Monday, February 9, 2009

Neo-Pagans and religious racism

Over the weekend I thought ah an easy posting on London and my husband. No controversy. But I also have a web site, Naming the Grace. So I received two e-mails from different types of pagans. One was happy that my article Goddess Spirituality, was so correct. That is because some people who write about Wicca, or witchcraft and goddess spirituality do sloppy work.

They think because the word witch is in this religious movement it has some connection to Satanism. But it doesn't. Instead, it is a nature religion that doesn't even believe there is a Satan. Of course as a Christian I believe that any kind of false religion has a connection to Satan after all he is the father of lies. But writing about religions, as a Christian, means being honest about what people believe. How can you reach someone for Jesus Christ when you misrepresent what they believe.

Anyway it turned out this first pagan was not into Wicca but believed in a goddess. We had a nice chat that went on and off during the day. Hopefully this person will find their way to Jesus or rather as Andrew Purves puts it, Jesus will, like the mother cat does to her kittens, grab him by the back of the neck and not let go. That is my prayer for him.

The other Pagan was up-set about my article, The NeoPagan Movement and Racism. In that article I write about some pagans who are into Odinism and Ásatrú, religious groups who worship the northern gods and goddesses of the old northern European religions. That includes such gods and goddesses as Thor, Odin and Freya. Some of these groups are racist and some have the potential for being racist.

The racist part was what he was upset about. He felt that I had mis-judged them. To be fair to myself I pointed out to him that I stated in the article that only some of these groups were racist or had that potential.

The ones that I felt were racist believe that religion is connected to a person's blood line. I should also mention that for some of these groups hate is a definite part of their thought. Others insist that although other cultural religions are good for their own ethnic groups they should not mix. And they all hate universal religions, in particular, Christianity. So here is a question.

If religious groups insist that only one particular ethnic group may belong to their religion does that make them a racists religious group?


Andrea said...

This is totally unrelated to your blog -- I just have to say:

I made the dress in that picture!

Andrea Hightower
Sacramento, CA

timeforthetruth said...

Fascinating question. I guess I would need to know more about their faith.

Is the faith exclusivist -- do they believe that their belief is the only way to whatever heaven there is?

Does their faith discriminate against other ethnic groups in other ways than excluding them from their religious practices?

Do they see it more as a club (albeit a serious one)?

Racist means different things in different contexts. Yes absolutely it is racist in one sense -- excluding others from their faith. But that might be the only sense in which they are racist. They might be caring and wonderful neighbors and citizens otherwise.
Ultimately as a Christian, I am pleased that they are racist in that one sense, in that they will not be actively recruiting people into their false belief system.

Those are just a couple of thoughts.

timeforthetruth said...

OOOPS! I'm sorry Viola.

I forgot.

Adel Thalos
Snellville, GA

Viola Larson said...

Yes you did. And you gave me one of my better laughs of the day. Shall I put under the picture, dress made by Andrea Hightower?

Viola Larson
Sacramento, CA

Viola Larson said...

Adel those are great questions and thoughts.

"Is the faith exclusivist -- do they believe that their belief is the only way to whatever heaven there is?"

Well, this is kind of a circular argument, the really hard racist groups do, it is called for some Valhalla, but the only reason it would be for the white races is because most pagans think in terms of doing good and in their case I would guess and this is a guess that being white is good!

On the other hand many pagans including Odinist don't believe in an after life or they believe in some form of reincarnation. And because all of their different beliefs have more to do with nature and story, etc. I don't think they think much about who is going to heaven.

"Does their faith discriminate against other ethnic groups in other ways than excluding them from their religious practices?

Do they see it more as a club (albeit a serious one)?"

That is rather hard to answer--the ones I was writing about I would say yes to the discrimination although some of them would argue with me. You will need to read the article to see what I am talking about. They certainly don't see their religion as a club, it is their whole life.

"They might be caring and wonderful neighbors and citizens otherwise."

Here is one thing I have found when writing and doing research about different racist groups and cults. They can be wonderful neighbors to some and bad to others. They are kind of like Hitler who seemingly loved children unless they were Jewish children. It is hard to know.

This is from my article and is about one person who says he is not a racist:

“While Steve McNallen of Asatru Folk Assembly claims not to be racist, some of his articles promote racism. In an article entitled “Wotan vs. Tezcatlipoca,” McNallen attempts to show that a kind of spiritual ethnic war is developing in California between the gods of the Hispanic culture and the European culture. He sees the old Aztec and Mayan gods pushing for territory in California and writes, “If California and the American Southwest are to be cultural battlegrounds, who better to lead the European-American counterattack against Tonatzin and Tezcatlipoca than our own Gods of the North.” While not suggesting violence as the answer, he sees cultural interests such as language and festivals as indicators of aggression rather than celebrations of ethnic diversity in a democracy.”

