Atheists and Wicca

While I’m reluctant to link to a blog that we are at war with, Camels with Hammers has an interesting series of guest posts from Eric Steinhart. Steinhart has been watching the growth of neo-paganism in America, and has some thoughts and analysis to share. He asks, “Atheists so far have been fighting Christianity. Should they fight Wicca (or neo-paganism) too? If so, it will be a different fight.”

FWIW, I don’t see myself as fighting Christianity. Christians can handle that on their own. I see myself as fighting what David Sehat calls the “moral establishment,” which is “the use of law to perpetuate Christian morals in society.” Briefly, in American history Protestant Christianity was so intertwined with society that people saw no problem with enforcing sectarian religious laws under then guise of perpetuating morality and social stability. This resulted in a feedback loop where sect and state supported one another without technically establishing a religion.

This is a legal problem, and groups like the ACLU fight it in the courts. But the fight will never end as long as the average American can look around themselves and see (or believe they see) nothing but other Protestant Christians. Humans being as they are, a group in the solid majority will see their views as the default, and everyone else’s views as the exception.

The obvious way to combat this is to increase America’s religious diversity. People like Fred Clark want pluralism for its own sake; because it is the opposite of coercion. I want diversity because it makes the mindset that leads to coercion more difficult. When your neighbor is Wiccan, your brother is an atheist, your in-laws are mystics and your children are dabbling in new religions at college, it is going to be hard for you to think of your local Baptist church as the only real religion and that everything else as superstition.

I read folks like Jason Pitzl-Waters, because those of us men with hyphenated last names need to stick together, even if I’m anonymous. And Star Foster, whose favorite atheist was Carl Sagan, because who the hell else could it be? Still, my understanding of the neo-pagan religions is more limited than I’d like. But I know enough to believe that an increasing presence of neo-pagans in the public eye would be a good thing for American society.

  • UrsaMinor

    As an atheist, I’m not fighting religion per se. I’m shooing it off where it’s not wanted. The amount of engagement between me and Religion X depends entirely on how much Religion X’s adherents try to impose their dogma on me.

    The rise of neopaganism doesn’t concern me because in my experience, neopagans make good neighbors. I welcome a more visible neopagan presence on the monotonously Abrahamic religious landscape that is America. Will it do us good as a society? I can’t say. Could it make things worse for nonbelievers? I don’t think so.

    • Custador

      Yeah, this, basically. I’ve never considered myself to be anti-Christian at all. What I am against is religious privilege. I firmly believe that the law and religion are forever separate, and religion can never, ever trump law. So, to give a couple of British examples:

      1) Nadine Dorries campaigning against abortion laws based on her Catholic faith (largely against the wishes of her own electorate), with the financial backing of US pro-life groups – To be regarded in the same manner as I would regard an MP campaigning on behalf of any other lobbying group for special interests – Deeply immoral and totally unacceptable.

      2) Street preachers standing in public places, shoving a Bible in my face while screaming that I’m a sodomite and am going to hell (nb: This happens a surprising amount, even in Britain) – Should be either detained under the Mental Health Act or arrested for Breach of the Peace / Incitement to Riot.

      In neither case am I against religion – in the first example, I am against somebody trying to force their religious views onto everybody else, and in the second case I am against somebody being freely allowed to do something, because of their religion, that would certainly get anybody else arrested, sectioned, and/or beaten up.

      • UrsaMinor

        Well, that’s really it, then. I agree, my objections are actually to religious privilege. The majority has arrogated such things unto itself in contravention of both the letter and the spirit of the U.S. constitution. They have broken the social and legal contract.

        The rise of a religious plurality can only weaken this stranglehold.

        • http://fugodeus.com Nox

          Fully agreed with UrsaMinor and Custador.

          I’d also say that in addition to making good neighbors, neopagans could make potentially good allies. When the atheist movement gets organized enough for political action in the US our biggest problem is going to be how few atheists/nonreligious there are here.

          I’m not suggesting we endorse anyone’s superstition. But the fight against theocracy is their fight as much as ours.

          • Len

            Custy, Ursa, and Nox. Yes.

            People can enjoy their religious beliefs and freedoms however they like, as long as that doesn’t negatively impact what I or anyone else want to do or not do. “Negatively” in this sense is what I (or anyone impacted by someone else’s religious beliefs) define it to be, not what the religious person defines it to be.

