All Hallow's Out

There's a breed of fundamentalist Christian that protests whenever a school celebrates Halloween and thus, by their lights, promotes witchcraft. Now those easily offended Christians have some unlikely allies: easily offended witches.

KIRO-TV reports:

There will be no Halloween parties at one school district in Washington state.

Puyallup School District spokeswoman Karen Hansen said school officials have been reviewing the Halloween tradition and decided that time could be better spent.

According to a Seattle TV station, Hanson said there were three reasons that the parties will be canceled. The first reason was that Halloween parties and parades waste valuable classroom time. The second reason was that some families can't afford costumes. The third reason is that it may offend real witches.

She said schools have had complaints from followers of the Wiccan religion who are offended at the way Halloween is celebrated. Hansen said schools are teaching students to be respectful and take account of the discomfort felt by others.

She said that witches with pointy noses are not "respective symbols of the Wiccan religion" and that their district wants to be respectful of that.

She said any students who show up in a costume might be sent home.

Reminds me of an incident I wrote about in the early '90s, when a school district in Iowa City told students they couldn't dress as witches because the costumes could be frightening (!) and had "religious connotations." One girl decided to go as a cheerleader instead. I can't imagine any self-respecting Wiccan approving of that.

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  • ||

    Was she a scary cheeleader with a long pointy nose and a hairy mole on her chin?

  • ||

    Since we now have to kowtow to the Wiccans, let me be the first to say that I, for one, welcome our new Wiccan overlords.

  • ||

    This is perhaps the stupidest thing that has ever happened.

    Tomorrow, I'm going to start a cult (sorry, religion) and call the participants "public schools," then have public schools outlawed, since they don't represent "public schools" (my cult members) respectively.

  • ||

    I wonder if one factor in the overall rightward/Republican drift of American politics in the last decade or so has been a reaction to this sort of wacky political correctness.

  • ||

    Isn't hostility to Halloween because Christians find it offensive, which would probably be identified with that "rightward/Republican drift," precisely the same kind of "wacky political correctness"?

  • ||

    I wonder if one factor in the overall rightward/Republican drift of American politics in the last decade or so has been a reaction to this sort of wacky political correctness.

    Schwa?

  • ||

    "We founda witch, may we burn 'er?"

  • ||

    How do you know she is a witch?

  • ||

    Gee, these were the LAST guys I would ever think would go after Halloween. Certainly the Fundies. My born-again uncle says he locking his children indoors on 10-31 to keep the satanist child molesters from getting at them. But the WICCANS??? Don't they celebrate the celtic feast of Samhain or something?

    I mean come on, the Wiccan have turned Salem, Mass. into a New Age haven thanks to those Puritan dopes in the 1600s. Why should this piss them off?

  • ||

    Burn her!!!

  • ||

    "How do you know she is a witch?"

    Why, she turn'd me into a newt!

  • Jon Bristow||

    A newt?

  • fyodor||

    Julian,

    Personally, I find them both types of Halloween complaint ridiculous, but there are differences between them.

    Christians who protest Halloween are doing so on the grounds that it promotes beliefs at odds with their own and which they consider dangerous. Even aside from my disbelief in Christianity generally, this would certainly seem to take a kiddie's holiday way too seriously. OTOH, if one's belief system includes taking witches and goblins quite seriously as manifestations of Satanic forces, one might be quite logical to proceed (albeit from a dubious premise) to the conclusion that the schools are out of line to be treating such stuff as good clean fun. You'd think the whole nation would be possessed by the Dark One if celebrating Halloween had such an effect...but then, there are probably those who think just that!

    The Wiccan thing would be more of a matter of stereotyping and seems to rest on the notion that kids are going to think all practitioners of Wicca as the ugly witches of yore and lore. Maybe Wiccans just shouldn't use the term "witch" if they're really worried about that? I imagine some probably quite like the association.

    Anyway, which one those two forms of Halloween protest is more "wacky" or more likely to create a backlash among mainstream types who just like to see kids having fun, I shall leave alone.

  • ||

    Well, I got better...BURN HER ANYWAY!!!

  • ||

    ...I got better.

  • ||

    What else floats on water?

  • fyodor||

    Akria MacKenzie,

    I think most Wiccans like Halloween just fine. But remember, there's one in every crowd. And notice that the complaints come from "followers of the Wiccan religion who are offended at the way Halloween is celebrated." Perhaps they feel their sacred rites are being profaned, blah blah...

  • ||

    "...if one's belief system includes taking witches and goblins quite seriously as manifestations of Satanic forces..."

    If you think that's fun, hang around the JREF (James Randi Educational Foundation) Forum where the Fundies who come on actually agree with the New Age goofballs that psychic powers are real with one minor exception: Psychics get their powers from the Devil.

    Now, I think that John Edward is a con-man who preys on the grieving, but I seriously doubt that he's a follower of Lucifer.

    "Anyway, which one those two forms of Halloween protest is more "wacky" or more likely to create a backlash among mainstream types who just like to see kids having fun, I shall leave alone."

    Kids??? Why should they get all the fun. Each Halloween I get together with some friends, dress up in costumes (I went as Cpt. Kirk last year, complete with gold shirt, phaser, girdle and toupee), cook up a big pot of chili or manwich for dinner, watch some cheesy horror movies on the big screen, and/or play a session of Call Of Cthulhu.

    Good clean entertainment that any Fundie is sure to condemn!

  • ||

    Fyodor - Nice post, but don't you think its a quite presumptious and self-important of the Wiccans to think 8 year olds dressing up for candy will make any association whatsoever between Halloween and "legitimate everyday witchcraft". As if the kids, outside of the childen of Wiccans, are even aware there is such a thing as a Wiccan.

  • ||

    "I think most Wiccans like Halloween just fine."

