PWN S4E7: A Brand New Day and more

Regular listeners of PWN have grown accustomed to the show floating around the week. RevKess’s schedule is always a mess at his bills-paying-job and Zaracon has concerns that sometimes make it difficult for him to do shows. In an attempt to remedy at least the scheduling issue for RevKess, they have elected to move the show to Thursdays at 9am Central. This will soon be reflected in the show’s graphic.

In this first edition of PWN on Thrusdays RevKess found himself going solo for the majority of the show. Zaracon was able to join in towards the of the show. Both hosts hopped up on the soap box from time to time. (That box of soap gets so much use it needs new wheels!) This week is no exception to that.

Links to Stories Covered

  • PantheaCon 2015 is in full swing when it comes to planning. You can submit your presentation ideas to them for Round 1 consideration at their website http://pantheacon.com/wordpress.
  • While you may be considering your ideas for PantheaCon it is also coming up on Pagan Pride Day season around the globe. You can go the Pagan Pride Day website to find out what might be going on in your area and make your plans now.
  • Pat Robertson has told a mother that her son might be under demonic influence, causing severe stomach pains.
  • Retired Methodist minister Charles Moore self immolates for “social justice”. Moore was an ally o the LGBTQ community as well as a staunch supporter  of the abolition of the death penalty, among other civil rights issues.
  • Conservatives in the Republican party are doing more than just murmuring about the idea of impeaching President Obama. Former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin started in on the impeachment talk by saying “no mas” to what she sees as Obama’s lax border control at the Southern border of the United States. Two polls, one from the Huffington Post and the other from the Rasmussen Report, indicated that nearly one third of those polled think the President should be impeached – the Daily Mail has a summary with infographics. The list of reasons for impeach is rather …. crazy, though.
  • The conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine is heating up even more than usual. Israel and the radical Islamic group Hamas have been doing more than just posturing. For a history of the conflict you can view the Wikipedia entry. The conflict has even boiled over in the United States, in Los Angeles pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrators clashed on 13 July. European broadcasters aren’t even immune to protest, the BBC sees protesters outside their broadcast house accusing the network of bias.
  • In recent months thousands of children and youths from Central and South America have been intercepted while trying to the cross the southern U.S. border. Over 52,000 children have been detained, some sent back while others have received medical treatment – most are been considered for deportation. Opinions vary about what should be done about these refugees. Immigration reform has become a hot button issue once again.
  • This week’s column on the Wild Hunt from Heather Greene discusses religious observances in public schools and new laws developed to protect the students’ rights to practice their faith.
  • Fellwater, book one in the “Hidden Houses” series by Brendan Myers, has been re-released in its professionally edited and revised version. Thanks to the support of Kickstarter backers, Myers was able to pay a professional editor to help him improve books one and two, edit book three and two novellas. Kindle edition available here, paperback  can be ordered here.

MUSIC

  1. PWN intro courtesy Aetopus
  2. Blackmore’s Night – The Click Ticks On – Shadow of the Moon
  3. Lis Addison – My  Big Community – Grace of the Green Leaf
  4. Wendy Rule – Evolution – The Wolf Sky
  5. Damh the Bard – Only Human – Cauldron Born
  6. Bone Poets Orchestra – Interlude at Sunset – Belladonna Smiles

PWN S4E6: What we’re really say is….

