Following the cues of homosexual activists, pagans in Florida are coming out of the closet to hold Pagan Pride Day.
Pagans in New Port Richey, Fla., told the Tampa Tribune they’re tired of being labeled as devil worshippers who sacrifice animals under a full moon.
“People think paganism is evil,” said Robert Crom, 25, local coordinator for Local coordinator of Pasco Pagan Pride Day. “Some people, especially among mainstream religions, feel threatened by us.”
Crom’s group was issued a permit Thursday to hold the event at New Port Richey’s popular Sims Park Sept. 25.
The daylong activities – including music, pagan worship and public education – are expected to draw at least 100 devotees.
“There’s no voice for the pagan community here,” said Crom, whose organizing group was formed mostly from transplants from neighboring Pinellas County.
A former Methodist, Crom said that as a teenager growing up in rural Nebraska he began “searching for a religion that made me feel comfortable.”
He found Christianity especially lacking in tolerance, reverence for nature and emphasis on a person’s free will.
Modern-day paganism is a collection of beliefs embracing many movements and traditions, including Wicca, New Age Mysticism, American Indian practices, tarot readings and Buddhism.
Last year, there were at least 70 pagan pride events in 36 states. The first Pagan Pride Day was held in Indianapolis in 1998
“We’re everywhere nowadays,” Crom told the Tampa paper. “And our membership is growing.”
But Crom said misconceptions keep many pagans from outing themselves. Local charities, for example, won’t accept their offers to donate time and money.
Local religious leaders were unaware of the pride event, the Tribune said, but Rev. Drew Willard, president of the West Pasco Ministerial Association, said he doesn’t object as long as it doesn’t involve Satanic worship.
“If they’re all people of good will, then we wouldn’t stand against such an event,” he said.