CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN RADIO PROGRAMS
WHICH TARGET WICCANS & OTHER NEOPAGANS
Increase in Christian-Wiccan hatred
In recent years, there have been a growing number of verbal and physical attacks on Wiccans
and other Neopagans by conservative Christians. The
root cause of these attacks is religious
intolerance, fueled by beliefs left over from the Burning Times when Witches
and other heretics were exterminated by the Christian church. There
are probably dozens of factors responsible for the current increase in conflict. Some are:
||Both conservative Christians and Neopagans are experiencing a rapid growth
in membership. Evangelical Christians are increasing
about 5.4% per year. The growth rate of Wiccans is difficult to
estimate, but appears to be much higher.
||Many more Neopagans are coming out of the "closet"
and going public with their faith, even though this decision carries strong
||Documentaries by various media on Wicca are becoming more common.
||Some politicians have found that attacking Wiccans is a useful method of
gaining votes. (U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia
& Governor Mike Johanns of Nebraska are two
||Although belief in widespread ritual abuse and Satanic
ritual abuse has largely dissipated among the general public, it is
still widely believed by conservative Christians, who often consider Wiccans
and other Neopagans to be perpetrators of child abuse and murder.
||A perceived increase in school violence is
increasing concern over gang-related clothing in schools. Many boards of
education are adopting dress codes, some of which ban non-Christian religious
jewelry. Wiccans are increasingly challenging this bigotry, both publicly and in
the courts. These actions increase their visibility.
As time permits, we plan to listen to a variety of radio and television programs of
a religious nature. We will document instances of religious
hatred, ridicule, misrepresentation, misinformation etc. directed against
Neopagans. This essay was written in 1999-SEP; we only have one example to
1999-SEP-18: Passages, an episode of "Adventures in Odyssey"
Focus on the Family 1 is one of the largest
Fundamentalist Christian organizations in the world. They offer an enormous
range of services, including Internet magazines, mailing lists, radio programs,
radio PSAs, books, position papers, etc. One of their most popular services
directed to children is a radio program called "Adventures in
Odyssey." They broadcast one radio drama each weekday, with a separate
series on the weekends. 2 They can be heard on many of the hundreds
of conservative Christian radio stations throughout the U.S.
is a series of two Odyssey programs which were first broadcast on 1999-SEP-18/19 and
and SEP-25/26. It is also available in printed form in many Evangelical
Christian bookstores. The series is roughly patterned after a Biblical passage
(Judges, chapters 6 to 8) which describes how Gideon fought some very successful
battles against neighboring tribes. The episodes deal with two young
teenagers, Alice and Timmy who were attending summer camp near Odyssey. Somehow,
they were transported to another world or another dimension: a country called
the "Northern Territory of Merus." This was a land similar to the
American west circa 1880 CE. Merus was in the middle of a religious war between
worshipers of "the unseen one" (later identified as God) and
Pagans. Some distressing messages taught by the first episode of Passages
|Content of the first
|Throughout the episode, the Adrians, who follow a Pagan
religion, are portrayed as evil terrorists. They are portrayed as crude, barbaric, lawless,
boorish, insensitive marauders and arsonists. They had invaded Merus, stolen
farm animals, occupied the town and were trying to
drive out the legitimate inhabitants. Meanwhile, the Theists are portrayed as gentle,
honorable, soft-spoken, civilized, thoroughly decent, likeable
||Pagans are awful people: crude, immoral and unethical.
Christians are nice people: gentle, moral and ethical.
|Alice and Timmy meet an adult Theist called Fletcher. He
relates that their God is angry at the original inhabitants of Merus
because they allowed the Adrians to bring their Pagan gods into the
||Pagans and other non-Christians should not be allowed equal
freedom of religious worship, assembly or speech.
|God creates a magnificent feast in Fletcher's cabin as a
show of his power.
||If you follow God, you will be amply rewarded.
|Alice becomes a "messenger." Her eye color was
brown but changed to blue and green. God speaks through her. She
gives orders to Fletcher.
||Channeling (once done only by New Agers, Shamans etc.), may
be used by God.
|God commands Fletcher to go into town and blow up the Pagan
||Christians carry out God's will when they destroy Pagan
property in terrorist acts. It is OK to destroy Pagan property and
endanger the lives of Pagans.
|Merus was once a great country, unified by a common faith in
the "unseen one" -- (God)
||The presence of non-Christians in America creates religious
diversity which is dangerous to the country's future greatness.
|A Pagan arrests Timmy, without charging him with any crime,
saying: "It's enough that I don't like the look of ya."
||Pagans have contempt for human rights and due process.
|A group of Pagans appear. They are led by a priest who
believes that Timmy is responsible for the destruction of the temple.
They priest and the rest of the mob sound like vigilantes intent on
||Pagans have no respect for human life.
|Content of the
|The Theists have a planning meeting. Alice produces a piece
of paper that no knife or sword can cut. The message is that God will make
||If you have God on your side, you will have absolute
protection and need not fear. Death tolls from natural disasters shows
that such beliefs are naive.
|Half of the potential soldiers go home. They select a small
group from the rest
||If God is on your side, you do not need numbers. Again, a
|The Pagan army arrives nearby. Timmy & Fletcher creep
into their camp and overhear some Pagans describing their troubling dreams
about destruction. They abandon their post.
||Pagans are cowards.
|The Theists attack and rout the Pagans
|The Theists want to crown Fletcher as king. He says that the
unseen one (God) must be our ruler.
||A theocracy, rather than a democracy, is the optimal form of government.
|Alice and Timmy return to the camp.
|Timmy later repented of his sins and trusted Jesus as Lord
||When Timmy died a year later, he went to heaven. Otherwise
he would have been sent for eternal punishment in hell.
The messages being sent to children during the Passages
series are profoundly disturbing. They teach:
||Religious hatred and misinformation of Pagans.
||That God's will is for Christians to destroy the property/lives of
||That America will be strong only if Christianity has a complete
||Religious freedom should only be enjoyed by Christians.
||Religious diversity is evil.
||As long as you feel that God is on your side, you can safely take great
||A theocracy has a superior form of government than a monarchy or a
||God so hates the vast majority of humanity that he will eternally punish
people in hell if they follow the wrong religion.
The approximately 250,000 Neopagans in North America are the targets of this
vicious propaganda. They are the only significant religious group identifying
themselves as Pagans. Some might view this type of hate radio as harmless.
But past events have shown that when religious sources preach hatred against
abortion providers, non-whites, religious minorities, etc., terrible things can
happen. The group being targeted are often viewed by some members of a lunatic
fringe as sub-human. Convinced that they are carrying out God's will, they may
attack and sometimes kill the targeted group.
If the producers of Adventures in Odyssey had simply named the
invaders as Adrians and not further identified them as Pagans, then the
religious hatred generated by the program would at least have no identifiable
group to home in on. But they elected to target Pagans specifically. Paganism is
a significant religious group in North America -- larger than Buddhism,
Unitarian Universalism, and a number of other religions.
We were alarmed at the degree of religious hatred and intolerance exhibited
by this radio program. We exchanged a few letters with Focus on the Family. We
offered to give a talk on the topic of religious tolerance to their staff. They
turned us down flat, saying (in part): "...thanks for your offer.
I trust you can understand that it would be counter-productive for us to forge a
partnership at this point."
Copyright 1997 to 2000, and 2002 Ontario Consultants on Religious
Latest essay update: 2002-MAY-16
Author: B.A. Robinson