Richard Land and “Full-Blown Paganism”

Richard Land and “Full-Blown Paganism” May 30, 2012

Richard Land is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the second-largest Christian body in the United States. Land is a prominent American Christian who has authored several books, and made many mainstream media appearances. Land, supposedly the top ethicist for the SBC, was recently embroiled in a plagiarism scandal, but that’s another story. Since this is The Wild Hunt, we’re going to talk about Paganism, something that was very much on minds of Land and the National Organization for Marriage’s Jennifer Roback Morse on this past weekend’s Richard Land Live show.

Morse: What we learned in California in the marriage fight is that the secularist thrust, I don’t even know what to properly call it, Richard, maybe you have a good name for it, but the secularists, the sexual nihilists.

Land: It’s a secular theocracy is what it is.

Morse: Yes, that’s exactly—

Land: It’s a secular theocracy driven be a full-blown pagan understanding of human sexuality. It’s just pagan.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, when they say “paganism” they don’t mean ancient or modern polytheism, they don’t mean it in a religious sense, they’re using the term as a synonym for hedonism. In fact, Jennifer Roback Morse (working to “make marriage cool”), seeks further clarification from Land on the term, just so everyone’s clear by what they mean.

Morse: When you say pagan, what do you mean by pagan? I can imagine what you mean.

Land: I mean totally focused on self, anything that feels good do it, just like the Greco-Roman orgies of the 1st Century and 2nd Century AD; same thing that our early Christian forefathers faced.

Morse: That’s very true, the hedonism, the hedonistic aspect of the culture. What I wondered you were going to say is full-on paganism I would think of as somehow worshiping sex, as sex taking on a kind of sacramental role.

Land: As you know many of the Roman religions, the idolatrous religions were sexual, and the priests were homosexuals and they worshiped in Corinth they had homosexual priests had these temples that were pre-Christian paganism.

See, they were trying to just say they meant secular hedonism, but Land just couldn’t resist bringing up “Roman religions” and “the idolatrous religions” that were “sexual” (oh no!) . Like many evangelicals, and other socially conservative Christians,  Land has an itch that can only be scratched by connecting modern culture-war issues to ancient pre-Christian religions. This is especially true whenever the subject of same-sex marriage or LGBT legal protections are brought up, causing the indiscriminate dropping of the “p-word” with no fear of any real controversy.

“Marriage may be done for this culture in certain sectors, in certain pockets, but marriage most certainly is certainly not done because it is the God-ordained institution that mirrors the analogy of Christ and His church, it is the human institution that most closely reflects the heart of God the Father in Christ Jesus our Lord. That’s why they’re attacking it, they don’t know that that’s why they’re attacking it, they’re attacking it because they’re looking at all the advances in medical technology. I can have a baby without a man, so why do I need a man? I can earn more than a man, so why do I need a man? You can have a baby by adoption, and you can do it with a same-sex partner, so why do you need marriage? This is exactly what the pagans did, way back when, this is exactly what they did: destroy marriage. It’s shaking a fist in the face of God.”– Christian radio host Janet Mefferd

The history of same-sex relationships in pre-Christian societies is complex, and more nuanced than the slurs thrown around by people like Land and Morse, but they are partially correct in that modern Pagans today are largely supportive of marriage equality and embracing love in all its forms. Further, the fight for the equal rights and treatment of same-sex couples ultimately benefits the religions that support those rights, and destabilizes the ones that don’t. So it’s little wonder that opposition to same-sex marriage is regularly portrayed as a struggle against “paganism.”

“It’s pretty simple: marriage is between a man and a woman. This is a historic doctrine driven deep into the Bible, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, and it’s a perfect example of what I mean by the rise of paganism. The effort to create alternatives to marriage between a man and a woman are perfectly natural pagan behaviors, but they are a fundamental violation of our civilization.” – Former Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich

What Land (and other hateful ideologues) doesn’t realize is that by branding LGBT people and same-sex marriage as “pagan” he’s helping to make Christianity unpalatable to a growing number of individuals who are sick of seeing friends, colleagues, and loved ones demonized by petty demagogues looking to score political points in a culture war. As I noted yesterday, membership in Christian churches is dropping in many areas of the country, with a growing number staying home rather than endure yet another sermon that dehumanizes a loved one. The rise of “nones” isn’t some fluke, people don’t like the growing political polarization of the pews, and are instead seeking spirituality on a personal basis. If “paganism” and homosexuality is causing the downfall of civilization, it’s more to do with people like Land making hateful invocations than actual Pagans or LGBT people simply trying to live their lives and asking for equal treatment.

