Pagan and the Pit(bulls)

The political musings of a Pagan and her dogs.


Leave a comment

Project Blitz: Phase 1

Photo Credit: Hulu’s A Handmaids Tale

Ealier I wrote about Project Blitz and their playbook is online. Dominionists want Gilead. They’re working to get it with three stages of legislation. Just so y’all know, everything below comes from the playbook, link above. It’s their own words.

Phase 1 seems very straight forward. “Legislation Regarding Our Country’s Religious Heritage”. At this point, the very words seem like a dangerous double speak. The proposed actions at first blush seem very innocent and toothless. But they are part of an insidious framework. Phase 1 has 4 simple aspects, but it starts to lay the groundwork of some truely nasty shit. So let’s dig in.

First is are the display acts. They want “In God We Trust”, or some similar motto such as “God Enriches” or the Ten Commandments in classrooms, libraries, public colleges, universities, and government buildings, and optionally on liscense plates.  At first blush bills that propose this seem to have no teeth, all displays must be paid for with donations or with funds from private donors. No religious iconography or verbiage should be in schools, libraries, or governments. Just full stop, no. These are halls where the many become one in the eyes of the law. Dominionism and Christian Nationalism has no place there. Especially when you consider that people of color already experience disproportionatly negative outcomes in courthouses compare to white people, and that Dominionism claims that people of color are fundamentally lesser and full of more sin than white people. That’s how you perpetuate racism in the legal system, and it’s a human rights travesty as it is. It doesn’t need to be worse. Several states have laws in this vein, including Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

Civic Literacy acts are also part of the first phase. Again, this seems like a good idea, they define civic literacy as including familiary with “representative” documents of American heritage. Now I’m for improved civic literacy, but the representative options in the document are pretty exhaustive and school districts can select what they want to include or exclude. The best example is that the Articles of Confederation are completely ignored. This playing fast and loose with history leads to some bullshit like “the Civil War was fought over states rights” without adding the ending to that sentence “to own people as slaves”. There’s also a tenacious strain of Originalism that’s fed by this kind of education. It’s very easy to create an environment were people become dedicated to the idea that the US Consititution is this stable document rather than a living document. When you view the Constitution is viewed as a stable document, it’s easy to view non-cis, het, white, Christian men as less than human. Lastly, these acts say that civic literacy should start in high school. That’s a lot of elementary and middle school to lay some suspicious groundwork for document interpretation. Examples of states with this legislation: North Carolina, South Carolina, and California.

Of course to understand the civic documents fully, you need context. Then look no further than the Religion in Legal History acts. Not only does it endorse a presentation of the role of religion in the Constitution in the courthouses, it has some sketchy af readings. The required readings include the Northwest Ordinance. Now I have some personal history with the Northwest Ordinance. When I was taught the Northwest Ordinance in elementary school, I was told that it promised that the US government would treat all Indigenous peoples well (it didn’t) and that it outlawed slavery (only in the states it formed). I believed the teachers because I was in elementary school, and that’s what you do. So when I found out about how the Indigenous peoples were treated, and that the Civil War was fought over slavery, my world view took some strong hits. It’s not just that either, it’s also that the talking points in the playbook deliberately play lipservice to the “civil rights” in the Northwest Ordinance while at the same time reiterating over and over the “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind” part of Article 3.We’re meant to see the “civil rights” and ignore the emphasis on the Christianity. Not to mention, unlike the previous civic documents, this selection of historical documents should be taught early, at their recommendation.  To my knowledge, no states have legislation of this flavor on their books.

