‘The Unpaid Bills of the Church’ : Wicca’s Charm

October 31, 2006 at 7:38 pm 5 comments

Via Breakpoint

 

October 31, 2006

 

“Imagine losing all your friends at once,” a woman named Margaret Ann told Catherine Edwards Sanders, the author of Wicca’s Charm. Margaret Ann was talking about her decision to leave her Baptist faith and become a Wiccan during her college years. “My family ganged up on me and refused to discuss it with me at all,” she recalls.

Sanders adds, “All of her friends, except one, deserted her. Not one of the members of the Christian group [on campus] bothered to ask why she liked Wicca. . . . Other Christian students would only talk to her to tell her that they were praying for her.”

At another point in the book, Sanders tells the story of what happened to a group of Wiccans in Orange County. As they were practicing a sunrise ritual, a group of Christians surrounded the Wiccans with their cars and blared loud Christian rock music at them.

What’s wrong with this picture?

To begin with, we need to understand that Wicca and its power are real. Marketers of popular kids’ books and TV programs about Wicca told Sanders that it’s all fake and something kids do just for fun. But as both current and former Wiccans report, Wicca is a real, powerful, and dangerous thing. Laura, a high school student, told Sanders that she “had a very bad experience” during a Wiccan ritual and is now “haunted by a scary presence.” Kathleen and Paula, two former Wiccans, also report “negative experiences too frightening to describe.” Others have similar accounts.

So it’s hardly surprising that we Christians would perceive Wicca as a threat. But is it right for us then to turn our backs on Wiccans, or to treat them offensively? What good can that possibly do? That kind of behavior has never been known to win anyone to Christ—on the contrary, it only turns people away.

As I said yesterday, Sanders writes that many Wiccans were driven to their religion in the first place by the actions of Christians—like some women who were treated like “second-class citizens” in their churches, and turned to Wicca. Art Lindsley of the C. S. Lewis Institute says that Wicca and other forms of neo-Paganism are a result of “the unpaid bills of the church.” The Church is supposed to be a place where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Our whole worldview is built on the idea of a loving God who created every person in His own image. When we fail to put that worldview into practice, people lose interest in Christianity. Many of them go off in search of a religion built on self-fulfillment, not love of God—a religion like Wicca.

So how should we as Christians reach out to Wiccans? For one thing, we can take time to study and understand what they believe and the issues that are really important to them—issues like the environment. We don’t have to worship the earth to understand why many Wiccans are so concerned about it. But even more importantly, we must live out our own worldview through our actions, treating all people with love and respect. He whom you would change, remember, you must first love, as Martin Luther King, Jr., taught us. And if we do this, we will start paying some of those unpaid bills ourselves.

This commentary first aired on October 31, 2005.

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Entry filed under: Africa, Culture, Kenya, Literature, Media, Missions, Religion, Science, Society, World.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. acolyte  |  October 31, 2006 at 10:21 pm

    That is a well thought out article. Christian intolerance is well known and isnt even always towards those of alternative religions but even towards those who choose a secular lifestyle instead of being born again.

    Reply
  • 2. Amber  |  November 1, 2006 at 1:54 pm

    @ Aco, this is so true, and it is not just ‘the others’ as the church looks at it who are not tolerated, it is basically anyone who they do not understand. Many times some churchy person or other whether a pastor or an elder has been oh so concerned about my walk because ‘do those dreadlocks really reflect the face of Christ?’ There is an overspiritualisation of such basic stuff, that in a lot of churches, they have the Bible and a ‘book of rules’ that one must adhere to, in order to be accepted, even if Christ Himself is the one who saved!

    Reply
  • 3. Kenyan Analyst  |  November 1, 2006 at 5:00 pm

    Uhhmn..wat is so amazing about grace?

    Reply
  • 4. Ivan  |  November 7, 2006 at 5:52 am

    As a Wiccan myself, I’d like to respond to this. First of all, it wasn’t for anything lacking in Christianity that I became a Wiccan. I believe that all Deities are One. Wicca is a good religion for someone who believes that. Secondly, much of Wicca as I’ve seen it is about using meditation and other benign mystical practices to make us better people (this is often called “magic” by Wiccans, but you have to understand what we mean by the term). Third, far from being dangerous, Wicca is extraordinarily benign. Sanders omits one basic tenet of ethics in Wicca, “an it harm none, do as thou wilt”. This must be explained, since it has a special meaning in Wicca. It means that each one of us should figure out why we were put on Earth. This is our True Will. The purpose of life is to enact our True Will while avoiding harm to others. This summerizes many ethics, like not killing people. I and all the Wiccans I’ve met are generally good people because of this ethic that we try to follow. One result of this is that we’d never do something like “curse” people or use voodoo dolls. If some teenagers are doing things like that, they don’t understand our ethics.

    I think Sanders is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. While one moment playing the compassion card, the next she describes Wicca as “dangerous” when in fact my religion encourages us to avoid harm to others. I can’t speak for people who had “bad experiences”, but every religion has problematic congregations. As Wiccan clergy, I was trained to make sure that congregants have positive experiences. Any religion can be manipulated, in the hands of bad people, to abusive ends. But, it’s against Wiccan teaching to do so. On the other hand, we can’t help it if people come to us with anti-Wiccan biases. Maybe some of those teenagers came in with such bad biases that they tainted their own experience.

    In any case, Wicca, from everything I’ve seen of it, is a great religion with a positive message: make yourself a better person, take care of the earth and try to live your life in such a way that you avoid harming others.

    Reply
  • […] As a Wiccan myself, I’d like to respond to this. […]

    Reply

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