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Posted: Nov. 17, 2002
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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.
|| Reverse Sort
| 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!!
| 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.
| 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.
| 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.
| Unfortunately... ||Sep 16th. at 5:43:59 pm EDT|
|Amber Willowmoon (California) ||Age: 22 - Email |
As many have stated, there exists fundamentalism in every faith and religious path. The Pagan community is unfortunately no different. I wouldn't expect any faith to not have its insecure followers. People who need to feel higher and mightier than others are everywhere. These sort of religious bullies are not unique to more dogmatic faiths, as we all know. Individuals who need this sort of validation (as in "my faith is somehow more real than yours") are quite loud within our community. At the risk of "dropping names", SOME modern hardline Traditionalists have often reminded me of our close-minded Conservative Christian brothers and sisters. I'm not at all saying that Traditional Witches as a whole share this method of presenting their beliefs. I AM saying that getting caught up in the my-way-or-the-highway mentality is dangerous. I don't care where you get your information from, let's not fall into this trap. *Especially* since this is one of the central reasons we left mainstream faith in the first place. All people deserve to follow their own path without fear of prejudice.
| Yes Indeed! ||Sep 16th. at 4:38:45 pm EDT|
|Willow (arizona) ||Age: 46 - Email |
I belong to a group of solitaries in Arizona and some of us were discussing this very thing a couple days ago! We have actually run across a fundy-Wiccan who has come to a couple of our meetings! So Yes indeed I feel there are Fundamentalists in all religions!
| You Bet ||Sep 16th. at 4:12:39 pm EDT|
|Brahadair (Canada) ||Age: 20 - Email |
There are fundementalists in any religion or belief system. You just have to take the bad with the good.
| Fundamentalism Is Everywhere ||Sep 16th. at 3:40:55 pm EDT|
|Many Names (Westminster, MD) ||Age: 47 - Email |
I do agree with many of the responses that I've read - fundamentalism is everywhere and it is alive and well in the Pagan community. Also as many have already written it is part and parcel of being human. However, just because fundamentalism seems to be a part of the human condition doesn't mean that it should be a part of the Pagan community.
Do Pagans use this fundamentalism in the same way as many other religions, especially Christianity? Of course not. However, various Pagans do exclude those that have different views than they, and that includes other Pagans to the point of fundamental zealotry. That doesn't mean that covens can't be selective and limit their membership, or that people can't be excluded from participating in various events because it is well known that their views and/or conduct is way above the norm. Pagans, like any other religious group, run the gauntlet from the "conservative right" to the "liberal left" and everything in between. It really can't be otherwise because that is how society is. I would like to think though that all Pagans have a more liberal mindset than others and will truthfully listen to other points of view rather than shuting them out as do most other fundamental religious groups.
However, I have seen this fundalmentalism and experienced it and find it sad. Some do as I mentioned above (shuting out varying viewpoints). Another area that Pagan Fundamentalism rears its ugly head is when groups/individuals tell others that they can't be Wiccans, Druids, etc., because they didn't study some formal course or from a particular person. There are many ways to become a Druid, Witch, Shaman, et.al. Gods/Goddesses and Spirits don't care if one studies something formaly or not, as one responder mentioned earlier. They can and do choose to guide and teach as well.
Being a Pagan is a way of life, like Judaism. It should permeate everything that we do and how we relate to the world and everything in it. We as Pagans of whatever form should not only "talk the talk" but "walk the walk" embrace our diversity and revel in it.
| Fundies ||Sep 16th. at 1:56:40 pm EDT|
|Antonio Galiagante (Mobile, Alabama) ||Age: 33 - Email - Web|
Do closed groups or traditions constitute "fundamentalism?" No. Does a resistance to "mainstreaming" our various religions constitute "fundamentalism?" No. Do acts of prosthetizing other pagans or showing open hostility to those outside your religion constitute "fundamentalism?" YES! It's not the religion, it's the propogation of fear, hatred and anger that create the problem, and are therefore the "warning signs" we must be watchful for (as Mr. Bonewits so concisely pointed out).
As long as there are people who still define themselves by the number of enemies (real or imagined) that have, things like religious fundamentalism will continue to show itself. Only rarely have I met "pagan fundies" face-to-face, but make no mistake, they're every bit as caustic, unyeilding and dangerous as their mainstream counter-parts. I suppose ideas like "enlightenment" and "personal evolution" do not come naturally to everyone, even under the best of circumstances.
On-line, however, is another matter, where I frequently meet what I call "Wicca-nistas," who are best described as "militant" in their views towards all non-Wiccans (including other pagans). Is this a sign of a growing religious fundamentalism? Or merely a non-constructive outlet for the pent-up frustrations so many of us feel? I don't know, to be honest. But I hope our own histories and personal struggles will give pause us before starting a rant (or worse) on others.
Perhaps it's wise to remember that hatred can cause you to actually become the things you hate.
| Bad Apples?? ||Sep 16th. at 1:05:37 pm EDT|
|Peg Mularz (Orlando, Florida) ||Age: 40 - Email |
One bad apple don't make the whole bunch -- as I heard in a song. But bad apples do happen. My mother (who I think is a pagan in denial) always says the always a bad one in the bunch. Are there fundalmentalist in the Pagan religion? Did Jim Baker serve time?
| Yes We Do ||Sep 16th. at 12:40:56 pm EDT|
|Grey Cat (Tennessee) ||Age: 62 - Email - Web|
While "our" fundies aren't a large number and don't seem to be violent, but as someone who has been ex-communicated and cursed, I have to say we definitely do have them.
| We Sure Do... ||Sep 16th. at 12:35:17 pm EDT|
|Jake M. (San Jose, Cal) ||Age: 27 - Email |
I hear the insecure chants of the 'myway or the highway' crowd and have for nearly 20 years in this community. I just sit back and watch.
Sad but true, YES we have fundies and they are growing in number, they seem to gain their 'worth' by knocking down others. i don't get it.
What are they winning again?
I suppose we will always have our own fundies, it's just seems to the nature of some humans. For now I will just continue to ignore them and hook up with the 'less magickal/more earthbased' crowd. To me they are the real ones.
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