Today’s blog post is about the rise of and simultaneous oppression of non-traditional faiths.
Although I was raised as a reform Jew, I’ve seen and read about the rise of non-traditional faiths. Most of these faiths, such as the Asatru faith, are based on old religions that were once dormant. These faiths have seen a major rise in popularity particularly among the youth. The belief systems that guide them are a mix of Paganism and distinct cultures from around the world. One of the reasons these non-traditional religious beliefs are on the rise is because they are less organized and more individualistic in nature. It’s about what you put into the faith and get out of it more than following any strict guidelines. While these faiths do have temples and places of worship, there are only a few and they are scattered around the world.
The reason I bring all of this up today is that these faiths are under attack in certain ways. The Asatru faith that believes in the gods of Norway has been co-opted by white nationalism. These people have taken the symbols of the faith like Thor’s hammer and turned it into a symbol of hate. They believe the faith to be a symbol of white purity because of its roots in Viking culture. Very few people know about the struggles this faith faces to keep itself on the straight and narrow. Their main temple in Norway has thousands of followers. More importantly, its true followers are trying their best to keep the positive view of the faith alive.
|Hilmar Hilmarsson and other Ásatrú practitioners at a ceremony (Silke Schurack / Reuters)|
Another big issue these faiths face is being denied access to their holy spaces. One major example of this can be seen with the faith of Hellenism. Hellenist’s worship the Greek gods. In Greece, some factions of the government don’t look favorably upon the Hellenists religious practice. These Greek factions of government don’t take well to the faith due to the traditional clothing worn by Hellenists and more Pagenist parts of the faith. These factions try to make the Hellenists buy permits to pray and they give them terrible treatment if they show up at the coliseum or any major site. These factions don’t try to understand or want to understand this faith despite the Hellenists doing everything very peacefully.
|“The Council of the Gods” by Raphael|
As these faiths continue to grow in size because of the youths continued move towards a less structured religious system, problems continue to arise. Many religions like these face persecution or destruction on minor to major scales, but unlike our larger monotheistic religions they don’t have the resources to defend themselves on their own. I wanted to bring attention to this issue as many people among these types of faiths are scared of the future. They are scared of what might come about from their opponents propaganda, they are worried the faith will die, lose its space to worship or worse.. become a symbol of hate.