Witchcraft Growing Faster Than Religion's Big Three

Bob Hubbard

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Witchcraft Growing Faster Than Religion's Big Three
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Author: Carol Forsloff Source: Digital Journal
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Title: WITCHCRAFT GROWING FASTER THAN RELIGION'S BIG THREE

While Jews, Muslims and Christians fight among themselves, one religion has darted in front of all the others to become the America's fastest growing faith.

The religion of the witch trials becomes religion of the future with the membership exploding, according to experts. This is bringing consternation to believers in the Big Three of faith.

One expert claims that the number of Wiccan experts is doubling every 30 months. A recent book entitled "Generation Hex" by author Marla Alupoaicei declares that it will be the third largest religion of faith by the year 2012. This explosion of membership in Wicca has come about because of social estrangement, loneliness and the need to belong according to Dillon Burroughs co-author of the book. Although the West Coast and Salem, Massachussets is experiencing the most rapid growth, groups can be found all over the country, including the South and Mountain states.
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Source: http://www.witchvox.com/wren/wn_detaila.html?id=20391
 
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I tend to disagree with this. Yes, there are alot of people trying New Age religions, but I don't think alot of them "stick". There are so many out there, I think people move around a bit, and settle on a blend of what they grew up with and some other ideas they borrow from what they tried out. Book stores aren't exactly burtsing at the seams to epnd their witch section after all. Popular? Sure. But to displace the "Big 3" in a few years? I doubt it.
 

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Having been a Wiccan, I would tend to dispute that statement in the linked article. Wiccans (witches) have been making it for decades, but I see very little intrinsic growth.

Not to mention the fact that Wiccans represent a very, very, small segment of the population - even double-digit growth results in miserly numbers.

It is true that Wicca has been recognized by the US Military (as has Satanism), which includes it in the Chaplains' manuals and which has agreed to provide the symbol of Wicca (a pentacle) on graves of fallen military personnel whose families desire it.

According to the recent Pew Foundation study, organized religion in general is losing members at a prodigious rate. Catholics suffer the worst, but various Protestant denominations are also losing members left and right. Pew claims that the biggest 'gains' are made by those who consider themselves 'unafilliated' with any organized religion.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/02/26/whats-the-fastest-growin_n_88540.html

I find that especially interesting because the political parties are suffering a similar fate in the US - despite success by members of the Democratic Party, both the Republicans and the Democrats are losing members like crazy, and the third-parties are not really picking up gains - in fact, the biggest segment gains are 'independent' voters.

It seems to me that most people are moving towards not wanting to be affiliated with organized anything - religion or politics.

As far as Wiccans themselves go, they are nothing to be feared. Wiccans are decent people who tend towards liberal viewpoints and who freely admit that most of their religion is 'made up' because although based on ancient religions, the actual religions they draw from have been extinct for centuries as actual entities. They are 'recreations' in that sense.

Wiccans are all different, and are more often characterized by those differences than by their similarities. However, they share some things in common - mostly.

They believe in pantheism, that godhead is in everything. They worship godhead in the form of a Lord and a Lady, or a male and female manifestation of the Creator.

They believe in Free Will and their one Law, which is "An it harm none, do as thou shalt." The true meaning of this is open to interpretation. Some might consider eating meat to be 'harming' while others might not, for example.

Wiccans are witches. There are no such things as 'warlocks', which they consider a perversion of an old Gaelic term for 'oathbreaker'. Males and females are both considered witches.

Wiccans use a pentacle - a pentagram in a circle, as the outward symbol of their faith. Some use a crescent moon as well or alone, although this can be mistaken for a belief in Islam.

Wiccans do not believe in 'only one way' to faith, so they accept all relgions as equally valid and do not condemn others as 'wrong'.

Wiccans do not believe that anyone needs saving, redemption, or rescue from sin, nor do they believe in the concept of Original Sin.

Wiccans have no 'hell' but they have a 'heaven', which is basically a Valhalla or Happy Hunting Grounds type of thing.

