Bob Barr’s new Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on Paganism causes a stir

By way of Google News: libertarian, “catoismymotor” writes at The Motley Fool:

I did not like Bob Barr while he was in office as a Republican. I thought of him as a smug elitist bunghole, a slightly smarter verion of VP Joe Biden. Then he cut ties with his party. Later he joined the ranks of the Libertarian party, the one to which I belong. I found this encouraging. “Pehaps a zebra can change his stripes”, I thought. There were signs in interviews that he had relaxed, become more embracing of individual liberty and the Constitution. After giving the man a chance and voting for him in the Presidential election, one he had no shot at winning, I purposely lost track of him. I had other things on which to focus.

Then today I found this tripe, this objectionable piece submitted by Mr. Barr to the local Atlanta paper. This is the old Bob Barr, the closed-minded, exclusionist hypocrite that I remember from years ago. To me after writing a piece like this he shows that he is no longer commited to Libertarian ideals, if he ever truely was. Shame on him. And shame on the party if they do not issue a statement seperating itself from the words of this man.

Read the article […] and make up your own mind. Maybe I’m over reacting, but I think not.

The original piece by Bob Barr at AJC:

A few years back, when I was in the US Congress, I took the Army to task for permitting the practice of Wicca on its bases, including at Ft. Hood in Texas. After speaking with a number of officers and military leaders, and meeting with several former military who adhere to the practice of Wicca, I was convinced that a belief in or practice of witchcraft, was not necessarily incompatible with the good order and discipline essential to a military lifestyle. However, one might legitimately wonder just how far such tolerance should extend.

The US Air Force, at no less a prestigious location than the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, has taken the notion of religious tolerance to a new level, in creating an outdoor worship area for pagans. The site, apparently sacred to pagans, consists of an inner and an outer circle of large stones. I’m sorry, but this truly is hilarious. Don’t get me wrong, if someone “has little or no religion and delights in sensual pleasures and material goods,” which is the definition of a “pagan,” then I say live and let live.

But I have to tell you, if I were in the Air Force and was being commanded by an officer who practices hedonism as a religion (another part of the definition of “pagan”), and who dances around a circle of stones in the woods carrying a lighted candle, I would be more than a little worried about following him into battle.

26 thoughts on “Bob Barr’s new Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on Paganism causes a stir

  1. Gene Berkman

    Honestly, if I have any problem with Bob Barr’s column, it is his excessive tolerance toward paganism.

    I would hope that a leader of the Libertarian Party would be committed to rationalism.

    That said, when someone admits a discomfort with paganism, the pagans show that they completely lack tolerance. Or are they so defensive because they know few people will ever take their beliefs seriously?

  2. Solomon Drek

    Barr’s column is intended as humor so I don’t have a problem with it.

    He admits his discomfort with pagan rituals but also asserted that he believes in “live and let live”.

  3. Tom Blanton

    What’s up with pagan air force officers? What in the world is hedonistic about dancing around some rocks with a candle? Or being in the air force?

    People can live and let live – that’s all fine and good – but when I want to experience hedonism, I won’t go partying with air force pagans or Bob Barr.

  4. kenneth

    His reluctance to follow a Wiccan leader into battle is purely rhetorical, of course. As a lifelong chickenhawk, he followed NO ONE into battle.

  5. paulie Post author

    His reluctance to follow a Wiccan leader into battle is purely rhetorical, of course. As a lifelong chickenhawk, he followed NO ONE into battle.

    Hmmm.

    Well, I don’t know what he did at CIA.

    Do you?

  6. Lidia Seebeck

    I think some misconceptions probably have to be corrected here.

    First off, the circle that has been created at the Academy is a huge step forward in the equal treatment of cadets at the Academy (Pagan or not). Even five or ten years ago, there were serious problems with cadet mistreatment. I’m frankly astonished that they have come this far in such a short time.

