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Resolving religious conflicts within a family

Impediment 4:
Links between Wicca and Satanism

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See also Impediment 3: Beliefs about salvation

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Beliefs about Satan and Satanism:

This essay discusses links that some people believe exist between Wicca -- a Neopagan Earth-centered religion, and Satanism -- worship of Satan.

From about 1550 to 1650 CE, tens of thousands of people -- largely in France, Germany, and Switzerland were accused of being witches, of worshiping Satan, and/or of practicing black magic. Many were convicted and either burned alive in Catholic countries or hung in Protestant countries. Eastern Orthodox countries largely avoided the mass murder/genocide. Most of the deaths seem to have taken place in Western Europe in the times and areas where Protestant - Roman Catholic conflict -- and thus social turmoil -- was at its maximum.

During the 1690's, nearly 25 people died during the witch craze in Salem, MA: one was pressed to death with weights because he wouldn't enter a plea; some died in prison, most were hanged. 1 They all seemed to have been devout Christians who had no connection with witchcraft or Satan worship. There were other trials and executions throughout New England near the end of the 17th century. The last person to be executed as a witch in Europe was in Poland during 1792. However, into the 19th century, the Catholic Church continued trying people accused of witchcraft and handing over those found guilty to be executed .

People in North America are no longer being tried and executed for witchcraft. However, beliefs associated with the "burning times" never completely went away. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Wiccans, Satanists, other Neopagans, etc. were accused of infanticide, cannibalism, ritual abuse, etc. During the late 1990s there were calls on the government to execute Wiccans; one alleged suggestion by a Texas pastor was that Wiccans be napalmed by the U.S. Army.

Although the North American anti-Wiccan panic died down in the early 21st century, some people still link modern-day Wiccans to the alleged crimes of the accused "witches" during the burning times in the 16th and 17th centuries -- crimes that never happened.

Fortunately, many Wiccans are now coming out of the closet and going public with their faith. People are beginning to realize that Wiccans follow a gentle, Earth-based religion, and are bound by their Wiccan Rede to not harm others. Still, old fears and prejudices die hard.

A simple remedy would be for Wiccans to stop referring to themselves as "witches." Some have done this. Realizing that "witch" will forever associate them with the burning times, they have abandoned the name in favor of "Wiccan." But others feel an obligation to try to rehabilitate the term "witch." The victims died once during the burning times as a result of religious bigotry and intolerance. To discard their name now would be to kill them a second time.

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Reference used:

  1. "A village possessed: A true story of Witchcraft," by Discovery Online, at: http://www.discovery.com/

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Site navigation:

Home > World religions > Wicca > Christian conflict > Families > here

Home > Christianity > Comparison to other faiths > Christian conflict > Families > here

Home > Religious conflict > Specific conflicts > Christian conflict > Families > here

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Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-NOV-17
Latest update and review: 2008-NOV-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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