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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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| Funies Or Traditionalists??? ||Sep 16th. at 7:21:16 pm EDT|
|MoonOwl (Sierra Vista, Arizona) ||Age: 49 - Email |
I beleive in any religion or path, you will always have fundies. It is a way of holding onto traditions that in some cases may become lost. I am not happy with those who push their ideas on others and yet at the same time, dealing with fundies makes one think. It makes you examine your own stance and try to put into words what you beleive which only helps foster communication. It is not necessarily a "bad" thing. My own beleif is that if one is a fundie and passionate about your path, speaking out about it is fine. It is when those words produce action that hurts others. When you "use" your faith for your own personal vendettas and adgendas. That is where I draw the line! I am surprised that pagans could relate to this tactic. But, it has happened and I have seen it. It is sometimes amuzing. I also think that resorting to this behavior is usually done by those who are insecure. If one has questions and doubts then people tend to stick to the "script", as it were. New ideas about our faith are coming out all the time. I cannot beleive that there is one way of doing things and that constant ebb and flow of doing things is rather exciting to me. I do not suppose everyone feels that way.
| How Do You Define "fundamentalism"? ||Sep 16th. at 9:50:56 pm EDT|
|Gazer (Sacramento) ||Age: 46 - Email |
In reading the postings, I see that different people picture very different things when defining “fundamentalism.” I can only speak for myself. For my part, I define “fundamentalism” as a mindset that views the tenants of any particular religious belief as being exclusively the correct and righteous ones. The theory is that if my rules are right, and yours are different, then you are wrong. The rules are thus plain and anyone who operates under different rules is flat out wrong, a rule breaker, a sinner. People of many different religious beliefs fall into this mindset. Then there are the manifestations of having such a mindset - prejudice. This ranges from silent scorn or mild derision, to the extreme of scapegoating all ills on those people who are following the wrong religion and angering “God” or “Allah” or Whomever. Ok, that’s my definition.
I have not yet met in my travels a Pagan of any stripe who uses the word “sinner” to describe another (thank Goddess), but I have met or read the postings of many who think that the mainstream religions of Christianity and Islam are flat out wrong, and Paganism is the only truly enlightened path. I have not seen or heard such fundamentalism applied inter-Pagan groups, but I imagine that it exists sometimes. As others have stated in their postings, it does tend to be a popular human failing. As for prejudice, I see manifestations of that pretty frequently as Pagans deriding or pitying Christians, but that has been the extent of the prejudice that I have witnessed since becoming a Pagan.
Fortunately, there are many, many, many tolerant people in this world, Pagan, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, etc. Let’s celebrate those people. Take one to lunch tomorrow.
| Just My 2pence Worth ||Sep 16th. at 10:44:40 pm EDT|
|Mark Sommerer (Cleveland) ||Age: 35 - Email |
Yea there is fundamentalism in this and all communities spanning the globe. It is a part of human nature I think.
| Of Course ||Sep 16th. at 11:12:52 pm EDT|
|MegLyn (Kansas) ||Age: 50 - Email |
of course there is fundamentalism amongst us..... fundamentalism is not necessarily a bad thing, except when it is forced upon someone else.... some of my close friends are fundamental xians in their belifs and practices yet know that i am a witch.... we enjoy each others company... on the other hand, i have been told by 'fundamental' witches that i cant truly be a witch because i dont believe in secrecy at all cost or that i am too willing to accet change... well duh!!
| Eye Of The Beholder ||Sep 17th. at 2:56:14 am EDT|
|Kiren (Texas) ||Age: 24 - Email |
I believe there is fundamentalism in everything. It's just human nature. The only difference is the level of it all, such as two forms of fundamentalist's that I like to call: The ONE truth v.s. The WHOLE truth. The ONE TRUTH is a person of whatever religion that believes that his or her choice is true to them. It makes Sense to them! If others agree, Yay! If they don't, oh well. It's like a saying I heard from a book of Hindu. "All rivers eventually lead to the same ocean." It's not for us to spoon feed what we believe is right to others. Let Them believe in what They will. What we believe should be Our only concern. The WHOLE TRUTH (or the self rightious, as many like to call them) are those who not only have an..er...'passion' for their religion, they feel an extreme Need to "share the wealth". Spoon feeders who eventually become force feeders. They throw down the old "My God is better than Your Goddess" card and are actually offended when someone disagrees. Heathens, Sinners, and Evil Doers. The gloves are off for these guys and the second to final result of name calling begins. After that, it's either "ignore the heathens" or "bully 'em."
