Almost exactly a month ago, I proposed that the Pagan community create a voluntary opt-in statement of sexual ethics that individuals, organizations, and event organizers could use to educate both newcomers and outsiders as to a baseline of principles shared across our many diverse faiths and traditions. That recent high-profile cases concerning sexual abuse tied to our community, and the many unreported cases of sexual predation that have taken place over the years, were not tolerated or condoned. To educate, and hopefully also empower, abuse victims who might be fooled into thinking what was happening to them was/is “normal” or correct within a Pagan context.
This project was blessed to have Pagan author and philosophy professor Brendan Myers take the lead in coordinating the effort to produce the final draft of the statement that you are about to read. He, along with a dedicated and talented open group of collaborators, did the hard work of engaging the feedback from various parts of our community, and responsively moving forward with a document that we think a large plurality of our community could sign in good faith.
“This text came about after a vigorous, productive, and at times intense three-week process. Passing through four “cycles” in which a draft of the text was subject to the criticisms and revisions of all the volunteers, we think we have achieved about as much of a consensus on this text as we are likely to get. Integrating various important considerations, such as the variety and multiplicity of moral views within Paganism’s many communities, the need for grammatical and stylistic correctness, the need for moral decisiveness, and for rhetorical and exhortative strength, has not been an easy task. But together we have produced a statement of moral agreement which we are prepared to sign our names to, and stand by. We hope that you agree.”
You can follow the entire open process to this final draft at Brendan’s web forum.
From this point in the process, we are opening the final draft to a two-week public comment period. At the end of which we will consider any reasonable suggested additions or changes before we move forward with attaching signatories and starting our outreach campaign. Because I don’t want to simply publish a few excerpts, I will point you to a page featuring the entire statement, here. There is also a nicely-formatted PDF version of the text provided by David Shorey of the Sacramento Grove of the Oak. I strongly urge everyone to read and consider the entire document before making a comment.
Once the comment period is over, and any last-minute changes considered, the statement will be posted at its own web site. Pagans Against Sexual Abuse (PASA) www.pagansagainstsexualabuse.com, where we will begin accepting and listing signatories, offer the text in a variety of formats, and move forward with an outreach committee who will engage and dialog with various groups, events, and individuals in hopes of creating broad-based support for the statement. The site will also act as a clearing house for similar statements of ethics from other organizations, and provide tools so that the Pagan web can easily link, promote, and reference the statement.
I also want to reiterate that the ethics site will remain politically neutral, and will not advocate for or against any tradition, group, or individual in a conflict. Signing the statement will be opt-in and voluntary. No group, individual, or legal entity will be strong-armed into participating, or demonized if they feel they can’t sign on to the finished product. Coalitions that bring lasting change aren’t built by guilt or coercion, but by bridge-building and compromise. We will gladly stand by and partner with those who opt to develop alternate faith or group-specific ethics platforms, so long as they are created in the same spirit of protecting the innocent. Further, the finished statement will exist as its own entity beholding to no single faith, group or individual, and anyone will be able to “sign” or “opt-in” to it at any time so long as they support its tenets.
Update: A Note on Process and Consensus