I must admit that getting any number of pagans to actually agree with each other on anything is much akin to trying to heard cats with a large stick.
These are purely my opinions.
I've been a Pagan since I was about thirteen. That's when I started the (spiritual) journey I find myself still on now. I always say that at least I questioned (and still question) religion as it is presented to me rather than just accept what I am fed by state or parents, then made my own decision.
I disagree with your panellist as to exactly what constitutes Paganism. I do agree that most of my Paganism is rooted in an attempt o be more in touch with nature and natural rhythms. I differ as to the spirituality of my practice. First I am an animist (all things have spirit). For me Paganism is about balancing the Male and Female principle in spiritual practice, in an attempt to make amends for two thousand years of unbalanced male dominated religion. My spiritual practice is very important to me.
I often term myself a Neo-Pagan to be more correct, mostly because I hold no pretention to any link to pre-Christian Paganism. If anything the revival of Paganism can be traced back to the Victorian age (with roots in people like Blavatsky, George Watson MacGregor Reid, also please refer to Ronald Hutton's opinions).
How old does a religion need to be before it gains the respect that others do. Perhaps it's the unfair link to "New age" hippies that causes that dreadful smirk many people meet my claim to being a Pagan with. Two thousand years ago Christianity not only was frowned upon but probably raised a smirk on the faces of "traditional" roman Pagans when mentioned in polite company. Or is it the number of practitioners, but then regard the like of Zoroastrians, a minority religion of Iran (now, reputedly only 140,000 members), or Voodoo which has gained more mainstream acceptance and that as a religion is only a few hundred years old.
Subdivisions of Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity spring up on a regular basis, why are they more credible than Paganism?
In fact there is much evidence that Christianity practiced by modern exponents is radically different from that of a few hundred years ago let alone to what would have been practiced by the original disciples (ask practitioners of the Arian, Coptic churches and many other churches destroyed by Roman Catholicism).
One more point I don't see that Christianity has any more impirically (scientifically, historically) provable link to its creator than Paganism has. after all St Paul (the man that sold christianity to the Romans) didn't even actually meet Mr Jesus Christ in person. Another place and another time is needed for me to expand on the changes and political abuse in re-writting and changing the Bible since the original texts were written down.
Do we (as Pagans) perhaps need to take some militant action? Say declare a religious war and go into the kidnapping game?
Every woman, man, youth and child has the human right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. These fundamental human rights are explicitly set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief and other widely adhered to international human rights treaties and Declarations.
The Human Rights at Issue
- The human right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
- The human right to manifest one=s religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
- The human right to freedom from discrimination based on religious beliefs or activities, or because of refusal to conform to a certain religion.
- The human right to freedom of expression and of association.
- The human right to conscientious objection on grounds of religious belief.
- The human right of parents to choose schools for their children which ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
Which as far as I can see means if I wish to practice my religion in any form I choose that is my right. Which if one were to sit a broad collection of Christians together I 'm sure there would be almost as much difference of particulars as there is amongst practitioners of my own religion.
I actually object to the movement, and display, of the bones on the basis that if the people who placed the bones did not care what happened to them then they would have not bothered to put the bones in that situation in the first place. I am not apposed to scientific research but the bones should be returned out of respect for what is obviously the intent of the people who placed them there.
It's not about dissenting because I am a Pagan, but when my mortal remains are laid to rest I wish them to be left in that situation. As I wish for anyone whatever their religion, whether they have representatives alive to represent them or not.