Religious Discrimination: An Ugly Reality We Can No Longer Ignore

To update this post I would like to add a more recent article from The Wild Hunt showing how religious discrimination is still going unchecked for the Pagan community. We are being made to feel helpless and hopeless as other religious groups taunt and attempt to destroy our ceremonies. I hope you will also read this article as it clearly displays the issues we need to stand up against. I honestly hope this group seeks legal counsel and is able to file for legal action.

Here is the Article California PPD Event Draws Protest and Police Inaction 

 

Religious discrimination is too close for comfort. If you are Pagan, you have been shown discrimination. Even if you have never told anyone what you believe, discrimination has been on your heels. This post is a little more serious than usual. I think it is necessary for us to take a deep look at this issue. I hope that you will find some inspiration in it. 

Today we live in a society where it is wrong to discriminate, and yet discrimination is wide spread and in many cases it is tolerated. We are shown discrimination in the media, in our schools, and in the workplace.  Out of fear, many of us keep our beliefs silent and secret.

Usually when we read or hear about discrimination it is related to race. Whites vs Blacks. If we hear about religious intolerances the story comes from the Middle East. However, there are discriminations right here under our noses we have learned to ignore. As Pagans, we are often shown bias against our beliefs in a variety of ways. Many times we do nothing because they are explained away so that we cannot place our finger on the real cause or disturbance.

 As a Pagan, in general, religious discrimination is an ugly reality we can no longer ignore. It is scheming, and backed by a variety of groups. It is fortified with fear and hate. It is irrational, and uneducated. It is a confusing vapor of lies and deception that vanishes almost as quickly as it appears. The fact is we know it is out there.

Discrimination tells us we are vulgar and unaccepted. Directly or indirectly, discrimination comes from words spoken or actions taken by family members, bosses, community leaders, and friends. We are told that our path is a “Phase”. It is assumed that we will lose interest in it quickly. We are told we are seeking attention because we choose to follow something that may seem obscure. Our practices are viewed as strange and foolish. We are deemed weird and then avoided rather than understood. We are asked leading and foolish questions that are aimed at making us look bad. Our practices, beliefs, and actions are manipulated and distorted to prove some frivolous point of a fear-filled non-believer. 
Why do we tolerate being told we are unvalued and not wanted in civil society? 

Fear? Yes, fear will keep us from speaking up. We fear losing our jobs, we fear harassment, and we fear rejection. We fear bodily harm. We fear social distance. It just seems easier to hide away in avoidance.
The fact is those who participate, even unknowingly, in acts of discrimination are helping to spread fear and hate. They are creating confusion, unrest, and distrust in our society. Many times these people have been told something that and they simply believe without doing any creditable research on their own. Discrimination does not care about truth. It only cares about being viewed as creditable. Many people in our society want information handed to them, so they will believe something that comes to them from a trusted source instead of seeking to know the true on their own. Understandably so, who has time to spend reading and researching something they have no real interest in knowing?
Another reason discrimination is able to flourish is our lack of community.  The Pagan community is large but not cohesive. We are scattered and bicker among ourselves.
What do you notice first about nearly all monotheistic religious communities? I first notice the size of each sect, from Catholics, to Muslim, to Jewish; They have evident numbers on their side. Second, I notice that they are united in one way or another. They tend to agree in many areas and this is where they develop strength.
Also, notice that some of these groups tend to take messages of fear and hate and internalize them. Why? Perhaps it is because we as humans seem to love drama. While some do it because they want to feel that they are better than others. Others never seem to question church authorities.