On the Pagan Weekly News RevKess and Zaracon do their best to bring you news, views, and information that is of interest to the Pagan community. Along the way we often discuss religious intolerance/persecution and the brighter side of our religio-spiritual umbrella: festivals, books, and music. This week’s edition is no exception to that pattern. As the title of this edition implies, Zaracon and RevKess discuss some of the popular memes that are floating around on the internet, primarily on Facebook. What is a meme, you might be asking. It used to mean “an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.” It has come to mean “a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.” Many of the memes that we see in social media are political in nature, especially during an election year. Whether they are political or not, memes are often half truths at best, out-right lies at worst. Many of the memes that people share seem humorous at first glance, if you look at them again you note that they are insulting to one group or another. Here is a prime example of such a meme. It is true that many who use politically correct speech are sugar coating things, but not because they cannot handle the truth. More often than you might think it is because they are trying not to insult someone else. This one makes no attempt to avoid insulting people. It does, however, bring to light what many think of politically correct speech. An example of how politically correct can be more insulting than sugar-coated would be many of the attempts the straight community use when talking about the gay community, in particular the trans community. See, look there. In an attempt to be general and “politically correct” I left out lesbians and bisexuals, gender queer and gender fluid. Other attempts to be more encompassing of everyone who might fit into that community is the abbreviation “LGBTQA” Even that collection of letters leaves people out.  Some like the acronym “SOGI”, sexual orientation and gender identity. This term is confusing for some, a literal look at the term would encompass the entirety of humanity. Perhaps that is the point. Maybe, just maybe, people should call it as they see it, or to use a phrase “call a spade a spade.” And then you have the opposite end of the spectrum. Memes that point out something that many might consider to be true. In this situation, many might consider it a fault to need alcohol and drugs to be entertained. Agreed. Drugs and alcohol are not necessary to have a good time. They can make for a little extra entertainment – like when your friend gets so drunk they can’t walk without falling down. In moderation, though, alcohol is fine – even some drugs are fine in moderation. RevKess would rather enjoy a glass of wine at dinner or while watching a movie than toke up, or even go out to the clubs. Combing through several pages of racist memes, none could be found that weren’t in some way disgusting or too far into the racist field (I think I need a shower now). But it is easy to understand that a racist meme is just wrong, insulting. Whether they are directed at whites, blacks, Jews, Asians, Latinos, whatever. They are all disgusting and insulting. After all this, there are some memes out there that are just down right funny, cute, or enlightening. Here is an example of one that is inspiring – at least for the bibliophiles out there. Just look around at RevKess’s home and you will see bookcases in every room (save the bathroom) and stacks of books literally to the ceiling. Never enough bookcases. And of course there are the snarky memes.

LINKS

Before we start with the links, RevKess would like to apologize for a tidbit of misinformation. He failed to double check the publication date of an article about Andy Griffth. Mr. Griffth died on July 3, 2012.  The article he saw just before going live was in memorial of him.

  • In the New York Times, opinion columnist Nicholas Kristof talks about how religious freedom is in peril, focusing on how Muslims seem to be using the idea of religious freedom to persecute non-Muslims – primarily in the Middle East and “underdeveloped” countries.
  • The Pope apologizes to Buddhists for the Christian Colonial Rule of Sri Lanka. Is it enough?
  • Rev. Chuck Currie, a minister for the United Church of Christ and columnist for Huffington Post – Religion, writes about how religious freedom is in under attack, and not how you might think. His focus is on how the SCOTUS ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby’s religious exemptions for certain birth control coverage may lead to further misuses of the law and the protection of freedom of religion. “In a nation as diverse as the United States of America, it is critical that the federal government be trusted to follow — and indeed, to role-model — equitable employment practices. We believe that our mutual commitment to the common good is best served by policies that prohibit discrimination based on factors that have no relationship whatsoever to job performance. We are better and stronger as a nation when hiring decisions are made based on professional merit rather than personal identity.” – from a letter Currie wrote to President Obama.
  • On the Wild Hunt, Cara Schulz writes about the SCOTUS decision, after breaking things down in understandable terms she quotes several Pagans who voiced their opinions. RevKess is quoted.
  • RevKess’s full opinion piece on the SCOTUS decision for Lavender Hill.
  • In the days following the SCOTUS decision many businesses and organizations have begun prep work to petition for religious exemptions from Obama’s promised executive order to ban discrimination of LGBTQ employees of federal contractors, and the current draft of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act before theHouse. RevKess wrote an opinion piece for Lavender Hill after the announcement that  the Nation Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the ACLU, and other civil rights groups have withdrawn their support for the current version of ENDA.
  • In the current edition of the Pagan Community Notes on the Wild Hunt, Jason PItzl-Waters talks about the New Alexandrian Library Project and the special issue of Green Egg in honor of Morning Glory Zell.
  • Heather Greene has written a two part series on Pagans on campus for the Wild Hunt. Part 1, Part 2.
  • Cara Schulz, taking a step away from the seriousness of SCOTUS, birth control, and religious freedom, writes on the Wild Hunt about discovering Pagan ethics in modern secular life – Football.
  • Silverspring on her blog writes about why some people may choose to remain in the broom closet.
  • Writing on Witches&Pagans’ blog, author and lecturer Karen Tate talks about integrity in Pagan writing. Read an excerpt from her new book Goddess Calling on the blog Bad Witch.
  • On Patheos, T Thorn Coyle writes about public priesthood.

