Luke Babb reviews the recent collection of academic essays “Paganism and Its Discontents: Enduring Problems of Racialized Identity,” and considers whether an academic discussion can make much progress in the fight against racist forms of Paganism.
Luke Babb continues their series about reckoning with the Christian influences of modern Paganism. In this column, they explore one of the most pernicious influences: the culture of American racism, which is entwined with American Christianity and spread into American Paganism.
Over the past year, and especially since the Frith Forge conference in Germany, I’ve noticed increasing use and discussion of the term “inclusive Heathenry.”
It often seems more of a rebranding than a revolutionary concept. Practitioners of Ásatrú and Heathenry have long taken sides over issues of inclusion, with some taking hard stances on either end of the spectrum and many situating themselves in a complicated middle ground. The battles that have raged for so long have been between positions that were often defined by the other side. The universalist position supposedly said that anyone could be Heathen – no questions asked. The folkish position supposedly said that only straight white people could be Heathen – with many questions asked.
America has welcomed the Nazis. I don’t mean Nazis in the sense of “everyone I disagree with is a Nazi.” I mean honest-to-goodness Nazis with swastikas on their flags and chants against Jews on their lips. They are here in today’s America, and they’re on the march. How did it come to this? How did the United States of America go from nearly 75 years of celebrating the defeat of the Third Reich by the Allies to insisting that one should never, ever punch a Nazi?