“Time and again, parents and community leaders have recounted to me how the American conception of camp offers an opportunity for a cultural, religious and, in some cases, linguistic immersion with other American Hindu children. This is understood to be all the more important because within the dominant American and Christian culture, Hindus and Hinduism are often exoticized and maligned.” – Shana Sippy, professor of religion at Carleton College in Minnesota, on the value of Hindu-American summer camps for children. The above quote comes from the recent New York Times article “Building on U.S. Tradition, Camp for Hindu Children Strengthens Their Identity.” In it we meet Neha Dhawan, a Hindu-American woman who says her life was changed by attending “Hindu camp” when she was eleven.
There is one thing that the Boys Scouts of America (BSA) has become very skilled at accomplishing: making headlines. Whether it concerns the so-called “Perversion files,” the new sustainability merit badge, or membership inclusivity debates, the BSA seems to always be in the news. This puts an entirely new spin on their motto “Prepared. For Life.”
On July 28th NBC published an article entitled Wiccans, Earth-lovers, Do-gooders, there’s a scouting group for your kid. It reports on the recent membership exodus from the BSA noting that “alternative groups are reaping the benefits ….whether they cater to God-fearing Girls, old-school camping enthusiasts or even pint-sized pagans.” That article highlights several organizations including Wiccan-based Spiral Scouts, secular groups like Navigators USA and Earth Champs as well as several Christian-based alternatives to Girl Scouts.*
According to BSA’s own records, Scout membership has indeed dropped.
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! Judge Rules Against Maetreum of Cybele Exemptions: The Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater, in an ongoing tax battle with the Town of Catskill, New York, has just lost their exemption battle before the New York State Supreme Court.
My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.A hospital chaplain in Maryland was fired for preventing the Gideons from handing out copies of the New Testament in every hospital room. Jews on First reports that Peninsula Regional Medical Center, a publicly funded non-religious hospital, eventually demanded the resignation of the Rev. Kay Myers when she continued to bring up the health and privacy concerns presented by handing out non-sterile Bibles to every room.”As director of pastoral care for a community hospital in Maryland, the Rev. Kay Myers halted the placement of sectarian Christian books in patients’ rooms. Myers said her decision was one of the carefully measured steps she had taken during her seven-year tenure to move her department to a professional level of pastoral care. The hospital’s response was not so measured. The CEO immediately countermanded Myers. Within months she was forced to resign.”Sounds like grounds for litigation to me, in the meantime residents of Maryland might want to avoid a hospital whose administration doesn’t respect your health, privacy, or religion.Monika Ann Dilmaghanian, an adherent of Asatru, has been sentenced for 15 years to life for stabbing her partner.
The East Bay Express has a long article up dealing with the children of modern Pagans, and the struggles faced raising them.”At first glance, you’d never know that little Elizabeth Nettleton is Pagan. The vivacious four-year-old cuddles in her mother’s lap, floppy blond bangs dangling in her eyes as she clutches her green stuffed alligator and a red teddy-bear blanket. Then the girl reaches underneath her pink sweater and pulls out a long silver chain bearing a dime-size pentacle.”Journalist Kathleen Richards explores many different aspects and challenges facing Pagan parents, including mixed-faith marriages (she highlights a Wiccan/Catholic marriage), alternative youth programs like The Spiral Scouts for non-Christian children, and the issues of acceptance with other children.”Vibra Willow remembers having to warn her two kids – the eldest is now 27 – against disclosing their identity as part of the East Bay’s Reclaiming community. Reclaiming is a form of feminist, modern Witchcraft that includes kids in its rituals. “I know that was traumatic and unhealthy for them, having feelings about growing up different and weird,” she says.”During the article Richards also interviews Patrick McCollum, a teacher at Cherry Hill Seminary and the first government-recognized Wiccan chaplain in the United States.