Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

How does an Atheist view Wiccans?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26840points) April 5th, 2011
77 responses
“Great Question” (6points)

How does an Atheist view Wiccans? Wiccans do not have a God as in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but they do have a god and goddess; plus witchcraft. And some Wiccans don’t even believe that; as in gods per se, so do Atheist view Wiccans the same as Christians or they tolerate Wiccan better?

Observing members: 0
Composing members: 0

Answers

KatawaGrey's avatar

As a Wiccan, I will be interested to hear the answers to this question.

Blackberry's avatar

I see it all as unnecessary, but it’s their mind so it’s none of my business.

crisw's avatar

I know lots of Wiccan atheists- I used to be one :>) There is nothing in Wicca that requires a belief in an absolute, manifest God or Goddess; most Wiccans I knew saw the God and Goddess as archetypes or characteristics in things, rather than as actual extant beings like the Christian God.

Seelix's avatar

Personally, I think it’s just as silly as any other religion. But that’s just me.

DominicX's avatar

I don’t believe that any supernatural elements of Wicca are any more valid than any supernatural elements of Christianity. As long as they’re not trying to convert me, then I don’t care. One of the main differences Atheists regard between Christians and Wiccans for example is that Wiccans don’t try to convert and make their religious dogma part of secular law (at least to the extent that Christians do, in this country).

crisw's avatar

This is an interesting and pertinent story from one of America’s most vehement atheists.

bkcunningham's avatar

@crisw I don’t understand how the link applies to the original question. Sorry.

JLeslie's avatar

I know very little about Wiccans, but I see it like any other religion. As long as they aren’t hurting anyone, or tryng to make everyone a Wiccan and live by their beliefs, they can believe whatever they want.

Is Wiccan the religion that one flighty tea party candidate said she was back in the day? The one who used to appear on Bill Maher? Haha, I wouldn’t care if one of my candidates had been a Wiccan

Blackberry's avatar

@JLeslie That was Christine O’Donnell, and she said she “dabbled in witchcraft” when she was younger on an episode of Bill Maher’s show in the 90s.

Rarebear's avatar

I’m more of a “whatever floats your boat” kind of guy. As long as people are critical thinkers.

tinyfaery's avatar

Power coming from the earth makes a whole lot more sense to me than power coming from a white man in the sky. More plausible, but still not likely.

cockswain's avatar

I lump it in with any unproven, unsubstantiated beliefs upon which one decides to live one’s life by.

bkcunningham's avatar

@crisw oh, because he’s atheist and supported her religion. Right? My mind is slow tonight.

cbloom8's avatar

They’re just as odd, but it’s still their beliefs. I do appreciate and admire that they don’t push beliefs as much as other religions and that they are much less of an organized religion.

KateTheGreat's avatar

As an atheist, I could care less. :/
Wiccans are people too, that’s all that matters.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

Wiccans don’t generally try to push their beliefs on others. I find Wiccans much more agreeable than Christians I have known.

nikipedia's avatar

Goofy but harmless.

Jude's avatar

Horseshit.

(not an atheist)

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Jude: Ouch. Why do you think it’s horseshit?

JLeslie's avatar

@jude I would guess most theists would answer similarly. Not that I know for sure, but in my experience.

Jude's avatar

I’m agnostic.

I just think that it’s silly.

Nevermind, guys, I’m bowing out.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I think it sounds just a silly as the others (fairies being the reason you can’t find your keys doesn’t sound much better than a guy being eaten by a giant fish and surviving for 3 days), but I really don’t care so long as it isn’t proselytizing.

However, I have yet to meet a Wiccan in real life who didn’t also have some pretty major issues going on psychologically. That may simply be a coincidence, there may be a different explanation for it, but I wouldn’t be totally shocked if there was some draw to Wicca for people who had some issues (course, I think pretty much all religions are especially attractive for the mentally unhealthy, so it’s not much different).

It’s also helpful if you’re a “moderate” Wiccan, and if you don’t use witchcraft to enable and justify your bad behavior.

dabbler's avatar

the question seems awkward to me because I don’t see Wiccan practice as religion at all. So it’s like “what do aetheists think of gardeners?”

JLeslie's avatar

@dabbler I bet Christians don’t see it that way.

dabbler's avatar

JLeslie I think you’re right about plenty of Christians but there no reason to think it’s because they have much actual information about Wiccan practice besides that the Wiccan appears to be doing something they don’t understand – hence must be unChristian? The Wiccans I know are also Christians and Jews and Hindus and aetheists, doesn’t seem to slow them down at the solstice rituals. Informed folks won’t see a conflict. Celebrating creation however you think it manifests moment to moment is the point.