            • Ty

              So true, to all of you.

              One of my good friends recently left the same religion I’d left a while back. She’s experimenting with Wicca right now. She keeps expecting me to try and argue her out of it. But a world in which someone can decide one day to no longer be evangelical Christian but a Wiccan instead, and doesn’t get any crap about it, sounds like a good world to me.

          • Jabster

            You won’t be saying that when they’reremaking the Wicca Man in your back garden and you’re the star …

            • vasaroti

              Do you mean wicker?
              I’ve seen zero indication that modern Wicca has any interest in sacrificing anything more sentient than herbs and eggs.

    • Brocasbrian

      At first glance I agree with this sentiment. If they leave us alone we’ll leave them alone. I don’t think that’s possible though. People afflicted with religion or other kinds of magical thinking are happy to believe all manner of nonsense. When these people interact with the world they use that flawed approach to make decisions. People who believe in elves leave milk out. Religion and superstition are always prescriptive. You can’t expect people to make sane rational judgements if they’re living in middle earth.

      • M.H.

        This is actually a great example of a generalized blanket statement that is a very large part of the problem. Not knowing what neo-paganism is, or how it differs from Christianity, you are in no position to make blind assumptions. To say they use a flawed approach to make decisions because they adhere to a myth is like saying it is wrong for someone to strive to go the extra mile because they remembered their childhood story of The Little Engine That Could. It doesn’t mean they REALLY believe there was a talking train engine that defied the odds.

        A friend of mine who tours nationally promoting pagan music said it wonderfully, and I’m paraphrasing here: “The difference between Christians and Pagans is that our (Pagan) myths don’t have to be true.” Neo-pagans as a rule don’t really believe in a tangible God or Goddess that really came down to earth from some heavenly body to tell us how to live. They can look at their stories as they look at The Boy Who Cried Wolf, a good example of why you shouldn’t lie, the Christian version is to say it means to lie is go succumb to Satan and go further to say that the wolf is the embodiment of evil and decide they should be hunted to extinction.

      • Custador

        Everybody has the right to self-determination, at the end of the day. If somebody want to make (what I regard as) a bad decision, then provided it only affects them, they can have at it as far as I’m concerned.

  • http://NextReformationBlog.com James

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend. If neopagans oppose a Christian theocracy in America and Christian sharia laws in America then they are allies. I’ve met a few neopagans but I’ve yet to meet one that tried to proselytize me.

    • UrsaMinor

      Yes, that’s why they make good neighbors. I know many neopagans, and not one of them has even looked down on me as a pitiable godless second-class citizen and urged me to drink their Kool-Aid for my own good.

    • John C

      No such thing as ‘Christian sharia law’ James, only the ‘perfect law of liberty’. Haven’t you heard friend, its an inward rule and reign, an internal kingdom, Luke 17:21. You’ve got the true offer in Christ confused with that oppressive thing that He also, like yourself, detested, and was ever at odds with its ‘leaders’ about, ie religion which is a burdensome, external manifestation and the great imposter. All the best.

      • Rob Jase

        Of course Jesus detested oppression.

        That’s why he created Hell.

        • John C

          Hell is the lie friend, why not instead believe the Truth, Himself? The only alternative to the Truth, is the lie.

          • Framtonm

            The alternative to the Truth may well be another Truth…

  • Elemenope

    I read folks like Jason Pitzl-Waters, because those of us men with hyphenated last names need to stick together, even if I’m anonymous.

    Yes we do!

    • UrsaMinor

      So, is it “Ele-menope” or “Elemen-ope”? Inquiring minds want to know.

      • Noelle

        El-em-en-o-pe

        • Len

          Wow – mul-ti-hy-phen-at-ed.

          And is that a-non-y-mous or an-ony-mous?

        • UrsaMinor

          Plural marriage, eh? Who knew?

      • Noelle

        Also, I always figured it was more V’orjack.

  • http://www.patheos.com/Religion-Portals/Pagan.html Star Foster

    Most people who practice minority religions, particularly modern Pagans, will side with atheists on issues like separation of church and state, teaching evolution in the schools, school prayer, celebrating our secular heritage and so forth. Possibly the only legal issue we might disagree on is tax-breaks for religious organizations, not because we want the tax breaks but because that scrap of paper is often the only means we have of proving ourselves as legitimate religious organizations. We’ve fought hard to gain the same legal rights that your average Baptist church takes for granted.

    If there is a Pagan agenda, it’s pluralism, religious freedom and environmentalism. In fact, we take pluralism so seriously that we actually welcome Pagan atheists: non-theists who share our inclusivity, enviromentalism and celebration of humanity. If you want to join a summer solstice drum circle no one will stop you at the door to be certain that you believe in a Goddess, a God or a Ceiling Cat. We’re non-creedal, non-proselytizing and utterly unprivileged. Sure, we believe in “woo-woo” stuff, but we think that’s our business and it doesn’t impede our love for science, or urge us to impose ourselves on our fellow humans.

    • UrsaMinor

      Sure, we believe in “woo-woo” stuff, but we think that’s our business and it doesn’t impede our love for science, or urge us to impose ourselves on our fellow humans.

      And that is fine with me. If adherents of majority religions had this attitude, I would have no problem with them.

      Tax breaks for religion, yes, we will have to disagree on that one. I don’t think they’re a good idea. But I am nonetheless outraged on your behalf when you have to fight long and hard for a tax status that is granted automatically to “approved” majority religions. Whatever I think of the law itself, this is not right.

      • http://www.patheos.com/Religion-Portals/Pagan.html Star Foster

        Personally, I don’t think religions should receive tax breaks, particularly in an age when religion and politics have become hopelessly entangled.

        • UrsaMinor

          Speaking of religion and politics, I see you have a rather thoughtful blog on Pagans and the Tea Party. I think our political views are pretty similar (“liberal-leaning pluralist”, for lack of a better term). And I like the fact that you are honest to enough to state that “I don’t have the answer to this problem” when you are unsure about something. The ability to admit that you don’t know what to do about Situation X is something sadly lacking in American politics these days; it seems that every American politician feels obliged to state that he or she has the answer to everything when this is manifestly not true.

          • http://www.patheos.com/Religion-Portals/Pagan.html Star Foster

            Thanks! I think hubris has infected a lot of our politicians. I’m beginning to think the Tea Party and Occupy movements are merely different expressions of the same discontent with our political system. I think we’ve moved past the point where we want someone who will “fix the system.” We just want a new system and a candidate who’s as frustrated and angry as we are. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I’ve become a supporter of Gary Johnson because he’s willing to tell you something you don’t want to hear, and he’s willing to admit when he’s not certain about something. He scheduled an interview with Pagan journalists. I’d love to see an interview where he fields questions from atheists.

            • UrsaMinor

              I suppose it might be hubris, but it could also be a case of that’s how the unwritten political rules of engagement have evolved. If you admit to doubt, ignorance or uncertainty when none of your opponents will, you are attacked as weak or wishy-washy. Worse yet, your allies may accuse you of straying off-message from whatever the party line is. Reason takes a back seat to appearances.

              Anyway, a belated welcome to UF. We can always use another level head regardless of religious persuasion, and we don’t have any regular pagan voices here that I am aware of. I hope you’ll take a look at the forums, too; they can be just as lively as the blog (if not more so).

  • Noelle

    Yay! Let’s go make some pagan friends!

    • Len

      I’m not sure that I know any. Which actually means points for them (whoever they are).

      [Because they don't force themselves on the rest of us - in case any Christians are reading this.]

      • http://www.treehenge.org Themon the Bard

        You probably know lots of pagans. :-)

        You just don’t know that they’re pagan.

      • M.H.

        Hi, please accept this flower while my spirit-brother standing behind you shaves your head! Just kidding, haha. We are out there, more of us than you realize, we move like ninja. We hide in plain sight. We are not legion, they meet down the hall on Tuesdays and Fridays. Think what you want, feel how you want, just don’t tread on me and I won’t tread on you!
        :D

  • Paul

    From what I can tell, the neo-pagan community and the atheist community share the common goal: leave us out of your religion, and let us do our own thing. Which, I believe, is really the only gaol of the athiest community. Unless we move to the point where a neo-pagan theocracy is a threat, there will not a be a need to “fight” against any rise in neo-paganism.

    “And Star Foster, whose favorite atheist was Carl Sagan, because who the hell else could it be?”

    Feynman

  • http://volunteer11.blogspot.com Vol-E (worshiper of parentheses)

    Where I’ve always drawn the line is at the word “therefore.” I believe this, that, or the other, says a religious person, therefore I wear certain clothes or refuse to eat certain foods, etc. Most observant people insert this type of “therefore” in their self-definition. The line is when someone says “I believe this, that or the other, and therefore vote for people who believe and practice the same as I do so that ultimately they will pass legislation that puts everyone’s conduct into line with mine and those who adhere to the same beliefs, whether or not they share any of our beliefs.” I have yet to see any legislation drawn up explicitly to conform society to pagan practice. Unfortunately, there’s an abundance of intrusive and mindless legislation on the books (Sunday blue laws anyone??) crafted with the express purpose of forcing society (believing and unbelieving alike) to line up with someone’s idea of “Judeo-Christian” standards.

    • Len

      I don’t mind if they say “I believe, etc, etc, therefore I do [something]“. But I have a problem if they say “I believe, etc, etc, therefore you must do [something]“.

      • Len

        Just to be clear, I see voting for people who will pass certain legislation as just another way of say “… therefore you must do [something]“.

  • Spectra Ghostseeker

    I enjoyed this. It was shared by the Pagan Liberal group on Facebook and I then shared it on the Ghost Seekers page, where I am one of the admins.
    One of the troubles I’ve had as an agnostic is both getting the “going to hell in a handbasket” lecture more than I can count by Fundamentalist types and getting the “you’re so stupid for believing anyone is anything more than a walking meat sack” treatment from the more acerbic Atheists. I’ve also gotten the “you’re not spiritual enough and everything bad that’s happened to you is the result of your lack of spirituality” treatment from Wiccans and New Agers. Is it any wonder that I tend to dislike religion?
    I believe firmly in the separation of church and state, and I believe that people have the right to worship as they choose, so long as no-one (and nothing) is being harmed by their worship. People have the right to disagree, but as Martin Luther King said following the assassination of Malcolm X, “we need to learn to disagree without becoming violently disagreeable.”
    I believe in possibilities, including those that can’t be proven by current scientific methods. I don’t believe in the supernatural, only in natural phenomena which aren’t currently understood. And I fully believe in my right to hold these beliefs, and in the right of others to have their own beliefs. But I do think that many of us need to be more open minded.
    Again–thanks! Really enjoyed reading this.

  • RavynG

    I am a Witch (not a Wiccan or Neo-Pagan) who worships no deity–I believe there MAY be gods/goddesses (or angels/demons, fairies, aliens, or whatever!) but they don’t need or deserve my devotion, and I AM anti-xtian. And yes, I do believe diversity is good for America.

    • John C

      Who told you that you are a Witch, Ravyn?

      • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

        Sounds like Ravyn told Ravyn that Ravyn is a witch. People sometimes have this thing known as self-determination.

        I am curious what your interpretation of Exodus 22:18 is, John. I presume since you aren’t trying to murder Ravyn there is some explanation or other to get around your god’s explicit command.

        • John C

          No, self-determination is a fallacy, thankfully. We don’t get to say we’re anything other than Who we really are (know ye not that ye are God’s?, John 10:34, Ps 82:6) anymore than a leopard could change its spots, or suddenly proclaim itself to be an…elephant. Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way John. And this is the world’s whole problem, it (still) insists on being someone other than its true self. And what is true about it is also glorious/glory-us, and sets us free once we know it.

          ‘and He came to give us an understanding…that we are in Him who is true’. (1st Jn 5:20).

          As far as your Exodus verse: That is speaking of a nature (in us) that is not of His kind, is not true and therefore it must die (in us) if His life is to come forth in us, if we are to be free. Henceforth, ‘suffer it not to live’.

          • TheoryofI

            “…self-determination is a fallacy” You sure of that? You quote the bible as if it were the final authority on everything.

            The bible proclains the authority to command belief in the existence of a god. Next, the claimed god commands belief that the bible has the authority to claim that god has the authority to… Round and round it goes. In case you hadn’t noticed, most of us here have tossed out the inculcated notion of blind faith in favor of the scientific method to verify claims and will not accept the fallacies of circular logic or appeals to unsubstantiated authority. Do yourself and us a big favor by leaving your cut and paste scriptures at home? Thanks.

            • John C

              ‘You quote the bible as if it were the final authority on everything’.

              Nah, its Author is. And He is Love, thankfully.

          • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

            That’s what I thought – fluffy bullshit as you feel around in the dark for an excuse to be a much better person than your god wants you to be. See, John C, you and I are not so different. On that we can agree. Neither you nor I want to burn people at the stake or stone children or homosexuals to death or that sort of thing. The only real difference is you have to come out with woolly psychobabble and tortured interpretations of the bible to justify why you’re a decent person, and I just have to ignore the book you continually cite.

            • John C

              No excuses about scripture JMW, let me explain (w/o quoting verses, trust me, its there). The OT, ie the law did not paint a clear picture of God’s heart, character, etc, only hinted at ‘types & shadows’. But in the NT, when Christ was manifested in the flesh (He must be manifested in our flesh too), it says that ‘in Him was grace and TRUTH’ found and that God’s kingdom (His dealings, inmost workings of the heart realm) transpire within us’. That’s the truth, not the external laws we see in the OT that ‘appear’ to you to mean something that…they don’t. Again, they’re only types and shadows at best. So I’m not making making excuses for scripture, I’m telling you the truth beneath the surface of the letter, ie the ‘heart’ of it.

              As far as us ‘not being so different after all’, yes, that’s true in many ways. And the reason is that we both come from the very same Origin/Source. The only difference is that you don’t (yet) know it, acknowledge It. All the best JMW.

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              I’d like to see you ‘explain’ something just once without quoting that book at all. How long will it take before you understand that you cannot cite the same source for authority that you use to confirm its own authority? When will you learn that no matter how often you make assertions apropos of nothing, no one will actually believe them without some kind of backing?

              You tie yourself in knots blabbing on to try so hard to say that black is white. Your book says one thing, but only you hold the key that unlocks the actual meaning behind it, then you insist that we listen to that same crap book that, by your own logic, cannot ever be trusted, in order to understand and confirm your completely arbitrary interpretations of it. And you say you’re not making excuses? Come on.

            • Jabster

              @John MW

              “I’d like to see you ‘explain’ something just once without quoting that book at all.”

              Really I’d just like to see John C explain anything, with or without the aid of the good book.

            • Custador

              I actually thought John C did a pretty good job explaining that faith has nothing to do with evidence to that Stephen guy.

      • M.H.

        Well, she turned me into a newt… but I got better. Names and titles get very confusing when terminology changes. Witch, prior to the famous inquisitions of Europe, was reserved for a very particular type of person in a very particular region. You’d call them Doctor in today’s terminology, or possible Chemist. Shaman, Medicine Man, Apothecary, or Hermit are equally the same. That’s why I prefer Pagan, translated from Latin means; People of the woods, or country folk. I know I wouldn’t call myself a Witch unless I actually practiced the art of potions and infusions or performed some form of healing. Pagan suits me fine.

    • DragonBreath

      Well said Ravyn; I agree with you to the letter. I am a Witch; believe the same as you except i am an anti-theist. Predatory holier than thou religions make me very angry. I am also a member of Think Atheist.

  • val bobincheck

    I also found this link on Pagan Liberals and found myself agreeing with much that I read. I think we all have much more in common than what we realized.

    • Demochan

      I’ve always said we have a lot in common with the athiests, they stand for a lot of the same things we stand for. Separation of religion and state, nobody pushing their beliefs onto others, organised religion being dis-empowered.

      I’ve always said that Pagans and Athiests are allies trying to persuade people to see reason and if they have beliefs, to accept that it is a personal matter and shouldn’t influence the lives of others at all. My background’s odd. I was raised athiest, my parents and brother are athiests, I’m the only member of my family with beliefs, but I choose to have those beliefs. Self-determination is key.

      I agree with a lot of what has been said, and feel strongly that diversity is essential. Athiests and Pagans can and should stand together on those things we agree on, and be respectful of those things that make us different.

  • Jim Hudlow

    I have not been around for a while and I see Nox is back…most excellent…and Ursa….this is a great discussion with a fine distinction between those who push their world view down your throat and those that believe without impostion on others….and if indeed that is even the case for alternate beliefs.
    I would like permission to use this quote you made as it applies to so many scenarios I come up against. “Reason takes a back seat to appearances.” It may seem simple, even obvious but it is not to most… it is like a near universal constant in reality….so well put……….Even my dearly departed Mother fell prey to this tendancy on so many levels ( and I loved her but hated the desperate need to appear without the hardships of real life)….it will be my email signature (with attribution of course) for some time to come…if that is ok….it will generate much controversy and discourse I suspect.

