Fundamentalist Kristi Watts Upset that Atheists Do Not Hate Wiccans

Kristi Watts and Pat Robertson collectively lowering IQs

Christian fundamentalists haven’t gotten over Paganism after 2000 years. It is true that often when the word “Pagan” is uttered it is used in the sense “Gentile” is used by Jews, to refer to anyone who is not a Jew. We are being barraged with complaints and fear mongering about a return to “pagan culture” and a “paganization” of America, Pagan plots to wipe out Christianity, and Newt Gingrich’s claim that same-sex marriage is “pagan behavior” and you can understand these however you like.

But all too many stabs at Paganism are specifically directed at modern Paganism, which includes many various religions, including Wicca (the most recognized) but also Heathenism (also known as Ásatrú), Druidism, Hellenism (ancient Greek religion) and many others. The Air Force Academy earned special consideration from the Christian Right for creating a worship space for these modern Pagans, a simple circle of rocks, appropriate yet far less expensive than the Christians’ own chapel.

Fundamentalist Christians, like most Christians really, know little or nothing of modern Paganism but with a difference: they’re not receptive to knowing; fundamentalists are determined to not understand these modern forms of the world’s most ancient belief systems, but more than eager to condemn them in all their willful ignorance. For example, Pat Robertson’s 700 Club on February 1 featured an interesting little exchange between Pat Robertson (who you remember blamed 9/11 on Paganism) and his co-host, Kristi Watts. As reported by Right Wing Watch, it went something like this:

Robertson ”commended the National Park Service for keeping a statue of Jesus in a Montana park, despite a challenge from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.” His “insight” into the situation was this:

“Isn’t it a strange thing that we would allow somebody who doesn’t believe in anything to restrict the freedom of those who do.”

Never mind, of course, that Robertson is more than eager to restrict the freedom of belief if it is anything other than his own fundamentalist Christian strain of belief. Depriving others of their First Amendment rights seems to be the whole raison d’être of the Christian Right, after all.

Kristi Watts, described on her bio as being “upbeat and quick with a smile” but apparently none too bright, and who never to let slip an opportunity to demonstrate this, later chimed in with by saying that since Wicca “believes in the environment and believes that trees are there God,” then “why are these atheists not saying we should cut down every tree because it’s offensive?”

Watch the clip from Right Wing Watch:

The obvious answer to this is that Wiccans don’t worship trees. This is more of the ever-popular  Old Testament dumb idol meme, the hatred of the Yahwists for trees as representative of goddesses, and repeated all through early Christian history (e.g. 1 Corinthians 12:2), where Pagans become people who worship rocks and trees rather than seeing in nature the divine all around us. On a whole, this is roughly analogous to and about as accurate as saying Christians worship a cross.

Although, it wouldn’t surprise me if even militant atheists aren’t too worked up about Wicca, which like other Pagan religions, eschews proselytization and preaching to “non-believers” like Kristi Watts’ own religion. Pagans also aren’t known to be busy either trying to deprive atheists of their right to not believe. But then, comprehension of causation is not a strong suit for those who believe their god’s will decides everything, including who is born to whom and when.

You do occasionally see a short “primer” on Modern Paganism come your way, usually about as valueless as you might imagine. An example is something the Christian Post published a two part series on December 30 and 31, 2011. The first part is “A Peek at Modern Paganism: What Paganism Is and Isn’t” and the second, more disturbingly, is “A Peek at Modern Paganism: How to Preach to Pagans.”

While it’s always interesting to get an outsider’s perspective of Paganism does not qualify as an objective analysis. Taken as a whole, the first part designed to set up the second, establishing a basis and a method for the conversion of modern Pagans to fundamentalist Christianity – and it is a light weight attempt at that.

The author attempts to draw on modern Pagan sources to describe the patchwork of belief that is modern Paganism. Not grounded, apparently, in historical Paganism (what fundamentalist is?), he fails to note that ancient Paganism was equally a patchwork of beliefs.  If the author would have stuck with Pagan sources to describe Paganism for a Christian audience, the piece might have had some value, but that, of course, was not why it was written. It was not written to fill a gap so hands can be shaken but to fill a moat so an attack can be launched.

The problem inevitably comes in when the Christian observers begin to speak, in this case, James Beverly, who is identified as a professor of Christian thought and ethics at Tyndale University College & Seminary in Toronto, Canada, and the associate director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion. His title alone should warn the reader off: what follows is  not about what Paganism is but about what fundamentalist Christianity insists it must be.

