One of the things that I find so appealing about blogging is the idea of community. Not just community with my fellow Pagan and Heathen bloggers, but with a larger religious blogosphere. I’m proud that some Christian and Jewish bloggers have added me to their blogroll, and that occasionally stories important to our faiths break through into the larger religious blogosphere. But it seems that some religious sites would be happier with a singular emphasis on monotheism.
Beliefnet, one of the largest religion site on the Internet, has been hosting a religious blog aggregator that it cleverly calls “Blog Heaven”. When it premiered it included Pagan author and academic Chas Clifton’s blog in its “other” category. This wasn’t a problem. After all, we are dramatically outnumbered by the dominant monotheisms, so a token inclusion seemed fair enough. But then it was removed recently after “technical difficulties”.
“…the blog IS currently unavailable from Beliefnet’s Blog Heaven. The technical and editorial team has recently been made aware of this issue and is working to resolve the situation. Please know that this issue is not related to the specific views or ideas presented in Mr. Clifton’s blog.”
After some protest from the Pagan blogosphere and Beliefnet participants the site re-appeared. But now it has disappeared again, and I somehow doubt its yet another “technical” issue with the aggregator considering this hasn’t happened to any other site on the page.
“BeliefNet’s Blog Heaven site has been cleansed of non-monotheists. No Buddhist bloggers, no Hindus, no Pagans. And yet I hear that BeliefNet is still trying to get some Pagans to write essays for the main site. Do we even need them, with all the Pagan sites and forums out there?”
“I think it’s a form of demon worship, and besides which, it’s savage.” – Rod Dreher, discussing Santeria on his “Crunchy Con” blog, 02.09.07
When Beliefnet first started, I was a fan. They had (and still have) discussion boards for every faith imaginable, they had Margot Adler and Starhawk on as regular columnists, and they seemed receptive to making sure Pagans and other minority faiths felt included. But after declaring bankruptcy in 2002 the site has re-positioned itself to be far more friendly to the people with the most money and that meant evangelicals and “spiritual but not religious” seekers.
I don’t blame Beliefnet for wanting to be economically sustainable, but I do blame it for its lack of attention to minority faiths in its features and blogs. The places that get the highest percentage of its readership. It sends a message when “Blog Heaven” is purged of non-monotheists, it sends a message when Beliefnet favors Christian and monotheist voices in its hosted blogs, and it sends a message that a site that prides itself so highly in being “multi-faith” so obviously favors those who can fatten their wallets. I think Chas Clifton’s question is the correct one, do we really need Beliefnet? They certainly seem eager to prove they don’t need us.