There is no hiearachy or official structure to Wiccan religions, although attempts have been made to create some. Most covens are local, although they may also belong to a larger local council of covens. However, they are not bound by the authority of the councils, which they are free to join and leave as they wish.

Wiccans believe in the 'Law of Threes', which says that whatever good or bad a person does is returned to them thricefold. This would tend to make a believer abstain from doing bad.

Wiccans practice 'magick' (spelling intentional), in which they work to obtain their desires according to spells, which are like recipes. They do not believe in a distinction between white and black magic, it merely being a matter of intent.

I am no longer a Wiccan, having returned to the faith of my birth (Catholicism). However, I find nothing objectionable about Wiccans, other than that I frequently disagree with their politics, which generally lean to the left.
 

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The first time I had a kitten I weighed her every day. Given the rate she doubled I calculated that she would weigh about 20,000 tons by the end of her first year.

Minority religions generally experience explosive growth early on. When you're on the exponential part of the logistic curve your percentage growth is big. The question is, what is the potential pool of converts? Eventually Wicca will reach an inflection point and start approaching a limit. I'm guessing it won't be a very large fraction of the population.

The author is frankly pretty ignorant. Christianity and Islam are aggressive about finding converts. Judaism aggressively discourages them, so there isn't a "big three" "battling it out". There's a big two and one tiny relic. If you wanted a third it would be Hinduism which also doesn't go looking.
 

exile

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Eventually Wicca will reach an inflection point and start approaching a limit. I'm guessing it won't be a very large fraction of the population.

Good point, T. One thing about steep growth curves: in the normal course of things, they flatten out.

The author is frankly pretty ignorant. Christianity and Islam are aggressive about finding converts. Judaism aggressively discourages them, so there isn't a "big three" "battling it out". There's a big two and one tiny relic. If you wanted a third it would be Hinduism which also doesn't go looking.

This was my thought exactly. Judaism is hardly very big—Shintoism has way more devotees, if my understanding is correct that 4/5ths of the population of Japan follows Shinto religious practices (not necessarily exclusively, of course). That means, given current figures, that comfortably over 100,000,000 Japanese follow Shintoism—more than eight times the number of practicing Jews in the world. There are roughly twice as many Sikhs as Jews; More than thirty times as many Buddhists, and even more adherents of Chinese traditional religion than there are Buddhists...

... Big Three? The guy has to be kidding. :rolleyes:

Or wait: maybe by 'Big Three' he means, 'Big Three among Monotheistic Religions originating in the Ancient Near East'. That does cut down the competition for 'big three-dom' somewhat... :lol:
 
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Carol

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I'm not a Wiccan, but having lived in the vicinity of Salem, MA on and off for several years...most of the consternation that I've seen over Wicca is from folks that are not from the Salem area.

Salem does capitalize on its history...but the non-Wiccans outnumber the Wiccans by a large percentage. There are many other active houses of worship, such as churches and synagogues, that have no beef with the Wiccan community.

There are definitely organized folks that wish to spotlight Salem as some kind of embodiment of evil, I've heard that photos of the Halloween celebrations in Salem (think a month-long halloween-themed street fair) occasionally show up as slides in churches outside of New England as proof that the evils of paganism are alive and well. One pastor from a large evangelical church came to Salem in hopes of reaching out to the Wiccan/Pagan community with dialog found himself himself disconnected, financially, spiritually, and organizationally from the mother church that originally sponsored the founding of his Salem church.

Personally I think the religious organizations in general have the most issue with jealousy (for lack of a better word) over the demographics. Wiccan organizations have a percentage of followers are single and in their 20s and 30s...a demographic that has been very difficult for U.S. based religious orgs to capture.
 