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97 responses to “Richard Land and “Full-Blown Paganism””

  1. Word salad.   That’s all I can think of when reading these hateful rants.  They took a bunch of words, flung them in a salad shaker and spit them back out.  The end result is akin to a paragraph written by someone with ADHD who thinks half of it internally and expresses the leftover bits out loud.  Oddly, it seems to make sense to their followers, and ditto heads.  I have a hard time following their trains of thought.

  2. Why do these kinds of people think marriage is exclusive to Christians!?!? Marriage like those of the Abrahamic religions exists all over the world way before they came into play. Marriage is marriage regardless of race, gender, creed, orientation, etc, etc….

  3. “If “paganism” and homosexuality is causing the downfall of civilization, it’s more to do with people like Land making hateful invocations than actual Pagans or LGBT people simply trying to live their lives and asking for equal treatment.”
    Yeah, this.  Land and other so-called Christians of his ilk don’t seem to understand that it is them who are turning people away from Christianity.  In droves.  When a philosophy of ‘love one another’ gets turned into a philosophy of  ‘hate everybody we don’t want’ it becomes impossible to maintain belief in that philosophy.

  4. I can’t stop giggling at this:

    “It’s a secular theocracy driven be a full-blown pagan understanding of human sexuality. It’s just pagan.”

    Does this man even understand what the words he is using mean?  I almost want to send  him a dictionary.

  5. It’s like TV Land Tourette’s for religious bigots!

    “Garble pagan downfall bible! God homosexual Leviticus Obama Muslim grr!  Rawr! Pagan pagan pagan Barbra Streisand!”

  6. (perplexed, scratching head)  ” As you know many of the Roman religions, the idolatrous religions were sexual, and the priests were homosexuals” I suppose they saw Spartacus and Rome because it was a bit more complicated than this. Poor Cato the Elder and Seneca 🙁

  7. Maine is #1 in the country as the least christian state… but the servey that made this finding said “Least religious state” because according to them we had the lowest number of people who identified as members of a christian church. So obviously it was a christian organization who did the servey but I still like the result. I’m also willing to bet that, had they asked, they may have found us to be the most Pagan state too.

  8. If Pagansism is the downfall of Man then how was there even anyone still alive to convert to the christianity that was festering like puss in the Roman culture?… and why did the Roman empire fall only a mere 50 years after converting to christianity?

  9. Yeah .. in a way, the plump dude is right.  I’m unapologetically Pagan ~Seiðkona & priestess of Freyja~ and of course I support LGBT rights, am utterly hedonistic, identify with pre-Xtian religions & treat sex as a sacrament. You know, I don’t care much for this civilization & if Paganism & homosexuality can cause its downfall .. I’m all for it!

  10.  Moreover, any philosophy of hatred and exclusion does not, I postulate, deserve to continue.  These guys certainly make it difficult to live and let live.

  11. There seem to be some odd ideas wandering about out there.  Such as that LGBT people don’t deserve the basic right to make a commitment to their partner on a legal footing at the very least.

    Frankly, if the LGBT folk out there want to marry, wouldn’t that increase the number of marriages (not wishing to apply logic or mathematics to the concept!)?

    “Sexual nihilism”? What?  “I don’t care if you **** me to death”?  Is that what Land thinks we’re like?

    “Sex between a man and a woman can be wonderful, provided you can get between the right man and the right woman.”
    – Woody Allen

    Yep, we pagans are anti-marriage – ask my wife of five years!  *Facepalmzilla*

  12. The reputable Heathen publication Hex Magazine has just released an issue that has marriage as one of its themes. There is no consensus on the issue of gay marriage amongst Heathens. Amongst the numerous voices within Heathenism there are certainly Heathens who support traditional marriage. They do not derive this position from Christian theology.

  13. This is almost too humerus to actually take seriously.  Except the fact that he thinks this is an accurate and acceptable use of terminology (and would probably be happy to apply it to us anyhow) makes it serious enough to be scary.

    GAH!  I feel like I’m part of some trifecta Axis of Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-vil…PAGANISM! HOMOSEXUALITY!!!  SECULAR THEOCRACT!!!!!

    …but yeah, that last one is a bit of an oxymoron—is secular humanism not a cool enough buzz word for the religious righties anymore?

  14. Ya beat me to it, Laurie. But wouldn’t “Secularist Thrust” be a fabulous name for a band? I’m sure Jason would feature them on his show…;)

  15. There’s no such thing as “traditional marriage.” Even if you use the bible as a standard, marriage has changed quite drastically. 

    Stop using their terms. It only helps people stay misinformed. 

