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: 27 - 2/3/2001
Where Are The Pagan Social Programs? Do We Care?
Pagans have been put in the somewhat uncomfortable position of being asked about their own social programs. Granting that modern public Paganism is only about fifty-years-old (and the Gods know that we have had many credible reasons for keeping a low profile for most of that time), is there need in the Pagan communities for social or charitable outreach programs? Do you know of any in your area? Do you have an idea for one? What needs do you see in the communities that such programs might address (such as food pantries, Pagan baby-sitting or child-care, counseling). Do Pagans have some unique ideas that might carry over into programs to benefit the general public as well as the Pagan communities themselves? Do we even care about social programs?
| Reponses: There are 22 responses posted to this question.
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| Yes, We Pagans Should Care About This. We Should Establish Social Programs... ||Feb 6th. at 10:42:39 am UTC|
|Emerald (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) ||Age: 19 |
Yes, we Pagans should care about this. We should establish social programs and apply for White House funding now that it is available. But, we must never, ever, ever become like those other groups, the ones who would turn our people away from the Meal Line just because they're not Christians or Jews or Muslims or whatever. And as our religion becomes more organized we must remember never to allow our Priesthood to dominate the personal rights of our practitioners to choose the path and interpretation most comfortable to them. The personal freedom and responsibility of seekers of pagan spirituality makes our religion more modern and relevant than most, and that should never change. I believe there are ways we can be extremely active in the community and help to spread positive ethics (by example, not by forcing those ethics down peoples' throats). We can run homeless centers and distribute hot meals, we can hire professionals and run Rehab Clinics (where we can actually help people, rather than just handing out religious texts and prescribing prayer for addiction, as so many Christian-run Rehab Centers are guilty of), we could open private schools that will offer Pagan parents an alternative to the current choice between public school and Christian/Jewish/non-religious pivate shool, a school where the children of witches and magicians and alchemists etc... can learn about spirituality, including their own spiritual heritage, but without being indoctrinated, dogmatized, and threatened into following any particular path other than whatever they feel most comfortable with. Pagan groups can be an active force for positive change within the community, and there is no reason why we shouldn't offer Social Programs if for no other reason than to act as a sociological counterweight to the controlling and oppressive religious-based Social Programs we have become accustomed to, the type of programs where even the Salvation Army--which is one of the best Christian-operated religious charities to be found in America--will turn you away at the door for not being Christian, as if being non-Christian makes you less homeless or less poor and starving. Let's do it, let's bring positive change, let's not sit back and say, "Well if we open religious social programs ourselves, we'll be as bad as Christians, " and let's prove that that's not the case, we can bring positive changes in society without compromising the values of our religion and personal conviction. Good luck to us all.
| I Raised A Question About Whether There Really Were Pagan Charitable Organizations... ||Feb 6th. at 11:21:28 am UTC|
|sphinxring (Snoqualmie, Washington US) ||Age: 48 - Email |
I raised a question about whether there really were pagan charitable organizations in my post last week. I have to say I am gratified to see the responses and find out that there are many and that more are in development. Apologies to anyone who was hurt by my cynicism.
I admitted selfish behavior and wonder what I could do to help.
My talents are in the computer/web realm, and I am a good botanist as well.
Not much for basic charity, but I could help setting up web sites for people who already have a charity idea.
I still think that Bush's money smells like murdered salmon runs, but that's not what this is really about, is it?
| I Think Having Pagan Social Programs Would Be A Great Idea. Pagans... ||Feb 6th. at 6:41:42 pm UTC|
|Kristi McKeown (Arvada, Colorado US) ||Age: 20 - Email |
I think having pagan social programs would be a great idea. Pagans, in general, tend to be less dogmatic than other groups so I think they good help a wider group than say some xtian social programs. Pagans are very accepting of all people and I think alot of people would be more inclined to go somewhere that they don't feel they are being judged. However based on personal experience I think pagans tend to be much more invidualistic and secretive about things. The secretive part is easy to understand. As a minority religion we still face alot of possbile discrimination no matter where you live. As for the indvidualistic part I don't mean that pagans only worry about themselves and not others. If you look at pagan groups they tend just by nature to be very small. We don't do large groups as well as xtians. I think we can expect to see small local groups, but the hierarchy and structure inherent in larger groups is just foriegn to most pagans. We like small groups where everyone gets equal say and weight in the group. I don't think you'll turn the channel any time soon and see a pagan next to a starving child asking for a small monthly donation. But if anyone wants to try I'll help you lobby for every federal dollar possible.
