Pagans and Independence Day

If I say to you, “4th of July”, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Cookouts? Fireworks shows?

Sure, these are traditional, and fun ways to celebrate Independence Day. I will be partaking in these traditional activities this evening myself…if the rain passes by then, that is.

However, I’ve been contemplating this holiday over the last few days – the true meaning behind Independence Day. Yes, we celebrate on this day as the anniversary of the day the Declaration of Independence for our country was signed. But what is it we are truly to be celebrating on this day? Our freedom(s), right? Sometimes I have to wonder just how much “freedom” we have left.

We have the right to own our own property/home, which we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase, plus thousands more in yearly taxes, yet the government can still dictate what we can and can’t do with it.

We have the right to an education – go to school at your own risk though! You may very well be stabbed or shot by a fellow student.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Oh, how wonderful that sounds!

But are all Americans treated as equals? Are we all left to our pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness so long as we are lawful and respectful of others? From what I’ve seen, in my lifetime alone – not so much.

(Also, notice that the wording is “endowed by their Creater”. It does not say “God” even though Christianity is the prominent religion in America.) Then we have the First Amendment, in which there is a part that says the government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This means as American citizens, we have the right to be Christian, Wiccan, Muslim, Jewish, etc. etc. and can not be held from our beliefs. So I should be able to worship God, Goddess or the Great and Powerful Oz if I so choose. However, we know that religious intolerance is a big problem in our country as well, even from our current president who several years ago stated that “Witchcraft is not a religion.”

And our fellow Pagans who are in the military fighting overseas, or stationed at a U.S. military base somewhere, HAVE been denied their rights to the free exercise of their religious beliefs by our government.

It appears that our government feels it is okay for Pagans to join the military, to fight and possibly be seriously injured or die for our country, but it has not been okay for them to openly practice their spiritual beliefs. How can they be denied their faith, especially in a time of war? Is it not faith and prayer that help many people through the most difficult times of their lives?

Though this day is not one of the Witches’/Wiccan Sabbats, how do we as such honor this day? Do any of you do a special ritual for Independence Day?

I for one, honor the Declaration of Independence for its true intentions, and I pray that some day, sooner rather than later, America, as a whole, “gets its act together” and upholds the spirit of such. That Americans will remember that each and every one of us have these rights, and we can learn to live together peacefully, respecting each others’ differences. That one day we Americans WILL all be treated as equals. And that we as American Pagans (and any other non-Christian religion) will be at least tolerated and left to worship as we choose, without fear or prejudice.

I’d also like to say, that regardless of your opinions on the war, let’s all take a moment to honor our troops, our Pagan brothers and sisters, and their colleagues. They are doing what they must, what they are ordered to do – they have joined the military because of their desire to serve our country and protect our freedoms.

american-flag.jpg

To you, my readers, my friends – Happy Independence Day!

Blessed Be!

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3 thoughts on “Pagans and Independence Day

  1. it dose say thet dosen,t it indowed by their creator,other non christan religions get there say noe its our turn, i edith k hicks was indowed by my creatrix and creator with certain inailable rights and among thease are life liberty and the right to presue deity as i se fit happyly. happy fourth to all birch

  2. Not to be argumentative, but the sad thing is that as much as these Founding Fathers might have like to “practice what they preach”…not all folks were in fact seen as equal.

    In spite of Abigail Adam’s advice (see my post at Deaf Pagan Crossroads on “Remembering the Ladies), this sentence does say MEN – not people. Obviously they chose to forget the ladies… who were not given the right to vote until nearly 150 years later.

    People of African-American heritage had it even harder. It took nearly another 100 years to repeal slavery, and even though the 15th Amendment giving African-Americans the right to vote was ratified in 1870, it took nearly another 100 years and a Civil Rights Movement before all states were complying with it.

    It wasn’t until earlier this year that Pagans finally won the right to have a pentacle engraved on Veteran’s tombstones, a victory we can all celebrate. Interestingly enough, I knew the couple that began the whole fight for such – Abe and Rosemary Kooiman…who began the battle back in 1989. It took them nearly twenty years…but they finally won! Neither of them were in this realm to witness this achievement – Abe died in 2002 and Rosemary died last year. However, Abe is now the first Pagan buried at Arlington Cemetery to have a pentacle on his tombstone. Rosemary will soon be getting one on hers as well.

    Yes, we have come a long way since 1776, and we do have many freedoms to be thankful for. But have we all truly gained the rights for which our ancestors fought and gave up their lives? For which our troops are currently serving overseas?

    Sometimes I have to wonder.

  3. Oh, I totally agree with you my Sistah…though the Declaration of Independence was agreed upon and signed in 1776, it did take many years after for many Americans – Women & African-Americans being prime examples, to gain the same freedoms and “equal” rights. (I put equal in quotes because, as I indicated in my post, I think it is still an ongoing battle on many levels by many different individuals and groups to gain these “equal” rights we are all supposed to have.) But you also bring up a good point in that the wording is “all MEN are created equal”…how come this has not been changed or amended to include all the people of our country? Men are born from women, and a majority of them greatly rely on the care provided to them by their mothers (even in their adulthood) and wives – seems to me they need us, so shouldn’t we be thought just as important? (I like your “remembering the ladies” post!)

    I could have spouted off about many issues in our country’s history since July 4th, 1776 that either aggrivated or saddened me, or left me confused, but I’m thinking that would have been a much longer rant than space allows, or anyone has time to read. (As if our usual posts and comments aren’t quite long already, eh Sis?) 😉

    The couple of points I rant about were due to some recent local news/events that got under my skin. Without going into more of a novel of a story, I’ve seen a few people that I know personally who have recently had a “liberty” or two, and rights to “pursuit of happiness” taken away from them, even though they are upstanding tax-paying citizens who were doing nothing illegal. Geez, aside from the federal and local governments, individuals sometimes feel they have the right to step all over someone elses’ rights without consequence.

    I agree we do have a lot of freedoms to be thankful for as well as many personal rights that others in the world do not have (which we so often take for granted), and yes, we have come a long way since 1776, though it has been an ongoing battle. I think still think we have a long way to go – and I fear sometimes that we, as a country and as American people, are moving backwards and not forwards.

    I suppose that’s why I posed the question if any of my Wiccan/Pagan brothers and sisters thought any special rituals were in order (as I did for Independence Day), to honor those who have lost their lives for us, and adding our energies to those who continue to fight for our freedoms and upholding the spirit and intentions of our Declaration of Independence.

    I was trying to add these as links to my original post but I was borrowing someone else’s computer and it wasn’t cooperating – but below are links to how some Pagans were spending their 4th, as well as what others are doing to support Pagans in the military:

    http://www.paganreligiousrights.org/index.htm

    http://wiccaninterfaithcouncil.itgo.com/projectwecare.html

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