Glinda the Good Witch

Warning: The topic of this post is religion related and controversial. The views in this post are entirely my own and to be attributed to no one else. 

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As we approach the election, and Romney appears to gain more and more support, one topic that is very important to me seems to be overlooked: Religion. Now, I believe that candidates should be judged on their politics, no their personal lives. That does not negate the fact, however, that Romney is a conservative Mormon. I have nothing against Mormons, in fact, my father and I attended the Mormon church for a few years in my childhood and in fact, I appreciate the Mormon faith more than most people I know. That does not change the fact that some of Romney’s early campaigning techniques involved conservative Christian values.

I take free advantage of our freedom of religion amendment. I am part of a minority Pagan religion called Wicca that few people are informed about. As far as I can see from Romney’s proposals, he is prepared to allow for religious freedom… In Christianity. There have been many cases in the past where religious discrimination against minority religions has been overlooked. There was a case in Oklahoma in which a girl was suspected of practicing Wicca and the public school she attended banned her from wearing non-Christian symbols. When she was expelled for suspicion of having caused a teacher to get sick by a spell, her parents sued the school and lost. The court ruled that there had been no wrongful religious discrimination.

In Wicca, some practitioners consider themselves witches, as I do. At my Christian school, students are not allowed to dress as witches for Halloween. Though I understand the viewpoint, and I know that my school is free to create this rule, I still believe that religious discrimination is being overlooked in many places. Recently, anti-Muslim posters were put in New York subways after the creators of the posters sued the subway officials who banned the posters. A similar case occurred previously in the San Francisco BART trains. The fact that such discrimination is considered protected is disgusting.

In my opinion, education is the best way to end religious discrimination. If classes teaching differences in cultures and religions were required in schools and workplaces, then more people would be able to practice tolerance. The start of all intolerance is ignorance. I knew someone who was actually debating the Mormon faith with my father and flat out said that all Wiccans worship the devil. What few people know is that Wicca has no devil. We have no evil deity, and therefore cannot worship one. If more people could understand the Islam faith, the Wiccan faith, and their origins, then perhaps religious discrimination would be less prevalent in America. 

It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or one god. – Thomas Jefferson 

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14 comments

  1. Hi Catherine,

    Very interesting post. I totally agree that people need to be more religiously tolerant in this country. I think judging Mitt Romney based on his Mormon faith is wrong, and that we should instead judge him on his policies. One thing I believe is overlooked is the great strides Mitt Romney has made for a Republican – it is a great accomplishment for him to have made it this far given his unorthodox religious views when compared against typical Republican candidates.

    Keep up the good work,
    Vinay

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    • Hello Vinay,
      Thank you for your comment! I agree, politicians should not be judged due to their religion or any other personal factor. As history has shown, some of the best leaders had some less than admirable traits. I am not quite sure how to respond to your comment on the gains he’s made as a Republican. I don’t know much about the Republican leaders, and therefore do not know where he stands when compared to them. But thank you for your input!
      – Cat

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  2. Hey Cat!
    It’s so interesting that you’re a Wiccan! I mean that completely sincerely – I’ve done a bit of research on the religion myself and found it very interesting. I think you’re very right to say that the religious discrimination in this country can be somewhat shocking, considering this country is supposedly so accepting. Education certainly seems like it could be the right path… but as we’ve seen, our education systems don’t always do a great job at teaching anything. It’s very hard to say what the correct method really is.
    I personally am glad Romney’s religion hasn’t come up much in this election. I admittedly don’t know the religions of all of our past presidents, though I assume I would be correct to think that Romney would be one of the few non-Protestants were he to be elected, a step in and of itself.
    I would honestly love to hear more about Wicca at some point – how do you personally practice it? (If that’s something you’re comfortable talking about, of course).
    Very interesting post!
    – Jane

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    • Hi Jane!
      I’m glad you’re interested and that you’ve done research on Wicca! As I said, information is the best tool against intolerance, especially in today’s society with the controversies over the Islam faith. Actually, most presidents have been Protestant in the past. It was a huge controversy when the first Catholic president was elected, and that was JFK! Rather modern president, actually! Though yes, a Mormon president would be a whole new step in religious tolerance in the US.
      As for discussing Wicca I would love to talk to you about it sometime (but perhaps not in the comments section of a blog post).
      Thank you for you comment!
      – Cat

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  3. Hi Cat,

    I’m one of those people who doesn’t care what religion a person is. It doesn’t affect my view on that person; they are who they are and that’s how it should be. But it does bother me that other people have such low religious tolerance; for example, I can’t imagine how that family did not win the case — just from hearing the details it seems like they would have won. Is the judge’s religion disclosed? I believe there was an anti-muslim (or something of the like) ad on TriMet buses in Portland, OR recently and the company wouldn’t take the ads down citing freedom of speech. Which brings up the question on how much freedom of speech should be allowed? Anyways, great post!
    -David

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    • Hello David.
      I’m glad you see things so liberally! I was actually a little concerned about the opposition this post might create, but so far there have been no negative comments! The case I mentioned, if you’re interested in reading more about it, was about a girl named Brandi Blackbear. I’m not sure if the religion of the judge involved was disclosed, but I am tempted to think he was Christian–most likely part of a popular denomination of the area. The case culminated with the judge telling the family of the girl that they could either pay a hefty fine–one the family could not afford–or drop the case, meaning it would never leave the courts of Oklahoma. They chose to drop the case, naturally, hence the fact that the case was never brought up in the Supreme Court. I had not heard about the posters in Oregon, but it’s interesting to hear that so many cities are facing this dilemma. In my last post, I wrote about the restrictions that minors have in freedom of speech and one commenter brought up the Australian system in which freedom of speech is limited by discriminatory remarks. I’m tempted to say that perhaps a similar restriction should be placed on American speech.
      Thank you for your comment!
      – Cat

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  4. Hi Cat,

    You’ve made some very interesting points. Education is a great way to stop religious ignorance, but I’ve found that it sometimes goes the other way. Many schools don’t teach religion since there has been quite a bit of trouble with teaching religion without the students or parents thinking that the class promotes one in particular. How do you think we can fix this issue?