What Beverly has to say in his book, “Nelson’s Illustrated Guide to Religions” is about what you’d expect:

“Witchcraft ultimately fails in the mythic and legendary nature of its gods and goddesses,” Beverley writes in the book’s chapter on Wicca. “The Roman, Celtic, Nordic and Greek deities dwell only in the followers’ imaginations. The lack of historical trustworthiness concerning Artemis or Zeus or Diana or Isis is in direct contrast the historical nature of the Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ.”

One could as easily say that the Christian God dwells only in his followers’ imaginations. Laughably, Beverly compares historical trustworthiness with regard to Artemis or Zeus with the myths contained in the New Testament, apparently believing the four contradictory gospel accounts are somehow all at the same time accurate, an impossibility, or that the book of Acts somehow endorses Paul’s epistles rather than contradicting them.

The Christians brought into the discussion, Beverly and author John Ramirez, identified as a “former Santeria-high-priest-turned-evangelical-Christian” agree that “only compassion will help Christians understand pagans when they disagree.” Without it, Christians and Pagans can’t even co-exist, let alone build closer relationships.

It all sounds so very fair until you consider that witches should be open to self-criticism, apparently of their beliefs, while Christians should only admit to past blunders, a passing nod, apparently, to witch burnings, inquisitions and crusades, but not of belief. Obviously, no Christian should be criticized for his or her beliefs, let alone examine them in an objective light, which leaves an uneven table over which to conduct those discussions and relationships. Privilege seldom inspires friendship.

In part two we are told that Paganism is a “blanket term covering practices ranging from witchcraft to nature worship” which makes it “difficult to identify a focus when finding common ground with pagans.” Of course, this common ground is only a means to an end, not an end in itself, which makes the whole process something less than honest, doesn’t it? “With this in mind,” the author continues, “how can Christians effectively share the Good News with their pagan brothers and sisters.”

Never a thought given, of course, to the possibility of leaving those pagan brothers and sisters the hell alone. No, they don’t deserve any respect; they’re pagans, after all. They’re there to be converted like peanuts are there to be eaten.

Here we run into Beverly again, who sounds like Pope Benedict XVI (writing as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) and his rants in 2004’s Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions:

“Christians focus on Jesus as lord and savior while pagans look to the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and northern Europe,” Beverley said. “Like all other religions, paganism misses biblical truth about the one God who has revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Christians should help pagans see the beauty of Jesus, his historical reality and his magnificent grace.”

Yes, I guess we’re just like the Jews, aren’t we? Missed the damn boat. And “truth” as always trumps tolerance.

What’s laughable again is this privileging of Christian belief. It’s not really “historical reality” Beverly is appealing to, since history doesn’t vouch even for the existence of Jesus, or even the early church, which went unnoticed by the many first century authors who do, however, mention the Essenes, who do not even appear in the New Testament.

The problem is this belief that Pagans live in some wasteland that deprives them of spiritual nourishment. Pagans are hardly deprived of spiritual nourishment and the vast majority of them are no doubt familiar with the “Good News” the author is so excited to share. Been there, done that, describes the feelings of most Pagans I know or have communicated with. Most Pagans, like atheists, are probably better familiar with the Bible that the Christians who want to convert them, who often believe the Bible says what they want it to say.

The condescending attitude of preachy Christians (it can’t be anything but condescending when the claim is made that only their God and their truth is real) gets tiresome. You can’t really say it gets “old” because it is old, older than any of us, and we are unlikely ever to see the end of it. It’s difficult to say which is worse, a bitchy ignoramus like Kristi Watts who at least tells you how she feels, or the used car salesman-type who is only buttering you up for conversion.

39 Replies to “Fundamentalist Kristi Watts Upset that Atheists Do Not Hate Wiccans”

  1. She can’t be serious. For people who look at Native Americans faith as so amazing and respectful to sit there and act like pagans faith is the devil really has not idea what paganism is all about. Native American Indians and pagans have very similar beliefs, but you don’t ever hear any Christian downing them and their faith do you. Pagans don’t go around asking for money, they don’t build million dollar churches, they don’t need a book to tell them how to live because that should be common since, they don’t knock on people’s doors handing out information about their Gods, but what they do, do is they pick plants, love the ground, trees, plants, sky, moon, sun, they respect other peoples faith, they don’t hurt anyone, they go to work, take care of their children, use rocks, stones, crystals, call to energies (scientific fact that energies are real) So why is it that people feel like Pagans are evil? Oh wait because of what they see on TV. The pentacle does not represent demons and the devil, accusing a pagan of worshiping Satan is like telling an atheist they are going to hell. This is all ridiculous.