| One Of My Intense Dislikes, As A Former Evangellical Christian, Is How... ||Feb 6th. at 8:03:29 pm UTC|
|Robert Albee (Clarkston, Michigan US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
One of my intense dislikes, as a former evangellical Christian, is how religious groups form a seperatist mentality. I remember, reaching the peak of the madness, I would seek out Christian Book Stores, Christian-owned business,
etc. One of the powerful draws of Paganism is the refreshing lack of pressure to "only support the people like us." Although I agree that Bush will funnel countless billions to a select few "approved" organizations if he gets the chance (and this is sickening), why can't we, as Pagans, continue to put our support and energy into the many organied groups who share many of our views and goals. That may include femenist-oriented services, secular humanist-oriented services, animal and land preservation and rescue organizations, and possibly even some more liberal-leaning Christian & Jewish organizations with the infrastructure and strong track records we lack. Why would we necessarily try to put our limited human and financial resources into our own seperate organizations? To advance our own views? Isn't one of the things that brought many of us here the fact that we don't try to speak with one voice? Drown out dissent? Separate ourselves from the world/make the world conform to our views (the twin agendas of the evangelical right)? If we're Pagan aren't we Pagan everywhere we are in everything we do?
| Having Browsed Through The Opinions, Here Is My 2 Cents Worth. I... ||Feb 6th. at 9:49:48 pm UTC|
|Stephanie (Ripley, New York US) ||Age: 29 |
Having browsed through the opinions, here is my 2 cents worth. I think you're all right on track saying that any government monies will go to the select few regardless of the actual work being done. With the President's lack of recognition for Wicca as an affirmed religion, we're climbing a greased pole with buttered hands. Unfortunately, thats the mentality that controls our nation. Pagan based social organizations will really have to fight for any funding that could be available. I would simply be happy with some of the established organizations to recognize and support our pagan beliefs. Before I jumped off the christian bandwagon and walked the pagan path, I was a den mother for my sons' cub scout pack and did a very good job. After the pentacle on my keychain was noticed, the district commisioner phoned me and gave me the third degree, reminding me that he is a retired police detective and had connections implying that being pagan was criminal.Even though I had never tried to incorporate Wicca into cub scouts.(yes, I resigned before a witch hunt was launched) Because of this I can see why many groups would prefer to work quietly and not draw attention to themselves. This is a tough one. Pagans need groups that bless them and their children with loving, not loathing.
| On Some Level We All Care About Social Programs. Perhaps Not In... ||Feb 7th. at 9:44:41 am UTC|
|Edward Hardison (Winston-Salem, North Carolina US) ||Age: 27 - Email |
On some level we all care about social programs. Perhaps not in an organized fashion as the term suggests, but in "our own way". With proper credit to modern Paganism, we are all aware of the social interventions performed by our ancestors as healers, counselors and guardians. Were such practices not "social programs"? At least to the extent that they were able to perform those tasks in any given town/social setting. My personal journey, thankfully, has been well steeped in history. I was and continue to be warmed by the ongoing determination shown by our ancestors to help others around them. In the truest sense of our Nature, I would argue that our continuing goal was-is-and should the same as it always has been. Personally I do not feel the need for recognition in what I do for others. There is a greater redemption for me in the simple act of helping. We are all aware of the stigma, albeit varied in different locales, that is quick to be stamped on any public communion of Wiccans. Would our "purpose" and dedication not be better served to work as we have for ages before?
| I Don't Know How Much Federal Funding A Pagan Program Would Ever... ||Feb 7th. at 7:47:59 pm UTC|
|Ceridwen (Austin, Texas US) ||Age: 28 |
I don't know how much federal funding a pagan program would ever get because there would be such fear that we were using our shelter/soup kitchen/thrift store or whatever as a place to indoctrinate or coerce people to follow our path. Not that I've ever known a pagan or Wiccan to try to recruit the way other faiths do, but I've been made only to well aware of those who believe we do.
There's other ways to get these things off the ground though, there was a story on 20/20 last week focusing on people that were doing community work without federal funding. Turns out a lot of them actually stopped taking funding because following all the rules and regulations that came with it were making their projects too costly and complicated (there goes bureaucracy again, with all its nasty ways).
As for projects I'd like to see happen: setting up shelters for pagan kids thrown out of their homes for their beliefs, education efforts to discourage people from having pagan friends/relatives institutionalized or deprogrammed, that list just goes on and on. As for other kinds of community help, I think most people following pagan paths just kind of naturally gravitate into places where they can do some good in the world. It would just be nice if we were safer being openly ourselves when we're out in that world...
| I Agree With Robert Albee. Giving Our Support, In Noticable Numbers If... ||Feb 7th. at 7:56:29 pm UTC|
|Awena Llwyndyrys (Murray, Utah US) ||Age: 23 - Email |
I agree with Robert Albee. Giving our support, in noticable numbers if you want the recognition, to the secular and liberal organizations would be the cautious and wise way to do this. Once the liberal Christians and Jews are more accepted and widespread, (as well as secular groups) the next natural step is to see Pagans as the wonderful people they are. Let us strengthen our allies, and later they will help us grow in whatever way we want, lending their resources...when we're really ready.
