The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Druids recognized as a religion in UK

posted by jmcgee

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Just a couple weeks after the pope’s visit, the United Kingdom has decided to give legal recognition to a pagan religion:

The ancient pagan tradition of Druidry has been formally accepted as a religion under charity law in Britain — a decision its followers hailed Saturday as giving long-overdue recognition to the worship of spirits and the natural world.

The Druid Network, a group of about 350 Druids, will receive exemptions from taxes on donations after the semi-governmental Charity Commission granted it the status of a religion charity, just like mainstream religions such as the Church of England.

To register as a religious charity in England, an organization must satisfy requirements that include belief in a supreme entity, a degree of cohesion and seriousness, and a beneficial moral framework. After a process that took nearly five years the Charity Commission ruled that Druidry fit the bill.

“There is sufficient belief in a supreme being or entity to constitute a religion for the purposes of charity law,” the commission said.

Druids have practiced for thousands of years in Britain and in Celtic societies elsewhere in Europe.

They worship natural forces such as thunder and the sun, and spirits they believe arise from places such as mountains and rivers. They do not worship a single god or creator, but seek to cultivate a sacred relationship with the natural world.

Although they are best known as robed, mysterious people who gather every summer solstice at Stonehenge — which predates the Druids — believers say modern Druidry is chiefly concerned with helping practitioners connect with nature and themselves through rituals, dancing and singing at stone circles and other sites throughout the country believed to be “sacred.”

Phil Ryder, who chairs the Druid Network, welcomed the ruling and said it gave the spiritual tradition added validity.

“There were a lot of problems and we had to go into a lot of explanations … it was just a matter of them trying to understand it,” he said. “It will go a long way to make Druidry a lot more accessible.”

Read on.

And let the interfaith dialogue begin.



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kenneth

posted October 2, 2010 at 2:31 pm


I’m honestly surprised they just got legal recognition so recently. England has been the center of the Western pagan world now for 60 years. Druidic reconstructionists have been at it even long before Gerald Gardner came up with modern Wicca in the 40s. Pagan holidays like Beltane and the soltices draw absolutely enormous crowds and druid and other pagan organizations have very large and vital organizations. I recall that even law enforcement over there got the right to pagan holidays off a while back. In the States, we’ve had legal recognition as religions under tax law since I think the 1970s. I’m a bit surprised it took this long in the UK.
As a side note, on a day to day basis, the tax code implications aren’t always important to small and midsized pagan groups as we’re not a very capital intensive religion. Given the choice, we would always rather conduct ritual outside, and so permanent church buildings and basilicas are just not our thing. Still, proper government recognition goes a long way in other areas – the ability to conduct charity, hire and pay clergy etc.
Whether anyone in particular approves of druidism or any other religion is irrelevant from the standpoint of government treatment. If you have a bonafide religion and follow the other tax exemption rules, there’s no reason you shouldn’t get recognition.



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nnmns

posted October 2, 2010 at 5:16 pm


They worship things that actually exist; you’ve got to give them that.



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nnmns

posted October 2, 2010 at 6:14 pm


Actually you’ve got to give them a lot of things. As far as we know they don’t have an international organization to protect child abusers and to protect protectors of child abusers. They don’t try to prevent people from getting their birth control. They don’t claim to be for the poor but support the candidates who protect the rich.



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pagansister

posted October 2, 2010 at 7:37 pm


EXCELLENT! Having visited Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice, and feeling the sacredness of it at 6:00 one rainy morning,as I walked inside the circle, I find this to be, as expressed in my first word—-EXCELLENT! This faith is a valid as any other world religion! The UK took awhile, but finally came to that conclusion.



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RomCath

posted October 2, 2010 at 8:08 pm


Nice to hear from the usual pot stirrers. So predictable.
Yes in post-Christian Europe, it is nice to hear that 350 who worship the sun have been given credibility.
Maybe you could all dance around the rocks!



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Gwyddion9

posted October 2, 2010 at 8:45 pm


Actually RomCath,
They worship the Old Gods and the Druids DID have Gods.
This whole worship nature is simply said to somehow lessen the religion but it won’t…ever. This is why so many are leaving Christianity as they have found it wanting on many levels and has given nothing but empty promises. Fear is no way to live and Christianity is full of fear. it embraces it, teaches it and propagates it in the institutions. “if you don’t do this…punishment, if you don’t believe this…punishment.” it goes on and on. Some of us have learned to look beyond this nonsense and and live our lives in love and passion, under the watchful care of our Gods.



