Blood Libel, Abortion, and Modern Paganism

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 25, 2011 — 177 Comments

One of the most pernicious types of religious slander is “blood libel,” the accusation that a religious group ritualistically murders (and often consumes) children. While most famously, and pervasively, used against Jews throughout history, many other groups have had similar accusations made against them. For example, in ancient Rome some accused Christians of partaking in cannibalistic orgies and incest.

“Now the story about the initiation of young novices is as much to be detested as it is well known. An infant covered over with meal, that it may deceive the unwary, is placed before him who is to be stained with their rites: this infant is slain by the young pupil, who has been urged on as if to harmless blows on the surface of the meal, with dark and secret wounds. Thirstily – O horror! they lick up its blood; eagerly they divide its limbs. By this victim they are pledged together; with this consciousness of wickedness they are covenanted to mutual silence.”Marcus Minucius Felix

Naturally, once Christians gained social and political power the shoe was on the other foot, and that power was used to all but eradicate classical paganism. Though there was plenty of slander from Christian writers towards ancient pagans, it was diffused somewhat due to their equal distaste for Christian sects deemed heretical and the Jews, who would become their favored target throughout history. Sadly, blood libel continues in the modern era, not just against Jews, but against modern Pagans as well. In a new Christian DVD, “The Abortion Matrix: Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death,” director Jay Rogers does his best to imply that abortion isn’t simply the terminating of a pregnancy,  or even the moral equivalent to murder, but a “sacrament,” a blood sacrifice seen as holy by ancient and modern Pagans. They literally ignore modern Pagan voices to make their own preconceived links, and twist the words of prominent Pagans to imply that their reading of Pagan beliefs is correct.

“Do modern Wiccans view abortion as child sacrifice? To be fair, we must say that in our research we’ve received literally hundreds of letters and electronic communications from Wiccans around the world. The vast majority of Wiccans and Pagans deny that they have anything to do with human or animal sacrifice. They also deny that Wicca has anything to do with the abortion industry, nor do they view abortion as the sacrifice of the unborn in their rituals. But all modern day Wiccans freely admit that the modern religion is traced to ancient Celtic and Northern German people, the very people who practiced human sacrifice. Although the vast majority deny that they have anything to do with the practice of child sacrifice, Wiccans are hard pressed to explain a growing number of witches who argue that abortion is a witch’s prerogative.”

They take the support for legal access to abortion, and the support for the primacy of women’s bodies in matters of birth, as tacit acknowledgement for their sacrifice narrative. Then, when they can wring no further controversy from Starhawk or Z. Budapest, they turn to their old stand-by, an obscure 1992 book written by Ginette Paris that discusses abortion as a sacred act. Though Paris is far from famous within modern Paganism, she is a true BNP (Big-Name Pagan) among anti-abortion groups for giving them the “smoking gun” they needed to “prove” their link between modern Paganism, Wicca, and abortion as child-sacrificing sacrament. Also, if you’re Pagan and a pro-choice advocate? That just further proves that abortions are actually holy sacrifices to the Goddess.

“Today we have given the demons of human sacrifice new names: “Career” – “Convenience” – “Money” – “Lust” – “Self.” But beyond this, we have come full circle; today’s rationalism has given way to a new feminist spirituality that honors these same demons, actually calling them by their proper biblical and historical names. Surely it can be no coincidence that the hottest sub-movement within the feminist movement that began to emerge after the Roe v. Wade decision is goddess worship. Or that one of the primary deities that is being worshipped is Aphrodite – the goddess of child sacrifice.”

Whether you are pro-choice or anti-abortion, any clear-eyed observer would have to see this for what it is: blood libel. Religious slander that creates narratives that overrule our own voices and opinions on the subject to feed their beliefs. If you want to see the seeds for a new Satanic Panic, here they are.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The name of the fallacy is post hoc, ergo propter hoc (after which, therfore because of which). Goddess veneration began to imbue feminism after Roe v Wade, therefore it did so because of Roe v Wade. Classical fallacy.

  • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com James Bulls

    I read the Hatewatch and SPLC RSS feeds, and only in the past 4 months I’ve started seeing an increasing number of articles reporting on right-wing voices linking modern paganism to a vast, imaginary conspiracy of anti-Christian practices (including GLBT rights, the “green dragon,” anti-bullying initiatives, and more.) I’m just a wee 28 years old, so it’s possible I don’t have the perspective to know that it’s been going on like this decades, but looking at the world from what I’ve learned and experienced it does indeed feel like the seeds are being sown for a new moral panic.

    • Grimmorrigan

      They were sown long long ago….we’re just getting the latest harvest.

    • Anonymous

      Check out the Dominionists and the New Apostolic Reformation. There’s a major movement afoot, much more strongly than I’ve seen in my 20 years in the Craft.

      • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com James Bulls

        Yeah, I’ve read a lot about the NAR both here at the Wild Hunt and on Right Wing Watch. Like previous commenter Grimmorrigan said, this has been going on for a while – I was a lot younger and not paying as much attention then as I am now, but I do remember some of the Satanic Panic and the stories that circulated about the WM3. Looking back in hindsight with the benefit of what I know now, I get the creeping feeling this is a newer, more dangerous breed of witch-hunters.

    • Caliban

      28 is old enough to have been noticing trends for a while. You are also about due for your Saturn Return which gives you some maturity cred as well, at least with those of us who still find astrology useful. I am glad that you have tied this back to a place in the alleged pursuit of an anti-Christian agenda, including LGBT rights. The “jealous lesbians” theme was prominent when I was doing clinic defense around 1990, and it remains a current today.

      • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com James Bulls

        Can you recommend any links or references to provide historical context to how the opposition was speaking and working 20 years ago? I think it would be a fascinating read, to see how things have (or haven’t) changed over the decades. Thanks in advance if you find anything!

        • Nicole Youngman

          James et al–for history on the anti-abortion movement, _Wrath of Angels_ by Risen & Thomas remains the definitive work, I think, although there are several other good ones. Jason has mentioned Jeffery Victor’s _Satanic Panic_, also excellent (and I have a soft spot for it as it’s written by a fellow sociologist :)). There are lots more on my bookshelves at home, if you want to send me a note via Facebook (or just reply here) I’ll be glad to send a longer list later.

          • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com James Bulls

            Thanks – message sent.

        • http://twitter.com/temperatelogic Lynn

          I would recommend Frank Schaeffer’s “Crazy for God” for background on the rise of evangelical Christianity in the public/political sphere. It also shows how abortion became a primary motivator within that movement.

    • Lori F – MN

      Anti Bullying is anti-christian?!
      Protecting the Earth for future generations is anti-christian?

      I thought these were just logical things. But then again, I guess these people aren’t logical.

  • Anonymous

    It’s such a pity that the message of Ginette Paris’s book has been so distorted. It is a thoughtful book which attempts to frame a religious discussion of abortion from a perspective other than Judeo-Christian religion. I have actually quoted from it in a UU Sunday service on abortion rights.

    I understand it has been reissued under a new title, The Psychology of Abortion. As it was originally published in French (Paris is French-Canadian) I don’t know which title is closer to her original intent.

    • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

      I would drop the ‘Judeo’ out of Judeo-Christian there, since Judaism has very different ideas and debates on the issue of abortion than Christianity.

      • Anonymous

        You are probably correct. My apologies.

      • http://entdinglichung.wordpress.com Entdinglichung

        generally, the use of the term “Judeo-Christian”, especially by “defenders of the western civilization” is misleading: the post-Constantine civilization was “Judeo-Christian” only in the way that Christian states, churches and mobs have constantly harrassed, oppressed and killed Jews for the next 1650 years; many rightwingers who constantly use the term “Judeo-Christian” are in fact anti-semitic or subscribe to a traditional Christian anti-judaism … and in some ways, especially in its festival calendar, Judaism also retains many features of the old oriental religions

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=36101012 Eric Scott

    …Aphrodite, the goddess of child sacrifice? Hadn’t heard that one before.

    • Harmonyfb

      Especially since she’s referred to as a ‘cherisher of children’. But her gifts (love in its many forms – physical, familial, emotional, spiritual) are ones that right-wing Evangelicals spurn, preferring to spread hatred and intolerance…so it makes perfect sense that they would try to paint Her as a force of evil.

      • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        Maybe they confused her with her lover Ares, known for the bold (if questionable depending on how fresh they are) fashion statement of clothing his bed in the skin of those he slew?

        But hey, as Titus Pullo says, the best way to a woman’s heart is by giving her the bloody heart of an enemy.

    • Nicole Youngman

      Actually I think Paris’ book focuses on Artemis…?

      • Crystal Kendrick

        “Actually I think Paris’ book focuses on Artemis..” Who is herself a protector of infants and childbirth.

  • Rev Scott W

    The biggest issues seems to be that they think all religions are organized like Abrahamic ones, with large central powers (The Vatican, the ECLA, ect) that make global policies for their faith, and that Pagan is one religion, so when one person in a particular, or claiming to be, says one thing, they assume that our global offices must have made this pagan dogma.

