Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Oppressed Christians Versus Huffington Post

I've already posted a number of articles here about certain Christians who somehow feel oppressed despite belonging to the majority religion in the United States by an overwhelming margin. Today I came across this article, which shows just how much these particular Christians like to whine. In the article, titled "Huffington Post Promotes Witchcraft & New Age spirituality to Readers (in addition to its usual brand of anti-Catholicism)," you might think at first that the author is referring to some sort of widespread coverage of Pagan or New Age beliefs. However, once you read through it you will realize that what he's complaining about is one article! Not only that, but the article in question is simply a list of books about Paganism, not even an advocacy or opinion piece!

Perhaps even more disturbingly, the editors of the Huffington Post have published a story this morning, alongside their usual anti-Catholic cover-story, presenting a list of pagan New Age and witchcraft books for readers to explore. Written by Jahnabi Barooah, an assistant religious editor for the site, the story is called "27 Essential Pagan Books for Your Bookshelf (ADD YOUR OWN)," and it explains: "Recently HuffPost Religion put a call out to our community about books on Paganism that every Pagan and those interested in the varied strands of Paganism should read. The result is this great list of 27 books that range from introductory to scholarly in nature and cover the entire gamut of Pagan religions -- Witchcraft, Wicca, Shamanism, Asatru, Druidism, Egyptian and Hellenic."

As the article continues, the editors of the Huffington Post make clear that the point of publishing this list of books is not only academic - it's not just about studying such topics - but spiritual as well. In other words, readers are encouraged to use these witchcraft and New Age books for their personal, spiritual pursuits if that is something that they are interested in. The article explains: "HuffPost Religion hopes that this list will be equally valuable for those who identify as Pagans, as well as those who are interested in Paganism, both academically and as a spiritual pursuit."

The bottom line is that this Huffington Post article is not threatening to Christians in any way. Presumably devout Christians are not going to be interested in Paganism, so the quoted line clearly doesn't apply to them. Similarly, the mere existence of Pagans does not in any way undermine anyone's Christian faith. The author goes on to explain how supposedly "dangerous" Paganism is, hitting all the usual talking points, but I would submit that there are Christian denominations that can be characterized the same way. If you have any doubts about that statement all you have to do is watch the documentary Jesus Camp. What those kids are put through strikes me as way more psychologically damaging than any Pagan or Thelemic ritual I've ever attended.

I could sit down and count up the number of articles Huffington Post has published about Christianity, divide one by whatever that number happens to be, and see if percentage-wise it's greater or less than the percentage of the population that's actually Pagan. I won't, though, because with people like the author of this piece it would make no difference. As they see it, if they can't have the entire spotlight to themselves they must be under attack.

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Mister Li Liu said...

Our local newspaper had an article recently about a campus ministry at a local college that had some problems with conflict of interest (the head of the ministry was also the Director of Student Organizations) and with over-zealous recruitment practices. They were asked by the college to tone it down. The paper reported that the pastor of the church sponsoring the group equated this request with the persecution of early Christians. Because being asked to be less disruptive in the student commons is exactly the same as being torn apart by lions.

Scott Stenwick said...

The level of hyperbole gets really astounding with some of these folks. They're the same way about LGBT issues as they are about other religions - one of the main objections to comprehensive sex education from that same crowd is that in order to be comprehensive a program has to mention that gay people exist. I have to wonder what sort of faith it is that can be shattered by the acknowledgement of day-to-day reality.

It's too bad, really, that it's the minority of loud, obnoxious Christians who get all the media attention. One of the most amazing examples of this is the Westboro Baptist Church, which is smaller than the local Twin Cities OTO body! You would never know that it was made up of only 20-30 people (all part of the same family, I might add) from the level of coverage they get, even if most of it is negative.