Haleth's avatar

Atheist here. I’m not as familiar with Wicca as I am with Christianity, because I had a Christian upbringing. My views toward Wicca are generally positive, although I do not believe in deities or magic myself. I’ve known people in school and work who were Wiccan and many of them were accepting and open-minded. I certainly have a more positive view of Wiccans than I do of Christians. In many of my experiences with Christians (but definitely not all; there are all kinds of Christian believers) I’ve noticed self-righteous or narrow-minded attitudes. Christianity teaches that believing in the Christian god is the only way to salvation, which has obviously led to intolerance and persecution.

As for Wiccan beliefs themselves, my views are more neutral. The religion itself is relatively new (I think it dates from the late 1800s or early 1900s?) but based on older traditions. I see the popularity of a religion as mainly a cultural thing; when two cultures clash, the more powerful one brings their religion with them to a new place and there is some blending of traditions. Some of our traditions, like Christmas and Easter, have pagan roots. Many biblical stories are based on older legends that were passed by word of mouth. If things had gone differently in ancient times, maybe religion based on pagan tradition would be the majority.

Atheists and Wiccans are both in the minority in the western world. Most atheists and Wiccans I’ve encountered weren’t raised in these practices; they found them later in life. I was never comfortable being a Christian. There were so many inconsistencies; we were taught to “love thy neighbor as thyself” but there was so much intolerance, and we were asked to believe in something when there was no proof. In fact, faith in spite of no proof was held as a virtue, and wanting proof was a sin. Knowing that the universe is based on impartial logic and not a capricious god is very comforting to me. We don’t understand all of that logic yet, but that fills me with a sense of hope and wonder.

If another person goes through that same process and finds Wicca instead, I can empathize.

crisw's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs

“However, I have yet to meet a Wiccan in real life who didn’t also have some pretty major issues going on psychologically. ”

Probably because you’ve mainly met the Wiccans who wear their “religion“on their sleeves; the kinds with pentagrams all over and dyed-black hair and long whooshy dresses.

The quiet ones who don’t make any big deal of their practices- and from my experience with Wiccans, that’s most of them- are as sane as anyone else.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@crisw Nope – most of them you wouldn’t have known unless they told you.

crisw's avatar

@Haleth

“Most atheists and Wiccans I’ve encountered weren’t raised in these practices; they found them later in life”

That’s a very good point. Wicca appeals very much to those who don’t believe in gods but who really revel in ritual and the social contacts that it brings. I know that for me, it was that ritualistic and group experience that was appealing.

Haleth's avatar

@crisw I’ve heard that Wiccan practices vary widely and that belief in a god is definitely not universal. Ritual and tradition are definitely very appealing. A lot of Wiccan beliefs are based on nature, right? Because that’s always seemed to make a lot of sense to me, that if you’d venerate anything, it would be nature. Sometimes I wish there were more ways for atheists to gather and talk about our ideas.

crisw's avatar

@Haleth

Yeah, that’s true of both Wiccans and atheists- get three of them in a room and you’ll have four different opinions…

Celebrating natural things you can actually see and verify, like the changing of the seasons, the cycles of the moon, and growing crops,is indeed appealing to many.

bolwerk's avatar

Can’t speak for all atheists, but I personally view the whole thing as kind of absurd – though no more than Mormonism or some of the goofier rituals performed by Catholics. To be interesting to me, religion needs to have something of a long-standing intellectual tradition, which things like Catholicism, Judaism, and even some smarter species of Protestantism have – and something made up by some trippy dude in the 19th or 20th century just by definition cannot have. I can read for hours about the complex motivations of Moses or Joshua or Samuel or Saul or David or Solomon or Jesus or Augustine or Maimonides or St. Francis or Abelard or Luther. It’s really hard for me to care about a ranter Gerald Gardner or confirmed bullshit artist like Joseph Smith.

Still, to each his own….

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Interesting…....very interesting…...-though not all to Earthshaking or surprising.

weeveeship's avatar

Just curious, is Wiccan and Neo-Paganism the same?

bolwerk's avatar

@weeveeship: Wicca is generally regarded as a subset of neopaganism, far as I know. (Some people claim to truly bonafide pagans from an unbroken line that practiced in secret since before the advent of Christianity in northern Europe. Usually kind of hard to believe though.)

weeveeship's avatar

@bolwerk Well, from what I heard, the Masons kept some of the pagan traditions.

bolwerk's avatar

Oh, lots of traditions survived in Catholicism – like Easter. But institutions? Not really.

downtide's avatar

Many Wiccans do believe in a god and a goddess, some believe in many deities, but many others don’t, and for some, witchcraft is simply that; a craft. It’s a little like Quakerism, where members can belong to or come from a variety of background religions, so it is with Wicca too.

