Toxic Christianity, Patriarchy, White Supremacy, Toxic Masculinity And Its Impact On Pagans And Occultists

Toxic Christianity, Patriarchy, White Supremacy, Toxic Masculinity And Its Impact On Pagans And Occultists July 4, 2019
Image from Pixabay

 

I tweeted recently that at some point as a nation, we need to sit down and have a serious chat about toxic Christianity and its relationship to the patriarchy, white supremacy, and toxic masculinity. Screenshot and link below:

 

 

Now to the meaty bits (or seitan if you don’t eat meat): what exactly do I mean by toxic Christianity?

Like with the phrase “toxic masculinity“, I’m not saying that all of Christianity is toxic. I’m referring to a very specific flavor of Christianity which IS toxic, and has perpetuated a number of problematic to outright bigoted and hateful behaviors, particularly here in the USA. This especially includes Dominionism, which everyone needs to read up on in order to understand some of the political and religious power struggles here in the United States. It’s also led to a number of people to get involved in lawmaking and try (and sometimes succeed) in passing a number of laws based on them. These laws are actively working towards making the rule of the land be mostly white cis men while taking away the rights of literally anyone else.

We can’t pretend that Christianity is the only place where we’ve had this toxicity, as certainly a number of ancient cultures were patriarchal and in them women had few to no rights. But right now, those cultures are not in a position of power, and neither are we pagans/polytheists/witches/magicians/etc for the most part. While some of us do indeed come from a Christian background–particularly since witches and magicians can pretty much be of any religion–we are still partaking of a lifestyle that is not mainstream and often targeted for abuse.

So where am I going with this, and what can we be done? What do we collectively need to realize in order to withstand the potential threats we face to our rights and well being?

First of all, we are all affected by politics, some of us more than others. And we are all impacted by our upbringing, some of us more so than others. This is a good chunk of why I have urged pagans and polytheists to work on dumping their baggage as too many have come into polytheism–especially reconstructionist and revivalist polytheism–and other branches of paganism dragging their match luggage behind them and letting it color their perspective on the faiths they are attempting to practice. We all need to work on dismantling our pasts and the crap that holds us back, and in dealing with this topic especially so. There’s a lot we have to rethink, and institutionalized sexism, racism, transphobia, and homophobia are among those things. Unfortunately there’s a great deal of religious fervor devoted to the feeding and protecting of those -isms and phobias, and that is part of why the struggle continues in the United States.

More than anything regardless of our respective backgrounds we need to discuss the problem of toxic Christianity, as it’s dooming us all. We have Dominionists in the White House, people making laws not based on science but based on beliefs that focus around misogyny and the control of anyone with a uterus (especially black women), and children in cages in actual concentration camps. Yes, they are concentration camps and yes, I am Jewish. “Never again” is now. America needs to wake up, strengthen the protections and walls between church and state, get the offenders, enablers, and grifters out of their respective offices and take back our government from toxic Christianity and its followers which infiltrated the Republican party.

We need to stop making excuses for the attitudes that enable the behavior to go on. We need to stop pretending that voting won’t solve the problem, and also that voting alone will solve the problem. We must become comfortable with multitasking and with being vigilant long after the danger has past. Our culture, lack of proper regulations, and lack of consequences for those responsible are just a few things that are letting the cancer continue to grow and eventually kill us all. Toxic Christianity and its beliefs prop up white cis men at the expense of literally everyone else while tax exempt churches make large donations to politicians who back up their views.

I know that people are exhausted of the state of the world, especially those who have been fighting the longest and hardest, but I’m talking about the very heart of the issues that allowed America’s current government administration to do all that they are doing, and with the issues that affect us globally it won’t just be Americans who are in trouble, but the rest of the entire planet. Climate change alone has become a huge part of this, and it will literally kill us all if we don’t do something. We have 10-15 years left to be able to do anything about it. Toxic Christianity won’t care because toxic Christianity wants to usher in the end times and bring back Jesus. Toxic Christianity doesn’t think women should have rights let alone vote. Toxic Christianity only likes white people, heterosexuals, and cis men. The rest of us are deemed unworthy, unacceptable, and less than human.

I realize that there are a fair amount of occultists who are Christian, engage in Christian mysticism and Christian derived magical practices (yes, they exist). I’m also painfully aware that most occultists are not engaged in toxic Christianity. However, some are. There are a few fairly famous examples that I could give, particularly in the ceremonial magic communities. Some of you who are Christian mystics, witches, magicians, and occultists are already actively involved in fighting against fascism, white supremacy, and the patriarchy. I salute you and stand by you. We need to stick together and remember our commonalities over our differences. Please continue to use your religious privilege to call out those who continue to act as if religion is synonymous with Christianity and try to make decisions for the rest of us based on those beliefs and ideas. It continues to amaze me that someone like Jesus who challenged the patriarchy, those in positions of power, and his culture in general could possibly have inspired the ideas which these people perpetuate, and the failure falls not on religion but that of humanity.

The rest of us, however, do not come from Christian backgrounds. While most pagans and polytheists were originally Christian or from Christian homes, I was not. I lack religious privilege on a fairly substantial level. I run into monotheists and atheists all of the time who equate religion with Christianity and monotheism in general and use phrases like “Judeo-Christian” when they really just mean Christian. Religion is assumed to be entirely anti-science when my very faith honors deities for whom science and medicine are both sacred. When I don’t run into bigotry against paganism and polytheism, I run into anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism stems from toxic Christianity, too–as does Islamophobia. Anti-witchcraft and magic sentiments? Also from toxic Christianity. Anti-science beliefs and ideas surrounding climate change denial, anti-vaxxers, and flat earthers? Same.

And the list goes on.

We don’t need less religion or less Christianity; we need greater protections, more conversation, and the dismantling of the support toxic Christianity has received up to now. The problem lies not with specific religions, genders, or races, but in disproportionate privilege and power. Deconstructing privilege and balancing the scales begins with starting the necessary conversations about concepts such as the Paradox of Tolerance, and why tolerating intolerance needs to stop. We need to challenge ourselves and call on people around us who behave and speak inappropriately as compassionately but as decisively as we can.

Removing toxic Christianity from power both in our culture and in the American government will unfortunately not remove the attitudes and ideas it perpetuated. But it will prevent further harm to those who are among the marginalized and disenfranchised while we continue to try for a better world.

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Mark Green

    Hear, hear! SO well said. Thank you.

  • Jack Paddock

    I applaud and agree with a lot of what you said, and I disagree with others. It is absolutely true that there is not a shred of evidence Jesus supported any form of discrimination. It’s actually funny: the other day I stumbled onto a three hour long debate between Pagan and Christian white supremacists: that right there is proof that both of the systems can be abused! That being said, I do have a slight issue with the approach you’ve taken as I don’t think what those white supremacists advocated can be rightly called Christianity in the first place. I also think that your placing of antisemitism at the foot of Christianity and even paralleling it with Islamophobia (which, in case you don’t know, is ironic because the Quran says far worse things about the jews than the New Testament which was written by jews predominantly!) is slightly misguided. I also think it’s important to take into the matter what actually is true at the end of the day, as that’s the issue that will answer all the respective questions above.

  • Anne Hatzakis

    The Qur’an may be a more anti-semitic text overall than the New Testament, however the PRACTICE of anti-Semitism had already begun in the Roman and Byzantine empires (which were both MILITANTLY Christian at the time the Qur’an was written) and was ensconced in their Holy Week and Paschal services. Christianity has had a longer time to PERFECT Jew-hating. Even the Dominionists she refers to ONLY “support” Israel (and it’s genocide of the Palestinians) BECAUSE OF THEIR END-OF-THE-WORLD “PROPHECIES”.

  • Scarlet Magdalene

    Ahhh goysplaining anti-Semitism, and getting my history wrong while you’re at it. And lol at the New Testament being written by Jews, are you for real?

  • Jack Paddock

    I beg your apologies if I did goysplain. It wasn’t something I did intentionally. Now that I know it’s a thing, I’ll do my best to avoid it in the future.

