How Bush Helped the Pagans

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The San Francisco Gate reports on the annual conference of the North American Interfaith Network, and in the process gets a somewhat surprising quote from Wiccan chaplain Patrick McCollum.

“A landmark survey released in June found that 70 percent of Americans believe that multiple faiths can lead to salvation. It’s a striking deviation from religious dogma. Some believe it’s the result of a post-9/11 world. The Rev. Patrick McCollum, a Wiccan priest who is also director of the National Correctional Chaplaincy Directors Association, believes that it all started with President Bush.”

What McCollum means is that shortly after 9-11, Bush made a speech where he said “Islam is peace,” and in his opinion, this sparked a “dramatic shift” towards religious pluralism in America.

“There was a giant push for everyone to get along with everyone else and to acknowledge religions that weren’t mainstream,”

Of course if George W. Bush did indeed help foster a new religious pluralism benefiting religious minorities, it was in spite of the way his administration insulted and discriminated against Pagans (not to mention Bush’s personal views regarding Pagans). Perhaps it is a fitting irony that a Bush-era legacy will be more religious pluralism, considering how cozy his Presidency has been with strains of conservative Christianity that have historically viewed us as a sickness to be cured.