    Oh I'm sure that's true, just as most mainstream Christians are more than willing to let their kids celebrate All-Hallows Eve. However, I've read one too many Ray Bradbury stories as a kid and the notion that some group of Fuddy-Duddies, be they Fundie or Wiccan,stomping on Halloween really ticks me off.

  • ||

    I'm so glad that everyone worries about the birth of their lord and saviour, me, every Halloween. :)

  • fyodor||

    agentalbert,

    You're absolutely right, most kids have never heard of Wicca, and I almost brought that up too. But, to give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe it's their own kids (and/or kids of friends or relatives who know them and know they're "witches") that they're concerned about getting such an awful wrong impression. Of course, they set themselves up for such when they decided to call themselves witches!

  • ||

    Lead! Lead!

    Churches!

    Very small rocks!

  • ||

    Build a bridge out of her!

  • ||

    Back in the bad old days when I was a wee lad nobody cared if we called it Christmas Vacation.

    Despite popular revision to the contrary, we rarely to never had prayer in public school.

    And no christian types had a problem with the annual Halloween carnival at my elementary school. Or if they did, they kept the kids home that day.

    Fer Chrissakes it's just a bunch of kids having fun.

    WTF is the matter with people these days?

  • ||

    Fer Chrissakes it's just a bunch of kids having fun.

    And we must put a stop to it! For the children!

  • Wirkman Virkkala||

    On Sunday I blogged a peculiar article regarding this year's Hallowe'en, which falls on ... a Sunday. Horrors! Many Christian fundamentalists in the South are all upset. It was quite droll. I also put a link to something I wrote in the '90s, about an ecumenical group in the Puget Sound area (where Jesse's story came from) trying to make Hallowe'en an "interfaith" holiday. That, too, was droll.

    I guess whenever symbols and values and the (nonexistent) supernatural collide, we're bound to get nonsense. And of course, in all this the real meaning (!) of Hallowe'en gets lost. And kids must put up with more posturing by adults. From the outside, it looks rather as if adults just can't stand children being the focus of a major holiday.

  • ||

    I worked at a Halloween haunted forest once. It was on grounds owned by, and employed a lot of regulars from a summer Renaissance faire, the upshot of which was that maybe 120% of the staff was some kind of pagan. There was an evil, scary old crone character at one point which, of course, someone found slanderous to witches, & reinforced negative stereotypes & nature & herbal medicine & strong women & the Burning Times (which are, of course, the Hitler in the pagan Godwin's Law) &ct. &ct.

    The way this was resolved, if I remember correctly, was by developing for the character a background and motivations which placed her firmly on the "bad" side of all the offended parties' theologies. None of this, of course, was communicated to the audience in any way, with the scene proceeding as previously planned.

  • ||

    So...you would all be cool with a school encouraging kids to come in on Yom Kippur dressed as cartoon rabbis, with big honking noses, long forelocks, etc.?

  • ||

    Only if they did it well enough to fool my bubbie. :)

  • ||

    Back in '91, my youngest was a second-grader in a midwestern city. We got a note home from his public school teacher saying there would be no observation of Halloween in her classroom. She was a fundamentalist Xian and believed the holiday to be inspired by Lord Lucifer.

    Today, I represent an agency whose developmentally disabled adult clients tonite are going to a party at a church hall they rented; at the last minute they were told they could not issue flyers calling it a "Halloween Party" if the event was to occur at that church, and could not employ clip art depicting ghosts, goblins & etc. So, the flyers went out advertsing a "Fall Harvest Festival" with pumpkins and acorns. (But they are permitted a costume contest.)

    Julian, this all predates P.C. Back in the 60s my best friend's fundie parents would not let her trick-or-treat.

    Anyhoo, I agree with the poster who recommended the entertainment at the James Randi Educational Foundation forum; watching the fundies agree with the woo-woo New Agers that the latter possess psychic and other paranormal abilities, but disagreeing as to the source of these powers (they are all bestowed by the fallen angel, Satan, aka Beelzabub, if you really want to know), can be a hoot.

    Reason ought not JUST be about free minds and free markets, but also the approach to extraordinary claims, conventionally religious and otherwise.

    --Mona--

  • ||

    joe-

    There's a HUGE difference between mocking rabbis and dressing up as a cartoon witch. Witches are basically scary people who use magic. Stories of witches have existed in cultures around the world long before. The halloween witch bears little resemblance to Wiccans, and it is only by a misunderstanding that it is associated with Wicca.

    The cartoon rabbis, on the other hand, are caricatures specifically created to insult Jews.

    A rather large difference, wouldn't you say?

    Besides, Jews who get offended by those cartoon rabbis are responding to a deliberate insult. The Wiccans in question here were looking for a reason to be offended. And if they really want to be offended, I say we should oblige them and let the kids dress up as witches.

  • ||

    Symbols....

    Yeah that peace sign on Reason's front door is really a broken inverted cross. Sign of Satan I tell ya.

    My fruitcake sister won't let her son see Harry Potter movies or read the books because it's, you guessed it.........

  • ||

    Oh yeah, and this stuff is just one more reason on a grocery list of reasons why public education should be abolished.

    Maybe Badnarak should use that as a campaign theme. :-)

  • ||

    "My fruitcake sister won't let her son see Harry Potter movies or read the books because it's, you guessed it........."

    Besides his opposition to Halloween, my Fundie uncle also won't have mention of Santa among his children. Not just because "Jesus is the reason for the season," but also because St. Nicholas is a "papist" concept.

  • ||

    Who are you, that you are so wise in the ways of science?

  • ||

    A question: How many times have anti-Halloween fundies been successful at canceling school Halloween parties? What would have this Washington government school's administration done if the protest was coming from Christians and not Wiccans?

    I went to Catholic schools K-12, and I do not remember any particular problem with Halloween for Catholics. Though, probably, the kind of Chhristian who protests Halloween is not terribly fond of Catholics, either. I do remember my kindergarten class going to Mass in costume on All Saint's Day (if memory serves), for some reason my costume was a devil.