    Yet these who feel the need to publically teardown other religions to lift up their own don’t even do honest research to find out how Pagan’s are organized and how the faith works, they just assume and find one or two example that prove their point and repeat it until it is the norm. Anyone can find anything in any religion to paint it as evil, perhaps if everyone worded to find the good in other religions we wouldn’t have to hear this on a regular basis.

    • Anonymous

      The problem is, these folks are taking hateful action with their sloppy research and thinking. If they found information that was contrary to the point they were trying to make, they would ignore it or hold it up as lies. How we are organized makes no difference with the story they want to tell.

      • RowanOLW

        They have in fact done that. They say they have received lots of letters from witches stating that they do not sacrafice humans or animals, but chose to ignore them, since they don’t fit with the group’s preconceived notiions.

    • Lori F – MN

      These are the same folks who think Satanists are the same as Pagans. And they think Satanists do human sacrifices too.

  • Thorn

    Puerile theology and thought are ever with us. Words and actions are distorted according to our wishes. Libel – including Blood Libel – is always used by people who are fearful and trying to shore up their own supremacy.

    I wrote a poem on abortion for Pagan Book of Living and Dying, and wrote more extensively on my thoughts on abortion. I will quote:

    “I do harm. I also do my level best to do good.
    As a Pagan, I honor life and I honor death. To give full honor is to take personal responsibility for my part in these cycles. Sometimes one thing must give way for another to rise.”

    from this essay:
    http://www.thorncoyle.com/2010/03/simple-gestures-part-two/

    Thanks Jason, as always, for reporting. It is greatly appreciated.

  • faeryprincess9_16

    If Christians don’t like abortions, then THEY need to stop having them! Women identifying themselves as Protestants obtain 37.4% of all abortions in the U.S.; Catholic women account for 31.3%, Jewish women account for 1.3%, and women with no religious affiliation obtain 23.7% of all abortions. 18% of all abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as “Born-again/Evangelical”. – The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform

    • Anonymous

      I love those statistics. Please where do they come from?

      • http://moma-fauna.blogspot.com/ Moma Fauna

        I think she got them here,

        http://www.cbrinfo.org/custom-post/current-projects/ (Center for Bio-Ethical Reform)

        but the numbers are a wee bit different:

        Who’s having abortions (religion)?
        Women identifying themselves as Protestants obtain 43% of all abortions in the U.S.; Catholic women account for 27%, Jewish women account for 1.3%, and women with no religious affiliation obtain 23.7% of all abortions. 18% of all abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as “Born-again/Evangelical”.

        • Jack Heron

          Before running away with the statistics, you’ll have to compare them to the make-up of the population at large (If 43% of abortions are by Protestants but, say, 60% of the population were Protestant, this would result in a different conclusion than if only 20% of the population were Protestant)

          • Anonymous

            Statistics are funny things. We can manipulate them to say almost anything. We just have to define the pie we are slicing and not get side tracked. The pie we are talking about is the number of abortions and who makes up that number. We are not taking a total population and breaking it down by religion and then by the percentage of that has an abortion. That’s distorted by the fact that men can’t have abortions so including them in the pie is spoiling the flavor. :)

          • http://moma-fauna.blogspot.com/ Moma Fauna

            Agreed. They appear to reflect the greater U.S. demographics (albeit male & female adults combined) I found here:

            Protestant 51.3%, Catholic 23.9%, Jewish 1.7%, no affiliation 16.1%, Evangelical 26.3%…

            But, this one teases out “other” (Hindu, New Age, Muslim, etc.) religions out of the “unaffiliated” so of course, there is all that complication. I am not sure if the abortion data actually breaks it down of you don’t fall under the Judeo-Christian umbrella.

            Statistics are a stick wicket. I got mine here: http://religions.pewforum.org/reports (The PEW Forum on Religion & Public Life)

  • Pagan Puff Pieces

    You know, I’m kind of reminded of a scene from a particularly cheesy live action film adaptation of Street Fighter in which M. Bison says “For you, it was the worst day in your life. For me, it was Tuesday.”

    Well, it doesn’t really match up (we’re dealing with avenging the murder of someone’s father here), but my point is that, with the position abortion holds in the eyes of some people, I guess there must be some really huge, amazingly eeeeeevil reason behind it, a reason that makes the act of abortion just as super special and important. Only EEEEEVIL. Many Pagans are okay with abortion, so it MUST be some sort of super duper blood sacrifice for them!

    No, it can’t possibly be that they just don’t see the fetus the same way. That would be too mundane.

    Now, we can and may argue about how they see the fetus, their attitudes, etc. etc. They won’t match up necessarily, and there is plenty of debate to be had. But just because it’s a big deal for one person doesn’t mean it’s a big deal for the other person, just in an eeeevil way.

  • http://sari0009.xanga.com/ Karen A. Scofield

    Yeah, well, Christians are not supposed to bear false witness against others. It’s one of their Ten Commandments.

    Videos like this and other formats with a similar theme are dumping grounds for lies, disinformation and multiple logic errors that demonize Pagans, an umbrella term for often disparate religions. But who cares about differentiating when status quo creedism means a person can get away with the old “they’re all alike” mentality and reek of righteousness for the effort, no matter how darkly motivated or deeply dishonest it was.

    I don’t recall any studies that indicate that Christians have fewer abortions than any genre of Pagan, by the way. That’s because they don’t exist. Lower quality of education, a lower education level, poverty and economic crisis can see increases in abortion rates though.

    http://www.abortionreview.org/index.php/site/article/509/

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704458204576074251590376210.html

    Yup, it’s creedists of this caliber (cough) that underscore the need to understand that we should never loose sight of equality, courtesy and respect in democracy. We should never, ever think that the lure of identity clashes, especially faith-based identity clashes, hides what we’re doing.

    Someone might call you on your tactics (blood libel, emotional violence on a social scale, appeal to ignorance, various false dilemmas, various fallacious appeals too numerous and boring to list here…) and someone might call you on your paradigm (the abuse power paradigm, a paradigm that houses various prejudices, domestic violence, emotional violence, class war and much, much more).

    Doesn’t the bible actually give great importance to “love thy neighbor” (reciprocal ethics that can prime the pump for equality, not to be taken literally as having to looove thy neighbor) as well as honesty?

    It’s the poorer bargain for them to try to rationalize themselves out of that and into prejudice as an axis of morality, truth, justice and everything that can go right in this world (pun intended).

  • http://moma-fauna.blogspot.com/ Moma Fauna

    “Surely it can be no coincidence that the hottest sub-movement within the feminist movement that began to emerge after the Roe v. Wade decision is goddess worship.”

    There are so many putrid layers to this statement I cannot begin to comment.

    • Anonymous

      There is an old adage that says, “If you have to lie to make your point, you have no point to make.”

      These people are pointless. And unnecessary. Which scares them into illogical panic.

  • Kilmrnock

    These people are just plain nuckin futs . This is the largest load a shyte i’ve seen/heard in a loooong time . But consider the sourse , as others here have said , these folks don’t even follow their own 10 commandments , supposedly given to them directly from thier god . This is blood libel , and B.S. in grand form and a direct violation of the rules from thier own god .Donot bear false witness, Love thy neibor etc. Sorry for being frank , but this kind of stuff pisses me off, to have my pagan sisters and my wife talked about this way. i will always defend my fellow pagans when confronted w/ such stuff. Kilm

  • kenneth

    If you think this is loony, you ought to see some of what I used to encounter in reading and debating on Catholic Answers Forum. There are a substantial number of people who believe that we systematically steal consecrated communion hosts to desecrate in our ritual. When I explained the logistical and metaphysical absurdity of that accusation and that I had never even heard rumors about it in years of wide contact with other pagans, they just dove deeper into conspiracy mode. “Well, your just a first degree, when you get to higher levels then they turn you onto Satan’s real agenda” . Tinfoil hats and Haldol……

    • https://me.yahoo.com/a/sfryDkgRsPJqP3LsfC8OLfuG8Q--#abb0b Krystal H.

      I’ve actually been posting on that same forum, and there are some…interesting assertions…that people have made re: modern Paganisms….very interesting assertions.

      • kenneth

        The long and short of it is that for a lot of Christians, their theology is meaningless unless it has an ever-present evil figure like Satan and lots of Earthly agents of evil to help them star in their own superhero narrative. They don’t much care who serves that role. Jews worked wonderfully in it for centuries but overt anti-Semitism isn’t cool even in most conservative circles anymore, so we fit the bill.

  • WitchDoctorJoe

    Unfortunately I can personally relate to this one. I have repeatedly been accused of transporting infant bodies into the prison, in my faith kit, for the religious services I conduct. It’s been the most difficult and offensive accusation to endure.

    • kenneth

      Give them an early Christmas present: Tell them the infant bodies are flash frozen at the (pagan run) abortion clinics and shipped directly to the prison!

      • WitchDoctorJoe

        A hahaha! Mt standard answer is “that’s just ridiculous, they don’t fit in the box.”

        • Anonymous

          And even if they did, there would be no room left over for the barbecue sauce!

