Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Interview with a Conservative Pagan
Was any of those words Pagan? I'd bet money they weren't.
While here on the blog I rarely post about politics, on my Facebook page politics is something that I routinely discuss. I don't deny that I am a liberal and identify with the Democratic party almost all the time. On my Facebook page, I often share posts criticizing and even poking fun at the Republican party. Because of this, in the last few months a few of my fans have spoken out. What are they saying?
I'm Pagan and I'm a Conservative.
Yes, you read that right. As the page grows, I'm meeting more of them. It took weeks but I was finally able to get an interview with one of them. Martha Hartz Dickinson gave me the opportunity to ask her some questions.
Julie: Before I ask about your politic views, can you tell me more about your spiritual path?
Martha: I have always felt a kinship with nature, could feel energies in stones. It was normal for me but I didn't realize that it had a name until I was about 15. Back then, the olden days...you know the 80's it was difficult to find others or any information. In college I was attracted to the Catholic church--not so much for the belief system but for the ritual and ceremony--later I learned most were pagan. I enjoyed my time there but felt I was disrespecting a lovely faith, I just didn't believe the basic tenants of the faith. I wandered spiritually for a bit, the relationship I had with nature and animals again reasserted itself. By this time it was a bit easier to get information and it seemed no matter where I went --work, book stores, grocery store anywhere there would be something about paganism (the universe does have a way) so I bought a book, then found a group. My initial study was Wiccan but I no longer use that name. It does play a part in my path, but I've also been drawn to Romani and Hoodoo. I prefer earth magics and seem to have a special affinity with animals.
Julie: I initially started off studying Wicca as well. It was a springboard to studying other pagan paths. It was also a springboard to politics. I had never had an interest in politics until reading books by Starhawk. Were you always interesting in politics? Or did that happen later?
Martha: I actually have been, I was more excited about registering to vote then I was about graduating from high school I was very liberal in my youth, very pro choice, actually an officer in the College Democrats group in my university, worked on Clinton's first campaign, got to meet Biden and Gore as I got older, got married, started working my views changed. I didn't want them to and fought it, did a lot of research trying to hold on to the things I believed so strongly, but the more research I did the more conservative I got. I have some wonderful liberal friends, folks I love and respect an we have great discussions but I saw a lot of my "tolerant" friends turn away when my views changed. It was not an easy time.
Julie: You met Biden and Gore? That is so awesome. I'm jealous. What was that like?
Martha: The University was in Delaware so Biden was around a lot--it's a great benefit to living in a tiny state. He was kind of silly, nice guy though. Gore was very formal. The meeting lasted maybe 3-4 mins. It was during his and Clinton's first run and after a rally so they were headed to another state. I had his autograph on a campaign sign no idea what happened to it though.
Julie: What is the definition of "conservative" to you? Do you identify with any political party?
Martha: To me conservative is encouraging people to do on their own--to give a hand up not hand outs, to limit --not get rid of- but limit government intervention in most aspects of life, running this amazing country within the bounds and limits of the constitution, I've seen in MOST (not all) aspects private enterprise and private competition tends to do better then governmental monopoly. That said I think government has no place in someone's bedroom besides making sure all parties are adult and consenting.
I mostly vote Republican, but I'm not overly thrilled with them either.
Julie: I have to admit, like most pagans I don't understand how you can be pagan and conservative, much less vote Republican. The GOP as a whole is viewed as supporting the 1% in business and is not viewed as supporters of women's, minorities, or LBGT rights. Many feel that is directly opposed to the Pagan view on how we all are equal and deserve the same rights.
Martha: To me a big part of being pagan is taking responsibility for yourself and your actions, taking care of yourself and those you love and helping others to me these are directly conservative. I am certainly not in the 1%. I am permanently disabled and live on a fixed income. I do believe that encouraging those who create jobs and employ others with things like tax brakes is a good thing.
As far as not supporting women's, minorities or LBGT rights I can only go by what I've seen in 15 years of being an active conservative and learning to look past the rhetoric (please remember there are idiots in both parties and those are the ones that seem to be used the most by people that disagree with the other parties views).
Historically the Republican party has been the champions of women's suffrage, of repealing the Jim Crow laws, ending slavery. The first woman in congress was a republican Janette Rankin of Montana. To a conservative (in my experience) women's rights, men's right, Minority rights are not treated any differently from each other. It's looked at like (awkward wording I know) each person has potential regardless of their sex or color and that shouldn't advance them before others or hold them back. It's largely irrelevant.
As far as LBGT rights I don't agree with the Republican stance on this one, and I do see it changing--slowly but changing. There are groups like GOPpride and Log Cabin Republicans that are LBGT conservative groups. (I am not a lesbian but am a proud member of both.)
Julie: I absolutely agree these are the things the Republican party stood for historically. I've gotten quite the education recently on what the Republican party has stood for in the past. However, it seems this is the exact opposite of today's Republican party. What they supported years ago seems to be what they are against now. Do you feel the Republican party has changed or are people looking at a few extremists in the party and making stereotypes about the entire GOP? Do you feel extremists such as the Tea Party share the same values as Republicans in the past?
Martha: I don't think they've changed. I think the tone of opposition on both sides has changed. I think both sides look for the most insane radical views of those they oppose and present those as the way everyone thinks.
And the Tea Party--there is so much disinformation going around. I am marginally involved (being disabled it's hard to get around or go to events) so I'll let others (hopefully) start setting the record straight. Those that are more involved than me.
At this point she shared with me a few websites about the Tea Party and several other sites about conservative pagans (see the end of the interview for the list). When I thanked her for the links, her response was...
Martha: I hope I helped a little. I hate the gulf between the two sides.
Julie: I absolutely agree with what you say about both sides. Both parties do take the most extreme insane radical views and use them as propaganda against each other. Can you give me an example of a conservative, living or dead, that best represents your political views?
Martha: It's hard to choose, I tend to take each issue as it comes and do my own research and my views are shaped from that. I don't like people telling me what to think, so I tend to be a bit all over the place. If I HAD to pick I'd say Ronald Reagan.
Julie: Thank you so much for this interview. Last question - to people who say you can't be both pagan and conservative, what message do you have for them?
Martha: I would say you absolutely can. There are many and learning to listen to each other, show respect for another's view (even if you don't mean it at first) and knocking off the immediate response of name calling and marginalizing those that view things differently would be of a huge benefit not only to the pagan community but this country and the world as a whole.
Before ending the interview she gave me a warning...
I hope you understand what you're getting into with this. If conservatism is presented even remotely in a positive light you will get hate mail, possibly threats. I'm used to it by now.
Links on Conservative Paganism
Dove's Light Coven
The Conservative New Ager
A Pagan Conservative???
The Conservative Pagan
Conservative Pagans - We Exist
Red State Witch
Pagan Conservative and what it means
Martha Hartz Dickinson @ email@example.com
Links on The Tea Party
What is The Tea Party?
Tea Party Movement