Since the beginnings of monotheism, religious bigots have been hunting down and persecuting Witches and Pagans. Few Americans realize the extent to which this persecution continues unabated even today.
We always hear about the saints "thrown to the lions" by Roman emperors. Yet the numbers of Christians who lost their lives for their religion were few compared to the many thousands of pagansJohn Holland Smith, The Death of Classical Paganism, 1976 Chas. Scribner's Sons, is the best source on the Church's systematic destruction of pagan culture during the years from the conversion of Constantine to the fall of Rome. who were tortured and executed by ecclesiastical officials or torn to pieces by howling mobs of monks when Christianity took over Rome. Christian zealots also destroyed every sacred shrine, grove, and temple they could find throughout the Empire, even burning the irreplaceable library of Alexandria because it housed "pagan learning".
Christians drew their inspiration from the patriarchs of the Old Testament who obliterated the Gods and holy places of the indigenous Canaanites, and condemned their own people for honoring the goddess AsherahSee, for example, 2 Kings 17:10-16, 2 Chron. 19:3..
From the Dark Ages on, "true believers" have preached sin and repentance while practicing remorseless genocide against all indigenous religions. Their crusades, holy wars, and inquisitions against Pagans and Witches set the precedent for the holocausts, genocides, and "ethnic cleansings" of modern times. Their missionaries have imposed churches and bibles on native peoples around the globe, enslaving their spirit in order to prepare the way for their political and economic enslavement. Little wonder that, in some parts of the world — notably parts of Africa where missionaries funded by American and European churches have implanted evangelical Protestantism — accused Witches, many of them childrenThe Sangoma, indigenous healers and herbalists in South Africa, are among these victims. Thomas Muthee, the African bishop who publicly blessed Sarah Palin during the 2008 election, is a notorious Witch hunter., are still being tortured, exiled, and murdered.
Religious persecution is excruciatingly personal: It judges and attacks one's very soul. Because we are Witches, we are fired from our jobs, evicted from our homes, and harassed with burning crosses on our lawns. Because we practice Witchcraft, our children are taken from us by judges and social workers, our houses are torched by arsonists, and our altars and groves are desecrated by vandals. In America, outside of a few relatively tolerant metropolitan areas, almost every Witch has experienced being a target for hate crimes and wrongful prejudice.
One of Coven Oldenwilde's encounters with religious bigotry occurred shortly before our Samhain Rite of 1997. Late one night, Lady Passion received a phone call from a man identifying himself as the chief of police. He threatened her, claiming he and his boys had ways of "making Witches disappear". Days before the Rite, city bureaucrats insisted the only way we could celebrate it in torchlight -- or any light other than the harsh glare of the floodlights at the stadium where we were allowed to conduct it -- was to obtain a $3 million event-insurance contract. We got the contract. The city's risk manager then called our insurance broker, "letting him know" that Witches were involved. The insurance company promptly cancelled our coverage.
Monotheistic religions detest diversity in any form. To allow any departure from their one-way-only orthodoxy would lessen their claim to absolute control of humanity's access to the realms of the spirit. For millennia, they have striven through propaganda, persecution, even torture and execution to persuade us that their dominion over the soul is "good", and that older, more natural forms of worship are "evil".
"I proudly wear my Pentacle every day for all to see. When asked about it I am open and honest. People tell me they are going to pray for my soul because I am doomed for hell. I politely thank them for their concern and tell them that while they pray for my soul I will dance around a fire naked for theirs. Because of my beliefs I have been terminated from several jobs. They think that if they can break you they will convert you. If we stand strong we will prevail and endure. We have been around for thousands of years and will be around for thousands to come. I will proudly wear my black ribbon for my brothers and sisters as a remembrance. ... Thank you so much for the support because now I do not feel alone."
— J.M., Alabama