In today's Fiery Tuesday post, the Pagan News Beagle brings you: victory for religious rights in Holt v. Hobbs (U.S. Supreme Court); first British gay Pagan marriage; Scotland leads in fossil free electricity; what are the free speech limits of mocking religion?; Heathens supporting #BlackLivesMatter.
The case of Holt v. Hobbs was decided yesterday in the Supreme Court. (See Justice Ginsburg's explanation here.) The decision was another victory for religious rights, even if the petitioner isn't a model plaintiff nor a member of a majority religion.
A luverly first: UK's first gay Pagan marriage was just celebrated in Scotland.
Scotland's doing another thing right: taking the lead in the fossil-free electric grid race.
When does mocking religious beliefs go too far? Most Americans seem to favor broad protections for free speech even if it insults their chosen faith.
San Francisco-based Heathen group Hrafnar has published a statement in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Today's Faithful Friday post includes stories on witchcraft and witchhunting, religious violence (is it inevitable?), and an examination of eco-feminism from a Pagan point-of-view.
Witchcraft in the 16th and 17th centuries has been one of the most popular topics with historians and the reading public for almost half a century. Here's a review of a new book on the witchhunting mania in England at the time of James I.
This exhibition at the British Museum examines the face of the witch as portrayed in artwork over the centuries.
Is religion inherently violent? Two book reviews of Karen Armstrong's new book Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence discuss the question. The review at the Spectator suggests that religions "go violent" when they reach a critical mass of popularity, while the review at the Guardian says that the "secular state" is a historical anomaly that can't be counted on to keep religious theocracy in check.
John Halstead discusses the value (and history) of eco-feminism and its importance in the Deep Ecology movement.
It's FieryTuesday here at the PaganNewsBeagle with stories of activism and politics in today's news.
I know this isn't specifically Pagan, but it's certainly going to "fire up" the activists today: in a major blow to the Affordable Care Act, a Federal Court this morning struck down federal insurance subsidies EXCEPT to plans bought on state insurance exchanges. An appeal is virtually certain. http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/07/major-new-blow-to-health-care-law/#more-215691
After many years of activism and protest, there's progress in getting words that describe Witches, Pagans, and others in our community capitalized. (Like, you know, the word "Christian" which is *always* capitalized.) The Wild Hunt reports on this ongoing campaign.
Did you know that atheists (and presumably, polytheists and others) are prohibited from holding public office in several states? The little known "religious test" is explained in this post at The Wild Hunt.
Magick users might use the term "egregore" instead of "golem" but this provocative post from a rabbi asks whether an artificially-created being (a corporation) has mystical standing. Fascinating article.
The Raw Story reports that parents in Portland Oregon are battling a fundamentalist Christian group that wants to bring its message to kids in the public schools.
Two late-breaking stories of civil rights for minority (non)religions
An atheist will be offering a "non-theist" offering to open the City Council meeting in Greece, New York -- the town featured in the recent Supreme Court ruling. http://www.bigstory.ap.org/article/atheist-open-ny-meeting-top-court-oked-prayers.
A federal court has ruled that humanist couples in Indiana can be married by their own “secular celebrants,” something that until now was illegal under state law. http://www.religionnews.com/2014/07/14/humanists-win-right-solemnize-weddings-indiana/
On this day of remembrance of those fallen in war, it seems appropriate to ponder one of the ways in which war has impacted our money, the addition of the motto, "In God We Trust." The phrase was first included on US coins in 1864, perhaps to show that God sided with the North in the Civil War. Paper currency was given the message in 1957, after Congress made it the official motto of the country, to set us apart from godless Communism.
In short, the motto was born of, and fed by, war.
What's perhaps more interesting are the battles which have been fought over the phrase since. These have been in the courts of law and public opinion, and put followers of this deity in a peculiar position: to keep God on money, God must be secular.
Teddy Roosevelt was the first person of influence to have a problem with the motto, which he felt "comes dangerously close to sacrilege" by taking the name of God in vain. TR's misgivings appear to come from the growing belief that "God" is actually a particular deity's name, but some disagree. Faced with an uproar, the motto became standard on coins.
In more recent years, numerous courts have been asked to consider if the practice offends the United States Constitution, if not the Ten Commandments of Abraham. Unlike Mr Roosevelt, judges have been concerned not in the slightest, considering the phrase to be "ceremonial Deism" and perfectly appropriate for such secular purposes.
So the phrase, first proposed by a minister to give the USA a sense of unified purpose under a single deity's beneficent guidance, is now legally considered to be as religious as saying "bless you" after a sneeze or "safe home" to a departing guest.
How is that a good idea? To devout Abrahamics, it dismisses an all-powerful and central deity as a secular symbol. To secularists, it panders to concerns about intermixing government and religion by saying that God has nothing to do with religion. To Pagans and many others, it either presents the same problems Christians and Jews face (your deities are empty, secular shells) if you believe "God" to be a generic term, or it sidelines your belief system entirely. And it certainly doesn't serve atheists whatsoever.
Born of war and preserved by politics, this odd phrase will not be removed from our money, much less our nation, without a coalition of thoughtful people articulating why it is a detriment, not a benefit. A coalition including thoughtful Abrahamic and atheist leaders, polytheists and spiritualists, people who may or may not believe in something unseen, but have read the constitution and don't like mixing the two. People who realize that any god being associated with money dilutes both, at least in a country that embraces freedom of religion. Strong people who understand that our faiths, and our nation, are best kept strong by keeping them just a little bit more apart.