Viola Larson
Sacramento, Ca

Dave Moody said...

How big a deal- wide spread is this? Wotan and Tetzahoozi -

Is this small, always will be small- or small and growing? An inverted gotterdammerung?

Here in fly over country, I'm just not picking up on this as a movement.


Viola Larson said...

In a book I have Contemporary Paganism: Listening People Speaking Earththe chapter on Odinism, and Asatru (they prefer to be called heathen rather than pagan) states that they are growing. But I know they are small groupings. And there are groups in fly-over country.

The author Graham Harvey writes that Europe has such groups. And "Since 1973 Asatru has been one of the officially recognised religions of Iceland which has legalised its marriages, child naming and other ceremonies and provided benefits for tax purposes." But to show how small in 1994 there was 172 registered Asatru.

I went search using my paper's links and found some new material. But here is a link to the "Wotan vs. Tezcatlipoca" paper

Another thing I found among their books for sale is the book On Being a Pagan, by Alain de Benoist. He is a European Facist who is liked by a few on the far left. He considers Christianity his biggest enemy. He's probably right : )

This is small and growing but may always be small anyway.

Viola Larson
Sacramento, Ca

timeforthetruth said...

Hi Viola,

Reading the article you linked to, I get the impression that the problem is not so much the size of this group, but the level of influence they have of promoting syncretism within the largely Catholic/Protestant communities.

Adel Thalos
Snellville, GA

Viola Larson said...

Which article are you writing about? The Goddess One? That is the only one I can make sense of what you wrote. If that is the one of course the goddess' worshipers own loss is the biggest problem. But you are right about the influence on mainline and Catholic Churches.

On the other hand I think Dave was writing about the other article

timeforthetruth said...

Hi Viola,

This article that you linked to in your comment:

"Wotan vs. Tezcatlipoca" paper

Where he writes:

Actually, the religion they've discovered isn't all that new. The old Aztec and Mayan deities never really went away, they simply went underground. Tonatzin, for example, is the Mother of the Gods in the old Mexican pantheon - but the Franciscan monks who came to the New World were willing to transform or absorb her into the Virgin of Guadalupe.

He describes the celebrations...which sound very syncretistic to me, which does not surprise me as this is quite prevalent in Central/South American forms of catholicism.

Thank you,
Adel Thalos
Snellville, GA

PsychoKnight1 said...

I would just like to say that i find all of ur comments rediculous u try and preach about how ur god is great and call our gods a false religion yet i could quite easily say the same about ur fictional bibles and im glad ive just become an odinist as i find u all evil as at least we let ppl believe in whatever god/gods they like and we dont force our religion onto others like u christians do and if u wer to learn more about history it would show that u had robbed hell from our goddess hel and the same for baptisium and not to mention that it was ur god that murdered every liveing thing on earth except for 2 of everything which means he killed all of those inoccent babys and children anyways i have plenty more to say but this will have to do seing that all of u proberly wont see this as i doubt the moderater will post this let alone know how to answer these truthful facts.

Viola Larson said...

I have to tell you this is an old posting so probably not too many people will see your comment. Also I should say I cannot publish anymore of your comments if you do not leave a real name, first and last, and your city and state or country.

On the other hand, although I of course do not agree with you, I understand your thoughts. You undoubtedly do not have any background in Christian history or the Bible. That is true for a lot of people. I hope you will keep reading the Scriptures and that you will find Jesus Christ for who he is. The God who took on human flesh that he might die and be resurrected for us. He does love you.

ahendric said...

Well Viola, I'm an Àsatrú follower. And if you don't known Àsatrú is Germanic Neopaganism, we believe in an underlying, all-pervading divine energy or essence which is generally hidden from us, and which is beyond our immediate understanding.
We are NOT satanism, nor believe in him, we are not evil. Ásatrú is focused on honoring the two families of gods and goddesses, the Æsir and the Vanir, but it also holds a belief in various other land spirits and a reverence of ancestors. Many follow a list of nine virtues, referred to as the Nine Noble Virtues, that have been culled from the Eddas (our primary sources) and the Sagas. These virtues are: Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-reliance, and Perseverance.