  16. I and many others simply disagree. The Stephanie Coontz article sites several examples of marriage custom that differ from the model of monogomous heterosexual marriage but in fact the diversity in custom she is looking for is more apparent than actual; she might just as easily have referenced the fact that monogomous heterosexual marriage is a near universal norm in most societies, rendering it ‘traditional.’ Certainly I stand by “traditional marriage” as a valid category, a valid term, because it refers to the specific norms that govern my ancestral culture. It is a tradition within my culture; it may not be so in some other cultures, I grant.

  17. I am sorry but I must reserve the right to use the term “traditional marriage” simply because it does best describe a binding custom of my people, a near universal norm governing the culture of my ancestors and my contemporaries. It is, then, a tradition. It may not be a tradition you recognise, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a tradition. Moreover, the traditional basis for this custom is certainly not Christian. It is true that the Heathen culture of my ancestors permitted of several forms of marriage, not all of them monogomous. Polygamy was practiced by some elites, for example. However, I have found no evidence of homosexual “marriage” and there is no suggestion that polygamy was the norm for the vast majority of the ancients, as the Coontz article boldly asserts. I am asserting that heterosexual monogomous marriage was a near universal norm in pre-Christian Northern European culture, as indeed it is in most cultures. I am not invoking Christian tradition in defence of traditional marriage – I am invoking Pagan tradition.

  18.  Say it’s “traditional” all you want, I won’t fault you for that, as long as you don’t try to legally prevent me from having a legal marriage (unrelated to your sacred marriage) that is equivalent to those of the heterosexual couples. Because I do not share your “tradition”. Cool?

  19. Unfortunately there is rather too much at stake for that. Our ancestors evolved the institution of traditional marriage for very good reason. Heterosexual monogomous marriage is a near universal norm because it best serves the interests of society and especially children. And so you see, people who are committed to the idea of traditional marriage have too much invested in the idea than to allow modern society and government to engineer such a reckless experiment.

  20. Hey, I think we have a new tag line of bumper sticker:  “It’s Just Pagan!”

  21. I think Tasman is making two important points:

    1. We shouldn’t assume that all Pagans are modern liberals in terms of sexuality. Certainly, Hindus, Confucians and Buddhists tend not to be. I read about Australian Aborigines being horrified by homosexuality, and seeing it as linked to white people and Christianity.

    2. Same-sex marriage, although not unknown historically, has not been very widespread, even among cultures that accepted or even celebrated homosexuality.

    Personally, I agree with same-sex marriage, but for reasons of basic justice rather than anything specifically pagan. I also think that, as “marriage” is a social construct, it is not helpful to discuss its “real meaning”, as that leads to a circular argument.

    I suppose I’m fairly liberal in attitudes to sexuality, although I dislike modern British raunch culture, and hanker after slightly more modest or decorous behaviour, more for aesthetic than moral reasons. However, I do think there should be a forum for people like Tasman, and an acknowledgment that modern Pagans don’t all sing from the same hymn sheet on these issues.

  22. The Roman Empire was already on its way to falling when Christianity took over. It was BECASE of Rome’s collapse that Christanity was even able to take power, according to some. My favorite take on it comes from James C. Russell becase he was able to explain it quite clearly.  

  23. What is at stake, truly?  

    If marriage is the do-all end-all, then do you accept divorce at all, and if so, in what cases?

    Marriage serves society by keeping together recognized partnerships, heterosexual, homosexual, or otherwise, with publicly sworn oaths, and more importantly, the two or more partners keeping the them throughout the partners’ lives.  Marriage is only serving so long as the couples are holding to the oaths originally sworn.  I don’t see us stoning adulterers or neglectful parents, nor would I care to.  

    How, precisely, does limiting marriage and its attendant benefits to heterosexuals only actually benefit society, especially in cases where homosexuals can and have raised perfectly healthy, normal children into adulthood?  How does limiting the scope of marriage actually help marriage as an institution?  What does society gain from denying legal recognition to same sex relationships?  What does society gain from denying polyamory, polygamy, polyandry, etc.?  

    What good, ultimately, does society gain from discrimination?

  24. I understand where Tasman is coming from with regards to the term “traditional marriage”. Heterosexual relationships, for the purpose of producing children and therefore maintaining the family line, is traditionally formed using a legal concept of marriage (in a general sense, obviously there’s legal concubines and slavery back then too).

    The problem I see is when “traditional marriage” is used to infer that something is better BECAUSE it’s traditional. Well, legally recognized homosexual marriage may be a new thing for a lot of cultures, but so what? What’s that go to do with you? Computers are a new thing too, completely changing almost all aspects of our lives, but I don’t see anyone fighting against them becaue they’re not traditional, except maybe the Amish.

