Submitted by RobbMLewis on Sat, 02/06/2016 - 21:01

Over the past two weeks or so, the topic of racism within the Neo-Pagan community has reared its ugly head again.  A good article on this can be found here.

Heathenism has historically had a racism problem.  We have fought for decades, it seems, to counter the neo-nazi, skin-head, white power stereotype that American Asatru has attached to it.  A good part of the blame for this image can be leveled at the AFA and Stephen McNallen.  I was under the impression that over the last decade they were trying to get past that, and I pray that they do one day.  As a member of this small, some would say fringe, religion, we cannot affort to have this kind of bad publicity.

Sadly, within America, it is once again ok to make statements that would have gotten you yelled at and shunned just a year ago.  We have a presidential candidate that is thriving on his racist and bigoted speech.  The media is spinning it as he is saying what his supporters are thinking.... Doing the math, that's about 8-10% of the US population.  Even so though, it's not acceptable.

As a religious community, we need to stand up against the bigotry and racism that exists within our own communities.  We cannot be quiet while there are people within Paganism that espouse to be leaders of the community and profess racist views.  Yes, discussions on academic topics are not anything to be censored.  When we get to the point that the blond hair, white man is the superior race, that bull shit has to be stopped in its tracks.  We have to clean up our own house.  We cannot let the racists and bigots sully the good name we are trying to develop.  We need to send them off to the corner, and be made irrelevant as soon as we can.  As a community, we can do this.  We must confront it, and we must do it now.  We cannot afford any more headlines about Paganism being a bastion of racists. 

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The main problem that I've noticed here, being a member of the Troth as well, is that the definitions of "racism" used are kind of weak and outdated. Many of the members of the Troth pride themselves on being anti-racist, which, to them, means that they do not assault people because of their race. That is the beginning and end of racism to them. They do not consider excluding people from religious ceremonies or socities to be racist.

I am surrounded by people hurting and being hurt by this conflict and I was only a member of the Troth for a couple of weeks before it started, and the reactions to it from many other Troth members were not inspiring and have made me question my membership. A lot of them seem surprised at the concept of discriminatory behavior being considered racist, and hide behind terms like Folkish (which, admittedly, has a wide enough range of applications now that you can't necessarily say that it means, "racist"). Another big problem I see is fatigue, people are tired of the arguments, and throw up their hands rathering than continuing to fight.

It's an ugly issue, and part of the reason it took me so long to call myself a Heathen.

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