Pagan Politics and Hypocrisy

I get very annoyed when I hear about “pagan politics,” for several reason.

First and foremost, I don’t think there is such a thing. Paganism is such a diverse conglomeration of religions, practices, traditions, and ways of thinking that to even entertain the idea that there are monolithic political values or ideas shared by all pagans is laughable.

Secondly, when most pagans talk about “pagan politics,” what they mean is their politics, which they assume that all other pagans share.

Thirdly, the presumption that people who don’t hold certain political positions aren’t really pagan. Or are just really bad pagans that are an embarrassment to other pagans. Because pagans are all enlightened, and are therefore better than “normal” people, and thus agree with “enlightened” and “progressive” political ideologies. (Some leeway given to Asatru on this, but not much.)

And Fourth, the hype and hyperbole. TEH EVIL INTOLERANT OPPRESSOR RIGHT-WING CHRISTIAN EXTREMISTS ARE MINUTES AWAY FROM BURNING US ALL AT THE STAKE! YOU MUST SUPPORT THIS POSITION OR ELSE THEY WILL WIN AND KILL US ALL! No, really. Because that’s not over the top at all.

But I was pondering a different angle today, and it struck me: I get aggravated at pagan politics because it’s hypocritical.

Why is it hypocritical, you ask? Because when Christians insert their religiosity into politics, we freak the fuck out.

A devout conservative Christian followed the dictates of his religion and voted to ban same-sex marriage? DON’T MIX RELIGION AND POLITICS!

A pagan activist uses her religious position to encourage others to protest the outcome of a criminal trial? FIGHTING RACISM IS A SPIRITUAL GOAL!

When Christians use religious positions to push political goals, we cry foul. When we use religious positions to push political goals, it is good and just, and an expression of our religious concern with social justice, which we certainly all have and agree how to define.

And this is horribly hypocritical.

Are pagans political people? There is a lot of overlap between paganism and liberal political movements, so yes, we’re probably more politically involved than most. And it is the prerogative of every good citizen to engage in and speak out on politics. As a follower of Iuppiter, it is a religious obligation for me to be involved in politics. But the personal is not political. I have no right to push religious positions as political policy. I may certainly be driven to support certain policy based upon my religious inclinations, but that right must be respected among others, even if I oppose the policy they support.

Christian ministers are prohibited from endorsing political candidates and policies explicitly. We do so without second thought, and in many cases use paganism’s “earth-based spirituality” to endorse policy as well. Aside from the above listed issues with asserting a monolithic paganism with a monolithic political concern, where do we get off engaging in behavior that we denounce when others do it?

I don’t care what political positions other pagans hold. I don’t care if they support those positions in part or in whole because of religious considerations or obligations. But to conflate your religion and your politics to the point where you can’t justify one without the other, and then cry foul when your political opponent does the same? That’s hypocritical.

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