    That being said, yes, there is a strong amount of historical evidence for a Jewish background to the New Testament, and that’s the evidence I follow. There are a couple of ways I think you can show this, and you can disagree if you so choose. If we go by traditional attribution (which, I would say, is supported by the almost universal testimony of the early church, the miratorian fragment and Papius being the earliest witnesses in that regard), then we have the following authors: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Jude, and an unknown author of the book of Hebrews. Of those authors, only one wasn’t Jewish: Luke. We know the author of the book of Hebrews was Jewish because 1) his audience clearly is and 2) one cannot make heads or tails out of their writing without a strong background in Tanakh. If you favor a more critical approach, the Q document on which the gospels are based would’ve gone back to a sayings document written down by the church in Jerusalem. Paul’s “authentic” letters, 1 Peter, and James would still come from a Jewish hands at that point. The rest we just wouldn’t know, but even those carry strong Jewish themes from the 2nd temple period from which they originate, especially the rest of Paul’s letters, 2 Peter, and Revelation. I believe that this is further evidenced by the documents we know are forgeries such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Judas, which portray Jesus as a Greek mythic and philosopher as opposed to a Jewish rabbi like the canonical gospels do.

    I hope you didn’t take my first comment as me wanting to pick a fight. Really, my intent was just to cordially disagree, and I enjoy having dialog with those I disagree with. I hope the above helps clarify my position.

  • Anne Hatzakis

    Except for there being little to no actual historical evidence of any of those books (especially the “Canonical” Gospels) being written prior to the mid to late second Century CE, we COULD claim that they are books “written by Jews”. However, the traditional attribution by the Orthodox Church (and later the Roman Catholic Church after the Great Schism of 1054 CE), happened post-4th Century CE. As a student of Church history myself, I know that NONE of the books of the New Testament came from actual Jewish writers with the possible exception of Matthew which could have been penned by a Jewish convert FOR Jewish converts as it is alleged to have been originally written in Aramaic as opposed to Koine.

    The “testimony” of Papius is self-serving as are most of the early Christian apologists who are trying to differentiate Christianity from the dominant polytheistic culture that surrounded them during the pre-313 CE period in the Roman Empire after which Christianity became not only legal, but the ONLY legal religion other than Judaism in the Eastern Roman Empire.

    I grew up STEEPED in the Greek Orthodox Church as the daughter of a Greek Orthodox priest who had no sons. If I had BEEN his son, I would have been EXPECTED to follow in my father’s footsteps in the Church, and I wondered why I WASN’T allowed to do so in my early teens. I RESEARCHED the early Church History for myself, with my father’s blessing, and although I ended up not staying within the Church, I still have the KNOWLEDGE from then.

  • Jack Paddock

    Thank you once again for the tought-provoking reply. I don’t know much about modern day greek orthodoxy, and I’m sorry you had a negative experience. I envy your knowledge, being brought up learning Church History! I was late to the party.

    That being said, there are a few things I caught and take a different slant on. The first claim that caught my eye was when you said there’s no evidence of the canonical gospels being written prior to the late 2nd Century. While I respect your opinion, I can’t think of a single scholar in this field who would agree with that. It would be amiss for me to argue from authority, so I’ll give an argument of my own. First, I’ll appeal to internal evidence. The authors of the gospels describe 1st Century Jerusalem and Judaism in ways that wouldn’t be possible for someone who didn’t live in that society before 70 AD, when the Romans destroyed the 2nd Temple. Where can line up the writtings of the New Testament with history (Luke/ Acts and Josephus especially), the New Testament does really well! As for the external, our earliest fragment of the gospel of John is called Papyrus 52, which dates to about 125 AD, the early 2nd Century. John is one of the latest written works in the New Testament based on the internal evidence; therefore, the rest of the gospels and epistles must at least be earlier than 125. And, unless we want to say P52 is the autographa, this places most of the New Testament corpus in the first century.

    As for the issue of Jewish authorship, I’d simply ask how you’d respond to the challenges I issued earlier. Why do the gospels capture Taniatic Judaism so well in carrying over themes from Tanakh, Deuterocannon, and Psedepigrapha alike? Discarding Papias, what about the rest of the early church? Why did no one ever contest the authorship of the main four gospels? Why do the late greek forgeries portray Jesus as a philosopher while Mark portrays him as a Rabbi? I think those are important questions to answer.

