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What Puget Sound Pagans Seriously Need To Know @ Emergency Response

From: SunTiger
Sent on: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 4:05 PM
Almost two years ago, I attended a state-run critical incident response training event over on the Peninsula along with a plethora of Christian chaplains. All of us were offered continuing education credits that qualified us to counsel people in times of deep crisis. An issue of concern arose for me when this government-funded group repeatedly promoted one religion; exclusively. I realized, after hearing many public prayers to a deity that not even the Jews acknowledge, that many citizens in our communities would not feel comforted by having a devout Christian attempting to counsel them; especially not if they were already enduring some serious environmental crisis. (Indigenous cultures, for one example, have historically been grossly oppressed by the Christian communities.)  

Naturally, I asked the trainers why there was no representation (on this state level) from other religious communities. There were no Jewish leaders, nobody from the Muslim faith. No Atheists or agnostics. As far as I could tell (and classroom discussion seemed to confirm this) I represented the only alternative religion there. 

The Christian chaplains obviously saw no issue with this -- not even after I explained that the communities we live in and serve are very diverse. Disregarding anything I had to say on the topic, the chaplains kept insisting they were open-minded enough to counsel anybody. 

Meanwhile, they kept offering up their public prayers and one particularly vocal chaplain cornered me at break time. He told me a story I will never forget. Seems he had met a Wiccan {just once}!  

His story droned on to sadly explain that the witch refused to give him entry into her house when he responded to an emergency call that he heard over the fire station's radio. "I'm sorry you had a negative experience," I admitted, sincerely. Then the chaplain went on to explain that the woman was a total nut-job who had just killed her mother. {That story clearly defined what he thought about Pagans.}  

While many different stories of Christian ministers who molest children came to my mind, I bit my tongue and excused myself from divulging such undesirable information. After all, it would not have helped me make friends in that environment. Meanwhile, my experiences were to the point where I realized that I had better start a revolution. That's why I began making contact with the governing powers that be and learned they would welcome outside groups with open arms. I���m hoping, desperately, that we as Pagans can work together as one unit in this regard. To form a phone tree, an email broadcast effort perhaps ��� just get better connected with one another to show we really do care about our community. 

This really is a powerful opportunity to put our Pagan community in the municipal limelight. This Thursday is the first opportunity that���s arisen for showing up as a group. This is why I began sending out announcements to my community a few weeks ago. I'm asking for participation in a collective effort. I hope, if you cannot attend Thursday���s meeting, that you will at least send me your contact information so you can be called and made aware of future opportunities to serve our communities during times of crisis. 

Please let me know if you would like to be added to that list. United we will change the way we are seen by local governments. Divided we will falter and fail. Lets network and get better connected. Please feel free to forward this message to any party you feel would benefit from the sharing.  

NOTE: If you cannot attend Thursday but want to be added to a Pagan Emergency Response list, please send that information to me at [address removed].  

WHAT: a meeting entitled "How Can You Help: Preparing for the Upcoming Flood Season" HOSTED BY: the City of Auburn & the White River Valley Community organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) 
WHEN: Thursday, October 22 from 4-6 PM WHERE: Auburn City Hall, City Council Chambers, 25 W Main St. *Note: I���ve reserved spots for our forming group. YOU are invited.  

Richest blessings, ~ SunTiger

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