MUSIC

  1. PWN intro, courtesy Aetopus
  2. Damh the Bard – The Parting Glass – Tales from the Crow Man
  3. Big Bad Gina – Freedom Connection – Lake of Dreams
  4. Leigh Anne Hussey – She is Grandmother – Homebrew
  5. Mama Gina – Summer of the Fae – Goddess Kiss’d
  6. Spiral Dance – Weaving the Summer – Magick (also available on their best of CD, The Quickening)
  7. Frenchy & the Punk – The Circus Parade – Hey Hey Cabaret
  8. Celia – Carry Me Home – Carry Me Home

PWN: Faux news, discerning the truth from fiction in the news

RevKess and Zaracon freely admit that the Pagan Weekly News is not part of any recognized mainstream news service.  They do however endeavor to provide as accurate of information as they can during their broadcasts, often fact checking before, during, and after each broadcast to make sure that their information is correct. That said, PWN has earned a reputation in the Pagan world as a source for news.

Image from Faux News:Fairly Unbalanced on Facebook

Beginning the show with updates on the Marion Zimmer Bradley scandal and the discrimination issues Seekers Temple is facing in Beebe, AR (pt. 1, pt. 2), they moved to other cases of religious discrimination and separation of church and state in the United States. In the second hour Zaracon had to excuse himself for health reasons. RevKess moved into a discussion of how to discern truth from fiction in the news media.

LINKS

  • A Pagan priest in Huntsville, AL has become the center of national media coverage because of the city council changing their agenda and denying him the duty of the opening invocation for their June session.
  • Online source of information on religious tolerance, Wiccan section of the site.
  • SCOTUS’s recognition of Wicca and Santeria as religions protected under the law.

MUSIC

  1.  PWN Intro courtesy Aetopus
  2. Wendy Rule – From the Great Above to the Great Below – Black Snake
  3. Dragon Ritual Drummers – Zombi – Passage
  4. Lia Scallon – Mystery of Life – The Luminous Pearl
  5. Frenchy and the Punk – Make it Happen – Hey Hey Cabaret

 

PWN S4E4: Seekers Temple Updates & Religious Discrimination Around the World

On Thursday 19 June 2014 Zaracon and RevKess hosted Bert Dahl, high priest of the Seekers Temple in Beebe, Arkansas. The news broke in Pagan media early last week that the Seekers Temple, established in 2009 in El Paso, Arkansas and seeking to relocate permanently to Bee, had become the target of apparently systematic religious discrimination from the office of the mayor and the town’s council. A nearby church had also begun focusing alleged harassment on the Dahl family by shining the light of a bright lighthouse sculpture through their windows.

On Monday 23 June 2014 Zaracon hosted a music and call-in show to support the Seekers Temple while they were attending the June Beebe Town Hall Meeting.  The original intent of Monday’s show was for someone with Seekers Temple to be dialed into the show so that everyone listening could hear exactly what happened at the meeting. Unfortunately that did not happen.

According to HP Dahl, the mayor and the town of Beebe has given them a new option, to have their property rezoned and restructured to build a separate building after dividing the property into two properties. An option that really is not an option, a minimum investment of $250,000 to do such a project. Seekers Temple was opened on 13 December 2008 in El Paso. No apparent issue there. It was only after the Pagan community asked the Dahls to move their residence and the Temple to Beebe and the Mayor (9 months later) figured out that Seekers Temple is a Pagan church.

Monday the 23rd was the monthly Town Council Meeting in Beebe, AR. Record-setting attendance at the meeting wowed citizens and the mayor, but little real resolution resulted. Christians gathered on the lawn of the town hall and prayed around the flag pole while Pagans (including several from the Southern Delta  Church of Wicca – ATC) gathered around a tree and sang songs and chants. Bert Dahl was allowed a private backroom meeting with the city zoning committee, but not allowed to speak before the open assembly. Local media source Arkansas Matters had this brief report on the meeting.

It would appear that Pagans are not the only ones who face religious discrimination in Beebe. Catholics and other non-Protestant religionists have contact Seekers Temple saying that they have been denied a church or been subjected to some form of religious persecution. To the best of PWN’s knowledge, only Protestant institutions exist in Beebe.

