The opinions posted on the Pagan Perspective pages are those of individuals and are not neccessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 93 - 1/6/2003
Should Pagans Apply For Federal Funds?
Under the new U.S. ‘faith-based’ initiatives, religious groups cannot be denied federal money if they otherwise qualify for a social service program grant. Should Pagans go for a piece of that pie?
Do you think that an openly Pagan organization, all qualifications being met, would have a real chance at obtaining funding from the current administration?
What about the separation of church and state issue?
Federal funds and tax money going to religious organizations in order to provide social programs: A good idea or not?
| Reponses: There are 56 responses posted to this question.
|| Reverse Sort
| What Are We Becoming? ||Jan 9th. at 3:22:21 pm EST|
|Bear (WVa) ||Age: 36 - Email |
I'm lost. Are "we" trying to gain "church" status? Or a recognized Religion? I personally do not trust this "government" no matter who sits in the Oval office. If your desire is to help those in need, by (almost) all means, do so. I feel it would be much better to do so if that support came from the community. Every time a group gets money from Big Uncle Brother Sam, taxes are raised. It has to come from somewhere. The domino effect is endless. Those just barely getting by now have to get help from welfare. Trust in the path that was laid ahead of us. We have come this far without Government assistance, why give in now? Let us not give into the easy way and allow "them" to have power over us.
| Go For It !! ||Jan 9th. at 4:40:43 pm EST|
|Danielle (California / USA) ||Age: 28 - Email |
I certainly Believe that if all requirments have been met, a Paganism orgainization should be
treated as any other organization... Yes.. Go for that peice of pie!!!Social programs,.. well we certainly need them.. Mainly for the young kids and teens in the world .. Who need a deeper guidance than they seem to be recieving.. If You can make a difference like the local churches then why not.. Go for it!!!
| Of Course! ||Jan 9th. at 5:06:14 pm EST|
|Vespertia (virginia) ||Age: 46 - Email |
I think there is no doublt that a Pagan organization can get federal funding. Beware that if your "cause" is receiving federal funding you are subject too, and held hostage by, federal and state regulations.
| Yesandnoandyesandno... ||Jan 9th. at 5:18:05 pm EST|
|Alice (TX) ||Age: 47 - Email |
O.k. if we are going to be mixing church and state here, then we ought to be
mixing all churches with the state or we are in danger of having only one
church and state mingle to become a sturch. I agree with whoever it was who
pointed out that this could lead to governmental control of religion. It has
allways been true that the one with all the gold makes all the rules,
especially in religious situations. But, if we don't participate, we can't
be in the golden palace keeping an ear to the ground and bribing the
janitorial staff to get information.
However, this could present a problem with groups that have folks who must remain in
the broom closet if federal grant recipients were required to disclose the
names of members. It could also be a ruse to corral and identify folks who's
beliefs were unpopular with the power structure.
But I also can't help but think that we are as entitled to federal funds to
build our schools, stock our food banks and maintain our charitable works as
the religious traditions that brought about the Crusades and the Inquisition.
No easy answer here.
| Keep The Fed. Gov. Out Of Our Spiritual Lives ||Jan 9th. at 7:19:02 pm EST|
|Laura LaRochelle (Plymouth MA) ||Age: 41 - Email |
As much as I would like to see more ligitimization of pagan groups, i think getting financially dependant on the federal government is not the way to go. No large business, and the government is basically a business, ever gives anything for nothing. Not to sound paranoid, but i forsee all sorts of concessions being made once pagan organizations become dependant upon the government's money. It is very difficult to not be able to help people when that is one's life's work, and to put principle before moneys to help others is a very difficult and often heartbreaking thing. Better to not become dependant at all. Fewer people may be helped initially, but more resourcefulness may eventually be the result. What we pagans need is to be strong and to stick to our principles and to always help others. We are so much greater than the sum of our parts.
