Soon, "Gertrude" and "Tobias" were the only "two" members of the CHU fan club left posting. (Who are the sock puppets and who is real is a question I don't even want to ponder). Loud-mouthed as ever, they responded to the theological nuances mentioned with the usual ranting sprinked with a few ignorant sneers aimed at my religion. As I pointed out in my reply, one of the reasons that I had excluded Wiccans as visitors to the Shrine was because of the kind of behavior we were seeing out of these two, now. I put it to the reader - could you picture a productive intellectual exchange taking place with them around?

Pope John Paul II. Are ya scared yet, huh, are ya? :)

Tobias continued to try to change the subject, ranting about my willingness to admit Catholics as guests, but not Wiccans. As I pointed out, tossing in a relevant link, there were some solidly good reasons for that, and raised a question which I have yet to see a Wiccan critic of the Shrine's policies answer - given that we are a non-Wiccan Christo-Hellenic group, why should we feel any special obligation to let Wiccans in as guests?

Tobias was not done. Oh, no, not he. He pounced on my next shocking revelation. I was apparently supposed to hate my Christian neighbors here in Chicago, or at least recognize that they were up to no good, because of the alleged misdeeds of the allegedly Catholic Lord David Alton of the British Parliament. To which my response would have to be, "Who is Lord David Alton, and why should I care?". Tobias does know that Chicago is not in Britain, doesn't he? Apparently not. I wonder what his thoughts on Ald. Burton Naturus might be. Expecting him to have some would make about as much sense.

Adolf Hitler and a member of the Hitler youth. I get the impression that Adolf isn't exactly thinking about Eva Braun, if you catch my meaning.

To make the point that the Catholics really were out to get him, and he wasn't just being paranoid, Toby asked me if I knew that the Vatican had blamed Pagans for the Holocaust. Good for them if they did, I said in my my reply, because that's historically accurate. A number of key nazis, including Hitler himself, are on record as having advocated the dissolution of Christianity in Germany (on the grounds that it was too Jewish), suggesting that it be replaced with an "Aryan church" in which the old Norse gods would be worshipped. (This idea proved less than popular with the German people, so much so that even Hitler was forced to see reason).

Reality is what it is, regardless of whether or not it suits our political needs - but, whoops! This didn't meet Tobias' needs at all. He was stupid to even bring this one up, because, by Tobias' own logic, this would mean that Jews should hate Pagans and Pagan sympathizers. (Hate the many for the alleged misdeeds of the few - remember?)

And then I asked the one question that matters more than all others here - what is CHU hoping to accomplish with this campaign of Hate? They may create unpleasant experiences for a few individual Christians, but given how much more powerful Christendom is than Pagandom, any attempt at intimidating Christians as a group is a lost cause. The Christians are going to know that there's no bite behind the bark. How does it serve Pagandom to pick an unwinnable fight with the vast bulk of the surrounding population, antagonizing it in the process?

Giovanni Pannini,  Interior of the Pantheon, Rome, c. 1734

Tobias tried to side step he last point by saying that he wasn't in favor of a religious war. Nobody had said that he was. The only thing that he and CHU had been accused of was being a pack of irresponsible, hatemongering blowhards, and the case for this had been made fairly strongly. Tobias and Gertrude claimed that the refusal to abide by the Pagan party line, instead of by the reports of reputable historians, proved that I was not a real Pagan.

Ignoring that silliness, I continued to drive home a point for which Tobias could have no answer. If the Christians are unchallengeably powerful, in terms of brute force, in Western society and they are out to get the poor Pagans (as Tobias insists) then how is it that we have all of these laws protecting religious minorities, Pagans included? Christian legislators elected by Christian voters passed those laws, which have been enforced by the actions of Christian governmental officials and the decisions of courts presided over by Christian judges. Even those who resort to conspiracy theories are left facing the reality that Western Pagandom has very little power to bring to bear, and realistically, wouldn't have been in a position to strong arm anybody, behind closed doors or elsewhere.

Do we conclude that all involved blinked as all of these events happened miraculously, or do we embrace our common sense and accept that Pagans have legally recognized civil rights in the West, because most Christians want them to? If this is the case, then Tobias is calling for us to demonise a decent majority because of the actions of a indecent majority, and, again, under that principle, how does one evade the conclusion that Jews should be hostile toward Pagans because of the behavior of that hateful minority of Pagans who did so much to make the Holocaust a reality?

One can't have it both ways, but that won't keep fanatics from trying.

The ranting from Tobias continued, which wasn't surprising, given the man's main debating tactic : refusing to listen when he found himself losing the argument, and lying about the context in which earlier remarks were made. For example, he wrote

" How convenient that he brushes over the misery created 'worldwide' by fundamemtalist Christians hunting for nonexistent Satanic adversaries. "

glossing over the fact that we hadn't been talking about the relationship between Paganism and Fundamentalist Christians. We had been discussing the relationship between Pagans and Christians in general, the only context in which it would have made sense for the Roman Catholic Church to have been mentioned here, as said church is not a Fundamentalist denomination. Tobias continued, saying

" Funny how he readily agrees with the CHURCH that the holocaust was the work of nothing but paganism. "

Which CHURCH? This is a very important point which anti-Catholic Pagan hatemongers are fond of overlooking : Christendom hasn't been unified as a single church in living memory. The Protestant schism took place centuries ago; the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches went their separate ways on the order of a millenium ago. One can not blithely lump together Christian clergymen as members of some "church" and continue to make sense.