  • ||

    A high school friend of mine came in on Haloween dressed as a Jehovah's Witness, and went around beating anyone dressed as a devil with his Bible, screaming "The power of Christ compels you!"

    A good time was had by all

  • ||

    Joe:

    Of course we'd be offended if kids showed up in school on Yom Kippur pretending to be Jews. On Yom Kippur we don't go to public school. However, if you want to dress up on Purim...it'd be cool with me.

  • Jesse Walker||

    The real question is: What if you dressed up as Jews for Halloween?

  • ||

    Akria, St Nick? Papist? I thought St Nick was the brainchild of those child molesting porn consuming Scandanavians. Weel, of course in those days they weren't.

  • ||

    It's a fair cop.

  • ||

    He's a Catholic saint TWC, evangelicals aren't really big on sainthood unless they're Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

  • ||

    It could be having something to do with people's having an idea that their opinion have same value as other. Of course, the value of a drunk, too passed out to see clearly, would have a different value from an eagle-eyed Nancy Drew!

  • ||

    So...you would all be cool with a school encouraging kids to come in on Yom Kippur dressed as cartoon rabbis, with big honking noses, long forelocks, etc.?

    Joe -

    In spite of all the claims to the contrary by modern witches, there is no history of persecution of Wiccans, because there is basically no history of Wiccans. It's a religion that was started in the 1950's, though it does draw elements from older religions. Now, many (most?) Wiccans will tell you that there is continuity with the ancient Celtic religion(s), or with the pre-Christian faiths of Europe, and some even go on about the "Burning Times" when witches were persecuted in Europe. But it's all mythology, kind of like many of the Christian martyrs. :-) Most witches burned in Europe were lonely old women or other victims, not witches in the Wiccan sense. Besides which, the whole insistence on being called "witches" by Wiccans is just silly. Whatever its roots, "witch" today carries a negative connotation. It's like libertarians insisting on being called "liberals," and then getting offended when the negative connotations brought up by that word get in the way. There's nothing you can do about it; language changes, get over it, Wiccans. :-)

    Akria, St Nick? Papist? I thought St Nick was the brainchild of those child molesting porn consuming Scandanavians. Weel, of course in those days they weren't.

    St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra in the fourth century, and attended the Council of Nicaea. He's a saint in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. So yeah, St. Nicholas is definitely a "papist" idea; the whole idea of saints is considered silly at best among conservative Protestants. For something less . . . tame, go here for the real low-down on Santa Claus. Or is that "Satan Lucas/Lucifer"? Hmmmm?

    http://www.av1611.org/othpubls/santa.html

  • ||

    The term "Halloween" refers to "All Hallow's Eve," or the night before All Saints Day, a Christian holiday. To try and relabel it a "Harvest Festival" is ironic, considering that this kind of political correctness backfires.

    After all, in many older cultures a Harvest festival is a time to celebrate the growing season by honoring the pagan gods who provided the bounty.

    I seriously question whether people who are so dogmatic as to relabel a holiday in order to disrespect their Catholic origins-- and instead fall smack-dab into honoring animism-- can really be called Christian. It's just plain idiotic.

    And yes, I am an evangelical Xn . . . but not a Fundy. There is a difference, you know. Unfortunately, sometimes not much. I think it was Mark Noll (an evangelical Xn scholar) who said something like, "The problem with the Evangelical [intellectual] Mind is that there is none." *sigh*

  • ||

    "The real question is: What if you dressed up as Jews for Halloween?"

    Interesting question. I guess it depends on how much the costume played up stereotypes or unflattering physical caricatures.

    If a guy dressed up as a Hasidic Jew, with the side curls and whatnot, but pretty much played it straight, would that be offensive?

    Even if stereotyping ... What if someone dressed up as the Hebrew Hammer? I don't think it could be anything but funny. (If you don't know who the Hebrew Hammer is, you have GOT to follow the link -- but beware: loud sounds.)

    As a Roman Catholic, I wouldn't find it offensive if someone dressed up as an identifiably Catholic figure. Such as a nun. Or a priest. Or a Catholic schoolgirl. Actually, I like it when a woman dresses as a Catholic schoolgirl. Er, an over-18 Catholic schoolgirl.

  • ||

    So...you would all be cool with a school encouraging kids to come in on Yom Kippur dressed as cartoon rabbis, with big honking noses, long forelocks, etc.?

    Jesus H. Keerist on a crutch. Some people are so muddled with political correctness, they seem to fail to grasp even the simplest of concepts. Wiccans aren't a RACE for fuck sake. And witches (which don't exist, by the way... hello? lights on? Don't care what anyone calls themselves) certainly aren't a race, either. Witches are a part of folklore- and witches as portrayed during Halloween (er, excuse me, Harvest Festival(tm) times) are of a particular type, known to fly around on brooms cast spells (which actually do something). They are based on what people of YORE THOUGHT witches did. If the wiccans can produce a witch who flys around on a broom and casts spells, then I might rethink my stance on this.

    And furthermore, Halloween goes much further than witches. Halloween is about dressing up in costumes of all kinds: firemen, celebrities, mummies, vampires (Can't wait until some 'Goth' group gets offended by that). Wicca is a modern and recent religion (with no real central principles) inspired BY western pre-christian beliefs and folklore. Wicca is akin to me taking some ideals from a broad group of people say, 3000 years ago(more or less) then inventing a religion around it and claiming that 'my religion is really, really old... 'n stuff' to entice some over-educated white folks to join.

    Paul

  • ||

    Jesse:

    The real question is: What if you dressed up as Jews for Halloween?

    First I laughed, then in horror, I realized you might just be serious. Jesse, what do Jews dress like? Perhaps you mean Hasidic Jews?
    Paul

  • ||

    "What do Jews dress like?"