I used to be Wiccan, and the reason I left the craft was nothing to do with the religious side of it, or the idea of deities. It was more to do with the fairly strictly defined gender roles, and the disapproval I got from other Wiccans when I dared to bend or break them.

JLeslie's avatar

@dabbler I don’t think it is because Christians have a lot of information. I think it is because they think Christianity is the only way; anything that comes close to what they think is Godless or worshipping evil will bring down the US, World, and universe; and anything outside of the Abrahamic religions are scary and foreign. You must have missed th Q’s talking about the fairly recent study showing atheists and Jews knew the most about religion when tested. I don’t think too many people in our collective think the Christians know a lot about other religions, there are some who do of course, Some of them are here on fluther. Knowledgable, tolerant, not all fire and brimstone Christians. But, the evangelicals as a group, not so much.

Funy, the Christians like the Jews right now, and they are clueless to the fact that so many Jews are atheists. Clueless. So often people ask how someone can be an atheist and a Jew at the same time when they here of it. Maybe it doesn’t matter to them as long as we rebuild the temple on the mount.

Harold's avatar

@JLeslie – for the record, not all Christians believe that there is any significance in Israel or that the temple will be rebuilt. I sure don’t believe this! I can see where you are coming from in your answer, and would have to agree with most of it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Harold I know. I would never want to group all Christians into one like minded group of people. When I throw around my generalizations I usually try to clarify I am not talking about all Christians. In fact, it is probably not the majority, it is just the most annoying and loudest part of the group. Thanks for letting me clarify. It’s like any label, I know Jews who are religious, and Jews who aren’t. Seems there are Mormons who are poligamists, and Mormons who aren’t. I know pro-choice Catholics, and Catholics who are pro-life. It’s impossible to say all people of one religion are the same. Although, curiously, it seems the Christian right has a hard time understanding that? Or, knowing that? Would you say that is true? I perceive it as they think their book (bible) is to be followed word for word, so they think everyone else must follow and beleive their own identified religions in the same way. Although, it is pretty easy to find lines in the bible they would not follow in modern times, but that is besides the point.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I used to practice witchcraft myself so I do have a soft spot for Wiccans. As an atheist, I don’t see Wicca as problematic as I consider other organized religions (mainly Abrahamic ones).

Qingu's avatar

I think Wicca is based on made-up nonsense, just like every other religion.

Though I don’t find the content of that nonsense to be as morally repugnant as that found in the Bible or the Quran.

Harold's avatar

@JLeslie – Yes, I would say that is true. The hard right or hard left of any viewpoint has trouble understanding anything other than what they want to see.

mazingerz88's avatar

We Can All Like Wiccans Yes WE-CAN!

cockswain's avatar

@Harold Well said.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Interesting many of those who blast Christians because of our non-science worship are tacitly hypocritical to acquiesce to the non-scientific beliefs of Wiccans as far as deities and the casting of spells for no reason other than most Wiccan don’t seem to promote Wicca might not be that simple. To base acceptance on if certain passionate people within a religion share with you a little too aggressively or because you think they are “pushy” is rather dumb; man up.

And even if you do not care about anyone’s religion one should respect it even though they disagree. I may not agree with Wicca, Islam, JW, Mormonism, etc but I would not desecrate any of their holy books or places of worship, or insult them as being weak-minded or crackpots. If you are going to yell ”bigot” make sure your house has very few windows or you might not want to hurl around stones that large.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I’ve never had a Wiccan show up at my door trying to convert me. That would be one reason I would be more tolerant of them. Nor do they seem to look down on you if you don’t hold their beliefs. They also don’t seem to need as much money as all the other religions. I guess their gawds are a little more thrifty.

DominicX's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central

Really? That’s your argument? It’s “dumb”? “Man up”? Please…

Why have a problem with a religion if the members of said religion really have nothing to do with you? I may view the supernatural elements of Wicca as just as unlikely to exist as those of Christianity, but the difference between the two is that I have never met a Wiccan who felt it was their duty to convert others to Wicca or felt that Wiccan practices should affect secular law.