    So yes, the term may in fact be accurate in a literal sense, but unless you’re in a history class or working on recon for yourself  it is irrelevant to modern politics and the lives of people around you. Much of what America accepts nowadays is non-traditional, so it’s silly to single out the “marriage problem” alone with that term.

    Besides, homsexual relationships already exist. They have already existed since before humans even evolved, as hundreds of other species also display homosexuality (and within some birds at least it is not a case of mistaken identity, they KNOW the recipient is of the same sex as them). Having a piece of paper acknowleding that relationship so that they can visit their sick lover in a hospital or be able to take care of them isn’t going to throw us into anarchy or start World War III.

    If people want to worry about tradition and society breaking down, then there are bigger and better topics to focus all this energy on. Stop worrying about what consenting adults do in their bedrooms and start worrying about why children are still being trafficked for sex and labor in a supposedly rich country, for instance. Or why developers are so eager to destory natural land for developement and ruin the local drinking supply in the process.

    Though, those are TRADITIONAL use of humans and land as a commodity, despite the negative impact, so I guess that’s better than the thought of new forms of marriage.

  25. “Our ancestors evolved the institution of traditional marriage for very good reason.”
    Yeah, seems to me a big part of that was procreation to make sure we didn’t die out.  I don’t think we’re in too much danger of dieing out from there being too /few/ people on the planet.

    “Heterosexual monogomous marriage is a near universal norm because it
    best serves the interests of society and especially children.”
    So you’ll do away with single parents too, right?  Because that also comes with the ‘het marriage is best for children’ BS. So, no single parents right? We need to make sure that is never, ever allowed to happen for the sake of SOCIETY! *war cry*

  26. Secular theocracy? Trying to ponder how that would exactly function? Rule by religion, except with none of the religious stuff?

  27. Hey Tasman- this actually is a perfect example of why ALL types of religious thinking need to be removed from secular government. A really basic precept to the United States is the Fundamental Right of All Humans to Equal Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
    My respects to the Ways of your Heathen Ancestors: but your Heathen traditions do not get to relegate me and my Queer Pagan Tribe to second-class status in the United States.
    Do you appreciate that you are as repressive in this matter as the Christian Fundamentalist in question?
    Again: proof that religious thinking has no place in determining secular social policy. You and your Heathen People are no longer in Heathen Northern Europe; you are in the multi-cultural United States.

  28. I’m about halfway through the laughing Jesus and if you believe what it says, the whole bible is made out of whole cloth. Nothing about it is true, not the so called Jewish history, not the existence of Moses, or David, or Jesus. In fact the only “prophet” that ever really lived was muhammahd and we all know how well that went. The fact that a religion built out of complete fiction lasted so long is a testament (sic) to the tactics used to keep it going.

  29. Because they conceive marriage in theological terms, and those terms (as you can see in their discussion) relate to the relationship between the Church and Christ. They don’t seem to be able to understand that there are other conceptions of marriage that are not only possible, but exist.

  30. Willful ignorance is a choice. I can forgive someone who  just doesn’t know certain facts. But to know them and willfully ignore them, that I cannot forgive.

  31. I am Australian, actually, and lucky to live in a fairly monocultural part of that nation. There is very little social anomie in my local community, partly because it cleaves to a more old fashioned worldview and set of social mores. Part of that social stability is born of demographic and customary continuity over time.

  32. Oh deary me, Tasman, I guess I’d better hang up my wedding ring, since my husband and I chose to be childfree.

    You know, Pagans who pull this “only for procreation” nonsense aren’t any better than Christians who do, they simply have less power. It’s still obnoxious.

  33.  In a lot of cultures, both pagan and non-pagan, traditional marriage is marriage between a man in his thirties and a scarcely pubescent girl more than twenty years younger. Sometimes consensual on the part of the girl, sometimes not.

    That kind of traditional marriage is illegal in most of the United States, and I don’t hear many ministers (though there are a few) regarding such laws as an assault on Christianity. In this regard as in many others, Christianity is selective about which traditional laws and customs it upholds.

    The construction of pagan versus non-pagan marriage is pretty fictional. The three Abrahamic religions all  (as a general rule) forbid same sex marriage but differ on other points of importance such as whether divorce is allowed, whether polygamy is allowed, and married women’s property rights. In Jewish law, sexual activity is regarded as one of the benefits a wife receives from her husband, and she’s entitled to it at least once a week. No such right exists in Christian marriage AFAIK.

  34. “As I noted yesterday, membership in Christian churches is dropping in many areas of the country, with a growing number staying home rather than endure yet another sermon that dehumanizes a loved one.”