    Well, if they're the Hebrew Hammer, they dress kind of like Shaft, only more Jewish.

    http://www.thehebrewhammer.com/

    Go. Listen to the theme song.

    "He's a complicated Jewwww ... and no one understands him but his muthah ..."

  • ||

    If I were to dress as a Jew for Halloween, I'd go for Judah "The Hammer of God" Maccabee, fron Nexus.*

    The Catholic holiday of All Saint's Day is an example of the new religion squatting on the temporal territory claimed by the old religion, in this case the Celtic feast of Samhain. The same thing happened with Christmas and the feast of Sol Invictus, not to mention the Saturnalia. The Christians dropped their Feast of the Resurrection right on top of that of Ishtar, and we still call it Easter. No doubt, if we tunnel down we will find still older precursors of the supplanted celebrations, that were replaced in their turn. Modern pagans may have revived the closest approximation of the old religion that they could, but Halloween's connection to the netherworld is a folk memory of the beliefs of the ancient Celts, for whom Samhain was a time when the border between the world of the living and the dead became permeable.

    There has been a big push by teachers to use the Mexican version of All Saints' Day, el Dia de los Muertos, in their classrooms, especially in areas with growing Latino populations. I'd say that there's a difference between teaching about a culture's festivals and actually celebrating their religious elements. A good geography or social studies teacher could lead the kids through the evolution of these days, showing how a new set of customs is imposed, or emerges from events such as the rise of a new faith, or conquest. A bad one just treats it like Disney's Small World.

    I don't see how one could satisfy Fundie parents who don't want their children exposed to the baneful influence of the Adversary that results from a classmate wearing a Ben Cooper Hot Stuff+ outfit without actually lying about Halloween's origins.

    As a Catholic schoolkid, we didn't do any Halloween activities on school time. Costumes were donned at home, and trick-or-treating was performed until as late as we could get away with. Next morning we had to do church, but there was no school. This last bit was related to our friends imprisoned in public schools, until they were ready to stuff unwrapped Snickers down our throats.

    These parents should really get behind school choice. Not only will they be able to warp their kids the way they think they ought to go, but the other parents won't have to put up with their particular use for broomsticks: DIY colonoscopy.

    Kevin

    * http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/j/judah.htm

    + http://home.att.net/~thft/hot.htm

  • ||

    kevrob,

    You're right about the "baptism" of Samhain after the Church began to spread into Celtic lands. But Easter and Christmas are quite a different story.

    Easter is the Sunday after the 3000+ year old Jewish celebration of Passover. It coincides with a bunch of pagan springtime festivals, but that's just coincidence.

    Dec. 25 was the date originally (and probably mistakenly) calculated as Christ's birthday in the 5th century. Perhaps it was played up as an alternative to Sol/Saturnalia, but the date has an independent origin.

  • ||

    A duck!

  • ||

    "Halloween is about dressing up in costumes of all kinds: firemen, celebrities, mummies, vampires (Can't wait until some 'Goth' group gets offended by that)."

    We are offended, mundane one. We have our fat girls writing bad poetry about it as we speak.

  • ||

    "Jews who get offended by those cartoon rabbis are responding to a deliberate insult. The Wiccans in question here were looking for a reason to be offended."

    So a Jew who is offended when he overhears someone saying "That mechanic jewed me out of 20 bucks!" has no right to be so? If the prejudice is so ingrained that people don't even have to make an effort to express it, it ceases to be offensive?

    "Whatever its roots, "witch" today carries a negative connotation." Yes, sort of like "jew" in certain circles (mainstream American culture, 80 or so years ago, for example).

    That's really what this controversy is about - a certain prejudice, against pagans, is so ingrained that people aren't even away it's a prejudice, consider it fun an inoffensive, consider anyone knowledgeable enough to get why it's offensive to be crazy, and feel oppressed when people are insulted by the insults, because they aren't deliberate.

    Three steps to social change - dismissive laughter, violent opposition, acceptance as conventional wisdom.

  • John M. Joy||

    I dunno... I'm not necessarily all that opposed - ignoring for the moment that I'm opposed to the concept of "public" education as such - to a district wanting to use the school day for the business of education, and leave the partying to others, afterward. That being said...

    Methinks the objection to the costumes, etc., at Halloween may be not so much a Wiccan thing as a feminist thing. Quoting from the introductory material in The Political Palate, a cookbook by the Bloodroot Collective (who run a feminist vegetarian restaurant in Bridgeport, Connecticut):

    To us the humorous portrayal of witches at Halloween is comparable to malicious concentration camp jokes about Jews.



    FWIW, a few pages earlier:

    To us, being feminists or women-oriented means celebrating holidays which predate Judaism and Christianity. The solstices and equinoxes are closed to the earth's rhythms, and celebrating the waning and growing light, seeds sprouting or the harvest brought in, makes more sense than the obscenity of noise and false jollity that is Christmas/New Years, or the celebration of masochism/martyrdom that is Easter.



    (All this aside, the cookbook does have some decent recipes - haven't had a chance to go to the restaurant yet.)

    JMJ

    P.S. On a lighter note: a friend of mine had the opportunity to attend a Halloween party at a Catholic college in Pennsylvania some years back. He dressed as Christ on the cross. Hilarity ensued.

  • ||

    The only solution to reading joe's posts - dismissive laughter.

  • ||

    Apparently so. What an endorsement for your side!

  • ||

    In my relatively short adult life, I've already seen attempts to amend the Constitution to outlaw flag-burning and gay weddings, by people who were not HARMED by these behaviors, but merely OFFENDED by them. How long will it be, now, before someone proposes the following amendment: "The right of Americans to be free of offense, shall not be abridged in any way."

