The Gods Aren’t Endorsing Anyone For President

The tagline at Patheos is “hosting the conversation on faith,” but if you were to just glance at the front page of the site you might mistake that tag-line for “yet another website participating in the political conversation.” I get it, the election currently over-shadows everything but the baseball playoffs and the National Football League (at least in my house), I just wish I could escape from it periodically.

The United States is the one Western Democracy where faith and politics aren’t just bedfellows, but lovers with bodies entwined in the craziest of sexual positions. Going back to the front page of Patheos, there are three articles under “Editor’s Picks” with thoughts on Tuesday’s debate. The top story in the big colorful box relates the white-washing of Billy Graham’s ministry (probably directed by son Franklin) when it comes to views on Mormonism (back to bedfellows again, where politics make the strangest ones). Not every story on the front page of Patheos is related to politics or the election, but a large percentage are. (We won’t get into what should be on the front page, like a long, well-written post on the History of Halloween, I’m sure it’s coming up next week.)

I’ll admit to being a political beast. My wife and I have donated to the Obama campaign and when I lived in a swing-state I went door to door for the man. I support Obama because I feel strongly about several social issues: gay rights, the rights of women, and abortion. I don’t expect everyone to feel the same way I do, and everyone is entitled to their candidate and views (just don’t say anything that’s completely untrue).

What makes my politics different from that of an Evangelical Christian is that I’m not sure how much of a role my faith plays in them. There’s nothing in my Book of Shadows mapping out how I should feel about the death penalty or even capitalism. In a quiet moment with Pan he’s never expressed to me what our foreign policy should be. I’ve never been in a circle where we’ve Drawn Down the Moon and had the Goddess tell us who to vote for. I love Paganism because it provides me with a direct-line to deity, yet those deities have always been silent about politics.

As a Pagan there are two issues that probably apply to the whole community: the environment and the rights of minority religions, but even then I’m kind of hesitant to think that all Pagans feel that way. I know Pagans who have voted for Tea Party Candidates and think that Sarah Palin is the right-wing Oprah. Perhaps they feel strongly about the environment and religious rights, but they aren’t always voting for candidates that make those issues a priority. There are also many Christians who worry about the environment and care deeply about my right to worship as I choose. So even the most “Pagan” of issues are things that lots of people care about (regardless of individual faith), and that some Pagans have low on the political priority list.

I know that there are many Pagan groups who place a high priority on issues of social justice, and I feel much the same way, but I think I would feel the same way if I was a Progressive Christian and not a Pagan. I’ve never seen a group of Reclaiming Witches go door to door for a candidate. I know that some of you will do rituals supporting the candidate of your choice, which is your right, but that’s probably not much different than a family praying for a particular candidate. What’s always unsettling to me are “National Religious Leaders” who make an endorsement for a candidate (like the Grahams support of Romney). As spokesmen (and women) for their faith they are basically giving Yahweh’s endorsement to Romney, and that bugs me.

I wish there was an eye-roll icon on WordPress.

I just don’t think the gods, any gods, care at all about politics. I don’t care if that god lives near the star Kolob, once resided in the Holy of Holies, or was worshipped on the Acropolis in the Parthenon of Ancient Athens. I just can’t see gods, divine beings with memories that span millennia, getting all worked up over things that would feel like seconds to them. I think my gods care about me (and that your gods care about you), but I can’t picture Cernunnos reading the latest misleading headline over on The Huffington Post or spending his morning watching Fox and Friends. It’s not that the gods aren’t worried about this world, it’s just that some decisions are made by people, and some things are controlled by higher powers, voting is not one of those things.

If any god were intensely interested in American Politics wouldn’t they conjure up some sort of miracle expressing their preference? Perhaps Mormonism’s long lost Golden Tablets would suddenly appear the Monday before Election Day? How about the Virgin Mary giving a sign of approval (or disapproval) to either Biden or Ryan this weekend? Maybe her image could appear on a burger Biden was about to eat, or on Paul Ryan’s exercise equipment? I’ve got a day-dream floating around my head that has Jesus blessing an Obama campaign stop, turning a backyard barbecue into a banquet of plenty of for the hungry, with some saying it was a sign from above and others claiming the miracle was a result of demons.

And now for the anointing . . . . “I proclaim your Mormon faith Christian.”

I don’t want to argue that Paganism doesn’t inform our choices and therefore contribute in some way to how we vote, but we don’t require an anointing by Starhawk to legitimize voting for a particular candidate. Romney’s visit to Graham was an anointing, “look Evangelicals, you have nothing to fear from this Mormon he’s sitting next to Billy Graham.” No one’s kissing the pentacle ring on T. Thorn Coyle’s finger, and that’s the way it should be.

I know of very few Pagans engaging in some sort of crusade to elect a particular candidate. While there is a Facebook group called Christians Against Obama’s Re-Election, there is no equivalent Pagans Against the Election of Romney. No one is going to questions someone’s Paganism because they choose to vote for Mitt Romney or Gary Johnson. While some of you will disagree, I think our community is stronger for having different types of voices. I’d be fearful of a day when a candidate become a litmus test for a particular religious denomination.