    • UrsaMinor

      @Jim: Feel free to steal it.

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      Welcome back.

      Jim Hudlow = flyz4free ?

  • anti_supernaturalist

    Blessed be

    I don’t believe in her — the Great (nude) Goddess. But I do worship her avatars on Earth.

    the anti_supernaturalist

  • http://messiestobjects.typepad.com/ messiestobjects

    Is it possible to at the same time be rabidly anti-religious (especially anti-Christian) in theory and yet at the same time tolerate religion by leaving actual religious people alone if they leave me alone?we’ve

    I really really really really HATE religion. I get nauseous when I see people walking about self-righteously with God on their shoulders. I could go into all the reasons why, but the point is, that’s how I feel. Yet my family is religious (probably one of the reasons why right there, having to put up with it as often as I do) and I restrain myself from denouncing their beliefs and they have learned to not talk God shop to me. But if it were in my power, I’d abuse it and destroy all religion.

  • Artor

    As both a Pagan AND an atheist, I think I can offer some perspective. There is indeed a strong anti-intellectual element in neo-paganism, particularly in Wicca and it’s many branches, including an unhealthy measure of historical revisionism. It is this element, which occurs in Pagan, Xtian, and even atheist communities, that is to be fought against, as well as any faith that demands conformity to it’s tenets.

    It would take too long to explain here how I can be both pagan and atheist at the same time, but really, it’s not a problem.

  • D’n

    The major problems with christians, and religious people in general, is that they feel the right to decide what truth is rather than discover what truth is (the bible says so therefore it is truth rather than looking out the window at what is really going on). Just because you read it in a book, or because it makes you feel all wuzzy inside, or because it is what you want to be true doesn’t actually make it true.

    Once this step is taken religious people are not anymore pushy than those who are not religious. Take as an example sex education. Most religious people are opposed to any form of sex education other than abstinence. They do this because they sincerely believe that any other form of sex education is destructive to their souls and society as a whole. Those who are not religious generally favor a full discussion of safe sex and the way the reproductive systems function. This is done for the same reason, we sincerely believe that any other form of sex education (e.g. abstinence only) will be destructive to the psychological and physical well-being of the children and society. You can realize that this is the case if you put yourself in the shoes of the other person (religious people for instance) and imagine what you would do if you believed the same things they do. Quite likely, you would do exactly what they are doing.

    Paganism is interestingly both dangerous and benign. It has a firm foundation in post-modern thinking where there are no “Truths” merely things that we choose to believe are true. This means that many pagans are anti-vaxers, believers in crystal healing, rejectors of modern medicine, and believers in magik. This means that they can, and have, support some absolutely terrible legislation. At the same time, being so post-modern, there is a tendency to believe that what is true for me may not be true for you. A pagan may say that homeopathy works perfect for them, but it wouldn’t work at all for a doctor because they don’t believe in it.

    This merging means that pagans are far less likely to shove their views down people’s throats because the things the pagan knows to be true may not be true for the person they are talking to. On the flip side it means that things like scientific facts are merely opinions that some people hold. This view is pervasive in post-modernism and one of the reasons that it irks me so much. For example; while taking a 400 level sociology course we read an essay by a highly respected sociologist. He claimed that modern scientific thinkers are just as superstitious as primitive animists. An animist will claim that whatever happens is the will of the various spirits. His example for scientific thinkers was that when you set something down and then immediately lose it (“I just set it right there, where is it?!”) we are superstitious because we refuse to question object permanence. A super-majority pagan world would likely be as bad as a super-majority christian world, just bad in slightly different ways. On the other hand, a pluralistic world will be a boon because the claims of various religious groups would likely cancel each other out leaving science and reason as the referees that determine actual fact.

    As a note, I was raised in a conservative christian family, became pagan for around 8 years and then moved to atheism about 4 years ago. I liked paganism because it was lacking many of the evils of christianity (like eternal punishment in hell) and it gave me the warm wuzzy feeling that christianity couldn’t. As I matured and delved into philosophy I realized that the warm wuzzy feeling isn’t enough to make something true and so I had to seek out real confirmation of truth. I still am pagan flavored as I like the rituals and the idea of connecting with the earth. I never subscribed to most of the woo beliefs but the ones I did have are sort of shelved on the back wall where I don’t think about them because I’m afraid they might turn out to be wrong. It’s kind of like shows you watched as a kid that you still want to believe are good, but you don’t want to see if they actually are because they might turn out to be bad and destroy a part of your childhood.

