John Beckett wrote a thoughtful article about the intersection between religion and politics over at ‘Under the Ancient Oaks‘ which got me thinking about how involved I should be in political campaigns and how much of that, if any, should be done under the banner of ‘druid’.
I’m not a massively political person but I do sign petitions, write regular letters to my MP and always, always vote (pay no heed to Russell Brand’s ‘don’t vote, it only encourages them’ stance).
No doubt that my environmental politics are influenced by druidry, as much as for me druidry is influenced by my being environmentalist. But I would never declare that I care for the earth because I’m ‘a druid’ (which I’m not…not yet anyway). I’m by no means ashamed of druidry as a life-path, but saying that sort of thing is a good way to not get listened to, get laughed at and get ignored. Sad, but true. Now quite why that is the case, but saying you’re a Christian is probably the best way to gain votes, is a different story and one which I won’t go into here. Nonetheless, in a (practically) secular democracy, I think religion/spirituality should be kept quiet when it comes to politics. This is as much for reasons of expedience as ideology, as John says:
In a religiously plural society, however, it is not acceptable for me to tell my Congress person “the Earth is sacred, therefore ban fracking” any more than it’s acceptable for a Southern Baptist to say “the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, therefore keep gay people from getting married.” Both of these arguments are appeals to authorities other religious traditions do not recognize…No matter where our political positions come from, the only way to make persuasive arguments is to ground them in shared values.
However, this does not mean that people of any religious persuasion are not entitled to their views, or to voice them. I was somewhat saddened by the response from some atheists that the Pope has come out against fracking. For some it seemed like the fact that he’s a religious leader means he isn’t entitled to his own ‘fracking‘ opinion (ahem). The difference between the Pope’s comments and the fundamentalist anti-gay dogmas in his religion and others is that he was clear that this is his personal view and not divine authority.
I do think that as druids, pagans, and other earth-loving people we need to be more active in defending nature in ways that get results, and politics are the way society does this, so we need to get political. There are some occasions where a strong declaration of ‘pagan-ness’ might be a good rallying point, as in the excellent ‘Warrior’s Call‘ protests, but for the most part I prefer to keep the two separate in practice, although recognising how they inform each other in principle.
What do you think? Should druids and pagans be more politically visible or should we be quietly working away in the background as ‘green’ activists without flaunting our awens and pentacles (so to speak)?