Editorial: Why I’m Glad the Godbeat is Changing

When I first started blogging about religion and Paganism, I was an active follower of sites like Get Religion, The Revealer, and the many personal blogs of “Godbeat” religion journalism pros. I didn’t so much consider myself one of their number, more an essential link between mainstream religion journalism and my increasingly diverse community. An advocacy journalist hoping to see better reporting about modern Paganism.  Back in 2009, when the existential crisis of traditional media upheaval was in full swing, I even wrote about the exodus of longtime religion journalists and what that meant for us. “What has become ever-clearer to me is that it may be years before the mainstream media reorganizes and stabilizes enough to start spending resources on religion reporting again.

Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

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. A number of news outlets have focused on the story of Daniel LaPlante, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence in Massachusetts, who is suing the state for not allowing him items and foods he claims are necessary to practice his Wiccan faith.  Quote: “In addition to oils, herbs, teas, and medallions, the lawsuit states Wiccan followers also need a certain type of cake each month. The cake is needed to “excite the senses.”

Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

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.

For those who haven’t been following the Fox News/Tucker Carlson Pagan holidays at the University of Missouri saga, the Religion News Service (conveniently headquartered at Mizzou) gives a quick run-down. Of course that isn’t the end of it as Fox News host Bill O’Reilly decided he needed to have a go at the issue last week, and despite the requisite mockery admitted that “I don’t see anything wrong with this as long as the university is upfront about it … it is a movement, there are Wiccans and Witches and they do what they do … this is America.” Tonight on BlogTalkRadio Circle Sanctuary’s Selena Fox will be hosting a Pagan town hall on what our community can learn from this experience. PNC-Minnesota has a piece up about the much-talked-about PantheaCon 2013 panel on privilege  held in the COG/NWC/NROOGD suite, and moderated by T. Thorn Coyle.

There Are Less of Us Than You Think

According to Grey Matter Research, Americans think our country is far more religiously diverse than it actually is. In a survey of 747 adults the research and consulting firm found that most underestimated the size of Christianity and over-estimated the size of atheists, Muslims, and other religious minorities. “The typical American adult pegs religious affiliation in the U.S. as follows:  24% Catholic, 20% Protestant, 19% unaffiliated, 9% Jewish, 9% atheist or agnostic, 7% Muslim, 7% Mormon, and 5% from all other religious groups. In reality, according to the 2008 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Americans are right on target with the proportion of Catholics and the “all other” category, but way off target on the rest of the landscape. The typical American badly underestimates how many Protestants there are in the country, and way overestimates the presence of religious minorities such as Mormon, Muslim, and atheist/agnostic.” In fact, if you check the Pew Forum data from 2008, you’ll see that Muslims in America only comprise 0.6% of the population. In contrast “Unitarians and other liberal faiths” comprise 0.7% and “New Age” faiths (ie Pagans) comprise around 0.4%.

Money, The New Age, and Esalen’s Midlife Crisis

Don Lattin, author of “The Harvard Psychedelic Club” and “Following Our Bliss,” reports on growing pains at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, for the Religion News Service. According to Lattin’s piece, there are growing complaints about the “corporatization” of Esalen, long a haven for spiritual seekers, with some claiming it is “turning into a spa for the 1 percent.” “David Price, the son of the late Richard Price and a former general manager of the institute, is one of many Esalen veterans who complain that the place has lost its edge. Others point to upgraded rooms in which a spiritual seeker can spend up to $1,595 for a weekend workshop. Standard rooms, with two or three people sharing a room and bath, cost $730 per person for the weekend. What began with a burst of hippie idealism, they say, is turning into a spa for the 1 percent.