I was just scouting the 22,000 strong Christians for Mitt Facebook page, with alarmist status updates such as “Friends, WE are needed to turn out the vote to save our country.” I’m not a fan of Romney, but I don’t think the country is at stake. It might turn in ways I disagree with, but it will survive. That’s the difference between a faith that informs my choices, and faiths that see politics as some sort of celestial war between different religious ideologies.

I think it would be great if Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, chose to visit our political arena and chime in on who we should be voting for, and what ballot initiatives we should support. It would make everything so much simpler, but I think she’s far too smart for that.

About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.

  • Thora333

    I wouldn’t question anyone’s “paganism” for voting a certain way – but I would question their common sense, intelligence, and most of all priorities – which may make them people I would rather not circle with. Hey that’s my right too! We don’t all have to think alike . . . but we don’t all have to work together either.

    • JasonMankey

      I don’t disagree with you. There’s no explanation for people voting against their own economic self-interests, yet they do it all the time. I’ve circled with a few RepubliPagans, as long as it wasn’t election season there was never a problem.

  • facebook-711717333

    i would disagree. I don;t get how someone can proclaim pagan beliefs and be conservative. Those, to me, are polar opposites. In my opinion, at the risk of invoking yet another reference to Godwin’s “law”(to use the term law VERY loosely), it is like a Jew voting for Hitler.

    Eric Roberts

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      Personally, I see a distinction between religious beliefs and political views.

    • JasonMankey

      Lots of libertarian leaning Pagans, not Republican-type conservatives, but libertarians who want to get off the grid and want government completely absent from their lives. It’s not my cup of tea, but it’s a part of our community.

  • Brian Wise

    I have to agree with this entirely. My pagan faith, while impacting who I’m going to vote for, doesn’t define me as a voter. I have other areas of my life that I look for a candidate’s policies and voting history, and I have to balance all of them, including paganism. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that, campaign promises notwithstanding, the POTUS really doesn’t have the kind of power people assume he/she has. They don’t control oil prices, they don’t really get a say in whether something is Constitutional or not, and any legislation they push through CAN and sometimes is shot down by Congress. The Presidential Election is something that has been trumped up over the years, and amplified by the media to become, as the author hinted at, a battle royale between Good and Evil.

    But it really isn’t.

  • James A. Black

    Though I agree that politics and religion make strange bedfellows, would you support the candidate,who’s personal belief is they are inseperable? that is one on a million reasons I cannot and will never support Obama. He has slipped MANY times publicly about his Muslim faith. He’s spent countless millions of our tax dollars in placating Islamic countries. Islam is a political ideology. you cannot seperate the politics from the religion. Islam has also been as war with the West, (us) since the 1700′s. Islam would also put each and every one of us to the stake.

    • Valerie Voigt

      I’m surprised to see this, since it’s generally Republicans (not the party itself, but many of its candidates) who want to make Dominionist Christian interpretations of the Bible the law of the land (I know, because I used to be one, and I ran with others like I was–there were plenty of us then, and there are millions now). In my observation, this sort of Christianity’s entwinement in American politics is at least as dangerous as that of Islam, real or supposed.

      It’s clear that when he was born, Obama’s parents intended him to be raised Muslim–they gave him the Muslim “Hussein” as his middle name. He himself publicly describes being in Koran class in elementary school–standard practice in Indonesia, where he and his parents lived at the time, was for children to be raised in their father’s–in this case, stepfather’s–faith). But neither his biological father nor is stepfather was very religious, and his mother was basically a secular humanist. I don’t know of any evidence that Obama ever personally embraced Islam.

      I would be interested in seeing the quotations you mention. Personally, I’m not wild about Obama–but I’m scared to death of Romney!

      May the best candidate win–and even then, may the Gods help us all. :-

  • GOPagan

    Although I come at the question from pretty much a diametrically opposed position (me being a registered Republican as well as a Heathen), I heartily agree with your point that Paganism, as a whole, is apolitical. Individuals can and do certainly hold strong political opinions, but Paganism doesn’t mandate any particular end of the spectrum. There are conservative, liberal, libertarian, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, etc. Pagans and Heathens, and nobody should be surprised when the illusion of political homogeneity within the Pagan community is shattered. Holding a different political opinion, or belonging to a different political party, doesn’t make anyone evil or wrong; just different.

  • Karen Tate

    I agree with a number of pagan elders and Goddess advocates that say ideals of the Sacred Feminine and earth-based spirituality are more closely aligned with the policies and platforms of Democrats. One went on to say an advocate of Goddess or earth-based spirituality can no more be a Republican than a Jew can be a Nazi. I believe the mythology and archetypes of Goddess point a direction for us and provide a template for living – just as Jesus did when he told us to care for the poor. If we stand for women’s rights, the environment, tolerance, religious freedom, equality, social justice, peace and balance, wisdom, liberty then we cannot vote for a party that takes away the rights of women, is anti-science, anti-environment, believes this is a Christian nation, has witch hunts going after other religions (Muslims and Dominionists against pagans/Queen of Heaven) cares little for the poor. We look at the conventions of each side and in general we see one is white Christian, the other is multi-colored and multi-religious or atheist = diversity. Goddess by her many faces is herself Diversity. I’ve interviewed Starhawk and Riane Eisler on my radio show – both agree. Goddess ideals are more closely aligned with Democrats. And I have this video of a presentation I made at the American Academy of Religion. I hope you’ll listen before having a knee jerk reaction to the title: