Tuesday, July 10, 2007

If not Pagan, then What?

We've pretty much deconstructed the class of religions called pagan.

Some people, like me hold onto the term pagan because it demonstrates that a minority movement is possible, can gain recognition by larger institutions (governmental, educational) and provide a modicum of protection to it's members.

By using the example set by Wiccanesque faiths, we have proven that alternative doesn't mean unacceptable. UnChristian doesn't necessarily mean without faith.

Then at the same time we have to ask why we're all huddling under this little umbrella skeleton if the cover it provides is so shallow. We're cursing the blanket, but how else do you keep off the rain?

Expecting the military to recognize every religion that happens to declare itself a religion will in my opinion do more to damage the large scale perception of alternative faiths. Some people have a hard enough time wrapping their minds around Hindus and Islamics not being an assault to their faith, so to introduce twenty or so new religions to the non profit category could water down what small dignity 'pagan' faiths have collected over the last fifty years.

Then again, perhaps that's what is needed. I can see it doing much to take religion out of our schools and our government. Equality would be nearly impossible to provide to a base of a few hundred faiths. Seeing religious institutions loose tax exemption status and government funding wouldn't cause me to shed any tears either.

I don't know how this would play out unless it happened in a way that the lesser known sects living under the name paganism were to step forward and ask for recognition and equal status with the more mainstreamed faiths. Otherwise it could be interpreted as a disbanding of a trend rather than the expansion of individual faiths. Pagans pack it up and go home.

I don't think 'pagan' really makes any statement besides not being J/C/I but still being theistic. It's become a blankey we toss to our critics to keep them from having an accurate view when judging the validity of faiths not their own.

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