For anyone who doesn’t remember, Dan Halloran is a rare creature, being both a Republican officeholder and an open pagan. Only he wasn’t so open as a pagan when he ran, but whatever. Unfortunately, he is not so rare a politician, as he was recently arrested for fraud and bribery charges.
This is unfortunate, for as Jason at the Wild Hunt points out, Halloran was the highest office-holding pagan in the US. That inspiring and historic first is now besmirched:
Halloran was a complex figure who could be charming and infuriating depending on who he was interacting with, and I can’t picture many politicians within Tea Party and Libertarian circles overcoming the obstacles he did, to the point of making a serious bid for congress. Halloran was living proof that being a Pagan wasn’t an impossible obstacle to modern political office, even if you were a conservative Republican in New York City. It is for this reason that these revelations are especially disheartening, because our collective history will now mark Halloran’s “firsts” with the asterisk of scandal and corruption.
It is significant that Halloran not only attained the office he did, but did so as a Tea Party backed Republican. This flies in the face of several stereotypes, the least of which are that pagans can’t be political conservatives and that the conservatives (and the Tea Party in particular) are intolerant of diversity and only support Extreme Christian Fundamentalists/Evangelicals. Unfortunately he also demonstrated that pagans are just as capable of being corrupt as anyone else.
My take? Many conservatives will blame the fact that Halloran is pagan for his corruption. Many pagans will blame the fact that he is Republican. And pagans seeking political office (from any party — the Democrats haven’t been kind to us either) will be set back.
This is just another reminder that there are serious implications for being openly pagan and very public. Probably more so than Christians, pagans in such positions have to be aware that they “represent” paganism to those who don’t know (and probably don’t trust) us. It may not be fair, but it’s how it is, and we have to deal with it for now.
Halloran represented us to New York. He stood before his fellows and said “I may pray different, but I am just like all of you. I am not strange or weird or scary. I am likable and personable. Trust me to serve you.”
And he was lying. And now we all look bad, even if just a little bit.
Dan Halloran, you’re an asshole.