  2. There is a rather wonderful ad I have seen run, with variations, on Deutsche Welle over the last several years. Dogs run up and down treeless streets, lifting their legs on people. Then it says, “A world without trees is a terrible place. Plant a tree”.

    Now, I have no idea of the religious affiliation of whoever designed the ad, but it makes a point. Any rational person, whether they see sacredness in trees or not, recognizes their necessity. Those of us who have not renounced reason realize that they give us not only fruit and nuts for our tables, wood for our construction, and shade for our roofs, but oxygen for our lives and – we have found- the very weather engines that drive our life-giving rains. An atheist, who doesn’t believe somebody’s going to fix it for us when it’s broke, must bear this in mind even more. More than that, though, religious feelings seem to have been awakened in pre-human and nonhuman beings by “forces of the wild”: macaques have paused in reverence by rushing waters; chimpanzees dance in the rain; elephants mourn their dead. All things capable of thinking about it know Nature as the source of their being – all but fundamentalist fanatics of whatever faith, who hate Nature, torture and destroy its living things, and treat women and children with great cruelty for being too close to it.

    Life and death are intertwined, and these people are utterly in denial of Death. They think they can defeat Death by destroying life, but what they will find at the end of that road is not immortality, but extinction.

  3. I believe that there is not an ounce of compassion in the fundamentalist movement. It is a very strict and to me horrifying movement. There is no compassion for children or for women in this movement.

    In my mind if you want to be a Wiccan that is just as valid as being a Christian. I say that because in my opinion any God you believe in is a construct from your own mind. To try to tear down another person’s religion to bolster your own makes your religion weak

    It was my understanding that people who are Christians do not worship idols. Why is it so necessary to have a statue of a God? And why is it so necessary to ensure that others do not have statues of their gods?

    But then again this is coming from a person who has only two God’s. Setting in the center section close to the front at a Moody blues concert and finding a quiet place to set in the Smokey Mountain national Park and just allowing the place to envelop you As the wind goes through the trees.

  4. REALLY the answer to this is: “because Wiccans don’t spend every waking moment trying to shove their beliefs in our faces while belittling and trying to destroy every other belief that isn’t theirs”.

  5. Maybe because tree’s never endorsed hate speech or offered rewards to those that commit mass genocide? Christians on the other hand are more then happy to cut down all the tree’s so the can perpetuate their hate filled fairy tales.

  6. WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG!

    Please do not compare our beliefs with others. Do not include our religion(S) with NewAge CRAP. I’ve been to ceremonies invaded by Newage, and I get tired of people we are NOT like telling us how we believe.

    My own people never believed in “Crystal Power” or many other things that people assume we did. From what members of other tribes have related, “Crystal Power” was not in any way a part of their religion either.

    Do you realize just how awful, how offensive it is for someone who doesn’t have a clue trying to take over a ceremony from an elder who had been taught by his parents, who had been taught by their parents and so on through the generations? The newagers that showed claimed he was doing it wrong (and that they were more qualified to run the ceremony even though they weren’t even Indian). For the first time in the LONG history of our religion, people were asked to leave and the ceremony had to be shut down.

    I was at that ceremony. It was awful and embarrassing.

    You’ll also find that we don’t talk much about our N.A. beliefs, because so many people steal them, twist them, and then turn around and try to tell us how we believed and how we’re supposed to believe/practice. If we resist, we get called “Fake” and worse.

    Oh, and the books – I’ve got both the worst and best in my library, and the best is seriously flawed. I can tell you exactly where the author of one book about my tribe stood during ceremony, and that person got everything wrong about what was going on in the Square. His book, by the way, was one of the better ones – but still with many serious, and I mean SERIOUS flaws.

    You will find most Native Americans (who have rejected assimilation) to be quite touchy about what they believe. Don’t make assumptions, and at least ASK. If you aren’t one, don’t make the mistake of trying to speak for us or even telling others what we are supposed to believe/know/teach. AGAIN, LISTEN! You might be surprised at what you learn (and may not like it in some instances).

    I have only a small understanding of “Pagan” religions. There are a few things that we are in tiny ways alike… like seeing the sacred in everything (but that is different from seeing God in everything). But I can and will say that for my tribe, we are monotheistic and follow a form of Christianity that predates Columbus (and no, we were not listening to Joseph Smith, nor is this a recent syncretism!). In this way we’re also like “Pagans” (I don’t much like the word, because it includes so much that is so different, and because it is usually used as an insult) – we don’t like proselytizing and consider belief to be a private affair. I know that many “Pagans” have taken that word for their own and have claimed it as a positive badge (which I understand and even agree with), but for me, I am uncomfortable with it. (Many of us have taken words such as “Redskin” in much the same way.)

