I think modern Paganism is far too diverse, autonomous and too adamant about the separation of religion and government for there to be any worry that Columbia hearkens an era of blind faith in government or theocracy.
Next, is Columbia a Goddess or an egregore? This could become a very long post on the nature of the Gods so I’m going to skim over this quickly. For all practical purposes I don’t think it matters one bit. Columbia represents the ideals of American government and society, not the reality. If she is a Goddess then she will do what she must to protect those ideals whether we worship her or not. If she is an egregore, then our active interaction with her is productive in keeping those ideals alive in America. Should we treat an egregore as a Goddess? Well, if she is an egregore then identifying that egregore with Libertas, a Roman Goddess, only serves to strengthen and guide it. Columbia may very well simply be our name for Libertas, and the practice of gifting Gods with new names and titles is one the ancients knew well.
Lastly, should we worship a Goddess associated with white colonialism, genocide and slavery? Well, those things aren’t merely associated with Columbia, they are associated with our country, our ancestors, and the very land we walk on. Columbus Day is a national holiday and our government meets in the District of Columbia.We can’t very well replace her with Selu, the Cherokee Corn Mother. I have Cherokee ancestry and live on the land where the Trail of Tears began, yet even I am cautious and respectful of how I approach and worship Selu.
How do we reconcile the barbaric with spiritual ideals? All religions have barbarism in their past, sometimes in their present. A good example of how Pagans deal with the barbaric elements of their past and reconcile them in their modern spirituality is our reaction to The Wicker Man.
I recently watched this film for the very first time and absolutely loved it. Why? It’s hardly good publicity for Paganism. A community lures a man to his death for religious purposes, an act which is reprehensible and not at all in keeping with modern Pagan traditions.