I have a lot of online pagan contacts in the USA. Through them I keep up with their local pagan news, and read about some of the harassment some US pagans contend with. I get slightly smug about living in the tolerant UK.
Until the last couple of weeks. Two news stories have brought it home to me that pagans in the UK are still at risk of being targeted as dark and dangerous beings. The first involved a group of Christians protesting outside a Bridport pagan moot. I know Bridport; I used to live a few miles away. Christian 'soldiers'? The only Christian Soldiers I recognise are the Salvation Army, who choose to spend their time helping the homeless, the helpless, in countries all over the world. I applaud their efforts, and always donate when I see them. My Great-Aunts were Sally Army, and both worked in leper colonies, in spite of any risk to themselves. They didn't go bothering people of other faiths meeting in a social environment.
Then there is the story about a couple who opened a New-Age shop in Alcester, a small town near Birmingham. These people have been almost forced to close their shop. I urge you to read these articles, particularly the second one - check out what the Councillor had to say about this couple. These people are engaging in the local economy, for fucks sake. Our high streets are dying, losing out to the massive shopping malls and their soul destroying car parks. These little independent shops are one way we can stall this demise, and the local councillor doesn't want "these sort of people"? Can I get a chorus of WTF?????
I am lucky to live in West Yorkshire. We have a thriving interfaith dialogue going. My whole street knows I'm a witch, and even the Jehovah's Witness four doors up only knocks on my door to enquire whether I can give a home to his excess tomato plants. I turn up at the school with little pentacle earrings, and the mums still all talk to me. I feel safe here. But reading those two stories, is anywhere safe from hatred? Perhaps not.