George W. Bush denounced Wicca, an earth-centered religion, in 1999, when as Governor of Texas; he insisted, “The military should rethink their position regarding Wicca because it was not a religion”. Given that statement, one has to wonder what frame of reference or political stance, he used as a basis for his argument since the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifically states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof “. However, it must be noted that George Bush is not the only politician to make statements or perform acts that are profoundly, religiously intolerant or violate the federal constitution in a major way. Other examples include Governor Mike Johanns (R, NE) who signed a proclamation on MAY 6, 1999, officially recognizing that day as a March for Jesus Day. In response, Carole Shields, president of People for the American Way Foundation, commented that: “This action, far from promoting religious faith and freedom, undermines it by creating a second-class status for all faiths other than Christianity in
Nebraska.” At the time, reporters asked Governor Johanns whether he would sign a proclamation for a religion other than Christianity to which he replied: “I wouldn’t hesitate to sign a proclamation for the Jewish faith, Hinduism, whatever …. so long as it doesn’t require me to sign something I personally don’t agree with.” Then there was ” U.S. Representative Bob Barr (R, GA): who currently serves on the House Judiciary, Government Reform and Banking Committees who stated that he was offended that the U.S. army extended equal religious freedom to all soldiers on the Fort Hood, TX, army base, including Wiccans. He attempted to pressure the army into terminating religious freedoms for Wiccans on all army bases thus inspiring a coalition of conservative Christian groups to mount a boycott against army recruitment, until the U.S. Army complied. I myself am a Christian and believe in the principles set forth in the Christian Bible but one of these includes not casting the first stone at those who are different, which to me means extending tolerance to all and acknowledging others rights to believe as they choose.
Wiccan’s appear to be harmless, worshipping in much the same way as the Native American do by giving homage to the rain, wind, and nature in general. According to Edain McCoy, Wiccans celebrate their beliefs through the cycles of nature using the earth as their temple and its plants and creatures as their teachers. They “worship a deity that is both male and female, a mother Goddess and a father God who created all that is, or will be very similar to what Christians believe while respecting life and cherishing the free will of sentient beings and the sacredness of all creation.”
On May 4, 2004 Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, addressed the World Evangelical stating that, “Once started religious strife has a tendency to go on and on, to become permanent feuds. Today we see such intractable inter-religious wars in Northern Ireland, between Jews and Muslims and Christians in Palestine, Hindus and Muslims in
South Asia and in many other places. Attempts to bring about peace have failed again and again. Always the extremist elements invoking past injustices, imagined or real, will succeed in torpedoing the peace efforts and bringing about another bout of hostility.” This statement’s truth is obvious as we see the intolerance of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the many religious wars in
Africa. My fear is that if we as Americans, who founded America on the basis of religious freedom, become intolerant to any religion, be it Wiccan or Muslim, we set ourselves up to become the Nazi’s of the twenty-first century who during World War II, through their hatred and intolerance, massacred millions of Jews in the Holocaust. To date, one must be thankful that religiously based lynchings, fire bombings, and economic attacks have been limited in the United States and
Canada to some extremists but some of our political leaders keep the evil that fueled these attacks alive today.
Several years ago, I stopped attending a church edifice, despite my beliefs because of the judgmental attitude and intolerance I found there. It seemed to always appear as if the same people who were held up in the church as holy and who were the first to tell you how to live your life were the same ones you couldn’t trust in a business situation and the ones who spent all of Sunday dinner criticizing the preacher and other church members. My firm belief is that Jesus came to earth to teach us of God’s love, forgiveness and tolerance for others which means that while we ourselves may not agree with the beliefs or philosophies of others, even those self-called humanists with their non-theistic philosophy, we are not in a position to judge them. Therefore, when it comes to Wiccan’s with their nature beliefs, Muslims with their belief in Allah, or fellow Christians of different denominations one must guard themselves against feeling superior and allow each person to seek God in their own manner. [tags]Wicca, Neo-Pagan, Native Amerian, Tolerance, Abuse of 1st Amendment, George Bush, Military, Fort Hood, Freedom of religion, Christian Values, Judgement, God[/tags]