pagans parliament world religions council

Photo by Ray Messner

Now here is something interesting on the religious horizon: Pagans serving on the “Board of Trustees of the Council of the Parliament of World Religions.” There are currently three people on the board, obviously brave individuals in consideration of previous reaction to the mere existence of people who deemed themselves Pagans. As the article “Pagans at the Parliament” outlines, the Greek Orthodox Church pulled out of the Council some 17 years ago because of their bias against Paganism. The article’s author Nancy Vedder-Shults remarks:

In the past the spectrum of disrespect for Paganism has extended from branding us as Satanists to dismissing us as superstitious. From the perspective of Abrahamic traditions, Paganism has essentially been viewed as a heresy. Thus the Greek Orthodox walk-out. But at this Parliament, Pagans made it very clear that we’re aligned with other indigenous religions. Wiccans and Pagans practice the remnants of the pre-Christian, indigenous religions of Europe. Like other indigenous religions, we practice an Earth-based Nature religion. And like other indigenous religions, ours was persecuted by conquerors, who forced us to go underground during the Christianization of Europe.

Considering that “Paganism” in its older meaning has referred to all religions and faiths outside of the three Abrahamic monotheisms – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – in defining Pagans we are talking about a huge percentage of the population: About half the world, in fact. This figure would include all Hindus and Buddhists, to the tune of a possible billion and a half, as well as all the other religions, sects and cults. Then there are the hundreds of millions of non-believers in any organized religion, many of whom consider themselves “atheists,” but also those who are spiritual yet unaffiliated. This massive amount of human beings has every right to be represented on a Council that affirms itself as the Parliament of World Religions. Let us hope they thrive, in fact, and help facillate a reawakening to our ancient shared religious and cultural heritage.