In terms of the basic beliefs of the religions, most atheists probably see much of a difference between Wicca and Christianity. Both have non-scientific supernatural beliefs that probably don’t exist or have any bearing in the real world. But an atheist may be less likely to have a “problem” with Wicca if they’ve never encountered a hostile Wiccan. In this country, Christianity is the dominant religion. Many atheists were raised Christian and were then scorned and hated once they rejected Christianity. Acting like Wicca and Christianity are equal in this regard is absurd, I’m sorry.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@DominicX Why have a problem with a religion if the members of said religion really have nothing to do with you? I don’t which is one reason I don’t go around insulting those in religions I don’t practice or agree with. I don’t lump everyone who practice Islam with those who practice the extreme variety. When you start to summarily lump every member of the religion in one mold based on whatever unfounded fact it becomes somewhat tacit reverse bigotry.

Christianity, but the difference between the two is that I have never met a Wiccan who felt it was their duty to convert others to Wicca or felt that Wiccan practices should affect secular law. Maybe Wiccans by a larger number are not as passionate as Christians about their belief. I would agree there are some Christians who take the “Be fishers of men” quite literally but not all of us. I do remind those who try to beat the Gospel into someone that the Word is a gift and the person you bring it to can accept it as they would a toaster, a leaf blower, hammer etc, and decline it just the same. Biblical law impacting secular law is a whole different thread in itself so I will wait until that comes up than to divert this one there.

But an atheist may be less likely to have a “problem” with Wicca if they’ve never encountered a hostile Wiccan. So an Atheist will turn a blind eye to the non-scientific attributes of Wicca simply because of the behavior of Wiccans and little more? A bit odd for people so down on the science of things to acquiesce on something they don’t believe simply because the person doing it they feel is not trying to convert them; regardless of the action of the participants live up to the science and use the can I measure it or stuff it in a test tube litmus test.

Many atheists were raised Christian and were then scorned and hated once they rejected Christianity. Acting like Wicca and Christianity are equal in this regard is absurd, I’m sorry. So because they felt scorned and ostracized by family and church because they did not want to believe God they want to deflect the hatred they believe they received back. Doesn’t seem to make them any better just doing the same but in a different arena. Last, I said in no uncertain way or any way at all that Wicca and Christianity are the same; placing in a pecking order is for others who do that. What I would say that to those who view Wicca as their religion they should still be respected and their belief in their religion be respected. It may not seem like a religion to many, might even be seen as a cult and if one doesn’t agree, then don’t, just give due to the person that does in a respectful manner. Calling it goofy, horseshit, silly, stupid etc, I have seen many Atheist get steamed about the collar if you even indicate that Atheism equal heathenism and no name calling was thrown about. Would you like it if someone told you the course you were following is heathenism or evil because it is not of God? Of course not, that is why you got as far from the church as your legs could carry you; you didn’t want to hear it.

DominicX's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central

This is getting complicated because we are speaking to each other, but at the same time we are speaking generally. I personally have never insulted Christians or Wiccans nor have I labeled either religion as “stupid” or “bullshit”. And I am not defending those who do. I agree that people should respect other’s religions. I also agree that it’s hypocritical to bash Christianity for being unscientific but at the same time ignore the unscientific principles of Wicca.

I am also not defining “having a problem” with a religion as inherently implying that a person insults and hates that religion. It simply means they “have a problem” with it. The only thing I’m saying is that there is little comparison between Wicca and Christianity in terms of how they recruit and attempt to affect the lives of others. Because Christianity is much more “open”, it is more likely to create problems with atheists. That does not mean that it is rifght to say all Christians are stupid or anything like that. But if on one hand you have a group of Wiccans who keep to themselves and on the other hand you have a group of Christians who want to convert a group of atheists, which group do you think is going to run into conflict?

And again, I’m not saying it’s right to judge all Christians by more extreme members. I am just saying why that may occur. I’m saying I understand why an atheist would have a higher regard for a religion that keeps to itself.

JLeslie's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I know religious people, theists, who to an atheist would seem to be believing in the supernatural, a God not proven, but when it comes to life on earth, they believe the science that proves the earth is over 10,000 years old, they believe evolution is an explanation for man, they don’t think every hurricane and earthquake is a sign of the end. Many religious people can compartmentalize their faith, and be science oriented where it counts so to speak. The ones who don’t do that, who talk about how science is wrong all of the time as a reason to never listen to science (and true, we sometimes later disprove a scientific theory) are pretty stupid probably. They are followers, not analytical. Even simple things like corporal punishment to me are many times annoying religious bullshit; it does not have to be stem cell research, or how the universe was created.

crisw's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central

Well, let’s look at when I have a problem with religions, and see where Wiccans and Christians fit in. Of course, this is a generalization, and you can easily put “Fundie Christian” instead of “Christian” below.

