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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: 20,356,284  

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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 

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

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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!).

Mm & Bb, The Thought Of The Federal Government Giing Tax-payer Funds To... Feb 2nd. at 10:46:14 am EST

Lew Stamper (Estill, South Carolina US) Age: 54 - Email

MM & BB,
The thought of the Federal Government giing tax-payer funds to any religious based organization is not a good one. It will promote a government sponsered religion. By its own standards it has already stated that it will fund "mainstream" Christian charitable organizations. While this has not been stated openly, it is being heavily hinted at. When George W. is, and has been, asked about his feelings towards the Pagan/Witch movements, he has been somewhat critical. Since he and his staffers are fundamentally of Christian traditions, we in the Pagan/Witch traditions will be pushed aside. We will be told that what we believe and practice does not count since we are not "recognized" charitable organizations.
No, this must not happen. If it does go through, then we must apply for some of those funds. Then if refused, we will have to file a class action suit in federal court to become "recognized".
Thanks for listening, Lew.

We Should Join Together And Let President Bush Know Who We Are... Feb 2nd. at 12:13:40 pm EST

Eodain (Denton, Texas US) Age: 37 - Email

We should join together and let President Bush know who we are and of the charity that ALL non-Christians are accomplishing.

It doesn't matter if this initiative is a "subtle plot" or if Bush really does
intend to promote Christianity at the expense of all other faiths. It doesn't matter if Pagans don't actually get any money from the Bush administration. This is our opportunity as Pagans to be recognized on a national level as people and organizations doing good for others rather than serving only ourselves.

Let it be known to the networked global village that Pagans ARE here to help, WITHOUT proselytizing, and it will test whether Bush can maintain his bipartisan and conciliatory image. How can he refuse us (pardon the pun) good faith?
Contact the media and make the world watch him!

As Both An Atheist And A Pagan (we'll Save The Explanation Of... Feb 2nd. at 12:14:14 pm EST

Secular Pagan (Minneapolis, Minnesota US) Age: 37 - Email

As both an Atheist and a Pagan (we'll save the explanation of THAT for another day!) I am doubly concerned about this hammer-blow to the wall of separation between church and state. If the Supreme Court Appointee to the Presidency wants to channel government funds into "more efficient" private charities, there are plenty of NON-SECTARIAN, SECULAR charities to choose from! And people of faith -- all faiths -- as well as people of no "faith" support these non-sectarian charities. I am deeply suspicious, as are many, that this is a not-so-veiled attempt to bring about the Religious Reich's vision of a Christian Nation. Be afraid, be angry, and take that energy and use it to resist this hostile takeover of what *was* a free and pluralistic nation.

I'm Not A Constitutional Lawyer, But I Don't Think It Goes To... Feb 2nd. at 12:28:02 pm EST

Columba (West Winfield, New York US) Age: 44 - Email

I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but I don't think it goes to "establish" a state religion if religious organizations social outreach programs are funded partially by the state--but a solid argument could be that it's the "thin edge of the wedge, " as my granpa would say.
However, if the office survives constitutional challenges (and there are some already in the works, I think pagan organizations MUST fight for some of those dollars, if we see our community work as valid. Pagan AA groups, education groups, etc., must be counted in the pool. The charges of a "takeover" by the regligious extremists on the conservative end of the idealogical platform will only be possible if we allow them the power, and money, to be the only voice in the chorus. If we claim our fair share, they will not be the defacto beneficiaries. And if we don't claim our share, we will have given them victory without their ever having to do a thing. That cannot be allowed. Better to lose a fight than to just roll over and let them stomp us.

We All Saw This Coming, Right? So We're Not Surprised That In... Feb 2nd. at 1:42:20 pm EST

Nelli (Carmel Valley, California US) Age: 24 - Email

We all saw this coming, right? So we're not surprised that in his first two weeks of office dubya has done his level best to knock back environmental progress by about 15 years, has hired (with the help of congress, of course) an alledged bigot and right wing fundamentalist to be the Secretary of State, and has designed a program that seems to be a very thinly veiled monetary homage to the religious elements that helped him into office. Still, there are a lot of things about this little initiative (or whatever it's called) that are unclear to me. Does it state unequivocally which groups are considered to be faith based? Would AA, for instance, count? And, of course, would various buddhist, hindu, pagan, etc. charity organizations count? Who, exactly, decides who gets money, and how much money does each group get? Would a little-known mormon or Jehovah's Witness homeless shelter get the same funding as an eminent Protestant program to help the homeless? Who decides what the term "faith-based" means? I have a deep faith in the principles and current theories of science, like quantum physics and whatnot; if I got a group of like-minded individuals together and started a substance abuse program, would I get funding from this program? (I know, yeah right!) And if not, why not? These are all questions we should be asking those people who are in the know about this initiative.
Of course, aside from all that, I think it's a blatant and apalling violation of the separation of church and state, and I'm opposed to it. I would not object to an office which granted government money to private charities upon request, REGARDLESS OF "FAITH" OR LACK THEREOF, so long as those charities had certain goals - substance abuse recovery, help for the homeless, literacy programs, etc.
On a personal note, I am distressed by the inference that to have "faith", one must have religion. I have faith in a great many things, including gravity, infinity, evolution, love and beauty. But I don't have a "religion". I am in the same camp with the 'secular pagan' who wrote in earlier. I have faith that people can help and heal each other; I have faith in the law of cause and effect; I have faith that people can help themselves without needing to believe in god or gods. Does that qualify me as "faith-based"? I don't know.
I don't think this is a conspiracy per se. I don't think dubya's smart enough to operate a consiracy. This is just what he does, how he lives, he does what he wants, and he gets what he wants. He wanted the presidency, and he got it. He wants to pander to mainstream religions, and he's not going to let something insignificant like the US constitution get in his way.
I hope we're all prepared for at least four more years of this, and for the decades of clean-up that we'll have to do afterwards.
Blessed be, and good luck to us all!! !

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