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A Love to End All Wars: On Race & Religion

Last night, arriving home after doing my civic duty at a public hearing regarding fourteen activists facing a $70,000 fine for chaining themselves to our local transit system on Black Friday, a friend pointed me to a piece that, among many other things, said that one should not ask Pagan organizations to take stands on racial justice, as it is just a “cause du jour.”

I decided to respond this morning and thought the points I made might be good for many of us to think on and dialog about. Here is my comment, edited so that it applies to the broader situation:

“We must look at our world as it is, and it is a desperate and painful ordeal to undergo. Yet the pain of the world is what we are masking by accepting the false dreams of our fallen empire whose jaws still devour even those in its death throes. Before dream we must open our eyes, and wash them clean.”

That is from Apocalyptic Witchcraft by Peter Grey. In that book, he clearly asks us to work both in the shadow and in full sunlight. He asks us to engage, deeply.

My magic works both in the mysterious realms and in the manifest world. Oftentimes the two overlap. Separating spirit and matter is a trap. And yes, it is a trap often made by certain Christian sects. It seems to me that we can also fall into this trap, in saying that religious organizations should not speak to their members on troubles of the times.

If spirit and matter are conjoined, interpenetrating, not separate, then how should my spirituality not have a care for justice? How should I not care that people get fed, clothed, housed? That Nature of which we are a part is not raped and trampled? How should I not care that together, we’ve built systems of such shocking inequity that government employees regularly beat, harass, rape, and kill members of society with impunity?

Should a religious organization not have a care for the welfare of its members? Isn’t that part of its mandate? For example, Pagan and other religious groups have spoken out in favor of marriage equality. Why shouldn’t Pagan and other religious groups also speak on racial injustice? Both directly affect their members. Choosing to speak on one sets a precedent to speak on the other.

My religion is never about morality. My religion deals with ethics. My religion –like so many Gods and Goddesses do– deals with justice.

Peter Grey wrote: “Love is the war to end all wars, and the war is upon us.”

I know where I’m standing.


How about you? What are your thoughts on the role of your religious or spiritual organization in taking stands? Should religious people or organizations be engaged in civic life? Are you? In what ways?

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