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Religious Tolerance logo

References to Wicca during the 1980s &1990s.

From agencies, governments,
Christian & anthropology sources

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From reports of social service agencies:

bulletRob Tucker, "IPCA Report" (Spring 1989) Volume 2 #1. P. 8 The Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse, 25 Spadina Rd, Toronto ON M5R 2S9, Canada:
"Witchcraft, or Wicca, is considered part of the occult, but has little relationship to Satanism. Wicca is pagan (pre-Christian, as opposed to anti-Christian) and is currently gaining popularity."
bulletRob Tucker "Teen Satanism," The Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse, Toronto (1989) conference reprint: "Ritual Abuse: Fact or Fiction?" P. 7
"Wicca, or Witchcraft, refers to a pre-Christian or pagan form of worship and most Wiccans are upset at being lumped together with Satanism."

From federal government publications:

Grant Willis, "Witches, Pagans in Military Demand Rights", Army Times, (1987-OCT-26), pp 1,16. He quotes the U.S. Army's Chaplin Handbook:
"Their religion, Wicca, is the tribal worship of ancient peoples based in 'magick', herbology, healing and the worship...of the Mother Goddess and her consort, the Horned God."

From Christian books and magazines:

Christians hold many very different beliefs concerning Wicca. Between 1980 and the mid-1990s, there was a widespread belief among some law enforcement officers, some feminists, and some Christians that:

bulletSatanists and Wiccans held essentially identical beliefs and engaged in similar practices.
bulletBoth Satanists and Wiccans engaged in Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA): that was believed to include horrendous physical, sexual and spiritual abuse of children and others.
bulletSatanism was a type of mirror image of Christianity. Its followers conducted inverted Christian rituals, like Black Masses, as a means of ridiculing and denigrating Christianity.

Most of these beliefs have as their origin religious propaganda about Gothic Satanism which was originally circulated centuries ago, and which was still regarded as accurate as late as 1995. Gothic Satanism did not exist then and does not exist now.

After 15 years of criminal investigation between 1980 and 1995 turned up zero concrete evidence of SRA, belief in religiously-inspired ritual abuse collapsed. Therapists recognized that memories of SRA were false; they were unrelated to actual childhood events; they were traceable to dangerous therapeutic techniques like Recovered Memory Therapy.

Since the mid 1990s, Christian authors have begun to consult primary information sources, actually written by Wiccans and Satanists. Most writers now accept that these are two almost unrelated religions, neither of which engage in evil practices. Most of the quotations below come from the transition period where writers still believed that Satanists engaged in evil practices, but that Wicca was unrelated to Satanism.

bulletSteve Russo, "The Devil's Playground," Harvest House (1994). P. 93:
"...witches are not Satanists and don't believe in evil, Satan or sacrificing animals. Doing evil is supposedly against one of the basic principles of their religion. If you do anything bad, it comes back to you three times. Any magic witches do is 'for the good of all,' as they say at the end of their spells." [Editor's note: Satanists do not worship Satan as a living entity. They regard all life as precious and thus do not sacrifice animals.]
bulletTodd Ackerman, "Wicca," National Catholic Register (1986-MAR-9) P2. Quoting Selena Fox a high priestess of the Church of the Circle of Wicca in Madison WI:
"Satanism is the opposite of witchcraft. We don't believe in evil practices, we abide by a love ethic. Harming any of Natures creations is the last thing we'd ever do." [Editor's note: This incorrectly implies that Satanists do engage in evil practices and perhaps animal sacrifice.]

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bulletMcDowell & Stewart, "The Occult", Here's Life Publishers, (1992) P. 199:
"Writers of the past have confused Satanism and witchcraft.....Witches do not worship the devil.... Witches are more interested in magical arts and the divinity of nature. Their world view is pantheistic to the degree that they serve gods and goddesses in the divinity of all.....Wiccans are considered pagans because they worship several nature gods instead of a single god.... They also believe in psychic powers and hold rituals according to lunar cycles...." [Note: Neither Witches nor Satanists worship the Christian devil.]
bulletSharon Rufus, "Who are the Witches?", Fate (1986 AUG), P. 59: quoted by Nelson Price in "New Age, the Occult and Lion Country", Power Books (1989), P. 98:
"The World Christian Encyclopedia estimates 6 million Americans profess to be witches and engage in practices like these. They are a sub-group of over 10 million persons the encyclopedia says call themselves pagans, who practice "primitive" religions such as Druidism, Odin worship and Native American shamanism." [Note: These numbers are grossly exaggerated.]
bulletDaniel Cohen, "The New Believers", M. Evans & Co. (1975) P. 129-31. Quoting Leo Louis Martello:
"Witchcraft is a pre-Christian faith. It tends to be matriarchal whereas both Christianity and Satanism are patriarchal and male chauvinist. The latter two are merely opposite sides of the same coin. Witchcraft, as the Old Religion, is a coin of a different vintage, predating both. [Note: Describing Satanism as an inverted form of Christianity is inaccurate.]
bulletRev. Paul Newman "Neither Christian nor Satanism", United Church Observer. 1993-FEB, P. 10:
"...practitioners of Wicca often call themselves witches.....Newman wrote a letter of support, in which he argued 'the Wiccan religion is an authentic, respectable religion that works for the health and well-being of its followers. It is not to be confused with Satanism which is a destructive, evil movement'." [Note: Like many Christian commentators, Newman appears to confuse religious Satanism with the nonexistent Gothic Satanism of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.]

From books on anthropology:

bulletLehmann & Myers, editors of "Magic, Witchcraft and Religion", 2nd edition, Mayfield (1989). Article by J.B. Russell, "Witchcraft": P. 203 & 211:
"The term witchcraft embraces a wide variety of phenomena. Three quite different phenomena have been called witchcraft. The first is simple sorcery....The second is the alleged diabolical witchcraft of the late medieval and early modern Europe. The third is the pagan revival of the twentieth century."

"[Modern Witchcraft] rejects diabolism and even belief in the devil on the grounds that the existence of the Devil is a Christian, not a pagan doctrine. It offers a sense of the feminine principle in the godhead....The modern neo-paganism has few connections with simple sorcery and virtually none with diabolism. Diabolism has in fact almost ceased to exist in the late twentieth century."

Latest update: 2004-SEP-05
Formatting changed: 2009-DEC-28

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