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Justin

posted October 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm


In response to RomCath. I grew up in a Christian family, but now consider myself a Deist. Your response is condescending and demeaning, yet not surprising.
The Judeo-Christo-Islam Trifecta have a long history of demonizing and trivializing other religious beliefs. Not to mention each other and within themselves.
It is your type of attitude that is one of many reasons I want nothing to do with the egotistical, sadistic Judeo-Christo-Islam “god” who has anger management issues.



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Justin

posted October 2, 2010 at 8:53 pm


To RomCath…..what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. So Maybe you could find a piece of toast with the image of Mary.



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pagansister

posted October 2, 2010 at 9:11 pm


Gwyddion9: Very Well Said!



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Michael

posted October 2, 2010 at 10:16 pm


nnmns: Dude(?), just stop it. All you are doing now is trolling for comments and being as inflammatory as possible without adding any meaningful dialogue. The sex-abuse scandal has been addressed time and time again on this blog, if not in the Catholic community, time and time again. In other words, if you cannot say anything nice…..
RomCath: As Justin said, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. You may not agree with the beliefs of Druidry, but in order for people to respect our Catholic beliefs, you have to at least acknowledge and respect them in turn.
Gwyddion: To say that ‘Christianity is full of fear’ is like saying that ‘Druidism is strictly witchcraft/occult’. I am very sad that your experiences with Christianity have been negative, full of hypocrisy, and the whole fire-and-brimstone schpeel. I could apologize for it, but I think the best ‘apology’ would that some day you have a positive experience with a Christian. With that out of the way, I think that it would be misguided to say that fear and punishment is unique to the Judeo-Christian belief system.
Justin: I direct sort of the same statements that I did to Gwyddion to you: egotistical, angry, sadistic Gods are certainly not original to Christianity. Even further, it is sad that such a theology has come to represent Christianity.
Truly, a bunch of bad apples can ruin many barrels.
My challenge is to stop being bad apples. Disagreement is fine and discussion is great, but let us all stop being insulting.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted October 2, 2010 at 10:23 pm


To all…
I’ve stated elsewhere that I won’t abide comments that mock or disparage religion — any religion. If you want to disagree, do so respectfully, or comments will end up deleted, or shut down.
Thank you.
Dcn. G.



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Gwyddion9

posted October 2, 2010 at 11:20 pm


Michael,
Yes, that has been most of the encounters I’ve had with Christians. I have a few friends, who I would say are Christian by their walk and talk. Basically, good people who only seek to reflect Jesus in word and in action. So I do have some good experiences. Unfortunately, most are not. I see fear being used in many places and not just religion. In the U.S., imo, fear is a big tool used all the time…religion and politics.
It’s a shame really but some people never look beyond their own door, never question or seek answers or the saddest, imo, never seek to find God, however they define it.



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Michael

posted October 2, 2010 at 11:56 pm


Gwyddion,
Thank you for your response! I am glad that you have good friends that act as great examples of what, in my opinion, is living as a true Christian. Hypocrisy that infects all institutions in the world, and not to mention everyone at some point in their life (myself, certainly included). I ask that you remember these friends whenever you refer to the Christian community as a whole. We’re not all bad. :)
I tend to agree with you, however, in regards to people who never look beyond their front door. I personally think that living an unexamined faith isn’t really living a faith at all.



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Subdeacon Lazarus

posted October 3, 2010 at 12:09 am


A simple Christian truth — Jesus died on the Cross and rose again from the dead so us sinners can be restored to God. With Jesus as your savior you have access to God and a home in eternity with him. We his followers may display a weak and puny love for others, but that does not erase the Love God has for us and the Love he demonstrated in Jesus.
Subdeacon Lazarus



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Yoghurt

posted October 3, 2010 at 1:08 am


Funny you don’t look Druish! ;-)



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nnmns

posted October 3, 2010 at 2:15 am


Michael it’s not that easy. The RCC will take decades to live down what it’s allowed, and that’s if it makes a valiant effort to clear it up, which I don’t see happening yet.



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Michael

posted October 3, 2010 at 3:28 am


nnmns,
I have a feeling that the RCC could move mountains, pay gobs of reparations, and apologize in every homily for all eternity and that still would not suffice for your standards. Your opinion on its efforts are just that: your opinion. This thread is not talking about those topics, and there are plenty out there that are.
Regardless, that is not the point. It *is* easy not to be inflammatory. It *is* easy not to be insulting. How easy? Quite simply: do not post if you’ve got nothing nice to say. Being downright hateful does little to further your agenda. If anything, it does quite the opposite.