Then again, these are fudamentalists in their most advanced forms. Plus, it's only my opinion.
| Yes, We Too Have "them." ||Sep 17th. at 5:18:54 am EDT|
|tree whisper (Texas) ||Age: 41 - Email |
Yes, it is true that we have fundies among us. Some people have that as part of their personalities. With others it is just baggage from their "christian" upbringing. That is why some of us prefer to be solitaires.
| Sad But True ||Sep 17th. at 5:24:19 am EDT|
|Lord Grey Wolf (England (Luton)) ||Age: 45 - Email - Web|
It is sad to say but the answer to the question is a big yes, some is within the pagan world, the ones that say "This path is the best one and the only one that really works" (I have heard this so many times), and to the outside world I have heard it said that the only true religion is paganism, this is usually said to people that say christianity is the only way and that any that follow other religions are doomed to burn in hell (one actually told me he would laugh as he watched me burn, very christian indeed).
But by far the most often I have heard anything like the question is from young people who have just started to find out what paganism is all about and got stuck with the idea that they are witches and as such can do and say anything to anyone, this is not a problem with wicca or paganism in general but just the enthusiasm and loyalty of the young.
Well this is what I have seen over the past 15 years, I hope you dont mind me spouting but all Fundamentalists are a danger to the world no matter what religion they come from, lets all stand up and let the world see who and what we are just by the way we live our lives and not try to preach to the world.
Love and Light,
| Unfortunately....... ||Sep 17th. at 9:30:56 am EDT|
|web jones (Jackson, Mississippi) ||Age: 47 - Email |
So sad but fundementalism seems to strike everywhere. Like an ex-hooker in church, some are just TOO proud of a ONE true way.
| Yes ||Sep 17th. at 10:01:23 am EDT|
|Ken (Minneapolis) ||Age: 49 - Email |
As Isaac uses the word a fundamentalist has an inherent HATE for someone that is based irrationally. It is rational to hate the person who abuses you . It is not rational to hate the class that they come from. Fear and caution directed at the class is an understandable reaction to being repeatedly abused. Does the craft has Fundamentalists ? Yes. I have seen groups of the craft with a hate for Men. Other groups with a Hate for heterosexuals. And many new craft with a hate for Traditional Witches / Wiccans.
Mainstream culture is divided into Abuser and victim or Master and slave. Much of the craft reflects this binary thinking. It is my belief that the world?s future is to be found in going beyond this. To a place where we are too strong to let ourselves be victimized and so secure in ourselves that we do not need to dominate others. Neither master nor slave but free.
| YES ||Sep 17th. at 11:25:05 am EDT|
|Jenevik Prince (Lonoke, Arkansas) ||Age: 17 - Email |
As with any form of religion,including atheists who argue about the Theory of Evolution-originally proposed by Darwin-that is made up of different denominations, viewpoints, similar structure, yet the rules can be bent in different ways according to different denominations all the way down to the solitary practitioner. Usually it starts out with doing whats comfortable for the Pagan/Witch/Wiccan. Then they mold their practice of the Craft and formal rituals to their own comfort level, experience, knowlege of tradition and ritual, they then tend to develop a slope into closemindedness. This is my opinion on how Pagan Fundamentalists have come to be, as in all religions. Christianity for example, Protestants separated from the Catholic Church long ago. Still those protestants then broke down into denominations who all argue about their own interpretations of the text contained within the "Bible." Forgive me for babbling, I just felt that this could have been broken down and elaborated in this manner. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, feel free to contact me.
| Of Course ||Sep 17th. at 11:34:22 am EDT|
|Becka Barnard (Here) ||Age: 21 - Email |
Of course there are fundies in Paganism/Heathenism. There are always going to be people who think that their way is the only true way and all others are wrong.
Pagans are not immune to it. We are humans just like everyone else.
Fundamentalism in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. It shows that a person has rock solid faith in their deity. It becomes a bad thing when that person tries to force others to believe the same as them.
| Yes, Sadly ||Sep 17th. at 11:53:20 am EDT|
|waterfae (Boyertown, PA) ||Age: 31 - Email |
I haven't had the misfortune, yet, of running into any Pagan "fundies" but they are out there. I recently read a book by a well published Druid(I will not mention who or the book because I do not want to influence the thoughts of others) that basically gives the views of several diffent Pagans from several different paths. One of the interviews was a husband & wife that have a Wiccan church. When I read what their view of how Wiccans and Pagans should be& what thier opinion of the general Pagan community, I thought I was reading an interview with Southern Baptists. They basically said that to be a true Pagan you must live off of the Earth & the kindness of others, not own anything, & forget about modern technology. I was a little offended by what they have to say.
Another type of Pagan Fundamentalist that really irks me are the ones that say to be a true Witch you must belong to a coven and be initiated by a High Priestess. If you are a solitary and have self-initiated, then you are not a Witch. I've even heard some that say you aren't even Wiccan if you are self-initiated & have no right to call yourself Wiccan or a Witch. These are also usually the ones that will not allow gays or lesbians into their circle, which is another rant & I won't go there today.
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