    Something that springs to mind: while this means the drop in membership in Christian churches, effectively the drop in the population that is actively Christian, I think it also will result in the increasing radicalization of those that remain actively Christian. 

  35. To Northern-Light: I never asserted that marriage is only for procreation. What I am asserting is that one can be a Pagan and still in all conscience believe that heterosexual monogomanous marriage is the best context in which to raise children and on that basis oppose the legalisation of same sex “marriage”.

  36. People like him are Scared  Scared that  Paganism is making a Big Come back and more and more people are leaving the church and Organized Religion   as Age of Aquarius Dawns near    

  37. As we all know, No xians would ever engage in homosexual acts (unless, of course, they are members of the clergy)

  38. You realize what that means for them? Less money in the collection plate ! *gasp*

  39. @b53fdcf95818857fd58c2feabaf7d52a:disqus You can believe that one can be a Pagan and still in all conscience believe that, but when you start putting the word marriage in scare quotes, I start viewing you as exactly the same as the rest of the jerks trying to prevent LGBT people (of which I am one) from having basic human rights.

    IMO reconstructionism is a balanced thing. Yes, our ancestors had some fantastic ideas, but they also had some really shitty ones, and it would be nice to think we’d actually learned something useful in the last thousand years.

  40. Good comment except for the Americentrism. Not everyone who reads this blog is American, even if it is America-dominated.

  41. To Northern-Light again – my support for traditional marriage is not, in origin, a function or expression of my reconstructionist Heathenism – although it is entirely consonant with that faith. Rather, that is just how I was raised: it is a perfectly contemporary expression of my natural affiliation with my parent culture. Their is nothing retrograde about cultivating ancestral piety – such piety consists in maintaining the custom of my people in trust for future generations. 

  42.  I don’t consider enshrining bigotry to be a part of ancestral piety, nor it to be a good thing to pass down to your descendents.

  43. Hey Tasman- you know, travel is generally thought to broaden one’s perspectives; yet if I understand you correctly, you have managed to transport yourself and the Heathen Traditions of your ancestral Peoples from Northern Europe all the way to the Southern Hemisphere of Australia: without making much of a dent in your consciousness. There, lucky as you are to “live in a fairly monocultural part of that nation,” with more of an “old fashioned worldview and social mores,” it sounds as if you have adopted a mindset of such a provincial nature, that an American would describe it as “small town”: as in, “That individual is really constricted by the ‘small town’ quality of his provincial lifestyle.”

  44. Here I was merrily smiling, floating above the fray and then WHAM! Choking on my morning up of tea. Bravo!

  45. “I am asserting that heterosexual monogomous marriage was a near universal norm in pre-Christian Northern European culture, as indeed it is in most cultures.”   Perhaps this sentence would be less offensive if you tacked the word “now” on the end. Claiming ‘near universal’ status in the pre-Christian era seems to be ignoring a rather large religion- Islam.

  46. GAH!  I feel like I’m part of some trifecta Axis of Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-vil…PAGANISM! HOMOSEXUALITY!!!  SECULAR THEOCRACT!!!!!

    I just want to buy that man a dictionary with appropriate terms highlighted and a little pamphlet about vocabulary.

  47. Tasman: “I am asserting that heterosexual monogomous marriage was a near universal norm in pre-Christian Northern European culture, as indeed it
    is in most cultures.”

    Anyone with any familiarity with human sexuality whatsoever knows that there will always be tremendous diversity in sexual behavior in any human population at any time in history and in any place on earth.

  48. Hey Northern Light- my apologies; I guess I do tend to assume that everyone here will be American; in fairness, tho, I don’t think this site is “America-dominated,” as in, We Americans try to dominate it. It’s that this is an American site, in that Jason is a Pagan American, living here in America, producing the Wild Hunt (as all the other Pagans at the Pagan Channel are American, as far as I know), so lots of American Pagans will be gravitating here (is all).

  49. I would just like to say that I am another Australian Pagan, and I fully and wholeheartedly support equal rights for all, including the right to use the much abused term ‘marriage’ and apply it to any adult, consensual life-partnering. Adult humans are adult humans, if you start trying to differentiate beyond that you are bigoted and all the rest of the noise pretending to be reasonable and fair signifies nothing. Once you have violated that concept to make any ‘except for’ statement you expose yourself. 

  50. Ridiculous. A mother always knows who her child is – “Marriage” was an institution fostered by the elite in order to prove bloodline. The co-joining of man and woman where the streams of their life run together has always existed and has never needed a stamp to prove.

  51. That’s hysterical, considering I read this whole article thinking, “Secular Theocracy?  Inconceivable!”

  52. “”Marriage” was an institution fostered by the elite in order to prove bloodline.”

