Throughout history, when times have gotten tough, people have banded together in ever-tightening clans and blamed their problems on The Other: foreigners, Jews, heretics, witches…
It is happening again. Times are tough, the future is uncertain and some in our society find it convenient to blame it all on Muslims, immigrants, gays, liberals, and of course, Pagans. On today’s Wild Hunt, Jason Pitzl-Waters shows two videos from groups who want to “take back” America and remake it in their image of what a Christian nation should be.
While in theory there is nothing wrong with Christians calling on other Christians for “revival,” groups like this make it very clear their demand for “no compromise” means no room for dissenting religions and cultures.
As Jason points out, their work is malefic magic. If left unchallenged it will cause harm. I believe we need a two-pronged response.
First, we must not allow them to define us for the mainstream public. Those of us who can be “out” need to be out. Support Pagan Pride Days and Pagan presence in Interfaith events. Make visible contributions to social and charitable organizations. “The Other” may be scary, but the nice guy or girl in the cubicle down the hall who dances under the Full Moon isn’t. I have a Pagan friend who jokes that she’s “cleverly disguised as a productive member of society.” We need to be productive and not be disguised.
Second, this IS malefic magic and it calls for a magical response. Those of you who were part of Isaac Bonewits’ “Spells for Democracy” may remember that some of the most effective workings were revealing spells. Help these people show themselves for who and what they really are – and more importantly, what it would mean if they get what they want. Much of mainstream America may be OK with the Ten Commandments in classrooms and crèches on courthouse lawns, but they don’t want Christian Reconstructionists’ “Biblical Law” any more than we do.
Beyond that, work protective magic for public officials who support inclusive ideals and policies and those charged with defending freedom of religion and expression.
We can and should call on our deities and ancestors. As I said in the previous post on Pagan Theology, if Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln aren’t gods yet they’re well on their way to becoming gods. When he was running for Congress, Abraham Lincoln was asked by a revival preacher if he was going to heaven or hell. Here’s his response:
I came here as a respectful listener. I did not know that I was to be singled out by Brother Cartwright. I believe in treating religious matters with due solemnity. I admit that the questions propounded by Brother Cartwright are of great importance. I did not feel called upon to answer as the rest did. Brother Cartwright asks me directly where I am going. I desire to reply with equal directness: I am going to Congress.
You think the person who said this might have an interest in preserving freedom? You think the man who coined the phrase “wall of separation between church and state” and who left us the Jefferson Bible as proof of his beliefs might not want to see Christian “warriors” overrun the republic he helped establish?
We cannot sit on the sidelines and assume sanity will prevail. For all our education and technology Americans of today are not very far removed from loyalty hearings, Jim Crow, the Trail of Tears, and witch hunts. These people are threats to freedom and freedom-loving people everywhere, and threats deserve a thoughtful, measured response. We are magical people, and we can respond to magical threats with magic of our own.
But the best thing we can do is simply be the best Pagans and best Americans we can be. Live lives of honesty, integrity, and generosity. Worship our goddesses and gods. Honor our ancestors. Respect Nature and the Spirits of Nature.
Let us exercise our freedoms for the good of all with harm to none.
So mote it be!