Avoiding Pagan Dollars

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 5, 2009 — 10 Comments

The shops in a quaint tourist-trap “village” in Adamstown, Pennsylvania are apparantly split over a local Pagan group renting out the place for their Celebrating Earth Spirituality Festival (a local take on the national Pagan Pride Day gatherings), with several refusing to open or closing early to avoid touching Pagan money.

Jane Lesher, who owns The Soxy Lady but doesn’t live in Stoudtburg Village, said her business, which is usually open on Saturdays, will be closed during the festival … As a merchant, Lesher said, she believes the Earth Spirituality Festival is “not the image we want to portray for Stoudtburg Village.” … Lesher said that if the event were held in a “more urban place, it might not have the negative image it would have around here … I am a Christian, and anything that is not worshipping God is something I object to. You can’t force it on another, but you don’t need to support it in any way, either. I base this on what God says. I’m not just a stick-in-the-mud and can’t change my mind, but I base it on what I believe is an absolute.”

I didn’t know you could worship God by selling yarn and notions, makes you wonder if she questions each customer about their faith before ringing them up. Joining Lesher in her retail shunning are Country Pastthymes (a tchotchkes shop) and the Stoudtburg Village Coffee Shop (who is closing after the apparently God-approved morning customers have left). All this ruckus caused the local paper to interview Jen Anderson-Wenger, president of Reading Pagans & Witches, in order to understand who these Pagans are.

“Who are the pagans and witches who will descend upon Adamstown next weekend, and what do they believe? That’s not an easy thing to answer, according to Jen Anderson-Wenger, president of Reading Pagans & Witches. Her group is sponsoring the Celebrating Earth Spirituality Festival at Stoudtburg Village on Sept. 12. The event has divided the village’s shop owners, with several saying they will close because Anderson-Wenger’s group is sponsoring the festival … Pagans and witches are an eclectic group of people with many varying spiritual paths, Anderson-Wenger said. “If it leads to a moral and just life, then it’s the right spiritual path for you,” she said … The group is charitable, holding food drives and adopting a highway and a battered women’s shelter, she said. “There are misconceptions that we have no morals. We raise our children together. We are a family. We’d give the shirt off our back for you or your children,” Anderson-Wenger said.”

They may be moral, charitable, and family-oriented, but belong to the wrong religion and should not be served coffee or allowed to buy a stuffed animal. Now, it is certainly the perogotive of these businesses to close down if they want to, but this protest  just seems somewhat strange. Would they have preferred that the village (a secular organization) had broken the law in refusing a rental to a valid not-for-profit? Do they really think they have never taken a Pagan dollar in the course of being open? How do you think the Pagans heard of, and wanted to rent, the Stoudtburg Village? To operate in a tourist-trap, a place that exists to draw in as many people as possible to spend money, but then get picky about the law-abiding groups that come to enjoy the place seems to be a poor business model. Perhaps all the local Pagans should tell all the people they know that these shops that closed down don’t want non-Christian business, after all, we wouldn’t want to trouble them with the thought of taking money not sanctified by the Lord.

Jason Pitzl-Waters