Archives For Fox

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started!

In Memoriam: Dennis Presser (1958-2013): Circle Sanctuary has announced that longtime Circle and Pagan Spirit Gathering community member Dennis Presser passed away last week from natural causes. In a memorial posted to their site, Circle Sanctuary said of Presser that they “honor his Nature-loving spirit, his devotion to sacred Rhythm, and the friendships he made so easily and widely.  What is remembered lives.”

Dennis Presser in 2009.

Dennis Presser in 2009.

“Thank you, Dennis, for friendship over the years.  Thanks for your environmental education and preservation work, your community drumming and celebrations, and for your wisdom, humor, and support.  Condolences, love and support to Laurie, Hunter, and Allegra, and to all of us mourning his death.  May we take comfort in knowing that this world is a better and greener place because of Dennis.”Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary

Friends and acquaintances are encouraged to post their own memorial remembrance at the Circle Sanctuary site. You can read his official obituary, here. You can read an editorial from PNC-Minnesota, here. What is remembered, lives.

S.J. Tucker Readies New Album: Singer-songwriter (and Pagan) S.J. Tucker has announced that she’ll be digitally releasing an album of new material on March 5th, with physical copies to follow. The songs were developed for the soundtrack of “micro-budget” fantasy/action film “Ember Days,” also being released on March 5th.

S.J. Tucker

S.J. Tucker

“I got you all a Valentine’s Day present.  It’s still cooking, but it’s on its way to being fully formed and tasty.  I have been a good little songwriter/producer this month.  Early in February, I went to work in my Pixie House and finished up the first project of this year.  Last week, on St. Valentine’s Day, I put that project into the hands of my mastering engineer, Mr. Mark Yoshida.  He’s working on it now.  When I get it back from him, and when Mr. Wiley and I settle on the album design, it will all go to printing and replication.  When that’s done, I’ll have it in my hands…and soon after that, I hope, so will you!”

According to Tucker this material will be a departure from her normal style, mining “goth/industrial or dubstep-influenced” sounds. Once released, you’ll be able to buy the album on the music page of her website. In the meantime, you can catch S.J. Tucker performing this weekend with Tricky Pixie at FaerieCon West in Seattle.

More Pagan Responses to Fox News Wicca Comments: The Pagan community is still responding to insulting comments made about Wicca on the Fox News channel by Tucker Carlson and others. While Carlson has issued an apology on Twitter and on FishbowlDC, many are still urging an on-air apology from the network itself. In a statement released this past Wednesday, the Clergy of Come As You Are Coven, an Interfaith Pagan community in Northern California, requested “that this issue be addressed by Fox News Network via an immediate, prominent, on-air apology.”

Lady Yeshe Rabbit. Photo: Greg Harder.

Lady Yeshe Rabbit of CAYA Coven. Photo: Greg Harder.

“We request that this issue be addressed by Fox News Network via an immediate, prominent, on-air apology; significant on-air retraction of specific comments with factual corrections; visible dialogue with practicing Wiccans and Pagans conducted in a respectful manner; and appropriate commitment by the Network to providing the individuals responsible with a mandatory professional course of diversity training in religious and sex/gender sensitivity.”

In addition, prominent Salem, Massachusetts Witches Laurie Cabot, Lorelei, Christian Day and Leanne Marrama issued a press release this past Tuesday on the matter. Day, who owns the Salem shops “Hex” and “Omen” said that “America is a bubbling cauldron of different peoples and faiths and it is to our credit that our nation goes out of its way to respect those days that are sacred to us. Witches believe in respect for all faiths and Carlson’s divisive rhetoric is out of step with American values.” Whether these, and other efforts, results in an on-air apology from Fox remains to be seen.

In Other Pagan Community News:

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

As Heather Greene reported yesterday here at The Wild Hunt, the Pagan community has been reacting to inflammatory and offensive statements made by Fox News and Fox & Friends Weekend personalities regarding the University of Missouri adding the eight Wiccan Sabbats to its “Guide to Religion.”

Since then, the response from Wiccans and other modern Pagans on social media sites like Facebook have been heavy and sustained. More than 25,000 individuals have signed a Causes petition demanding an apology, and over 4000 have signed a Change.org petition demanding the same.