Dahl repeatedly stated during his visit today that letters, emails, and phone calls of support are welcome. He also emphasized that any contact with the Mayor, the town council, or other governmental entities in Beebe and the state of Arkansas should be written or conducted in a calm, civil manner. An example of how visitors to the Beebe area who are Pagan can help is to shop the local businesses and somehow indicate that you are Pagan or Pagan-friendly.

Continued support for the Dahls and the Seekers Temple can be sent via email at priest@seekerstemple.com. Funds can be donated via PayPal at seekerstemple@yahoo.com, all funds raised are used by the Temple, not the Dahls themselves. Some of the funds may also be used to help with the legal costs related to this situation, up to and including the criminal case for “disorderly conduct” filed against HP Dahl. To date, the largest single donation to the Temple after the news broke was from an atheist.

Links to other Religious Discrimination related articles

  • A growing coalition of politics is urging the Obama administration to drop a  Bush-era exemption on religious discrimination when it comes to religious based organizations that receive government grants. On Patheos, apparently conservative Christian blogger Gene Veith writes in his posting on this issue “A major take away for religious organizations: Don’t take federal funds!” RevKess would agree, but for different reasons: religious organizations should be privately funded, not government funded.
  • Political and religious refugees from around the world may also experience religious discrimination when seeking asylum. On World Refugee Day, a Sudanese refugee in Israel talked with the media about how he is treated in the Israeli refugee camp in Holot as a Muslim and a black man.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing a New York-based insurance company for firing employees who decline to participate in religious activities on company time.
  • In Missouri, a proposed Student Religious Liberty Act would clearly define and combine state and federal laws that prohibit religious discrimination in public schools.
  • Obama’s recent executive order to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against LGBTQ employees has led to a debate about religious discrimination. The debate hinges on the idea that the owners/operators of a business who have strong religious beliefs against LGBTQ people should have the exemption and ability to hire and fire based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • A recent study of religious discrimination in hiring and firing in the Southern U.S. indicates that those who list some form of religious affiliation on their resume are 26% less likely to be contacted by an employer – unless they are Jewish.

MUSIC

Kept to one artist for this  broadcast. Damh the Bard, a Druid in the UK and a podcaster, was one of the first Pagan musicians to give PMPChannel permission to air his music. We would like to extend another hearty thank you to Damh for his willingness to share his  music in this manner. Visit his website for more of his music, his podcast, and to keep tabs on what is going on in the UK with Pagan and specifically Druid issues.

  1. Damh the Bard – Pipes of Pan – Herne’s Apprentice
  2. Damh the Bard – Sons & Daughters of Robin Hood – Antlered Crown & Standing Stone
  3. Damh the Bard – Pagan Ways – Cauldron Born

You can find the Pagan Weekly News on FaceBook. You can email the hosts of PWN and other programming on the Pagan-Musings Podcast Channel at paganmusings@gmail.com. Follow PMPChannel on Twitter.

PWN S4E3: Trouble in Beebe – Persecution of Seekers Temple

On June 17, 2014, Jason Pitzl-Waters of the Wild Hunt reported that the High Priest and High Priestess of the Seekers Temple in Beebe, AR had run into some major snags in establishing their church within the town. Zaracon immediately jumped in and contacted Bert and Felicia Dahl about visiting with he and RevKess on the Pagan Weekly News. This morning we made that happen.

Bert Dahl, photo courtesy ArkansasMatters.com

Seekers Temple, originally from El Paso, Ar, has been around for five years. By the request of many members of the Temple, Bert and his wife moved the church to Beebe. After nine months of paper work and leg work, it was only when the Temple applied for a permit to use a local park for an outdoor event that the city of Beebe realized  they were Pagans.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the FBI, and Lady Liberty League have all been informed of what is taking place. The ACLU has a limited budget and is at this time monitoring the situation. The FBI cannot act at this time as their has not been any violence involved (thankfully). Lady Liberty League coordinator, Selena Fox, called Bert personally after the story broke to the media and stated that LLL is very much aware and is continuing to monitor the situation as well. Zaracon contacted the Mayor’s office and has not yet received a response. You can also contact the Mayor, but please remain civil and rational in any correspondence. His email is mrobertson@beebeark.org.

