Conservative Paganism: the Right Way for Witches


It's inevitable. In every functioning adult mind, one's politics and religion must collide. Right-wing fanatical Christians lobby their politicians to keep anti-sodomy laws in place. Left-wing fanatical athiests are on a crusade to banish any and all things religious from the public school system. Radical environmental New Agers line up with the Green Party to politically crush the big bad evil corporation and the big bad evil church. Extreme Muslim fanatics attacked the flagship of American capitalism in 2001 (and I'm sure you all remember that one...hehe). King James I tampered with the Bible to allow him to divorce his wife. Justices in Alabama keep trying to install the Ten Commandments in their courthouse. The most fanatical Christians veer so far right of the political spectrum as to almost walk backwards in time. Conversely, the most fanatical nonChristians sway so far left of the norm that they almost double back on themselves in trying to legislate tolerance.

Well, I'm getting into the mix myself. I am a pagan, and I vote. And I am conservative. Yes, I know, it almost sounds treacherous of me to say it, but I am what one would consider right of centre. Now, I make no party affiliation, and I'm not saying I like Gee Dubya, nor am I passing out guns to grammar school children, but I am saying that when it comes to legislation, less is more. Furthermore, I believe the pagan community as a whole would do well to recognise this principle and adopt a political stance accordingly. Now, because some asshole didn't read my disclaimer, I have to reiterate that I am stating that what I believe is the right way. Yes, I believe I'm right; otherwise I wouldn't believe what I believe. However, I am not saying you are necessarily wrong, nor am I saying you must conform your beliefs to mine. Actually, the fact that few people agree with me makes for some rather interesting banter; I love conversing with those of differing opinions (so long as they aren't douchebags about it) because homogeneity never got anybody anywhere. I suppose one should read Q's essay on tolerance before going any further.

Alright, now that I'm done covering my own ass, I think I'll continue presenting my argument now. If you don't like it, fine; take it to the message board and we'll debate this further there.

First of all, let me go over the fundamental principle of our political spectrum. You have the right wing, or conservative side, comprising the Republican and Libertarian parties, among others. On the left wing, or the liberal side, stand the Democratic and Green parties, among others. The Left exacts their will by way of more legislation; the Right does so by way of less. The Left value equality; the Right value freedom. Of course, this is just how I understand things; you might believe differently. Let me address each of the above statements individually to clarify why this aligns perfectly with the Neopagan agenda.

Neopagans, like all people, want to be treated fairly. We want the right to practice our religion freely and openly without fear of reprisal or repercussion. We want the right to build our temples without fear of having them vandalised by hate groups, and to have them treated just like mainstream churches. We want the right to marry with legal recognisation just like Christians and Jews can. We want the right to practice skyclad, brandishing our treasured athamés and bollines and swords, in the privacy of our own backyards without our neighbours screaming to the police that there's a demented cult worshipping Satan behind the blue duplex. These are all fair and reasonable requests, and there are (as I see it) two ways to resolve these conflicts. We can:

  1. (the liberal solution): Enact laws protecting and promoting the plans of fringe Neopagan covens to build temples and attain tax-exempt status; enact laws permitting Wiccan priests, elders and priestesses to be ordained and legally marry; enact laws permitting nude worship with what would be considered dangerous weapons on public property; and enact ordinances which would force police to patrol and protect publicly known Neopagan worshipping grounds from outsiders.
  2. (the conservative solution): Repeal laws awarding religious places any and all forms of special police, legal and/or tax protection; forbid the government to recognise religious marriages of any sort; prevent police from entering private property unless unwanted damage is being inflicted to persons or property.

Either way, the desired solution is achieved: Neopagan covens are treated just the same as mainstream religious institutions (read: Christian churches). Neopagan priests are awarded the same governmental rights as Christian priests. Covens can worship with the attire and tools of their choice, just as churches can. Both solutions allow the Neopagan to get what she wants. The question is: would you rather create MORE hoops to jump through, or LESS? I choose less. The principle of inertia indicates that the less bullshit you have to go through in order to achieve the desired goal, the better. I think both the Neopagan and the mainstream communities would be better off if special protection were abolished altogether. Both would be able to worship, practice and wed however they like, so long as no one causes harm to persons or property. And instead of amending legislation to empower any and all religious groups that come along, eventually adding to a tedious and unnecessarily large list of accepted religions, it makes more sense to do away with such legislation altogether. The Neopagan would be wise to be conservative in this manner.

