Hatred Disguised As A Religious Right: |
Certain members of a growing faction of the Religious Right have targeted the Pagan community in a vicious Internet campaign. Allegations of murders, child sacrifices and other crimes against humanity have been leveled at the adherents of one of the most tolerant religious systems of our time. We are quite literally being demonized.
Such hate-filled language causes resentment on all sides. It rejects the basic ideals of discussion and discourse. It ignores the reality of a pluralistic society that depends on these things. It is the enemy not only of the minority groups that it attacks; it is the enemy of freedom and democracy.
Such groups seek to defend their position as a religious right. There can be no such defense. Hatred disguised as religious truth is the worst lie of all.
In the article to follow, let us make it very clear that we are not attacking all of Christendom. We are addressing our remarks only to the misguided authors of the sites that have used the Christian religion to spread the disease of bigoted hatred. We do not have a cure for hatred, but perhaps while we search for an answer, we can consider some other options.
Silence is not an option.
Walk in Light and Love,
September 15th, 1998
The Witches' Voice
When Somebody Hates You-by Wren Walker
You've read them.
"In the years between 1985 and 1997 there have been hundreds of Wicca & Satanic occult killings in America. Yet the police do nothing to root out this baby killing cult..."
"Most females enters (sic) Wicca or Satanism with the dream some day to become a witch and wearing the garter (her sign). Some will dream and hope for the day of being the one over which the warm blood of a sacrificed baby drips upon her from its torn open chest. Some hunger for the day to hold a babies(sic) still beating heart in her hands..."
"Witchcraft is an ancient religion requiring child sacrifice which has resurfaced in our day. A revival of neo-paganism has brought with it a revival of human sacrifice in the form of abortion." (See my RESPONSE LETTER on this issue.)
Words written about you. Words poisoned with lies, bigotry and hatred. Words written with the deliberate intention of doing harm.
You don't know these people. They do not know you. You have never done anything to them. But they hate you.
Philosophers and theologians have discussed it, debated it and tried to analyze it for centuries. What is hate? What is the nature of evil? Why do some people act out of malice? Why, why, why?
Theories abound. If we knew what causes a person to hate another simply for being on the same planet or for holding a different belief, perhaps we could eliminate that cause. But equally, perhaps we could not. Maybe it is a part of ourselves as a species. We just don't know the cause or really understand the reason.
But we do know when it happens to us. We feel it. We respond to it. It makes us angry, frustrated, sad and fearful. We may want to lash back, scream to the universe over the unfairness of it all or try to ignore that it exists. Our minds play with visions of revenge or divine retribution or a hope in a future where mankind will learn to be one big happy family.
None of those scenarios is likely to be very fulfilling in the long run. Most of us end up trying to put the whole unpleasant affair behind us. This is not really a solution; but we just don't know what else to do.
And we hate that.
Why They Must Hate You.
The "good" folks who have penned the above malicious lies about Witches, Wiccans and Pagans probably do not think of themselves as evil people. In fact, they almost assuredly think that they are acting in the name of some supreme "correctness' as exemplified in the tenets of their religion.
That is where we will look then for some answers.
If you notice-or rather, if you can stomach reading this stuff-most of the quotations that these "Christian" folks use in their suppositions are from the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. The way they quote it, the Old Testament god is a 'jealous" god. So jealous, in fact, that this god routinely orders the mass extermination of all who do not fall down and worship him-men, women, babies, animals: all have to be eliminated for his glory. Sack, pillage, murder and burn it to the ground-it all has to go!
(NOTE: Although the Jewish people share the same Old Testament God, they do not, by and large, use these same religious references to bash other beliefs They hold them in a different historical and ethnic context. In this country, the ADL and other Jewish groups have worked diligently to promote tolerance and understanding amongst the various faiths. Using biblical quotations to promote hatred towards people who do not even believe in the bible seems to be a uniquely right wing Christian extremist phenomenon.)
