We Pagans Are the “Useful Idiots”

Reading Religion, which is a book-review site run by the American Academy of Religion, recently assigned me a book to review: Our Non-Christian Nation: How Atheists, Satanists, Pagans, and Others Are Demanding Their Rightful Place in Public Life.

The author is a Boston University law professor, and he well summarizes the FIrst Amendment law cases that made it possible, for example, for an avowed Satanist to give the invocation before a city council meeting in upstate New York.  And he goes riding around Circle Sanctuary in an “side by side” ATV with Selena Fox.

But Professor Jax Wexler is the kind who expects the class to laugh at his jokes, and he spends a little too much time telling which Supreme Court justices he despises and how getting drunk is the only way to cope after spending time with people from Greece, New York (it’s a suburb of Rochester).

What struck me the most was that to Wexler we Pagans — and the Satanists and all the minority religions — are just “useful idiots.”((A “useful idiot” is a person [or group] perceived as propagandizing for a cause without fully comprehending the cause’s goals, and who is cynically used by the cause’s leaders (Wikipedia).)) We are levers to use against “Christian hegemony,” and when that is finished with, so are we.

He is an atheist with a capital-A, and in his world, there is no Out There or In There or Over There, only human consciousness trapped in the bone box of the skiull and only this world as revealed by Science. Down the road lies the Atheist utopia, once we get rid of all these “deplorables” with their silly religions.

If you want to read it, here is the review that I wrote.

2 thoughts on “We Pagans Are the “Useful Idiots”

  1. Pitch313

    American citizens have a right to participate in public life.

    For most of my politically aware life, I have gone back and forth about the customary role some religions play in public life. No religion at all. A little religion is tolerable. Too much of any single religion is not tolerable. If one, then all. Lastly, get me and my values out of this furball of unaddressed customs that violate Constitutional rights.

    Usually, I view “public” as inclusive of all citizens and whatever their world views may be. No one worldview ought to be preferred or accepted as the only one because a majority of citizen adhere to it. But I have lately come to think that some world views are really not worth my time. Toxic to public life and well-being, even. Citizens probably are better off without those world views having any place in public life.

    I don’t think that Pagans ought to be put in a role of “useful idiots” to advance anybody else’s not-Pagan agenda or world view.

  2. This is why I’m so suspicious of people doing broad-spectrum interfaith/dialogue work with atheist activists. Growing up pagan in the 1990s, it just reminds me too much of that stuff that happened where a Christian town would find a pagan or Jewish person to give an invocation one day of the year in town government meetings so that the other 364.25 days of Christian prayer could go legally unchallenged. The superintendent at my school, who was evangelical and who sent his children to anti-choice rallies, liked having my pagan family and the town’s only Muslim family in the school system because it was a way to show legal tolerance without actually being tolerant — enforcing our religious freedoms was a way of guaranteeing that the public school system could do evangelical stuff without being seen as catering to one religion or another. Being used just takes new forms over time, and I’m surprised at just how easily others go along with it.

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