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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 14,734,946  

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Question of the Week: 26 - 1/29/2001

What Do You Think About Bush's 'Faith-Based' Initiative Plan?

Pres. George Bush says that he will push a 'faith-based' social program this coming week that he hopes will grant federal money (taxpayer dollars) to fund religious groups doing social work. Does this plan violate the separation of church and state? If those federal bucks become available should Pagan religious groups make a grab for them, too? Or is this proposed religious feeding frenzy for secular federal money really a subtle plot to further bolster the Christian Radical Right's power to proselytize to the masses and, as Americans United believes, further erode the church-state wall?

 Reponses:   There are 87 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

I Think This Is A "party" Idea, Not A Bush Idea. From... Feb 1st. at 3:59:23 am UTC

Gaia Tepse (Columbus, Ohio US) Age: 21 - Email

I think this is a "Party" Idea, not a Bush Idea. From what I've seen, it seems that Republicans milk Christians for campaign money, or the Christitans just give it to the Republicans who seem to want to make the Christian Bible into law, but slowly as to not get caught under church and state seperation. I think its just a way to try to get more campaign contributions for their party. On the larger issue, I agree with George Washington who was opposed to Party Politics. There has not yet been one party that has ever represented anywhere near most of what I believe in.

Well To Be Honest, Many Religous Charities Do Very Good Work, Good... Feb 1st. at 5:10:27 am UTC

Michael (Dublin, European Union, Ireland) Age: 23 - Email

Well to be honest, many religous charities do very good work, good works are a basic foundation of the Christian faith. And I do believe that they should be supported in their work as long as they themselves do not discriminate as to who they help.
It is indeed understandable that they might wish to convert others by the "lead by example" method.
Sadly, some aspects of Christianity use these good deeds as a vehicle of increasing their influence via the "hard sell" tactics of the fundamentalist.
I would not be against the "support"of genuine religous social aid groups, but if it becomes enshrined in legislation it lies open to abuse.

Mr Bush is mearly fishing for support, I'm not even sure if he is serious about the legislation being passed. I think this is his little "thank you" to the Christian pressure groups who supported him.

Another important issue is that this would be unconstitutional under US law, so the chances of this law being passed are at best meagre.
There should be no reason why the Churches should be putting such pressue on the US government for more power, in the United Kingdom the Queen is officially also the head of the Anglican Church, and the House of Lords (comparable to your senate) contains many Spiritual Lords as well as Temporal Lords, yet Britain remains a very tolerant society with regard to spirituality, in fact it is the birthplace of modern paganism/ witchcraft.

I somehow think that were the US to adopt a similar form of government these powers would be recklessly abused by the unscrupulous, so in conclusion, it is far wiser not to pass this legislation.

Bush's Plans Are Not Only Frightening, They Are Illeagal. Too Many People... Feb 1st. at 9:35:19 am UTC

Ivyvigne (Old Town, Maine US) Age: 19 - Email

Bush's plans are not only frightening, they are illeagal. Too many people from pagans to gays to ethnic groups have faught too hard for too long to have all their efforts destroyed by the our newly elected president. It has only been within the last ten years that those of us of the minority have started leaving our closets behind and working towards acceptance or even tolerance, by mainstream America. This country was founded on a hope of religious freedom and the rights of the people. Now it seams we may become the very thing many of our ancestors fled europe to escape. The new president who was elected, not by the vote of the people, but by the vote of the politicians, appears to be nothing more than monarchy or or dictaor. The further we as a country progress into the future the more we find ourselves in the past. Once again it is the wealthy white male of political inclunce who get to make the rules and gets away with igoring what would be the voice of the people. In Bush's less than an week in office he is already testing his power over the constitution of the United States. Does it really surpise anyone that his enoguration has the most protesters since Nixon?