 

Don’t get me wrong this is not the truth about every single church or monotheistic believer. Although, there are enough out there to warrant discussion. Personally, I have several friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who are of monotheistic faiths, from Christian to Jewish. I love them and value them greatly. We come together to honor each other as people, our faiths rarely come into the mix. Perhaps that is the key.
As Pagans coming together as a community is not a bad idea. In fact, it is a wonderful thing… when done right. We can use our numbers to do some really awesome things. You might not realize it at first, but we too have numbers on our side. We are uncounted because we are hidden and silent. Perhaps, it is time for us to make our voices heard. It is time to use our intellect to fight the immorality of discrimination and stereotyping.
I think, what keeps us apart is fear. Many feel that if we are vocal or open about our practices/faith then there will be consequences. Perhaps there will be… and perhaps not. Perhaps it is a matter of remaining positive in our intent and actions. I know many of us desire freedom. After all, this is one reason we chose a Pagan path. So why would we choose to live in fear because other choose to live in hate and intolerance? Why would we allow the actions of others to control ours?
The fear inflicted upon us by those who fear our spiritual paths is unacceptable, and we need to stop making acceptations. Of course I am not saying you have to announce your beliefs to anyone and everyone you meet. I am also not suggesting that you proselytize your faith. I am highly against this. I am only recommending that you find ways to no longer fear standing up for your rights.
Many of you out there are private people and don’t feel it is anyone’s business. This is your right and should be used at your will. However, this does not mean we can’t come together, especially when it matters most. The important reality is to not make your desire to be private, into an excuse for complacency. The only way we can get over the discrimination hurdle is if we stop being contented with hiding ourselves away. It is time to come together in strength so that we don’t have to fear losing our jobs, our homes, or enduring harassment. It is time to support one another in making this world a better place where we can thrive together. 
 
So what the heck do we do??? That’s a very good question. I can’t tell you exactly what you should do. Ultimately, it is up to you.
Personally, I have done a variety of things. I have attended meetings where I stood in front of a large crowd and spoke about my beliefs. I have written letters to congress, I have attended school board meetings, and benefits related to religious tolerance. I have attended Pagan Pride events, I have donated my time, money, and so on. There are a variety of things you can do.
If you are very private then you can write a personal or anonymous letter to someone you admire who has chosen to be public. You can thank them for standing up for our rights. You can encourage him/her to keep up the good work. Sometimes knowing that people are paying attention is all these pioneers need. You can also share their messages with others who would benefit from their efforts.
I found this article on another blog site. This article is what inspired my musing today. The speaker who chose to stand up against religious discrimination is teaching us an important lesson. I applaud him and support him in is efforts.
I encourage you to support people like this in your community so that they are not standing alone on the path toward true equality.
 
Thank you for taking time to visit The Magick Kitchen. I hope you have found some inspiration in this post and have a positive use for it in your life. I welcome you to join me in this topic by adding your experiences, thoughts and comments below. You may also join the conversation on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheMagickKitchen 
Please remember to keep your messages civil and relevant. It is my desire to create a non-threatening environment where we can discuss a variety of topics, without fear and hostility. As I have said before, let’s act like open-minded, intelligent, and permeable adults.
Thank YOU and Bright Blessings,
Leandra Witchwood
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Leandra Witchwood

I just want good food and to live a Magickal life! Is that so much to ask?
Through persistence, I found the honest answer… I can have both! I realize that I could forge my own path using the skills and knowledge I gained, and the simplest of techniques.

I love food and everything that goes with it. I have spent more than 35 years in the kitchen, enjoying every minute. Okay… well, enjoying almost every minute of it.

In addition, I have disbursed nearly as many years studying Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism. Combining these two interests has created a Magickal path where I combine food and spirituality. To my delight they play brilliantly together.

My love of whole healthy foods, and unique recipes has also lead me to help run a local teen cooking program, where I teach kids valuable life skills in the kitchen. In addition, I teach a variety of cooking classes for adults and covens on subjects ranging from making the time spent in the kitchen more enjoyable, to cooking together as a group, and recipe-spell creation.

It only made sense that I would begin writing and sharing my experience. From this, The Magick Kitchen was born. My journey with you is about developing a spiritual experience with food, far beyond the dull habit of consumption. We have a marvelous opportunity here to take a most mundane task and make it Magickal!

The Magick Kitchen is about connecting to Divinity through food and the ritual of preparing and sharing food. It is about developing a sacred balance between nourishment, ritual, and spirit. Food has the power to heal, sooth, and bring us together as friends, families, and community.

I am so glad you joined me! Sharing knowledge, experience, and personal perspective with you is an honor. Thank you!
Leandra Witchwood
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