They reported on the upcoming Celebration of the Divine Feminine and Religious Freedom, but managed to do so in a tone that presents Pagans as weird, fringy characters who probably just don’t like God, prayer, America, and apple pie. I commented there, and used the “send feedback” function, but I doubt either will ever see the light of day, so I’m reprinting it here:
This article was openly contemptuous with its anti-Pagan tone. It was an insult to Pagans and a discredit to Beliefnet’s pretense of being open to all religions.
The word Pagan should be capitalized, just like Christian, Hindu, Muslim, or any other tradition name. This and things like putting “Samhain eve” in quotes – as if you’d never heard of it before, when it’s explained elsewhere on your own website – subtly denigrate Paganism and make it seem like you don’t actually believe or understand what you’re writing.
The “prayer campaign” that we are reacting against is not simply “for America.” That statement is so disingenuous it’s not even funny. Would you write that the Occupy Together movement is demonstrating against people who are “for the economy?” The DC40 campaign is very, very specifically a prayer campaign aimed at recreating the US as a theocracy of conservative Christians. That’s not “for America,” it’s against the fundamental values enshrined in our Constitution.
Finally, the he-said, she-said style of reporting (“the pagans say is ‘preaching that all feminine forms of deity are demonic’”) makes you look lazy and stupid. If you want to report on this, do some research. Multiple sites have documented exactly what the New Apostolic Reformation preaches in great detail. It would take you about ten minutes to verify this statement.
The fact that you don’t bother to research it further adds to the impression that you find this Pagan event a rare oddity to be commented on from a distance but unworthy of real engagement.
I would be happy to help you revise this article so that it does credit to Beliefnet’s stated mission.
Yeah, I bet they’ll take me up on that last offer when the hell I don’t believe in freezes over. The real question, to me, is how the Pagan community ought to react to mistreatment like this from a supposedly interreligious site. I wonder how Gus DiZerega, for example, is feeling about this being on the same site as his blog.
At what point does continuing participation in interreligious projects that continue to misrepresent our religion start doing more harm than good? To me, it’s one thing when individual commenters at Patheos slam Paganism; this comes from a “senior editor,” which to me means that Beliefnet ought to take some responsibility for it, and if they don’t, it makes me seriously concerned about an institutional bias.
I know that participating in interreligious efforts is one of the ways we can work to counter this kind of bias, but I also think it’s fair that we demand a certain level of respect from projects we participate in – otherwise we risk giving a semblance of approval or support to those who are perpetuating the problem. (But some of my best friends/co-bloggers are Pagan!) I don’t have any answers, but it’s a question I’m going to continue to keep in mind.