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PaulStannack

posted October 3, 2010 at 6:27 am


All over Asia and Africa, there are persuations, once consider cults, which must now, in the interest of fairness, be deemed religions, and given like concessions. It should now not matter if their practices are shrouded in secrecy or blood sacrifices common amongst them. All the better, it would seem, if they are suspected of ritual murders. Welcome to the brave new world.



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RomCath

posted October 3, 2010 at 7:21 am


To state that Christianity is based on fear is such utter nonsense. The most often repeated phrase is the Gospels is Do not be afraid. Yes we will be judged and yes there is punishment but that’s our doing. If we live as Christ taught then there is no reason to be afraid of anything.
It seems like just another excuse not to try to live up to the challenges of the Gospel.



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Katherine

posted October 3, 2010 at 8:14 am


it is nice to hear that 350 who worship the sun have been given credibility.
I am a Catholic and don’t believe in Druidism. However, I believe in a free society (and I believe in the moral superiority of free societies), any collection of people have the right to be given legal recognition for their religion.
My friend above seems not to be a friend of free societies. He seems to give the State great power where legal recognition blesses a group with “credibility.”
There are and have been societies where Catholics are free to practice our faith individually, but the Church is given no legal recognition and therefore cannot hold title to property and have the other rights of an incorporated association. The Church has said this is a violation of religious freedom and I agree.
The same to the Druids. The fact the British government has now given them the right to open a bank account is no offense to me or the Catholic faith.



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nnmns

posted October 3, 2010 at 8:34 am


Michael reparations as deserved are important but the critical thing going forward is that those who committed these crimes, and those protecting the criminals and those protecting the protectors of these criminals should face civil justice and should be rooted out of the RCC.
The RCC can’t move actual mountains but it could move mountains of evidence to civil authorities, both where these cases have been made public and where they are still secret.
And as to fear, what is “original sin” for if not to create fear, fear you’ll burn (or whatever) if you don’t find just the right formula of Christian worship and donation to Christian (originally Catholic) churches?



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nnmns

posted October 3, 2010 at 8:54 am


I should have said “rooted out of the leadership of the RCC”
Your membership standards are your business except when they are combined with fear (again) to put pressure on politicians to conform or face excommunication and, of course, hell.



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Michael

posted October 3, 2010 at 12:27 pm


Again, nnmns, I am doubtful that the RCC could ever take enough steps that would ever live up to your standards. Apparently, the ones they have already taken have not. At any rate, this is not the topic of the thread. Stay on topic.
“And as to fear, what is “original sin” for if not to create fear..?”
It is an explanation for the sinful nature of man. There isn’t anything particularly ‘scary’ about it. Rather, it gives insight. The Christian faith offers a narrative explaining why salvation is possible, despite all the bad things we have done or are capable of doing, for us through the person of Jesus Christ and gives us a blueprint on how to live. Again, not particularly ‘scary’.
“Your membership standards are your business except when they are combined with fear (again) to put pressure on politicians to conform or face excommunication and, of course, hell.”
Benny XVI: “One might say that a church which seeks above all to be attractive would already be on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for itself, does not work to increase its numbers so as to have more power. The Church is at the service of Another…”



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nnmns

posted October 3, 2010 at 1:11 pm


“I am doubtful that the RCC could ever take enough steps that would ever live up to your standards. Apparently, the ones they have already taken have not.”
It could but it has not started to yet and even working hard at it, it will take a long time for me and surely many others. And if you don’t like the topic why do you keep responding to it?
As for original sin, Jesus didn’t mention it and it’s not mentioned as such in the Bible; it was invented later. Let’s face it: you can tell people Jesus died for their sins, but a reasonable response for most people would be “That’s nice but I don’t sin that much anyway.” which is true for most people. So why join a church and give them all that power and money? That’s the genius of original sin: “You are actually so bad that if you don’t give all that money and do what you’re told you deserve to burn in hell (another clever invention) and you will.”
Pure marketing genius, especially when coupled with centuries of governments requiring people to be Catholic and mothers forcing it into their kids’ heads at their knees. Soap companies can only dream of a marketing scheme like the Christian religion companies have had all this time.