Proselytising
Christians- yep
Wiccans- nope

Attempting to pass legislation promoting their religious practices
Christians- yep
Wiccans- nope

Trying to legislate against abortion and stem cell research
Christians- yep
Wiccans- nope

Knocking on my door to convert me
Christians- yep
Wiccans- nope

Getting huge tax write-offs for their clergy
Christians- yep
Wiccans- nope

Opposing gay marriage
Christians- yep
Wiccans- nope

Opposing the teaching of evolution
Christians- yep
Wiccans- nope

Building huge ugly buildings and getting tax writeoffs for it
Christians- yep
Wiccans- nope

Demanding prayer at government events
Christians- yep
Wiccans- nope

Putting slogans on our money
Christians- yep
Wiccans- nope

Damning people to Hell for their perceived infractions
Christians- yep
Wiccans- nope

Demanding to put their religious monuments on public land.
Christians- yep
Wiccans- nope

Oh, I could keep going. But I think you see my point.

cockswain's avatar

wow, in a landslide it’s Wiccans 12, Christians zilch!

bolwerk's avatar

You know, Christianity was a very tolerant faith once (and yes, some branches still are). That lasted all of a few seconds after it got into a position of power to push pagans and Jews around. Don’t doubt for a second that, if Wicca for some ungodly reason became part of the prevailing power structure, it would be used as an excuse for oppression too. I don’t buy religion, and don’t think it’s necessary myself, but in most cases religion excuses bad human behavior – it doesn’t cause it, and plenty of ideologies have been known to reject religion and still exhibit the same behavior. If you think an atheistic regime of capital-L Libertarians (Randroidism) or unreconstructed Stalinists wouldn’t be oppressive, you’re very naive.

JLeslie's avatar

@bolwerk So you think if a Jew or a Wiccan was president, and had a lot of people in cngress too, that they would want everyone to be their religion? I actually have no idea if Wiccans try to convert people or not, but I feel safe saying Jews aren’t. I guess maybe religious Jews when in power try to legislate along with their beliefs, but in America that is a small percentage of Jews, in Israel too. Secular Jews in America are all for seperation of church and state, and would not be happy with a candidate who wants religion mixed in, not even a Jewish candidate. Do you think that is true of most Christians? That they will vote for the non-Christian, even athiest, if they don’t like how the Christian candidate thinks?

bolwerk's avatar

@JLeslie: It’s not a matter of wanting anything in particular. It’s a matter of using your religion (or ideology) to justify your antisocial behavior towards others.

Using Jews as an example, the entire religion normatively ranges from discouraging conversion to at least not proselytizing, so I rather doubt they’d “want everyone to be in their religion” ever. That doesn’t mean there are Jewish elements that, in a position of power, would behave in an authoritarian manner. This is even seen in Israel, which, like almost any state, has a full political range from libertarian/leftist to outright fascist. It is seen only rarely in the USA, where Jews tend to be a cosmopolitan, empathetic, and well-educated minority.

Anyway, I don’t think religious identities often parallel each other well. The Jewish identity segues from religious to communal to legal to ethnic; the Christian identity tends towards being a religious/spiritual with a universal outlook.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central – I couldn’t agree with you more. And it proves the point that there is no such thing as unbiased views.

@Russell_D_SpacePoet and @crisw

You pointed out that Wiccans don’t show up at our doors. Don’t oppose evolution. Don’t demand prayer at government events and so forth, while Christians do. Really? Let’s use Michael Shermer’s approach here.

Theory Influences Observations — When you have a theory of something, you interpret the results inside your theory. Theory here: Most Christians do oppose evolution, Wiccans don’t.

Anecdotes does not Equal Science — Stories that people pass on is not the same as controlled experiments. Pseudoscience points to anecdotes; science points to reputable studies. Stories: Christians knock on doors and oppose evolution.

Bold Statements Do Not Make Claims True — Christians are opposing the teaching of evolution.

Emotive Words — Loaded language can be used to provoke emotion and obscure rationality. Wicca is based on made-up nonsense, just like every other religion. That’s your argument. It’s dumb.

Ideological Immunity — We all resist changing fundamental beliefs. We build up “immunity” against new ideas that do not fit within our paradigm. Christians damning people to Hell for their perceived infractions. Has anyone challenged this assumptions? Is the concept of Hell generally accepted?

There are about 800,000 Wiccans and more than 1.8 billion Christians world-wide. So how valid are all the claims made in this thread?