    Some of the other religion families (yes, there are entire families of religions among Native Americans) also say that they are much more like Christianity (not the type we fight against – REAL Christianity) than they are to others. I know of other tribes who say the same thing as my own (pre-Columbian Christianity of a form unknown to Europeans – and much closer to the teachings of Jesus). And you must remember that as a general rule, New-Age has made itself so odious to the Real “Indians” that we’re not too friendly to it – and that goes for much of Native America. We find it to be very “White” – making assumptions and aggressively pushing their own agenda, while refusing to listen to others.

  7. The best response to this woman is, Atheists don’t hate wiccans because we don’t hate Christians, Jews, Buddhists, etc.
    Hatred towards others is something fundalmentalists specialize in.
    As long as someone isn’t trying to convert me, judge me, or show hatred towards me, I am all for letting them have their belief systems.
    I came to my way of believing as a kid when I realized, thru my Sunday school teachings, all religion is man made.
    As for the line “biblical truth”, just remember, religion isn’t truth, it is faith.

  8. They forget the Jewish First Commandment –
    I am the Lord, thy God. Thou shalt have no OTHER gods BEFORE me.

    Their gawd admits there are other gawds. He just wants to be Big Dawg.

  9. I’m just waiting for the Dominionists to really start violating the First Amendment when they realize that the US Military recognizes that Satanism, Wicca, and other non-christian faiths; thus demanding that those rights be restricted or eliminated. There will be an outcry to defund any monies going toward supporting the beliefs of american soldiers.

  10. ah, yes, thx, Yahweh… make war, not love… As much as he hates us humans for having sex, among many of the other offending things we do, he should have given his people cloning technology. Then they really all would be the same.

  11. …”“Isn’t it a strange thing that we would allow somebody who doesn’t believe in anything to restrict the freedom of those who do.”

    This is Robertson’s kick in the shines moment to his audience; the line was meant to make him sound hurt so that he solicits anger and reaction heaped on those who DON’T believe like he believes. He could have used any religion, any belief system, as stated by his obnoxious “make-up with hair and breast” mouth piece…Old Patty is just making sure he’s still choking the life out of his cult followers just in case their mind opens up for a moment or two for a breathe of fresh “freedom”…

    …that “WE”! That superior “WE” fundamentalist evangelicals, who believe in converting everything that breathes, must not take “chit” off of “somebody” who threatens OUR “3 C’s mission (capture/chain/control) the minds of the mouth-breathers!

    Yes Patty, you old Prickosaurous Rex, isn’t it “strange” that you see “freedom” as belonging to you and yours alone…That only you and your cult make the rules as to what is freedom and what isn’t “freedom”? That the atheist, pagans, Wicca, Mormons, Muslims, Sikhs, Hiindoos, Buddhist, Rastafarian, Native Americans, and those I left out (sorry)…all those “others” who don’t restrict your faith (but should restrict your behavior to collect money untaxed) don’t give a chit about you,ignore you…

    I know, Patty darling, it baffles the mind of an old Prickosaurous Rex like you…it must hurt…if feel yur’pain…now, send ME money!

  12. You’re like most of the atheists I’ve met, and we all share a visceral dislike of being proselytized or manipulated (even those of us who are theists but not fundamentalist/dominionist).

    Any thinking person would.

  13. Ok. Almost everything in this article that the Right Wing, GOP, MORONS!!! have to say makes me realize that they REALLY ARE FREAKING IDIOTS!!! And Fundamentalist Christians? Yeah, come to my door, see what happens when you try spritzing the “demon out of me” with holy water. You’ll get a boot up the ass, a fist in the face, and a door slammed on your scrawny ass as you crawl away crying. I am a practicing Pagan, and PROUD OF IT! Any dumb ass that tries to convert me deserves to get my size 13 boot up their scrawny, cowardly, idiotic ass.

  14. You don’t have to do any of that Randy; you just have to have some business cards made that say your a professional deprogrammer (keep them close to the front door)…when they start their “schtick”, you tell them “This is your lucky day!” and hand them your card. Explain to them you’ll always be there for them and when they’re ready to leave to contact you…watch their persona drop, their fake smile freeze, and, watch’m run down your drive way never to return again…works like a charm!

  15. Now that’s an idea I may take up myself… especially since in a sense, it would be true (at least, I do help people who have walked).

    Or maybe not… I’ll have to think about it. In this area, it could get me killed post-haste.

