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Debate: Recognizing Wicca as a religion

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Should Wicca be recognized as a religion?

Background and context

The word "religion" in North America is often associated with a centralized organization, local religious buildings, a minister preaching to a congregation, a single male deity, an extensive creed, etc. These factors are not really present within Wicca. This causes some people to conclude that Wicca/Witchcraft is not a religion. Being founded on beliefs and practices of a pre-Christian aboriginal religion, Wicca simply does not have a similar structure to more conventional religions. It bears many more points of similarity to Native American Spirituality and to Santeria than to Christianity, Islam or Judaism.

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Is Wicca a religion?

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Yes

  • Wicca teaches many things beyond witchcraft/spell-casting. They celebrate the wheel of the year which relates to the circle within which is found the pentagram. This in itself represents many things, not least of which is the four seasons and the spirit. Celebrations are mostly nature orientated with the Goddess and God being credited with the fertility of the earth, the fullness of the harvest and the quiet rest of winter. Further to this the deities worshiped are legion and each one represents something in nature or something within the course of human life. In this respect they teach us how we should conduct ourselves within society and what our places should be within the familial structure. The Rede followed by Wiccans teaches that each of us is responsible for our own actions as they are subject to serious consequences for any wrongdoing. The charges of the Goddess and God teach us to always strive for our own and our fellow humans betterment. Furthermore it also credits every natural thing with essential vibrations which are seen as the spirit of it. These are revered as sacred life too. In this light how can Wicca ever be considered as anything but a religion?
  • Many US court rulings have confirmed Wicca as a religion. Military Courts of Justice in the U.S. have also found Wicca to be a valid religion. The U.S. Army's Religious Handbook for Chaplains descibes Wicca as a Army accepted religion. Wiccan groups are allowed tax exempt status as religous groups in the U.S. and Canada. Wiccan clergy have been given the privilege of performing marriages as well as access to penitentiaries in both countries.
  • Newness of Wicca does not invalidate it as a religion. Regardless of the age of Wicca (which is heavily debated) being old does not make a religion valid. Every religion had to be new at some point.
  • Wiccan clergy can perform legal marriages. This is so long as they fill the same requirements as other clergy.
  • Wiccans believe magic is part of nature. They do not believe that it is against the laws of nature.
  • Wiccans believe in magic just like Christian believe in prayer. This valid comparison makes any argument against the belief of magic invalid. How could it be any less valid that a belief in prayer?
  • Wicca predates the New Age movement and also differs in its general world view.


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No

  • Wicca is not recognised as a religion by the US government.
  • Wiccans have no structured belief system. They believe in magic and a loose philosophy surrounding magic. But, there is no over-arching moral and philosophical code underlying Wicca, which defines all other religions.
  • Wiccan clergy can not preform legally binding marriages. Wiccan clergy cannot perform legally binding marriages. This is, on some level, a defining characteristic of a religion.
  • Wiccans believe in the ridiculous superstition of magic.
  • Wicca is too recent to become a recognized religion. It was created in 1954 by Gerald Gardner when he published his book "Witchcraft Today".
  • Wicca is simply an off-shoot of the New Age movement.


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Is Wicca a bad thing?

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No

-The Gardnerian Book of Shadows lists the use of marijuana as one of several methods of reaching an altered state of consciousness. Many covens today, however, explicitly forbid the use of any illegal drug during ritual and strongly discourage the use of such outside of ritual. Besides the legal ramifications of drug use, these substances are a poison to the body. Their use is therefore seen by many as an abuse to the gift that the gods have given us – the gift of our bodies.

-In a sacred Wiccan text called "Charge of the Goddess" the goddess states "nor to I demand aught in sacrifice" Our gods don't want sacrafice and Wiccans wouldn't want to either way(see Wiccan Rede).

-A man founded Wicca, and many of the authors on the subject have been men. There are some female-only covens (as well as men-only covens), but those rules are applicable only to the individual covens in question, and many Wiccans are critical of that approach because of inbalance.


-Wicca dosen't require it's followers to believe anything based purely on faith.

-Wiccans have a high respect for Nature.

-Wiccans have strong beliefs against sex based discrimination one way or another (including gender, orientation, ect...)

-Wiccans have strong beliefs against recruiting or discriminating against the beliefs of others.

-Wicca doesn't require initiation into any particular group.

-Wicca is not a dangerous and controlling cult. It has no single leader, has no restrictions to other people and requires no money.

