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From 1997... The cry for Unity has been building strongly over the past 13 months in the Witch/Pagan community. This section celebrates our efforts and dreams in this area. Is it possible? Will it be difficult? Do we have some common ground? There is lots of hard work ahead and the Witches' Voice will do its part to both support and evolve this issue. United we stand - So Mote it Be!

Survey Results: Witch, Wiccan or Pagan? ... How Good is YOUR Teacher ... Working with Groups ... A Religion or a Personal Belief ... Out of the Broom Closet ... Witchcraft in the Public Eye

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Survey Results: A Religion or a Personal Belief?
In the responses from part one, many people used the terms "religion" and "belief system" almost interchangeably. However, the terms do not mean the same thing. We realized that this confusion may be pointing out that while it may seem that we are talking about a common topic, we may actually not be using the same frame of reference at all. So we have decided to ask you what you really mean when you talk about 'religion" and what you mean by a 'personal belief system".

This was a hard set of questions for you to answer. There IS some overlap between a religion and a belief system; as each person may believe certain concepts, even in a well- defined religious system, that are unique to him/her. But there are also some very real differences between the two terms as well, especially in the legal context. Since the demise of the RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act), a reliance on the free exercise of a "personal belief' may not be offered the same measure of protection that it once enjoyed.

Since we are very concerned about the protection of our religious freedom and rights, this same "loose use" of terminology may be working against us whenever we attempt to define just what we believe. While hopefully, none of us will ever have to testify in a court situation about our beliefs, we do in a way "testify" in the court of "public opinion" every time we are asked to explain our beliefs to someone outside (and sometimes inside) the Pagan community.

926 Witches, Wiccans or Pagans responded to the questions related to A Religion or a Personal Belief.

1. Which ONE of the following do you feel is the most important concept that would help to define "What is an Earth Based "religion"?

    a strong interaction between all Earth Based groups?31%287
    a common statement of religious belief?28%263
    a common statement of purpose or mission?22%200
    a common set of ethical guidelines or "laws" governing moral behavior?14%133
    a recognized "clergy"?3%28
    a record of regular meetings or "services"?<1%7
    a book of guidelines for ritual practice?<1%3

2. Which one of the following do you think is the most important concept that would help to define, "What is an Earth Based PERSONAL belief system?"

    a statement of your personal belief?31%287
    it would be difficult to define?25%231
    the right to believe whatever you want to believe?19%178
    a record of the ethical guidelines that you personally adhere to?15%139
    the right to act according to your beliefs alone?6%51
    some interaction with an established Earth Based group?2%23
    a commitment to community service?1%12

3. Do you think that there IS a difference between a religion and a personal belief system?

    Not sure15%140

4. Do you think that your own Path is:

    more a personal belief system than a religion?58%540
    more a religion than a personal belief system?42%386

4. Do you think that Witchcraft is:

    a personal belief system?54%503
    a religion?45%418

5. Do you think that Wicca is:

    a religion?82%763
    a personal belief system?17%158

6. Do you think that being able to define the difference between a religion and a personal belief system:

    will clear up some of the confusion as to the "identity" of the Earth Based community?55%507
    will only add more confusion to the issue?27%247
    I am confused already.18%167

7. Do you think we can incorporate both Earth Based religions and personal belief systems under one set of guidelines for the general public or ourselves?


8. Is magick a part of your:

    personal belief system?49%456
    I do not use magick in any context.3%31

9. Is "worship" of the Divine -by whatever name you use- a part of your:

    personal belief system?27%246
    I do not use "worship" in any context.11%105

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