    (Before anybody gripes about money, the stones used in the circle had to be moved anyways. Everything else for the site has been made by the Pagan cadets and so the cost to the Academy is essentially nil. I might add this seems a far better arrangement from a libertarian perspective. The Christians have a beautiful chapel that costs a HUGE amount in heating and glass replacement costs, there are other buildings on site for other religions that also cost a lot of money. The Pagans are not going to cost money)

    I’d also add that Barr’s definition of Paganism is as warped as his definition of Libertarian politics. Hedonism, while not a sin, is certainly not a defining element of our path! A lot of what Pagans do actually runs pretty counter to hedonism, while we try and work with ol’ Mother Nature. There are also definite spiritual elements to our path, although the amount of religious conviction can vary by Tradition.

    It’s clear that Bob Barr hasn’t changed his stripes all that much.

  7. GB, The Amazing Atheist

    Berkman’s a flaming militant atheist, so we should expect nothing from him but his usual intolerance for people with religious beliefs.

  8. Mik Robertson

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    This must be a joke.

    “But I have to tell you, if I were in the Air Force and was being commanded by an officer who practices hedonism as a religion (another part of the definition of “pagan”), and who dances around a circle of stones in the woods carrying a lighted candle, I would be more than a little worried about following him into battle. “

    This must be a continuation of the joke. Are you sure this wasn’t an April Fools column? Is it better to follow someone into battle who believes crackers and wine turn into flesh and blood?

  9. Barr is Clueless

    Mr. Barr mistakes “hedonism” with “heathenism”. But such a mistake is commonplace for Mr. Barr, for throughout his career in Congress and beyond, he has perpetually publicly expressed pure ignorance on any given subject where he should not be sticking his bespectacled and disjointed elephantine proboscis into. Religious tolerance at “Zoomie U.” as it is informally called, certainly appears to be his latest misadventure into the real world of which he has no understanding.

    Mr. Berkman, however, is extremely well-known as a religious bigot when it comes to professing his own irrational intolerance for those who profess belief in any spiritual path of any variety whatsoever. Lost to his simple and hateful mind is the fundamentally and perpetually accurate point that an irrational lack of belief in anything resembling a higher power is logically equivalent to any irrational belief in anything resembling a higher power, and that the only truly rational route of religious understanding lies neither in religion nor its mirror opposite atheism, but in pure agnosticism and its objective study thereof. It is irrefutable logic that the proof of existence of any deistic figurehead is beyond empirical means and methods, as is the disproof, leaving the only rational course as one of uncertainty and the quest for understanding and enlightenment that accompanies it. In common terms, atheism as a belief system is as irrational as the belief systems its proponents rail against.

    In regards to the Air Force Academy, a circle of rocks in a remote area of the eighteen thousand acre wooded campus is a non-issue. I’m certain, having had the pleasure of visiting that beautiful campus with its wonderful scenery and abundant wildlife during a graduation ceremony blessed by the marvelous Thunderbirds and simultaneously cursed by President Reagan in 1984, that there were a plethora of boulders up to the task, and that the simple circle is a refreshing departure from the garishness of the Academy’s Chapel in the Cadet Area if one believes in that sort of religious prattle that requires such a facility.

  10. Gene Trosper

    I first met Gene Berkman in October of 1990. I have respect for him and generally find him to be a stand-up kind of person. I must, however, respectfully disagree with his stance on pagans and other religions.

    As I grow older, I’ve come to accept that rationalism is in the eye of the beholder. What may seem rational in my eyes or Gene Berkman’s eyes will certainly be viewed differently by others. Life is too short to bicker over religious beliefs and I’ve long since given up on it. People will believe what they want to believe. My only interest is if people are overall trustworthy and ethical in their personal and business dealings. If they can do that without pushing their beliefs upon me as the “one and only way” and refrain from using their beliefs to legislate my personal life, I’m cool with whatever religious belief they may (or may not) have.

