[The following is a guest-post from Peter Dybing. Peter identifies himself as a human activist who happens to be Pagan rather than a Pagan activist. His activism has included direct action on environmental issues, civil rights issues and freedom of religion. His first activist role was a meeting with the Governor of Colorado concerning school integration in 1969 at eight years of age.]
Islamophobia: A Threat to the Pagan Community
From rural Wisconsin to lower Manhattan Americans are mobilizing in opposition to the location of Islamic places of worship in their communities. With images of September 11th etched in it’s collective subconscious, our nation is once again traversing the slippery slope that leads to religious persecution, fear and outright bigotry.
Islam has become the convenient target of defamation, hate, suspicion and direct verbal attacks. Americans in ever growing numbers freely tell anti Islamic jokes in public places. If these attacks were aimed at another faith, minority or ethnic group there would surly be a substantial backlash.
So why should the Neo Pagan community become involved in defending the rights of a belief system that holds views so foreign to our earth based community?
Islam, an incredibly diverse group of faiths, is faced with being branded as intolerant and violent due to the actions of radical fringe groups. We in the Pagan community have experienced attempts to paint us all with the same brush when individuals who claim to be Pagan commit violent acts. Recent events in New Mexico and Australia make this clear.
To stand by and allow these forms of attack encourages those who believe that our country should not be tolerant of a diversity of beliefs. If we do not stand in support of inclusion and respect we risk our own fight for Pagan rights through our lack of action.
There are many well-meaning people who have expressed concern with the placement of the Mosque in New York City. There are others, however, who have taken this opportunity to spread fear, hate, and bigotry. They must be confronted
All threats to religious rights and tolerance are a threat to our community, our nation and our ability to openly worship the divine as we please.
It is not easy to come to the defense of a belief system so different than ours. Nor was it easy for Christian, Jewish and Islamic leaders to support the inclusion of Pagans in the interfaith movement. Yet, these leaders did it because it was the right thing to do. Now comes our opportunity to stand for what we believe.
Pagan Brothers and Sisters, join me in communicating to the Islamic community our support for their right to worship openly, when they want to and where they want to. Confront those who oppose tolerance, Make our collective intent known.
In Service to the Goddess,
- Peter Dybing
I’d like to thank Peter for his guest post. For more debate and discussion concerning the Park51 community center and mosque in New York City, and Pagan reactions to that controversy, please see today’s post at The Wild Hunt. Also, I know this is a contentious issue, but please remember our comment policy, and keep discussions civil.