    When I was teaching, I would string colored Christmas lights all around the corners of my classroom, but I couldn't CALL them Christmas lights without getting in trouble. Therefore, I always made a point of telling my classes: "These are NOT Christmas lights; these are non-sectarian winter holiday lights." I'm an atheist, but I know there's a difference between celebrating a holiday versus actual religious persecution. Why haven't the Wiccans been able to figure this out, too?

  • ||

    I just can't figure it all out. Growing up in South Alabama in the late 50's early 60's we had a Halloween Fair at the school and had Halloween parties at the church. (Southern Baptist) Now, Halloween is seen as evil. I dress up as the Headless Horseman and ride my champaigne palomino horse around the community and scare the beejeebers out of the kids and some adults.

  • ||

    Joe-
    It occurred to me that you "Jew=Wiotch" argument is fallacious. Jews existed first, long before Christians came along and decided to brand them "Christ-killers," whereas 'witch' had a negative connotation long before people decided to label themselves as such. It's like if I invented a religion or philosophy and demanded that my followers refer to themselves as "Baby-killing crack whores," and then got offended to discover that the phrase "Baby-killing crack whore" has a negative connotation.

    Maybe Wiccans should abandon the word 'witch' and adopt a more accurate term, like "New Age followers of a religion invented during the Eisenhower administration."

  • Highway||

    Jennifer, I'm afraid you're right about the future amendment. Maybe more people need to read Jonathan Rauch's book Kindly Inquisitors. I thought it was a nice take on that idea.

  • ||

    Interesting, Jennifer. But I don't think the "invented during the Eisenhower administration" really captures the history. The "negative connotation" that adheres to the idea of witches goes back to when Christians were actively working to destroy a religion that did actually exist, one that had a pedigree longer than that of Christianity itself. Part of this campaign involved creating popular imagery that discredited the religion - by turning the respected crone into a figure of evil and ridicule, among other things. Another part involved the torture and murder of the religion's leaders and adherents. Yet another involved the appropriation of the pagan holidays, and stripping them of their meaning.

    So now, because the second part of the campaign was so successful that the number of practitioners is relatively small (though growing), we should accept the first and third parts as normal, appropriate, right, and free of the taint of religious prejudice?

  • ||

    joe-

    If the Wiccans only objected to little kids dressing as witches then I might see your point. Maybe.

    But they're objecting to Halloween overall on the grounds that it was (allegedly) originally a Wiccan holiday that got appropriated by everybody else. What if a Mexican kid shows up with some sort of decorations for Dia De Los Muertos? Mexicans were celebrating the Day of the Dead long before any of them encountered a Wiccan (indeed, the holiday pre-dates European contact) so you can't accuse them of being insensitive and stealing from Wiccans.

    Bottom line is that if Wiccans are upset over the fact that "their" holiday was stolen, well, too bad. The point is that we have this holiday that we celebrate on Oct. 31. It may have (allegedly) been inspired by Wicca, but it's a distinct holiday in its own right. Modern Wiccans don't get a veto over what anybody else does on Oct. 31. My Chinese friends could always claim that they were celebrating harvest festivals long before Wiccans existed, and it's no fair for Wiccans to steal "their" harvest festival.

    Consider this: Do Christians get a veto over how everybody else celebrates during December? Of course not. If we did, then the Zoroastrians might show up and argue that we "stole" Christmas from them. (I don't know the details, but I've heard claims that the Christmas story with the virgin birth and 3 kings and shepherds was "stolen" from the Zoroastrians. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. Doesn't really matter.)

    Hmm, maybe the Wiccans could claim that they are simply a continuating of ancient nature-worship religions, so any celebration in late December is really stolen from THEM, and hence Christmas is a holiday stolen from Zoroastrians who stole from the Wiccans.

    Final thought: The "pursuit of happiness" is written into the Declaration of Independence. "Freedom from insult" isn't found in either the Declaration of Independence OR the Constitution. Hmm...

  • ||

    "Fundies are Fundies whether they quote the Bible or the Goddess" - posted on the bumper of my friend the Orthodox Druid

    The real issue here is the whole PC "somebody night be offended, so we can't do this" mindset, which apparently leads to total paralysis in some public institutions.

    There is NO fundamental right to "Freedom from Being Offended by Others" The closest we come is "the Mad Hungarian can drop you at 300 yards with his Lee-Enfield Mk III - it is unwise to offend him greatly!"

  • ||

    "by turning the respected crone into a figure of evil and ridicule"

    You're kidding, right? You could be a letter to the editor at The Onion at this point.

    Maybe you should check the timeline. Wicca was invented in the the 1930s, became public in the 50s, and Wiccans started calling themselves "witches" far more recently than that.

    Find another bleeding heart cause to flog.

  • ||

    See what government-run schools get us? Strange debates about the line between "fun" and "offensive". I've seen incredibly rude and offensive Halloween costumes plenty of times over the years. Crucified Christs, male and female body parts, Nazis (that takes guts), etc., etc., etc. Obviously, those costumes were worn by adults, but the point is that we generally have an intuitive understanding of where the line is and where you can get away with crossing it. Some people are going to be offended by anything you do--but that's their problem. I, for one, don't accept what joe has been saying--the path he's describing leads to the heckler's veto, where one person can stop any kind of expression. That's a terrible idea.

    We should be civil to others, and we should take into account their sensitivities (even if they aren't entirely rational), but all of that should be a decision we make as individuals not one imposed upon us. Certainly, anyone who goes out of his way to offend someone else faces disfavor from people besides the offended one.

    Returning to the topic of witches, I dated a witch in high school (no kidding). She was a babe, and she didn't openly say witch things (I found out after we were dating). On the other hand, I weighed her, and she weighed more than a duck. Hmmmm.

  • ||

    Pro Libertate-

    But was she made of wood? That's the real question.