      • Nicole Youngman

        LOL…only problem there is, they’d start quoting you on it everywhere as “proof” that these things happen. Seriously. They don’t do sarcasm, ya know?

    • Harmonyfb

      WHAT. This is so very bizarre I can’t even come up with a reply that isn’t ‘mouth hanging open in horrified disbelief’.

  • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    I had to go away and calm myself for a few moments, after reading this.

    As might be obvious from my prior comments, I’m an oldline Pagan conservative who thinks that abortion for convenience is wrong. As do many other conservative Pagans.

    That said, in 30+ years of association w/ modern Pagans, Pantheists, Wiccans and other Earth Religious people, I’ve never met anyone ever who thought that abortion is a wonderful, joyous occasion to be celebrated. Most of the people I’ve talked with view it as an occasional medical necessity — I disagree, but understand.

    The idea that it is a sacrifice is purely repulsive.

    And THAT said, I really hope that the Pagan speakers libeled in the series, with the blood libel, SUE for libel.

    • kenneth

      I hope so too, but it’s hard if not impossible to sue based on defamation of a large group in the aggregate ie pagans. If on the other hand the book implies that particular pagan leaders are indulging in ritual sacrifice, that’s a very different matter.

    • Thorn

      “Abortion for convenience”? Whatever does this mean?

      • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        Girl has sex, gets pregnant, and decides “i’m not ready for a child,” or “I don’t want a child” or “screw this I wanna go party, not be pregnant” or the like and goes and kills the unborn. That’s generally how I’ve seen it defined. It’s basically anytime the existence of the child is terminated because it would inconvenience the “mother.”

        • http://www.facebook.com/katie.l.berger Katie Berger Tremaine

          A lot of terminations, especially since the economic downturns, are done for women for whom this surprise pregnancy is their fourth or subsequent, and done not out of desire or inconvenience but out of the simple desperate economic necessity that the mother CANNOT AFFORD to feed another mouth. The idea of “convenience” abortions is fundamentally misogynistic and is not borne out in the statistics.

          • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

            I disagree. I keep pointing out that birth control is free at many health departments and clinics, and cheaply obtained at most gas stations and super-stores. Swallowing is also free. Economics are not a valid excuse.

            Misogynistic? Both Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, founders of the feminist movement, were against abortion. They denounced it as “an abomination” in speeches and letters.

            Hippocrates, founder of modern medicine, was also anti-abortion, under his tenet of “do no harm”.

          • http://www.myspace.com/kadynastar Khryseis_Astra

            Birth control doesn’t always work. I use it faithfully and correctly, but if it fails me, I’m not going to have a child just because I was the .01% that it failed for. As someone who believes in reincarnation, the soul that was meant to inhabit the fetus – the *potential* child – will simply incarnate somewhere/someplace else in the case or an abortion or miscarriage.

            For those who don’t agree with my beliefs, they have the choice to not have an abortion. Hence why a religiously neutral country should leave it legal: it forces nothing on those opposed to it.

            As for Hippocrates, his stance against abortion was due to the fact that in his day, abortion was frequently fatal for the *woman.* It wasn’t out of some ancient pro-life stance.

            Aristotle also said “let abortion be procured before life and sense have begun,” usually interpreted to be any time before the “quickening” or fetal movement.

            The ancient astrologers believed ensoulment did not take place until the lunation (New Moon or Full Moon) preceding the birth, so about 2 weeks prior to birth, regardless of due date.

            At any rate, when you (generic you) believe a fetus turns into a “person” with rights that trump the mother’s is a matter of personal belief. I have the right to live under my own beliefs, and not be forced to live under someone else’s.

            Sex is not just for procreation. I’m not required to breed just because I have the equipment or an accident, nor should I be.

          • http://www.facebook.com/katie.l.berger Katie Berger Tremaine

            You know, I reserve the right to honor the sacrifices and accomplishments of my ancestors of the First Wave of feminism without being compelled to uphold any of their beliefs (other than the radical belief that women are people), any more than I would hold to the belief of my Swedish great-great grandmother that it’s ok to dispose of a hated husband by drowning (she had to have believed that – she DID it!). My immediate influences are closer to the present day and more strongly involved in bodily autonomy politics.

        • Creely12

          Perhaps you should have enclosed “child” in quotations marks, instead of mother.

        • Pagan Puff Pieces

          I think focusing vexing image of the dumb party girl is a distraction. Yeah, they exist, but if we always take a break to say “Well, I’m against those selfish irresponsible people,” and shake our heads disapprovingly at them, the conversation, no matter which side it’s arguing, steers into a detour of deciding for other people based on who deserves and doesn’t deserve, with an implication of deserved punishment, and that’s not what this debate is about, or what it should be about, I think.

          That’s one of my issues with abortion. It seems it’s never really just about abortion itself. There’s often a huge boatload of implications, accusations, prejudices, and policies riding on its coattails, and that’s where I see the real problems and issues, and that’s, in the end, what shapes my opinion.

          Like here in the article, in which the outrage is not that Pagans are generally Pro-Choice, but in this idea that it’s central to their identity as Pagans and part of a big Pagan Plot. It’s supposed to be about abortion itself, but through this it becomes just another extension of the fight with the strange people who vex you by acting in a way you don’t approve of.

          • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

            I disagree with your first paragraph, in that no consideration seems to be given to a child who deserves to live.

            Your last paragraph makes a heckuva lot of sense.

            If abortion were part of a big scary Pagan Plot, there would be consensus among all Pagans about whether or not it’s a right.

          • Pagan Puff Pieces

            Actually, that’s my point. If it’s really about the child who deserves to live, I feel that bringing the actions and characters of women, for example, by bringing up the girl who wants to keep on partying and gets an abortion for convenience, distracts from that and leads to implications that this is about an irresponsible woman who doesn’t deserve to get away with sex.

            Too often I see this framed in terms of loose, partying women, or people not smart or responsible enough to use birth control (which a lot of people are working to make inaccessible and shameful, while keeping young people in the dark as a deterrent from the sex). Sometimes I detect more an urge to punish bad women than an actual concern for the well being of a child. If it’s really about the child, then stressing the image of the irresponsible woman who now wants an abortion because she wants to keep partying is a distraction that frames the child as a punishment.
            If life is truly so precious, then it has a right to not be characterized as a punishment, a deterrent, or a grim consequence of sex. If we really are dealing with a living child, then it is gross disservice to act in ways that imply it is a punishment.

          • http://www.facebook.com/eric.schwenke Eric Schwenke

            Speaking as a former anti-abortioner that has since had dramatic shifts in world-view, I really have to wonder about any theological or scientific basis for the immorality of abortion.

            Could you please explain to me at what point a fetus (or embryo, zygote, etc.) can be considered a person? Shouldn’t it have a personality to be considered a person, and wouldn’t it need to have experiences and memories for that to develop?

            If you want to argue that the fetus has a soul, first I will point out that the existence of a soul cannot be verified. Also, different religions and cultures have widely different ideas about souls and when a human gets them.

            What does abortion do to a being with no personality, experience, memory, etc.? What do you think happens spiritually? Does the act of abortion hurt others in any way other than emotionally? If they are hurt emotionally, is it simply because they believe abortion to be morally wrong.

            Now, consider that pregnancy is extremely taxing on the mother. Consider that studies indicate that mothers suffering from pre-natal depression are more likely to produce sociopaths for children than non-depressed expectant mothers. Lastly, consider that there is strong evidence that abortion reduces crime. Now, tell me why abortion is evil.

        • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

          Yeah. That.

      • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

        This is gonna be inflammatory, so I apologize in advance.

        Someone who wanted to have sex, but did not bother to use birth control, yet did not wish to be “inconvenienced” by carrying a baby to term and then caring for the human being that they helped to create, choosing to have an abortion.

        Often, the feminist movement portrays women who wish to have abortions as victims, when this is a, well, fanciful assertion. Very often, women who choose to have abortions are doing it for their own convenience. Never mind the convenience of the child.

        • Obsidia

          It doesn’t matter why the woman chooses to have an Abortion. This is a matter for the women herself to decide as she has sovereignty over her own body.

          • Harmonyfb

            THIS. It matters not one whit WHY a woman decided to have an abortion. It is her body, and her right to decide what happens within it. Neither Alice – nor anyone else – has any right to decide for another woman whether a pregnancy should or should not be continued.

            Conversely, if Alice finds herself pregnant, she alone must make the determination for herself, without anyone else sitting in judgment and trying to make the decision for her.

        • No Bod E

          You do realize that there are certain medical conditions that make pregnancy dangerous such as lupus sle? Birth control pills can be negated by the use of antibiotics. How, then, can you “disagree” with it being a medical necessity. Circumstances cannot always be controlled.

        • Amaranth

          “Someone who wanted to have sex, but did not bother to use proper birth control…”

          Because it’s always the *woman* who doesn’t bother to be careful. Sometimes birth control fails. Or a woman doesn’t have a car and doesn’t live within walking distance of a clinic. Or there isn’t a clinic in her town, and she can’t afford to take off work to ride the bus over to the next town. Or she can’t afford, financially or heath-wise, to be on the pill. Or her boyfriend refused to use a condom and there was nothing she could do. Or she has a husband who forbids her from accessing or using birth control on ideological grounds. Or heaven forbid, she gets raped. 1 in 4 women will be in their lifetime, isn’t that the statistic?