| Why Not? ||Jan 10th. at 12:09:00 am EST|
|MajikThunder (Glendale, AZ) ||Age: 34 - Email |
If it is there for the asking, and your group/organization can meet the requirements for getting the funding; why not apply? Everyone who pays taxes, Christian and Pagan alike are creating this fund, why shouldn't Pagan and Christian alike be elligible to get the funds? Why overlook the possibility that the Goddess has made this opportunity available? I say go for it. There is not a community in this country that could not benefit from another homeless shelter, battered women's shleter, reasonably priced day care center, or crisis nursery. It should not matter who is running/sponsoring/organizing the operation. What should matter is that a group/organization cares enough about the community they live in to try and make a difference in the lives of the people they share it with. So, get your group together; find out what you want to do, and make it a reality. This can be a win/win situatiuon.
| To Be Or Not To Be ||Jan 10th. at 2:00:11 am EST|
|Rowan (Deep South) ||Age: 37 - Email |
I don't think the question is can we but should we. Putting ourselves "in the mix" so to speak may not be a great idea after all. Like someone else has already said, we would be subject to Federal or whatever regulations, there is always a catch 22. Putting ourselves out there with other "religions", in my opinion, cheapens us. We are so much more. I don't know what I would do if this belief/way of life were not available to me. Visions of Orwell's "1984" come to mind almost immediately. Can we trust the government? In my mind, the less we have to do with them, the less attention they pay to us. More attention isn't necessarily a good thing when it comes to the Feds. I don't mean to sound conspiracy minded but I think we can look at history and take a lesson. We have a wonderful network of caring people who aren't in it for the money, there is no money to be had! If there were money to be had, insincere people would take over and ruin a good thing. Pagans would have an even worse reputation in the eyes of the general populace than we do now because of the people who would take advantage. I think the secret to success is staying low key. The people that want this, that need this, will find it without the government's help. I think that is how we are meant to find it, by searching it out for ourselves. I certainly wouldn't think much of the message if a TV preacher were belting it out and let's face it, the only reason they do it is for the money they can get from the government.
| Government -> Pagan Money? ||Jan 10th. at 5:18:03 am EST|
|Owl Starshadow (Aliso Viejo) ||Age: 17 - Email |
I applaud Alice, in her view that "no large business, and the government is basically a business, ever gives away something for nothing."
When September 11th hit, America's rallying cry was "God and Country," under the twin symbols of the Christian Cross and the Stars and Stripes. (Which turns this whole fiasco in Iraq and in Afghanistan into an American-led jihad, but I'll not go any further there.) We are currently in a time where many ultra-conservative WASPs have taken control of the government through the Religious Right. (Look at who Bush named as Supreme Court Justices.) I am trying very hard not to point fingers or flame anyone, but I think it does need to be said that this policy seems to be aimed much more at the Christian community than at *anyone* else, including Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and yes, Pagans. Frankly, I don't think they'd give it to us without us being either dragged through the mud or forced to give up other rights, less obvious but equally tangible.
Just because it says on paper that a group cannot be denied if other qulifications are met does not mean that this is how it is in practice. Look to the "Jim Crow" laws of some parts of the Deep South, long after segregation was illegalized. Or to same-sex couples across the US who seek to adopt children and are regularly discriminated against for their orientation.
Moreover, (at the risk of finger-pointing again,) accepting government money is something that organizations have done in the past for less-than-honest purposes. In my mind, religion and money are a very dangerous combination (ie, the Roman Catholic Church throughout the Dark Ages). It tends to dissolve the separation of church and state and fuse them together into one very powerful entity. The same example of the Catholic Church (and I really don't mean to stir the pot again, my apologies!) gave us religious fanaticism in the form of the Witch-hunts, the Inquisition...