Zaracon and RevKess opened the show up to Bert, allowing him a venue for voicing what is going on in Beebe. A detailed timeline of events can be found at the Seekers Temple website.

On Monday July 23, 2014 at 6:30pm is the monthly Beebe City Council meeting. The Dahls will be attending and ask that any Pagan or supportive ally who is in the area and wishes to attend do so as well. In previous meetings, Bert has been denied his request to speak to the City Council. Perhaps with a showing of support from other Pagans and our allies, his request to speak will be granted with this month’s meeting.

A search on Google, Bing, or your favorite browser should produce a number of links to more information. One of those would be some video coverage from ArkansasMatters.

MUSIC

  1. Ian Corrigan – A Charm for Religious Liberty – (single, released through Creative Commons via youtube.com)
  2. Celia – Build the Wall – Military Religious Freedom Foundation
  3. Celia – Symbol
  4. Big Bad Gina – Freedom Connection – Lake of Dreams

Donations can be sent via PayPal at seekerstemple@yahoo.com or direct through mail at Seekers Temple, 608 E DeWitt Henry Dr., Beebe, AR 72012. Emails can be sent to priest@seekerstemple.com.

PWN: Religious & Political News discrimination

RevKess goes solo again for this edition of PWN. That means a little bit more music than you might usually expect, but plenty of news coverage and opinion bits. Zaracon is settling into his new living arrangement and getting used to things there.

RevKess’s work schedule got turned upside down this week, adding to his already hectic schedule with rehearsals for a musical he is in this spring. This and other factors made for a one hour edition of PWN this week.

LINKS to stories and op-ed pieces discussed

  • It is with sadness in our hearts that we make formal announcement of the passing of Donald Michael Kraig. You can read an obituary and comments from loved ones and friends on The Wild Hunt.
  • Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps is reported to be dying, according to a Facebook message from his estranged son Nathan Phelps. He was also excommunicated from the WBC back in August 2013, a disagreement with other elders of the church about being “kinder” to others. Update: Since our broadcast Wednesday morning, Fred Phelps has passed away. Stay tuned to PMPChannel.com for RevKess’s editorial on the life and times of Fred Phelps.
  • Federal Judge rules in favor of the student after a creationist teachers calls his beliefs “stupid” and orders the school staff and faculty be educated on the 1st Amendment by an ACLU approved attorney.
  • St Patrick’s Day parade boycotts in NYC and Boston. Both mayors and three major beer bottlers drop support of the St. Patrick’s Day parades in the cities. Sam Adams, Heineken and Guinness.
  • Cognitive Dissonance on PaganActivist.com
  • ReligiousTolerance.org

MUSIC

  1. Damh the Bard – The Parting Glass – Tales from the Crow Man
  2. Heather Dale – Call the Names – Call the Names
  3. Celia – Symbol
  4. Tuatha Dea – Ye Jacobites by Name – Tuatha Dea
  5. Frenchy & the Punk – House of Cards – Happy Madness

PWN: Z & RevKess Return

After a long absence, Zaracon is easing back into podcasting. He joined RevKess this morning for a new edition of Pagan Weekly News. In the first part of the show you will hear why both Z and RevKess have been absent from PWN for a little while.

Here at the Pagan-Musings Podcast Channel we love our musicians and we love to share their music with our listeners. Four of those musically inclined friends are either releasing new CDs this month or working on fund raising campaigns for upcoming CD releases. Mama Gina‘s second CD “The Undertaker’s Daughter” is due out the middle of March. Tuatha Dea is campaigning to raise funds for their “Tufa Tales” project. Heather Dale’s ambitious campaign to not only raise funds for a DVD but to tour her Celtic Avalon workshop is well under way. Frenchy and the Punk are also working on a campaign for their newest musical contribution.

Wiccanate Privilege has been a topic of late for many Pagans of various flavors. David Salisbury was simply musing on his wall Monday night and it turned into a wonderful discourse between many Pagans. If you can, we encourage you to read the thread. A similar discourse took place elsewhere on Facebook.

Heathens on the boundaries of Paganism, RevKess stumbled across a thread in the group Nebraska Heathens United that was inspired by the linked article.

Salem, Mass adds transgender to their non-discrimination laws. Witch City USA is just a little bit further along than some of her neighboring communities. Our gratitude to those who made this possible.

