Otherworldly Communications are Protected Speech

Ordinances against fortune telling have a long history, from bans on sorcery and witchcraft in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Europe, embodied today in places like Saudi Arabia, to anti-fraud bans (often based in various ethnic prejudices) in the 19th century, to current laws that claim to be protecting citizens from fraud, but are often pushed by conservative Christian lawmakers. For generations those who practiced fortune-telling as a profession existed on the margins of society, usually depicted as mere swindlers preying on the gullible, until a new ethos started to emerge that classified divination as an art. Part of a spiritual and religious tradition that practitioners felt should be … [Read more...]

‘Religion’ is not a synonym for ‘Christianity’

There was a time in America's history that, when talk turned to religion, it was widely assumed you meant Protestant forms of Christianity. Eventually, and with some struggle, this was broadened to include Catholics and Jews, creating a tri-faith "Judeo-Christian" conception of faith in the United States. Groups outside this understanding were, at the time, either too small, or considered too strange and foreign, to be seriously considered. Thanks to a number of different factors, immigration, social upheaval, and shifting attitudes, different religious groups and movements took hold and found fertile soil here. Now the Judeo-Christian understanding is increasingly threadbare as Pagans, … [Read more...]

The Air Force, and the Increasing Misuse of the Term ‘Religious Freedom’

"Your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins." - John B. Finch, 1882 If you follow religion news these days, you can't help but be inundated with the current debate over what, exactly, "religious freedom" means, and what its limits are. The most popular manifestation concerns Catholic opposition to new contraception guidelines set forth by the Dept. of Health and Human Services (a topic I've covered before), but a large number of enterprising souls have taken this proverbial football and are running as far as they can with it. The most recent effort to "protect" religious freedom comes from a consortium of 66 Republican lawmakers who have written … [Read more...]

Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.First off, we have an update on the ongoing John Friend Anusara scandal, this time with Friend directly addressing his views on Wicca. It comes from a NY Magazine feature published this past Sunday, and in it he says that "I take Wicca really seriously," and "I have taken Wiccan oaths over the years where death is actually the consequence of telling the truth." I'm not sure what he's implying exactly, that he withheld the truth about his coven due to oaths? That he was … [Read more...]