  • Gwenny

    Okay . . . I am an atheist pagan. Have been for nearly 20 years. I am formally an initiated Wiccan high priestess. And I do not believe in the literal existence of deities. I’ve taken quite a bit of shit about it over the years, since I started my online existence in Holysmoke on the old FidoNet and that battle continued over the years on Usenet. Some pagans are outraged that I can say this. And . . I don’t understand what the problem is. LOL I believe in the Earth. It is beneath my feet. In the sky above my head. I believe in Life. But to me the deities are Jungian . . .merely human creations that explain to us about ourselves. When I do ritual, I do it from the pov that ritual is powerful. We all have tons of non-religious rituals . . brushing our teeth, doing our chores, etc. I simply add meditation and ceremonies that help me focus. I don’t invoke the Lord and Lady as real beings, but as archetypes. I’m sure none of you deny that there are male and female in our world. Yin Yang? I simply have never understood why there is a problem with me claiming this.

    Plus, I have to say, pagans are a lot of fun. Lots of singing and dancing and mead swilling! Most are so scifi and fantasy fans, so you see a lot of pagans at Cons and stuff. I don’t know enough atheists personally, And mostly it’s the 20 something males who . . okay, they are struggling and not very much fun a lot of the time–the whole wears only black and are morose but not quite emo. :D

    So . . . I don’t know. I just felt compelled to say this. LOL

    • Bri

      Never feel alone in your beliefs! I feel the same way about the deities! They’re just archetypes. One of the reasons I stopped being Christian was because the man in the sky was a load of crap to me. I loved everything about Wicca except the deity part, so I tweaked it. Does that make me any less of a Wiccan? No! There are a lot of Pagans out there who believe the same. In fact, most of the ones I’ve met believe that.

  • February

    I stumbled on this while looking for something else…sorry for the late comment. I am a witch, (legally ordained as a “Wiccan Priestess”, because that’s the label Fed Gov accepts). I minister to people in Hospice. I am also polyandrous…I have been with the same men for over 20 years.
    Some years back, when we lived in Georgia, we had some legal difficulties with a group of Southern Baptists who felt we were “neglecting our children’s souls” because of our “refusal to live a Christ centered life”. They called Child Protective Services; we called the news. Next thing I knew, people from all over were coming out in support of us. The most vocal people? Other Pagans…and atheists. A pay-pal account was established to help fight our legal battle. Biggest contributors? Pagans…and atheists. We got to know many atheists; one became (and remains) my closest friend.
    Long story short; we won, then we sued. (Then we won again).
    Our kids are grown now, and we are far from Georgia. Life is good. But I will never forget what happened, nor those who supported us.
    My admiration and support of atheism and atheists is more than I can put into words. When an atheist is kind to me, I know their kindness is real; it comes from the heart, not out of the fear of angering some deity. And when atheists are treated as second-class citizens, I get really ticked off. Yes, I believe in a Creator…but not one who permits “hell” to exist, or demands anyone worship or believe in It. Any Creator who would reject It’s own creations is one evil bastard. That whole “accept me and love me or you’re DAMNED” thing reminds me of the rapist who begs his victim to “tell me you love me” as he holds a knife to her throat.
    I also believe in science and evolution. My belief is the Creator allowed us to evolve brains with the ability to create medicine, technology, etc.; we are expected to use them. I’m not hiking out into the woods in search of medicinal molds when I can get a bottle of Penicillin from the nearest doctor.
    Lastly, in my 8+ years of working in Hospice, I have yet to encounter an atheist who “cried out for God” as he/she neared death. I have intervened when ministers of other faiths have tried to “save” an atheist “before it’s too late”. (This asininity is rare, but I’ve seen it once or twice.) I have reported ministers for this behavior; it is abusive. And Pascal’s Wager, (which was used to justify this behavior, even if the offending ministers did not call it as such) is rubbish.
    You aren’t alone, atheists. While I can’t speak for all Pagans, I can speak for most…and we will fight for your rights with our voices and our money. And should the time come, we will fight with our lives. Nobody should be denied the freedom to think, believe what they wish, or be true to themselves. And if one person, just one is denied this basic human right, then the right is lost for all of us.
    Peace and Happiness to all, Feb

    • Sunny Day

      Happy Holidays!