  • ||

    Hey, thoreau, not to claim that I've met members of all minority religions, but I actually did have a friend who was a Zoroastrian in college. The religion has a few hundred thousand followers left in India, I believe. Anyway, he just about fell over when I identified the supreme being of his religion as Ahura Mazda. Pure coincidence, but I had just read Vidal's Creation, which dealt with Persia back when Zoroastrism still reigned supreme.

    As I understand it, there are a lot of bits and pieces of the old religion weaved into the brand of Islam practiced in Iran (e.g., their use of icons). It's fairly well known and accepted that Zoroastrism has deeply influenced Christianity, but what's not as commonly known is how much of an influence it had on Judaism as well. So, all of the major western religions can trace their roots to that old guy Nietzsche wrote about :)

  • ||

    So ....

    If she weighs the same as a duck ....

  • ||

    Sorry, thoreau, she predated my training in witch identification (in other words, I didn't see Holy Grail until a little later), so I didn't know to check. Fortunately, she did not turn me into a newt. Or, if she did, I must've gotten better or something.

  • ||

    FWIW: Wiccans & other pagans, witches, feminists, blah blah blah differ a lot on what to do about the "ugly old crone" witch stereotype. There are actually quite a few--I know a bunch locally--who dress up as pointy-hatted "witches" themselves and have a grand old time celebrating it instead of trying to get Halloween outlawed in schools or wherever.

    Also FWIW--I think the growth and visibility of Wicca etc has a LOT to do with the fundies' growing anti-Halloween and anti-Harry-Potter hysteria. The fact that their kids can walk into any big book store now and find out all about various forms of contemporary neo-paganism--and maybe even decided they want to become one--has them scared to death, so they're doing everything they can to get those references removed from anyplace their kids might be, and failing that, demonize the hell out of it, so to speak.

  • ||

    Hey, you all, don't you know the real holiday on Oct. 31 is Nevada Admissions Day? Ahh, the joyful memories of having the day off when I was in (public) school in the 70's and 80's. Lousy immigrants changed it to the last Monday in October. BOOOO. :-) :-) :-)

  • ||

    JDM, I don't really give a fuck about your not giving a fuck about other people.

    Jennifer, I agree with you about overlapping holidays. It's the "stereotyping people by religion" bit I object to. We wouldn't put up with it if it was a religion most people were familiar with, or if the stereotyping wasn't so common.

    Now, the fact that people don't intend to offend Wiccans, or continue a tradition that is comparable to black-faced minstrel shows, is certainly relevant to the question of whether they, as individuals, are doing something wrong. For the same reason, I can't get too down on someone in 1890s Boston for perpetuating stereotypes about Jews. But that doesn't mean that, in the aggregate, there isn't a problem with the tradition.

  • ||

    Joe-
    The long-nosed wart-faced evil ugly witch stereotype predates Wicca by a long shot. Furthermore, the witch stereotype refers to a mythical, semi-supernatural being with magical, malignant powers derived from a pact with a supernatural force of evil. Wiccans chose to label themselves with this inaccurate term; any problems they encounter as a result are for THEM to deal with.

    Here's a serious question/analogy for you: On an episode of Penn & Teller's "Bullshit!" dealing with death, I saw a couple of modern-day 'vampires'who were basically a couple of black-wearing Goth extremists who occasionally made small slits in each other's wrists and sucked out small amounts of each other's blood in a scene with seriously creepy sexual overtones. And, of course, they referred to themselves as "Vampires," and I think they believed they were going to manage to avoid Death but I'm not too sure about the last part. I have also met a few people who call themselves 'Vampires' and went so far as to have artificial fangs surgically implanted in their jaws.

    Suppose this catches on, and soon the number of Vampire-Americans is equal or even greater than the number of Wiccans. In order to avoid offending the Vampire-American community, should we disallow kids from dressing up as evil members of the walking undead who insist upon talking in bad Transylvanian accents?

  • ||

    "In order to avoid offending the Vampire-American community, should we disallow kids from dressing up as evil members of the walking undead who insist upon talking in bad Transylvanian accents?"

    The answer is obviously yes. If you say otherwise, you just don't love your fellow man.

  • ||

    Sorry, "fellow non-gender or species specific beings" not "man."

    I thousand apologies for that ugly outburst of un-joe-like hate mongering. May I be flogged on the (of course synthetic) Tree of PC-Apostates. (Which should in no way be taken to reflect badly on apostates from other more apostate-worthy causes.)

    I also apologize to anyone named "Tad" (or called "Dad" for that matter) who might be offended by the connotations of my use of "bad" in my last sentence. (Which should not be taken to imply that they should. I love my dad, as everyone should.) (Sorry if your dad was a drunk who beat you, and you rightly hate him. Didn't mean to imply that you were wrong to do so. Although, I know it wasn't his fault. Some of my best friends are alchol-inclined, really, no blame intended to be spread to alcholics.)

  • ||

    Call me a bigot if you must, but if I had a daughter I wouldn't want her to marry a Vampo-American.

  • ||

    "The long-nosed wart-faced evil ugly witch stereotype predates Wicca by a long shot."

    I suppose that depends on how you define Wicca, whether you consider Wiccans to be legitimate followers of the tradition that began before writing was invented. But your attempt to claim no relation between the wicked witch concept and historical witches is disingenuous. The "mythical, semi-supernatural being with magical, malignant powers derived from a pact with a supernatural force of evil" stereotype is derived from the image put forth in medieval times by the Church to demonize (literally) practitions of pagan rites. In a sense, your argument is equivalent to saying that black people shouldn't be offended by minstrel shows because black people aren't really like that.

    JDM,

    There there. Need a hug?

