You know, it seems to us that people–especially those in the Wiccan/pagan community–don’t understand the term that serves as the title of these thoughts. Religious freedom means that you have the one and only right and true path … for you. And it means that you are allowed to pursue the path of your choice without let or hindrance–so long as you obey the secular laws of the land.
It means as well (here’s the corollary) that you do not have the right to criticize anyone else’s path or to try to amend it. You’ve got freedom? They’ve got freedom. Yet we witness such leaning-on behavior ad nauseam; it seems to be a pervasive culturally-inflicted trait in luckless individuals whose minds have been twisted into knots. Leaning on other people is not a duty and it is not a right. Such a mindset is an intrinsic part of the duality attitude of ethnic monotheism. Black and white, good and evil, either/or, no gray scales, and (god forbid) no color. Yvonne sometimes wishes (vainly, of course) that freedom of religion could also mean freedom from religion.
In India there are literally thousands, if not millions, of gods and goddesses. A famous sage once said there are 330 million gods and goddesses in India because, given 1 billion Hindus, you can imagine that a few of them have overlapping ideas of “god”. In other words, throughout the length, width, breadth, height of India there may be three people who share the same or a similar idea of what a god or a goddess is.
You can contrast this with Pakistan, where a Christian woman is due to be hanged next week for “insulting” the memory of Mohammed. She stepped out of bounds by criticizing someone else’s high mucky-muck. Granted, hanging is a little severe; such an offense normally earns only a public whipping. In a state where true religious freedom reigns, she would not criticize somebody else’s sacred icon but instead just follow her own path in perfect freedom. Of course her sentence of hanging offends our American standards and we decry such severity. By the way, in Pakistan there are almost ten percent Hindus and two percent Christians.
These thoughts apply to Wiccan/pagans because every day we hear of some new attack by one group on another group. God(ess) damn it, good people! Follow your own path. Take pleasure in it. Know it and know its natural follow-ons well enough to know why you follow it. Look at other paths and see whether there is anything you like–even if they do it differently. Whatever you do, don’t criticize them. After all, they may be right … Another famous Hindu belief teaches, Everyone is right.
Regrettably India itself has been polluted by the disease of monotheism, so now you can find Shivites who criticize followers of Vishnu. In classical times this would never have happened because Shivites are polytheists. (Shiva has many varied aspects.) So if I say “Shiva is not the dancing god of creation and destruction …” in a presentation, and someone in the audience says, “Oh, no! He is.” My response should be “That’s right.” Then there can be no argument.