Top Story: A Pagan temple under construction in Poltava, Ukraine, was vandalized, and its keeper hospitalized, at the end of September, sparking waves of sadness and outrage among the global Pagan movement. M. Horatius Piscinus at the Patheos blog Religio et Pietas had the first report on October 1st, identifying it as a Nova Roma temple dedicated to Jupiter Perennus.
“The Kalends of September proved long and full, and now another Kalends comes upon us. The Ides (13 Sept) celebrates the anniversary of the dedication of the Temple of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva atop the Capitoline Hill of Rome. It is therefore especially sad to learn that the Temple of Jupiter Perennus that is being built for our community in Poltava, Ukraine, was attacked last Monday night by a group of Orthodox Christians. Our chief priest of Jupiter, the Flamen Dialis Marcus Corvus was injured while defending the altar of Jupiter and has been hospitalized. This comes after news that another Christian band attacked a Romuva sanctuary in Lithuania. Even here in Ohio, some years ago, Christians attacked a sanctuary that was erected by a CUUPS group on the grounds of a Unitarian church in Fairlawn, a suburb of Akron. While sad to hear such events continue today, it is no shock to learn of them. Not when ministers like John Hagey preach that “Tolerance is a sin,” when Pat Robertson, among others, blamed the 9/11 attacks on pagans, or when Rev. Billingsly, the former minister of the Akron Baptist Temple, once preached from the pulpit to his congregation that they ought to burn pagans at the stake. Such is the face of the “New Christianity” that we are met with each day, and now it has touched my friend Corvus and his family.”
“Despicable as this crime is, it’s not the first such attack in Poltava. On April 13, 2002, some 50 young men leaving a soccer game attacked a nearby synagogue: hurling stones and yelling “Kill the Jews,” they broke some twenty windows and beat up two people, one the son of Kiev’s chief rabbi. In July 2008 a Holocaust memorial was smeared with paint and anti-Semitic graffiti. And in October 2001 a Roma family’s house was set afire: five people died in the conflagration, including a six-year old girl and three-year old boy. The Poltava police showed little interest in finding the responsible parties, which is unsurprising since a Poltava police officer allegedly led the assailants.”
Filan also points out that Pagan groups in the Ukraine aren’t completely blameless, and that some nationalistic strains of Paganism in that country have engaged in attacks on Orthodox churches. Still, the deeds of some Pagan groups in the Ukraine do not excuse violence towards any or all Pagans by Orthodox Christian mobs. At his personal blog, P. Sufenas Virius Lupus said he was “horrified”, but not surprised at this incident.
“With the way worldwide Christianity is progressing at present, particularly in some areas that don’t have the same views on religious liberty that the U.S. supposedly enshrines in its highest laws of the land, insecure Christians with something to prove (mostly to themselves, which is truly sad) feel the need to lash out at others. May their vandalism and intolerance be met with redoubled efforts on the part of the Flamen and his associates to honor their gods in the face of adversity, and may all of the gods of healing (perhaps including Ares) assist him in his recovery.”
You can find more commentary from a variety of Pagans and polytheists at Sannion’s blog as well. For those wanting to donate toward the rebuilding of what was destroyed, you can donate here.
In Other News:
- Star Foster notes the passing of Lord Merlin (aka David John White), an elder high priest of the Ravenwood tradition for almost three decades. Lord Merlin was the longtime consort and companion of Lady Sintana, who passed away a year ago. Foster also makes note of the fact that Lord Merlin was gay, and worries that Craft secrecy would mean that his identity as a gay many might be erased from history by future scholars and historians. A memorial festival is being held later this month.
- Andrew Bowen at Project Conversion (now hosted by Beliefnet) is now starting his month living and practicing as a Wiccan. So far he has made an introductory post, a post about making his altar and altar tools, and a bad experience he had with some from-the-book “shamanism” he engaged with in 2003. Star Foster isn’t exactly pleased with how Bowen is handling things so-far, though Bowen protests that he is engaged for the right reasons, and wants to bring more understanding of Wicca to the masses. I’m personally withholding judgment until the month is over, though I do think religion-hopping like this is problematic even under the best and most well-meaning circumstances.
- Now that Amanda Knox has been acquitted of the murder of Meredith Kercher on appeal, more than a few have been noting the ties to “Satanic panic” that marred the original conviction. However, a bizarre editorial from Brendan O’Neill in The Telegraph says that the Satanic panics were started by feminists, not Christians, using one whole data point (and Oprah) to feed his narrative. In truth, this moral panic incubated, at least in the United States, in Christian churches, not feminist gatherings. The textual evidence for this is so pervasive that I can only think that O’Neill has an ax to grind.
- As I’ve reported previously, there has been much discussion over structural improvements to the area around Stonehenge, especially as the Olympics are coming to London in 2012. A public inquiry into improvements, and the closing of roads nearby, has just finished. While the inquiry seems to be recommending less traffic near Stonehenge, this has met with opposition from controversial Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon (no, not that Arthur Pendragon), who claims seeing the heritage site from the road is a “human right”. Quote: “We will be robust against any such change; other groups may procrastinate or demonstrate but we will leave no stone unturned. We have fought long and hard for what little rights we have in and around Stonehenge and we will not give them up lightly. We will not go quietly into the night.” It remains to be seen what improvement, if any, gets started before the Olympics are under way.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!