I don't think it's a good idea for the government to be handing out money to any religious groups at all: the ones who will get the most are the ones who are most extreme in their views and most vocal about it: they will receive all of the attention and with it, all of the money.
| What About The Faithless?? ||Jan 10th. at 5:42:07 pm EST|
|Autumn_eve (Greenville, NC) ||Age: 19 - Email |
Could we have a faith-based initiative without
discriminating against anyprobable atheist,
agnostic, humanist, etc. organizations? Besides, Bush
has made it blatantly obvious that he does not consider
Wicca to be a religion (let alone any other "alternative" type
religions, for lack of a label). I doubt we'd get a piece of the pie at
all because he probably wouldn't consider us a candidate for it.
Why can't we just get some people to go out with the money to help the
needy? Who cares if its a mission or a Wiccan group or an atheist group?
To a homeless person a roof is a roof and a meal is a meal. To an
abused woman, shelter is shelter and safety is safety. If someone is
willing to do the work to help someone out, and they can prove that any
funds given to them will be used for that reason, the government
should try to help. It shouldn't matter who they believe in, just that
they're a good enough person to help!
| Powerful Community Support ||Jan 10th. at 6:00:39 pm EST|
|TishMaran (The Berkshires/W.Massachusetts) ||Age: 27 - Email - Web|
I definitly think that IT IS possible for Pagan organizations to gain federal support/funds at this time within the United States. We are, to an extent, recognized of our religious rights, however, I agree with the many who caution us against simply getting involved with government-related religious funding schema because we are "ONE OF THE MANY BONAFIDE AMERICAN RELIGIONS, AND WE DESERVE TO BE LOVED AND RESPECTED AND COMPENSATED FOR OUR WORK JUST LIKE CHRISTIANS, JEWS, AND BUDDHISTS AND OTHERS".
We Pagans do deserve to be loved and respected like the other religions.
But what if intimate political and economic connections with the federal agency eventually, "waters-us-down", dilutes the 'unknowable and mysterious character' that forms a part of all of our PaganPaths, and this because it might be considered to be too vague, not logical or straight-foward enough, in need of "cleaning-up"-an analogy to similarly-used words spake in the early Inquisition in relation to removing the Pagan 'filth' that covered the French and German countryside.
Nowadays, where religious toleration is 'class-ay', any watering-down may not even be for malicious reasoning: you know that the western (i.e., W.Europe/North America) national governments were all originally founded on a Christian, logic-centered, imperialist ideal, and that this will not change simply by political/economic inclusion into federal endeavors of Paganism and it's specific traditions. Pagans will need to be a visible force for at least another 30 years for Paganism to BECOME a part of the 'overt' American Tradition.
Personally speaking, the best way to Paganly proceed in this new century is to keep money in our communities as has been the way of many Jewish communities in the Old and New world. We should keep money in our communities to build temples, homes, libraries, laboratories, clinics etc., and these will be ours alone, as we had worked for them without aid. We should be staunch about preserving our way of life by ALWAYS supporting the Pagan elements around us and creating community money-pots to which Pagan families, groups, businesses, and individuals will contribute.
Unfortunately, I think that WHEN our covens, groves, temples and circles have enough resources to be self-sufficient and function at the high-output that many of us want, THEN we should ask for federal grants that we can take, or not, thereby not relying on these funds, and in the long run crippling the life force of Paganism by making it subject to outside funds which could be withdrawn "on a day when the governemnt was 'not happy with it's people'".
Also, many of us have, as our notion of a "traditonal successful religion" the thought of an organisation that is well established, and has an extremely intact hierarchy giving it branches and aggregates in every land, and in every culture-the Christian Faith precisely. I'm not saying that we Pagans believe that that religion is successful or traditonal, but that it has been our "world-model" for a flourishing religious tradtion for many centuries, and that we may unconsciously try to model ourselves and our new burgeoning faith upon this very expansive and even invasive way of worship. One major reason that we have gorgeous, expensive Catholic Christian churches on every corner in some Northeast towns and cities (and also in Europe), is because, for years the Christain government in Europe's Middle Ages exacted tithes of income on every worker and family in the land, and had other forms of 'unscrupulous' methods for income. The Church's financial holdings were great enough, for enough centuries, to build these expensive stone masterpieces up until the mid 1900's. Their money does not come from bake-sales or bingo-games. We cannot, in the Pagan community expect, that as we become stronger and more accepted, that we are eventually going to have lavish Witch Temples in every city and town, and be able to afford luxury cars for all our clergy and other things. Or maybe we can expect that we will form our strong communties quickly, as has been so far the case, and that we will become a very prosperous community which will be able to afford each and every amenity and allow other pagans in the community to live well too.