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I tend to disagree with this. Yes, there are alot of people trying New Age religions, but I don't think alot of them "stick". There are so many out there, I think people move around a bit, and settle on a blend of what they grew up with and some other ideas they borrow from what they tried out. Book stores aren't exactly burtsing at the seams to epnd their witch section after all. Popular? Sure. But to displace the "Big 3" in a few years? I doubt it.

That doesnt seem realistic to me, but is it maybe also a dissaffection with the 15th century mindset stuck is dogmatic mire that might not be helping.
 

Bill Mattocks

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Wiccan organizations have a percentage of followers are single and in their 20s and 30s...a demographic that has been very difficult for U.S. based religious orgs to capture.

If the 'jealous' groups had ever been to a Drawing Down the Moon ritual, they might not be so jealous - then again, they might be!

On a more serious note, many Unitarian-Universalist congregations are open to Wiccans and it is not unusual for Wiccans to attend services there.
 

exile

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One thing that I always liked about Wicca is that many of its adherentsall of the ones I've encountered, anywaybelieve that when an animal dies, its soul goes to the Summerland, where it lives in a kind eternal green forest land, never suffering cruelty or pain. I like the idea of a religion that makes provision for other living creatures that appear to possess personalities and individual identities. And thinking about it, I have to say that the Wicca believers I knewalmost all of them in Victoria, on Canada's Left Coast :Dwere exceptionally kind people.
 

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Here is an interesting break-down of religion in America:

http://religions.pewforum.org/affiliations

If you click on Other Faiths and then on New Age, you will see Wicca at .3% of the US population. Compare that to Unaffiliated at 16.1%, with a subset calling themselves 'nothing in particular' comprising a whopping 12.1% of the US population.

Now, if you want to have some fun (off the topic of this thread), take a look at the Comparisons tab on that page, then Demographics and then Income Distribution. Whew, Jews and Hindus apparently know how to make the money! Buddhists aren't doing bad, either! A shortcut diagram is here:

http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=376

Oh, and by the way, back on topic, Pew says that the Jehovah's Witnesses are the fastest-growing religion in the USA.

http://pewforum.org/news/display.php?NewsID=14974
 

Bill Mattocks

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One thing that I always liked about Wicca is that many of its adherentsall of the ones I've encountered, anywaybelieve that when an animal dies, its soul goes to the Summerland, where it lives in a kind eternal green forest land, never suffering cruelty or pain. I like the idea of a religion that makes provision for other living creatures that appear to possess personalities and individual identities. And thinking about it, I have to say that the Wicca believers I knewalmost all of them in Victoria, on Canada's Left Coast :Dwere exceptionally kind people.

I like Wiccans, too. I'm not one anymore, but they're kewl peeps in general. And their music is top-notch, parties are great. If you ever get a chance to go to a drum circle, give it a shot.
 

ArmorOfGod

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If there is a boom in new Wiccans (which there probably is), I wonder how much effect the internet has had on possible converts going to the Wiccan religion.
That strikes me as a group that would have to stay hush hush, but could go loud and proud over the internet, which would provide a way for Wiccans to meet up, network, and socialize in general.

AoG
 

Bill Mattocks

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If there is a boom in new Wiccans (which there probably is), I wonder how much effect the internet has had on possible converts going to the Wiccan religion.
That strikes me as a group that would have to stay hush hush, but could go loud and proud over the internet, which would provide a way for Wiccans to meet up, network, and socialize in general.

AoG

Interesting thought! In my case, I got involved back in the late 1980's. The internet existed, kind of. There were computer bulletin boards, though. I got interested by meeting people who were into it. There didn't seem to be any need to be hush-hush. It's legal and all. I don't know how people feel about it now.
 