    Pray to Christ. Bow to Allah. Engage in Buddhist meditation. Worship Satan, Be one with Cthulhu, Light a Menorah candle, Cast runestones, Celebrate the Equinox — or believe in nothing…I really don’t care so long as you don’t aggress and violate the rights of others.

    By the way: I am Pagan.

  11. Hayden

    Mr Barr’s comment show a lack of tolerance and a lack of knowledge. Pagan is a blanket term for many different types of beliefs from Asatru to Hellenic Reconstructionism and quite a bit in between.

    Whether we agree with the faith or not this is America and they should be allowed to worship as they will.

    It’s funny that he mentions being wary of following a Pagan into battle. The soldiers who followed Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan didn’t mind following a Pagan into battle.

  12. Trent Hill

    “and who dances around a circle of stones in the woods carrying a lighted candle, I would be more than a little worried about following him into battle. ”

    Would you be more likely to follow someone into battle who kneels on a sacrificial altar and prays towards an ancient torture device, shortly after participating in a ritual involving the ritualistic consumption of materials which are symbolically cannibalistic?

    What I mean to ask is–would you follow a Catholic into battle, Mr. Barr, after he prays at his altar in front of a crucifix and takes Communion?

  13. Trent Hill

    It is common to fear and mock what we aren’t familiar with, Mr. Barr, try to be more tolerant.

  14. Don Lake ......... SECULAR

    Gene Trosper // Feb 18, 2010:

    “Pray to Christ. Bow to Allah. Engage in Buddhist meditation. Worship Satan, Be one with Cuchulain, Light a Menorah candle, Cast runestones, Celebrate the Equinox — or believe in nothing…I really don’t care so long as you don’t aggress and violate the rights of others.

    By the way: I am Pagan.”

    PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION!

    IPR: the unofficial church channel!

  15. Don Lake ........

    Trent Hill // Feb 18, 2010:
    “dances around a circle of stones in the woods carrying a lighted candle, I would be more than a little worried about following him into battle. ”

    [a] plz view Constantine’s Cross

    [b] see latest USAF Academy [illegal god squad loci] positions on [lawful, legal] pagan spiritualism [aka: Tree Hugging]!

    [c] one of the finest officers I had in the military hinted at tree hugging ……… [She was reduced to SSgt and had to wait out years before retiring as a major!]

  16. Ralph

    From a graffitti some years ago:

    Jesus loves you.

    Mohammad hates you.

    Buddha is indifferent to you.

    But for a really good time, call your local coven at 555-5555.

  17. Trent Hill

    Wow! Trent!

    We found a topic besides third parties on which you are willing to be a bold and progressive revolutionary for.

    Very cool…”

    Religious intolerance bugs me. All religions have symbolic, “weird”, rituals which someone else could refer to as “cultish”. Christians, quite clearly, ritualize cannibalism every Sunday. If Mr. Barr doesn’t find that weird, then he doesn’t have much room to cast stones at Paganism.

    (Mind you, I consider myself Christian. Though I know many Christians who would say I wasn’t)

  18. Woof!

    Thomas L. Knapp // Feb 18, 2010 at 6:03 am

    “I’m a dyslexic agnostic. I lie awake at night wondering if there’s a dog.”

    We have the winner!

  19. Bruce Cohen

    One would think that Mister Barr would a) realize not to quit his day job and become a comic and b) he already angered a lot of folks in the LP with his past actions towards ‘Wiccans’.

    This was unwise on his part, even giving him 100% the benefit of the doubt.

    There is no call to make jokes at the expense of one group of people who you have already offended.

  20. Moonlion

    Before someone writes an article, he should first investigate. Mr Barr article demonstrate a total lack of what he is writing about as well as a lack of religious tolerance. I would like to know where Mr Barr found this definition of Paganism: “has little or no religion and delights in sensual pleasures and material goods” as well as “hedonism”. Resuming: if you do not know what you are writing about, don’t write it.

  21. Pingback: Bob Barr Stands Against Torture, Booed at CPAC | Independent Political Report

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