    I’ll have to disagree with you there. If anything, marriage seems to have originated as a way to negotiate a social network of responsibilities between families for the care of children, so that the rights of those children and the responsibilities of the larger family group to care for them would be sanctioned by the childrens’ explicitly-stated belonging to family groups. A child always and obviously belongs to its mother’s family, but the cooperation of the father’s family in rearing and support requires some further agreement and recognition that the child is the father’s own, and thus his and his family’s responsibility to care for.

  53. The more these numbnuts portray these positive changes in the culture as Pagan, the more people are drawn to look into Paganism. This is a good thing. Thank you to the Christian culture warrior nut-jobs! They have more money and resources to spread the good word about tolerant liberal-minded Pagans than we do and, thank you Goddess, they are out there doing it!

  54. That’s the one cool thing about fundamentalism and most of Christianity these days: All anyone has to do to discredit them is stand out of their way and let them speak! 

  55. Christian bigots like these want to regress and hurl the same ancient insults…
    Bigotry is not a family value. Bigotry is not a social virtue. Emotional violence towards minorities is counter to reciprocal ethics (including but not limited to “Love thy neighbor”) and equality. Bigotry is abusive. It’s going to the depths of deceit to turn the tables and try to present any equal rights movement or push for equality as abusive or tyrannical towards the prejudiced. t’s not prejudice to point out prejudice. It’s not abuse to stop abuse. It’s not a mantra of intolerance to fight bigotry and intolerance.Freedom Of/From Religion…From what I understand, both ancient Roman
    and Greek democratic states had state religions and made atheism a criminal
    offense. They
    didn’t quite get why state religion was antagonistic to freedom and democracy.

    As the rationalist Age of Enlightenment and Classical Liberalism developed,
    however, the following came together and then later provided a basis for our
    U.S. form of government and it’s representative, democratic ideas: limited
    government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of
    individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free
    markets. Many of these things had actually originated in ancient Pagan democracies but freedom of and from religion came into the mix!

    Rationalists and Classical Liberalists were big on freedom of speech, freedom
    to assemble, freedom of religion and, to a great extent, separation of church
    and state. “Liber’ in Latin means freedom. The ideas of
    Classical Liberalism were not ‘anything goes’ deals. They didn’t espouse a lack
    of morality. Quite the opposite was true because Classical Liberalism
    intellectually, socially, and otherwise put more demands on people. That’s
    because freedom takes applied knowledge, excellence and a lot of ethical and
    other stamina. It’s a job never done too. 

    Same Basic and Ancient Patterns of Attack…In Pagan Rome, state religion was considered unifying and was tied to ideas of pietas
    (piety). Pagan democratic Roman states somewhat tolerated Jews, as long as they
    paid a Jew tax.  But what did early
    democratic Roman states do to Christians?

    Christianity was classified not as another form of state-friendly pietas but as
    superstitio (superstition). Back then, only pietas were thought to support
    social unity and justice and superstitio were thought to cause social unity and
    justice to perish. Christian talk of “eating Christ’s flesh” sounded
    bizarre and suspicious to the Pagans, and Christians were suspected of
    cannibalism, incest, orgies, and a gamut of immorality.

    Today, an old but still memetic Christian claim is that Pagans, atheists, agnostics,
    liberals, homosexuals and others, whom they like to call non-Christians or the
    unchurched, all lack a moral compass and have an ‘anything goes’ problem. There
    are even accusations of blood libel, which Jason covered on his blog here.  ‘Consequently,” many Christian Americans don’t
    feel that they can elect anyone but another Christian and they essentially want
    to elect a Pastor-in-Chief for a president. 

    Same basic patterns in the accusations exist and they’re still
    antagonistic to democracy, equality and freedom!

    Head. Desk. Bang.

  56. I thought it had been proven that *LESBIAN* parents, not heterosexual parents, were most successful at raising children. 

    Yet I see no particular movement to favor lesbian couples over either gay or mixed-gender families. 

  57. The crazies just keep getting crazier.  I’m a proud pagan and feel that love is love no matter the gender or sexual orientations of the individuals involved. 

    Secular Theocracy-seriously?

    BTW-“Theocracy: a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God or a god.” 
    “Secular: Not religious or spiritual.2. (of Christian clergy) not belonging to or living in a monastic or other order.” Quoated from the Pocket Oxford American Dictionary.

    Crazy is as crazt does.


  58.  Thanks for reminding us exactly how bizarre and crazy the original Xtians were thought of. Cannibalism et al. I think they also didn’t go in for marriage or any familial ties as Jesus had a few things to say about how the “old” laws were to be swept away as part of the New Covenant.

