Australian Media on Paganism
Pagans ask for a fair go
Urge anti-discrimination laws
by Karen Michelmore, 31st January, 1998 The Advertiser
A religion without priests or saints
| Paganism is the world's oldest
religion and is as old as the human race.
The national Pagan Alliance says paganism has no founders,
no earthly leaders, no prophets, no messiahs and no saints.
Pagans do not worship the devil but consider satanism
to be the dark side of Christianity.
|They perceive god through the forces of nature
and see the Earth, the planets, the stars and the void as
one great divine source.
Paganism encompasses all religions that relate back to
The word Pagan was the term the Romans used for the country-dwellers
they found when they invaded Britain.
The nation's witches and druids have called on the Federal
Government to adopt laes that will protect them from discrimination
and villification in practising their relgion.
The Pagan Alliance has written to the Human Rights and Equal
Opportunities Commission, which will make the recommendations
in a report title Free to Believe? The Right to Freedom of
Religion and Belief in Australia.
The HRC claims Australian law offers little protection for
freedom of religion and belief and only limited protection against
discrimination on the basis of religion and belief.
In a submission to the commission, the Pagan Alliance's NSW
regional councillor, Ms Adrianne Harris, claims its members
face continuous hatred and discrimination for practising the
pagan religion including:
Being pressured to resign from jobs when their paganism
Difficulty ingaining access to community centres and
local halls for meetings or other activities which Ms Harris,
finds a lot of venue co-ordinators assuming "that their premises
will be used for 'orgies', 'sacrifices' and other subversive
Verbal abuse and harassment from Christian fundamentalists,
including having their outdoor rituals picketed.
Pagan parents being pressured to withdraw their children
from school because of misunderstandings about the religion
and its practice being wrongly labelled as "satanic".
"Many pagans are still 'in the broom closet' and, as such,
feel unsafe or uncomfortable revealing their religion, and they
are also consequently seen to be non-religious," Ms Harris said.
"They (Christians) have told me on numerous occasions that I
am going to hell...I have been called a heathen, a satanist,
and have been told that I will see the light one day.
"Everyone should have the right to their own religion, as long
as there is protection from discrimination by law."
The commission, which has received 250 submissions from religious
groups, is likely to present the report to the federal Attorney-General,
Mr Williams, in March.
Meanwhile, of a Queensland Government move to retain a law
that makes the practice of witchcraft illegal, the submission
states:"This is a case of discrimination...witchcraft is a legitimate
religion practised by many pagans in Australia. Why then is
it still illegal in Queensland?"
The Advertiser, 31/1/98