-Wiccans don't believe in manipulation including that of magic especially when directed towards human will.

-Their prime symbol is the exact opposite to the symbol used by Satanists. It is the upright pentagram -- a 5-pointed star with two points downward and one up. Sometimes it is enclosed by a circle to form a pentacle.

Wicca does not believe in any negative deity (especially not the Devil). The common misconception is that the "Horned One" is a representative of the Devil; however, the "Horned One" is a male figure who has (or wears- varies) deer horns, he is the symbol of the hunt, nature, and (though not always) passion.

Wiccans neither sacrifice animals nor harm others The foundation of Wicca is the respect of our Goddess (symbol of nature) and all her creations. To harm any being is against our deity and rede (Light of eye and soft of touch, speak you little, listen much.//Honor the Old Ones in deed and name,//let love and light be our guides again. These Eight words the Rede fulfill://"An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will"). In fact, anyone who purposely causes harm or hate is likely to be exiled or cast out from their covenant.

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Yes

- Wiccans are required to use mind-altering substances.

-Wiccans sacradice animals and babies.


-Attractive Wiccan religous supplies can cause Wiccans to spend money on non-esential things for living or have envy for thoughs items.

-Discrimination against Wiccans can cause Wiccans to be sad, secretive and sometimes bitter.

-Wiccans tend to be pretentious about thier religion within thier community and may discriminate against thier newer members.

-Wicca requires a lot of self-motivated education to get past a basic knowledge of the religion. Information past that can be hard to find.

-Wicca discriminates against men.

-Wicca teaches it's followers to hate other religions, especially Christianity.

-Wiccans belive in recruting other people into thier religion.

-Wicca is a cult. A cult is a dangerous and controlling religious organizations with a single charasmatic leader, isolates people from thier family and friends and requires large sums of money.

-Wicca followers worship and conspire with Satan, a demon that tempts humans to sin or commit evil deeds. The symbol of Wicca is the same symbol of Satanists.

-Wiccans require people to get naked, have sex and be homosexual in order to be part of thier religion.

-Wiccans put hexs and cast spells on people in order to control them.

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Is the bible against Wicca?

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No

-The religion of Wicca is sometimes called "witchcraft" but the terms "witch" and "witchcraft" have many interpretaions. Any referance to a term that may be translated into "witch" or "witchcraft" in the Old Testiment can't be refering to the religion of Wicca since Wicca can only be traced back to the 1920s a.d.

-Revelation 21:8 In Greek "sorcerers" is translated into those practicing evil magic, the key word being evil. The verse defines another group of victims as consisting of "unbelievers" (apparently those who follow a non-Christian religion or no religion at all) and this will involved more than two thirds of the human race.

-Galatians 5:19-20 The reference to adultery was not present in the earliest manuscripts. The origional manuscript was in Greek. The Greek word "pharmakia" from which the English words "pharmacy" "pharmaceuticals," and "pharmacology" are derived is interpreted in the above English translations it has been called witchcraft. "Pharmakia" literally refers to the practice of preparing poisonous potions to harm or kill others. The most likely meaning is poisoner.

- Deuteronomy 18:10-11 These verses would seem to prohibit a number of usually reasonable activities: knot magic (tying and untying knots while cursing someone), foretelling the future by studying nature and snake charming. The definition for the origional Hebrew word chover chavar is use of knot-tying to perform magic. Though these do list many things that are commonlly dne by many Wiccans so do with this one what you will.

-Exodus 22:18 In the original Hebrew manuscript, the author used the word m'khashepah to describe the person who should be killed. The word means a woman who uses spoken spells to harm others - e.g. causing their death or loss of property. Clearly "evil sorceress" or "woman who does evil magic" would be the most accurate phrases in today's English usage for this verse.


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Yes

-Revelations 21:8 This verse describes various groups who will automatically be relegated to Hell. One of these groups of people is stated in King James Version of the bible to be "sorcerers".

-Galatians 5:19-20 (King James Version) Various translations of the Christian Scriptures render this verse as a list of "acts of the sinful nature", or "works of the flesh" and specify the following practices: "immoral, filthy and indecent actions; in worship of idols and witchcraft..."

- Deuteronomy 18:10-11 (King James Version) There shall not be found among you anyone ....that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

-Exodus 22:18 (King James Version) Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.


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Pro/con sources

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Yes

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No

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See also

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