PAN Media Release
March 21, 2011
A report into freedom of religion and belief in Australia, released today by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission, has found that pagans and other followers of nature-based faiths face discrimination and a lack of acceptance within the community.
“This is something we have been saying for years,” Pagan Awareness Network President David Garland said today. “Imagine going to the Family Court during a bitter custody battle and having to explain under cross-examination that you practice Wicca, or Druidism, or another pagan spirituality. Imagine the stress, fearing you will lose custody of your children simply because you follow a minority religion. Or imagine being at school, and being ordered to take off the five-pointed star you wear around your neck because it is supposedly an “occult symbol”, while your Jewish classmates can continue to wear their six-pointed stars. Not to mention the Christian kids with their crosses, Muslim girls with their headscarves and all the other religious traditions out there. It is absurd that existing anti-discrimination laws dont protect pagans in this kind of situation.”
He added: “We are not interested in converting anyone to our beliefs. The issue for us is simply equity: we think it is fair that we have the same acceptance within the broader community as everyone else. We hope this report will highlight some of the very real issues our community faces.”
As at the 2006 Census there were around 30,000 followers of pagan and nature-based religions in Australia according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This means pagans outnumber the Sikh, Jain, Quaker and Taoist communities in Australia combined. And in the United States paganism is believed to be the 7th largest religion with more than a million adherents.
More information about pagan beliefs and practices can be found at www.paganawareness.net.au under the “About Paganism” link.
President Pagan Awareness Network Incorporated
Media Officer Pagan Awareness Network Incorporated
The Pagan Awareness Network Incorporated Australia (PAN Inc) is a not-for-profit educational association with members Australia-wide. It has no formal ties with any religious body, but works in a proactive fashion, both within the Pagan community and as a point of contact for the public, including government and media organisations.