Why strike out on our own to build a fort for ourselves, if we can just help make the world non-hostile...we're not great at fort-building anyway. There lies the magick: shape the situation, don't react to it.
If I had a circle I'd be organizing them to go en masse to lend our resources to the UU's social justice pursuits, or the Reform Jews, or any who share our outlook and tolerant nature.
Do what you know,
| As Much As I Luve The Idea Of Having Charitable Outreaching Programs... ||Feb 7th. at 9:00:38 pm UTC|
|NightTiger (Liverpool, New York US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
As much as I luve the idea of having charitable outreaching programs, it's a little hard when we are spread thin. I know a lot of colleges have groups which do charitable things as well as a group up here in Central New York which visits nursing homes. We do what we can but we can't do everything over night! I would really wish to start a teenage group this summer if my parents approve and are willing to help me. Maybe if I do start some group we can start some charity things toos. I donno, I'm pretty busy now with volleyball and just school to worry. I'll have to see.
Bright Blessings all
| Hi, All!; Does Paganism Need Social Programs? Having Always Viewed Witchcraft/paganism... ||Feb 7th. at 9:55:30 pm UTC|
|Tarostar (Toronto, Ontario CA) ||Age: 58 - Email |
Does Paganism need social programs?
Having always viewed Witchcraft/Paganism as an alternative to the mainstream, I do not comprehend why some "Pagans" want to incorporate
the mainstream into Paganism.
Can we not disengage civil from religious and take advantage of the Govt.
programs already available for social services? Do we have to have social programs identified as specifically "Pagan"?
We suppose xtian fundies would use Federal money to provide social programs, but refuse to pass up an opportunity to "preach" to a captive audience of non-believers applying for these services. Would Pagans be any different?
Since some "Pagans" want to emulate the mainstream, I can not see them
not engaging in religious dialog with xtians requiring a social service Pagans may be getting Federal money to provide.
Learn from Europe's Jews; take care of your own community for charitable needs and always keep your "getting-out-of-town-money" at hand, because, no matter how benevolent a Govt. may claim itself to be, at any moment in Time and Space it can turn on you.
We already see some "religious" characters who would accept Govt. money for their church's charitable outreach, and expecting to be tax-exempt also!!!
Let them have Govt. money, IF they pay taxes like everyone else, but not otherwise.
Govt. money begets Govt. control and accountability. One of two things would be prostituted to that end; either the religion or the religious administrators.
The best way to destroy Paganism is to make it officially acceptable.
Such a govenmental acceptance turned Xtianity into a persecuting harlot, not so? Think, people! BB Tarostar
| I Agree With The Many That Have Voiced Their Opinions. One Very... ||Feb 8th. at 10:23:23 am UTC|
|Kerridwen Irismoon (Bangor , Maine US) ||Age: 24 |
I agree with the many that have voiced their opinions. One very important aspect of the Craft and Paganism to me is that we do not go out "recruiting". The Craft is something you're drawn to, that either you search out or searches you out. I fail to see where a leap into mainstream would assist our efforts any. I'm from a small town, and there are no "Pagan" social programs that I'm aware of. However, I would dare say that a good number of the pagan community are volunteers in some charity or another. What difference does it make if it's labeled as specifically Pagan or not? As long as we're giving back to the earth, our brothers and sisters, and the community at large, those are the important things. All things to honor the Lord and Lady, not ourselves! We are not a community that capitalizes on government money, nor should we. As long as we fund our own venues we control our own venues. The day Pagans and the government share control of the Craft is the day I go searching for a new planet!
| Anyone Who Looks Upon Their Communities With Open Eyes Will See There... ||Feb 8th. at 1:59:24 pm UTC|
|Venkah (Rutland, Vermont US) ||Age: 20 - Email |
Anyone who looks upon their communities with open eyes will see there is always a need for charitable programs. Even here, where I live within a three block radius of 7 different churches I see the needs. Not all social programs need huge government grants to function. How much money does it take to mentor a child? To "adopt a grandparent" from a nursing home? Its not about money, its about taking the time to be compassionate. Every person has a skill or a gift that could benifit his/her community, but it all comes down to that last question. Do they care?
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