I'm sure many of you have seen the Fox News video about University of Missouri's including Wiccan and Pagan holidays in their course schedule and asking teachers to not have exams on those days.
I first wanted to share the video with its corresponding article -
The reason for the share is for the article. Please read it as well as watch the video. The article itself shows many of the incongruousness in the words spoken in the video - most distinctly that the holidays are not all Wiccan. Holidays in the schedule include Rosh Hoshanah, Ramadan, Chinese New Year, Samhain, and the two-day festival celebrating Krishna. Also, the University itself says there have been no complaints about the suggestions in the schedule of how to adjust exams and papers to accommodate students celebrating these holidays.
The part that does ruffle the feathers of many pagans and wiccans is the statement made by Tammy Bruce that the inclusion of these holy days is merely an excuse to not get any work done. In a society that favors the concept that school is merely to prepare people for the work force, I'm sure this is what UM is doing. However, to those people who see life as more than work and more than exams in order to obtain a degree to do work - this is not "societal nihilism" its faith, religion, belief all celebrated.
I would also like to point out, without trying to sound snarky, that these pagan holidays are usually only one day with a request not to give an exam on that one day. However, universities all across the US all give whole weeks off for Christmas, a presumably Christian holiday. If we were trying to ensure a worker bee keeps his or her nose to the grindstone, shouldn't the goal be to shorten this vacation? I personally think that it would be silly to do so, but I was just wanting to make that small point.
That being said, I would like to move the attention from the article to the video that is supposedly about the article, or at least the article topic.
The biggest issues many Wiccans are taking with this video, according to many of the comments I’ve read on the topic on various blogs and articles, are the following:
Using the term Wiccanism – the correct term being Wicca, not to be confused with Paganism
Going from 20% of the holidays viewed by UM are Pagan, to 20 Wiccan holidays – the holidays listed were not all Wiccan, there are in fact 8 Wiccan Sabbat (you can read about them in my essay on the Wheel of the Year). Also, unless there are exactly 100 holidays listed by UM, 20% does not necessarily equal 20 holidays.
The argument that following those following a Pagan faith only do it for the holidays is disrespectful to pagan faith and very similar to saying the only reason people are Christians is so that they can receive presents at Christmas and chocolate bunnies at Easter. People follow a chosen religion, whether it is Wicca or Christianity because (hopefully) they feel that this religion is True, they believe in its concepts of faith and Deity in their heart, and they find happiness and hope for the future (on earth and after death) in it. I hope that people do not join a religion for its presents or chocolate or days off of exams because, while those things are surely very nice, there is so much more the religions of the world have to offer.
The biggest offense Wiccans and Pagans are taking with the video is the suggestion that our population is not only small and therefore insignificant, but that the majority of its followers are Dungeons & Dragons players (with the assumption that D&D players are immature older men or children with no social concept and letting their imaginations skew reality – when in fact I know some very pleasant people who play D&D and some of them are Christian, Pagan, Athiest, Agnostic, Jewish, etc) and middle-aged divorcees with cats and incense.
I honestly do not know how large the Wiccan population is, how many of them play D&D, how many of them are divorced, how many of them are women, or how many of them own cats. I will says that the ones I know are single or married and not divorced – that some own cats but many own dogs – that only 3 that I can count have ever played D&D – oh, we do all use incense though, haha.
I am a Wiccan – I am married, 24 years old (and if that’s middle aged then I will sadly only live to be 48), I do own a cat, I have never played D&D, I celebrate the 8 Sabbats as well as Christmas, New Years, St. Valentines Day, St. Paddys Day (well…actually my Husband’s birthday is on that day so more or less), birthdays and more. I do not expect special treatment because of my faith or its celebrations – only equal treatment to anyone else whether they are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Satanist, Taoist, Buddhist, or any other faith.
As I’ve said on Facebook and in various chats discussing this topic –
If you have read this article and watched this video and – like me – feel a need to respond either on a blog or by writing a letter to Fox News, please do so calmly and with kindness. We do not want to respond out of fear and anger and hate. This will only fuel the fires of ignorance and fear and hate. We cannot hope to change the minds of people who refuse to open their eyes and look beyond their own reality. Instead, with kindness, educated those who have watched this video and read this article, who do not know anything of our faith, and let them know what the truth is. Show them who we really are – People who have a faith and love, who celebrate it with joy.
Light and Love