Let's keep an owl's-eye, a rabbit's-ear, and a Witch's-mind wide open to monitor the subtle undercurrent of what is happenning in the relationship between Paganism and the U.S. government.
Remember too, history clearly states and demonstrates the emnity and unfinished-business that exists between Christianity and Islam, and which has existed for centuries. These two religions are really at war under the surface of this present political strife. Let's see what THEY do first, it surely will be telling.
All in all, lets keep lobbying for our rights and freedom, everyone should at least read the Malleus Malificarum, and keep in mind that there is a rich,fundamentalist Christian vein in this governement which is threatened by the it's own Catholic cousin!; how do they really feel about us?
I LOVE YOU ALL my Pagan Parents and Children, my Sisters and Brothers
May we ALL Be Blessed of our Souls
May we ALL use our Powers Wisely and Effectively for that "Evolution of Love"
May the Gods open our Spirits and Communicate with us and Protect always our travels and travails
May we each MASTER Beauty and Strength, Power and Compassion, Honor and Humility, and Mirth and Reverence - each our own ways, and each as is right...
| We've Come So Far Without.... ||Jan 11th. at 1:26:22 am EST|
|Eldryn Moonsong (Southern Ontario, Canada) ||Age: 30 - Email |
We, collectively speaking as Pagans (be we Witches, Wiccans, Goths, Druids, or any other sort), are a movement that is continuously expanding and making a hell of a resurgence into the mainstream of society. Yet there remains (and Goddess willing, let it always be so) that little element of Mystery to our Ways.
As I am sure many of you would agree, I would like nothing better than for the North American governments (speaking as a Canadian in an American forum)to see beyond the veil of prejudice and centuries-old hatred and welcome us back. WON'T HAPPEN! The structure of North American society is based upon (mainly) Christian/Catholic ethics, and "they" are afraid to let that go, even if it means letting the persecution continue. If George can't recognize the Craft as a real faith (and I imagine Chretien et al can't, either) then where does that leave us? In the shadows, mystical and mysterious. Islam, sadly, is the most hated religion at the moment for obvious reasons, but it IS recognized as a legitimate faith.
Why, then should we go begging for table scraps from those who would see us burn in their Hell? They themselves will burn in their own hatred and self-righteousness until they either see the horrors they commit for what they are, or are consumed by said hatred altogether. THAT will be the time for us, my Brothers and Sisters. We are not a warlike people, but let us continue the fight for Mother Earth under our own steam. Let us not be drawn into "their" ways by taking their money and letting them dictate how we should spend it, and consequently invade our methods of worship to avoid sullying the government's image (like it isn't already).
We've come so far without help, proving that we are a strong people. We use our strength for healing and goodness in our little corners of the land. I believe that it is because of the oppression that we have become so strong and will continue to grow. The day will come when "they" will turn to us for guidance, as was done in the old days. So for now, let's just spread the light around where we see darkness, and keep the Mysteries for ourselves. They are more valuable than money.
| Why Not? ||Jan 11th. at 3:39:05 pm EST|
|squib (Oregon) ||Age: 32 - Email |
We pay taxes, too. We're going to be funding these programs for other faiths. No reason why any pagan organization can't go for a shot at the pie. Of course, various organizations will raise a stink, and let them. If we have to pay for something we disagree with, its no excuse for them to complain about the same thing. I'd love to see a Satanist group get funded. That'd be a scream.
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