  • ||

    Joe:
    Interesting, Jennifer. But I don't think the "invented during the Eisenhower administration" really captures the history. The "negative connotation" that adheres to the idea of witches goes back to when Christians were actively working to destroy a religion that did actually exist

    Joe, that's exactly where you'd be wrong. Wicca was started by a man named Gardener in the 50's. Oh, and Wiccans themselves claim that their religion predated christians, but their history is hidden because they were persecuted. If their religion was around before the christians, then who the hell was persecuting them then? Let me introduce you to a very excellent site on Wiccans. Oh, and I need to say this before I paste in the url: It's a site run and produced by a Wiccan. I offer you:

    www.whywiccanssuck.com

    I fear that you have bought into the popular mainstream 'Wiccan' view of their own 'religion'. I strongly suggest reading his FAQ.

    Paul

  • ||

    Oh, for everyone's interest:

    I just created a religion called Seattle Seahawkism. And I'm really offended by people who dress up in Jerseys marked 'Seahawks' and do things like face painting and getting all drunk. It makes us look bad. These people offend me, and it's a practice which should stop NOW.

  • ||

    joe,

    If you don't get why the chronology makes your line of "argument" even more non-sensical than it otherwise would be, you need more than a hug.

  • ||

    Zoroastrians worshipped a car?

  • ||

    "So, all of the major western religions can trace their roots to that old guy Nietzsche wrote about :)"

    Rick Wagner?

  • ||

    By the way, the ignorant prejudice faced by "vampires" (and not the fake Goth kind) is explored in the clever little B-movie thriller "Blood Ties," available at amazon.com.

    Also, you aren't supposed to use the V-word. They prefer to be called Carpathian-Americans.

    The movie isn't exactly a comedy -- they tried to play it straight and make some serious points about ethnic groups and assimilation. But there are plenty of funny points. "Vampires are stealing our jobs!"

  • Arawyn Walays||

    Greetings and Well Come!

    First, I'm Wiccan, I'm male, I'm not offended by children dressing up as stereotypical witches, but, I am offended when the media and society misrepresents us. Samhain is our Sabbat, seasonal "holy day", which honors our ancestors and celebrates the end of the harvest season.

    Halloween is a fun holiday for children and adults which has it's roots in Samhain, harvest festivals, the Inquisitions, and 19th Century "All Hallows Eve" parties held by the "elite" in Europe and the US.

    Wicca is a religion which like Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism has it's Orthos, Reformists, Eclectics, and "Fluffy-Bunnies".
    There are more Wiccan "traditions" than there are Christian denominations. We have our PC types who are causing this little "fuss". Yes, we do have problems with how we are portrayed by the media, but, most of us enjoy the fun of Halloween.

    Yes, Wicca is a modern religion, but, many of our beliefs and practices are based upon ancient beliefs and practices. Our Orthodox "Traditionalists" do have a belief in the "Old Ways" being passed down secretly through their families. Can this be proved? Most of us who aren't "Trads" don't care.

    The terms "wicca" and "witch" both originate in words that meant "the wise ones" and "to bend and shape".
    We use the noun "witch" to identify ourselves with the pre-Christian era "witches" who were the healers, teachers, historians, and spiritual leaders in their Celtic and Teutonic communities.

    Why should we call ourselves something different, just because the Catholic Church of the Dark and Middle Ages demonized "witches" by calling them evil and labelling them as Satan Worshipers? And, because Hollywood, TV, and modern Christians perpetuate these distortions?
    Should Hindus and Native Americans stop using their holy swastika symbols just because Nazi Facists used the symbol?

    By the Way: Wicca is Not "New Age". We do not believe in Ascension, Alien Rescue, or Rapture. Our beliefs and practices are modern forms of ancient ways and thought. Yes, some New Agey stuff has crept into some of the Wiccan Traditions, just as it has into some Christian denominations. But, we are not New Age.

    Wiccans, like myself, have stepped out of our "broomclosets" to educate and inform our society about our religion and to obtain the religious freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution. We do not evangelize or proselytize, but, we do answer questions and we do attempt to clear up the misconceptions and dispell the myths. Many of us are politically active with most being Moderate to Liberal. There are a few like me who are Conservatives and work within our "parties" to oppose the "Christian Right" attempts to Christianize the schools, courts, and all levels of government.

    We are your neighbors, co-workers, and fellow Americans and human beings.

    Our family will celebrate a private Samhain at home on the 31st. We will join our Wiccan community and the public who wish to join us at a public Samhain and Halloween celebration here in San Diego called "Witches Night Out 2004" on the 30th. There will be over 500 of us in attendance. Guess how most of us will be dressed? http://www.cogcalafia.org/wno.html

    Arawyn Walays
    Wiccan Priest and Elder
    of the Hidden Grove
    in Califia

  • ||

    Man, you just gotta love it here. Of course there's a Wiccan among us. Anyway, thanks for setting the record straight, Mr. Walays.

    As for the rest of you jokers. . .first, Ahura Mazda is not a car (well, unless he wants to be one). I actually was expecting Lt. Uhura jokes. I, for one, am not going to risk offending Zoroastrians, because it's likely that one or two are going to pop up around here. Second, Zoroaster is the same guy as Zarathustra, who "thus spaked" to Nietzsche. And no, he's not a car, either.

    Speaking of Nietzsche, I leave you all with a few great lines from A Fish Called Wanda:

    Wanda : To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people. I've known sheep who could outwit you. I've worn dresses with higher IQs, but you think you're an intellectual, don't you, ape?
    Otto : Apes don't read philosophy.
    Wanda : Yes they do, Otto, they just don't understand it.
  • ||

    As for the rest of you jokers. . .first, Ahura Mazda is not a car (well, unless he wants to be one).

    Actually, Ahura Mazda is no longer the term used in Zoroastrianism, at least last I looked. It had morphed into Ohrmazd. ;-)

    I suppose that depends on how you define Wicca, whether you consider Wiccans to be legitimate followers of the tradition that began before writing was invented. But your attempt to claim no relation between the wicked witch concept and historical witches is disingenuous. The "mythical, semi-supernatural being with magical, malignant powers derived from a pact with a supernatural force of evil" stereotype is derived from the image put forth in medieval times by the Church to demonize (literally) practitions of pagan rites.

