Tolerance, respect for other religions part of the UCM experience

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by ANDY LYONS, News Editor—
AndyDuring a recent airing of Fox & Friends, host Tucker Carlson and his guest, Tammy Bruce, joked about Wiccans during a discussion of the University of Missouri’s Guide to Religions.
As the conversation continued, Carlson said “every Wiccan I’ve known is either a compulsive Dungeon & Dragons player or is a middle-aged, twice divorced, older woman living in a rural area who works as a midwife.” His co-anchor quips, “and likes a lot of incense.”
I typically refuse to talk about religion, even with my close friends. I don’t look down upon people that walk a different path than me. I appreciate people that are genuine and believe in their faith, regardless of which religion it may be.
One of the things I really appreciate about UCM is the multi-cultural facet of our school. We have people here, students, faculty and staff, that come from a wide variety of nations with plenty of different cultural backgrounds.
I rarely get offended when people say disparaging things about me because I am a Wiccan. I have been practicing for over 10 years and keep it very private.
I was raised Catholic, in a family with a very strong moral code, and I think that’s the part that’s most important in religion – morals.
When I was a junior in high school, in 2002, I studied religions of the world because I didn’t feel like Catholicism was right for me, or Christianity for that matter. I did as much research as someone in Hannibal, Mo., can. I went to libraries and services for many of the mainstream faiths available, including Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.  I read literature that included the Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey and other books on religion considered “occult.”
When I read about paganism and more specifically Wicca, I was intrigued because it is a religion based on nature, the natural cycle of things such as the seasons.
When I came to the decision that this is what I wanted to believe in, because it’s the only one that seemed real to me, I purchased a lot of literature about rituals and what it meant to be a Wiccan.
I did it in secret because I was afraid.
I didn’t know what my family would think, because I come from a large Catholic family. I didn’t know what my friends would think because pagans have a weird devil-worshipping karma attached to them. It felt right to me so I went with it.
Over time I’ve told my family what my religious preference is, and they respect my decision and love me. My friends respect my preference and respect my privacy about the issue.
It is appalling to me when a news organization allows the anchors of one of their flagship shows to have such utter ignorance and voice such disrespect. As a news editor, if a reporter submitted an article with such word usage and ignorance of the topic I would make it a point to ensure they became educated on the topic.
Of course at UCM we allow people such as Brother Jeb, Brother John and “every bro in between” to come to our campus and cram their ideology and hate speech down the throats of our students. However, the general student body here seems to be accepting of the fact that we are all different yet part of the same experience.
It is refreshing to know that there are others here that have the same religious preference as me.
However, the thing I appreciate the most is the fact that there are others that don’t.  Here we have a unique opportunity to learn about other walks of life, to learn from people of other religions, to learn from the people that choose no religion at all. We have the opportunity to learn of equality and tolerance and then practice it with our fellow students and pave a brighter future for people from all walks of life.