Religious intolerance

The story about John Bennett who was stabbed by his neighbour as they seemed unhappy with him performing rituals in his garden continues to circulate (they didn’t like the drumming and chanting apparently) and has drawn interesting comments on Megan’s blog which she discusses here: – there are an interesting range of comments!

Accepting that we are sometimes a little shy (at least I am), I can understand the nervousness of people to do ritual openly in their gardens. I do an occasional solitary one but I am lucky to have a space that is not overlooked. I wouldn’t do one where my neighbours could see me – it would feel uncomfortable.

Far more worrying are the threats and assaults. The lack of tolerance is quite staggering.

But it isn’t just confined to Pagans. My parents live in Thornbury where a few years ago the Christian vicar was stabbed to death in a religiously motivated attack and far right fascists have made various threats and held protests outside my local mosque. The Imam responded to one protest by offering the protesters tea and pizza (if I remember correctly).

Religious intolerance is particularly sad and I suspect the best way to reduce it is to be more “out there” with our beliefs but this is not always comfortable to do though!

The work with the Interfaith Network that my Druid friends are doing is very welcome and helps understanding between faiths, not that there a level of intolerance that leads to murder between faiths (well not in contemporary Britain). But the intolerance seems to be outside of religion, i.e. in people who do not practice a religion, and seems to be more centred around the far right, although some of the bad commentary that I have seen has been from the far left too.

So the questions are: How do we encourage more tolerance? How do we help ensure that people feel comfortable to express their religion? How do we maintain the freedom to practice religion?



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