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    • Hello Mukund.
      You bring up an excellent point: Religion being taught in schools absolutely causes controversy. At my school, we are required to take a few courses in religion. Because we are a Christian school, our first course is called Practical Theology and the class essentially teaches us how to incorporate Christian teachings into our daily life. The second class, however, is called World Religions and Cultures and allows us to learn about many different faiths, including Islam, Judaism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, Wicca, Aboriginal faiths, and a few others. My thoughts on religious education are along this line. A history course that, instead of showing a religious bias, teaches the historical and social development of religion, and the different religions that have developed in different areas, affecting their culture. After all, a fun fact about Christianity is that the Bible was put together by a Pagan Sun God worshipper and Islam actually acknowledges Jesus Christ as a prophet.
      Thank you for your question!
      – Cat

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  5. Wow! Super fascinating post! If you’ve read my “undercover elephant” post, you’ll know that I’m both a republican and a christian… which probably in a lot of ways has some “bad connotations” when it comes to minority religions like Wicca. I’m sorry. I personally would call myself a Christian only because of my faith, not because it’s my “religion,” but I know that the “religious” aspects of Christianity are very much against witchcraft. But I have a feeling that has more to do with ignorance and fear than actual religious rites and rules… The truth is, if more people actually knew the details of Wiccan ideals, there would be a lot less hype and probably less discrimination. I personally find it genuinely fascinating, and while it’s not for me, I know that faith is something that makes some people tick… so I’m glad you’ve found one that fits your rhythm! Thanks for your post – very enlightening, and it expressed the fears of many in a simple, honest way! Keep shining,
    Mi

    P.S. I know this will probably sound like a challenge, and I honestly don’t mean it be! However, in reading through the comments, I noted your attribution the Bible as the product of a Sun God worshipper.I would really love to know where you learned that information!

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    • Hi Mi!
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post! I did indeed read your “Undercover Elephant” post, but I don’t have any bad connotations from that! I know that you can’t judge everyone by the actions or beliefs of one person, and from everything you’ve posted and your welcome video in the class I know you’re a very kind-hearted person. I agree, a lot of discrimination stems from a lack of knowledge, which is why I propose tolerance education is the best way to handle religious intolerance. I agree with you, too, that many people oppose witchcraft and that if they understood that Wiccans are not practicing spells in the way they seem to think we are, they would see Wicca differently. In reference to the Bible, his name was Constantine the Great and he was a Roman Emperor. I learned this in various history classes, both in private and public school. Essentially, he held a council that decided what books would be put in the Bible and proceeded to establish Christianity as the official religion of Rome. This was the turning point for Christianity, since previously, Christians had been part of an unofficial minority religion. Constantine himself, however, did not convert to Christianity until he was on his deathbed, when he was baptized. It is unclear whether this was his wish or the wish of a family member. I know Wikipedia isn’t always the most reliable, but I suggest getting a brief overview from there and checking out the sources they include if you want to know more!
      – Thank you for the comment! Cat

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  6. Hi,

    Your post is very interesting. Personally, I am somewhat religious, occasionally attending church. However, I agree with you. It’s appalling when people cannot understand or accept others, judging them by only one piece of knowledge. That’s like saying, I refuse to be your friend because your favorite color is green, not blue. Of course, it’s a little more complex and deep than that. I also agree that education is one of the greatest tools to help us overcome these barriers. Nice post!

    ~ Meredith

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  7. Hi Catherine,
    I really enjoyed reading your post! I completely agree (as mentioned in above comments) that one should not judge Mitt Romeny on his faith – a very personal thing that I think should be non-political. Though this is still true, I find it hard to justify some of the policies that he has, considering that some of his confirmation for them is based on his religious faith (for example his opposition of abortions). Therefore I think it is important to beg the question of whether he is really separating church and state. Do you think this is the case with Mitt Romney?

    Thanks for reading and nice job on your post!

    Clara

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  8. Hi Glinda,

    I think the story about the girl being expelled for using spells is posted here-
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=95218&page=1#.ULudJzHyaFc
    It’s from 2000, so a bit dated, but you have a good point. If these people had had any knowledge of Wicca, they would never have expelled her. (Of course, their logic is incredibly flawed anyway, but that’s besides the point).

    Religious intolerance is something that no religion is a stranger to; bad things have been done in the name of Christianity, Islam Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Atheism… you name it, somebody’s used it to persecute someone else. In the United States, it’s Christianity that’s been the dominant religion, and thus Christians who often do the discriminating.

    I hope that someday we can all just get along. 🙂

    -Patrick.

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  9. I believe religious freedom is a human right, and I agree that Romney, had he been elected, would favoritism the Christian religion, but also hopefully he would have respected other peoples beliefs which goes under the first amendment.

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