Pagans Don't Care Like Christians?
While over at the Bush wars I stumbled across this piece of work . Apparently the director of Faith-Based and Community Inititiatives at the White House, H. James Towey, made the following statement during an online chat:
"I haven't run into a pagan faith-based group yet, much less a pagan group that cares for the poor! ...Once you make it clear to any applicant that public money must go to public purposes and can't be used to promote ideology, the fringe groups lose interest. Helping the poor is tough work, and only those with loving hearts seem drawn to it." "
The article went on to discuss how various "pagan" groups such as Wikkans do in fact do work with the poor. Now why do I have an interest in this? Well it's because I am a follower of Ifa. Ifa is the traditional religion of the Yoruba of what is now called Nigeria. Our religion made the middle passage trip to the Americas in the hearts and minds of Africans enslaved by Europeans and betrayed by their kin. One of the things about Ifa, and indeed most "non-Western" religions (which is really a misnomer but that's another post) is that we do not proselytize. You will not find an Omo-Orisa on the street with an Awake pamphlet. Nor will one come to your door asking if you believe. What is also of note is that our culture, prior to European conquest had a social order that had no need for food kitchens and outreach programs. Our societies were structured around extended kinship relations in which family and groups were responsible for the welfare of all thier neighbors. So really who's more civilized? who was really providing for the poor? We had been doing this but were deemed uncivilized and in need of the Bible and private property. Many of todays adherents of Ifa and its various offshoots such as Santeria are "in the closet." Many are nominal Catholics and Protestants. Within' these groups they participate in many types of outreach. The reason you don't hear about them is that we believe that your relationship with Olodumare (God) is your business and not something that you use to show off with.
Anyway, I'm not surprised at this kind of statement. In fact it is common practice among both Christians and Muslims to deride people who are not of thier faiths. It is extremely common to see things called "voodoo" this and "voodoo" that. Personally I think some folks ought to be knocked in the mouth the next time they say something ignorant like that in front of a practicioner. But I'm not up for petty assault charges. ;-)