On Faith: Gary Johnson and the Pagan Media

I have a new piece up at the Washington Post’s On Faith section examining the importance of the recent video Pagan media press conference with Republican presidential candidate, and former New Mexico governor, Gary Johnson.

Screenshot of the Johnson-Pagan Media Conference

Here’s a short excerpt:

“What does it all mean? I think it represents two opportunities. First, there’s an opportunity for politicians to realize that America’s religious diversity isn’t simply a stock phrase to pull out when describing the virtues of our country. According to the Pew Forum, 16.1 percent of Americans claim no formal religion, while another 2.3 percent are part of religious tradition outside the Christian-Jewish-Muslim monotheistic paradigm. Those aren’t insignificant numbers, and they put the often lumped-together “other/unaffiliated” category on a statistical par with evangelical and mainline Protestants. Despite this, moral debates are almost always framed along a left-right Christian axis; Rick Warren gets to interview Obama and McCain, while Hindus, Pagans, Buddhists, and practitioners of indigenous traditions rarely get to ask questions on a national stage. Gov. Johnson’s courage in talking to religious minorities might have been driven by a modicum of desperation in getting his message out, but it should be seen as a harbinger of what campaigning to religious groups will be like in the future.”

I hope you’ll head over and read the whole thing, and leave your thoughts in the comments section. This “town hall” has gotten far more attention than I thought it would, getting noticed by congressional paper The Hill, snarked about at Wonkette, New York Magazine, and Gawker, and reported on by New Mexico newspapers. This may not be the kind of attention Johnson hoped for, but I do think that his choice to do this will have resonance far beyond his campaign, and could start to change the way politicians view religious minorities.

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  • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    There are quite a few press stories that are smart-alecky, making fun of Mr. Johnson for talking w/ Pagans. A few positive, too.

    What strikes me about this discussion is if you add all the “other” or uncommitted to religion, Hindus, Atheists, Pagans, Buddhists, Indigenous folks, etc. it’s more than 25% which is enough to sway any vote.

  • Kilmrnock

    I think it’s great he took time to talk to us , and shows unusauly good character for any politician , to recognise we’re not just weird outsiders like most of them do. The media and public in general donot worry or care much for us. Maybe this will eventualy set new trends in politics and the public in general.One can only hope others will take us more seriosly. we’ll see. Kilm

  • RivaWitch

    These other politicians do know that Pagans do vote as well?

  • Crystal Kendrick

    If the political rhetoric does not change between now and election day (which I highly doubt), I’m writing Mr.Johnson in, this coming from a die-hard left-winger.