Ásatrú has a strong emphasis on individual spiritual experience, however, Ásatrú people often form small groups. These groups are variously known as kindreds, hearths, garths, felags, halls, etc. Some have a designated priest or priestess, while others rely on inspired volunteers to lead the celebrations. A priest is referred to as a Goði, a priestess as a Gyðja. There is a great deal of importance placed on the study of the literature, folklore, and history pertaining to the original religious and cultural elements upon which Ásatrú is based.

Ásatrú is open to everyone, and there are many different sorts of Ásatrú people. Anyone who wants to become Ásatrú can do so -- regardless of gender, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, language, sexual orientation, or other divisive criteria.

The reason for hating Christianity is cause by you guys, you force your beliefs on everyone. In the past christians will kill, hurt down, and torture people, all in your Father's name. And some Christian kings will start a bloodly war against Pagans, like Olaf I of Norway.

But I don't hate Christians but just disgust about the way that each religion is always putting the others down and the Christians are know for doing this. Does your “God” say to do it, to put others down, to force your views onto others, to start wars against others?

Viola Larson said...

Hi ahendric,I am not sure you read my posting. I wrote that some Àsatrú groups are racist or have the potential for racis. It seems that the one you belong to does not. If you hunt around on my blog sroll down to my subject index you will find I have written more in other places. I believe we are all sinners and that Jesus, who is God, died to save and transform us. I know that some Christians have done evil things and so have pagans. But think about this if God loves you wouldn't he want you to know that he does. That is why Jesus came.

Charles from NY said...

Dear Viola,

Well like humans have be doing for all of time you have judged (or insinuated) an entire group of people as being bad, racist, etc. Only certain groups of Asatru think that to believe in the Gods that you have to be of the bloodline, they are the Folkish. And you did say that only certain groups are racist, but insuated that they are all racist by not including the groups that are accepting, wich are far more numerous, the Universalist and the Tribalists (and also when comparng us to Hitler, almost no one wants to be compared to Hitler). And anyways our faith is more about following the Noble Truths, then die hard devotion to the Gods (you still worship the gods in festivals and when you need them). Following Asatru, you want to be friends with the Gods not being their slaves. Because it is these Gods you want as friends to feast, fight, and celebrate with in the aftterlife. So even some noble and honorable Christians could be feasting in Valhalla as we speak, so I have no probles with other religions, my family's catholic and Lutheran, I'm friends with Jewish, Muslims, Hindu's etc. And when you said our religion being our whole life, I say not really, if anythng we're a lot more "laid back" then Christians. We praise our gods anytime we need/want to, there is no set holy day, besides our few festivals, but some people can go die hard if they want to, like Christians can go from almost never going to Church to spend every moment of their life preaching and still going to Heaven, whatever makes them happy. And when talking about pagans being called heathens, Pagan is a umbrella term containing all Asatru followers, wicca, shamans etc. while heathen is a certain group of Asatru followers (of which I am). I really hope that helped and if you have anymore questions, I'll be glad to answer.

Viola Larson said...

I am going to disagree with you on this. I believe I was very clear that not all heathen groups are racist. But any way I thank you for your information.

I do believe that Jesus is the truth the life and the way. I pray that you will be pulled into his love.

Kauz Waldhar said...

It is not racist in the modern sense of the word. Ethnocentric? Sure. But so is Judaism and no one says a fucking thing about it. People should appreciate folkish spirituality, universalism is the cause of people beating on your door to convert you. Asatruars (if you will) will not do that.

Viola Larson said...

If I wished to convert to Judaism I could. In the racists Asatruar I could not. (And I did point out in my article that not all Asatruar groups are racist.) If you write here again please do not use that kind of laugage.

Blitzmadchen said...

Some jews actually object to that strongly. You can only be a true jew if you are One on mothers side. Asatru is like shinto actually. Gods like Odin and Freyr represent ancestors. my boyfriends familyline is said to be from Freyr and seagod Njord. Like in shinto, if you don't have Nordic/japanese ancestors then why would you want to worship them? in viking era this sort of thing would have been referred to as slave worshipping masters ancestral gods. nyt I don't see you complain japanese pe others excluding people. Only White HAVE to op en their religion to other.....

Viola Larson said...

Blitzmadchen, I realize that I have already stated this in a comment, but perhaps you did not read it. If I wanted to convert to the Jewish religion I could. Perhaps not in one or two very small Jewish sects, but then I would also consider that religious racism. And you are right that most peoples would not want to convert to some small ancestor religions. But the groups I was writing about do make a point of excluding other ethnic groups from their religion and their gods. Ancestors or not that does make them racists.