Tags: church and state

goddess and god

Future of Paganism, Soldiers punished for not attending Christian concerts, Hypatia of Alexandria

Paganism becoming more mainstream, experts say
by Pam Stout, AnnArbor.com, ‎Aug 26, 2010‎
"Patheos.com, in its summer Future of Religion series, invited authors and scholars to write about the Future of Paganism this week."


Future of Paganism
Patheos.com
"A reincarnation of ancient faiths, Paganism in the twenty-first century faces unique questions. In its diversity, is there unity? Which particular expressions of faith in the old gods will survive into the decades to come, and which might die out? How will Pagans becoming increasingly influential in modern American society? Patheos probes these questions and more in its Future of Religion series.
Contributors include: Margot Adler, Helen Berger, T. Thorn Coyle, Raven Digitalis, Ivo Dominguez, Jr., Kenaz Filan, Ellen Evert Hopman, K.C. Hulsman, Cristopher Knowles, Galina Krasskova, Eryn Rowan Laurie, P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, Mya Om, M. Horatius Picinus, Sarah Pike, and K.W.
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Soldiers punished for not attending Christian concerts
Susan Campbell, Hartford Courant (blog), ‎Aug 23, 2010‎
"The Pentagon is investigating some soldiers' complaints that they were punished when they declined to attend an evangelical Christian concert in May at Fort Eustis, Virginia. Some of the soldiers, who were placed on lock-down rather than released on their own time, then contacted the Military Religious Freedom Foundation."


Virginia: Soldiers Said They Were Punished for Refusing to Attend Christian Concert
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, August 20, 2010
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Forum for debate: Not Quite the Movie of the Week
Shaun de Waal, Mail & Guardian Online, Aug 27 2010
"And so to Agora, which I would argue is a very good example of a very good historical movie. Yes, its central character, Hypatia of Alexandria, is woefully underdocumented -- which is partly the legacy of Christianity's desire to erase the influence of paganism. It is known that Hypatia was a leading scholar and mathematician of her day, that she taught widely, and that she was murdered by a Christian mob in about 415 AD.
[...]
By contrast, John of Niku, writing in the seventh century, identifies her work on astronomical geometry as "magic" (as in black magic) and says she "beguiled the people of the city … through her enchantments".

This is standard Christian rhetoric of the time. Christian writers dishonestly purloined the more sophisticated pagan arguments against superstition and irrationality and applied them to pagan worship and even science; pagans were "irrational", whereas Christians possessed the only "rational" truth. In a fine historical irony, today the argument goes the other way around: evolutionary scientists such as Richard Dawkins roundly and with justification accuse creationists of irrationality, whereas religious people are compelled to defend the benefits of entirely unsubstantiated beliefs.
[...]
It is perfectly true that Christianity, even after it became the official religion of the Roman empire in the 300s, was often proceeded by violence. Riots were commonplace, partly because many Christian adherents came from the lowest classes; Christians were often pro-poor and anti-rich (at least until the church really started amassing wealth and power). They also displayed remarkably destructive tendencies. Unlike the pagans who open-mindedly accepted everyone's different gods, the monotheists claimed a monopoly on truth and wreaked havoc on pagan institutions.

And it wasn't just the burning of libraries and temples and the kind of horrible deaths meted out to the likes of Hypatia by the supposed followers of a radically non-violent Jesus -- they also had it in for the trees. As historian Robin Lane Fox notes in his study, Pagans and Christians, pagans had reverentially preserved sacred forest groves for millennia, but the "triumph of Christianity was accompanied by the sound of the axe on age-old arboreta"."
goddess and god

Wiccan to enter fray in Marion, Christianity Was Not Responsible for American Democracy

Wiccan to enter fray in Marion
by Becky Malkovich, The Southern, thesouthern.com, August 18, 2010
"MARION - Rob Sherman and a local Wiccan will conduct a news conference today to set forth their response to a move not yet made by the Marion City Council.

While the council has not made a decision on whether to place a Ten Commandments monument on the city square as requested by a resident, Sherman has been on the offensive since the controversial issue came to light.

The atheist, who recently filed a lawsuit seeking the return of state grant money awarded for the restoration of Bald Knob Cross, made his thoughts on the proposal clear at a standing-room-only meeting of the council Monday when he advised commissioners a legal battle would be likely if the monument went up on public property.

Since Sherman lives in northern Illinois, he would not have standing in a lawsuit against the city but he said any Marion resident who felt as he did could sue the city.

"I cannot sue. Unlike with Bald Knob, which received state money, I don't have standing. That's why I am introducing a Marion resident who is going to want equal time if the Ten Commandments are placed on Tower Square," he said.

Sherman didn't say that the resident, who he described as a "Wiccan," would be a party to a suit, but did say if the monument was placed on the square, the Wiccan could request similar public property on which to express the perspective of Wicca, a neopagan religion, and thus turn the square into a "religious battlefield."
[...]
Marion Mayor Bob Butler said he did not wish to engage in a running debate with Sherman regarding a decision that hasn't even been made.

"He can stir as much as he wants. He, I think, is making some anticipatory gestures that may not be warranted," Butler said.

Public sentiment appears to be overwhelmingly in favor of placing the Ten Commandments on the square, Butler said.

"It's really amazed me. I've had only two people state their opposition," he said. "Given the state of the country and the fact that the president says this is not a Christian nation, maybe it's time people begin to exert themselves and stand up and be counted."