Next, there is the touchy subject of freedom versus equality. While ideally the two can coexist in a "utopian" fashion, in reality, the two are mutually exclusive. Freedom is the right to be different, whilst equality is a guarantee that all are the same. Two people cannot be completely free and completely equal, unless they're identical. Freedom means I can be proud to be left-handed and use my left hand to do whatever I want. Equality means that I must use my right hand just like the next Joe so that I don't offend or impede upon the righthandedness of said neighbour. Freedom means I can be pagan and proud. Equality means I must be Christian just so I'm no different than the next guy (who is more than likely Christian himself). I don't know about you, but freedom is more important to me than equality.

Our beloved Declaration of Independence is fundamentally wrong in that we are NOT all created equal (and the truth of this is self-evident!). I was born weighing 8 lb 13 oz; my brother-in-law (who is as I write this four days old) weighed in at only 8 lb, and my fiancée was only 4 lb 7 oz at birth. Some people are born with Down's Syndrome, or malformed. Some are born with twelve fingers, some with nine. Some are born in affluent families with strong sociopolitical ties (like the Bushes), while some are born in the poverty-stricken slums of Hagerstown or Chicago. Some are born in the Indian caste of the untouchables, and others are born into cosmopolitan Jewish families of New York City. Some are born in the Bay Area, whilst some are born in the technologically oblivious jungle tribes of Borneo. Some are born with very keen minds, and some are born peabrains. Some are born straight, some gay, some bisexual, some trisexual. Some are born into very strict homes (say, Southern Baptist, Mormon, SDA or Wahhabi Muslim) while some are born into more moderate, open-minded families. Obviously, these people are not created equal; neither were you and I.

Because the Framers (bless their hearts for trying) were wrong about this fundamental principle, generation after generation of Americans are raised thinking incorrectly. Their illusion of species homogeneity is shattered whenever they venture overseas and realise how different everybody is. Americans are flabbergasted to find that those in other nations see us as a nation of vain, self-venerating gluttons who are completely oblivious to the world around them. And they're right. Once you see this, and you come to realise that we're NOT all equal, you start to wonder how exactly one expects everyone to be treated equally. How come, if we're all created equal, Denis Leary can be funny and Alex Trebek can't? How come, if we're all created equal, Anna Kournikova looks a hell of a lot better than Janet Reno? How come, if we're all created equal, the Israelis and the Palestinians can never seem to get along? Because we're all different, that's why. And we should have the freedom to be different. I just draw the line at harm to undeserved personal harm, property damage or infringement upon another's freedom.

Now, I've had this thrown at me in the past, and considering the volume of feedback I get, I'm sure I'm gonna have this thrown at me a second time. And I'd like to address this issue before I publish this essay:

There's this illusion in people's minds that a conservative political standpoint plus a strong religious conviction equals fundamentalism. While this is true, I don't believe myself to be a "fundy". I will concede that this is true; after all, look at the SBC or the SDA or the LDS or the KKK or any of those other conveniently three-lettered organisations (FCC, anyone?). After all, the 700 Club and their leader, Pat Robertson, are extremely vocal "abut" their Republican ties and are widely known for saying some of the most inappropriate, audacious shit to ever pollute the local airwaves. Jerry Falwell, also, is conservative to the point of being reactionary, and he too has said things that count as worthy of damnation (remember? The 9/11 attacks were OUR [the Neopagans'] fault!) But it's not their conservatism that makes them fundamentalist assholes, but the fact that their minds are siphoned off from the flow of new ideas. After all, I could name many, many liberal fundamentalists whom are just as vicious and hateful as those on the right. But it isn't the fundamentalists' political stance, but their arrogant closedmindedness, that makes them assholes who need to be slugged up the face with a cast iron sledgehammer and their various extremities ground to a pulp in an electric pencil sharpener on Fat Tuesday.

I am a pagan. I am conservative. My politics and my religion coexist in harmony. I am not a fundamentalist; I am not trying to change your opinion for you. I am not trying to make your perspective equal to mine; I am exercising my freedom to express my views. It's up to you to THINK FOR YOURSELF and form your own worldview. I did, and I have come to my own conclusions. Search for yours: perhaps you'll see I'm right after all.

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