This artcle written by Malanie Philips (Daily Mail) is sure to anger Pagans and the Druid Order
Will someone please tell me this is all a joke. Until now, Druids have been regarded indulgently as a curious remnant of Britain’s ancient past, a bunch of eccentrics who annually dress up in strange robes at Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice.
However, according to the Charity Commission, they are to be recognised as a religion and, as a result, afforded charitable status, with the tax exemptions and other advantages that follow.
After a four-year campaign, the Commission says it accepts that the Druids worship nature and that they also believe in the spirits of places such as mountains and rivers, as well as in ‘divine guides’.
This, apparently, makes them qualify as a religion.
Can it be long before the BBC transmits Stones Of Praise, or solemnly invites listeners to Radio 4’s Thought For The Day to genuflect to a tree?
Some might shrug this off. After all, the Druids don’t do any harm to anyone. What skin is it off anyone else’s nose how they are categorised?
Well, it actually matters rather a lot. Elevating them to the same status as Christianity is but the latest example of how the bedrock creed of this country is being undermined. More than that, it is an attack upon the very concept of religion itself.
This is because Druidry is simply not a religion. Now, it’s true that religion is notoriously difficult to define. But true religions surely rest on an established structure of traditions, beliefs, literature and laws.
Above all, they share a belief in a supernatural deity (or more than one) that governs the universe
By these standards, Druidry is surely not a religion but a cult — a group defined merely by ritual practices but which stands outside mainstream religion.
Nor does it seem to conform to the definition of a religion according to charity law.
When Radio 4’s Sunday Programme suggested yesterday morning to Phil Ryder, chairman of the Druid Network, that the legal definition of religion included a ‘significant belief in a supreme being or entity’, he saw no contradiction. Druids, he said cheerfully, might venerate many gods, inanimate objects or nature.
How very inclusive of them! But the key point is surely that none of these beliefs involves a ‘supreme’ being that exists beyond the Earth and the universe. On the contrary, Druids worship what is in or on the earth itself.
When asked further how Druidry benefited the public interest — the key test for charitable status — Mr Ryder burbled that its ethical framework consisted of forming ‘honourable and sustainable relationships’ with everything in the world, including animals, people and nature.
But there are many who subscribe to no belief system at all and who would say they, too, want to live in harmony with the earth and everything in it. Are they, therefore, also to be regarded as religious folk and given charitable status?
Maybe Prince Charles, who famously talks to his plants, could register himself on that basis as the founder of a new religion? Duchy Devotions, anyone?
If the Druids qualify as a religion, can other cults such as the Scientologists be far behind?
Can it be long, indeed, before the wise and learned theologians of the Charity Commission similarly grant charitable status to sorcery, witchcraft or even the Jedi — the fictional Star Wars ‘religion’ which the 2001 census recorded as having no fewer than 390,127 adherents in England and Wales.
The whole thing is beyond absurd. But it is also malevolent. For it is all of a piece with the agenda by the oh-so politically correct Charity Commission to promote the fanatical religious creed of the Left — the worship of equality.
The Commission was primed by Labour for this attempt to restructure society back in 2006, when charity law was redrawn to redefine ‘public benefit’ as helping the poor.
This put the independent schools in the front line of attack, since education was no longer itself considered a benefit — as it had been since time immemorial — but only insofar as it furthered the ideology of ‘equality’.
Thus, we have arrived at the extraordinary situation where some of these schools, which have delivered such inestimable benefit to the nation, face the loss of their charitable status, which is to be given instead to people who dance naked around stones and worship the sun.
But the new respectability of paganism cannot be laid entirely at the Charity Commission’s door. For in recent years, pagan practices have been rapidly multiplying, with an explosion of the occult: witchcraft, parapsychology, séances, telepathy and mind-bending cults.
Astonishingly, around 100 members of the Armed Forces now classify themselves as pagans, and a further 30 as witches.
There are thought to be about 500 pagan police officers. A Pagan Police Association has even been set up to represent officers who ‘worship nature and believe in many gods’.
They have been given the right to take days off to perform rituals, such as leaving food out for the dead, dressing up as ghosts and casting spells, or celebrating the sun god with ‘unabashed sexuality and promiscuity’.
Britain’s prison authorities are equally hospitable to the occult: under instructions issued to every prison governor, pagan ‘priests’ are allowed to use wine and wands during ceremonies in jails. Inmates practising paganism are allowed a hoodless robe, incense and a piece of religious jewellery among their personal possessions.
Political correctness gone mad or what? As one disgusted police officer exploded: ‘What has it come to when a cop gets time off so he can sit about making spells or dance around the place drinking honey beer with a wand in his hand?’
How on earth has our supposedly rational society come to subscribe to so much totally barking mumbo-jumbo?
In part, it developed from the New Age embrace of Eastern beliefs in the inter-connectedness of everything in the universe. The defining characteristic of such faiths is a spirituality which is concerned with the self rather than the world beyond the individual.
These beliefs were, therefore, tailor-made for the ‘me society’ which turned against Biblical constraints on behaviour in the interests of others. They were subsequently given rocket fuel by environmentalism, at the core of which lies the pagan worship of ‘Mother Earth’.
And they were then legitimised by the doctrines of equality of outcomes and human rights — which, far from protecting the rights of truly religious people, aim to force Biblical morality and belief out of British and European public life altogether.
This is because human rights and equality of outcomes are held to be universal values. That means they invariably trump specific religious beliefs to impose instead equal status for all creeds.
But if all creeds, however absurd, have equal meaning then every belief is equally meaningless. And without the Judeo-Christian heritage there would be no morality and no true human rights.
There is nothing remotely enlightened about paganism. It was historically tied up with both communism and fascism, precisely because it is a negation of reason and the bedrock values behind Western progress.
The result is that, under the secular onslaught of human rights, our society is reverting to a pre-modern era of anti-human superstition and irrationality. From human rights, you might say, to pagan rites in one seamless progression.
Anyone who thinks radical egalitarianism is progressive has got this very wrong. We are hurtling backwards in time to a more primitive age**
**Is that such a bad thing ? Food for though!
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