“Fox and Friends on February 17, 2013 decided to belittle women, make fun of a Federally recognized religion, present inaccurate information as “facts” concerning the religion of Wicca, and decide that religious freedom and respect is ONLY for the mainstream or “traditional” religions rather than for EVERY American Citizen regardless of their spirituality. [...] They are also doing a lot of damage control by removing this video from the public record due to the backlash it is receiving but I, and many others in the Pagan community will not allow them to hide their bigotry and pretend it didn’t happen.”

In addition, Pagan and Wiccan advocacy organizations have been stepping forward to make statements on the coverage, starting with the Lady Liberty League.

“The Lady Liberty League denounces the ignorant and unprofessional statements made by Fox News commentators this weekend.  The statements, made by Fox personalities including Anna Kooiman, Clayton Morris, Tucker Carlson, and Tammy Bruce were in regards to the University of Missouri’s 2011 decision to include Wiccan and other holidays, along with the holidays of other many other faiths, in that university’s “Guide to Religion.”

We are deeply disappointed that Fox’s leadership would chose to allow such ill-informed statements on the air.  The commentary of the Fox News personalities over the weekend betrayed not only deep ignorance about Paganism and Wicca but also a fundamental distain for the nature of religious diversity in the United States and the establishment clause in the US constitution.”

This was quickly followed by a statement from the Covenant of the Goddess.

“In the case of Fox News, the Fox & Friends Weekend commentators, Anna Kooiman, Clayton Morris, Tucker Carlson, and Tammy Bruce, spent Sunday morning, February 17th, mocking Wicca as it relates to the University of Missouri’s “Guide to Religion.” Not only were their comments irreverent, they were factually incorrect. They turned the University’s sincere attempt at diversity awareness into a three-ring circus act.

The Covenant of the Goddess recognizes and respects the opinions and beliefs of all people, of faith or no faith.  We applaud the University of Missouri and any other organization that strives for community awareness and interfaith peace.  We do not expect special treatment for Wiccans or Witches on campus or otherwise. However, we do expect the national media to report with reasonable accuracy and to offer a modicum of respect to people of all faiths and all practices.”

In addition, COG also sent a letter to the University of Missouri thanking them for their inclusivity.

Of course, it wasn’t only Pagans who were pointing out the bizarre and distorted coverage of this issue, NewsHounds (a Fox News watchdog site) said that the network’s “hypocrisy is truly astounding” while The Raw Story recounted the espeically inflammatory statements of commentator Tucker Carlson.

An e-card on the subject being shared around social media sites.

An e-card on the subject being shared around social media sites.

“Except any religion whose most sacred day is Halloween, I just can’t take seriously,” Carlson added. “I mean, call me a bigot. And I’m not, you know, not offering an editorial against Wiccanism.” Carlson later added that every Wiccan was either a “compulsive Dungeons & Dragons player or is a middle-aged, twice-divorced older woman living in a rural area who works as a midwife.”

These led the site Opposing Views to simply state: “Tucker Carlson Really Hates Wiccans.” That’s actually not that unfair of an assessment, Carlson has a long history of insulting and baiting Wiccans on his various television programs. In the past he’s called Wicca “Satanic,” and given airtime to Christian criticisms of Wicca and modern Paganism without airing any competing viewpoint. It’s a well he returns to because he knows it will excite the conservative Christian viewers of his programs, and garner him a bit of attention when progressive (and Pagan) sites call him out for it.

This weekend at PantheaCon I was honored to participate in a panel entitled “Setting the Record Straight: Pagans and the Press,” moderated by journalist Beth Winegarner (audio and hopefully video coming soon). During the panel, I noted that coverage of Wiccans has largely evolved from fear and intimations of “dark” practices hidden from view to seeing us a jokes, and that this evolution should be seen as part of how effective Wiccans and Witches have been at changing the narrative. Even those who want to sensationalize and attack us largely admit we aren’t evil, that we are, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, “mostly harmless.” The challenge now is correcting the record when these distortions appear, and working towards making Pagan media an ever-more vibrant and responsive tool for influencing the mainstream narratives of our religions.