  59. Some early Christians vowed celibacy, even if they were married, to keep themselves “pure” for the immediately coming Rapture.   And some threw away all ties, familial and otherwise, in order to have no obligations but those they had to Christ.

  60.  Pagan Rome and the Greek city states had state religions for a variety of reasons, most of which have been shared by nations that have Christianity as a state religion. 1. If you believe that your gods exist and are active in the world, you want them to support and protect the state you live in. The logical way to induce the gods’ help is through reciprocity–state-sponsored rituals and offerings in their honor. Conversely, allowing some people to ignore or dishonor the gods may draw the gods’ disfavor onto the entire population. 2. Organized activities that the entire population is expected to participate in build social solidarity. 3. Rulers draw legitimacy from a claimed special connection to the gods.

    The pagan Greeks and Romans and the post-exilic Jews weren’t stupid. The social advantages of a state religion are obvious. Centuries of religious war and a scientific revolution that undermined intellectuals’ belief that God intervenes in human affairs had to take place before a convincing argument could be made that complete religious liberty and disestablishment are better for society and the state than a state religion with some toleration for religious minorities (which is what the Babylonian, Persian and Roman empires had.) Great Britain still has a state religion, along Roman lines.

  61. And of course “provincial” and “pagan” once meant roughly the same thing, after all! Travel does indeed broaden one’s perspectives. That’s why I engage in it, when I can. This does not make me an advocate of extreme cosmopolitanism. So, yes: I am “small town”. Proudly so. That affords me a sense of Place. With regards to my ancestors coming to Australia from Northern Europe: it has made a huge dent in our consciousness. There is a lot of unresolved trauma and a lot of promise, too. A lot of my thinking concerns the way in which a reconciliation, a  rapprochement, can be found between indigenous and white Australia. How, essentially, people of European descent can properly acclimatise to this country. Being firmly embedded in a place certainly assists in that task. Our fragmented European traditions are constantly evolving and responding to this land, engendering new permutations. The trick of course is to cultivate an appreciation of tradition, to work within the bounds of accumulated ancestral wisdom. That is why I consider myself a conservative. My ambivalence to modernity – “modernity” as an ideology –  is well founded, I think.  I must say I am sorry to have offended so many liberal sentiments on this forum. This is my first excursion into such a place. Still, I hold my opinions in good faith.

  62. Oh, give it up, Tasman; check out how the Wild Hunt has moved on to other things.

  63. The Christian obsession with us manifests itself in a broad spectrum of reactions. In fact, the magnitude of this obsession can only be appreciated if we do not limit ourselves to the most crude and obvious propaganda that can just barely, if at all, be differentiated from the oeuvre of Jack Chick.

    We have attracted the uninvited attentions of not just hack writers and their low-brow publishers, but of a whole army (or at least a battalion) of professional academics (“missiologists”), who have volunteered to serve on the “home front” in the Christian battle against all other religions.

    Many of these missiologists with PhD’s actually take an attitude toward modern
    Paganism little different from that found in screeds like Satan’s Little White Lie. These are the “Anti-Cult” crowd, and they are the very same people who invented the field of pseudo-scholarship that lurks beneath the rubric of “New Religious Movements”. But since the mid-90s or so a few of these missiologists have taken a different tack. This is not because they have any more “respect” for Pagans, Buddhists, etc, than Jack Chick does. Rather, these kinder gentler anti-cult crusaders have realized that the hamfisted approach actually doesn’t work, and is actually counterproductive, when you have no power to back up verbal condemnation with physical violence.

  64. Please don’t use Tourettes in that way because people who suffer from Tourettes feel uncomfortable with it being used as a general description for things. It is an embarrassing disability

  65. Holy shit! That is both an expletive and a concise summation of the willfully ignorant rants quoted here! So many logical fallacies I hardly know where to start, but just to point out a few: equating paganism with sexual freedom is a straw man. Not all pagans, past or present incarnations included, have supported sexual freedom. There is no recognition at all, for instance, of the many traditions of asceticism in many pagan cultures, or of the outright misogyny inherent in some traditional and tribal paths of the past. That is just an attempt to correlate two of the most abhorrent elements of society within the fundy framework. Secondly, equating marriage as a physical analogue to the relationship between believers and their God is based entirely on a simple metaphor used by Paul (once, I believe), and is one basis for the subjugation of women. Thirdly, the blatant ignorance of ancient religions is unsurprising, but it is still pathetic and intellectually dishonest. Fourthly, the absolute lie that marriage as it is recognized by the modern church is exactly the same as instituted in Genesis and practiced unchanged throughout Biblical ‘history’. Fifthly, secular theocracy is a nonsense word that means nothing. It is simply invoking the concept of holy war to battle rationality. Sixthly, the palpable terror that men– at least in the outdated, macho role endorsed by those same groups–will become irrelevant, is such a shining example of insecurity they should be humiliated to be exposed so obviously. Almost every sentence quoted was packed with stupidity!

