[The following is a guest post from Literata. Literata is a Wiccan who studies theaology and enjoys developing poetry and rituals. Her work has appeared in the anthologies "Queen of the Sacred Way", "Anointed" and "The Scribing Ibis" from Neos Alexandria, in CIRCLE Magazine, and in the ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She also writes regularly for The Slacktiverse and blogs at Works of Literata. In between leading Rose Coven, reading Tarot, and communing with nature, she is writing her Ph.D. dissertation in history and enjoys travel and spending time with her husband and cats.]
The Hail Columbia movement is a way for Pagans to protect freedom of religion – and you can help.
At today’s Celebration of the Divine Feminine, I will lead a prayer to Columbia, honoring her as a patron goddess of the district that bears her name and as a protecter of our ideals of freedom, especially freedom of religion.
“Wiccans and Pagans are part of the American religious mosaic, and they’re here to stay. Founding Fathers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison gave us religious liberty – and that means religious liberty for everyone. The followers of nature-based faiths are going to use it because they don’t want to lose it. What could be more in keeping with the great American tradition?” - Reverend Barry Lynn, United Church of Christ minister and executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State
The Hail Columbia movement grew out of concern over the efforts exerted by a small but increasingly influential group of conservative Christians to restructure America so that all aspects of life conform to their vision of a Christian society. Several Republican candidates for president have significant connections to the New Apostolic Reformation and other groups that have explicitly stated they intend to influence politicians so that the government will enforce their religious edicts.
The catalyst for Hail Columbia was a NAR project called DC 40 which involved organizing “prayer warriors” nationwide to “change the spiritual atmosphere over DC forever” by conducting “spiritual warfare” and renaming DC the District of Christ. As DC-based bloggers, Hecate Demeter and I found this idea not just preposterous but offensive. We started spreading the word and encouraging Pagans to respond by honoring Columbia and, ultimately, by participating in politics to help protect freedom of religion.
“The methods used by the NAR and other Dominionists are founded upon hate, fear, and ignorance. Their demonization of our Gods and Goddesses uses inflammatory language that can lead to violence and discrimination against followers of minority religions. We have choices in how to respond to this threat to our freedom and our faiths. Many are resorting to prayer, some to writing letters, and some to defensive strategies. We decided to honor the Queen of Heaven, the Goddess Inanna, in a public space, and demonstrate the very freedoms the Dominionists seek to destroy.” - Katrina Messenger, founder of Connect DC and the Reflections Mystery School in Petworth.
Star Foster and others created a Facebook page and Dash put together a website to spread information and coordinate Pagan responses. The results have been heartening; local coordinators are volunteering in states across the nation and we’ve raised awareness about the potential dangers posed by these would-be theocrats. But it’s not just about leaders – it’s about voters. NAR-related groups are working to register more evangelical Christians and to encourage them to vote for specific candidates who have expressed agreement with this radical agenda.
This is why it’s vital for Pagans to be politically aware and politically active. I want to work towards that goal by making the Hail Columbia project a nexus for information and action. It could include features such as information on candidates’ positions on religious liberty and action alerts for people to write to their elected officials about government infringement on freedom of religion. I’d like to hear more from the community about how useful something like that would be and any other ideas you have for how to move Hail Columbia forward. I’m also looking for additional contributors to the Hail Columbia blog.
Columbia represents the freedoms on which America is founded. She encourages us to protect what has been won and beckons us onward to expand freedoms, including religious liberty in a peaceful and pluralistic society. Will you help?
[You can read more about Literata's work with the Hail Columbia movement, and why she thinks it is important, here. You may also want to keep an eye on the PNC-Washington DC site (here's a pre-event post) for coverage of today's gathering. I'd like to thank Literata for taking the time to share her thoughts with us.]