Lastly is the Bible Literacy acts. They claim that these are elective courses for students in high school about the history and literature of the Old and New Testaments. This includes “the influence of the Old or New Testament on law, history, government, literature, art, customs, morals, values, and culture”.  While the fill-in the blank act says the course “must be taught in an objective and non-proselytizing manner that does not attempt to indoctrinate students” there’s a lot of wiggle room for peer pressure and guest speakers to act inappropriately. It does also say that schools may offer a couse based on the books of a religion or society of a non-Christian one. But let’s be real, when was the last time you saw a high school class in Arkansas or Arizona about Islam? They also claim that so many of the American historical works can’t be understood with out understanding the Bible. Or that one can’t have a proper appreciation of literature without understanding the Bible. Which is funny, I can appreciate Salman Rushdies The Satanic Verses without having read the Quran. I can also fully enjoy Into the Badlands (which is based off of the Journey to the West) without a full understanding of Buddhist mythology. It’s almost like we can enjoy art, beauty, and philosophy without needing a religious framework to do so. States with this flavor of legislation include: Texas, Kentucky, and Georgia.

These are all things that seem simple, innocuous, and because they focus on education, they often slip under the radar. But if you mold the minds of the young, its hard to break the patterns of thinking later. This happens at the state level, where people traditionally pay less attention, so push back when they come to your state with legislation like this.

Up next: Phase 2 “Resolutions and Proclamations Recognizing the Importance of Religious History and Freedom”.

 


Leave a comment

What is Project Blitz?

Photo Credit: Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Today I engaged in the most noble day off activities: watching movies and scrolling through social media. My movies of choice were “Now You See Me” and  “Now You See Me 2”. I love cheesy B-rate sequels (hello “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny”), and the gender reveal of the floozy and the doctor in “Now You See Me 2” is one of my favorite things. At the same time, a meme about what feminists really care about during Christmas time came up on my feed. For the record, as a feminist, I don’t think “Baby it’s cold outside” aged well; when Santa tells me their gender I’ll use the proper pronouns, and I do think that everyone should say “Happy Holidays” to be polite. But I also think there needs to be a “War on Christmas” and I do think we need to be fighting it.

Let’s set aside for a moment, the many examples of Christian privilege which exist both inside and outside the United States as well as the fact that Christianity bases its identity around the cultural, spiritual, and literal genocide known as mission work; to Christian Nationalists in the United States, these are features not fuck-ups of the system.

Christian Nationalists are DYING to make America a more Christian nation than it already is, they and the Dominionists are all about that fascism; to the point that Christian Nationalism and Dominionism were the main reasons white Evangelicals voted for Trump. Who needs Matthew and Luke when you have the  Prosperity Gospel and Project Blitz?

Project Blitz is a concerted and dedicated effort to lay the groundwork to making America the ideal home for Christian Nationalists. They want to pave the way to Gilead where the wounded white men are made whole, at the cost of everyone else. We’ve all heard about the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, and there are several pending petitions to the Supreme Court coming up (two crosses, employment, funding churches, and school prayer). I expect with the current court line up, we’ll be hearing a decent bit about these cases. But that’s loud. Project Blitz is more like the magic tricks in “Now You See Me”. While you’re watching the cool tricks, you’re missing the theft. While we’re watching the Supreme Court and the drama about the War on Christmas, we’re missing the theft. But like the reality behind many magic tricks, the Project Blitz playbook is online.

I’ll be posting over the next few days the details about Project Blitz, from their own playbook; simply because it’s too big for one post to get into. Suffice to say, the War on Christmas doesn’t end just because it’s the 26th.


Leave a comment

The Next Satanic Panic?

In October and November, there was this slew of articles coming across my Google Alerts feed about how there were more Wiccans that Presbyterians in the United States and will someone please think of the children. Now, those types of articles aren’t uncommon at Samhain; and because of that, I was totally going to ignore it as the shoddy clickbaity journalism that’s so popular at that time of year. Except it kept going past Samhain. Except it got picked up by the Daily Stormer.  Except that as a scientist, a Pagan, and someone who spent a lot of Wednesdays in a Presbyterian after school program something wasn’t right. So I went digging around and found something that bothers me on a lot of levels.