  66. My first thought is..’I’mm going to have to talk to my wife, I haven’t been a fully blown pagan in a while’. 

    This is all about fear. It is always about fear and power, the more fear they make in their communities the more power they have. What they don’t see is that many people in the United States and in Western Europe cannot find a connection to the christian god. If you keep people afraid they will be more likely to stay out of comfort.

  67. There was no state religion in Pagan Greece or Rome. A wide variety of cults received state support, and some cults had a semi-official (or even outright official) role in affairs of state. But there was no one state religion.

    Take Rome, for example (which is easier to deal with than Greece, which was never politically unified even under Alexander). There was the cult of Aventine Diana, of Ceres, of Venus (the Mother Goddess of Rome), of Magna Mater (the other Mother Goddess of Rome), of Isis, of Mithras, of Bacchus, Asclepius, Sylvanus, Mars, etc. Was one of these the “state religion”? All of them together? But what about the College of Augurs? The Priestesses of Vesta? Not to mention the followers of Hermes Trismegistus? And then there were the Schools of Philosophy who  honored Socrates, Plato, Pythagoras, Epicurus, etc as demigods or even Gods.

    As a matter of fact, the idea of a “state religion” in ancient Greece or Rome, or any other Pagan society, is complete nonsense.

  68. “Land: I mean totally focused on self, anything that
    feels good do it, just like the Greco-Roman orgies of the 1st Century
    and 2nd Century AD; same thing that our early Christian forefathers
    faced.Morse: That’s very true, the hedonism, the
    hedonistic aspect of the culture. What I wondered you were going to say
    is full-on paganism I would think of as somehow worshiping sex, as sex
    taking on a kind of sacramental role.
    Land: As
    you know many of the Roman religions, the idolatrous religions were
    sexual, and the priests were homosexuals and they worshiped in Corinth
    they had homosexual priests had these temples that were pre-Christian

    Shut the fuck up.
    -A Roman Reconstructionist

  69. The crap coming out of these folks mouths gets more outlandish as time moves on . My best way to deal w/ these frikkin idiots is to ignore them .   We are coming into a time of Christian decline  altho i wouldn’t quite call it a post Christian society yet, unfortunatly. Also these nutballs are scared by these facts , this will get worse before it improves . I also believe that w/ our free society , comes responcibility . Hence slander shouldn’t be allowed . Can we sue for slander in such cases …..these folks are surely spreading lies and misconceptions about us pagans in general . An act such as what Land and his ilk are doing sounds slanderous to me . Other than such an action from my point of view all we pagans can do is watch these fools self distruct . And hopefully as others here have said help steer others our way w/ thier stupidity and outlandishness. This stuff is so stupid it’s funny , what makes it scary is the fact that there are not so bright people out there that believe this stuff, our beloved sheeple .     Kilm

  70.  Certainly I was oversimplifying, and you are right to call me on that.
    I agree with your first paragraph.

    I didn’t intend, and I don’t think I actually did, imply that state supported cults were the only religions permitted in the Greek city states, Hellenistic monarchies, the Roman Republic or the Roman Empire. However, it’s my understanding that everyone except the Jews (who had a special exemption) was sometimes required to show loyalty by making offerings to the genius of the Emperor. This was copied from the practices of some Hellenistic states; it had been one of the causes of the Maccabbean War.

    We are perhaps differing on the definition of a state religion. If a cult has state support, state-appointed functionaries, has rituals that are celebrated as civic occasions, and/or is financed by taxes on people whether or not they are adherents of that religion, I regard that cult or set of cults as a state religion.

  71.  Paul didn’t originate that metaphor. It’s derived from some of the Hebrew prophets.

  72.  Sex does indeed take a sacramental role in Wicca.  I think the proper reply is, “And this is a bad thing?”

    Reconstructionists may and probably do differ.

  73. Kilm, while it might be satisfying to file a slander suit against Land’s ilk, freedom of speech law makes it fruitless. And I wouldn’t want to live in an evironment in which some outraged rant of mine or another Pagan’s against the misdeeds of institutional Christianity can get tagged in court as slander.

  74. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Bible study, lol. You are right. I got fired up and overstated my case there a little bit. I apologize for falling into the trap of lack of intellectual coherence there. Though not absolutely consistent, there are several instances of this metaphor throughout the Bible, including a prophet  marrying a prostitiute as a living object lesson.

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