Stop Making Fun of Wiccans
Wicca has Every Right to Exist and Practice Maybe Even More so than Other Religions.
If someone told you they were a Wiccan what would be your first reaction? Would you roll your eyes? Make a joke about Harry Potter or being a witch? Do you do the same when someone says they are a Christian?
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Wiccans can have a difficult time being taken seriously by mainstream culture. When Wicca is mentioned on news organizations, people snicker or treat it as phony or illegitimate. Watch this segment on Fox News:
Even though Tucker Carlson later apologized, it demonstrates how little respect the organization gets. There are numerous articles online about how to deal with people acting rudely when you mention you are a Wiccan.
Why does this occur?
First, when we think of Wiccans we get images of witchcraft, which society has never been comfortable with. We used to burn women as witches and believed them to be engaging in evil acts. The Salem Witch Trials and Spanish Inquisition are parts of our history. Interestingly enough, the claim that Wiccans are devil worshipers cannot be more untrue. The devil is part of the Christian faith, not Wicca and so it is not a part of their worship.
The media portrayal of witches has also been mostly one-sided. When we think of movies like Hocus Pocus, Witches, or the recent critically-acclaimed The Witch we conjure images of women eating children, turning people into frogs, and casting spells over a boiling cauldron.
Which is part of the problem. There is something inherently sexist about the portrayal of witches. When you think about male magic users, Gandalf, Harry Potter, or Doctor Strange come to mind. Perhaps the use of magic by women, essentially the ability to change what is the natural order, seems like a dangerous proposition to male-dominated societies.
But it could also be misinformation. Wicca is a relatively new belief system when the phrase was first coined in 1954 by Gerald Gardner. It has no central book and the belief system is defined by the individual. Some worship in groups, called covens, while others worship alone. The central belief in spirituality and the unity of the Divine means that different deities are honored. There is also no inherent rule about proselytizing. Wiccans, as a general rule, do not go out to convert but believe in the spiritual journey being just that, a journey. And one that must be taken by each individual. This means there is less interaction with Wiccans and their communities, even though there are a number of examples of Wiccans being involved in civic and charitable causes.
Part of it could be because of the belief in magic. But most major religions have supernatural elements: resurrection, divine power, people talking to their deities or representatives. Vice President Pence has stated that Jesus talks to him. When Joy Behar of The View called it delusional, there was widespread criticism of her for violating his religious beliefs. This should be the same when criticizing a Wiccan for using spells. Everyone’s personal beliefs should be respected, not just the ones that are more mainstream.
Wiccans are one of the fastest growing religions in the United States. There has been an estimated growth from 134,000 to 2,000,000 in less than 15 years. It could be because of what the Wiccan faith espouses: love of family, appreciation for both the spiritual and the physical, and respect for the environment. The freedom it entails could be seen as a potent alternative to religions with strict doctrine and sometimes is not always clear. For example, very few Christians follow all the rules of the Bible, including the Old Testament. A television show is on currently about how difficult and archaic it is to follow it in the modern world.
Respect for other religions does not mean you have to follow them. You can think that they are strange or stupid. Religious freedom is allowing others to practice their faith in any way they see fit as long as it does not cause harm to others or society. And it does mean keeping an open mind because the essence of a liberal society is one that both acknowledges and tolerates the thoughts of others.