Victim, it’s a word we hear too often in South Africa- rape victim, robbery victim, hijacking victim, abuse victim. It’s a term that is applied to those who have been subject to harm or oppression against their will, and in most cases, they were powerless to prevent that harm. And as a result of that involuntary harm, the victim of a situation is usually mentally or emotionally affected by the event. Victim is not a positive word; it carries the stigma of weakness, helplessness and hopelessness. Why then am I labeled a ‘victim’ of my beliefs by the media, the SAPS, and those who call themselves ‘occult experts’?
I was raised in a Christian home, specifically Presbyterian. When I was about nine years old my mother saw fit to have me baptized again and in the same year I was introduced to Friday night youth group and Sunday School; whether I wanted to partake or not. After a while I stopped going to the youth group, but it was only when I was 16 that I dropped the church and Christianity all together. I became an atheist, and in a meeting with the church minister and my mother, announced that God had about as much meaning in my life as Father Christmas. My decision didn’t go down well with some of my family.
If my family had bought into the rubbish that today’s ‘occult experts’ spout and I had been weighed against the supposed ‘warning signs’; well I would have been labeled a Satanist. Thankfully I didn’t have to suffer a situation that many other South African teenagers did and my family left me relatively well alone when it came to the religion issue…until I showed an interest in Paganism the following year.
Granted, maybe in my misguided youth I shouldn’t have painted runic writing on my entire bedroom cupboard; but what was known about my decision to explore Paganism, Wicca specifically, was vague to my parents. They had some suspicions and there were a few attempts to ‘redirect’ me from the path I was on. It was only six years later that I outright announced to my parents that I was Pagan. Thankfully they were both accepting of my beliefs at that stage.
But the thing is unlike my Christian upbringing, I didn’t have Paganism forced on me. I wasn’t ‘recruited into the occult’ and I came to my current religious path on my own and of my own free will. And what few people know is just how much my religion has empowered me- it has given me strength to face issues from my past, to understand them, to work through those issues and turn what was once weakness into strength. And all without the need to so much as tell another person, let alone attempt to convert them.
My religion doesn’t cripple me, it doesn’t harm me and it certainly doesn’t harm anyone else. Following a Pagan religion is my Constitutional right. I have the right under the South African Constitution to follow the religion of my choosing, to worship in accordance to that religion and not be discriminated against or persecuted for it.
So when the likes of Auksano, Aserac, Kobus Jonker and other ex-ORCU members tell the general public I am a ‘victim of the occult’ they are violating my constitutional right to freedom of religion without discrimination. By mislabeling my religion ‘self destructive’, by publicly conveying in speech and writing false claims about my religion and deeming adherents of occult beliefs as ‘victims’, they are in contravention of the South African Constitution.
Religions, practices and beliefs that fall under the occult and Pagan umbrellas are not sinister or destructive. Pagans and occultists are not in need of saving, they do not suffer harm because of their beliefs and they certainly do not evangelize or harm others in the name of their beliefs either.
What’s more, the need for an Occult-Related Crimes Unit in the SAPS is offensive. Their usage of the term occult implies that those who follow or practice occult beliefs and religions are prone to criminal activities and need to be policed, an implication that is wholly false. Contrary to Kobus Jonker’s propaganda, occult beliefs and crime do not go hand in hand anymore than Christianity, Islam or any other mainstream religion does.
I am not a victim of my religion. I am not a criminal. I will not silently stand by as false, self styled ‘experts’ on my beliefs discriminate against myself and others!
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