Monday, June 11, 2007

Pagan Perverts

The need for unity in the Pagan community never hits home so much as when you hear about young people being drawn into dangerous situations by the "lure" of Pagan religions. If every community had a Pagan temple, youth groups and youth outreach programs, I believe we would see a great reduction in victimization of young seekers. The problem, I think, is that Pagan religions are made out to be glamorous and mysterious, providing a power that's difficult to maintain and Pagan groups can be selective and are very much family-like once you're in. Young people, full of hormones and angst, may be willing to do just about anything to gain that sort of acceptance, or to gain mysterious, glamorous secrets in their search for identity, worth, and self esteem.

I do not believe it is the Pagan youths who were raised by Pagan parents who are in the most danger. Instead it seems it is those who are curious, experimenting, digging into something new and exciting. A Pagan temple would provide a safe, welcoming place for young people to learn about Pagan religions. It would be staffed by trained volunteers who would be held accountable for their actions.

But we do not have this. Instead, we have a number of "training" sites on the web that require entrance fees. We have a ton of books to wade through, some of which are pure tripe (have you ever tasted tripe?) and many of which shamelessly play up to the whole glamorous/mysterious thing we could simply do without. And finally, we have people who are willing to train young people, for a price. Or, who brainwash them and use them for their own purposes.

Here in Michigan we had a scandal a few years ago when a teacher married a young student in a Pagan ceremony. Well, you see, Pagan religions allow same-sex marriages. But do they allow underage marriages? I dunno. Maybe some do, but in this case, we were talking about Wicca, and I don't think that's part of the tenets. That all being said, what goes along with marriage is sex- so we're married now, it's okay? No. It's not. Adults should not have sex with children. Period.
Here's an article about that

Not long ago there was also an issue with a man who was luring young women to a Pagan commune in Africa. I don't think I need to elaborate on how mindnumbingly horrible that scene has a potential to be. Unfortunately, I can't find that article again. Maybe it never really happened.

More recently we have this guy out in Arizona who has recently been arrested for molesting a girl for six years, since she was six years old. (Can you imagine someone having sex with a six year old? It makes my skin crawl!!!) It's speculated, and not unreasonably so, that he may have molested other girls and that he may have used Wicca to spark their interest and lure them into his clutches.


This, while certainly not being the least of our worries, is not the only danger the new seeker faces. Members of our community are often faced with a confusing variety of conflicting information and many end up paying a bunch of money to charletons. Drugs are also a big problem in the Pagan community. And there are those who claim to be Pagans, witches, etc. who prey on innocent and naive non-Pagans, such as the Salazar brothers . Some organization of the community would provide training and accountability for people claiming to be working under the auspices of the religion. We could create schools and offer certifications...

Now I don't think that organization and building temples is going to solve all of the problems with the Pagan community. Not by a long shot. The Catholic church has its share of perverts and a long history of cheating people out of their money and they are one of the best organized religions in the world (if not the best period). I'm not a big fan of organized religion. But I am a big fan of accountability. Right now no one in the Pagan community is accountable to anyone. We turn our heads away from those we know are guilty and pretend that they have nothing in common with us, and those who might possibly be innocent, we leap to their defense. We can't do this. There must be accountability and I believe that having multi-faith Pagan temples with council governance will help provide that to a great degree.

Another issue that this would solve is the ever-present issue of intolerance. Now I tend to be skeptical when people come to me whining about intolerance. Oh, I was fired because I'm Pagan, it's not because I was always late, or because I refused to honor the dress code, it's because I'm Pagan. Oh, I was evicted because I'm Pagan, not because I had 57 familiars in my one bedroom apartment.... you understand. But there are some cases of discrimination and intolerance that are very real and true. The Pentacle quest for instance, did not received alot of attention until Circle Sanctuary picked it up and got the ball really rolling. Before that it was just a bunch of muttering in dark corners and on Yahoo groups. Here is a case that is clearly discrimination
A temple, a (loosely) unified group, would provide her with backup. Church members could go with her, other people in the community could go to the temple and get more information AND the temple would provide charity services, youth activities, etc. to the community and build a positive reputation giving all of its members a bit more backup.