This all started with a Quartz article in October saying there were more Wiccans in the United States than there were Presbyterians based on the Pew Religious Landscape Study. The Quartz article went on to say that 0.4% of the US population is Wiccan and that this is more than the numbers of Presbyterians, which they claimed has only 1.4 million members. They also included the phrases “actual witches” and “witch aesthetic” in their article, and almost every single subsequent article used those exact same phrase. Almost.Every.Single.One. That grated on my nerves plenty when I read the Christian Post, CNSNews, Newsweek, and the Daily Stormer. Since the publication numbers were racking up and showing up in deliberately violent and bigoted “news” sources, I decided to go back to the Pew Religious Landscape Study.

Before I get into it though, I want to make one thing very clear: numbers are a language of their own, and they actually mean things. You have to read them to understand them. You can’t just go cherry picking things to make a story. The number tell their story, and people should try and tell that rather than taking two halves of different stories to try and tell a sensationalized one.

The Religious Landscape study is based on phone interviews with people from 50 states and these individuals self-identify their religion.  I’m going to keep the Presbyterian/Wiccan comparison; even though we’ll see even that definition is a problem. There are three groups we’ll look at evangelical Presbyterians, mainline Presbyterians, and New Age Religions. The New Age Religions breaks down into 3 sub-categories: Pagan or Wiccan, Other, and Native American Religions. You best believe I have issues with this organization. First off, Native American Religions needs to be its own discrete category; it doesn’t belong in with the New Age Religions. Second (and I can hear the exasperated sigh from one of my covenmates already, I love you but I’m going to beat this horse again) Pagan and Wiccan needs to be separated into their own categories because they aren’t the same thing at all, and this become important because they don’t have the frameworks at all. Not all Pagans practice witchcraft, and most of them don’t follow the Threefold law. If they can sort evangelical from mainline Presbyterians, they could have sorted Pagan from Wiccan.

That aside, the findings the Pew study presents are that the US population is 0.4% New Age Religions, 0.8% Evangelical Presbyterian, and 1.4% mainline Presbyterian. According to the United States Census Bureau, the US population is around 329.2 million people. If we do the math, that makes 1.3 million people who self-identify with New Age religions, 2.6 million who self-identify as evangelical Presbyterian, and 3.9 million who self-identify as mainline Presbyterian. Rest easy Christians, even if some people lied about their faith to the Pew researchers, you sill outnumber us. Even based on the Trinity studies from the early 2000s and the Pagan census, our growth is enough to outpace you. Yet.

So where did the 1.4 million people in the articles come from? Well, that number comes from the Presbyterian Church (USA) Wikipedia page and it’s only the active members. That number doesn’t include attendees who aren’t baptized, who are baptized by not confirmed, or just plain inactive members. That number also doesn’t include any of the members from the other Presbyterian churches like the Presbyterian Church in America.

This all makes me baseline pissy because I found all the information for the past 3 paragraphs in the time it took me to boil 2 eggs and make ramen. The Quartz writers have no excuse. Especially as there are other Christian flavors that are legitimately fewer than the New Age Religions category, such as Evangelical Anglicans, the Church of the Nazarene, Disciples of Christ, or any of the Orthodox Churches in the United States. This worries me because this kind of journalistic sloppiness is dangerous in this era, particularly when it’s picked up by such bastions of “integrity” as the Daily Stormer and conservative news sites like CNSNews. The Daily Stormer article fetishized the killing of women and the idea of the Burning Times.

Right around the same time this barrel of shoddy math and “witch aesthetics” came rolling down my feed, another two articles came up as well. The first was from the Religion Freedom in the World 2018 Report, which concludes “Aggressive ultra-nationalism – be it by hard-line governments or violent extremist groups – means many minority faith groups feel like aliens in their own country. They are easy targets in a new era of ignorance and intolerance”. This includes the violence against Rohingya Muslims, Nigerian Christians, Pakistani Ahmadis, and Iranian Baha’is. If we learned anything from the 2016 election, it should be that America is not exceptional, and it can (and has and will again) happen here.

