been written about in such popular books as “Drawing Down the Moon,” (Penguin, 2006), by Margot Adler.
Since then, Wiccans have served as chaplains in prisons and hospices, as well as in the armed forces. Just this week, Ms. Fox supplied the invocation for the daily session of the Wisconsin State Assembly. And, of course, the popular culture of the Harry Potter books, the television series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the current zombie vogue have defanged Pagan religion for a mass teenage audience.