Arizona, among other states, has been battling for certain “freedoms” that would legally allow bigotry – beyond freedom of speech. These religious freedom laws would make it possible for business and professionals to refuse service to anyone who the individuals feel stand against their personal religious beliefs. Heather Greene covers the topic well in her article for the Wild Hunt.

Michigan same-sex marriage trial: RevKess gathered together a selection of links to articles and other coverage related to the on-going trial in Michigan. Those links are all thanks to his friend Cindy Clardy, a former programer on KZUM in Lincoln, NE.

Satanic Panic in South Africa is alive and well. Being spurred on by the Occult Crimes Unit of the South African Police Services and misinformation from evangelicals in the region, citizens are falling victim to false accusations of witchcraft and other demonic activities. IOL News out of South Africa is doing its part to “spread the word” on these supposed crimes and the jumping-to-conclusions by the Occult Crimes Unit.

The Norse Mythology Blog has once again been nominated for Religion Blog of the Year for the Bloggies. If the blog wins again this year it will be inducted into the Bloggies hall of fame, having received the award for three years.

MUSIC

  1. Mama Gina – Song of Atonement – Goddess Kiss’d
  2. SJ Tucker – Firebird’s Child – Solace & Sorrow
  3. Tuahta Dea – The Blessing – The Tribe (featuring Spiral Rhythm)
  4. Dragon Ritual Drummers – Serpentine Seduction – Tribal Magick
  5. Mama Gina – Freya’s Lullaby – The Undertaker’s Daughter

As the Bird Flies

The Duck Dynasty boys, Phil Robertson pictured center. Photo from GQ

I’ve tried my damnedest to steer clear of this internet conversation. I’m not a fan of Duck Dynasty, I’ve never even watched the show. I haven’t had cable in years and enjoy being able to pick and choose what I watch when I want to watch it through various online streaming sites. That means that I have been pretty much blissfully ignorant of the whole Duck Dynasty thing. I hear bits and pieces from friends, relatives and customers who watch the show. Usually comments about some of the marketing ploys developed by A&E and advertisers on the show. Chocolates? Wine? Jerky? Really!? Okay, the jerky makes sense….. Frankly, I am getting a little sick of all the camouflage I’ve had to deal with at my bills-paying-job, year round. But that has nothing to do with what I am going to address in this op-ed for Pagan Weekly News.

Phil Robertson is an educated man, as he claims in his exclusive interview with the Daily Mail. He graduated from Louisiana Tech with a bachelors in physical education and a master’s degree in education. Over 40 years ago. He’s business man, a hunter, and a(n) (in)famous reality TV star along with the rest of his hunting family. He and his family struck it rich with a line of duck hunting accessories (Duck Commander). Bully for him and for them! The American dream come true, or something like that.

I’m not going to bore you with the history of the family, nor detail anything about the TV show. You can read all about that on Wikipedia or A&E’s website. If you happen to be someone who watches the show, you probably already know much more than I do. What I am going to do is address the issue that came to the fore front of the American audience’s collective conscience Wednesday the 18th of December, 2013.

On the 18th the January 2014 issue of GQ magazine came out on news stands. In this issue Phil Robertson did an interview with Drew Magary. Of course the interview talks about Duck Commander, Duck Dynasty and some of Robertson’s life not revealed in the TV program. Along the way Robertson voiced his opinion on homosexuality:

Magary asked Robertson: “What, in your mind, is sinful?” Answering, Robertson said: Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.” He added, paraphrasing a Biblical passage from First Corinthians, “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.” Robertson also questioned the appeal of same-sex relationships, particularly amongst men; saying: “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” Robertson went on to say “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

Sign in West Monroe, Louisiana. Photo from Associated Press

The public cried out and A&E suspended Phil Robertson from the show for an indefinite period, with one episode for the current filming season left to go. And the public cried out again, this time not out of offense for the words and sentiments shared by Phil Robertson, apparently his family, and (unfortunately) millions of Americans. No, this time it was with calls of oppression on the part of A&E, accusations that they were violating Robertson’s First Amendment right to free speech by removing him from the show, even for a short period of time.

Claims of Robertson’s 1st Amendment rights being violated are bull. According to a summary of the 1st Amendment by Cornell Law, “The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech. The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government.” A&E is not the government. They are a private corporation. They can and will decide when an employee (contract or otherwise) will be suspended, terminated from employment or otherwise disciplined for public comments made as a representative of the company.

Since I became a somewhat known public figure, I’ve made it a point to not specifically talk about my bills-paying-job, to not name the company that I work for. I’ve hinted by saying that I work for one the leading retail companies in the United Sates, but I do not name the company. I avoid doing so because I am well aware that my opinions, life choices, and political stances could interfere with my continued employment – I live in Nebraska, after all. A state in which it is perfectly legal to fire someone because they are gay. I host a local news and talk program for the LGBT community, I have to be careful in what I say regarding the radio station as well as what I say on the radio station. Not because I am afraid of reprisals from the station, but because my views and opinions may be offensive to listeners who cannot separate personal views and opinions from those of the board of directors of that station.  I, and my cohost, stress when we are expressing our opinions that they are our opinions. We’ve even gone so far as to play a recorded disclaimer when we think that something we are going to say on the air is liable to ruffle some feathers.

Why did I just detail the above? To show that I am aware that as a public figure who works for a private company, as well as one who volunteers at a community radio station, that what I say as a perceived representative of those two entities can lead to my termination of employment or removal from the radio station. Phil Robertson is the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family, he’s the central figure of the program on A&E. It is reasonably of the public to perceive him as a representative of both Duck Commander (the company he and his family owns) and of A&E whenever he is speaking in public or talking to the media.

Phil Robertson. Photo from A&E

That being said…..

Phil Robertson has every right as a private citizen to say what he said. I may not agree with him, but I can still support his right to freedom of expression. If he had said it as a private citizen. But he did not. He said what he did in an interview with GQ about Duck Dynasty. He was interviewed as a representative of the show, and thus as a representative of A&E. I support the network in suspending him from the show as discipline for giving them a black eye. Frankly, I think it is too little.

One comment to the GQ article I read hints that perhaps it is time for Duck  Dynasty to come to an end, and this might just be the beginning of the end for the show. On the 18th, GQ released the article. On the 19th, A&E suspended Robertson. On the 20th, the rest of the Duck Dynasty family said that they would not participate in the filming of the show without their patriarch. However, A&E has said that Phil Robertson will be returning to the program in January and the show will go on … for now.

I welcome your thoughts.Phil in Studio

RevKess is the host of Pagan Weekly News, co-host of the Pagan-Musings Podcast, minion on Murphy’s Magic Mess, co-host of Lavender Hill and content manager for PMPChannel. He blogs for Hail Columbia, Pagan Activist and Off the Beaten Path. He reviews books and music for RevKess’s Reviews. Follow him on Facebook.

Small “p” Pagans & Pope Frank

RevKessPhil in Studio

Since Wednesday, December 18th, I have seen many Pagans on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere express their disappointment and sometimes anger at the words of Pope Francis I in his weekly public address in Rome. You can read/hear what the Pope had to say in the video below. The whole clip is worth watching, as it gives context and perspective on what he meant.

“It’s a bad thing when one sees a Christian that does not want to come down, a Christian that uses everything to show off. Not nice, eh? That is not Christian, that is paganism,” Pope Francis said. His comments on greed, luxury and the unwillingness of some Christians to embrace their less fortunate brothers and sisters can be heard around the 1:53 point in the video. These statements came the day after Pope Francis celebrated his 77th birthday with four homeless men, a dog, and his staff.

Clearly this Pope is making a reputation for himself as the Pope of the People, not just the rich and influential. I’d dare say that he values the less fortunate, the less wealthy, the less powerful more than he values those who hold sway over the banking industry or the governments of the world. He has repeatedly pointed out the hypocrisy of those who promote themselves as God-fearing Christians yet refuse to reach out and help the poor, the sick, the elderly; call homosexuals the Devil’s own and turn a blind eye to the mistreatment of other nationalities, creeds, or races.

From the outset, Francis I has been different from previous Popes. He eschewed the fancy dress of most other pontiffs in favor of the simple white suits and ecclesiastical gowns that we have come to expect of him. He’s spoken more leniently on homosexuality than any of his predecessors and spoken out on the Church’s apparent obsession with abortion and birth control. All of this and more makes Pope Francis I a leader of today, not just within the Catholic Church, but on the world stage. Even The Advocate has declared him Person of the Year.

