Pagans

Information behind DeVos irony: NBC News discovers that liberal homeschoolers do exist

Information behind DeVos irony: NBC News discovers that liberal homeschoolers do exist

Back in the days of intense Harry Potter warfare, I wrote an "On Religion" column in which a very articulate mother explained why she was seriously considering homeschooling her child.

First of all, she said it was clear that her local public schools didn't take religion all that seriously. A kind of watered-down faith was OK, but she was sure that her family's intense religious beliefs and traditions would clash with the culture in nearby schools. She didn't want to have to compromise her family's beliefs in order to fit in.

Then there those omnipresent books about a certain young wizard. She told me: 

"The whole Harry Potter thing has just taken off and glamorized everything. It makes it seem like all of this is about spells and magic. ... It can be hard to get children to remember that what we're about is faith and spirituality. ... Many pagan parents consider Harry Potter a mixed blessing."

This mother, you see, was part of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and the author of a book called "Pagan Parenting." And she was preparing for life as a homeschooling mom.

I thought about this anecdote when I read the NBCNews.com piece that ran with this headline: "DeVos Backlash Sees Parents Threatening to Homeschool Kids."

All kinds of people were passing this URL around online, laughing at the irony of that statement. However, it quickly became clear that reporter Jon Schuppe not only saw the irony, but understood it. Here is the overture on this surprisingly nuanced piece: 

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Washington Post seems to rather like a pagan's tale of goat horns and driver's licenses

Washington Post seems to rather like a pagan's tale of goat horns and driver's licenses

The dear old Washington Post likes people who take bold stands in defense of the free exercise of their religious beliefs -- so long as those freely exercising their beliefs, it seems, aren't -- you know -- committed Christians in a tizzy over a certain kind of wedding ceremony or elderly nuns trying to defend their church's teachings on sexuality.

Consider, for example, a certain Phelan MoonSong (or Moonsong, both are out there in an online search) of Millinocket, Maine. He doesn't drive but needs a government-issued I.D. to get on an airplane, as do we all these days.

So he trundled off to the motor vehicle bureau, wearing the goat horns that are now part of his normal religious attire. The Post picks it up from there:

“As a practicing Pagan minister and a priest of Pan, I’ve come to feel very attached to the horns, and they’ve become a part of me and part of my spirituality,” Moonsong said, noting that he periodically soaks the horns in patchouli and cedar oil to keep them fresh and leathery. “The horns are part of my religious attire.”
Moonsong feels so attached to his horns that he refuses to take them off for anyone — including the state of Maine. In August, Moonsong said, officials at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Bangor told him that he would need to remove the horns to receive a state-issued ID.
When he tried to explain to bureau employees that he is a “Priest of Pan” — one who considers the horns his “spiritual antenna” — they were not moved. They told that the horns would have to be approved by Maine’s secretary of state.

You can imagine what happened next: MoonSong's complaint sort-of stagnated until he dropped the ACLU card:

... Moonsong said he managed to avoid hiring a lawyer and filing a lawsuit.

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