      Thankyou.

    • Kyle

      That’s because the news HATES Christians with a passion even though it’s only a selective few that are trouble.
      It says so in YOUR code of honer in the Wiccan Handbook that what ever you do either thru action or rituals you cast they will return 3X what you send so obviously you did things to piss off the church and it’s coming back 3X.

      Next time you go to a church check your attitude at the door/keep an open mind about their views and tell me how things turn out next time okay?

      You cannot have it both ways. You need to be respectful of their establishment even though you feel like converting them to *wake up* as you put it.
      0000

      Also

      Most people who quote the bible to kill or should I say murder others are not fully understanding the context of what they are quoting and are fooling themselves like Hitler which in reality he is NOT going anywhere near heaven for what he has done.

      You can memorize EVERY passage in the bible from word to word and claim you are a bible expert but it does you absolutely NO GOOD if you don’t understand the culture of where and when the passages were written as most quote from the King’s James bible which is known to be a poor translator of the original Hebrew plus it largely has to do with your perspective of what generates abuse as people have different sensitive views.

      Unless someone hits you or sexually assaults you only then you can get angry at a church but get angry at the individual and not at the rest of the people trying to better themselves as anger makes a fool out of someone unchecked.

      If you fuck with a church they are going to fuck back so don’t do any fucking.

      • Nox

        Did you even read her story? She wasn’t going to the church. It sounds like she was just trying to live her life and the church decided to do what the church does, hunt witches.

        When you are no longer trying to defend unprovoked bullying by christians, maybe we’ll take your christian persecution complex seriously enough to point out some of the hundreds of reasons why christians are not a persecuted group.

  • Kyle

    It’s not about if we have moral codes or not but how they are implied.
    If a tree falls and no one hears it did it really fell?

    While science is to guide us thru invention and improvements upon the physical realm of matter having moral codes also establishes how we deal with science so it won’t go out of control and ruin our lives as we strive for a higher awareness in our true selves.
    Without one or the other we are like a ship without a rudder being blow any which way and eventually will hit a sharp rock wrecking the keel.

    Or another example:
    Try driving your car without brakes and see how far you get.

    The way Obama designs his car is to have the steering wheel in the back seat with the gas pedal in the front and the police have the keys to turn it on for you since YOU as a citizen are not trusted with the controls.
    You have to have written permission from the police unless you’re driving to work and/or school to be able to not only operate the car but to turn it on as well.

    Everything George Bush did Obama extended it even further which is totally foolish. At least George Bush lets you have the keys even though the steering wheel is still in the back seat.

    Some people need a moral compass where they truly have screwed up their lives and are not happy about it so they can improve themselves in order to sustain the lifestyle they truly want then going back to whatever habits are wrecking them.

  • Kyle

    If we don’t have a moral compass even science will (and in many cases already has) become like a religion without a name where the scientists throw their weight around to anybody who even offers a different approach unless they are *worshipped* of their status. BS Degree = Bull Shit PHD = Piled Higher And Deeper.

    It’s too bad
    People only see bits and pieces of the truth such a quoting from webpages which most are either completely liberal with an agenda against Republicans or slanted towards Liberalism with no backing sources for their quotes except to newspapers which are also slanted Liberal with no source for their quotes.

    and many Liberals have registered as Republicans and vica versa in order to try and screw each other around which in my opinion is like 3rd graders in charge playing in the sandbox.

    • Sunny Day

      Except for the part that Scientists can make their names by proving the other guy wrong.

      And now you moronically bring up politics as if that has anything to do with anything.

  • Kyle

    Disclaimer: I except Wiccans too as part of life and even enjoy the aspects of a God and Goddess as I believe there is more to it then just the realm of matter however both main-stream churches and Wiccans alike are misinformed about what’s really going on.

    Many smaller churches do not abuse people and only get upset if you attack them so I am always skeptical about church abuse claims as most of them are from anonymous sources which are not very credible and can easily be overblown.

    Ad homin attacks are very popular in media especially the liberal ones as they cannot use facts to back them up without citing a non-liberal slanted source or name calling.

    • Sunny Day

      Where is your proof?

      Citation Needed.

      The name calling you do doesn’t count, of course.


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