Apr 16 2012

A cunning plan

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to point and laugh. This could be a brilliant idea: Cornwall Council has told its schools

that pagan beliefs, which include witchcraft, druidism and the worship of ancient gods such as Thor, should be taught alongside Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

And an accompanying guide says that pupils should ‘understand  the basic beliefs’ of paganism and suggests children could discuss the difficulties a practising pagan pupil might face in school.

But the council’s initiative has dismayed some Christian campaigners, who are alarmed that a religion once regarded as a fringe eccentricity is increasingly gaining official recognition.

While at the same time a religion once regarded as entirely mainstream and Normal and right is increasingly questioned and disputed by people who thinks it makes just as much sense as the worship of Thor.

Go for it!


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  1. 1

    Christianity used to be a heavily disliked fringe cult before it became the Roman state religion an attempt to prop up a declining empire

  2. 2
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Oh man. Why oh why can’t this happen in the States? I would be a VOCAL supporter!

  3. 3
    Ant (@antallan)

    Oh, by Wotan, I like this!


  4. 4

    I thought of this.

  5. 5

    A very cunning plan. As cunning as a fox what used to be Professor of Cunning at Oxford University but has moved on and is now working for the U.N. at the High Commission of International Cunning Planning.

  6. 6

    Awesome ^.^ I love me some pagan mythology.

  7. 7

    @julian, #4

    Another one in that vein goes:

    “Your god died from being nailed to a lump of wood – mine carries a hammer”.

  8. 8
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    For FSM’s sake, by all means yes!

    This wasn’t proposed by someone named Baldric, was it?

  9. 9
    Ian MacDougall

    It’s called comparative religion. Been around quite a while.
    I’m surprised it has taken mainstream education so long to discover it.

  10. 10
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Didaktylos: Before I saw your comment, I went a-GIS’in. Great minds think alike. ;)

  11. 11

    What Ian said @9; if taught properly, comparative religion can be a real eye-opener. Best comparative religion essay I ever got to write in my classics days: What role does the ‘problem of evil’ play in Roman paganism?

    [The answer is 'none', but you had to explain why. A brilliant exercise in being forced to think.]

  12. 12

    Apparently Mike Judge from the Christian Instituate thinks there’s “barely enough enough time to cover Christianity and the other major religions”.

    You mean “there’s barely enough time to cover the Truth and others who think they know the Truth”, Mike?

    This is a step forward for Cornwall.

  13. 13

    Yes, the prospect of dancing naked under a full moon is much to be preferred to a mind-numbing sermon on a Sunday morn or the annoying wail of a call to prayer at 6.00 AM.
    Let’s give that prospect equal time (at the very least!).

  14. 14
    Chris Lawson


    That’s not quite right. At the time Constantine publicly converted to Christianity (and took the empire with him), the Roman Empire was near its greatest extent, both geographically and in terms of cultural domination of Europe and West Asia.

    It’s more than possible that Constantine had a political agenda behind his conversion — he was certainly politically ruthless enough — but Constantine’s actual intentions in converting to Christianity are impossible to determine at this point in time as we only have his predictable public statements about heavenly visions and so on. We have no personal diary, no secret correspondence that undermines the official story (as we do with Mother Theresa), and even if such documents existed I have no doubt that they would have been buried or destroyed at some time in the last 1800 years.

  15. 15


    Constantine’s ordering of the Council of Nicea in 325 was political expediency attempting to end the squabbling amongst factions of the Not Ready For Prime Time Church. He had an empire to run and could not afford civil unrest fomented by squabbling bishops. Check into the writings of the time where every fool with a pen had the One True And Only Word whilst all others (with their own pens) unstintingly stirred the theological pot. Anathema, heresy and schism were the order of the day. We have many such writings from the various church fathers and many more quotations from works whose originals are lost to us; substantial understanding of many lost works can be reconstructed based on who was offended in which particulars. Had there been anything of the day clearly indicative of Constantine’s personal or even official positions, we should have been informed of them at least through other writers as has been the case with many lost writings of the period. It’s fairly safe to assume his Christianity was political and expedient.

  16. 16
    'Tis Himself

    But the council’s initiative has dismayed some Christian campaigners, who are alarmed that a religion once regarded as a fringe eccentricity is increasingly gaining official recognition.