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i used to have several wiccan acquaintances; oddly there were a lot of them in hutchinson, ks in the mid 90's. a lot of them were pretty silly. if asked why the believed what they believe, they would just give you a list of what's wrong with christianity. since then i've studied up on modern pagan paths a bit more & it seems just as valid (or more, imo) than a lot of other belief systems.

jf
 

Bill Mattocks

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i used to have several wiccan acquaintances; oddly there were a lot of them in hutchinson, ks in the mid 90's. a lot of them were pretty silly. if asked why the believed what they believe, they would just give you a list of what's wrong with christianity. since then i've studied up on modern pagan paths a bit more & it seems just as valid (or more, imo) than a lot of other belief systems.

jf

I've run into quite a few Wiccans who had bad experiences as Christians or with Christians - so that's not unusual. And there are also lots of younger people attracted to the Craft for the magick or what the see as a rebellion, something that frightens their parents, that kind of thing. But there are a lot of folks who have a more mature approach to it, as you've also seen. And there are lots of generic 'Pagans' who are not Wiccans.
 

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I've run into quite a few Wiccans who had bad experiences as Christians or with Christians - so that's not unusual. And there are also lots of younger people attracted to the Craft for the magick or what the see as a rebellion, something that frightens their parents, that kind of thing. But there are a lot of folks who have a more mature approach to it, as you've also seen. And there are lots of generic 'Pagans' who are not Wiccans.

butting heads with christians isn't hard to do in the midwest, as i'm sure you know. the more obnoxious ones seemed to be sort of new, as if they were in a rebellion phase. most of the more established one's i met were super-cool. i sort of loosely classify myself as 'pagan' but not wiccan. i think your early comments about anti-organization sentiments apply pretty directly to me. calling yourself wiccan indicates certain beliefs, whereas pagan can mean almost anything.

jf
 
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Bob Hubbard

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There's a term for the ones who get into it to b "cool" or "rebel".
"Fluffy Bunny Wiccans".
They read 1 Silver Ravenwolf book, and suddenly know "all".

I've read a number of other authors books, used to work with Trish Telesco's husband some years back, etc. I like the religion, but follow a different path myself.
 

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There's a term for the ones who get into it to b "cool" or "rebel".
"Fluffy Bunny Wiccans".
They read 1 Silver Ravenwolf book, and suddenly know "all".

I've read a number of other authors books, used to work with Trish Telesco's husband some years back, etc. I like the religion, but follow a different path myself.

There are also the 'goth' branch Wiccans. Not unhappy enough to declare themselves Satanists, but still heavily into black clothes, silver jewelry, writing long depressing poems, and working 'black magick' on mundanes who just hate on them constantly. Or something like that.

I ran into a pack of them at a local shopping mall, sitting around being seen being morose. I saw a pentacle around one neck, I said "Merry Meet," and I thought his eyes would bug completely out of his head. No way could a 'normal' looking person know what he was!!! OMG!!! And etc. It was kind of fun.
 

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If there is a boom in new Wiccans (which there probably is), I wonder how much effect the internet has had on possible converts going to the Wiccan religion.
That strikes me as a group that would have to stay hush hush, but could go loud and proud over the internet, which would provide a way for Wiccans to meet up, network, and socialize in general.

AoG

I would think, and hope, that the internet has been having a very large effect. These are not ideas that have to be kept hush-hush, or should not be, though I have no doubt that there are those intolerant enough to level violence against those who would express them. Rather, remember that, for quite some time, Christianity has had a cultural lock, and for very many people, this is the only idea that they have ever been exposed to whatsoever. When they finally decide that this idea isn't quite right, they were previously unable to find many other ideas - You got what you dreamed up yourself, or nothing, because everyone around you had the same idea. In a reasonably urban and cosmopolitan are, you might find some books, but still not have anyone to discuss them with. With the internet's ability to spread those ideas, you are no longer locked to those books that you may or may not fight in a dusty crate in the back of a bookstore. Now, you can see something new, and evaluate it for yourself.
 

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One expert claims that the number of Wiccan experts is doubling every 30 months.

Regarding "faster growing." Let's say your religion has 100 adherents. In one year you make 10 converts. You've experienced 10% growth in one year! You would only need an additional 90 to make growth double!

Now let's say your religion had 2 billion adherents...

Pax,

Chris
 

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