ADDENDUM: Tucker Carlson has apologized on Twitter.

It just seems like yesterday that I was discussing the smear job on NPR reporter (and fellow Pagan) Margot Adler by the “liberal media bias” watchdogs at NewsBusters.

“It seems that Graham’s biggest problem with Adler is that she isn’t a conservative Christian, that an atheist was hanging around when she recorded the report, and that she didn’t talk to some conservative Christians. Oh, and she didn’t find a (Christian or conservative) protester to talk to in a completely unrelated story.”

It seems that the folks at Fox News loved that dish so much they asked for seconds!

“A pagan priestess runs into the president of the atheists in a phone booth in New York. No, it’s not a joke — it’s the start of a controversial report from National Public Radio — and your tax dollars may have paid for it. New York City officials this fall launched an art project called “Public Prayer Booth” … To cover the story, NPR sent reporter Margot Adler, a Wiccan priestess and author of two books on paganism. Lo and behold, she happened upon the president of the New York City Atheists, Ken Bronstein, an outspoken opponent of public religious displays.”

Again, note the emphasis on Adler’s religion, as if being a Pagan was a strike against her. Luckily, it seems the NPR spokesperson has got Adler’s back.

“There’s no bias in this story and to imply that there is because of a reporter’s religious beliefs is absurd,” said Anna Christopher, an NPR spokeswoman. “[Adler] spoke with several different people with several different viewpoints on the booth.”

Christopher also debunked the notion that NPR operates “on the government dime”.

“Less than two percent [of NPR's budget] comes from competitive grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts,”

As for Adler running into the president of the New York City Atheists, it seems far more likely in New York where the “unaffiliated” outnumber the “evangelicals” by 5%. But I suppose the notion of coincidence is unthinkable for Fox News, especially when it involves a prominent Pagan running into a prominent atheist. Maybe they would have accepted it if a Catholic reporter ran into an evangelical pastor? Imagine that happening on the “government dime”!

Covering Asatru

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 10, 2007 — 1 Comment

The Fox affiliate in Chicago has done a short segment on the Asatru faith. The result ends up saying a lot about how journalists often decide what the story is going to be before they do the reporting.

“Ancient Viking Religion Finds New Worshipers – Including White Supremacists. Thousands of followers claim Asatru is a real religion. They swear it’s changed their lives for the better. But it’s also a faith that’s been linked to violence and hate crimes. Mark Saxenmeyer shows us just who’s worshipping ‘the race religion.”

That blurb and the accompanying video segment show the inherent bias held by the reporter and his editors. Asatru is defined as “race religion” even though that isn’t a universally held view within Asatru, and white supremacy takes up fully half of the report even though such movements are only found at the extreme fringes of the faith (and, as the report concedes, are denounced by all the major Asatru organizations).

You can’t have a “fair and balanced” view of a faith when you cut from an interview with a local Asatruar to newsreel footage of marching Nazis. In fact the report states that Nazis practiced a “variation” of Asatru, even though such a claim is completely anachronistic and hugely contentious. Perhaps the reporter wanted to do a sensationalist piece about new racist movements and was disappointed to discover that they were appropriating and distorting a larger faith grouping.

This may seem like a small thing, but it is news stories like this that can directly lead to growing FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) concerning Asatru and Germanic Heathenry. It can lead to innocent symbols being banned as “offensive”, and can cause problems for Heathens if a hysterical co-worker or family member suddenly thinks they may be a white supremacist. There is a way to responsibly report on racist movements that appropriate modern Pagan symbols, but conflating these small and isolated groups with our mainstream is irresponsible.

ADDENDUM: For a more positive story involving Asatru, The Northern Path reports on a Asatru man who helped save the life of a woman who had crashed her car.

“Siple, who was walking his Airedale terrier Dusty when he found Scott lying next to her car on the beach, said he was praying to Njord, the god of the sea, while awaiting rescuers. “I was just praying to him, ‘hold the tide back a little bit longer so we can get Diane out of here,'” Siple said Friday.”

Expect to hear more from Siple, he has been approached by The Today Show and Dateline.