25164998-fake-dictionary-dictionary-definition-of-the-word-bigotI really wasn’t surprised to see such a bigoted article in The Telegraph via Facebook:

This is yet another bigoted article, written by someone who is ignorant on the subject and a prime example of poor journalism.

Let’s just take some of the “observations” and look at them with a pagan eye. Christopher Howe quotes and comments on a report from the Church Times:

On page 7, the paper reported: “Concern about accusations of witchcraft and possession within black and minority ethnic communities was heightened this year by the case of Kristy Bamu, aged 15, who was murdered by his sister and her partner.” His killers had thought he was using the harmful power of witchcraft.

So it seems there are now two kinds of witchcraft: the bad kind that black people believe in, and the kind that should be celebrated because it is believed in by Cornish people.

So the reporter says here that there are two types of witchcraft, which are a contradiction to one another, a black witchcraft believed in by only black people and the harmless kind believed in by Cornish people. This remark is not just bigoted but implies black = bad, white = harmless. The remark is of course also hypocritical as aptly pointed out by Nun Yerbeezwax in a reader comment:

Hmmm two kinds of Witchcraft you say? Is that like the two kinds of Christianity, one that ministers and feeds the poor and the other like the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas USA that pickets funerals of fallen soldiers with signs claiming the soldier burns in hell for enabling homosexuality, and marches outside of Gay Pride celebrations with “God Hates Fags” signs? The comparison is apt.

Of course there are many such comparisons with Christianity that we as pagans could dig out, but probably won’t as we are not as bigoted as Christopher Howe. His above quote also fails to point out that this particular atrocity that he decided to highlight and lump in with paganism was perpetrated by Christians who were not in fact witches.

Another rather ignorant comment is:

The other problem is that if paganism is taught alongside the religion that children’s parents practise at home, it implies that paganism is a religion just as well-founded as Presbyterianism or Islam. It’s like teaching Esperanto alongside French.

The words “well-founded” perhaps stand out the most. Laughable — well-founded on what exactly? And what makes other religions more valid? That they have been around longer? Well, paganism has been around much longer and the argument that the pagan revival is relatively new doesn’t wash. Pagans have gone back to their roots, to the only indigenous religion of these isles. As for Esperanto, there are up to 2,000,000 speakers of it. I think this makes it valid as a language whether old or new, just as the fact that there are now millions of practicing pagans also makes it a valid subject to be taught in R.E. lessons. As for Wicca, Professor Ronald Hutton calls it the only religion Britain has given the world. Paganism, including Wicca, is indeed the only home-grown religion in these isles. As such, yes let’s see it discussed in R.E. lessons.

No child should have religion thrust down their throats but should be included in discussions on all religions and be allowed to make up their own minds. And as my own son said when he challenged his R.E. teacher, “If this is a religious education lesson, why is it you only teach Christianity and every so often throw in a token few minutes of Islam and Buddhism. You should spend equal time on all religions”. For which of course he was promptly thrown out of the class for “giving cheek” which loosely translates as “pointing out the truth”. In Cornwall this wouldn’t have happened as in fact he wouldn’t have had to protest.


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