I’ve seen many Pagans, of many flavors, say that they are impressed and pleased with the words and actions of this Pope. But now, after his statement on Wednesday, many of those same Pagans are angrily expressing their disappointment in the Pope. Out of respect for those who have expressed such anger, I am not going to quote them or even name. They know who they are and may well choose to make their thoughts known through me in the future. For now, I am going to leave the particulars out.

Now that I have laid out that Pope Francis I speaks out against things, or in favor of things, that his predecessors did not; that he puts off the affluent robes of the pontiffical throne; that he has called upon Catholics everywhere to be kinder to their less fortunate brethern, it is time to point out concerns over his quote from the 18th, “It’s a bad thing when one sees a Christian that does not want to come down, a Christian that uses everything to show off. Not nice, eh? That is not Christian, that is paganism.”

Putting the argument aside of whether “Pagan” is the term that is generally accepted by the various religions, belief systems, philosophies and individuals that practice some kind of Earth-based honoring system, the media has plainly imparted that Pagan encompasses Wicca, Druidry, and many other flavors of Earth-centered spirituality. Whenever a person of note uses the term “pagan” to describe something or someone that is unlike them or something or someone that they find to be immoral or debased the followers of Wicca and other “Pagan” traditions react. Often with negativity.

Small “p” pagan is a much different thing than big “P” Pagan. Webster defines the word “pagan” to mean primarily two things. The first definition is of the religious use that many who walk an Earth-centered or non-Abrahamic path would use, “a follower of a polytheistic religion” while the second definition is the more generally accepted use of the word by media, politicians and most likely the Pope himself. “One who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods :  an irreligious or hedonistic person.”

Francis’s use of the term “pagan” to describe Christians who are unwilling to come down to the level of those who are in need, Christians who are unwilling to help the sick or the poor or the elderly, Christians who value their wealth and position above their beliefs and the teachings of their Christ. This use of the word is more in tune with the definition from Webster describing people as hedonistic, delighting in the sensual pleasures of the world and in material goods. His use of the word “pagan” has nothing to do with our religions or spiritual beliefs. In the Catholic world, anything that is not Catholic is “pagan”. (Note, I am using big “C” Catholic here, not small “c”. Again, there is a difference.)

Long before we began to use the word “Pagan” to describe our modern religions and spiritual beliefs, even before we used the term to describe the religions of our ancestors, the ancient Romans used the term to describe the unsophisticated, the people who lived outside the city. Even our word “Heathen” comes from the old term for a country dweller, one who dwells on the “heath” or is a “heathen”. In that context, it is easy to see that many within the Catholic Church are still using the word “pagan” to mean those who are not Catholic, those who do not believe as they do. Even Protestants used the term to describe the beliefs of indigenous peoples in their missionary work.

A recent petition on Change.org may help remedy the issue, at least in print. We may never be able to determine in conversation if someone is saying “pagan” or “Pagan”, but with a concerted effort by journalists, bloggers, authors and other text based commentators we can help to clarify what it is that we are talking about with proper capitalization. It is clear to me that Pope Francis was using “pagan”. It is clear to me that he was not comparing hedonistic Christians to Wiccans or Druids or Native Americans. It is clear to me that he was comparing them to those who have found more value in things and position than in their own faith.

Take this all as you will. I welcome comments and discussion on this article.

PWN #106 – Heather Greene & Pagan Media

On this week’s edition of the Pagan Weekly News, Heather Greene joined RevKess for a lengthy discussion of Pagan media. Heather is a contributor to Circle Magazine, a columnist for The Wild Hunt, an adviser for Lady Liberty League and the current National Public Information Officer for Covenant of the Goddess. She also writes on her personal blog about various topics.

The first half hour of the show was brief coverage of some Pagan related news as well as some goings-on in the United Kingdom. Heather joined the broadcast around the bottom of the first hour. For the majority of the program she and RevKess discussed a variety of Pagan media related issues. Rounding out the end of the show RevKess visited on a couple of other news items.

Links

Music

  1. Omnia – I Don’t Speak Human – Musick & Poetree
  2. Damh the Bard – Pagan Ways – Cauldron Born
  3. Spiral Dance (featuring Damh the Bard) – Spirit of Albion/Wooden Box – Through a Sylvan Doorway