The Shifting Religious Demographic and Politics
One interesting thing to consider, as the number of religious minorities grow, is the political reality.
According to The Wild Hunt, the number of “religiously unaffiliated” people is just as large as Evangelicals now.
For a long time the more conservative elements of politics have appealed to a Christian base.
Indeed, America is still a majority Christian country, so this seems like an effective strategy.
Yet from what I see, the number of Christians is decreasing, which drives the more conservative elements of the faith to become more fundamentalist. Therefore, conservative politicians can rely on a base of conservative Christians to vote for their policies. However, as the number of religious minorities grow, it will be interesting to see if this strategy shifts in the future.
Also, this post is not to say that all Pagans are liberal. There are some very, very right wing pagan beliefs out there. There are generally Pagans on both sides of the political spectrum. My purpose in linking to this article is to stimulate thought on how religious affiliation effects politics, and how a changing religious dynamic may effect politics in the future.
Is Paganism the Fastest Growing Religion in the United States?
My political stances are fairly moderate: socially liberal and financially conservative.
I am also a “godless” heathen, a pagan whom many Republicans despise because I obviously worship Satan and want to sacrifice their babies. I mean, obviously. Doesn’t every pagan do that? /sarcasm
Democrats I have encountered tend towards the secular, with the “Keep it in Church/Keep it at home” mentality, and vocal pagans can be drowned out likewise.
And the fact that we have a 2-party system in American with an astronomical buy in price for any third party wishing to make a dent means that moderates like me don’t really have a place we can call our own and still keep our voices heard. We either pick a side and throw in with relative extremists, or we find a group of like minded individuals, and become promptly ignored by the Powers That Be.
But I think the reason that pagans are treated with special disdain by the system is that we represent an unknown quantity. If you look at a Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc., they all share certain traits and values in common and you can make a somewhat reasonable extrapolation of how they may think, feel, and most importantly, VOTE.
And then there’s us. We have Wiccans, Asatruar, Satanists, Goddess Worshippers, the Church of All Worlds, and more denominations than might happen in the Pope’s worst nightmares.
And there’s no way to track that reliably.
Rather than face that issue, hard line Republicans and Democrats tend to brush us to the side. I know of ZERO pagans who are active in US politics that make a visible difference or headlines. At best, we are tolerated begrudgingly. At worst, we are actively drowned out and ignored.
After all, the fact that we are so fragmented makes that easy– we don’t have recognized church leaders to call the system on its BS. There’s no Pope or College of Cardinals to anger and deal with.
Just a small number of “crazy hippie tree huggers” who don’t matter.
And that’s wrong.
July 16, 2014 at 3:53 pm
You made many good points that I definitely agree with. I’m currently reading a book by the Wiccan author “A.J.Drew” and he makes the point that as Pagans, we are often our own worst enemies.
While there is still discrimination against Pagans in many avenues of society, I think we are the biggest detriment against ourselves. We hurt ourselves by preventing our beliefs from being taken seriously and by refusing to have any kind of major organized coalition with each other (not that we all have to agree with each others beliefs, but that as Pagans we can support each other). We also need to have more involvement in communities outside our own. There are few Pagan charities and organizations.
Most general Americans don’t even know what a Pagan is, and then there are also Americans who assume that we are Satanists or simply just wackjobs. Why do so many people assume that Pagans are wacko? Because many of us, in fact, are wacko.
There are the general, day to day Pagans who simply want their beliefs to be taken seriously without someone calling protective services on their children. And then there are the Pagans who say that they’re part dragon or that they cavort with vampires (I’m not making this up, I’ve met these people). Many of these people don’t want their beliefs to be accepted or normalized – they want to be some kind of bizarre special snow flake shrouded in mystery.
Sometimes I even wonder if Pagans should even use the word “pagan” or “witch” for themselves, since these were pejorative words that the Christians used against our ancestral beliefs.
I feel like developing our own language to define who we are allows us to take ownership over our beliefs and identity.
Also, with the political aspect, I agree that the American political system is very limited. Having only two parties is not a good thing. On some issues I lean left and on others I lean to the right. As South Park said, the American political system is like having to choose between a turd sandwich or a douche bag – neither option is really all that palatable.
July 18, 2014 at 2:06 pm