    Except that all that is just not true. The Church didn't invent the image of witches to persecute the poor pagans. There simply weren't many pagans in Europe in medieval times. That's not to say there weren't any, but they were not common enough that the Church actually had to worry about them. Pagan practices were still pretty common, but were pretty much divorced from their roots and were mainly superstition by late medieval/early Renaissance times, when the modern legends of witches really took form (persecution of "witches" didn't really take off until the Reformation and Counter-Reformation).

    As Paul said, you've bought into the self-history of Wiccans, which gives solidarity to the group and a connection with the past. Which is all well and good, but I'm not going to feel bad about not buying into it myself. Wiccans/pagans/whatever they want to call themselves were not a persecuted minority in medieval/Renaissance Europe, because there weren't enough around to be persecuted. Wicca is a modern religion, based on fragments of what we know about a very ancient religion.

  • ||

    Why isn't there a god that I can get excited about?

  • ||

    grylliade,

    I think that Ohrmazd vs. Ahura Mazda isn't so much a usage issue as one of transcription for us Inglés speakers. It's like that guy who runs Libya. On the other hand, I don't really know what I'm talking about. Fortunately, I happen to own a book called In Search of Zarathustra that I might actually read, now :)

    Roger,

    There's always Zeus.

  • ||

    Hey, what in the name of Zeus happened to my accent for ingles? It worked in the preview pane. One of the benefits of running a web site on the side is that you just type in code. Well, at least I do--I'm still a Notepad guy. Anyway, ingles without the accent is the plural for ingle, the Spanish word for groin. I'll let y'all draw your own conclusions from the similarity of the words.

  • ||

    I find it interesting that a self-described Wiccan on this forum isn't bothered at all by Halloween, while joe (a self-described Catholic) is arguing that Halloween is offensive to Wiccans. Sure, the Wiccan on this forum can't speak for all Wiccans, but it's interesting.

    (Before somebody points out that it's a sample size of 1, I am not suggesting our Wiccan poster is statistically significant, just that he's interesting.)

  • ||

    Greetings and Well Come! {"well come" = "May well come to you."]

    Like I said in my previous post, there are more varieties of Wiccans than there are of Christians.
    Some are PC and see everything as insult and offense.

    Yes, we do get treated poorly at times. For most of a year, I rode buses to and from work here in San Diego County. You wouldn't believe how many times people dug out Bibles and started nervously reading them, crossed themselves, began very loud discussions about Paul and church events, and started preaching at me, just because they saw my small pentacle on my necklace.

    But, for most of us Wiccans, Halloween is a fun time and getting upset over Halloween witch portrayals is like Christians getting upset about Santa Claus. Silliness!

    Still, we do consider it offensive when Dr. Laura tells a caller that Wicca isn't a religion. It's offensive when "witch" is used as an epithet in TV
    sitcoms and dramas, and by newscasters.

    PC and Fluffy-Bunny Wiccans are on the fringe and should be regarded with the same emphasis as say Jimmy Swaggart and Pat Robertson.

    Arawyn Walays
    Wiccan Priest and Elder
    of the Hidden Grove
    in Califia

  • ||

    I just say, if you dont like it, dont particiapate. Dont punish the rest of us non witches cause some find offense to it. i personally am getting sick and tired of having to change everything because it may offend someone. I am offended that people find offense in totally stupd and useless things to be offended about. its just another way to shove an idea down someone elses throat and control them passively when they control thier lives-hence having to try to control someone elses. Go home, keep your kids at home, and let the rest of us have our fun kiljoys. by the way, I am a christian and I personlla yfind nothing wrong with dressing up for halloween I just dress my kids in non scary attire, and leave it at that. Why wreck a normal childhoos thing as innocent as going form house to house dressed up as dorothy and the scarecrow and turn it into some devil worship which now in modern times, is not the case. Get over yourselves and let the rest of us live our lives without other people interferring with how we raise our families. School time wasteed? please!!! in that case lets just lets kids eat thier lunch during historry class since lunch is a waste of time, as well as do away with recess as that is nothing more that play time anytime hence, also a waste of time. That is simply an excuse sine the shcool was probably threatened with a law suit if they didnt do away with celebrating any holidays in any form because of the few buttheads who dont. Make an entire school district suffer because of a couple of losers wanting attention and wanting thier views to be shoved down everyone elses throat, in essence making us follow thier beliefs instead of our own, when we are the majority. As i said before, get over yourselves.

  • ||

    Hello, Ok for starters, I am a real Witch. And as far as I knew Witchcraft (Witches) and Wiccan are 2 different things. For one Wiccan is a religion, and some not all Witches practice it. I my self think that this nonsense is just that nonsense!! Halloween is one of the most powerful nights for a Witch, and Witches and Halloween have been around for over 6000 yrs b.c. give or take a few years. Wiccan religion has been around 50 to 75 yrs give or take some years. So these so called Wiccans need too really read up on the heritage of Witches and Witchcraft.So lets weigh them hmmm.... Witchcraft (Witches) been around longer than Christ, or Wiccan only been around for not long at all. So for all the so called wanna be Liberal Witches that call them selves Wiccans really need too either read alittle bit more about Witches and the Craft or just all and all give up trying and acting too be one. Sorry too any of the non witches or non pagans or non wiccans Im not trying too upset you, Just makes me wanna pull all the straw out of my broom when these wannabes start stuff!! And hell since these Fundi Christians and Wanna be Witches take away our Halloweens the Jews should try too take away our Christmas's cause they dont celebrate it and dont believe that Jesus is the Savior!!! Just making a point folks!!! Thank you for listening too how a real Witch feels about this subject!!

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