  16. Satanism is not a recognized religion in the military. Wicca , after many years is( the only Pagan religion to be ). Why place Satanism with Pagan religions? Satanism is not a Pagan religion and it is closer to being Christian. We do not have a Satan/Devil…etc. Satanist believe in that entity, and Satan seems to be one of the Christian Gods..they havce two…a good one /though has a problem with jealousy and a bad one..that how ever did speak the truth in the Garden of Eden.

  17. I’m on walkabout and found myself here. Please accept my apologies A Walkaway if I have ever done any of this as I do try not to and if you would accept my apology on behalf of those who may know no better. I suspect it is more that some would WISH to be more akin to the First People than the white people and would hope you might feel some of the honor and respect intended from that.
    Walk in peace.

  18. You write: Wicca “believes in the environment and believes that trees are there God,” Sorry, but it should be “their” God.

    I wholeheartedly agree, they are only for freedom of religion as it pertains to Christians converting everyone else in the world. It seems the only thing they tolerate is their own very narrow world view.

  19. who cares, it’s all bullshit anyway. There is no magic, there is no god, there are no “energies”. It is all lies made up by men who sought power and nothing more.

  20. You know, it’s perfectly possible to be an atheist without being an anti-theist douchebag. Some of us do, in fact, see beauty and meaning in spiritual practice. The fact that you don’t is not in any way better or worse than the fact that we do. ALL human beings are groping blindly in the dark. ;)

  21. I have always hated the old “I clearly know more about Group X than actual members of Group X!” idea. It’s even worse when some moron acts like ALL Pagan religions are identical, or ALL Native tribes had exactly the same culture. I’m still not sure how so many white people got this stupid, but as a white person I feel obliged to apologize for it.

  22. Answering the door skyclad, or prominently placing a Goddess statue within line of sight of the door, works too. :P

  23. A Walkway, I understand what you’re saying here, but plase don’t conflate “Pagan” and “New Age”. Yes, some modern Pagans are New-Agers, and vice versa, but to say that all modern Pagans share the beliefs and practices of the New Age movement is akin to saying that all Christians are fundamentalists.

  24. Nawww…you must always remember:

    THEY ARE MORE AFRAID OF YOU THAN YOU OF THEM!!!

    Secondly, anytime you take them off script, they go into free-fall…they are afraid of you at that point. You then keep them off script by asking about “the money” (donations, who audits your books etc). At that point, their cortisol is screaming “RUN” because you won’t let them have control and they don’t know how to “make it stop”. They run away every time and they don’t come back…

  25. Sorry if that seemed to be what I was saying… I do know the difference.

    The Newagers are a problem. Pagans… not so much (at all actually). People do assume that we’re just another form of paganism… something with which we do strongly disagree. (Noting that I cannot speak for all NA religion families, but for what I know of my own.) At the same time, however… I am far more comfortable around pagans than “Good Christians”.

    Maybe it’s the “Whatever floats your boat!” attitude… something we (those not steeplejacked) share.

    I wouldn’t be in the least surprised to learn that pagans have had problems with newage and with people who try to mix the two. (Much like some of the Witches I’ve known rail at the wannabes who create headaches for them by doing harmful things.)

  26. Possibly the “Christian – not Christian” dichotomy taking root in strange ways?

    Interesting comment about the connection between Satanism and Christianity. I have only had a couple of conversations with a Satanist, but the sort of thing I learned was fascinating – God as the principle of regimentation and uniformity, vs Satan as a symbol of free thinking and resistance to regimentation. (I’m sure I’m way oversimplifying things and may be getting it a bit wrong!) The impression I’ve gotten from that and others is that they have some unique ways of looking at the Bible and indeed life itself, but that they are NOT people committed to evil or the inverse of good… far from it. Indeed, the one person I met seemed quite committed to good and that goes for what others I know have said about Satanists they’ve known.

    They do seem very committed to freedom and opposed to making everyone carbon copies or to blind obedience, which are things I very much agree with.

  27. Hmmm… a Mrs. Pumpkin Head moment (I’m pretty sure I told you all the story about my wife, the pumpkin, her Halloween costume, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses).

    Actually, I think it depends on who is dominant in the immediate area/situation. I know there have been times where getting them off balance only meant that they resorted to what sounded like the equivalent of Mantras, and they started over again on their proselytizing spiel (while obviously getting madder and madder). It was a bit frightening.

  28. (Laugh) it seems endemic to white American culture. We’re the “Other”, and thus they grab a stereotype for us all… sometimes the most outlandish stereotypes possible (I swear some take them from their childhood cartoons)!

  29. My ancestors lapsed from every major religion west of the Amu-Darya. My mother raised me an atheist, but I lapsed from it, because she talked like you.

Comments are closed.