L. Neil Smith's
Number 308, February 27, 2005

"Too busy... to pick up a pitchfork and start the revolution."

A Plea for Tolerance
Ron Beatty

Exclusive to TLE

First of all, I am glad to be back on-line and able to contribute to TLE once more. These last few weeks have been quite hectic, and I am glad to be settled into my new digs.

I have made a major change in my circumstances, thanks to the help of a very good person and libertarian, and now have a chance to make a fresh start, and hopefully, will be able to do more writing, learning, and perhaps even start to make a living without having to lie or mislead people!

Like any change, this one has not been painless, despite the incredible help and support of the above mentioned individual. My new location is in the heart of the "Bible belt", and I have been astonished at the level of hate and fear directed at non-Christians here. One local church even refuses to celebrate Christmas and Easter, based on the fact that they were once pagan holidays. Others continually rail against 'Satanists', directing those comments against anyone who is not Christian, but especially against Wiccans and pagans.

Ladies and gentlemen, you may have found your personal path to 'god' in the churches you attend, and if so, I applaud you, sincerely. However, just because you have found your path, that does not mean that everyone else must follow the same path. Every soul must find its own path to the Divine. For some this will mean conventional Christianity. For others, it will mean nature or goddess worship. Still others will not find or accept ANY path, and while we may or may not agree with them, that is their right and privilege!

Wiccans, and pagans in general, are more nature and earth oriented, taking their beliefs from the natural world around them, the world that "God" created. They are more prone to use natural remedies for disease, remedies provided by "God". They are more likely to be the kind of people who respect the earth and the wildlife in general, without being violently dogmatic about that respect. In what way is any of that offensive to "God"?

Just because a person chooses to honor the feminine principle, as well as the masculine, does not make them a bad or evil person. Just because a person chooses to honor the earth we live on, believing that this brings him or her closer to the Divine principle, does not make him or her a bad or evil person. Just because a person believes in a different visualization of the Divine than you do, does not make them a bad or evil person.

Different does not mean 'evil'. It means simply different. No Wiccan or pagan that I know of wants you to change your belief system to accommodate them. No Wiccan or pagan that I know of will do anything to harm you, unless you attempt to harm them first. No Wiccan or pagan that I know of will sacrifice virgins or babies to Baal or Satan. Most don't even believe in the existence of Satan! (and yes, I know that many will take this as an offense against their religion in and of itself!)

For those who hate and fear, why? Why do you hate and fear those who have done you no harm? Why are you so insecure in your faith that you have to persecute and vilify those that have a different faith? Do you believe so little in your god that you will not trust him (or her) to take care of himself (or herself)?

What's next? Will there be another 'Burning Time'? Will those who follow a different path to the Divine be hounded and persecuted? Will Wiccans and pagans be burned at the stake, pressed or hanged? Remember the words of your bible: "Judge not, lest ye be judged". And, "remove the plank from thine own eye, before you complain of the speck in your neighbor's". Remember the words of Yeshua bar Maryam, he who was known as the Christ: "Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone."

I know that many have lately taken to complaining of the so-called 'anti-christian' voices being raised. I have nothing whatsoever against Christianity, or Christians in general, for that matter. I feel that Christianity is a good and admirable religion, for those who choose to follow it! There are many good and valuable lessons to be learned from the words of the Christ, most notably the lessons of love, tolerance, and respect. Sadly, too many of His followers forget that part of the lesson, wallowing in intolerance, bigotry, and hatred. It is those who have given Christianity a bad name, and those who have turned so many against the church founded in His name. Isn't it sad that a church, and a religion, based on love, should be so known for the actions of those who claim to follow that path, yet act so totally opposite to it's teachings? Isn't it sad that a good Christian man should be relieved when told that some new people he had met were pagans, relieved because he knew that pagans were tolerant and accepting, which many Christians are not?

Am I saying that Christians are bad? Of course not!!! There are many good and caring people in the Christian churches, people who truly try to live the teachings of the Christ in their everyday lives. If all were like that, there would be no outcry against Christianity. Sadly, the intolerant fundamentalists have received much more attention, and the actions of those people are what gets most of the attention. They have done much more damage to the religion they claim to believe in than an army of Satanists could ever do.

It is time to close this piece now. For those who are good, caring Christians, I offer my most heartfelt thanks. For the other kind, please, think about what your actions are doing to the religion you follow. Learn the lessons that were taught by the Christ. Learn to love, learn to respect, learn to tolerate that which is different. You don't have to change to meet my beliefs, just follow your own.


The Home Gunsmith

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