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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 77 - 9/15/2002
Pot-Kettle: Do We Have Our Own Fundamentalists?
Does religious fundamentalism exist in some Pagan and/or Heathen communities? Can a closed group or tradition be considered as fundamentalist? Are there some Pagans and/or Heathens who 'preach' one true Pagan or Heathen way? Is resistance to the 'mainstreaming' of Paganism/Heathenism a form of fundamentalism? How can we approach the preservation of Pagan and/or Heathen spiritual and/or cultural integrity and identity without falling into fundamentalism? Is fundamentalism even necessarily a 'bad' thing?
You can also check out Isaac Bonewitt's essay on fundamentalism at: A Call to Arms for definitions and other background material.
| Reponses: There are 91 responses posted to this question.
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| Perpective ||Sep 15th. at 10:48:20 pm EDT|
|Anne Elise (here, there, everywhere) ||Age: 24 - Email |
Is there pagan fundementalism... (please excuse my spelling through out this) simply, not really. There are many zealous pagans and heathens out there, and yes we are a closed community, but unlike fundies in the Christain and Muslem communities, we don't go out and tell people that they are damned if they don't believe what we believe. In fact, even the most zealous pagans let people come to them, and while we will shout our beliefs to the point of drowning out others, we never insist on people agreeing to our beliefs or our gods. So, do we push our beliefs on others in public and in religous debate, yes we do and we should. There is nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe and saying what you believe as loud as you want to say it, but you only turn the corner into fundie land when you insist that people should believe exactly the way that you do, and to this day, i have never met a pagan, heathen or witch who said, "Believe as i do our the gods will punish you."
Now while I am a zealous witch, who will stand up for her beliefs and shout them against the beliefs of others i don't want the others to join my religion, i just really like good religious debate (as well as other debate), and I debate to win (sorry for those who find that a little offensive, it's a hard habit to break). However, I believe that this is necessary and that we should put it all out there for people to hear, and that we should be hard nosed and stubbern about it, while willing to listen to (not accept) the other side. But we only cross the realm into fundie-land when we start telling people that our beliefs are the right ones for everyone and that all other beliefs are wrong. There may be pagans out there already doing that, but to this date, i've yet to meet one.
Anne Elise Morrigan
| Yes And No ||Sep 16th. at 12:33:01 am EDT|
|Breed BearWolf (Missouri) ||Age: 33 - Email |
In some way wee do and some we don,t. I have met some other of the wiccan faith that tells me that I am not a wiccan because I an a "Solitary" and that I have never been initated in a path liek Gardeners or Axiander like path. That may be true but I think that the gods have the right to tell me what I am and not a group "Fundies Witches".... In that it is the same as a some Christain group we all heard about.
But as a religion I have never heard of a Wiccan going out and killing a Wiccan of a Diffrent Group to sell there point. I think that Wiccan live by a higher standers than alot of other religions for the mast part we thik that it is every person right ot belive what thay want it just that in some Wicdcan group they think that you are "Fake" if you and not iniatied by a group. It is hard to explane but I have seen it.
My answer to those who ask me if I am in a group is this.... There are 6,000,000,000 people on this planet and they all got there ideals of "faith" we cant all be the same.
I am truely sorry for the bad spelling
| Of Course ||Sep 16th. at 12:51:29 am EDT|
|Zach (Connecticut) ||Age: 21 - Email |
I think that it goes without saying that fundamentalism exists within the Craft. I would even venture to say that most of us carry around the primordia of fundamentalist thought. It's very difficult not to once we start breaking ourselves down into 'us' and 'them.' The seeds of fundamentalist thought are sewn when we start making generalizations about those not falling into the category of 'us.' When we start labeling Southern Baptists as closed-minded, Catholics as misogynists, and even applying the whimsically derisive term "fundie" to those who would just as soon toss us into a pond to see if we float, we take the first step towards harboring the bitterness of our detractors.
| Gods Yes ||Sep 16th. at 6:33:37 am EDT|
|Scott Silverwolf Waters (US Military in Europe) ||Age: 38 - Email |
Oh yes we do and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I have a hard time expressing my opinion concerning this issue without naming certain groups of Pagans/Earth based spiritualities. Lets just say that as a military member, male and a Pagan I have taken some heat concerning my path. Lets not even talk about the fact I am a conservative in the political arena, eat meat, own a gun and drive a large V-8 Truck.
| We Sure Do... ||Sep 16th. at 12:35:17 pm EDT|
|Jake M. (San Jose, Cal) ||Age: 27 - Email |
I hear the insecure chants of the 'myway or the highway' crowd and have for nearly 20 years in this community. I just sit back and watch.
Sad but true, YES we have fundies and they are growing in number, they seem to gain their 'worth' by knocking down others. i don't get it.
What are they winning again?
