Yvonne and I come from two entirely different family backgrounds : she from a fundamentalist Baptist family, and I from what might best be called a default agnostic family. Our childhoods were very different : her family was poor, whereas Gavin’s was what might be described as upper middle-class–certainly what the French call confortable or aisi. She was expected to go to the Baptist church regularly for her dose of piety and guilt; he went, though rarely, to the handiest Anglican franchise for marryin’s, buryin’s, and harvest festivals. In fact Gavin’s Welsh grandfather was so anti-Christian that he didn’t want his descendants walking down a street with a church of any denomination in it.
When we two came together in the 1960s, we found a common ground of understanding : the civilization we lived in was broken and was getting worse. Yes, we are of an older generation than many of you; and many of you seem to think that we don’t understand that good Christian homes can be friendly and nurturing. We deny that we are carrying scars that Christianity inflicted on us in childhood. In fact, a child of today gets more scars than we were ever likely to experience. We decided that a new religion–a new spiritual path–was sorely needed–a path of freedom and of spirituality but one that recognized the possibilities inherent in belief structures encompassing both (a) an unknowable Ultimate Deity and (b) what the Welsh called hearth gods and goddesses (Latin lares and penates). The key was freedom from rigid fundamentalism of any stripe. In our minds, fundamentalism means a group (affiliated with one of a variety of conventional religions) with a set of rigid dominator rules that are enforced through peer pressure or through actual physical punishment and through guilt, shame, and fear.
We know many of you were raised in happy, supportive homes–but many others were not. For those scarred souls who are still in pain and don’t know why they hurt, we articulate these thoughts.
To paraphrase Richard Dawkins, we two sought Evidence for spiritual belief, declining to base our ideas on Authority, Revelation, or Tradition. (Thank you, St. Richard!)
Unfortunately, some people assumed that Wicca and Witchcraft traditions were inherently fundamentalist. Thus in Wicca today we have a giant split. When people think they have left conventional paths behind–but carry over the dominator mindset into their “new” beliefs without examining their assumptions, they make Witchcraft into just one more package of rigidity. A big thumbs-down to that!
The only way this split can be healed is through honest debate, through honest, objective examination of “tenets” and “principles”. The way to heal that split is to join forces with other like-minded people to battle the fundamentalist rape of the world and soon of the universe. And healing is what we need, if the Craft and the Community are to survive the relentless, pervasive, well-funded, creative 24/7 water torture of conventional fundamentalists.
Let us quote from Thomas Flynn, editor of the magazine Free Inquiry (800) 458-1366) :
“You and I are currently under an attempted psychological siege by fundamentalist religious control fanatics. The world is under assault today–more than at any time in the last 70 years–by religious extremists who invoke their particular notion of God to try controlling how we think, what we read, what our kids are taught in every class from civics to science, how we vote, and even when and with whom our nation goes to war.
“The rise of hatred-encouraging, fear-inducing propaganda in best-selling ‘Christian literature.’ Fundamentalist leaders like preacher/novelist Tim LaHaye are preparing readers for the emergence of ‘the Anti-Christ,’ preparatory to the eventual destruction of the world. Nor is fundamentalist-encouraged hatred limited to Christian fundamentalists. Muslim clerics have issued a fatwa against one of our contributing editors, a genuinely ominous event in southern Asia, where this editor then lived.”
We are going to risk Bertrand Russell one more time with his immortal words :
“Religion prevents our children from having a rational education; religion prevents us from removing the fundamental causes of war; religion prevents us from teaching the ethic of scientific cooperation in place of the old fierce doctrines of sin and punishment. It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but, if so, it will be necessary first to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion.”
Please, please, Gentle Readers, wake up and smell the outhouse! We are in the hands of, and at the mercy of, fundamentalists who care little for human pain and suffering, and apparently could not care less for the fate of this planet.