The second was an article by Peg Aloi at The Establishment. Aloi points out that we have the ingredients for another Satanic Panic: young women, especially women of color such as the Hoodwitch, expressing independence; an attraction to non-Christian theologies and goddess-based thealogies; an abundance of occult stories in popular media, social media, and fashion houses; and a right-wing government. Bake for 25 minutes in a strained America and choke on it.

The fact that the story about Presbyterians and Wiccans made it into the Daily Stormer and CNSNews is deeply concerning. It may have happened a century ago in Trump adjusted terms, but the Pizzagate conspiracy was propagated by the Daily Stormer, they had live updates on their homepage. The would-be bomber from Florida read the Daily Stormer in his Trump van. The Daily Stormer publishes stories that deliberately inflame white evangelical men to stochastic terrorism. We don’t know who exactly they will hurt, but they will become dangerous. Even the white evangelical men who aren’t terrorists will be inspired to act out towards everyone else, and we’ll all pay that consequence.

We know this administration and its supporters act against women who stand up to it. Dr. Blasey Ford still can’t go home. Witches have been casting curses on the Trump crime syndicate for 2 years, and placing curses on Brett “I like beer” Kavanaugh. I suspect those witches who came forward about their curses have seen threats.

Pagans, Wiccans, and other Magickal practitioners need to be careful right now. Take care of yourself. Take care of your community. Take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. Speak for those who can’t. Be ready for the storm that’s coming.


Leave a comment

Representative Omar, head coverings, and Religious Freedom

Representative-Elect Ilhan Omar of Minnesota wears a hijab. Some truely beatuiful ones too, based on her photos. But the House of Representatives has an outdated rule from the 1800’s about headwear–no one is allowed to wear it for any reason.

Now, based the History of House, the rule against headwear came out of some fairly contentious debate. There is an endearing story about why the hat ban was put in place: that in England members of Parliment wore hats to set themselves apart from the king and for the people, America had no king so no need for hats in the Houses of Congress. Cue panic.  Please let it be remembered that when push came to shove MEN were concerned about their fashionable clothes in the House. So vain. In the modern day, this applies to all headwear from scarves to yarmulkes to hijabs. You can see where this can start to get messy with freedom of religion.

Sehkmet aspect Representative Pelosi, has moved to change the rule to allow religious headwear as well as hats or scarves to cover hair loss (which when you think about how many members of Congress have or have had cancer, it becomes a matter of dignity). This rule change adds visible representation, and will inspire more people with diverse faiths to run for Congress; which is only a good thing.

Will the religious freedom loving Republicans be on board?

For some reason, I doubt it.

Rank Islamaphobia is a hallmark of Republicanism. While they write think pieces about how Muslims percieve religious freedom, they refuse to acknowledge their inexorable march to Gilead.

Covering your hair isn’t just for Muslim women who wear a hijab or a chador. Dedicants to Hestia wear veils. Orthodox Jewish women wear scarves. Hindu and Jain women wear a ghoonghat. Catholic nuns wear veils, and the Ammish and the Mennonites cover their heads as well.

Seeing a woman with her hair covered isn’t the end of the world, and may encourage other women who cover their hair to do the same.

Nor is wearing a head covering going to impinge on anyone’s freedom of religion, as much as the White Evangelical men may cry.

 

Even though Republicans love touting religious freedom, I doubt they’ll be on board.

Republicans LOVE to scream about how Sharia law is coming to America, with out taking into consideration how their own religious beliefs have a heavy influence on our law making process.


Leave a comment

(Trump and Co.) do not go quietly into the good night

I refused to post this on the day that I congratulated the Democratic winners, because I don’t want to dance to Trumps tune and draw attention away from them. Which the news of Jeff Sessions resignation? firing? inevitable ending? did.

