Will Wicca Be America’s 3rd Religion?

I dont know. But I do know that fundamentalist Steve Wohlberg got the witches and pagans pretty excited when his book (Hour of the Witch) contained an estimate that Wicca could be America’s 3rd religion by 2012. EMediaWire is running with the story and the people at witchcrafttoday.com have blogged it..

But how would they measure it? Surely 20 million people are not going to join covens??? Maybe through websites and schools like The WitchSchool.com has enrolled 130,000 students. Just thinking . . .

Does Steve Wohlberg represent American Christians? Well. . . he really hates the Left Behind Series, so he might be popular with some emerging church people. . . (ha ha) but his rebuttal of LaHaye’s book, entitled “The Left Behind Deception” seems to hint at the fact that Steve DOES NOT represent the entire American evangelical population, all of whom bought 3 copies EACH of the Left Behind series and now use them as ceiling insulation. However . . . he does have some good research and chapter one is worth a read. A better read, however, is from Phil Johnson (from the last post on Chinese Art) who has written “Wicca and Christians: Some Mutual Challenges”

From Steve’s book Hour of the Witch (Chapter One is online)

“In 1998, the Chicago Tribune reported: “Neo-paganism is the fastest-growing religion in North America with the Internet being the prime means of proselytizing.”(6) In 2001, the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), conducted by the Graduate Center of the University of New York, indicated seventeen-fold growth in the Wiccan community between 1990 and 2001—the highest of any faith group monitored. “This would indicate a doubling in numbers of adherents about every 2.5 years.”(7) Curott estimates faster growth, suggesting “a doubling of size every 18 months.”(8) If either figure is accurate and if this trend continues, “Wicca [could] be the third largest religious group in the U.S. by about 2012, behind Christianity and Judaism.”(9)”

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)

9 Comments

  • Interesting.
    We have a few pagan/wiccans who are attending our gathering. They are kind, loving people, of whom I would prefer to hang out with (over many of the Christians I know). They are unassuming and generous and “present in the moment.” They aren’nt concerned if I don’t agree with them. Maybe it is because their theology allows so much freedom that they don’t have to spend a lot of time defending themselves or creating distinctions between themselves and other people.
    As Christians we often create inside/outside distinctives and thereby become less concerned with people and more concerned with correctness.
    If the pagans I am in contact with are a good sample of pagans in general I can see why it is a growing “religion.”

  • Issac
    i think we all have kind, loving wiccan and pagan friends and relatives and family members . . who doesn’t? And many of us were kind and loving when we were practising witchcraft, or making wishes, or whatever form that took.
    we also see a lot of witches and pagans in the churches at Christmas and they see us celebrate easter with them.
    much more mixed up than the fundamentalists would like to admit.
    thanks for your post.

  • Wicca-licious day in the blogosphere

    There are two interesting developments on the blogosphere with a Wiccan or neo-Pagan theme.
    First, there is last Wednesday’s posting by Andy T of Searching for a Better Way, a Wiccan who wrote “I’ve Been Reading The Bible” .
    He comes up with a r…

  • This is fascinating -I hadn’t come across the article about growth, but not at all surprised. Neo-Paganism is birthed in the early concerns of what became known as Postmodernism and is culturally well-adapted to its environment. We, as Christians, can learn a lot from the themes that are most resonant in it and the way that they have adapted to the culture and also how they critique it.
    I personally think that regardless of how accurate the prediction turns our to be, we have a lot to learn about post-modern spirituality from new-Paganism. SOme of it will look familiar some of it we will need to reflect on more deeply still, but it’s a worthwhile task.
    YOu may be interested in the story I reference at http://nouslife.blogspot.com/2005/04/searching-for-better-way.html

  • Thanks for the link to my article on Wiccans and Christians.
    I hope others find it helpful as a dialogical primer.
    I agree with Andii’s note that there’s much signalled by neo-paganism that is uncharted turf for Christians theologically. I tend to push the point that alternate pathways like these represent the mirror image reflected of all things that Christians have neglected. In effect, the unpaid bills of the church.
    I’d like to suggest that one of the dodged issues that is dear to many neo-pagans and wiccans concerns the use and abuse of animals. I suggest that animal theology and animal ethics are too far low down on the radar screen of the church generally (I acknowledge there are Christians involved in welfare groups etc). But unfortunately Christians who are commendably worried about endangered species, are not always as equally vocal or thoughtful about the plight of individual animals. In this respect I guess that lots of people would imagine that the prevention of cruelty to animals act in their nation covers the problem, but the reality is they are usually very limited in scope.
    My wife and I recently completed an “animal law” course at the Uni of NSW (first of its kind in Australia). I find it interesting to see how there is a desire to pursue juridical solutions in animal rights, but the definition and ultimate justification of rights is not sufficiently debated by animal activists. Ironically some of my co-students thought it would be nice to locate rights in some ultimate source, but shied away from any notion of a transcendental deity. Again, the cultural shift even on this issue is screaming back at the church.
    Also I have a note concerning neo-pagans that draws attention to a very recent broadcast on Radio National (ABC) – “Australia Talks Back”, which comprised a rep from Pagan Awareness Network, a prominent wiccan who delivers motivational business seminars, and sociologist of religion/broadcaster Rachael Kohn.
    The broadcast is still available to hear via a RAM file. Anyone wanting to pursue it can grab the url from my post http://circleofpneuma.blogspot.com/2005/04/neo-pagan-paths-again.html
    And there’s another (which links back to your post) supplying statistics on pagans in Australia, plus a couple of bibliographical leads for New Zealand.
    See http://circleofpneuma.blogspot.com/2005/04/fast-growing-wicca.html

  • You’ll find links to the Pagan Awareness Network (PAN) and a couple of other Wiccan groups in the “red pill” links section of my site. PAN is the most media savy pagan network in Australia at present. I bring this to your attention because its always best to go for primary sources for facts rather than Christian urban legend (which is all too omnipresent on this subject).
    Another site which may be of interest is http://www.lexicon.net/steven/wheel/. This is an experimental site created by a couple of Aussies I know to foster dialogue between Wiccans and Christians.
    Matt

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