The most often used New Testament reference by these believers was spoken by the Prince of Peace himself: "I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword." Strange that they hardly ever finish the entire thing. The last part of that passage goes on to say that the division caused by this "sword" will not be between "Christian" believers and Pagans, but between those of the "SAME household." (Historically speaking, Jesus was saying that his potential followers living in those times may have to choose about His way versus the way that they were brought up. But since the "good folks" are not using this passage as an historical reference to those times-but applying here it to our own -I will do the same.)
I do believe that this "sword" will ultimately divide the Christian believer community between those who initiate and promote vengeance and hatred and those who embrace and work for peace and tolerance. They will be forced to choose between the god of the Old Testament and the God of the New. Christian theologians have never been able to successfully reconcile the two. Jesus himself states here that they never can be reconciled. HE is the sword upon which the hate mongers themselves will fall and it will happen not in opposition to the 'world', but through Christian dissension as the breach between the followers of the god of jealousy and the followers of the god of love widens within their own house.
But we will let the Christians settle their "household" affairs as they may determine.
The point that should help you understand where these 'Old Testy' folks are coming from is this: No followers can be better than they believe that their god is and no believers can act any better than they believe that their own god acts!
It would be impossible in the Christian belief system for a believer to act more mercifully than a merciful god; to have more compassionate than a compassionate god; to promote more justice than a just god or to be able to love more than a loving god. It would be blasphemy- and theologically incorrect- to be better than one's own god.
If he believes that his god demands extermination, then he cannot show mercy: he must endorse extinction. If she believes that her god requires hatred of one's 'enemies", then she cannot show compassion: she must hound her enemy throughout this lifetime, take away the livelihood that feeds his children, drive him from his house and-if that enemy should somehow elude the believer in this world-pray that the cursed one will ultimately not escape everlasting torment in the next.
Take a good look at the god as a believer describes him/her. The believer must hate you when they believe that their god hates. They must eliminate you when they believe that their god is jealous. They cannot see that mercy is better than vengeance or that love is better than hate if this is not how they see their god. To choose a different path would be to set themselves against their god.
Don't waste your time talking to these folks. YOU can't make them any better than their god is either!
"It is hard to free fools from chains they revere."-Voltaire
In Support of the New Testament Christian.
But is the Christian god a god of hate? Some Christian believers don't think so. I'd even say that the majority of Christians really do believe in a god of mercy and love and forgiveness. And you know what? They, too, act as their god acts.
New Testament Christians give and heal and love because Jesus, God of the New Testament gave and healed and loved. They notice that the Sermon on the Mount did not include, "Blessed are those who spread lies and hatred in My name...". Instead they read, "Blessed are the merciful; Blessed are the peacemakers and Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness..."
Righteousness. The exhortation is for the Christian the same today as it always has been. "Choose this day which god you will serve."
I believe that most Christians have chosen wisely.
You can work with this kind of a Christian. You can live next door to this kind of a Christian. You can talk to this kind of a Christian. Look at the God that he/she serves! Give it a try.
The Propaganda Papers:
"Propaganda in favor of action that is consonant with enlightened self-interest appeals to reason by means of logical arguments based upon the best available evidence fully and honestly set forth.
Propaganda in favor of action dictated by the impulses that are below self-interest offers false, garbled or incomplete evidence, avoids logical argument and seeks to influence its victims by the mere repetition of catchwords, by the furious denunciation of foreign or domestic scapegoats, and by cunningly associating the lowest passions with the highest ideals, so that atrocities come to be perpetrated in the name of God and the most cynical kind of 'Realpolitik' is treated as a matter of religious principle and patriotic duty"-.Aldous Huxley, Propaganda in a Democratic Society (http://www.deoxy.org/huxley1.htm)
Alfred McClung Lee and his wife Elizabeth Briant Lee, co-authors of "The Fine Art of Propaganda, Social Problems in America" developed a list of seven hallmark tricks of the manipulative propagandist:
- Name Calling: The name-calling technique links a person, or idea, to a negative symbol. The propagandist who uses this technique hopes that the audience will reject the person or the idea on the basis of the negative symbol, instead of looking at the available evidence.
