Updates: Frazier Glenn Cross, Helen Ukpabio, Town of Greece, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 19, 2014 — 25 Comments

Here are some quick updates on stories previously reported on at The Wild Hunt.

Frazier Glenn Cross

Frazier Glenn Cross

Frazier Glenn Cross: Alleged murderer Frazier Glenn Cross (aka Glenn Miller), an avowed white supremacist, currently held on murder and hate crime charges after reportedly opening fire on two Jewish community centers, was tied to Odinism earlier this week by CNN’s Belief Blog (despite citing a contradictory source). Since then, that reporting has been worked into official CNN newswire reports, and repeated by tabloids like the New York Daily News. However, other outlets, like Time Magazine, have sources that call Cross a “good Christian.” While the alleged killer’s true religious orientation remains murky, what is clear is that this has shone a light on the issue of racism within Pagan and Heathen faiths. Since I first reported, Heathen Joshua Rood wrote a guest column for CNN on Heathenism’s battle with white supremacists, Alyxander Folmer at Patheos.com (also a Heathen) writes about the work of Heathens United Against Racism, including a fundraiser for victims of the Kansas City shooting that has raised over $2,500 dollars so far, Karl E.H. Seigfried at the Norse Mythology Facebook page pokes holes in the theory that the Nazis were Odin-worshippers, and Beth Lynch writes about the nature of Odin at Witches & Pagans Magazine. Quote: “Odin is a god of many, many things: wisdom, inspiration, exploration, shamanism, prophecy, kingship, rune magic, language and expression, expanding and altering consciousness, creativity, death, blood magic, self-sacrifice, and yes, even warfare, savagery and bloodshed at times.  But do you know one thing He does not stand for?  Racial hate crimes.” This issue seems to have galvanized anti-racism voices within modern Heathenry, and will perhaps lead to a new level of engagement with the mainstream media on these often misunderstood faiths.

U.S.Helen Ukpabio: I’ve written several times about the infamous Nigerian Christian leader Helen Ukpabio, whose witch-hunting ministry has generated a lot of controversy both inside and outside of Nigeria. Now, activists inside the UK are working to get her banned from traveling to that country after a recent visit. Quote: “In the letter, the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN), the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) cite the cases of Victoria Climbié and Kristy Bamu as examples where witchcraft beliefs played a role in the  horrific torture and murder of children. ‘Whilst the Government has moved swiftly to block entry to the UK for Islamic preachers whose presence is considered as harmful to the public good, there have been no cases of Christian pastors facing such measures,’ the letter said.” While Ukpabio denies that her teachings incite abuse, Tracy McVeigh, who went to Nigeria to report on children accused of witchcraft says that “even the slightest risk of one case of the kind of abuse I witnessed in the Niger Delta happening here because someone somewhere takes the idea of demonic possession too far, is more than enough reason in my mind to deny a visa to any preacher who claims that children can be witches.” Religion News Service notes that “during the last 10 years, British police have been involved with 81 cases of African children being abused, tortured and sometimes killed after treatment by so-called spiritual mediums.” The Wild Hunt will have more on this story tomorrow (Sunday).

Town of Greece v. Galloway: The case of Town of Greece v. Galloway is currently awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court, and it’s a case I have written a lot about. I’ve repeatedly harped on how this SCOTUS case has a huge Wiccan angle that the mainstream media seems to have largely overlooked. Whatever the outcome, Wiccans, have played a key role in this issue’s development. The law journal Oyez has a fabulous “deep dive” on the issue, the case, and its consequences (complete with videos).

What’s clear, as we await a verdict (probably in June), is that ripples from this case already seem to be influencing public prayer policy at government meetings outside of the Town of Greece. The Pismo Beach City Council decided to settle a suit about its prayers, officially ending the practice before meetings. The article notes that the settlement will stand no mater what the SCOTUS decision will be. Meanwhile, a Maryland County Commissioner recently defied a court-issued injunction to invoke Jesus Christ, perhaps in the belief that SCOTUS will eventually rule in her favor. Keep an eye out, because if the standard for public invocations is altered, a huge number of cases currently in litigation could be affected.

Apolinario Chile Pixtun: In a final note, Guatemalan Mayan elder Apolinario Chile Pixtun, spokesperson for the Mayan Confederacy of Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, who was active in interfaith work, and had several meaningful encounters with modern Pagans in the United States, passed away this past Saturday. Don Frew, a National Interfaith Representative for the Covenant of the Goddess, on relaying the news of his death, said he and Pixtun were “spiritual brothers” and that “Tata was always supportive of CoG’s interfaith work and helped usp make connections with other indigenous representatives.”

Guatemalan Mayan elder Apolinario Chile Pixtun

Guatemalan Mayan elder Apolinario Chile Pixtun

You can read all of my reporting on Apolinario Chile Pixtun’s interactions with modern Pagans, here. COG Interfaith reports also has several related articles on this subject worth reading. What is remembered, lives.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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

    It is not “Witchcraft beliefs” that have resulted in the tragic deaths of Kristy Bamu, Victoria Climbié, and countless other innocent victims. Rather it is Christian beliefs that are to blame.

