Along with Asheville's wicked ways, has come this controversy about religion bumping into public schools. As I've discussed this a bit with some friends, I've also run into a new sense that I find somewhat frightening.
It isn't just that there are people in my county who believe anyone who doesn't worship the way they do will have eternal damnation. I have very few friends who are intolerant of other's beliefs. Most of my friends believe in freedom of religion. I forgot for a while that those others are running around with their heads in some kind of buckets that keep them from even seeing that other very good people, people who lead exemplary lives, don't believe the same way they do.
Am I now going to look at fundamentalist Christians much the way I look at extremist Muslims? Bucket-heads. They don't see the forest for their own myopic trees that have limited viewpoints.
The thing that most bothers me about this is that the rest of us now have to live in fear that anyone we talk with might be a closet (are there any other kind?) KKK member. Just like they might be Taliban conspirators.
Please! That is said with a whine of self pity. I don't want to look at my contacts with my neighbors with fear and mistrust. And I don't want to limit my own vocalizations that allow tolerance of other's beliefs to be clear and present at all times. I'm proud to be who I am and have the opportunity to learn about the beliefs of other people. Apparently that is a rare attitude these days.
I'm hoping this atmosphere of intolerance is a political byproduct of the primary election in nearby South Carolina where the hotbed of fundamentalism is trying to elect a person today that does represent their viewpoints to run for President. And then maybe we can get back to being respective of other people's religions. Until then, I have friends who reside here on the belt buckle of the Bible Belt who have stopped speaking their truths in public for fear of death threats.
Yes, a pagan woman received a death threat a couple of days ago for having insisted upon the separation of church and state in our Buncombe County public schools. Look at the Citizen-Times of Asheville for details. Or check out what Byron Ballard has to say at The Village Witch blog.
This reeks of pre-Natzism. I can't believe it is happening right here to people I know. They are afraid to stand up and share with others that they aren't among a minority (yes I do think the hate-oriented fundamentalists are a small bunch of crazed silly sports fans). Unfortunately, the more of us, whether Christians, Jews, Atheists or Wiccans...the more that we become silent about this threat, the more we allow an atmosphere of fear. And that atmosphere will allow the minority of extremist thinking to grow into a delusion that they actually do have the right to impose their wills upon the rest of us.
The Constitution was pretty well written, and has laws written and upheld to protect the great idea that no one religion will have power in the governance of the people. Now the city, county and state officials are being called upon to enforce these laws. But the common experience must move out of fear based atmosphere. We need to remember that Jesus (as well as lots of other wise prophets) preached to love one another, not to scare each other.