Who is Rob Sherman, traveling atheist?
by Adam Testa, The Southern, thesouthern.com, August 22, 2010
"Since making his foray into the affairs of Southern Illinois in May, atheist Rob Sherman of Buffalo Grove has captured the public's attention - not always favorably - and challenged community leaders on his crusade to advocate the separation of church and state.

But Sherman's self-imposed mission began long before he visited the region to challenge the constitu-tionality of a $20,000 state grant to Bald Knob Cross and argued against a proposal to install a Ten Commandments monument in Marion's Tower Square.

Sherman, 57, said his stance as an atheist took full form at age 9, when a teacher failed to answer a classmate's question on what evidence proves God's existence."
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The Political Challenge of Religious Diversity in America
Annuit Coeptis (blog) 22nd August 2010
"If Christianity does not predominate, the American experiment in individual liberty and self-governance will disappear. Again: without Christ, there is no American democracy, because the notion of personhood that Western democracy upholds is rooted in Western Christianity. Take out Western Christianity and you take out the foundations of, and the rationale for American democracy. It really is that simple. And that is unpalatable to so many."

Christianity Was Not Responsible for American Democracy
by Dr. Richard Carrier
Solon was born, we believe, around 638 B.C., and lived until approximately 558, but the date in his life of greatest importance to us is the year he was elected to create a constitution for Athens, 594 B.C. How important is this man? Let’s examine what we owe to him, in comparison with the legendary author (or at least, in legend, the transmitter) of the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments. Solon is the founder of Western democracy and the first man in history to articulate ideas of equal rights for all citizens, and though he did not go nearly as far in the latter as we have come today, Moses can claim no connection to either. Solon was the first man in Western history to publicly record an actual civil constitution in writing. No one in Hebrew history did anything of the kind, least of all Moses. The very idea of a constitutional government derives from Solon. Solon advocated not only the right but even the duty of every citizen to bear arms in the defense of the state—to him we owe the 2nd Amendment. Nothing about that is to be found in the Ten Commandments of Moses. Solon set up laws defending the principles and importance of private property, state encouragement of economic trades and crafts, and a strong middle class—the ideals which lie at the heart of American prosperity (and are codified in the Constitution itself: Article 1, section 8, paragraphs (c) through (h), and the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Amendments), yet which cannot be credited at all to Moses.
[...]
Let us now turn to the Ten Commandments of Solon (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 1.60), which run as follows:

1. Trust good character more than promises.
2. Do not speak falsely.
3. Do good things.
4. Do not be hasty in making friends, but do not abandon them once made.
5. Learn to obey before you command.
6. When giving advice, do not recommend what is most pleasing, but what is most useful.
7. Make reason your supreme commander.
8. Do not associate with people who do bad things.
9. Honor the gods.
10. Have regard for your parents.

Quotes from the Founding Fathers
Thomas Jefferson wrote: "Christianity neither is, nor ever was apart of the common law." Feb. 10, 1814
goddess and god

History of Nakedness, Festival of the Sun, Religious Property Status, superstitious Balkans,

A Brief History of Nakedness by Philip Carr-Gomm

Philip Carr-Gomm's A Brief History of Nakedness shows that the act of removing our clothes reveals more than just our bodies
By Jane Shilling, telegraph.co.uk 27 Jun 2010
"Philip Carr-Gomm is the author of nine books, many of them on the subject of druidry, though his interests also run to naturism, Jainism and Wicca. Perhaps it was the interest in naturism that suggested the subject for his most recent book, a handsomely illustrated history of nakedness.
[...]
Carr-Gomm begins his survey of the bare forked animal throughout the ages by considering nakedness and spirituality, beginning with an account of a witches’ coven that assembled to leap starkers over a bonfire in the New Forest in 1940, in the patriotic hope of frustrating Hitler’s invasion plans. Thence to druidry, Wicca, Kabbalah, the Pompeian House of the Mysteries and the quaint practices of country folk concerning fertility of crops and stock, divination of the identity of future husbands, and so on.

He is well informed on the curious kinship that arose in the early 20th century between naturism and pagan beliefs, promoted by such eccentric figures as Cecil Williamson, an MI6 officer, his colleague, Gerald Gardner, a retired customs officer, his high priestess Doreen, and their associate, the magician Aleister Crowley, of whom there appears an arrestingly horrible naked photograph, spindle-shanked, raddled and paunchy, seated upon a leopard skin, demonstrating yogic breathing. "
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Ancient sun festival still draws thousands -- rain or shine
By Ron Verzuh, Vancouver Sun June 26, 2010
"It threatened to rain as we rode the air-conditioned bus down from the mountain citadel at Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes. Our next stop was Cusco and the annual three-hour Festival of the Sun or Inti Raymi that would begin on June 24 (winter solstice).
[...]
The Inca Empire thrived for about 100 years through the mid-1400s and abruptly ended in 1532 when the Spanish conquistadors rode into Cusco on horseback and began destroying what the Inca people had built. In 1572, the Spanish banned Inti Raymi as a pagan ritual that challenged Catholicism."
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Pagan sect fights town for religious property status
By Colin DeVries, The Daily Mail, Hudson-Catskill Newspapers, June 26, 2010
"CATSKILL — After four long years of being denied religious property status, a landmark court battle over a cloister of pagan witches is brewing.

The Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater, a faction of matriarchal priestesses living in a historic Palenville inn, has filed suit against the Town of Catskill after being denied a religious property tax exemption on their three-acre parcel along Route 23A.