    This last thing is relatively small, but Christianity was a Religio Ilicita for a long time in Rome. The worst persecution from Rome towards the Christians started in 303 AD under Diocletion. The emporor Galarius then came in 311 and issued a proclimation of tolerence. Constantine in 313 then made Christianity legal, officially: he didn’t make Christianity the official religion in Rome. In 325 you have the council of Nicea, and then, under Theodosius in 380, Christianity was made the official and only legal religion in Rome. Small thing, but it’s worth noting.

    Regardless of the disagreement, I thank you for the dialogue. I find your position to be very interesting!

  • Dave

    My only disagreement is that I’m nowhere near as optimistic about climate change as Bill Nye is. In my estimation, we’re somewhere between “5 years to we’re boned” and “we’re already boned and our political leaders are either trying to hide that from us or blissfully unaware of it.”

    My reasoning about this:
    1. All emissions are underreported.
    2. Even the underreported emissions are getting massively worse, not better.

    3. There are lots of feedback loop problems where slight increases in temperature cause much bigger increases in temperature.
    4. So far when the scientists have been wrong, it’s because they’ve been overly cautious in their predictions.

  • Jack Paddock

    Can I ask why my last comment got marked as spam? I thought it was a fairly useful historical overview.

  • a Nagual in Arizona

    Thank you so much for this. I was raised in the culture now known as Evangelicalism, and you have clearly expressed so much of my own experience and thoughts about what’s happening now. Dominionism has been working for decades to get where it is now- the White House.

  • Shawn Herles

    “And lol at the New Testament being written by Jews, are you for real?”

    He’s largely right. Paul was Jewish, and it’s likely the author of Matthew was as well. Assuming Peter’s letter was written by Peter himself, then he was also Jewish. So was James. So yes, much, not all, but much of the NT was written by people who were ethnically Jewish.

  • Shawn Herles

    ” Toxic Christianity only likes white people, heterosexuals, and cis men. The rest of us are deemed unworthy, unacceptable, and less than human.”

    “These laws are actively working towards making the rule of the land be mostly white cis men while taking away the rights of literally anyone else.”

    Neither of these statements make any sense to me, at least as far as the race part goes. The most obvious problem is that conservative Christianity in general, as well the more aggressive political Christian Right, is not a white movement, it’s multi-ethnic. I was a conservative evangelical Christian for many years before moving to Paganism, and not only was white supremacist ideology not a thing in that movement, it was roundly and repeatedly condemned. Many of the leaders in that movement have condemned both white supremacy and the alt-right, in often harsh terms. More importantly, many leaders and pastors in conservative evangelical Christianity, who also support the laws you’re (rightly) concerned about, are black. Some are also Asian. This attempt to merge the Christian Right with white supremacy therefore is just plain wrong on the face of it.

    In my church, which was politically conservative and Pentecostal, people of all races and classes were welcomed, and that church had more real ethnic and class diversity than many gatherings of woke progressives, a movement which is predominantly white and middle class. Black folks and Asian folks were leaders in that church.

    The mainstream Christian Right and white supremacism are two very different things. Fusing them together may make for a nice and simple Other on which rage can be focused, but it’s not true, and it’s unhelpful because resisting either movement requires that we understand the respective movements accurately, on their own terms, or our resistance will not be effective. This is one of my concerns about woke progressive thinking, it radically over simplifies complex issues, and places far too much emphasis on white supremacy as a lens through which to view and explain everything. This inevitably leads to a distortion of reality.

  • Anne Hatzakis

    I have no idea

  • Jack Paddock

    Ah, well, it was a good conversation regardless, but it was incredibly nice to talk to the both of you

  • Equinox1

    Great post! Thanks for setting out so many important points about the state of the US today.

  • Dale Cranston

    I wonder how SM would feel if a Christian wrote an article on “Toxic Judaism” and explained how Jewish in-group preferences lead to dead children in Palestine and Hasidic slumlords in America. Something tells me she wouldn’t be cheering them on for their brave stand against a powerful group of oppressors.

  • Ian Phanes

    From the founding of Islam, Jews and Christians have had a certain level of legal protection (as well as certain legal restrictions) as “peoples of the book”. Throughout the first millennium of Islam, Jews tended to be safer in Muslim countries than in Christendom.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_under_Muslim_rule