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Article ID: 4500
Age Group: Adult
Posted: February 5th. 2001
Pagan Faith-Based Social Programs?
There has been much talk this past about the Bush administration's plan to institute a 'faith-based initiative' designed to allow religious groups performing or providing social programs to receive federal monies. The Pagan Perspectives forum has been lively with comments and the emails have been flying. Wren couldn't resist the urge to coin her two-cents on the topic and you can find her Wren Wramblings at My Place or Yours?, Finding A Neutral Meeting Place in Religious America.
This question has also been raised: Do Pagans even have such programs? The answer is: Yes, we do. Not many as yet-modern, public Paganism is only fifty years old, after all-but we do have some groups who are expanding outward to reach not only other Pagans in need, but also to the general populace at large.
The creation of a nationwide Pagan oriented scouting program, known as SpiralScouts (TM) has been announced by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church of the Seattle (Washington) area, to fill the void left by prejudicial treatment of other established children's programs. It is formally incorporated at Imbolc, 2001, and an appropriate venture for the new millennium.
SpiralScouts, a program for girls and boys working, playing and learning together, has existed within the church to benefit member's children for over a year. Recently word about it spread on the internet and, due to the great demand, it has been formalized into an expanded program under the name SpiralScouts International, Inc., a nonprofit subsidiary of the ATC. SpiralScouts supplies leadership handbooks, awards, merit badges and pins, embroidered shoulder patches, and activities handbooks to make the program work for you on a local basis.
The Blessed Bee is an internet Pagan store which sponsors a scholarship open to students following a Pagan spiritual path who are continuing their education beyond high school. It is also open to currently enrolled students in associate, baccalaureate or trade school programs. The criteria for awarding the scholarship is based on a combination of spiritual growth, scholarship, need, and community service --with no particular percentage attached to any of the categories.
Students applying for The Blessed Bee Pagan Scholarship should be following some type of Pagan/Neo-Pagan spiritual path, such as (but not exclusively), Wicca, Witchcraft, Druidism, Asatruar, Shamanism, Native American Spirituality, Stregheria, Voodoun, Santeria, etc. It is open to students belonging to a group, coven, clan etc., as well as those whose spiritual path is a solitary one. For information, consult the Pagan Scholarship Page.
Note: If you know of any other Pagan faith-based social programs, let us know. If we receive enough listings, we'll add a category for them in our Networking section. In some other Pagan public service announcements this week, we find:
C.R.A.F.T., Creating Religious Acceptance, Freedom and Tolerance, was formed as an organization "to maintain the religious freedoms of all citizens of the United States as they are protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution and all clauses thereof. No citizen of the United States shall be controlled by the Government in that individual's pursuit or denial of the Divine as they see it. Said rights shall be maintained and fought for using peaceful and law-abiding methods and the pursuit of this cause shall not infringe upon the religious freedoms or legal privileges of any citizen of the United States of America."
"This campaign was started in response to President George Bush Jr.'s proclamation of Sunday, January 21, 2001 as a National Day of Prayer, stating, "I ask Americans to bow our heads in humility before our Heavenly Father, a God who calls us not to judge our neighbors, but to love them, to ask His guidance upon our Nation and its leaders in every level of government." The language he used, and put in writing, is exclusionary of all who do not follow the Christian path that President Bush follows. He has defied the separation of Church and State and insulted all who do not follow his path. Adding this act to others he has made in his short time in office thus far, and his previous statements discounting Wicca and Witchcraft as valid religions, specifically saying, "That's not a religion", we cannot assume that our religious freedoms are inviolate during President Bush's term in office. President Bush has also recently created a White House Office to distribute billions of dollars of tax revenue to Faith-based organizations. And while he has stated that this is not an infringement upon the First Amendment, there is cause to be concerned as there is no set guidelines for determining exactly how the money will be spent once it is in the hands of the Religious groups, or who will monitor the money's use. It is for these reasons that C.R.A.F.T. has been formed to educate the community as well as the Government that the citizens of this country will not be complacent when it comes to our Constitutional rights."
And when you really to relax from all over your labors (No one enjoys being around a burned-out Priestess!), plan a Pagan friendly, earth-respecting trip. Sia offers some links and suggestions in this addition to the Pagan Merchants section: It's The Journey That Matters:Neo-Pagan Travel and Retreats.
Sia wrote: "My perfect vacation combines the experience of natural beauty, a look at the local wildlife and a bit of education on the side. I can get all that from Footloose Forays, a company which specializes in natural history trips. These excursions are lead by the Owner, Michael Ellis. Michael has degrees in botany and marine biology and is an outstanding Field Naturalist and teacher. Every year he leads natural history tours to the Serengeti, Zimbabwe, Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands, Turkey, Antarctica, and the wilder parts of California. Want to get in touch with nature and learn something at the same time? Then check out his website at footlooseforays.com." Wow! I am feeling more refreshed just reading about it!
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