The property has been denied the exemption since 2007, though the Maetreum — which was federally recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) religious organization — was granted the exemption on 2006.

“They refused to renew the exemption without reason,” said Cathryn Platine, the group’s leader, known as Reverend Mother Battakes."
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Psychic vampires, look out
Damien Bathersby, Sunshine Coast Daily, 27th June 2010
" I know I shouldn’t joke about things I don’t understand ... like witches and all that.

Because they do exist.

Not the “hubble bubble toil and trouble” type who stir their cauldrons and toss in a handful of toads’ eyes and so on.

I’m talking about modern-day spell-casters who drive the kids, do the groceries and watch the daytime soapies like the rest of us.

At least we don’t burn them at the stake any more.
[...]
Now before all you witches, wiccans, warlocks and goblins start jumping on your broomsticks and baying for my blood, I just want you to know that I’m cool with the whole witchcraft thing.

If that’s what gets you through the night and makes you feel good about yourself and the world, then it’s fine with me.

As long as no one gets hurts or turned into a toad (particularly me), then I’m not worried.

And before all my Christian readers get upset, can I say that I’m just having a laugh.

If the witches and the wiccans and the Christians and the Callithumpians want to laugh along with me, feel free to join in.

It’s a big beautiful world out there and there’s plenty of room for everyone.

Just make sure you bring your own yak fat, because I’ve just about run out."
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Witches and miracle healers still rule roost in superstitious Balkans
Gabriel Ronay in Sofia, Herald Scotland, 26 Jun 2010
"In the good ‘white witch’ stakes, Romania has the edge on the rest of the Balkans – even on Bulgaria. While keeping their ancient craft traditional, Romanian white witches use websites, blogs, email messaging and chatrooms to reach their clientele.

To judge by the claims of her website, Rodica Gheorghe is the leading ‘white witch healer’ in the country. Her credentials are based on her family tradition of witchcraft. She is the daughter of the witch Mama Omida and granddaughter of the witch Sabina. Some joke that her family are well on their way to having enough for their own coven.

But in the competitive cut-throat witch business, nothing is lasting, and in Romania’s Transylvania province, ‘black witches’ have muscled in on the lucrative evil eye and funerary markets. Proven spells to keep a newly widowed man from remarrying, and thus depriving his children of their inheritance, are especially well paid for.

After any death in the village of Camarzana, a witch is called in to smear the udders of cows with garlic to prevent ‘revenants’ – vampires returning from the grave – stealing their milk.

As long as the ancient Balkan superstitions rule ordinary lives, witches, clairvoyants and miracle healers will do brisk business, with or without the internet."
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Couple get hitched Pagan style
Thurrock Gazette, 25th June 2010
" A GRAYS couple’s garden resembled a scene from a Harry Potter film, as they tied the knot Pagan style.

Steve Beedan, 50, and Kerry Church, 18, invited 70 of their friends and family to their home in Rectory Road to share their Wiccan wedding with them.

Guests, many of whom wore cloaks, watched as the couple took part in traditional Wiccan wedding rituals, such as handfasting, where the couple’s hands are tied together to symbolise their union, the sharing of bread and wine, and the ancient practice of “jumping the broom”. "
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goddess and god

UK News: Pagan Police, Humanist Police, NHS Spiritual Care Guide

Sefton and West Lancashire Pagans hit out at UKIP attack over holidays
By David Simister, Champion News, 19 May 2010
"The region's Pagan community has reacted with uproar this week after a political party branded moves to let police officers celebrate their festivals as “madness”.

Pat Regan, founder of the Pagan Anti-Defamation Network, told The Champion on Monday, May 17, 2010, that a statement sent out by the UK Independence Party describing a ruling allowing Pagan police officers in Lancashire and Merseyside to take time off to commemorate their festivals as “politically correct madness” was offensive, and called for UKIP MEP Paul Nuttall to resign.

“I was saddened, shocked and appalled at recent comments made against the UKs Pagan minority by Paul Nuttall, MEP for the UK Independence Party. This type of negative diatribe against an innocent spiritual minority may in fact breach UK laws relating to Incitement to Religious Hatred. He may also be in breach of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and in particular articles 18 and 19. If Mr Nuttall values his own freedom of expression then he should be prepared to extend this essential liberty to others,” he said."

Pagan police ‘madness’
RochdaleOnline.co.uk, 17/05/2010
"The right for pagan police officers to celebrate their festivals has been described by a Euro MP as “politically correct madness.”

The Pagan Police Association has just been officially recognised as a ‘diversity staff support organisation’ by the Home Office.

This means chief constables cannot refuse pagan officers’ requests to take official religious holidays, which will be given the same respect as Christmas for Christians, Ramadan for Muslims and Passover for Jews.

There are believed to be about 500 pagan officers - including druids and witches.

“I was appalled to hear of this ridiculous decision,” said Paul Nuttall, MEP for the UK Independence Party.

“These pagan festivals include believers behaving with unabashed sexuality and promiscuity, casting spells and dancing around naked. It is politically correct madness of high order.”"
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Humanists join a police force chaplaincy for the first time
Daily Mail, ‎May 17, 2010‎
"Humanists have joined a police force chaplaincy for the first time.

The two lay advisers are working as part of the team of volunteers who support frontline officers and staff at Hertfordshire Police.

Pam Burn and Ray Owen, both experienced in giving advice in other organisations, started this month.