I’m not the biggest fan of Sessions. I think he is Satan’s personal Keebler elf. I hesitate to call anyone the Anti-Christ, but anyone who uses the Bible to justify human rights violations and child separation policies is definitely in the running.

Representative Waters was right when she called him a dangerous racist.

He ended the program that investigated police brutality.  He created the title “Black Identify Extremists” while failing to look at the plethora of white supremacist terrorists. He tried to revive the war on drugs, which disproportionally impacted people of color. Sessions oversaw the creation of a religious freedom task force (any guesses which religions freedom it was interested in?). He worked to erode LGBTQ rights. 

Jeff Sessions was (and is) a walking, talking, racist, bigoted, sexist skid mark on the fabric of America. The only thing that makes him different from the other skid marks is he had the moment of ethical clarity to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. His replacement likely won’t have such clarity.

Matthew Whittaker really should recuse himself as well. His CNN op-ed makes it very clear where he falls on the Mueller investigation–it’s gone on too long and gone too far. It hasn’t. Jared Kushner still hasn’t be indicted. The troika of tyranny isn’t in South or Central America. It’s here, and it continues apace.

We all knew that Trump was going to pull out some nonsense after a Democratic sweep. We all had some guesses what it would be. This forced resignation is his attempt to change the script, and an attempt to check the ability of the House to issue subpoenas.

Right now we need to keep our eyes on the prize: getting to the bottom of the corruption and Russia’s cancerous interference. Then we need to treat that cancer the only way we can: cut, burn, poison. Kill it at the root. Part of that prize is making sure that we have a full uninhibited investigation into the Trumps, and protecting the votes in 2020. After all it won’t matter if we have a strong liberal candidate if the vote numbers change.

Adjust to the impact of this change, adapt your plans, and keep on fighting the good fight.


Leave a comment

Roy Moore is back in high schools, and he wants to bring back pregame prayer

Foot_ball

This bit of news made me stupid angry. Let me get this out of my system: Roy Moore is a creepy ass motherfucker. Anyone who sexually assaults teenagers has no place anywhere near a high school. His wife tried to discredit the victims, and his trash supporters tormented his victims. He also gave his endorsement to Brett Kavanaugh, in case you needed another reason to be against either of them.

Any man who sexually assaults a woman should have his career ruined. Any man who sexually assaults a woman should do penance and not do harm again. But here we are, and Roy Moore is trying to get schools to allow prayer at football games.

Baseline, he shouldn’t be doing this because it allows him access to a vulnerable population for him to prey on.

He also shouldn’t be doing this because he admits he doesn’t want non-Christian prayers said at football games.  “‘I wouldn’t support it,” Moore said of the prayer itself. “I wouldn’t encourage it.'”

I’m all for sacred games, we hold one every year at Lughnasadh. But we don’t ask the gods to help us strike down our opponents. Or ask the gods to bless us every time there’s a new game. It’s a celebration of fun and honoring the gods at the beginning of the day.

You don’t need prayer before high school football game, it’s exclusionary and unnecessary. Just let the kids play.

 

 


Leave a comment

Beyonce accused of “extreme witchcraft”

Today I had an excellent giggle during my morning email check: Beyonce has been accused of “extreme witchcraft”, “dark magic”, and “magic spells of sexual molestation” by a former employee. Drummer Kimberly Thompson filed a restraining order against the singer and was denied.

It’s not the first time Beyonce has been linked to the occult. There is the standard (and less than credible) claim that she’s Illuminati. Then there are legitimate connections between Beyonce and the orishas of African spirituality. Her entrance as Oshun in “Hold up”  is an artistic moment that will stay with me for life.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter whether Beyonce is a priestess or if she’s a magical practitioner because it’s her right to practice her religion (whatever it may be) in private without the peanut gallery weighing in. The restraining order was denied because it was nonsense. If something comes out of this, I’m sure we’ll all hear about it.

But until then I think I need to listen to the Lemonade album again.