HATRED & MISINFORMATION
AGAINST WICCANS AND OTHER NEOPAGANS
The connection between Wicca and Witchcraft
Wicca is a modern, reconstructed Neopagan
religion largely based upon elements of a
pre-Christian faith of the Celtic people. Followers of Wicca generally
call themselves either Wiccans or Witches. Unfortunately, the
terms Witch and Witchcraft have at
least 13 different meanings.
Most of them are negative; some are even mutually exclusive. This has prompted some Wiccans to
discontinue use of the term Witch
entirely. However, other Wiccans see this as abandoning the memory of the
multiple tens of thousands of innocent people who were individually tortured and
executed during the European "burning times" circa 1450 to 1792
In some documents, Witchcraft is used to refer to evil sorcery - black
magic intended to hurt or kill other humans. This does not have the remotest
connection to Wicca. In other writings, Witchcraft refers to a
contemporary Neopagan religion. This is referring to Wicca itself. In still
other places, one of the remaining 11 definitions of Witchcraft is intended. The
potential for confusion is obvious. Next to the word cult,
Witchcraft is probably the most misunderstood religious term in the
Many passages in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) condemn:
All faith groups that are different from Judaism. In particular, the
Scriptures frequently attack
the religious practices of Pagan tribes which surrounded the ancient
Various Pagan beliefs and
practices that the Israelites picked up from their neighbors.
Certain forms of foretelling the future or communicating with the
Evil sorcery (i.e. issuing verbal curses to harm others).
The Christian Scriptures (New
Testament) contains passages which condemn:
The Jewish religion as
practiced both by the Pharisees and Sadducees prior to the destruction
of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
Rabbinic Judaism as was
widely practiced throughout the Roman Empire after the destruction of
All religions other that
Christianity. Followers of other religions were described as praying to
Satan or his demons during their religious services.
Thus, it can be concluded that
the Bible condemns all religions other than Christianity. This includes
Wicca as well as Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and a few hundred other religions,
from Asatru to Zoroastrianism.
is an additional complication regarding Witchcraft in
some English translations of the Bible. Many
versions translate the Hebrew word for evil sorceress or evil sorcerer
as Witch. Some versions also translate the Greek word for poisoner
as Witch. Unfortunately, many Christians read these mistranslations and
assume that the Bible is condemning modern-day Wiccans. This is an invalid
conclusion, because Wiccans are prevented by their main rule of behavior (the
Wiccan Rede) from harming others. Thus they are not permitted to engage in black
magic, curses or spells which harm people, or
Exodus 22:18 may have
caused more murders of innocent people than any other passage in the Bible. Among the 20
versions of the Bible that
we sampled, 14 used the term to sorcery; 2 to evil magic, 1 to magic and only 3
to Witchcraft. The latter were:
King James Version: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."
The Promise: Contemporary English Version: "Death is the
punishment for Witchcraft."
Revised English Bible: "You must not allow a witch to live."
Some Christians will read these passages and assume that the Bible is
referring to sorcerers. Others will assume that Wiccans are being targeted.
Still others will interpret the passage as referring to one of the more than 10
other definitions of Witch. There is always the possibility that a
mentally unstable person might be motivated to develop homicidal thoughts
against Wiccans after reading this passage in one of these three translations.
All kinds of religious heretics, non-conformists, and devout Christians were
targeted as Satan worshipers, individually tortured and burned alive during the
Burning Times (circ 1450 to 1792 CE) in Europe. This extermination was
facilitated by a book: Heinrich Kramer & James Sprenger, "Malleus
Maleficarum" (The Witches' Hammer), published about 1490 CE. This book was
extensively used as a reference text by judges, the clergy, and torturers during the subsequent Witch
trials. The authors claimed that Witches flew through the air on broomsticks, caused
lightning and hail storms, changed from humans into animals, become invisible, etc. In
Part II, Qn. 1, Ch. 2 the authors state that Witches:
offer to devils, or otherwise kill, the children that they do not otherwise
devour...[they] cause abortion, kill infants in the mother's womb by a mere exterior
Kramer and Sprenger claimed that Witches were motivated by:
a desire to reduce the number of people entering Heaven and thus delay the Final
Judgment when Satan, his demons and the Witches would be cast into Hell.
a need to "confect from the limbs of such children an unguent which is very
useful for their spells".
Legacy of the Burning Times
Most people realize today that Kramer and Sprenger's beliefs were false, groundless and
based solely upon fear, misogyny, myth, rumor, and a pre-scientific understanding of the world. But
these same (or similar) beliefs continue to be promoted today. James Clement
Taylor, a conservative Christian has commented: "these people of Wicca
have been terribly slandered by us. They have lost jobs, and homes, and places
of business because we have assured others that they worship Satan, which they
do not. We have persecuted them..." 1To date, all of the sources
for this misinformation that we have been able to locate come from a small minority
of authors within the Fundamentalist/Evangelical and Roman Catholic communities. Generally
speaking, they relied upon other conservative Christians for source material,
rather than using primary sources. 4,5,6,7,8 Fortunately,
during the late 1990s and into the 21st
century, many books have been written by religious conservatives about Wicca
which are far more accurate.
On the other hand, some Christian groups have published accurate
descriptions of Wicca, based on primary sources. 2,3
For example, Dr. John Norris,
Chair of Theology at the University of Dallas once wrote: "I do think there
are ways in what Wicca does is channeling good energy...[P]ractitioners of Wicca
have a noble responsibility to care for the world of nature." 10
In the same article he said: "[T]he Occult, I associate it with black magic,
a belief in an evil spirit that one worships and one aligns oneself with in
order to gain advantage in the world. Wicca, from my perspective, is not part of
the Occult because it considers itself part of an alignment with the good force
Most conservative Christians, those who believe in the inerrancy
of the Bible, also accept the concept that any person who is "saved" is rescued
from an eternity of punishment in Hell. This heavily motivates them to convert the
"unsaved" to a saving knowledge and trust in Jesus Christ. Occasionally, they
try to convert a Wiccan. This is almost always a failure. One main reason is that they
approach the potential convert armed with a great deal of misinformation about the
Gwydion is a Wiccan from Elkhart, IN. He was once a proselytizing Christian. He has
written an excellent article "How to Share the Gospel with Pagans"
which gives advice to Christians who are attempting to convert Neopagans.
F.L. Rice, "'A letter to Witches' revised: Deceptions get
corrected," at http://www.holysmoke.org/
This is an analysis of an anti-Wiccan article.
Herne, "Herne's ramblings: 'An open letter'," at http://www.wicca.com/
This is a letter by a Wiccan which is directed to Christians who had written
her "inspired by hatred, intolerance and complete misconception."