My Sense In All Of This Is That While I Cringe At... Feb 1st. at 12:57:01 pm UTC

Mary Yankee (Deep River, Connecticut US) Age: 40 - Email

My sense in all of this is that while I cringe at the thought of my taxes being used to push religion on the vulnerable, it feels like a great opportunity for the "outsider religions" (such as Wicca) to gain more ground in being accepted by society. Since it appears the fundamental christianity is going to be making great gains in controling policy in our government, we need every tool at our disposal to bring that extremism into balance. I fear however, that most Pagan proposals will be passed over in favor of more mainstream religions, and if the attitude of the christians who regularly visit my pagan chatroom to proselytize is any indication, there is alot of fear and misconception (one hesitates to call it outright ignorance) that will take a great deal of education to overcome! We of Pagan/Wiccan traditions need to resolve our own in-fighting and stand unified for our basic right to exist, or I fear we may face a backlash that while may not include witch-burning (yet), may certainly make it more difficult for us to practice our traditions openly! And who among us has NOT experienced the fear that we might lose our livlihoods, housing, friends and family, even our CHILDREN if our religious leanings came to light? I think perhaps instead of fighting AGAINST the flow of energy that has taken over our government, our covens and solitaries should be invoking the Light of the One into it...with such power, love and magick that we command, who's to say that we won't be able to put that river back on a course that will help the planet, humanity AND ourselves? I've seen what a SMALL group of people can do when the highest thought and greatest good is their aim. The vision of what ALL Pagans/Wiccans banded together could takes my breath away!

Are We Frogs? Sitting In The Pot Of Water While The Fire... Feb 1st. at 4:25:26 pm UTC

Kari C. Tauring (Minneapolis, Minnesota US) Age: 36 - Email

Are we frogs? Sitting in the pot of water while the fire goes up, so slowly. 80 degrees in the 80's, 90's, hotter and hotter...Bush turned up the heat on our little melting pot and we're almost at the boil. Are you going to jump out? Or has complacency set in and you haven't noticed you are about to melt into the form of other's choosing?

Thanks for the heat, Bush et al, I'm jumping...

Let's put our money where OUR faith is. Donate your money to Planned Parenthood, Public Schools, Rape and Assault Centers, Environmental Groups, anywhere YOU believe your money should go. Pre-tax dollars can be spent and donations can be tax deductible. Let's all jump together and see how the Earth shakes when we do.

Blessings All - I Have Read All Of Your Posted Opinions And For... Feb 1st. at 5:17:02 pm UTC

Alexandria (Midlothian, Virginia US) Age: 26 - Email

Blessings all - I have read all of your posted opinions and for a religion who is sometimes divided in our own differences much as the same way a Baptist differs from a Catholic, we are united in one cause. That the wall of the Constitutional separation of church and state is beginning to crumble before our eyes. United in this cause will help to bring us much power. How should we deal with this problem?

I propose that all of us, for the sake of ourselves, our family, and our children, unite to support our local initiatives. Build support centers. Community centers for all with such programs as child care, drug rehabilitation, family counseling, and family planning. There are several already begun by some of our brave and noble brothers and sisters. These centers are the key. If we are going to survive, we have to work together. These centers will prove what we already know and bring it to light in the public eye. That is the power we can harness. We can't change the government, but we can change how we react. I just moved to Virginia from Alabama. The prospect of being able to boldly wear my pentacle outside my clothing was a joyous one. Please help me to keep that freedom.

The Separation Of Church And State Refers Simply To The Fact That... Feb 1st. at 7:15:29 pm UTC

Beige Allen (Phoenix, Arizona US) Age: 32 - Email

The separation of church and state refers simply to the fact that the government cannot favor one religion over another, but this does not prevent the government from assisting religious organizations that do social work that benefits not only their members but non members as well. The fact that many organizations are trying to convert those they assist to their "brand" of faith is not a secret, it only shows good sense on their part, and as long as such conversion is not a requirement for receiving assistance, there is really no harm in it.

Why then are pagans inflamed over this issue? Could it be because there is a far greater number of Christian sponsored charities in the United States than Pagan sponsored charities? Possibly. Is this the result of some grand persecution scheme on the part of the Christians? No. Should Pagan groups "make a grab" for these offered monies? That implies they do not deserve them and if they do not, then they should not. However, if a Pagan group runs a social service organization, and they really need some of those federal monies to continue their work, then they should by all means apply for them and be granted them.