I suppose we will always have our own fundies, it's just seems to the nature of some humans. For now I will just continue to ignore them and hook up with the 'less magickal/more earthbased' crowd. To me they are the real ones.
| Yes We Do ||Sep 16th. at 12:40:56 pm EDT|
|Grey Cat (Tennessee) ||Age: 62 - Email - Web|
While "our" fundies aren't a large number and don't seem to be violent, but as someone who has been ex-communicated and cursed, I have to say we definitely do have them.
| Bad Apples?? ||Sep 16th. at 1:05:37 pm EDT|
|Peg Mularz (Orlando, Florida) ||Age: 40 - Email |
One bad apple don't make the whole bunch -- as I heard in a song. But bad apples do happen. My mother (who I think is a pagan in denial) always says the always a bad one in the bunch. Are there fundalmentalist in the Pagan religion? Did Jim Baker serve time?
| Fundies ||Sep 16th. at 1:56:40 pm EDT|
|Antonio Galiagante (Mobile, Alabama) ||Age: 33 - Email - Web|
Do closed groups or traditions constitute "fundamentalism?" No. Does a resistance to "mainstreaming" our various religions constitute "fundamentalism?" No. Do acts of prosthetizing other pagans or showing open hostility to those outside your religion constitute "fundamentalism?" YES! It's not the religion, it's the propogation of fear, hatred and anger that create the problem, and are therefore the "warning signs" we must be watchful for (as Mr. Bonewits so concisely pointed out).
As long as there are people who still define themselves by the number of enemies (real or imagined) that have, things like religious fundamentalism will continue to show itself. Only rarely have I met "pagan fundies" face-to-face, but make no mistake, they're every bit as caustic, unyeilding and dangerous as their mainstream counter-parts. I suppose ideas like "enlightenment" and "personal evolution" do not come naturally to everyone, even under the best of circumstances.
On-line, however, is another matter, where I frequently meet what I call "Wicca-nistas," who are best described as "militant" in their views towards all non-Wiccans (including other pagans). Is this a sign of a growing religious fundamentalism? Or merely a non-constructive outlet for the pent-up frustrations so many of us feel? I don't know, to be honest. But I hope our own histories and personal struggles will give pause us before starting a rant (or worse) on others.
Perhaps it's wise to remember that hatred can cause you to actually become the things you hate.
| Fundamentalism Is Everywhere ||Sep 16th. at 3:40:55 pm EDT|
|Many Names (Westminster, MD) ||Age: 47 - Email |
I do agree with many of the responses that I've read - fundamentalism is everywhere and it is alive and well in the Pagan community. Also as many have already written it is part and parcel of being human. However, just because fundamentalism seems to be a part of the human condition doesn't mean that it should be a part of the Pagan community.
Do Pagans use this fundamentalism in the same way as many other religions, especially Christianity? Of course not. However, various Pagans do exclude those that have different views than they, and that includes other Pagans to the point of fundamental zealotry. That doesn't mean that covens can't be selective and limit their membership, or that people can't be excluded from participating in various events because it is well known that their views and/or conduct is way above the norm. Pagans, like any other religious group, run the gauntlet from the "conservative right" to the "liberal left" and everything in between. It really can't be otherwise because that is how society is. I would like to think though that all Pagans have a more liberal mindset than others and will truthfully listen to other points of view rather than shuting them out as do most other fundamental religious groups.
However, I have seen this fundalmentalism and experienced it and find it sad. Some do as I mentioned above (shuting out varying viewpoints). Another area that Pagan Fundamentalism rears its ugly head is when groups/individuals tell others that they can't be Wiccans, Druids, etc., because they didn't study some formal course or from a particular person. There are many ways to become a Druid, Witch, Shaman, et.al. Gods/Goddesses and Spirits don't care if one studies something formaly or not, as one responder mentioned earlier. They can and do choose to guide and teach as well.
Being a Pagan is a way of life, like Judaism. It should permeate everything that we do and how we relate to the world and everything in it. We as Pagans of whatever form should not only "talk the talk" but "walk the walk" embrace our diversity and revel in it.
| You Bet ||Sep 16th. at 4:12:39 pm EDT|
|Brahadair (Canada) ||Age: 20 - Email |
There are fundementalists in any religion or belief system. You just have to take the bad with the good.
| Yes Indeed! ||Sep 16th. at 4:38:45 pm EDT|
|Willow (arizona) ||Age: 46 - Email |
I belong to a group of solitaries in Arizona and some of us were discussing this very thing a couple days ago! We have actually run across a fundy-Wiccan who has come to a couple of our meetings! So Yes indeed I feel there are Fundamentalists in all religions!
| Unfortunately... ||Sep 16th. at 5:43:59 pm EDT|
|Amber Willowmoon (California) ||Age: 22 - Email |
As many have stated, there exists fundamentalism in every faith and religious path. The Pagan community is unfortunately no different. I wouldn't expect any faith to not have its insecure followers. People who need to feel higher and mightier than others are everywhere. These sort of religious bullies are not unique to more dogmatic faiths, as we all know. Individuals who need this sort of validation (as in "my faith is somehow more real than yours") are quite loud within our community. At the risk of "dropping names", SOME modern hardline Traditionalists have often reminded me of our close-minded Conservative Christian brothers and sisters. I'm not at all saying that Traditional Witches as a whole share this method of presenting their beliefs. I AM saying that getting caught up in the my-way-or-the-highway mentality is dangerous. I don't care where you get your information from, let's not fall into this trap. *Especially* since this is one of the central reasons we left mainstream faith in the first place. All people deserve to follow their own path without fear of prejudice.
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