Not that Tobias seemed very concerned with doing so. As the reader can easily see, the above commentary was a shameless distortion of what I had said earlier: there is a world of difference between saying that the Holocaust was the work of Pagans alone, and saying that a number of Pagans played a shamefully pivotal role in making the Holocaust happen. Going on to distort his own position as well, Tobias wrote:

" I repeat the previous question for the 'hard-of thinking' (i.e. antistoicus) 'Interesting that you love to vilify CHU and CCLF for simply warning people about what fundies in high places are up to!' "

which is not what "CCLF" (*) and CHU were being criticized for, at all, as we have already seen. Bigoted blanket attacks were, such as the one that followed shortly:

" Quote: "Pagans in the West are free to worship as they please because, by and large with but a few loud-mouthed exceptions, Western Christians want them to be.' "

(Aside : I remind the reader that this historical claim has been backed up with a coherent argument. Continuing the above quote ...)

" You cannot be serious Antistoicus - The 'Christian majority' does as its leaders say and were quick to condemn EVERTHING connected with paganism/the occult during the SRAM. "

This conveniently overlooks the reality that every single country in the West has an overwhelming Christian majority, and that a significant majority (UK "absolute majority") of the Christian population would translate into a majority of the total population. Who this is intended to deceive is a question best left to Tobias' psychiatrist, because if the reader grew up in the West, he can hardly have done so without knowing what I just told him. Continuing the hysteria ...

" Xtian leaders (who you call the 'loud-mouthed') ... "

(Another distortion, unless one denies that the Pope is a "Christian leader", as he has never called for anti-Pagan persecution; likewise for so much of the Unitarian leadership, without whose help many Pagan groups would not have had meeting places, and so on ...)

" ... call the shots and press the buttons to motivate the majority. Shame on you for being so silly (or acting so). "

Wow. Western civilization is itself, a massive conspiracy to persecute Pagans? Good thing Tobias and CHU alerted us all to this menace. Otherwise, we might be left thinking that somebody who thought that almost all of those around him were plotting against him might be in dire need of medication. All sarcasm aside, we see some of Tobias' (and CHU's?) own personal agenda, when he writes:

" Your shallow and indoctrinated thinking re: the Holocaust is unbelievable. It was BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY that has for 'centuries' vilified, stereotyped and murdered the jews for allegedly slaying its messiah 'not' paganism.

Shallow? Look who's talking. But this is beside the point, as one does not need to take a wild guess based on pre-WW II precedent when discussing what the nazis did or did not do. This is relatively recent, and exhaustively documented history that comes to us, not as a matter of Catholic Church docrine, but through the work of secular historians, most of whom are not Catholic, and more than a few of whom aren't even Christian. When Tobias blurts out

" ... The Vatican shifted the blame onto pagans and YOU agree with them. More evidence methinks of your Christian loyalties. It is YOU that is after a divisive anti-wiccan war not pagans. "

(repeating a distortion of an earlier comment which I've already touched on), he reveals all too much. Tobias, and his ilk, see scholarship much as the nazis and communists saw it: as a tool to further their own ideological ends, not in terms of a respect for the documentable truth. Should the results of research run contrary to what they would like reality to be, then they 'obviously' have been tainted as the result of some conspiracy, and anybody who does not join in on the paranoia, must be part of the conspiracy as well.

Where the Lysenko affair in the Soviet Union was tragic, this is almost comic, but only because of Tobias' and CHU's relative impotence. What people like this would do with power, were they ever to get it, is something that we should all think about, especially given the philosophical similarities between Political Correctness and some of the more rabidly anti-Christian strains of Wicca. Tragedy might not be as comfortably far away as we'd like to think.

Not being a newbie on the Internet, I recognized Tobias' attempt to deflect the discussion from a direction which he didn't care for. In my reply, I went in for the kill. The method CHU used to make its case was to cite a series of anecdotes about alleged incidences of anti-Pagan bigotry on the part of Christians. But, wait a second ... there are one billion Christians on this planet. If a mere one tenth of one per cent of them were anti-Pagan bigots, with the rest holding no anti-Pagan feelings at all, that would still give one a million anti-Pagan Christian bigots to report on. Were one merely to read off their names at a rate of one name every two seconds, a month would be required to complete the list. With a population this large to work with, and a biased sampling procedure in which one only mentions the Christians behaving in the manner one wishes to allege that almost all Christians behave in, one could "prove" almost anything about Christendom one wished, and fill a very large site with supportive anecdotes. Which, of course, is exactly what CHU is doing, copying an approach anti-semites and other hatemongers have been fond of, for years.

This was the final nail in the coffin for CHU's argument. Not surprisingly, its fan club wasn't pleased at all.

(*) Again, we change the names to protect the guilty? Perhaps. "CCLF" is the organization "CHU" is described as being affiliated with, which we will refer to as the "Counter Culture Liberation Front", in this account.