Atheists and Wicca

Atheists and Wicca December 10, 2011

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.

Browse Our Archives