Thursday, July 05, 2007

Post-4th "WTF?" Moment

While strolling through the virtual pages of the Washington Post today, I happened across this in the "Post-Global / On Faith" section. I'm going to add my own comments on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, because this screed (by an ex-Watergate conspirator/convict turned preacher)demands it.

Paganism May Not Pass Religious Muster

by Chuck Colson

It is debatable whether paganism is a religion, per say. It is generally defined as a pre-Christian state, but it takes a wide variety of forms—all the way from relatively benign New Age-style nature worship, to pantheism, to witchcraft, and even human sacrifice.

"Human sacrifice," Chuck? Where have you seen that lately - apart from the soldiers that Bush keeps sacrificing to Moloch? The thing I admire about Wicca is its First Principle: "An it harm none, do what ye will."

Those who publicly identify themselves as pagans are at best a marginal number and are basically no different from dozens of other cults.

I remind you that many Christian sects are considered cults by other Christian sects (Mormonism, anyone?) and that Christianity itself was considered a cult within Judaism.

I see no reason why Wiccans or pagans generally should have the services of taxpayer-paid chaplains. It is perfectly appropriate, if a group meets court tests for religion, that outside priest/ministers be allowed to come into federal facilities and minister. But historically, with standards that have been spelled out carefully by the courts, chaplains are appointed to represent mainline religions.

The courts have already spoken on this subject. Wicca is a recognized religion, and the courts have carved an exception out of the church/state wall to accommodate chaplains. Basically, you don't want anyone horning in on your lucrative business.

The more difficult question is whether I would vote for a pagan for public office. The answer is that on one hand I fully respect the fact that there should be no religious test for public office; on the other hand, I would have great difficulty supporting an explicit Wiccan or pagan for high public office. There are tenets of their belief that, I think, are incompatible with the requirements of American democratic governance.

Tenets of their belief - hmm, yes yes yes. Harming none, respecting nature, brotherhood - I can see where those could be described as pernicious and un-American, at least in your mind.

Lest this sound discriminatory, I think it is very clear from reading the writings of our founding fathers that a sound adherence to the values of the Judeo-Christian tradition—or at the very least, deism—was essential as a basis of the moral law that would sustain a free society.

And who's to say that any other moral code - even a humanistic one - can't do as good a job of enforcing moral behavior as Christianity? Seems to me that Judeo-Christian traditions haven't been much of a help in government of late.

The writings of all the founders are clear on this. I would refer anyone interested particularly to Michael Novak’s book On Two Wings, in which he describes the influence of the Judeo-Christian tradition on one wing and the influence of the Enlightenment on the other. They were finally balanced in our founding. But everyone, devout believer or deist or otherwise, saw the necessity of a strong moral law which would provide self restraint. Without self restraint, free governments cannot succeed.

John Adams famously wrote, “We have no government, armed in power, capable of contending with human passion unbridled by morality and religion . . . our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” And George Washington said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to a political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

Not being as familiar with paganism in its various forms, I do not wish to condemn it unfairly. But from what I know of it, I do not think it can provide the “indispensable supports” Washington wrote about.

I refer to my previous comments above. Colson is just trying to straddle the fence in an attempt to avoid blatantly pissing people off.

So I would not appoint pagan chaplains, nor would I, as a personal decision but influenced greatly by the founders, vote for a pagan.


Lest I sound prejudiced, I would not vote for any evangelical. The Founders would agree with me that such a possessor of theological rabies should be kept as far away as possible from any political office higher than dog catcher.


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