          “…yet did not wish to be “inconvenienced” by carrying a baby to term…”

          Lose the brackets around inconvenienced. Pregnancy IS an inconvenience. Women in their last trimester often cannot work, which would be a death sentence for the woman who has no one else to support her. Changes happen in the body that are permanent, and sometimes dangerous when combined with other medical conditions. There are hundreds of things that can go wrong in a pregnancy. Oh, and women still die in childbirth. Pregnancy is a HUGE risk, especially for anyone who isn’t in perfect health. And not everyone can, health-wise, “afford” to *risk their life* to carry a child to term. Playing those very real risks down to “oh, she just doesn’t want to be ‘inconvenienced'” is downright cruel to women who find themselves in this situation.

          “…and then caring for the human being that they helped to create, instead choosing to have an abortion.”

          Because everyone can afford to keep a baby…well, not really. I admire women who choose to raise an unexpected child, but *forcing* someone to derail their entire life for the sake of another person is not fair to either person involved.

          The “personhood” of the fetus is irrelevant to the legal abortion issue, anyway. Even if the fetus IS a person, the fact is that no person can legally compel another person to act as their personal life-sustaining equipment. For example, you cannot legally compel me to give you something as simple as a blood transfusion.*Even if* you will certainly die without that blood. *Even if* you happen to be an innocent child who doesn’t deserve to die.

          If a person cannot even take blood from my body without my consent, why on earth should it be legal for a person to *take up residence inside* my body *for nine months* without my consent?

        • Grimmorrigan

          “This is gonna be inflammatory, so I apologize in advance.”

          Why do people say this?
          There is never any apology in any statement which starts this way. You can replace inflammatory with any number of words ” Stupid”, “long winded”, “wrong”, ” covered in bees.” and on and on. Either say it or don’t…hiding in this realm of pseudo-tact is pointless.

          • Pagan Puff Pieces

            This is gonna be covered in bees, so I apologize in advance.

            AAAAAAAAAAAGGGH!

    • No Bod E

      I’ve had 2 abortions, both medical necessities. In both cases, I was told by my doctor that I had to. It was a life or death matter. No, I didn’t get pregnant through carelessness (I was on the pill in both cases and yes I took them everyday). I don’t speak of it because A.) It makes me wonder what if. and B.) I know that certain religions that most of my family are members of, will try to condemn me for it. So much for “judge not lest ye be judged” huh?

      • No Bod E

        By the way, I was “Christian” at the time of both abortions.

  • Grimmorrigan

    During a blind date the subject of faith came up. She said that she had been raised Christian but was no longer religious. I felt comfortable enough to state I was Pagan. At that statement young lady blinked three times and said: “You seem so nice…I just can’t see you killing all those babies”. Then I blinked three times and asked ” What the ::insert your favorite swear here: are you going on about?”

    Turns out her old minister had informed her of much the same thing as the above video presents. She had not been to church in over 10 years and according to her ” was finding herself spiritually” but in that decade had never bothered to shed the crap she grew up with. Folks, this garbage gets into their heads and stays there.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      “this garbage gets into their heads and stays there.”

      The same thing was evident among UUs when UU Paganism was brand new. It’s like they’d edited the visible surface of their heritage theologies whilst becoming UU but some of them had left untouched an unseen underside where they kept their reactions to “witch” and “pagan.” Maybe the divide was between the formal part and the folk part. Spent a lot of time dealing with people’s shadow theologies.

      • Grimmorrigan

        I’ve talked to a few folks in my congregation and they tell similar tales. Folks worried that we Pagans would “get up to something”.
        I know the feeling there. Even in the UU group I work with there are some Pagans who cannot shed some nagging fears from their former faith. There is this worry that blood sacrifices, use of animals parts, and :Insert scary music:: dark magic will take over. Even in some facets of the Pagan community this crap holds out.

  • jhamm77

    As always, it’s the Goddess Pagans who take most of the heat from the Christian Right. It’s because they are the bravest!

    • Grimmorrigan

      Got a citation for that? =P

      • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        Yeah, I haven’t seen anything to back up Goddess Pagans being the bravest of us Pagans and Heathens. :P

    • http://www.facebook.com/katie.l.berger Katie Berger Tremaine

      As frustrated as I am with a number of aspects of Goddess practice, I myself am fundamentally a Goddess practitioner, and I agree that the idea of putting Goddesses first over Gods is a fundamentally radical one. Bravest? Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes I get very tired of fighting for my place (as I am a trans woman) and at those times it’s entirely too easy for me to see the petty side of Goddess traditions, too.

      • Jack

        In 1948 my then girlfriend, now wife, and I met a remarkable young woman. When we met her we mistook her for a man and she played along out of fear for several months. Eventually she got comfortable enough to correct us and we immediately apologized much to her relief and shock. You see that remarkable woman, our dear family friend, was trans.

        Once many years later in the 1970’s thereabouts she asked us why we accepted her so readily when so many feminists didn’t. My wife told her this and simply this, “As a woman my womanhood is not injured by recognizing the truth of your womanhood and only a woman who is deeply unsure of her own self would say otherwise.”

        My wisdom for you is this my young friend, which is something I’m sure you already know, that petty side of Goddess traditions is made up entirely of woman who are deeply unsure of their own womanhood. It’s a sad reflection on their own hearts that they often ignore the truth of the womanhood of women like you.

        If I could change the world and make it realize the simple truth that all people have the right to self-determination and love then I would gladly do so. The best I can do is as I have done for the last 63 years: try every way I know how to fight for the full equality of trans people everywhere. I pray you find the peace and acceptance you so inherently deserve.

        • Anonymous

          Beautiful. Thank you, Jack.

          • Jack

            My pleasure my friend.

            As a man born in Soviet Ukraine in 1933, who was forced to leave his first adopted home of Poland in 1939, and who had more than a few close calls in his second adopted home of London from 1940-41 I’ve seen just how ugly humanity can really get. And I still have hope.

            Passing that hope on is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Especially those who need hope.

            As a man who remembers not being able to marry the love of his life (in supposedly the freest country on Earth) simply because she happened to be black, raising a mixed race gay son and bisexual daughter (in 1950’s-60’s Southern America thank you very much), and of course being a friend to many LGBT folks over the years I’ve been impressed with how far we’ve come (and distressed, at times, at how far we still have to go! – the same could be said of my adventures in the civil rights movement and gender equality movement as well).

            I will never stop fighting for justice. I will never stop spreading the hope in my heart. I owe it to my self, my wife, our children, our grandchildren, our friends, the rest of our family, and of course to everyone who is lonely and downtrodden and needs to be reminded that they are loved and good just as they are.

          • Anonymous

            Considering the horrors of history, I sometimes worry that we who have chosen to identify with a religion that evokes this response have little room to complain, compared to those who were and are persecuted because of birth culture or inborn traits like race or gender orientation. Then I banish that thought with the firm conviction that no one should be so persecuted — and what we are doing in protest is making the world better for everyone. And now, thank you, you bring us hope that the good and the love will see us through. Blessed Be.

  • Pitch313

    We are Pagans. But these Christians take notions of the occult far more literally than we do. And they enmesh them in their world views and use them to invigorate their sense of reality far more than we do. They are occultists. We Pagans are, in comparison, simply not.

    • Anonymous

      Are you surprised they “take notions of the occult far more literally”? If they take the Bible literally, beginning with the Talking Snake, of course all the other stuff is “real”.

  • Pitch313

    The demon who looks after the unsorted pile of stuff at the back corner of my desk has suggested to me that I should give a little more weight to everybody’s occultism, even my own.

    Maybe in my earlier comment I was trying to point out that, all in all, today’s Pagans uphold an open and outward-looking occultism in contrast to the closed and tail-chasing occultism that makes Pagans saying that they do not do something into evidence that they do.

    It’s just that agit-prop like what Jason describes makes me, an Earth-loving, polytheist, magic-working Pagan consider myself so rational, clear-thinking, and intellectually grounded…that I don’t feel occult-y at all…

    • kenneth

      A good distinction may be that there is a difference between the modern pagan understanding of magick and metaphysics and plain old superstition. One can have an appreciation of the deeper metaphysical cause and effects without taking leave of reality and common sense. The superstitious person attributes everything to a deep magickal struggle and sinister forces. You’re right in that Evangelicals and many hardcore traditionalist Catholics are downright obsessed with the occult. They’re obsessed with exorcism and talismans and the idea that Satan is lurking in every person and object waiting to jump them.

  • Anonymous

    I looked up Jay Rogers on Talk2Action.org. It looks like he is well enough connected in the Dominionist and NAR areas that this publication could get spread pretty widely, And BNP who is named in the DVD would, I hope, take this seriously and land on him with both feet (legally, as in libel, etc).

    Jason, has this been around for a while, or is it recent like it might be part of the DC40 and the rest of the 50 state hexing??