Does the majority of Christians knock at our doors? Oppose evolution? Demand prayer at government events? Believe in made-up nonsense? Are damning people to hell? Using religion to justify antisocial behavior?

What empirical studies do back this up? Is America the benchmark of the world? Most Christians do live outside the United States. Young-earth creationism is virtually non-existent in Europe for example. Do American ultra-conservative Christians speak for all Christians in the US? For all Christians in the world?

Again, pseudoscience points to anecdotes. Lots of anecdotes in this thread. Generalizations and stereotypes can hurt people’s feelings. Is this not antisocial behavior?

“I had several Christians knocking on my door.”
“I had no Wiccans knocking on my door.”

How many Wiccans are there in the United States? It seems there were around 134,000 adults in 2001, so certainly more today. How many Christians are there in the United States?

What do these numbers tell us about our personal experiences?

As @Hypocrisy_Central pointed out, when you start to summarily lump every member of the religion in one mold based on whatever unfounded fact it becomes somewhat tacit reverse bigotry.

Modern Christianity isn’t about magic anymore as it was in the past. It’s actually one of the reasons has lost some of its appeal. And this is one of the reasons the number of Wiccans is increasing.

JLeslie's avatar

@bolwerk I agree. Of course the ultra orthodox Jews, if in charge solely, would probably run a country in a more religious manner. Pretty much it is about being fanatic religous, not which religion. This is why my father always told me America is a paradise for the Jews. The US is a country founded on freedom of religion and frowns on the state mandating any particular religion, hard to come by, especially in years past.

bolwerk's avatar

@JLeslie: Yeah, but even “orthodoxy” in Judaism doesn’t really parallel what Orthodox Christians think either. Orthodox Judaism mostly refers to being more observant and pious, not being more politically and socially strict (at least with how you deal with outsiders). So, within Orthodox Judaism, you see rather remarkable diversity. You can be ultra-orthodox Jewish and have a very liberal/permissive social and political outlook, while still holding yourself to pious standards.

I’m not sure “fundamentalism” really fits into the spectrum of Judaism the way it does for Christianity or Islam though.

JLeslie's avatar

@bolwerk Did you see that one NY politician with the Jews, I think they were Chassidic, but my memory is vague, happy to support the candidate against gay marriage? Most observant Jews I know vote Republican. An orthodox woman who worked for me was in favor of prayer in school. I was unhappy when Lieberman made a stupid comment while running with Gore about religion, regarding seperation of church and state, and Gore qickly stepped in and fixed it. I agree even the orthodox are more likely to understand and want religion left out of the government, mostly they seek to be free to live and practice their own religion witout state interference, but it is not that they are completely absent from voting in candidates with certain policies. It’s just they are such a teeny teeny number. Small compared to secular/liberal/reformed Jews, and super small relative to the population of the US. Hell, they all pretty much loved Bush, because they believed him to be so pro Israel. I know other Jews who loved Bush for that also. Every Reformed or Conservatice Jew who voted for Bush for that reason should be excommunicated (I say half joking).

I’m Jewish by the way, in case you don’t know.

JLeslie's avatar

@bolwerk I kind of don’t think of observant and orthodox as competely synonomous. That was part of the reason I used ultra-orthodox at first. To imply very religious, not just kosher and in the community.

crisw's avatar

@mattbrowne

Did you see where I said I knew I was generalizing?

mattbrowne's avatar

@crisw – I did, but you’re still sending the wrong signals. Suppose there are 500 Wiccans who oppose evolution while the others don’t (and I’m sure there are) or who oppose gay marriage or who oppose abortion and someone created a list that read something like this (even with a hint about “Odd” Wiccans)?

Trying to legislate against abortion and stem cell research
Christians- nope
Wiccans- yep

Opposing gay marriage
Christians- nope
Wiccans- yep

Opposing the teaching of evolution
Christians- nope
Wiccans- yep

Not a good idea. That’s my point.

Partial anti-religious sentiment will increase the atheist-believer divide. It makes atheists look like hypocrites. Here are the nice Wiccans and the ugly Christians. We don’t need this.

bolwerk's avatar

@JLeslie: I don’t think their voting habits break down along very clear lines. Even the Ultra Orthodox mostly go for the Dems in New York for various reasons (sadly, probably related to entitlements, so it may not say much about their ideology). I know about Rabbi Yehuda Levin, a minor local celebrity in Brooklyn. There’s a similarly batshit Jewish teabagger named Nachum Shifren in California. Coincidentally, I know family members of both of them. Even support of Israel, though, could be a coin toss when you start dealing with Orthodoxy. Many see Israel as a sinful entity, a product of western corruption and nationalist ideology, and at least one marginal group (might have been this one) went so far as to make nice with the holocaust denying wacko who rules Iran.