- Fear:When a propagandist warns members of her audience that disaster will ensue if they do not follow a particular course of action, she is using the fear appeal. By playing on the audience's deep-seated fears, practitioners of this technique hope to redirect attention away from the merits of a particular proposal and toward steps that can be taken to reduce the fear. When a politician agitates the public's fear of immigration, or crime, and proposes that voting for her will reduce the threat, she is using this technique. A similar tactic is called "card stacking". Card stacking is the selective use of facts or outright falsehoods
- BandWagon:With the aid of all the other propaganda devices, all of the artifices of flattery are used to harness the fears and hatreds, prejudices and biases, convictions and ideals common to a group. The basic theme of the Band Wagon appeal is that "everyone else is doing it, and so should you."
- Testimonial: The association of a respected or hated person with an idea. Reggie White speaking out against homosexuals or Richard Gere talking about Tibet are two examples. Another way this can be used is called "card stacking": the selective use of facts or outright falsehoods
- Plain Folks: By using the plain-folks technique, speakers attempt to convince their audience that they, and their ideas, are "of the people." The device is used by advertisers and politicians alike.
- Transfer: Transfer is a device by which the propagandist carries over the authority, sanction, and prestige of something we respect and revere to something he would have us accept. For example, most of us respect and revere our church and our nation. If the propagandist succeeds in getting church or nation to approve a campaign in behalf of some program, he thereby transfers its authority, sanction, and prestige to that program. Thus, we may accept something which otherwise we might reject.
- Glittering Generalities: We believe in, fight for, live by virtue words about which we have deep-set ideas. Such words include civilization, Christianity, good, proper, right, democracy, patriotism, motherhood, fatherhood, science, medicine, health, and love. They mean different things to different people; they can be used in different ways. Be aware of the uses to which propagandists put the cherished words and beliefs of unsuspecting people.
Read and learn about propaganda techniques. Then make a game of it! Go to some of the "hate" sites listed here and elsewhere and see how many of these ploys that you can find. Challenge your friends and keep score! (If these guys and gals insist on putting their stuff out there, we may as well use them as a learning exercise and have some fun.)
- We have received many emails about these hate sites here at TWV over the years. And we have tried many methods of addressing them. We wrote them letters. (The replies we did receive-which were few-contained just more of the same anti-Pagan rhetoric.)
- We put up a "hate site" listing- thinking that exposure of their agendas may be a workable plan. When these sites started listing THEMSELVES on the page, we reconsidered. (Attention is what they want from us. I'm all for making them work a little harder to get it.)
- Some of the other suggestions that we have received include reporting them to their ISP and wiping them off the face of the Net. TWV advocates free speech and opposes censorship, so we do not support this line of action either.
Let The Hate Sites Go For It! Let them get more and more strident in their hatred. Let them scream bloody murder. Let them add more lies and incendiary propaganda on their sites.
Then let the world see what kind of people that they are and how they pervert a noble religion.
Let those who call themselves "Christian" see what is being done in the name of Christ. Send those letters not to the author's of the hate sites, but to the Christian sites who promote love and tolerance. Let THEM try to come up with a response to the hate and lies. Ask them for their opinion of these sites and ask them if this is indeed a true reflection of the religion of Christ. THEY are the ones who should be setting this straight, not us. It is the Christian's religion that is being harmed much more by the haters than ours could ever be.
Standing Our Ground:
Education is a very powerful tool in the fight against hate. For a long time, the battle was extremely one-sided. We had no congregations, no pulpits, no cable television programs and no greed inspired weekend marathons. We still don't.
But we do have the Internet and we do have a vote. We have organizations and covens and individuals all over the world. And we are growing...