    • Catherine

      It was a fairly common idea when I was doing clinic defense in the late 80’s- early 90’s. They said that witches sacrificed the fetuses, then ate them. They also said that “the gays” were supporting abortion rights as some evil plan to wipe out the human race, and that Jewish doctors were using abortion as a tool to eliminate future Christians. Crazy stuff, and none of it makes a lick of sense, but it was pretty common to hear this kind of BS in front of the clinics.

    • Nicole Youngman

      Yeah, he’s an old figure in the anti-abortion movement. Used to publish a lot of seriously violent rhetoric (probably still does) aimed at particular doctors at the Forerunner site. Very interesting to see the little f*cker moving in this direction–it’s an extension of conspiracy theories he’s literally been promoting for decades–there was one particular clinic owner in FL that he really used to go on about in this manner.

  • Rombald

    I think it’s interesting that the Hippocratic Oath, maybe the only European Pagan sacred text to have remained valued throughout the Christian centuries, is anti-abortion. The Bible, on the other hand, mentions abortion only once (in Numbers), and that approvingly. There is also the fact that Orthodox Judaism accepts abortion, and prominent ancient and mediaeval Christian theologians were not wholeheartedly anti. Taking these all together, one could argue that it is Abrahamic religions that are pro-abortion, and Paganism that is, at heart, pro-life.

    OK, having said all that, I still put myself on the pro-choice side, albeit uncomfortably so, but I think it’s worth discussing.

    • Don

      “Paganism that is, at heart, pro-life.”

      I wouldn’t go that far. The Hippocratic oath against prescribing abortion-inducing drugs might have more to do with protecting the life of the mother, since those drugs could potentially kill her.

      Exposing children was a common practice in antiquity and much long after that. The notion that a fetus or even a young child’s life is “precious” is pretty recent.

      I think Aristotle once said that abortion was acceptable up the point when the fetus became capable of sensation, but how that was determined in antiquity I have no idea.

      • Grimmorrigan

        I always assumed Paganism was pro-choice in that we are pretty accepting of peoples’ choices and we also expect folks to accept the consequences of those choices.

    • RowanOLW

      IIRC, St. Thomas Aquanus believed that the fetus did not become “ensoled” ie become a human being, until quickening, approximately the fourth month. Which would make abortion perfectly moral before that.

      Another instance of ignoring everything that doens’t agree with you. These silly people don’t know their own silly business.

      • http://entdinglichung.wordpress.com Entdinglichung

        that’s true, many medieval and early modern catholic theologians argued that way … additionally, I think, I read it in Uta Ranke-Heinemann’s “Eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven: Women, sexuality, and the Catholic Church”, abortion was up to the the early or mid 20th century in the public discurse in Europe less considered a “spiritual crime” but more treated as a violation of property rights of the fathers and of the state (depriving its army of potential soldiers)

  • Anonymous

    Some may’ve missed this, but I blog’d it:

    http://unicornbooty.com/blog/2011/10/19/catholic-church-stole-300000-spanish-babies-over-6-decades-told-parents-they-died/

    While ‘blood libel’ might be popular here-say in certain circles…we have actual evidence and a confession that the Catholic Church stole 300,000 babies in Spain.

    Hmmmm ;)

    • http://www.facebook.com/katie.l.berger Katie Berger Tremaine

      And let’s not forget the Catholic Church’s little rape factories – the Residential Schools in Canada and the Magdalen Laundries in Ireland.

    • RowanOLW

      The Church can do whatever it wants and then confess it. Of course, yu are supposed to show remourse and promise not to do it again, which shoudl be easy enough. It’s not like you’ll get the opportunity to steal 300,000 babies twice in one lifetime.

      Sheesh.

    • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

      Not to mention the uncounted number of children in First Nations cultures, Asian cultures and African cultures.

      • Anonymous

        :)

  • Anonymous

    If civil authorities preferentially seek “knowledgeable” experts on the occult and Wicca who are exclusively evangelical Christian, is there any doubt blood libel like this could be used to take children away from their Pagan and Wiccan parents? Or used as a basis for persecution for other perceived “sins” to “save the children”?

  • Anonymous

    ok, Heres my two cents worth, this is geared toward propaganda for their troops the christian worshipers it is intended to dehumanize Pagans. and make it ok and a righteous thing to discriminate against us, and to ultimately eradicate us .
    This has been a tactic used several times in history , Hitler did it in Germany against the Jews . they were accused of being godless , baby killers , the killers of Christ.
    We all know how well that turned out for them.
    If you look at the two chapters Jason has placed in the Blog today ,
    what has the director already put in these peoples minds, images of witch burning.
    This sets the wheels in motion for a “get them child killers and remove them from society” movement. you can call me an alarmist and paranoid but…..
    They are already working very diligently to put their puppets in the White House.
    We have seen with the OWS movement that corporate media will only report what its allowed. and the internet can be censored.
    Who knows maybe the Africans are not the only ones , who will be murdered as witches on a daily basis in this world , if these Hatemonger get their way.

  • Lori F – MN

    If only those ‘pro-lifers’ would actually think about that would happen if all those children were born. Would the unwed mothers end up as welfare mothers? Or would those children end up in poverty? If they were given up for adoption would they BE adopted? Would those pro-lifers adopt those children?

    What pro-lifers fail to understand is that 1) a woman will always live with whatever choice they make. 2) PlannedParenthood is not just an abortion clinic.

    As for the law that some are trying to get on the books makeing miscarrages a crime, poppycock. Especially since it is proven that a full one third of all conceptions ends in a miscarriage. Would the women who have still births be criminialized as well? The child died under your exclusive care, therefore you must be guilty of doing something to cause the still birth.

    I recommend everyone read “The Handmaid’s Tale”

    • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

      The question should be: What would happen if the adults were responsible, and the children were not conceived at all?

      • http://www.facebook.com/katie.l.berger Katie Berger Tremaine

        Accidents do happen. Condoms break, the Pill doesn’t always work, IUDs, contraceptive foam, etc. don’t always work. Abstinence doesn’t work, period – it’s been shown that 23% of women who claim to be practicing abstinence as a form of birth control become pregnant, which makes it no different from not using any form of birth control at all.

        • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

          Abstinence DOES work… if it is actually done, Katie. It’s like gaining weight when eating fistfuls of caramels then claiming that you are dieting.

          • Greentreetarot

            So people who don’t want any kids or are done having kids should just be abstinent their entire lives? Is sex now something you have to be economically privileged (and thus able to afford raising a child) to participate in?

            Those who don’t want children should absolutely use birth control. But short of demanding that sex be used only for procreation, how else are we going to deal with birth control failure?

        • Lori F – MN

          And the pill isn’t effective if you are taking antibiotics. I don’t ever recall being told that.

      • Anonymous

        What would happen if pigs flew? A system that depends on “all adults being responsible” is a system based on fantasy.

      • Anonymous

        And when a woman is raped and becomes pregnant? Or a young girl is raped by her father or older brother? Or is a woman who is pregnant by choice and wants the child develops an illness partway through the pregnancy that will kill her if she remains pregnant? Who would you have make the decisions for her???

        • WhiteBirch

          I don’t wholeheartedly agree with A.C. but what she has said she doesn’t agree with with are “convenience” abortions, not ones done as a result of rape, incest, or pressing medical necessity. Repeatedly bringing up those situations distorts the discussion a bit. Nobody in these comments is arguing that a woman should be denied an abortion when her life is threatened by medical problems that don’t play nice with pregnancy. It’s not fair to tar A.C. with that brush when that’s not what she’s arguing.

          Myself, I’m not sure what a “convenience” abortion would be defined as or who’d get to draw that line, but I’m convinced a pregnancy with unforeseen medical complications wouldn’t be included.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548883612 Flame Bridesdottir

            **what she has said she doesn’t agree with with are “convenience” abortions, not ones done as a result of rape, incest, or pressing medical necessity.**

            A. C. stated in this thread that she disagrees that there may be a medical necessity.

            **Most of the people I’ve talked with view it as an occasional medical necessity — I disagree, but understand. **

            So it appears she hasn’t been unfairly characterized.

  • http://www.facebook.com/katie.l.berger Katie Berger Tremaine

    Sometimes this stuff just makes you shake your head and say “wow, this is a whole pile of crap.” But, like all the other anti-woman crap in the world right now, they have power.

    … I am really tired of fighting people who have the power to step on others (particularly women) and ignore it… Really…

  • Bekah Swope

    I half want to say that it feels like the article is creating more of an issue for Pagans to get stirred up and be angry or upset about as well as spreading the word these people are portraying.

    However, at the same time, I found the article interesting and informative as to where these “links” have been made by some Christian groups. It just seems that by now we should at least not be surprised that aggressive Christians are going to continue to try and say anything and everything about Pagans and link us to their Devil’s image. Very informative though.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Bekah, the article arms us for when someone tries to say that Christian demonization of Pagans is in the past, that they know better now. Having read the article we can reply, “No, it’s going on right now,” and give references.

      Of couse receiving the information gets us stirred up. We are not data machines.

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      How would you write the piece in such a way as to NOT get Pagans “stirred up”?

      • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

        I think Bekah has a point, honestly. And I think that they key is not covering every instance of the lunatic fringe of Christianity that posts a video on You Tube.

        I have lost some of the high respect I used to hold for this website over time, given the high percentage of blog posts that seem to report on every angry and bigoted Christian with access to a website. Yes, there are a lot of them. You’ll never run out of material this way. And yes, Pagans sure do like to sound the alarm about the (potentially, someday, could be) highly influential and scary scary Christian nut jobs out there.

        Yeah, when they approach the fringes of a Presidential campaign, it’s news. But most of the Evil Christians Are Plotting Against Us stories are facile and pointless. Popular, yes, but the fact that the preponderance of your interfaith stories are interfaith nightmare cases like these leaves the impression that they are far more representative than they are. It’s as if the only stories covered by the Nightly News focused on white supremacists. It’s not that white supremacists are OK, or unworthy of coverage.

        But they’re not exactly the cutting edge of what’s newsworthy.

        Why is it that the minority of Christians who make hate a part of their lives are the cutting edge of the coverage of Pagan news? I fear the answer is simply that it’s easy to find crazy people on Teh Interwebs, and that Pagans cherish their sense of persecution.

        I am aware that I’m going to get flamed and accused of being a closet Christian for posting this–though not by you, Jason. But, well… you asked. *sighs, pulls on flame-proof undies*

        • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

          “given the high percentage”

          I’m genuinely curious as to what that percentage is.

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

            Jason, I haven’t done a count, but it seems like every week there are at least a couple of these stories here. And, no, that’s not very precise… but, as a general thing, I’m not stopping by very often of late… because the frequency of stories of this sort has discouraged me from being a regular reader any more.

            And I know you know I respect your work–and I also know you respect me, my work, my ideas. I’m not saying that losing one reader–even one you respect and you feels the same way back atcha–is a reason to reconsider your editorial perspective.

            But.

            Bekah is not alone in having reservations of how coverage of angry Christians is handled here. It seemed fair to share the heat, since I was here today.

            Maybe I’m a data point that can safely be ignored. Certainly, I suspect the readers who are regulars still may feel that way. But maybe it’s worthwhile satisfying that curiosity of yours. Do a count–what percentage of your stories, over the past year, could have run under a headline, “Intolerant Christians Are a Threat”?

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          Cat, I am not going to flame you but I do disagree with your assessment, because of the frame in which I see the situation.

          The basic fact in that frame is that we are just about the only spiritual community that can be slandered without consequences. Imagine if the nut-jobs had said the same things about Jews; we’d be getting comments from top-level talking heads on cable.

          The nut-jobs might be dismissed if they did not have two important sympathetic audiences: Evangelical Christians, who number in the millions and have no idea what Pagans are really all about; and, this year, Presidential candidates. Both of these make nut-job slander much more of a plausible danger than if they were just talking to each other.

          It’s not an accident that the nut-jobs seldom pick on Jews any more. The Jewish community has labored long and hard to make sure there are consequences for such action; it has created insitutitions for this specific purpose.

          Nobody’s going to do that for us; we Pagans must do that for ourselves. And the first thing we need if that is ever to happen, is that we become informed. Thus, in the frame in which I view this, Jason is going a good deed by keeping up informed.

          The Pagan community is taking the first steps to create the kind of institution we need to protect ourselves. The Pentacle Headstone Quest is an example. I hope to live long enough to see this develop further. But the foundation has to be information, not ignorance.

          • Don

            I would prefer if we did not imitate the Jews in that regard. Today if you make a valid criticism of Israel, you’re jumped on andaccused of anti-semtism.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I am not suggesting that we imitate Zionism. Rather something along the lines of the Anti-Defamation League as it was originally formed.

          • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

            And yet, replying to a comment that made no mention whatsoever of Israel and only Jews, you’re the one who had to make a connection there. Maybe there is some anti-Semitism present when people are incapable of discerning between ‘Jews’ and ‘Israel’. Jew, Jewish and Judaism are not synonymous with Israeli.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Kauko, I explicitly cited Jewish anti-defamation activity. I take Don’s comment as suggesting that that undertaking gets sidetracked into political defense of Israel. That is, in my view, a valid caution, whether one agrees with the basic premise or not.

            I applaud your alertness to any possible hint of anti-Semitism. Let’s not let such observations divide us.

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

            I’d like to see our efforts at self-protection focus a little more on the practical, and a little less on hyper-focusing on the most extreme cases of bigotry out there–and too often without any context to put the intolerance into a more representative frame.

            I don’t think feeding fear is the same thing as halting defamation. That’s what I see happening in most of our comments, and the overall slant of our news coverage of relations with Christianity and non-Pagans in general.

            Just my opinion. I do understand it is a minority perception.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I agree that some comments don’t reflect reflection. This is the Internet, and that is part of its discourse.

            I would love to see something more practical, but as far as I can see we are still in the getting-informed-and-motivated phase.

            This idea btw has been around for a while. I googled a tad and found a bit of our past, a Witches’ Anti-Defamation League and an Aquarian ADL. I’m hoping that in the era of Lady Liberty League and the Pentacle Quest it might catch on.

            I think — intuitively, I can’t back this up with logic or evidence — that Jason, having this audience, ought report every anti-Pagan slur that hits print, because it would be impossible to safely define a cutoff beyond which something was unworthy of mention. I’ve seen, since the 1950s, stuff on the extreme move on the center.

          • anonda

            cat c-b
            you are not in the minority….
            it is just that those of us who agree with you, choose to ignore

            as a matter of fact, paganspace.com gets some of these news posted and most members see it as nothing but fearmongering…

            i rather hear more about the pagan community in the usa, europe…latin america (yes, modern paganism is catching up) than hear about christians over and over again…

            it is like going to an atheist board and reading about christianity all of the time

            i understand the importance of being informed but isnt it wiser to start doing something more practical instead of feeding to the persecution complex?

            and even then, i dont think that doing something practical would even work, because i find pagans are too anti-establishment to get them to agree to anything, even if it is for their own benefit….

            oh well

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Anonda, I would love to hear of something more practical, in dealing with defamation, than keeping informed.

        • Lori F – MN

          Are you saying that Pagan’s don’t need to know about these fringe weirdos? At what point does their retoric become ‘need to know’?
          Do we wait until Pagan’s are being exterminated and have to go into hiding? Will we find it necessary to “convert or die”?

    • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

      Part of the reason that I am happy Jason reports on what he reports on, is because I encounter so much of this junk in my interactions with Christians. It’s nice to see where their claims come from. It’s important to me because understanding where it comes from helps me be more informed about people who may well be in power over me, as many people that are incredibly active in politics, hold positions in politics and judiciary positions come from communities that hold these opinions. Further, many of these people are actively involved in eroding my rights as a Pagan, and contribute or give to causes that espouse these views.

      • WhiteBirch

        My experience as a newish Pagan coming out of rural evangelical Christianity (including church run high school and undergrad degree) is that this stuff isn’t as fringe as one might think. These are the attitudes I grew up with, and were widespread in my community. And I’ve found as an adult that they’re prevalent in rural communities in every state and region I’ve lived in. Evangelicalism as a movement is afraid of too much education lest it produce skepticism, and they encourage people to both believe what they read and cling to their own intuition. That’s a combination that produces die-hard conspiracy theorists–and it’s a problem recognized amongst the more level-headed evangelical strains too. The nutjobs on the internet are just the ones that have a platform.

        I don’t want to be a fear-monger, the people from those communities that I’ve been part of most of my life are not scary, pitchfork waving mobs. They’re good people, doing the best they know how, just BADLY misinformed and stubbornly convinced of their rightness. To combat that we have to know what kind of stuff they believe, where they get it, and how to gently unwind it.

        This is why I love Jason’s coverage. Thanks Jason. :)

  • http://thepaperwitch.blogspot.com/ Bekah

    I half want to say that it feels like the article is creating more of an issue for Pagans to get stirred up and be angry or upset about as well as spreading the word these people are portraying.

    However, at the same time, I found the article interesting and informative as to where these “links” have been made by some Christian groups. It just seems that by now we should at least not be surprised that aggressive Christians are going to continue to try and say anything and everything about Pagans and link us to their Devil’s image. Very informative though.

  • Nicole Youngman

    Another interesting tidbit: check out the “testimony” from Rusty Thomas on Rogers’ page for the DVD–Thomas is one of the head wingnuts of Operation Save America, which is an Operation Rescue spin-off. I used to encounter him all the time at clinic protests when I was doing clinic defense in the 90s. They were using a LOT of teenagers back then–maybe still do–and of course feeding them all this shit, and how would the kids know any different?

  • Katrina Thiessen

    WOW, that’s insane. I’ve never read such scary posts. Even before I opened my thoughts and heart to wicca and paganism, I believed that abortion should be a choice made by the woman. And what’s that crap about Aphrodite being goddess of child sacrifice? Hello? Goddess of love and beauty. SOMEONE obvious has twisted the mythologies to suit themselves. And in pretty drastic ways.