    Oh no! Our privilege is slipping away!

  17. 17
    Graham Martin-Royle

    Not only this, but in Germany Korans are being distributed. All those pushing to allow special privilege for their christianity should beware.


  18. 18

    As I was just saying to SteveV, I knew of a whole variety of religions from what we did at school. It was not anything systematic enough to be labelled A Level Comparative Religion and it was weak on the religions of East Asia but I had the general hang of things, certainly as applied to Europe and the Middle East and over 3 – 4 millennia, by the time I left school in 1960.

    The idea that schools should only teach the dominant religion where they happen to be based is a relatively new one and indicates either that one church has far too much power (Ireland until a very few years ago) or that someone, somewhere is terrified there kids might be equipped to ask questions – again about power and not theology.

    A “proper” education has always meant having an understanding of how history and religion interact and enough knowledge not to oppress or cause offence.

  19. 19

    It will be interesting to see how they play the “Wah Wah! We’re being persecuted!” card, while at the same time trying to drive out another religion.

  20. 20

    George Carlin wrote that he worshiped the sun. He pointed out, “You can see my god right there in the sky. Always there, everyday. And my prayers are answered at the same rate as any other god’s; roughly 50%.”
    I’m paraphrasing. But you get the point.

  21. 21

    I find the possibility of Thor worship rather interesting because I had considered it as a way of demonstrating the absurdity of the requirement by the Boy Scouts for professing a belief in God. The official policy of the scouts is not belief in God but rather belief in some God or other. In other words, they believe in belief in God. One could say “I believe in Thor” (give me that old time religion). One could even smash a bug every Thursday (Thor’s day) with a bronze hammer, thereby giving him a blood sacrifice. If I said it with a straight face, how could they prove me wrong? Fortunately for all concerned, the issue never came up,

  22. 22
    Bernard Hurley

    My God is my Yellow Teapot: It’s performance at answering prayers is only average but it sure is a comfort when it is full of a steaming hot brew and, granted universe could logically exist without it, a meaningful universe surely could not.

  23. 23
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    Teach the controversy!

    I love it!

  24. 24
    Richard Smith

    @Bernard Hurley (#22):

    My God is my Yellow Teapot

    Did you get it from Russell?

  25. 25

    It was gratifying to see that even on a Daily Mail site the comments were quite balanced. It is amusing to see that Christians still see a distinction between real religions and silly superstitions. At one time it was Christianity that was real and everything else that was silly. Nowadays they have been forced to recognise any religion that has several millions of followers. The Daily Mail has done its Christian duty by showing pictures of various pagans/druids in ridiculous costumes. How can they be so oblivious to how stupid the Christian High Ups look in their embroidered frocks and pointy hats?

  26. 26

    ” A Fringe eccentricity”? Do they mean that in the way that Christianity was once regarded was once thought of being a fringe eccentricity?

  27. 27
    Amy Clare

    If Cornish Christians think paganism is a ‘fringe eccentricity’ in Cornwall… ha… they know nowt! In certain parts of Cornwall especially, paganism is quite popular, and I’d like to bet that Cornish schools have plenty of children of practising pagans.

    Not to mention that Cornwall still has a lot of ancient relics such as standing stones, etc, and learning about paganism would be useful for the kids in learning about Cornish history.

    The Christians are just throwing their toys out of the pram as per usual. Seems to escape them that a lot of ‘Christian’ holidays are based around ancient pagan rituals.

  28. 28

    @ Amy:

    Rather than “based around,” I would suggest “blatantly co-opted.”

  29. 29
    Bernard Hurley

    It will be interesting to see how they play the “Wah Wah! We’re being persecuted!” card, while at the same time trying to drive out another religion.

    But to Christians, allowing other religions to have a say is persecution!

  30. 30

    It’s called comparative religion. Been around quite a while.
    I’m surprised it has taken mainstream education so long to discover it.

    Non-faith schools in the UK have been teaching comparative religion for quite a while now. I believe the general requirement at secondary level is to study three of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism (chosen by the school), plus various general ethical and moral issues. Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology is also included in History lessons. This measure appears to be simply broadening the range.

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