Maybe I Spoke Too Soon About “Shelter”

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Proving that no faith is a monolith, some Unitarian-Universalists in Rhode Island are unhappy that their church (like the UU church in Virginia) is hosting a Pagan Pride event.

“In a letter circulating among the congregation, one member describes the event as a Dungeons and Dragons festival featuring “flaky spiritualities and ancient occult practices.” The letter says Unitarianism is a rational religion that should avoid superstition. But Lorna Steele, who organized Pagan Pride Day, said she has led a pagan group within the church for 14 years. She estimated 400 pagans live in Rhode Island. “There are a lot of misconceptions out there that we hope to correct,” Steele said.”

Is this a case of UU Humanists vs UU Pagans? Did hosting a public event like Pagan Pride raise tensions between the older rationalist members and the (relatively) newer “earth-based” congregants?

This is the second Pagan Pride listed as being held in a UU church that has made the news. Other UU-hosted Pagan Prides are being held in Nevada, Georgia, Alaska, Florida, and Washington (among others). I’m wondering how many total there are this year. Is this a growing trend? Are modern Pagan retreating from parks, community centers, and other public spaces for a reason? While UUs are open and accepting of modern Pagan congregants I’m troubled by what this could represent in our larger community. What is the point of having a “coming out” pride party if the only people who notice are a tolerant liberal religious body that we dwarf in total numbers. Are we subconsciously building a congregational Paganism within the safe borders of the UUA?

Addendum: A longer article on the Rhode Island UU controversy.