    • Crystal Kendrick

      When you’re completely ignorant of mythology, you don’t have to twist it. You can just make it up whole cloth. Their main audience will never know the difference.

  • Nicole Youngman

    Aha! Found it. This is the stuff Rogers was doing in the early 90s going after a clinic owner in FL for supposedly practicing child sacrifice as part of her “witchcraft”: http://www.forerunner.com/champion/X0041_Statements_of_a_prac.html (note the original article is split by the ad for the DVD).

    • Crystal Kendrick

      Did that particular clinic sue for libel?

  • Anonymous

    Ginette Paris is NOT unknown in modern pagan circles. I read her books after about 3 yearw into being a pagan and NEVER saw this ‘obscure’ text they refer to regarding abortion. Her other works were wonderful and I still have them. I would reconsider your position of marginalizing her and her work presumably because LIKE MANY PAGANS who are UNEDUCATED have an issue with the nature aspect of paganism and Christianity’s pro life stance.

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      I’m not marginalizing her and her work, I’m putting them in context. Paris may indeed be a fine writer, and I’m glad you enjoy her work, but she indeed is a “virtual unknown” to the bulk of modern Pagans out there today. That isn’t a knock on her, just a statement of fact. I’m sorry that you’re offended on her behalf. I’ll see if I can reword it.

  • Heather

    Some people will use ANY excuse to defame something that they don’t understand and therefore fear!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1461381473 Vivian Tanis

    Making abortion illegal don’t end abortion. It is just ends women’s right to safe medical treatment. These are the people who will come up with anything to support their cause, true or not. Sounds like a presidential candidate.

    • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

      Most conservatives do not wish to make abortion illegal, Vivian, although the far right do. Most conservatives do not wish their tax money to support the practice. Education and offering birth control are preferred.

      • http://www.facebook.com/katie.l.berger Katie Berger Tremaine

        I don’t want my tax money to support illegal invasions of sovereign foreign countries. So there.

        • kenneth

          Don’t sweat it. Your tax dollars only cover the interest on the trillion dollar loans we take out from China to finance our wars of empire. So most of the moral responsibility for paying for that slaughter is not in fact yours, but your great great grandchildren, who will still be paying on that loan.

          And besides, in the moral rubric of the religious right, there’s nothing wrong with killing brown skinned foreigners if you can show that they’re inconvenient to your foreign or economic policy in some way. They’re not real people, like fetuses and CEOs….

      • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

        I could agree with this if the great majority of conservatives didn’t vote people into office who dismantle sex education, Planned Parenthood and other similar sources of free birth control, while at the same time stifling access to what little remains for free contraceptives and accurate sex information.

        If conservatives are truly pro-life then they need to stop destroying the foundations that would make abortions rarer.

        • Harmonyfb

          You remember the hullabaloo when the Surgeon General suggested that masturbation was a good alternative to teen pregnancy (and a good way to lower infectious disease rates, too)? The truth is, the anti-choice folks don’t WANT to lower the abortion rate. They WANT women “punished” (and make no mistake, they consider children a punishment) for the temerity of taking charge of their bodies, for enjoying their sexuality, and for being independent.

  • Sanspareille

    it’s always so surprising to me that christian zealots forever keep focusing on ‘the usual suspects’ in the usual way, and seem to completely disregard Big Pure Evil in the world. Children, that is born, living, walking, talking, concious children are LITERARY sacrificed ever day; when they die of starvation in the unbalance to satisfy the Western gluttony for MEAT, even if the gluttons are dying of obesitas. As long as they are not vegetarians, let them shut up about abortion.

  • Kilmrnock

    Hmmmm thats interesting , they say we use abortition as ritual , but they the xtians ,protestants and catholics have 70 % of the abortions in the US . Sounds a wee bit like the kettle calling the pot black doesn’t it .Like another here said, if the xtians hate abortion so much , they should stop having it done . Just a wee bit hippocritical , but what else is new. Kilm

    • Unfamous Frater D

      Agreeing with you and taking it further:

      If these groups truly wish to lower the number of abortions, and not just make political grandstands over the issue, they might consider addressing some of the related issues that drive abortion:

      1) lack of access to healthcare
      2) lower pay for women for the same work and education
      [note: this one seems to be better in younger generations]
      3) endemic poverty and lack of access to education
      4) extremely high incarceration rates for non-violent crimes
      5) racial disparities in most of the above

      [n.b.: this comment may be fraught with sarcasm--YMMV]

  • http://moma-fauna.blogspot.com/ Moma Fauna

    This is such a difficult subject.

    I think part of the problem across the board is that people tend to look at abortion in a single light. How many people only think of the “inconvenienced,” “careless” young woman as the recipient of abortions. I think most people do. This perception gets everyone caught up in “black & white” thinking.

    Unfortunately, the issue of abortion comes in many forms. Yes, we have carelessness, but we also have genuine birth control failures, rape & incest victims, etc.

    We also have people with medical issues that require a termination. I experienced several miscarriages while trying to have one — just one, !please! — baby. When I finally carried baby past the first trimester, testing indicated a medical termination might be necessary. My heart broke over & over & over again. Thank the gods baby is happy & safe with me today. If a termination had been necessary I am not sure how I would have recovered.

    Abortion is not a casual thing. I don’t really believe there are that many women out there who have abortions who are taking them lightly.

    That said, I think we need to look at it as a more complicated process than just “Jane hooks up with Dick at a party & gets knocked up. Jane can’t be bothered with this child so she has an abortion.” When forming our opinions, I think we need to look at is in all its forms. Do you feel that abortion is warranted in situations A, B, C & E, but not D? Maybe only C? Should certain procedures have public funding, but not others, or none at all? People need to look at where their boundaries, comfort levels, values fall along the spectrum. I think an issue bearing so much weight warrants more than just “casual” consideration.

    • Anonymous

      I think it’s not our business to decide which abortions are “warranted,” any more than it’s our business to decide which tonsillectomy, viagra prescriptions, mastectomies, and tubal ligations are “warranted. That’s for the person involved and hir doctor.

      • http://moma-fauna.blogspot.com/ Moma Fauna

        I agree with you. My point was that “when forming our opinions” (see above) we, the public, should not be so bloody myopic. (There seems to be a narrow focus on this whole “casual” abortion idea/myth/fantasy.)

        • Anonymous

          Agree with you about the whole “casual abortion” trope. It’s odd how it’s always some other woman (generally of a different class, nationality, age group, or ethnicity) whose abortion is “casual.”

          • Harmonyfb

            And I notice how folks who rail about ‘casual’ abortion never seem to recognize that it’s outpatient surgery. It’s expensive, it’s not covered by a lot of insurance plans, and it carries the same risks as any other outpatient surgery (plus, it carries an additional element of risk because of the crazy ‘Christians’ threatening your life outside the clinic.) There’s nothing ‘casual’ about it.

  • Kilmrnock

    Most of us agree w/ you katie …………but that is another discussion , for another day . Kilm

  • Unfamous Frater D

    As long as we, as neo-pagans, do not challenge the assertion that the “Christian” “wingnuts” speak for the mainstream of Christianity, I fear that we are missing the point and giving these attackers far more credit than they deserve.

    These are ignorant, fearful people who lack compassion cannot (and should not!) speak for Christianity as a whole any more than any “Joe Wicca” can speak for all of neo-paganism, or even all Wiccans. Importantly, they lack authority within the larger meta-structure of Christianity.

    Pagans, really, are being used in a straw man argument. This ploy is designed to bolster the authority of the ones making it (radical, superstitious Christians). Those making these bizarre accusations are creating a battle (another commenter referred to it quite aptly as a “superhero narrative”) to show their relevance and value.

    The argument presented by these “Christians” is, at its core, dishonest. Their argument is un-Christian: it is, indeed, bearing false witness. It is un-American as well: it fails to recognize our shared values of freedom of choice and freedom of religion.

    What that means is that arguments against these “Christian” attackers should be made with no intention of changing the mind of the other arguer. Instead, the argument should be framed as an appeal to the larger Western culture: “There are laws against libel and there are guarantees of religious freedom. I ask for your help in defending our shared values.”

    Yes, I recognize that Christianity has a pretty bad history with paganism, beginning with the battle over power in the Roman Empire. I am not suggesting that we should ignore Christianity’s attempts to marginalize and demonize Western neo-paganism.

    Christianity and neo-paganism have vastly different theologies (thealogies? hierologies?). Variations within each group are also quite large. But remember, most importantly, that most Christians do not think about pagans at all on a daily basis. And when we think of Christians, we would be better served to think of their best, instead of their worst.

    These yahoos thrive on attention. If we strive to answer them by appeal to the shared values of Western culture, rather than debating theology, we will be failing to recognize their religious authority to speak as Christians.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I agree with you, Frater D, that these “wingnuts” do not speak for Christianity as a whole. However, they do speak *to* Christians, and it would be unwise to allow their ravings to stand unrebutted.

      You are quite correct that we need to base any rebuttal in the values of Western civilization, not in theological disagreement. (Some of those values have Pagan roots, so we are not even going outside our manor.)