Howevr, this issue is bound to be clouded with the endless sea of Christian vs Pagan propaganda that many people on both sides feel justified in passing along as fact. Though many would think that the greater number of Christian sponsored charities signifies some great Anti-Pagan conspiracy, I have a different opinion.

I have been building two companion groups for Pagan assistance, one is an online information center that attempts to present an wealth of information about the myriad of "pagan" paths, the other is a Pagan sponsored charity. In the creation of that charity I have encountered great resistance, not from the Christian community, but from the Pagan community. I find it sad that had I been offering free spellbooks I would have gotten a better response but it seems that the same people who will pay overinflated prices for books, ritual supplies and garments often are very resistant to the idea of spending a little of their time assisting a fellow pagan. There are far too many in our Pagan community that see disorganization as our greatest strength when in fact, it is our greatest weakness. What is worse is that it is a weakness we choose, not one that is thrust upon us. The Christians are not our enemy anymore, we have become our own worst enemy. Many of us have fogotten that walking the path and talking about the path are not the same thing and to effect the changes we hope for (no matter what those changes may be) takes more than just discussions and protests. To effect those changes takes hard work and a devotion to more than our own personal interests; two things that are in very short supply no matter what path you walk.

I Believe That This "faith Based" Plan Does Violate The Separation Of... Feb 1st. at 10:13:59 pm UTC

Dyan (Potter Valley, California US) Age: 41

I believe that this "Faith Based" plan does violate the separation of church and state, but I also believe that it will be instituted anyway. Assuming that, I would love to see Pagan groups at least apply for a share of the funds. I have low hopes, though, that the Bush administration sees Pagan groups as an organized religion, giving the administration reason to reject those requests. So, it is indeed a pro-Christian policy.

Is there any Pagan group organizing to present their case for funding to this administration? If so, we need to know and support them.

Merry Meet To All! I Was Just Stopping By And Saw This... Feb 1st. at 11:13:03 pm UTC

Chris Swallow (Keflavik, Iceland, ARMED FORCES EUROPE US) Age: 21 - Email

Merry Meet to all! I was just stopping by and saw this intruiging(can't spell) question on Witchvox and decided to put in my 2 cents. But first, I wanted to read over some of what other's thought. I only got 2 down before I had to write myself. There was a post that someone wrote offering some contructive thoughts towards President Bush's plan. While I do not disagree with SOME of Beige Allen's views, there are some that I wanted to address.
I believe that a Pagan Charity would be a wonderful idea. In truth I agree that there is a MONOPOLY, or so to speak, on the charity department by Christians. Not that that is a bad thing, some of those charities are run very well and go towards the greater good. I also agree with Mr. Allen that Christian's are not our enemy. We should have no enemies.
But there is one thing that really drove me to write and it had nothing to do with the question at hand. It had to do with one of Allen's statements: "There are far too many in our Pagan community that see disorganization as our greatest strength when in fact, it is our greatest weakness. What is worse is that it is a weakness we choose, not one that is thrust upon us. The Christians are not our enemy anymore, we have become our own worst enemy."
I utterly disagree. I do not see it as a disoranization. Wicca is a religion bound in diversity and change. It's "unorganized" manner separates it from other religions. Christianity lost its flavor to me when I realized that all my thoughts were scripted for me. All of my beliefs and practices were not, infact, my own they were all the beliefs that were taught to me and could be unchanged.
I found in Wicca that that was not the case. If I wanted to practice with a butterknife and a dinning room table...that was ok. I didn't have to go to a walled cathedral to welcome the goddess and god into my heart.
While some may argue that out lack of disorganization is a threat, I say it is a blessing. It brings us individuality that is so preacious.
Well, allow me to get off my box now and get back to the point at hand. Yes, this does violate the separation of Church and my opinon. I don't believe that taxpayer money should be spent on religous organizations. Even though they do a good thing for thier communities and for the followers of thier faiths, they do not support the views of all.
On a second note, I also believe that Wiccans will NOT be able to partake in this. Not because of the great "christian" conspiracy, but simply because we are not seen in Mr. Bush's eyes as a religion. We are mearly a cult in his eyes as is evident in his practices in Texas. I am in the military and he has already said during his campaign that he will try to abolish the practice of Wicca at government chapels on US bases. But that is for another day. Thank you for hearing my views. May the Goddess and God embrase you in all that you do.