Humanists have joined a police force chaplaincy for the first time, supporting frontline officers and staff at Hertfordshire Police

Their chaplaincy support team members have several beliefs, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim and pagan.

Force spokesman Superintendent Simon Hawkins said: 'It is vital that our police officers and staff can have a choice that is compatible with their religion, belief or faith.'

British Humanist Association chief executive Andrew Copson welcomed 'the inclusive and progressive instinct' that led to their appointments.

Humanists do not follow a god or gods. They believe science provides the only reliable source of knowledge about the universe and that morality is based on human nature."

BHA: Hertfordshire constabulary first force to add humanists to their chaplaincy team
politics.co.uk, Monday, 17, May 2010
"Constabulary has become the first force in the country to have Humanists join their 20-strong voluntary team.

Pam Burn and Ray Owen, who both have extensive experience in giving advice and support in other organisations, started this month. The chaplaincy support team is currently composed of people from a variety of belief groups, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Pagan.

Superintendant Simon Hawkins, lead for faith, religion and belief, said: "As we have sought to expand and provide a more diverse chaplaincy support service, I am really pleased that we have the services of Humanists within Hertfordshire Constabulary. "
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NHS lessons for pleasing pagans
Express.co.uk - Dean Herbert - ‎May 18, 2010‎
"A new 64-page etiquette guide entitled “spiritual care matters” has been produced for doctors, nurses, and midwives.

It includes an exhaustive guide to avoiding causing offence to a dozen separate religious groups including Scotland’s estimated 2,000 Pagans.

Followers – including wiccans, druids, shamans and heathens, who worship Norse gods – believe that Mother Nature is the most powerful influence on earth. Their religion also embraces ecology, witchcraft and Celtic traditions.
[...]
The densely worded medical document was produced by NHS Education Scotland (NES) alongside the findings of a dozen focus groups which revealed that Pagans believe they are the most victimised patient group.

A “newly delivered Pagan mother” told researchers: “All I did was to hold my newborn baby towards the sunlight in the window and utter a prayer to the Sun-God, from whom all energy and life ultimately comes.

“Unfortunately, by lunchtime all the other mothers, and even some of the staff, were convinced I was a witch.”
[...]
Matthew Elliott, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Wasteful spending on patronising literature like this has to stop.”


The NES last night refused to reveal the cost of producing the document.

But Ewan Kelly, the body’s programme director for spiritual care and healthcare chaplaincy, said it would ensure “sensitive spiritual care”.

He added: “This dimension of care is vital if patients are to receive person centred quality healthcare as envisioned by the Scottish Government’s new Quality Strategy.”"
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goddess and god

UK Police get Pagan Holidays, Dalits Build Temple to English

Pagan police get right to take festivals as holiday
Times Online, May 10, 2010
" Being serving police officers, they would no doubt leave their sun worshipping, mead drinking and naked dancing for their days off, not to mention the annual practice of leaving food out for the wandering dead.

As of today, however, pagan police have the right to take their festivals as official holiday after their support group won formal recognition from the Home Office.

The Pagan Police Association was announced by co-founder PC Andy Pardy, who, when he is not patrolling the beat in Hertfordshire, is a heathen worshipper of Norse gods including Thor and Odin.
[...]
Pagans, including druids, witches and shamans, will have to take their official religious festivals as holiday days, but each day is given the same respect as Christmas for Christians, Ramadan for Muslims and Passover for Jews.

Pagan officers will also be allowed to swear upon their own religion in court now, pledging to tell the truth not before God but by what “they hold sacred”.
[...]
One officer, who did not wish to be named, said: “When they talk about political correctness gone mad, this is exactly what they are talking about.

“I mean, what has it come to when a cop gets time off so he can sit about making spells or dance around the place drinking honey beer with a wand in his hand?”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The Government wants a police service that reflects the diverse communities it serves.” "


Pagan cops get eight new hols
The Sun, Monday, 10 May 2010
A PAGAN police support group which gives cops the right to take EIGHT oddball holidays each year has been launched today.


Tolerance of paganism now a symbol of civilised society
Times Online, May 11, 2010
"For centuries, Christianity, Judaism and Islam were regarded as the marks of civilisation in Western Europe as they supplanted the beliefs of ancient civilisations. But these beliefs never disappeared. Even in the City of London, with nearly 50 churches in one square mile, the ancient guardians — the giants Gog and Magog — housed at Guildhall, are carried in procession in the annual Lord Mayor’s Show as they have been since the reign of Henry V.

Today the wheel has turned full circle. Practitioners of witchcraft are no longer burnt at the stake — and it is a mark of civilised society that those who follow these beliefs are accorded the same rights as those who follow mainstream faiths.
[...]
In some quarters, paganism is gaining in its appeal to younger generations, disillusioned or bored with mainstream faiths.

Although the precise dateline is contended, many New Agers believe the world is moving from the Age of Pisces — the fish became a symbol of Christianity — to the Age of Aquarius.

This is in tandem with the rise of the green movement. Paganism fits well into the lives of this generation, where belief in a transcendent, male God is rejected for a feminine earth force or Gaia, seeking to right the injustices to nature wreaked by rampant materialism.

The election of Caroline Lucas, the first Green MP, is just one sign seen in some pagan circles as marking a new dawn. Internet forums have been debating whether volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are Gaia’s revenge."


