Patrick McCollum recently lost his legal battle with the state of California over the " Five Faiths Law " that only allows the five main faiths to have subsidized access to those incarcerated in their prison system. The complaint was that the prisoners did not have access to a priest, symbols, reading materials etc.. ,that the other prisoners from other faiths have access to. He lost, from my reading of the decision, because he filed the complaint as a third party against the state, but I am by no means a legal expert. I feel that the decision was odd because Native Americans are listed on the five faiths list, and their religion has many similarities to ours.
There are some who wish to restrict our rights using what I call the legal notion of the " One Nation Under God ", theory. We are constantly berated by Christian religious leaders who call us delusional, and attack our religion as "New Age", a term I hate, and even go so far as to say that our religion isn't real but is just a " made up " religion ! In 2006 a temple, The Maetrium of Cybele, Magna Mater, was granted tax exempt status as a religious institution. A year later the town revoked their tax exempt status without just cause. My guess is that it slipped through the Christians hands the first time, but when they realized that they had given tax exempt status to a Pagan religious institution, they quickly took measures to stop it. The Maetrium of Cybele sued again in 2010 but I heard they lost again. The law, their Christian law, is now the weapon they wield to keep us down.
Don't be fooled by these minor incursions into our basic rights either my friends ! These Christians, especially the right wing Evangelical Christians, will try to do whatever it takes to restrict us, and our freedoms of speech, religion, and our ability to build temples to honor our Gods and our Goddesses. A few of these holier than thou Evangelical Ministers have actually told their parishioners that it is their Gods will to kill Pagans, and rid the earth of them. Some use the term cleansing the world by getting rid of us !
And why do they hate us so ? I think it is a taught prejudice, that is preached from the pulpit from generation to generation. If you hear the same rhetoric from your priest week after week, month after month, year after year, it becomes your reality.... your truth ! I think they are also very afraid of us. Some are afraid of us because they believe that we are pure evil, while others who know well their history of deceit and violence against us fear retribution for what they have done over the past 1000 years to us. They are already in an undeclared war with the Muslims and I feel they really do not want a second front. Mostly they fear us because we are becoming more widespread, more in numbers, and in some small ways, more accepted.
This war, however, does not need to exist at all. I would venture to say that most Pagans want nothing more than to love and honor their Gods and Goddesses, ancestors and heroes. They want to build temples to their deities in the communities where they reside, and to live in peace, and co - exist with the other faiths in the towns where they live. Pagans do not want to be considered different , they just want to be seen as just another normal segment of their community. We ask, however, most strenuously that we be given the same legal rights as all other religions in the United States of America have. According to the constitution of the United States we are guaranteed these basic rights !
I personally do not understand these fears the Christians have at all. Within a ten mile radius of where I live there is a Jewish temple, Catholic churches, Protestant churches, a Mormon church, Hindu temples, and Muslim Mosques, and I do not feel threatened by these diverse groups of religious individuals. And yet these Christians feel threatened by anyone who is not one of them, and work very hard to recruit people to join their religion. I have personally received three post cards from different Christian churches in my area to visit their church and become a member in the last year. Could you imagine the firestorm that would erupt if I sent out postcards to everyone in my mailng area to come visit and join my Pagan temple ?! I would be on the front page of every local newspaper !
Recently, near me, the Hindu's bought an old Christian church and converted it into a Hindu temple. They painted the columns in the front of their temple orange, which must have infuriated someone in the Christian community, because the temple was quickly defaced. Hindus and Muslims have also had trouble getting the proper permits and approvals to build their places of worship in some towns. These Christian towns use such tactics as saying that parking and traffic would be a problem, or that the area is zoned for a different purpose. They always seem to have excuses not to approve these buildings of worship.
So for now this is where we are with the Christians. Mired in legal battles and verbal wars that accomplish nothing but to foster further mistrust and hatred. My biggest fear is that someday this will erupt into something more sinister, and then may the Gods help us all. It has already started in other countries like Egypt, and several other Muslim countries where Christians have been attacked and killed, and their churches burned down. The only thing that will prevent these actions here in America is dialogue and respect. Neither of which I truly see yet. We will have to wait and see what the future holds !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !