Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chips on Shoulder Etc

As many of you know, for over forty years we Frosts have gone through attack periods which (to us) seemed endless. During that time we felt as if the whole world was, if not trying to kill us, at least trying to damage us severely. First it was the Christians. Now more recently it's been self-described Wiccans/pagans. We endured it all with what we like to think of as quiet perseverance. Thus at this point it looks worth while to review our thoughts on other people's dilemmas brought on by their being (gasp) D-different: being outside the "normal" pervasive Christian mainstream or particular "Wiccan" sects. When all the flap started, our first inclination was to strike back; but fortunately reflection showed that such a mindset was not going to be the best way. We lived in a small community, and it would have been only too easy for people to attack us, maybe burning a cross or two in the front yard--and in fact, through our forty-some years of living the Craft, some have attacked! In one incident we were shot at and people left a bomb at the hotel where we were scheduled to speak. (Apparently they didn't trust Jesus' ability to take care of it.) On another occasion, people tried to steal the wheels off the car while we were doing a radio show. Our answer was not to hit back, but to use a more subtle approach. It was not difficult in those early days to get both radio and TV time, so we went on a tour of the States, clocking more than 2,000 hours and several thousand miles of time and travel. Finally, when people attacked us, we could fall back on our local community because now we had become not just Witches, but St. Charles' own Witches. In St. Charles, when the high school history teacher invited us to speak, the self-anointed "opposition" got a subpoena to stop us. (In that time people were not so forcefully aware that when one tax-exempt religion badmouthed another tax-exempt religion, the attacker risked their own tax-exempt status.) The students were furious. We rented a disused movie theater in town to speak to them on their own time rather than during school hours. It was standing room only, because students and parents from all over the area came to see the show. Months earlier, the county's ministerial alliance had refused our request to join with them; now its representatives decided that they too would like to investigate this phenomenon. We agreed to meet with them in the presence of the press. The press, in the form of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, had a romp at that meeting. They were 100 percent on the Witches' side. The effect of all this furor and work (work on our part, we hasten to add) was an abrupt cessation of local attacks. And when people did attack us, they became the bad guys and we were the poor innocent persecuted victims. There are a lot of good friendly honest Christians out there--especially (Pay attention here, boys and girls.) when you have demonstrated over time that you don't shave your palms on full moon and go out looking for something to sink your fangs into. If you get those people on your side in any debate, then be assured: You will win. Confrontation simply doesn't work. And if you become rigid in your total opposition to Christianity in all its forms, then the opposition in turn will become hardened in its response to you. Yes, of course to maintain your religious freedom, when that freedom is violated, you must respond with form and protocol that are both legal and relevant. Again, this approach assumes that you have done your homework, that you know what is legal and what is effective--and what is illegal, what is irrelevant, what is useless, and what may well have a negative effect, thus making your quicksand deeper. Recall the old adage: A picture is worth a thousand words. Photograph the attackers or their actions or their vehicles. Over many years we have learned that a lawyer who is a member of a minority group sometimes has a tendency to be more supportive and will occasionally even do pro bono work for you, or at least may reduce his fees. Do not be afraid of trusting the law courts when it is a straightforward civil matter. A neighbor blocks your driveway because you (gasp) celebrate different festivals than they do? Sue. A local church is causing you trouble? Offer to meet with the leaders of the church in a neutral setting ... with reporters present. Point out to those leaders that neither side will win if they continue to be negative. It may seem to many that simply striking back is the answer. It is not. It drags you down to the same level as the attacker is on. Get that chip off your shoulder and replace it with friendship. Many of your opponents can't stand such behavior. It pulls the rug right out from under all the stereotypical assumptions they've embraced so enthusiastically. Your lifestyle and the lifestyle that your kids and your associates display are the example which you must set to show that you are the good guys. We've had well over forty years of experience in this arena; and so far most of the people who have attacked us for standing on our rights are other self-styled pagan/Wiccans. With allies like these, who needs enemies? Blessed be each one who seeks. Gavin and Yvonne PS One more time a not for profit 501C3 is not a church a church is a religious association.

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