Wicca's World
Times Online, May 11, 2010
"The Pagan Police Association stands alongside similar sub-groups for Muslim police, black police, Jewish police, gay police, Sikh police, though not yet Jedi police. Might this not be a good moment for police officers to go back to just being police?"

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D is for Dalits and E is for the English Goddess
D Shyam Babu, The Times of India, May 9, 2010
""Had Ambedkar not learned English, he would not have gone abroad," said Eash Kumar Gangania, "and had he not gone abroad, he would not have become Babasaheb for us."

Gangania, a teacher from Delhi, was speaking to 1,500 dalits in Bankagaon, a nondescript village near Lakhimpur Khiri in UP. The crowd was rapt as Gangania added that it all happened "because Ambedkar learned English," finally ending with a powerful and surprising message: "If you learn English, you too can scale the heights Babasaheb did."

Gangania's speech came on a special occasion — April 30, the day Bankagaon's dalits pledged to learn the English language as well as worship it as a goddess. It was the day they laid the foundations of a temple dedicated to "English, the Dalit Goddess".
[...]
As more dalit parents insist on imparting English to their children, the market will do the rest. At some point, the supply of English teachers is bound to meet demand, helping educators like Kamal Kumar offer English-medium education. However, two questions remain unanswered. One is the colonial taint of English. The lone foreigner at the temple event, Sussex university professor Marcus Wood, offers an answer. The British empire was responsible for the standardization of English, which paved the way for its emergence as a global language, "but now English does not belong to the English anymore". The dalits' quest for English is their attempt to find a voice. It has all the ingredients of an epic struggle. This goddess may not join the Hindu pantheon of 330 million but it could usher in an era of cultural rejuvenation for dalits. "
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goddess and god

Belief in the Brain, Legal Battles Over Religion, Manx May Day

Belief in the Brain
Sacred and secular ideas engage identical areas
By Allison Bond, Scientific American Mind, March 2010
"Religious belief may seem to be a unique psychological experience, but a growing body of research shows that thinking about religion is no different from thinking about secular things­—at least from the standpoint of the brain. In the first imaging study to compare religious and nonreligious thoughts, evaluating the truth of either type of statement was found to involve the same regions of the brain.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, used functional MRI to evaluate brain activity in 15 devout Christians and 15 nonbelievers as the volunteers assessed the truth or falsity of a series of statements, some of which were religious (“angels exist”) and others nonreligious (“Alexander the Great was a very famous military ruler”). They found that when a subject believed a statement—whether it was religious or not—activity appeared in an area called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which is an area associated with emotions, rewards and self-representation.

And although the nonbelievers rejected about half of the statements the believers accepted, the brain scans of both groups were indistin­guishable, providing further proof that evaluating truth or falsity is independent of the content of the statement in question. “The fact that we found the same brain processing between believers and nonbelievers, despite the two groups’ completely different answers to the questions [about religion], is pretty surprising,” says Jonas Kaplan, a research psy­chologist at U.C.L.A. and co-author of the study. The finding adds to the mounting evidence against the notion, popular in the scientific community as well as among the general public, that religious faith is somehow different from other types of belief, explains co-author Sam Harris, also of U.C.L.A. In contrast to this assumption, he says, “Believing the sun is a star is rather the same as believing Jesus was born of a virgin.” [For more on the neuroscience of religion, see “Searching for God in the Brain,” by David Biello; Scientific American Mind, October/November 2007.]"
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Energy Among Us Conducts Business As Usual
Kimberly Newman, Fox 24 News Central, GA, Apr 27, 2010
"Energy Among Us has been providing services ranging from yoga classes to tarot card readings since January of this year. After attention was brought to local officials about the spiritual practices taking place, owner, Courtney Bibb was told to cut it out or else. In response to the warning, Courtney answered back with a lawsuit, ready to fight for her business and her cause.

"Courtney says the original city ordinance written in 1985 was outdated. It prohibited her and any staff members at Energy Among Us from practicing any type of spirituality." –Kimberly Newman/News Central

Stated in a letter from her lawyer, Charles Cox, “The city council has agreed to repeal ordinance 85-1, which was enacted back in 1985, and Ms. Bibb is looking forward to continuing business in Centerville. Without stepping foot in federal court, Courtney was able to achieve her goal, and keep her store's integrity in tact. "
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Legal fight over Mojave cross continues
By Tony Mauro, First Amendment Center, 04.29.10
"WASHINGTON — The legal battle over the Christian cross on Sunrise Rock is not over. That became clear yesterday as both sides in the dispute over religious symbols on public land picked their way through a fractured Supreme Court opinion that sent the cross controversy back to lower courts.

Ruling in the long-running case Salazar v. Buono, the Court reversed decisions that had halted implementation of a 2004 federal law aimed at ending the dispute over the World War I veterans memorial on remote federal land in California’s Mojave Desert. The law would transfer the land on which the eight-foot cross stands to a private party — the Veterans of Foreign Wars — so it could no longer be said that a Christian cross was being maintained on public property.
[...]
In dissent, retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, a World War II veteran, said, “I certainly agree that the nation should memorialize the service of those who fought and died in World War I, but it cannot lawfully do so by continued endorsement of a starkly sectarian message.” He added, “Making a plain, unadorned Latin cross a war memorial does not make the cross secular. It makes the war memorial sectarian.” Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor joined Stevens’ dissent.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a separate dissent, agreeing that applying the injunction to block the federal law was appropriate.

Groups that support public accommodation of religious practices applauded the decision. Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, said, “The Court has sent a message that the mere existence of a religious symbol in a public place does not create a constitutional crisis.”"
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Special legal protection of Christianity 'divisive, capricious and arbitrary'
Frances Gibb, Times Online co.uk, April 29, 2010
"Christianity deserves no protection in law above other faiths and to do so would be “irrational” , “divisive, capricious and arbitrary”, a senior judge said today, as he rejected a marriage guidance counsellor’s attempt to challenge his sacking for refusing to give sex therapy to gay couples.

In the latest clash between the judiciary and Christian believers, Lord Justice Laws said that laws could not be used to protect one religion above another.

He also delivered a robust dismissal to the former Archbishop of Canterbury who had warned that a series of recent court rulings against Christians could lead to “civil unrest.”

To give one religion legal protection over any other, “however long its tradition, however rich its culture, is deeply unprincipled”, the judge said. "
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Spring Down to Cregneash for Manx May Day
By Liz Corlett, isleofman.com, 29/Apr/2010
"Manx National Heritage is holding a celebration of Manx May Day at Cregneash on Bank Holiday Monday, 3nd May 2010.

There will be a variety of activities throughout the day, including the opportunity to learn about the folklore and traditions of the Manx May Day through music, dance and storytelling in Harry Kelly’s cottage.

Manx National Heritage Curator for Social History, Yvonne Cresswell said, "The Manx May Day celebrations mark the time between the death of Winter and the rebirth of Summer, which was thought to be particularly dangerous period in Manx folklore.

"Midnight on May Day Eve was a time when witches and fairies were considered to be at their most threatening and a series of traditions arose to allay fears and protect the Manx people and their livestock from danger."
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goddess and god

Fragmenting Dialogues

This is a very well written article.
Pagans excluded from interfaith initiatives
Damon Leff, NewsTime, Tuesday, April 13, 2010
"In South Africa religion and politics are far from separate. Our constitution does not prevent religious organizations from becoming political parties and encourages multi-religious participation in the business of government. The obvious dangers of permitting one predominant religion to dictate social policies for a multi-religious nation that includes agnostics and atheists are self-evident. Religion and the state should, like religious studies and education, be kept far apart. But when in Rome, South African Pagans have no reservation adding their religious values to the inter-faith cauldron.
[...]
The SAPC is recognized by the Department of Home Affairs as a religious organization in terms of section 5 of the Civil Union Act (Act 17 of 2006) and appointed Pagan marriage officers may solemnize marriages and civil partnerships. The Council is also registered with the South African Revenue Service as a Section 21 Public Benefit Organization. "We are attempting to claim our rightful place in the NILC and NRLF but we find these efforts stonewalled by largely Christian members who form a majority in both of these groups," said Van Bergen.
[...]
The diversity of re-emerging and new religious expressions that constructively co-exist under the banner of modern Paganism should serve as a lesson in religious tolerance; Pagans are not afraid of religious diversity. Their deliberate exclusion from national interfaith initiatives such as the MRM, NRLF and NILC must be seen as contrary to the spirit and letter of not only the Bill of Rights, but also of the expressed intent and purpose of the very movements, forums and councils that in practice exclude South African citizens on the basis of their religious affiliation. Pagans say excluding Pagan religious leaders from inter-religious participation amounts to religious discrimination. In the words of the Greek pagan philosopher Aristotle, "all virtue is summed up in dealing justly" with Pagans.

The Moral Regeneration Movement, National Interfaith Leaders Council and National Religious Leaders Forum were given an opportunity to respond to this article but declined comment."
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Fragmenting Dialogues
David Tracy, Seton Hall University News & Events, ‎Apr 13, 2010‎
"The Center for Catholic Studies and the Department of Religious Studies present: Fragmenting Dialogues in Philosophy and Theology
A Lecture by Professor David Tracy

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 4 p.m.
McNulty Hall Amphitheater
Science and Technology Building

This lecture will study the emergence of dialogue in the ancient world and today for interreligious and intercultural dialogue. It will also suggest the limits of dialogue in the fourth century in the Jewish, Christian and pagan thinkers of that century and in several thinkers today.

David Tracy, STL, STD, is the Andrew Thomas Greeley and Grace McNichols Greeley Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Catholic Studies and Professor of Theology and the Philosophy of Religion in the University of Chicago Divinity School, and also a member of the Committee on Social Thought. Dr. Tracy has taught a wide variety of courses in contemporary theology: in philosophical, systematic, and constructive theology and hermeneutics, and on issues and persons in religion and modern thought.

His publications include "The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and The Culture of Pluralism and On Naming the Present: Reflections on God, Hermeneutics, and Church." Dr. Tracy is currently writing a book on God."
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'Horns' author a child at heart
Sam Thielman, Kansas City Star, ‎Apr 12, 2010‎
"“Horns” follows a guy named Ig Perrish, who has to figure out why he, of all people, has grown horns and apparently become the Father of Lies. Ig’s life is full of secrets, but his surprising new appendages may have something to do with a childhood experience in what might be a treehouse or a very old temple.

Hill says he didn’t grow up religious and is “personally pretty pagan.” For help with the theological part of “Horns,” Hill turned to his sister Naomi, a Unitarian minister.

“As Christianity grew,” Hill says, “one of the things they would do is discover a pagan religion and say, ‘Oh, yeah, that snake god you worship — you know that’s the devil, right?’ But in the other religions, that devil figure might just be a trickster god who suckers the fertility goddess into bed.”

Whoever he is, the devil cuts a fascinating figure in Hill’s book — part man, part tempter, part punisher. But Hill thinks Ig isn’t an irredeemable figure, even though he cuts a deal with some strange forces. Hill tries to remember a quote to make his point, but it doesn’t quite come to him.

“I think it’s ‘Men go crazy in congregations; they only get saved one by one,’ ” Hill said. “Who said that? It’s either Samuel Johnson or Sting.”"
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goddess and god

"Sorcery" in Saudi Arabia, Doorway to Afterlife, Episcopals and Divine Feminine, Otsego prosecutor,

TV presenter gets death sentence for 'sorcery'
By Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, March 20, 2010
"Amnesty International is calling on Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to stop the execution of a Lebanese man sentenced to death for "sorcery."

In a statement released Thursday, the international rights group condemned the verdict and demanded the immediate release of Ali Hussain Sibat, former host of a popular call-in show that aired on Sheherazade, a Beirut based satellite TV channel.

According to his lawyer, Sibat, who is 48 and has five children, would predict the future on his show and give out advice to his audience."
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Ancient doorway to afterlife discovered in Egypt
AFP, Mon Mar 29, 2010
"CAIRO (AFP) – A large red granite false door from the tomb of an ancient queen's powerful vizier has been discovered in Luxor, Egypt's culture minister said on Monday.

The carved stone door -- which ancient Egyptians believed was the threshold to the afterlife -- was unearthed near the Karnak Temple in Luxor and belongs to the tomb of User, a powerful advisor to the 18th dynasty Queen Hatshepsut, Faruk Hosni said in a statement.

The door, 1.75 metres (5.7 feet) high and 50 cm (19 inches) thick, is engraved with religious texts and various titles used by User, including mayor of the city, vizier and prince, antiquities chief Zahi Hawass was quoted as saying.

"The newly discovered door was reused during the Roman period. It was removed from the tomb of User and used in the wall of a Roman structure," said Mansur Boraik, who headed the excavation mission.

Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt between 1479 BC and 1458 BC, was the longest reigning female pharaoh."
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The Episcopal Church, Wiccans, and the Divine Feminine
by Marcia Segelstein, WORLDmag.com,March 26, 2010
"I suppose nothing The Episcopal Church does should shock me any more. Nonetheless, it does.

In this holiest of Christian seasons, on the evening before Passion Sunday, the Cathedral of All Souls Episcopal Church in Asheville, N.C., hosted an event in its parish hall for an organization called The Mother Grove Goddess Temple. The purpose of the event? To celebrate the spring equinox of course. Wait, you say, that’s not Christian, that’s pagan. But there’s more. According to Mother Grove’s website, its mission “is to create and maintain a permanent sanctuary where people of all faith traditions may openly and safely celebrate the Divine Feminine.” According to Byron Ballard, a Wiccan priestess and a member of the temple, Mother Grove “isn’t a Wiccan group, though some of us are Wiccans.” Just in case you were wondering, Ballard goes on to explain that “Wiccans may also refer to themselves as witches.”"
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Otsego prosecutor fired after dropping charge in psychic case
By Bryce Hoekenga, Kalamazoo Gazette, March 27, 2010
"The city of Otsego’s former prosecutor says he was fired after dropping a charge against a woman who had been accused of violating a 93-year-old city ordinance that prohibits the offering of psychic readings for money.

Stephen Kastran, who had been Otsego's prosecutor since 1975, said he received a letter from the city the week of March 8, saying he had been let go. He said his firing was the result of his decision to drop a charge against Melissa Lesterhouse.

Lesterhouse, who owns Bewitching Wares at 128 E. Allegan St. in Otsego, and her employee, Jacqueline Janeczek, were each cited in late December for providing a psychic reading for money, a misdemeanor punishable by up to $500 in fines and 90 days in jail."
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Removing crucifix would violate her Christian faith, nurse tells tribunal
by Steven Morris, guardian.co.uk, Monday 29 March 2010
"The hospital says she was asked to remove the necklace after a risk assessment showed it could be pulled by one of the elderly and sometimes confused patients in her care.

It insists it is a health and safety issue and that the problem is not with the crucifix but the necklace it was attached to.
[...]
"In September I wrote seeking to wear my cross pinned to the outside of my uniform. I did this to see if this request was to the 'offence' of the cross or there were genuine reasons.

"Their answer was that I could wear it pinned on the inside (not outside) of my pocket and confirmed to me they simply wanted to remove the visibility of the crucifix.

"The real reason initially was the 'sight' of the cross but now the argument has shifted to the wearing of a chain."
[...]
Chaplin said the trust granted exemption to "numerous other religious individuals", adding: "I identified two female Muslim doctors permitted to wear a headscarf, which raises more profound health and safety issues.""
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‘Peace, balance and harmony’: Former cop opens New Age shop in Centerville
By Rodney Manley, Macon.com, Sunday, Mar. 28, 2010
" Bibb welcomes anyone, no matter their spiritual background, to stop by.

“You can be Wiccan or a pagan. You can be a Baptist or Catholic,” she said.

Bibb stressed that her shop does not dabble in devil worship.

“I don’t worship the devil. I don’t condone any bad magic. I don’t agree with that at all.”"
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goddess and god

Wiccan Spirituality, Church Blaims Pagans for Roses, Mythology of Avatar, Judge Rejects Suit

Spirituality and reincarnation through Wiccan eyes
by Tom Davis, Austin American-Statesman, ‎Mar 26, 2010‎
"What is "spirituality?" It's a great marketing tool for preachers and writers, but it doesn't have much real meaning for nearly anybody today. The problem is that we don't understand the relationship between the finite part of ourselves the part that lives and dies and our eternal part.

Some religions say we only get one trip through life, and then we're off to an eternity of reward or punishment. Other religions re-imagine what "spirit" is, based on the understanding that we all have those two parts, the finite and the eternal. They believe that we, here on this planet, are incarnations of an eternal essence — a soul. Among them are Buddhism, Taoism and many neo-Pagan religions, such as my own path, Wicca."
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Mystery deepens as Lockport church gets more roses
by Nancy A. Fischer, Buffalo News, ‎Mar 29, 2010‎
"LOCKPORT — Most people would welcome a bouquet of roses on their doorstep — but not the leaders of Lockport Christian Church.
[...]
That’s when church members became concerned because Wing’s son, Michael, found that the dates when items were left corresponded with dates of pagan or satanic rituals.

“The incidents fell on the new moon, and satanic rituals recognize certain calendar dates,” Pastor Wing said last week. “We did seek some counseling and have felt there is a possibility that there is a pagan who is performing ceremonies at the church. . . .
[...]
A local pagan, who declined to let her name be used, said the incidents were unlikely to have been related to pagan or satanic rituals because all the items left were based in Christianity.

“The pagan religion is not anti-Christian, but teaches tolerance. It is the study of all religions,” she said. The woman speculated that the Lockport Christian Church may have been targeted in such a way because of their proselytizing in the area.

“Maybe this is about religious tolerance,” she said. “It takes guts to do what [the members of the Lockport Christian Church] believe, but it takes guts for me to do what I believe. . . .

“Whoever is doing this [harassment] is wrong. Can’t we all just get along?”

Wing said members of the church, along the Locust Street Extension, are frightened about the incidents.

“I don’t care if it’s a Wiccan or two kids with a Ouija board,” the pastor said. “It’s got to stop.”"
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Big Corporations, Environmentalism and Pantheism: A Mythological Reading of Avatar
By Rafi Blumenthal, The Commentator, March 28, 2010
"Essentially, what Cameron has done is create an “Indigenous Peoples Myth” that can be applied to the treatment, persecution and displacement of many minorities in many different locales. In fact, in a discussion about myths, Sarah Iles Johnston, a Professor of Greek and Latin at Ohio State University, writes that any successful myths must “respond to their societies’ needs and values.”

Now, granted that Johnston stated this in the context of a discussion about ancient myths, but the argument here is that ancient and modern myths (or narratives, if you wish) have much in common. In essence, both are dependent upon their audiences to be perpetuated. If Avatar did not respond to, touch upon or provoke a part of our personal, collective, national or ethnic consciousness, it would not have become so wildly successful.

Therefore, rather than trying to peruse Avatar for subtle political statements or particular symbols, perhaps we should lay down our magnifying glasses or, better yet, turn them over and stop our attempt to figure out what Avatar is telling us and rather focus on what we can learn about ourselves from the way we are reading Avatar. "
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Judge in Nevada rejects ex-inmate's religious suit
NewsOK.com, ‎Mar 25, 2010‎
"LAS VEGAS (AP) — A federal judge has rejected the civil rights lawsuit of a former inmate who claimed federal law on prisoners' religious rights requires prisons to provide things like sweat lodges and raw meat for practicing the Wicca religion.

U.S. District Judge Philip Pro on Thursday rejected the suit filed by Scott Fletcher when he was serving a sentence at High Desert State Prison in Clark County for first-degree murder. He was granted parole in January.

Pro ruled prison regulations don't pose a substantial burden on Fletcher's exercise of his religion or pressure him to abandon his beliefs.

The judge noted that Fletcher could still practice Wicca even if his requests were denied.

Pro ruled that constructing and operating a sweat lodge and handling and cooking raw meat posed safety threats and health hazards."
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goddess and god

'Christian' names, Wicker Man

Police told: don't ask for 'Christian' names, it offends
The Christian Institute, Friday, 19 March 2010
Police in Kent have been banned from asking for a person’s “Christian” name, in case it offends people from other faiths.

The call has been met with dismay, with one experienced officer calling it politically correct “nonsense”.

And the Plain English Campaign questioned whether there really was anyone from other faiths who would be offended.
[...]
"In July it was revealed that Pagan police officers were being allowed to take Halloween off as holiday.

It followed the Home Office agreeing to the establishment of a Pagan Police Association.

In September the chairman of a rank-and-file police group criticised forces for over reacting to political correctness. "
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Wicker Man burned to mark the start of spring
belfasttelegraph.co.uk, Monday, 22 March 2010
"A huge 20-foot Wicker Man was burned in Fermanagh at the weekend by mummers marking the end of one of the coldest winters in years.

The spectacular mock sacrifice by Aughakillymaude Community Mummers symbolically returned the ashes of last year’s corn and straw to the same field near Derrylin where they were harvested — marking the Spring Equinox and ensuring a fertile season in 2010.

But happily, no-one was burned alive inside the terrifying effigy — unlike in the 1973 cult film The Wicker Man.

Spokesman Jim Ledwith said the burning of effigies on key calendar dates such as the turning of the seasons remains one of the oldest and most widespread forms of pagan worship and is still practiced in such forms as Guy Fawkes Day and the burning of Lundy in Londonderry."
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