This week the Gauteng MEC for Education Barbara Creecy released an official statement about an “anti-Satanism strategy” in schools that, in conjunction with select religious leaders, seeks to address “harmful religious practices” related to Satanism and occultism.
The South African Pagan Rights Alliance, which was not consulted by Creecy in her initiative, has objected to her attempts to stigmatize Satanism and occultism. Members of the public have asked why Pagans are defending Satanism. Does this mean they are Satanists? Some Pagans have even said they are not comfortable being seen defending Satanism as they don’t want to be associated with it.
Let’s get one thing straight. Pagans don’t believe in the Christian concept of Satan.
However, many Pagans participate in occult activities, e.g. by reading Tarot cards or dowsing with a pendulum. This gives them a very good reason to challenge Creecy. That, and the fact that many people don’t know the difference between Paganism and Satanism, which can be twisted to mean just about anything to suit anyone’s purpose. People accused of Satanism have their lives destroyed and anyone is fair game. It is no different from the disgraceful witch hunts of the past, which belong in history books not our schools for God’s sake. Creecy herself was labelled a Satanist in 2011, which should give her a reason to be more cautious and makes her statement even more bizarre than it already is.
SAPRA’s objection is primarily about defending freedom of religion, and everybody who appreciates freedom should be grateful someone is speaking up about this.
If anyone bothers to do some research away from the evangelical hysteria, they will discover that Satanism as a religion has little to do with devil worship and teenage rebellion in the name of Satan. I have heard it described as “glorified atheism” and the religion of the corporate boardroom. Ironically, teenagers dabbling in Satanism are playing out fantasies perpetuated by Christian evangelists, a phenomenon known as “legend tripping”.
Unfortunately most people won’t bother to do the research. They are too lazy and/or they don’t really want to know the truth. Thinking for oneself is hard work.
Yes, it would have made life easier if Pagans were objecting to a clear cut case of discrimination towards Paganism, but I can see an upside to this situation. Satanism is the acid test on whether we really have freedom of religion in this country.
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