    The insane ravings of people like the “Lady Apostle” Ukpabio have nothing
    whatsoever to do with traditional African beliefs. They have everything to do with Christian notions of spiritual warfare imported to Africa from Europe and America.

  • Gus diZerega

    For the more scholarly inclined among us, two very interesting books shed light on the relationship of the German political right, including the Nazis, and early 20th century German interest in Pagan religion. Far too complex to summarize easily, but I found it all fascinating. I’d recommend reading them in this order:

    David Luhrssen: The Hammer of the Gods: The Thule Society and the birth of Nazism

    George Mosse: The Crisis of German Ideology (More inclusive and less focused on Paganism)

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

      That there is any “relationship” between Nazism and “early 20th century interest in Pagan religion” is pure myth.

      There were a few Nazis who dabbled in the Occult and even fewer who had any real interest in anything that could be even vaguely considered as Paganism. The vast majority of the Nazi party, including its leadership and ideologues, were Christian.

      There were far more Jews involved in early 20th century fascism than there were Pagans.

      • Gus diZerega

        Fascism was not Nazism. The differences were as great as the similarities. To read a major occultist of the time defend most all of fascism, try out Jules Evola “Fascism from the Right.” But my original post had to do with the relation of far right politics with certain northern Pagan traditions. There is more than one way to be rotten. I recommend reading those books if you are going to go around as an expert.

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

          Lurhssen’s book focuses on the Thule society. The most important Nazi to come out of the Thule society was Alfred Rosenberg, who wrote the textbook on Nazi race theory, “Myth of the 20th Century.” This was the second most widely circulated book in the Third Reich, second only to Mein Kampf, and it was literally required reading for every German schoolchild as part of National Socialist indoctrination. In that book, Rosenberg explicitly denounced what he referred to as “Wotanism”, while lavishing praise on Jesus, Luther, and Meister Eckart.

          Rosenberg’s book was based directly on Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s “Foundations of the 20th Century”, which George Bernard Shaw praised as “the greatest Protestant Manifesto ever written,” and in his review of the book, Shaw stated plainly that it “should be read by all good Fabians.” Theodore Roosevelt also wrote a review of Chamberlain’s book, and while Roosevelt was of he opinion that the author was “an extremist whose doctrines are based upon foolish hatred”, Roosevelt nevertheless praised Chamberlain as “a man who can write such a really beautiful and solemn appreciation of true Christianity, of true acceptance of Christ’s teachings.”

          There is nothing mysterious about the ideological roots of Nazism. And there is nothing “Pagan” about them either. Anyone who reads Rosenberg’s book, along with Chamberlain’s and Mein Kampf for good measure will find that they contain nothing that is the least bit Pagan, and that all three books are filled with explicit praises for the Christian religion and it’s Zombie founder.

          • Gus diZerega

            I am not sure what the point of all your verbiage is unless it is to over awe me, and you don’t come close. It is easier to parade what you do know than to admit there is stuff you don’t.

            I said there was an interesting relationship between German efforts at re-establishing Pagan religion in early 20th century Germany and right wing politics there. I also said it was too complex for a brief summary. Both are true.

            What Christianity meant in Germany also changed in important respects on the right in the early 20th centuries, as the Mosse book explores in some fascinating depth. (Look at what it is doing on the right here in the US today.)

            Others looked at pre-Christian Germany for inspiration and even “German Christians” looked to what they imagined to be the Middle Ages and earlier times as superior to now. All this is very interesting for those of us interested in how Paganism relates to modernity and how crimes like what Cross committed do in fact have some antecedents.

            You categorically state there was no Pagan element on the authoritarian right anywhere but Himmler and those he influenced. Not true in Germany and not true in Italy.

            Pagan religion in some sense became a favored framework for critiquing modernity and materialistic capitalism. Italian Fascism in many cases honored Pagan Rome and led at Mussolini as stabbing them in the back when he reached an agreement with the Catholic Church. Evola is excellent here. But fascism is not Nazism, as anyone who actually knows much about these movements realizes.

            Germans took a different route rooted in their concept of the Völk. I happen to agree with many of German Paganism’s criticisms of capitalism, materialism, and that aspect of modernity, but its positive message was overwhelmingly focused on warrior virtues, warrior deities, hierarchy, and the purely masculine sun symbolized by a swastika (a version of which is used today by the Romuva). A PLEASE do not say I am suggesting Romuva is fascist or Nazi. I am not. I am picking up on some common themes in modern European Paganism, themes that in certain contexts have unpleasant results.

            Pagans interested in the European dimension of our modern history do themselves no favors by pretending that themes in our religion, (as with any other), cannot be misused. They can and they have.

            Read the books if this interests you.

          • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

            I happen to agree with many of German Paganism’s criticisms of capitalism, materialism, and that aspect of modernity, but its positive message was overwhelmingly focused on warrior virtues, warrior deities, hierarchy, and the purely masculine sun symbolized by a swastika (a version of which is used today by the Romuva).

            The Sun is female in Germanic mythology, as well as Baltic and Finnic mythologies.

          • Gus diZerega

            VERY Interesting. Thank you. – German Pagans in the early 20th century apparently focused on masculine, warrior and tribal motifs, but their most common symbol was the swastika. I just Googled “swastika, gender” and got a site for Indian names that said it was feminine. Yet the swastika was appropriated as the symbol for one of the most rigidly patriarchal political movements of modern times. I’d love to know how that came about.

            But again, look at what has happened to the words of Jesus which, regardless of his alleged status, are the opposite in meaning of the religious right.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            Honestly, I don;t really care *how* the appropriation occurred, I just want to reclaim the symbols and be able to use them without the negative stigma attached.

          • Gus diZerega

            Couldn’t agree with you more as to re-appropriating this symbol. I was fascinated by how the Romuva use a variant it today in their banners. This youtube has an example. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nm5hZGfh9OI

            But I am very interested in how religions get perverted by those addicted to power and domination, and how symbols that do not support them get turned into something that does.

          • Bianca Bradley

            I don’t think you can in England or Germany due to the laws. In America 1st amendment protects you. Though from those who have taught runes the Swastika that is shown in WW2 is bent a little. I have to look at the rune involved, but if you put those two together, it shouldn’t look like Hitler had it

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            In Germany, the Swaztika is a banned symbol.

            In the UK, it is not banned, just stigmatised. I am convinced that the stigma can be overcome, with enough will.

            There are a great many variants on the fylfot/swastika/crooked-cross, the Nazi version mostly being defined by being used as Nazi insignia.

          • Bianca Bradley

            I have a real issue with Germany’s take on speech and symbols. I really dislike “banned” symbols.

            I’m not sure how the U.K is in regards to speech, which is why I thought it wasn’t ok.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            The UK does not specifically have any free-speech laws (but we have inherited such via the EU), but it is pretty open minded about what can be said, unless you are inciting hatred.

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

            I think nine million dead create more than a “stigma” around a symbol. There’s a lot of darkness that got attached to that symbol, and I think the centuries will be long before that much blood can be washed away.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            We’ll have to agree to differ on that one, considering that it is used without any problem by other religions (notably Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism).

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            A lot of people forget that (or never knew it).

            They also tend to ignore just how important the female deities were, and still are, in Germanic beliefs.

          • Franklin_Evans

            A fascinating tidbit in J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythopoeia — well, fascinating to me like many seemingly “throwaway” details he includes — is the poem “The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon.” He footnotes it to inform the reader that Hobbits believed that the Sun is feminine and the Moon is masculine.

            He clearly borrowed from many sources within his personal and professional purview. I’d not seen this direct reference before, and it makes perfect sense to me. Thanks.

        • http://faoladh.blogspot.com/ C. Lee Vermeers

          Of course, Evola had a falling-out with the Fascisti, and I understand that he ended up being pretty adamantly opposed to them.

          • Gus diZerega

            I hadn’t recommended Evola’s small book “Fascism from the Right” because it was diluted my topic but it is fascinating. He gave two cheers for Fascism and vastly preferred it over liberal democracy, and was critical more of its populist side than anything else. It wasn’t elitist enough. He, and most if not all of those interested in German Paganism as well, believed in essentially a caste society where only a very small elite ruled.

            This period interests me primarily because American NeoPaganism is so very different in important ways from these strands of European Paganism, and as I learned more about it I wondered why. I think it is primarily for two reasons. We look forward or focus on the present more than backwards towards tribal, Völkisch, midieval times for inspiration and second, because Wiccans and those similar to us in this respect, have a dominant emphasis on the sacred Feminine whereas the European movements of that time looked primarily to hierarchical warrior virtues and one-sidedly masculine themes.

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

            Evola was put on trial after the war. The charge was that he was involved in attempts to revive Fascism. He was exonerated, and a central part of his defense was demonstrating just how tenuous, at best, his involvement with Fascism had been all during the 20s, 30s and 40s.

      • Charles Cosimano

        There were a hell of a lot more Jews around in the early 20th century than there were pagans.

        • Gus diZerega

          And Fascism, unlike Nazism, was not racist. Not only were some Italian Jews members of the Fascist Party, some Jews were among Mussolini’s toughs. Later in its history, as Italy fell under German domination, this changed,. But Italiian Fascism always focused on the nation as supreme, not the race. Those who fail to recognize the importance of this distinction do not understand either movement.

  • TadhgMor

    Ah, that Maryland county commissioner is in my county. Overt Christianity is the norm here, even the Sheriff’s department regularly has overtly religious events that explicitly promote Christianity and mention Jesus.

    Though I had thought they suspended all prayers at those meetings, but perhaps that was after the event linked here. It was in the local paper somewhere I think.