Earlier today while I was surfing around the interwebs, I found a link to this blog article from the New Humanist blog: “Is Paganism a dangerous cult? The Daily Mail investigates…” It made for a very interesting read. Although it’s a British publication and talking about events in Britain, the issue isn’t exactly far off the mark for Americans either.
I appreciated the amount of sarcasm and irony laced through this post. The blog post is a response to another two articles (both of which they link to, so you can read the backstory for yourself), which is basically how the right-wing fundamentalists were getting their panties in a twist that the BBC covered a pagan Samhain ritual on Halloween. Their argument? That the BBC was showing bias to a non-Christian event and wasn’t covering enough Christian events (among other arguments, all equally invalid).
The BBC posted a response to the complaints on their website that is blessedly frank and honest and addresses all the invalid arguments with logic. All I can say is, I now love the BBC.
On another related note, paganism is not a cult. Paganism as a whole is not a cult. I am quite certain that there are groups within the umbrella term of paganism that do fall under the definition of “cult”, but many do not. A cult will do all or most of these things:
- Demand money (this does not mean paying dues or giving donations, which is how many clubs, groups, and churches work. By demanding money, they tend to mean your entire back account goes to the group).
- Demand your absolute loyalty to the point of excluding other ideas and beliefs.
- Demand your time.
- Demand you cut ties with family and/or friends.
- They may demand that you live in a specific place, usually so the cult can control what information you can access and what people you can see (think “compound”).
- There is usually a very charismatic leader who is very magnetic and convincing.
- There is almost always some element of mind control.
Those are only some of the characteristics of a cult. Paganism is NOT a cult. “Paganism” is a general, umbrella term. Now, if you want to refer to specific groups, that’s a whole different story.