Hmmm...i Can't Keep Up With Politics Very Well, So I Will... Feb 1st. at 11:49:46 pm UTC

Irk (Ruston, Louisiana US) Age: 19 - Email

Hmmm...I can't keep up with politics very well, so I will say what I can based solely on the wording of "FAITH IN ACTION: A New Vision for Church-State Cooperation in Texas", and on general knowledge of How It Is down here in the lovely Bible Belt.

Look, ignoring all religious implications entirely (that'll just start us chasing our tails) look at what the plan really says:

"In the final analysis, there is no overcoming anything without faith Đ be it drugs or alcohol or poverty or selfishness or flawed social policy."

It just said that the faith organisations are going to help fix social policies. That is going to be *pure chaos*. The Catholics and the Baptists are at each other's throats - how does anyone expect *separate* religions to agree unanimously on social policy? That's crazy talk, man! *grin* Truly, though, it's obvious from the outset that if Bush is using this blueprint then the purpose of the whole deal extends not just to religion helping the needy, but the country as a whole. Whether or not this is a good thing is up to you.

Also, it says that religion is the cure for my selfish desire to pilfer chocolate. That's WRONG.

"Today's welfare system, however, has fallen short of its original purpose, serving instead to trap many people in government dependence."

Geez, another attack on Welfare? The Republicans don't know how to pull their punches. This statement alludes a lot to the partisan-ness of this whole thing. However, the most disturbing statement is, by far, this:

"We need to re-energize the "little platoons" that shape good citizens and combat antisocial values."

I'm not referring to the military metaphors here, as they're probably someone's attempt at cute humor. No, what riles me is that this is all to make us 'good citizens'. And combat 'antisocial values'. As an introvert, I feel threatened. As someone who is often sarcastic and a lover of irony and generally aproves of the belief that sometimes you can't be quite nice, I feel threatened. And as a unique individual, I feel threatened.

Look, ignoring secular/religious implications and arguments, this whole schindig is still, at the core, about changing people to suit someone's ideal. That's really what's at the root of Fundamentalist Christianity anyways. So ignoring anyone's private religious agenda and any conspiracies, this puppy's still pretty cracked. Here's to Antisocial Values. I feel like being a cynic today, thank you.

- Irk

Let's See Now..first The Repugs And Demos Cut Social Spending To... Feb 2nd. at 2:23:08 am UTC

Sequoia (Redwood Valley, California US) Age: 57

Let's see now..First the repugs and demos cut social spending to the bone, gutting legal aid, clinics for the poor, day care subsidies, and on and on. Soon after he assumes the presidency Baby Bush declares that Wicca is NOT a religion. Then Baby Bush says he wants "Faith Based" organizations to have our tax monies to minister to the disadvantaged.Are we seeing a pattern here? Do we understand that there is an underlying plan to force everyone into a "controlling authority" be it in thrall to a hierarchical religious charity or jail (if you are poor these are becoming your only choices). We have a very, very scarry future to contemplate here folks. Pay attention!

I Would Be Less Concerned About This Plan If It Actually Had... Feb 2nd. at 8:38:12 am UTC

Jill (Bloomington, Indiana US) Age: 20

I would be less concerned about this plan if it actually had to go through Congress. I think that there would be at least a decent chance that such a bill would be voted down. However, if I understand correctly, Bush is establishing his "faith-based initiative" by means of an executive order. In other words, he doesn't have to get the approval of Congress - he bypasses them entirely. It seems to me that this is a clear sign that the "Bush administration" itself doesn't think that this plan will pass Constitutional muster. However, by skipping a Congressional vote, they can at least implement their little scheme until they are challenged in the courts (which will, hopefully, not take too long to happen!).

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