But yeah, hardcore Zionists have been segueing towards Republikans for years. The neo-cons were heavily Zionist. These tend to be secular Jewish nationalists though – they may be religious too in some cases, but they probably put more weight on Israel the nation-state, and probably aren’t too concerned with theological matters. But that’s not to say there aren’t liberal secular Zionists too.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

@mattbrowne I am very well aware that Wicca is based on bs like every other religion. As far as Wiccan views, I can only draw from the people I have known and people are varied. Maybe it is a ratio issue since Wiccan are few relative to other religions. I don’t believe so. I also don’t know of any crusades in the name of Wicca. I know you are well read Matt. Maybe you know something I don’t about Wicca being aggressive against the other religions. It just seems to be a less of an imposing force than other religions have been through history.

bkcunningham's avatar

I think @mattbrowne is just saying live and let live. By making generalizations about any particular group, person, religion, whatever; you are doing what you accuse those you make generalizations about doing. You know, sorta like, And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

cockswain's avatar

Probably contributing to our bias is the fact most of us on this thread likely live in the US, and have been subjected to Christianity far more than Wicca for most of our lives. Personally, I was born Catholic and fully shed the illusion in my late 20s. It took a long time. I don’t know the background of all the posters on this thread, but many of the atheists I know were once Christian. So yes, there may be a stronger bias against Christianity in particular since many of us had to “undo” that way of thinking from our minds. I don’t know if I should be resentful of having had many years of nonsense paranoia thrust into my mind, or if I should be grateful for growing as a person for personally overcoming such a dominant mental force. Either way, my experience in that regard is not unique amongst atheists.

@mattbrowne‘s points are valid, in that we do tend to be more irritated by Christians than Wiccans in that we’ve dealt with them integrated so deeply into our society, so much more powerfully and widespread than Wicca, that yes, bias is happening. Some posters on this thread may be neutral about both, but I don’t think I’m unreasonable in guessing we all aren’t.

I also think that any society in which a large majority of its people believe similarly will naturally and expectedly reflect those beliefs in their laws and customs. It’s not like Muslim thinking doesn’t permeate laws in some Middle Eastern countries, and Judaism doesn’t dominate Israel. I have no doubt that if the US had a historically dominant Wiccan population that laws based on Wiccan beliefs would be in our books. And today we would be more biased against Wiccans than Christians since it’s in our backyard. Sort of like how people in Arizona are far more concerned with illegal immigration than people in Idaho (hopefully).

One thing I’ve learned directly through interaction on Fluther is how strong my bias against Christianity was. Probably due to personal resentment, and the far-right wing agenda doesn’t abate this. Becoming aware of said bias caused me to temper it with more reason. @mattbrowne is a Christian, but representative of what I’m guessing is the dominant, less vocal majority of them worldwide who don’t think like the worst of the Tea Party, Focus on the Family and Air Force Academy freaks we hear about that garner the bulk of the media attention. The vast majority of them don’t think Jesus rode dinosaurs.

In the US it is more of a balance of power thing. The Christians still have enormous clout, and should have no more than the Wiccans, Muslims, Jews, etc… in our gov’t.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@bolwerk wacko who rules Iran. Curious statement. Are those in Iran more whacked because they are not Scandinavian, German, Japanese, Korean, etc? Are they more whacked simply because they are Middle Eastern and if so where does that leave America’s 2nd master the Saudis? Or is it because they practice Islam? If that is so what about people in India, Sub Saharan Africa or Malaysia who practice Islam, they are wacko too? What make Iran more wacky than any other place? Just so we all have the true and pertinent reason.

@cockswain The Christians still have enormous clout, and should have no more than the Wiccans, Muslims, Jews, etc… in our gov’t. Pound for pound I believe the Jew carry way more clout with smaller numbers to boot.

cockswain's avatar

I mean legislation, but I get your point, yes.

mattbrowne's avatar

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. This really means a lot to me. I realize that my positive experience with Christianity in Germany might not represent the worldwide situation either. Since 1945 most of our society keeps an extra careful eye on extremism, and this actually includes churches. This means that even the Catholic church over here is quite critical of the hardline views of the Vatican. And fundamentalist Protestant churches are almost non existent. A good example is Terry Jones:

‘Florida preacher Terry Jones was too radical for a church he set up in West Germany in the 1980s and was expelled last year by its board, according to European press accounts. “Jones became increasingly radical as the years went by,” the German magazine Der Spiegel reported online, quoting “former associates” and others. “At one point he wanted to help a homosexual member to ‘pray away his sins,’” the respected weekly said. “Later he began to increasingly target Islam in his sermons.“ Andrew Schäfer, a Protestant Church official who is charged with keeping an eye on the emergence of extremist sects in the Cologne region, told Der Spiegel that “Jones is a fundamentalist.” Germany was “central” to Jones’s alleged plans to lead the “Christian awakening of Europe,” Schäfer told The Guardian newspaper of London. In 2002 a Cologne court convicted Jones, who has only an honorary degree from an unaccredited school of theology in California, of falsely using the title “doctor” and fined $3,800, according to German media reports.”’

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/spy-talk/2010/09/terry_jones_too_radical_for_ge.html

I shared this with you to demonstrate that a liberal or moderately conservative Christian upbringing is possible. And Americans should not forget people like Martin Luther King or Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Georges Lemaître or Gregor Mendel who greatly contributed to the progress of humankind. Barack Obama even received the Nobel Peace Prize. None of them belong to the ugly Christians. And their lives are not about believing bullshit and doing something positive too.

When I heard about Wiccans the first time, I must confess that I had a negative knee-jerk reaction. Witchcraft sounded like the ugly past of Christianity when innocent women were burned at the stake. Magic sounded like Harry Potter, which to me is about entertainment. But after a while I dug a bit deeper and I realized that Wicca rituals are about meditation and finding inner balance and inner poise too. I had no right to be so critical about it. I was wrong.

All world views which endorse the Golden Rule are acceptable whether it’s Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Wicca, or atheism or something else. Diversity is a wonderful thing and sometimes I wish atheists were a bit more accepting of Christians who do no harm. Who are not an imposing force.

incendiary_dan's avatar

I’m not an Atheist, but not particularly a theist either. I lean more towards animism, I’m both a former Catholic and former Wiccan, and currently belong to a neo-druid organization whose beliefs are close enough to mine that I don’t mind (but I mostly stick around to chill with some hip earthy folks).

My general experience with Atheists responding to Wiccans is that they don’t have a flying fuck of an idea of what they’re talking about. My experience with atheists in general is that you can’t honestly discuss religion with them because they’ve already decided to lump anything that doesn’t fit into their belief system (Scientism) in with monotheistic beliefs and slap on the term “superstition” (or as my Anthro of Religion professor said, “things I don’t believe in”). Because it happens to match up close to what many of the intelligentsia of our culture think, that makes them smug about it. (Sound familiar?) No analysis at all of differential attributes based on philosophical assertions at all. Of course, a handful of the Atheist folks here have managed to be contrary examples to my personal experience, but not many of you.

As for Wiccans, the Wiccan faith, and my opinions, it’s basically a servicable religion based originally on historically questionable assertions and poor academic research, but the general simplistic ethical codes at least don’t tend to lead to people becoming complete assholes. Oh, except Gardnerians. They suck.

I too have noticed a higher percentage of people with mental dysfunction in the Wiccan community, but I’m also quick to point out how much our culture clinicalizes a lot of difference and dissention. I think controlling for that, it’d still be a higher percentage than normal, just not as much. But of course, my experience is also that well grounded pagans end up joining Neo-Druid and Asatruar groups after a “Wiccan phase”. Can’t discount the marketing of cheap, questionable books to angsty teens, though.

Yea, this totally turned into “what does this animist think of Atheists and Wiccans”. Whatever.

JLeslie's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I don’t think @bolwerk cares what part of the world the wacko is from, not sure where you got that? I am sure he thinks there are penty of US politicians who are wacko too.

@bolwerk I don’t think we are arguing :) impossible to generalize or paint with one brush the Jewish voter. True with other religions too of course.

talljasperman's avatar

When I was an atheist I believed that all Wiccans had powers like the Charmed ones on TV.
I tried to get help for some super spiritual problems.

bolwerk's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central: do you know the difference between singular and plural? Basically what @JLeslie said, just but wondering. Maybe I overlooked that Iran is probably more controlled by a clerical council, but no matter. I was referring to one person, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is certifiably batshit nuts, just like many Amerikans.

Usually when people imagine racism for absolutely no reason, they are projecting. Are you projecting?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@bolwerk Usually when people imagine racism for absolutely no reason, they are projecting. Are you projecting?
No, what would give you that impression? 8-P

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

Mobile | Desktop


Send Feedback   

`