      Alas, even though they thrive on attention, we cannot rebut without prolonging the conversation they start.

      I wouldn’t get into their religious authority to speak as Christians. That’s an issue for other Christians to take up, if they so choose.

      As one of the few spititual traditions that it’s still safe to slander, we are the canaries in this coal mine, and our duty to religious freedom in general is to cheep our hearts out when we get a whiff of this.

      • Shallot

        I usually just lurk and listen here, but I wanted to add to this. I try to be a good Pagan ally, but until I read this article, the comments, and others like it, I’ve never heard this stuff before. (I mean, infant sacrifice? Who could believe something like that?) Maybe it just doesn’t come up in liberal Protestant circles, or I’m just really oblivious, but it’s a huge blind spot. And as a result, I’ve probably missed more subtle allusions in mixed company and said nothing.

        It’s a lot to ask, and I’m sorry, but keep drawing attention to the lies of Christian fundamentalists. Some of us really need a canary in our coal mine.

    • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

      I would agree with you, except that it is not my job to police Christians. Given that many more of the Christians that I am running into, from many different denominations, spout similar drivel to far-right fundamentalists, I am finding it harder and harder to defend Christianity.

      When Catholic exorcists who are in teaching positions for up-and-coming exorcists insist that interest in the occult and Paganism may warrant an exorcism, they are no different from Evangelicals who insist we are Satan-worshipers and need to be ‘saved’. They both demonize us for our worship of Gods/Goddesses/spirits, etc. other than their own, and are both more than willing to ‘save’ us after their own fashion. Most Christians may not “think about pagans at all on a daily basis” but when they do, they tend to agree with one another on where they stand in regards to us.

      I don’t need to defend Christianity, nor should I. I’ve got my hands full defending Paganism. There are plenty of Christians able to speak up, and while I can call out all the Christians I can on not representing all of Christianity, until moderate and non-fundamentalist Christians speak up against their messages of hate, what is my voice to throngs of fundamentalists? I may see what they are doing as anti-Christian, but until their co-religionists call them on their bullshit, or speak up as “this does not represent Christianity”, change will not happen.

    • Lori F – MN

      Unfortunately Those who believe this brand of Christian won’t believe ANY Pagan. To them, we are evil and liars. Part of that brand of Christian propaganda. Even Christians who come to our defense will be suspect and painted with the same brush.

  • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    The point isn’t to debate abortion politics, so I’m not going to respond to any more comments in this vein. The point is that some right-wing Christians are accusing ALL Pagans of being pro-abortion, and saying that ALL Pagans perform abortions or agree with or participate in abortion as some type of sacrament, in order to villify Paganism.

    I’m suggesting that Starhawk and Z. Budapest sue the everliving daylights out of this film company for connecting their names and images to this video. Sure, that can be done… they can state that the quotes are slanderous and that they’re losing revenue and personal integrity as a result.

    • Anonymous

      I wish that “sue them” was the wonderful panacea some people imagine it to be. Slander and libel are notoriously difficult cases.

      • http://egregores.wordpress.com Apuleius Platonicus

        Seriously. Just ask Oscar Wilde.

      • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

        I’ve won 37 legal cases although not all went to court; for some, a cease-and-desist order was enough. Three of these were for libel.

        • Anonymous

          Which doesn’t change my point.

          • Grimmorrigan

            HAHA…changes nothing but does allow room for bragging apparently.

          • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

            If I can do it, then surely these educated people with boatloads of resources can.

  • Suki1234

    There are some heartrendingly ignorant comments following this article that sneer-just like Dana Carvey’s Church Lady- about the “convenience” of legal, safe abortion.

    To you, I have two words: potassium permanganate. It’s an old fashioned abortifacient that literally burns vaginal tissue as it also kills the fetus. Potassium permanganate is what non-convenience looks like. Burnt flesh that tortures women and kills them, slowly. (Both the women who enjoyed sex and didn’t use birth control along with rape victims)

    I have fought my whole life to making sure abortion is convenient meaning: accessible, legal and low- to no-cost, regardless of how you got pregnant.

    I can think of no greater gain than abortion and contraception should be convenient. Very, very convenient. My abortion was very convenient, thanks to hard work done by so many people who anticipated me and made space for me to be fetus and child free on my terms. Bless them and their endeavors.
    A few seconds ago · Like

    • Unfamous Frater D

      Creely12 brings up an excellent point.

      Methods of abortion have been in existence longer than writing has. Access to safe abortion is good because the alternative is not abstinence (it almost never is). The alternatives are the scarring of the womb, internal hemorrhaging, barrenness, and death.

      The other modern alternatives are adoption (which is tricky business and a whole different issue) and raising a child in what may well be difficult or impossible circumstances.

      Please note as context to my comments that, before the industrial revolution, children became economic contributors to the family at about age 5 and adults at about age 13. Now, we’re lucky if it is 16. Or 18. Or 22. The most we can generally hope for is that they move out and become self-supporting. I am not suggesting that 5 year olds get jobs; I am trying to show how the burden of parenthood has grown, especially in the past century and a half.

      And, as always, men can (and sometimes do) walk away, leaving women with the burden of raising the child.

      With that in mind, who is willing to take up that burden?

      It is foolish to suggest that, if abortion were made illegal and thus dangerous, people would act more responsibly about sex. This is fuzzy, wishful thinking. In hazarding such a course, we would be expecting a level of self-awareness of the general population that is simply beyond the reality.

      Whatever my personal feelings about abortion, I have always believed that making abortion illegal or unavailable would have a disproportionate impact on the economic stability and strength of women. It hangs a sign around the neck of women of reproductive age, “the buck stops here.”

      • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

        The “alternative” is death? Aren’t we forgetting that the OBJECTIVE is a death?

        I keep hearing about the women being punished. Why aren’t the men you’ve mentioned, who walk away from their obligations, forced to pay for their offspring’s needs?

        Rather than making it illegal… because there will always be cavalier, irresponsible people of both genders… why not make abortion alternatives more readily available?

        Both Pagans and Christians are getting rather hidebound, here. We should be looking at ways to make abortion unnecessary.

        Education, offering condoms and foam, teaching about herbal methods of birth control, advertising the many free clinics that even the educated people who read this blog are unaware of. Making it possible for Gay couples and individuals to adopt, and people of various races to adopt.

        And yes, using shame as a tool, making people ashamed to cavalierly toss aside a human life by showing what the child looks like before birth, talking about how fetal heartbeats respond to angry words or peaceful music.

        • Ckdrysdale

          You are so right.

    • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

      Contraception should be convenient, agreed. And then people have to actually USE it. When 23% of women are claiming to be abstaining from sex turn up pregnant (statistic is from a poster, below) then it’s quite likely that many of them are also lying about using birth control. This is irresponsible, and saying so is not ignorant nor sneering. It is a travesty.

      • Anonymous

        I’m not sure how the fact that abstinence often fails makes liars out of women who say they use birth control. Nor what that has to do with women’s control of their own bodies.

        • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

          Fallacious statement, “abstinence often fails”. NOT using abstinence certainly fails!

          I am pointing out that statistics given by places such as Planned Parenthood are false. They are claiming that so many women are getting pregnant while using birth control, without considering that many of these women might by lying about actually using birth control. It stands to reason, that if many women are lying about abstaining from sex, that many women are also lying about responsibly using contraception. This is allowing the fox to give statistics about henhouse activity.

          The Christians DO have a point in that many Pagans often promote abortion. I dislike being tarred with the same brush.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            AC, your second paragraph here is a masterwork of twisted logic. You make an assumption about one set of lies, use it as a premise for another putative set of lies, and then treat these as if they were facts on the ground.

            I haven’t gotten into this exchange heretofore because I find debating abortion with anyone, even Pagans, to be a waste of time. But I cannot let such an abuse of the forms of logic pass without comment.

  • Anonymous

    A lot of us, myself included, have gotten distracted by the Blood Libel charge lodged by Jay Rogers. The whole basis of his argument against Wiccans is ritual sacrifice. Excuse me? Does anyone remember communion? “Take this bread which is my body” “Drink this wine which is my blood.”? Christians practice ritual human sacrifice and cannibalism every single time they take that wafer and sip of wine.

    Don’t get me wrong. Honoring sacrifice and offering is hugely spiritual. http://desultoryphilippic.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/offerings-and-sacrifice/, but do NOT accuse me of murder when you laud human sacrifice and cannibalism once a month!

    The hypocrisy is astounding.

    • Lori F – MN

      What a lovely definition of sacrifice. Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/katie.l.berger Katie Berger Tremaine

    Q: Are you a witch?
    A: Yes.
    Q: Do you eat babies?
    A: No.
    Q: Even if we want you to?
    A: Hmmmm… no.

    I could see this being the start of a comedy routine…

    • Lori F – MN

      YES, a Monte Python comedy routine.

      • Grimmorrigan

        EVERYONE EXPECTS THE CHRISTIAN INQUISITION! OUR!THREE MAIN WEAPONS ARE SLANDER, FEAR MONGERING, AND A UNFAILING HATRED OF THE POPE!

    • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

      The stock answer is “too high in cholesterol”.