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kenneth

posted October 3, 2010 at 1:50 pm


Since the topic drifted this direction, I would suggest that there ARE some things the Church could do to convince most reasonable people to give it another chance on the abuse scandals. The bishops and pope could demonstrate true, unprompted, unscripted unreserved contrition. They could do things with actually demonstrate a real Change of Heart on the matter.
NONE of that has been forthcoming so far. They have never once done the right thing out of their own volition when they thought nobody was looking. They never once came clean to law enforcement (or the faithful) BEFORE they got. They refuse to acknowledge even the possibility that there is something wrong with the leadership culture or their own decisions. In their eyes, the whole thing is the fault of gay men and secular society who is “out to get them.” They have done nothing to show that they are truly horrified, much less sorry for what happened on their watch. Yes, they have offered many apologies, but none sincere. They have all been of the scripted, corporate, no-fault variety. “Mistakes were made. We’re sorry we got caught, and we’re sorry our failure of discretion caused such fallout.”
What then, would satisfy me, and many of us? The Pope could offer his resignation, perhaps at the pleasure of the cardinals. People will tell me that it’s just not theologically possible, but I don’t buy it. The Pope after all is in charge of the soul of the Church as a whole on Earth. He could easily determine that the stakes in this matter really are that high. Even if his resignation was not accepted, it would be a real gesture of humility from a class of men which hasn’t demonstrated even a passing knowledge of that concept.
It should go without saying that he should demand the resignation of ALL bishops who had a material role in covering up abuse. So far he has shielded them all. His predecessor promoted one of them, Bernard Law. If not resignation, the Pope could go into a state of hard penance for a year. Appoint a caretaker while he goes into seculusion in some monastery, or far better, donned the garb of a working servant of Christ and directly serve the poor in a soup kitchen or rehab center for child victims of land mines. Something along those lines. You remember, the whole point of Christ’s ministry?
The Vatican and various dioceses also must turn over ALL of their records to civil and law enforcement authorities.
But we don’t see any moves in this direction. We see instead campaigns to root out seminary candidates who “seem gay.” We see unnecessary legislative moves to equate women priests with child abusers. We see the same old circle the wagon and sit on the evidence culture that produced the scandal. The public response to that is not some conspiracy by a small elite of Catholic haters. It is well-earned derision.



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BERNARD DESCHLER

posted October 3, 2010 at 4:55 pm


these comments are simply amazing—



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Tom

posted October 3, 2010 at 8:03 pm


Nnmns, I can’t remember the last time I heard a good fire n brimstone sermon (well, sort of, but it didn’t use the “H” word). Anyhow, your theory of brimstone theology is completely unfounded, really on par with flying spaghetti monsters and the like out of the creative genius of He-who-shall-remain-unnamed. The average parish in the US is so politically correct that “sin” is rarely even used from the pulpit anymore.
…and the average tithing rate is something like 3 or 4% if that high. I’m simply telling you this so you’ll have a better grasp of reality in the Catholic World as it stands in the early 21st century.



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nnmns

posted October 3, 2010 at 8:45 pm


Tom I admit I’m pretty well disconnected from what happens in y’all’s sermons. But isn’t that what you are taught as kids?



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Tom

posted October 3, 2010 at 9:25 pm


There is still a concept of eternal seperation from God, but the literal imagery of burning forever isn’t emphasized nearly as much. A child is more likely to hear this kind of thing from a parent (I did as a kid) trying to scare em into behaving right than a catechist or cleric. There was a so-called “Spirit” of Vatican II that kind of “revolutionized” the institutional church and how She relates to Her sons and daughters.



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nnmns

posted October 3, 2010 at 10:17 pm


Thanks Tom. I’m glad to hear that. But somehow I’m guessing the message gets passed on, perhaps as you say from a parent. And what do you know about how things are done elsewhere?



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Tom

posted October 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm


Word of mouth (family and friends), publications (including magazines), statistics and polls. Catholics are just as relativistic as society as a whole. The reason I included the tithing statistic was to, in part, illustrate how parishioners aren’t giving “all that money” to save their immortal souls from the lake of eternal hellfire. That and over %80 use contraception (a mortal sin by Catholic teaching). Perhaps over 50 years ago the fear of hell theory may have held more water, but it’s a new ballgame now days. I’d actually be mildly surprised if more than half of them believe in the concept of hell.



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nnmns

posted October 5, 2010 at 7:53 pm


Wow, the pope does have cause for concern. Thanks for that.



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