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As most of you know, I wrote a pair of columns last week denouncing
Wiccans, pagan god and goddess worship, and witchcraft in general. In
those columns I took great pains to condemn both men and women
practitioners of that faith, as well as the religion itself.

However yesterday, after spending some time with my priest during
Confession over the weekend, I wrote a column outlining my sin of being
too judgmental — not against the pagan religion of witchcraft,
but against those who practice it. In my Catholic world, judging what
is in one’s soul is different than judging the acts one performs — and
therefore, is not permitted. How can I — or any of us — really
know what is in a person’s soul, since we cannot see inside it?
Conversely, we can see what someone actually does and
therefore have every right to judge that action accordingly.

Therefore, I despise the act of witchcraft but I have no right
to condemn the soul of the practitioner. Think of it as
condemning homosexuality but actually liking the homosexual — has that
ever happened? And if so, does that mean you automatically approve of
the act of homosexuality as well? Of course not.

I’ll tell you what I mean.

Many of the Wiccans that have e-mailed me have told me they were once
practicing Christians. Some of them even said they continue to mix
their paganism with a modified belief in one true Christian God, and
while Christians may have a hard time figuring that one out, there is
truth in that. Without presuming that I can see inside another’s soul,
what are the chances that some pagans actually feel guilty about their
faith, and silently yearn for a closer relationship to our one true God
but, for any number of reasons, simply have not made the final
transition back to Christianity yet? On my radio talk show
yesterday, we had a former lesbian on as
a guest who left that lifestyle after six years and is now a
spokesperson for the Family Research Council. She advises people that
the myth put forth by the American Psychological Association that
attempting to convert gays and lesbians is “harmful, counterproductive,
and dangerous” is patently false — and she is living proof.

If we condemn these people out of hand, as many of you have suggested
that I do, then in essence we are circumventing God’s inherent and sole
right to judge us, and by doing so condemning some among us to
eternal damnation when we’re not completely sure what those criteria
consist of. Doing that is wrong because it leaves people — who may
secretly wish to come closer to God — without any hope of redemption.
Since when has God given us that responsibility?

Now, I don’t care who you are, how many theology classes you say
you’ve attended, or how adept a Bible expert you think you are,
we — mere mortals — do not ever have the right to that kind
of judgement
. Based on what a person does (practice witchcraft, for
instance), as Christians we may think that person’s soul is
convoluted and wicked because we have based our opinion (as I did)
solely on their practice of paganism and witchcraft. But only the
Almighty knows when a soul is irretrievable, and when that person’s time
on this earth is over, only He has the responsibility to issue a final
judgement.

Some of you have viewed this as simply politically correct tolerance
from me. Nothing is further from the truth; in not one of my past three
columns on this subject have I advocated tolerance for
witchcraft
. I did, however, advocate tolerance for those practicing
it. We have no choice; this is America, and as long as these people
aren’t kidnapping our children or our house pets and sacrificing them on
some sort of pagan altar — or trying to legislate Christianity out of
existence — then we must provide them an opportunity to practice their
faith.

Over the course of 24 hours I have received an increasing number of
e-mails from ticked-off Christians (and Catholics, who ought to know
better) that the tone of my column yesterday was “erroneous on its face
and blatantly incomplete.”

In this business, however, that’s part of it, because most of the
time you’re darned if you do and darned if you don’t.

For the record (again), I’m going to try to clarify myself one last
time:

  • On the issue of “caving in” — Attempting to right a wrong
    (atone for my sin) is not “caving in” to “political correctness.” You
    people who wrote me and told me that ought to know me better; I’m about
    as politically correct as Texas Rep. Ron Paul or a storeroom of
    privately owned AR-15 semi-automatic rifles (with bayonet lugs, by the
    way). Give me a break; I wrote yesterday that I felt my contrition was
    divinely inspired — and we all know how politically incorrect God
    Almighty is these days.

  • Trashing witchcraft needs no apology — I didn’t apologize for
    speaking ill of witchcraft; I apologized for sinfully judging the souls
    and the hearts of the people who are practicing witches or pagans. In
    fact, I’d be hard-pressed right now to find a Wiccan, witch or pagan who
    actually believes I support their form of religion. I am still as
    opposed to witchcraft as I ever was, but the difference now is that I’ve
    realized through my writings that I have no legal or religious basis to
    condemn those who practice paganism. I can, however, condemn the
    practice, just not the practitioner, and I can trumpet the
    attributes not just of Catholicism but of our one true Christian God,
    which I have continually done. I’m not ashamed of that, nor do I
    believe this will be the last time I use Christian perspectives to make
    a point.

  • You’re a rotten person for not accepting witchcraft. Well, no
    I’m not, according to my faith and my God. Witchcraft, to
    us Catholics, is a sin against God, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t
    believe in Him or his nemesis, Satan — for us, they both exist. I
    could say you’re a rotten person for practicing witchcraft, but I’d be
    wrong (again) and right back where I started.

  • You are ignorant of witchcraft and misrepresented it. Again,
    I’m not “ignorant” of it — though it may seem that way because I got
    some of your terms wrong or because my sarcasm was not read as such.
    But I am acutely aware of what my faith teaches about paganism and
    witchcraft, and brother, for us Catholics, it ain’t good.

  • On misinterpreting the passage, “Judge not, lest ye be
    judged
    .” Look, I’m no biblical scholar, but neither are most of you
    who have written me attempting to demonstrate to me that you are
    biblical scholars. In fact, a few of the biblical scholars who wrote me
    aren’t, in my opinion, very scholarly — at least when it comes to
    Catholicism and certainly when it comes to second-guessing Father Ed.
    The Bible, I believe, was intentionally written (through divine
    inspiration) to be confusing, arbitrarily interpreted, and difficult to
    understand. Many passages were cleverly inspired to mean different
    things to different people at different points during their faith
    lives. In fact, no matter what you’re trying to “prove,” you can do so
    by finding some passage (or a few passages) in the Bible that would seem
    to do so. But in reality, only God knows, and sooner or later we’ll all
    find out what some of these “tricky little passages” really mean, I
    assure you. Be patient.

  • I thought you were a God-fearing Christian. I found, through a
    series of e-mails, that at times neither Wiccans nor Christians were
    very “Christian,” at least as was demonstrated by some of the truly
    nasty, hate-filled letters some of you sent (and you know who you are).
    Jesus endured far worse, however, so I am undeterred — I just wanted to
    point out to some of you, you ought to be practicing what you’re
    admonishing me to preach.

Alternately, many of you sent fine, eclectic, beautifully inspiring
e-mails as well, and to you — even if I did not answer — I saw them.
I just wanted you to know that.

As far as I’m concerned, the last perfect person who walked this
earth was nailed to a cross for His troubles. So, too, should many of
you come to this realization.

You may disagree. You are entitled. You have to listen to what our
God (or your god) tells you.

In the meantime though, let’s move on. What do you say?

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