Britain Recognizes Druidry As Religion

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Jim Richardson/ National Geographic/ Getty

As that well-known Pagan festival of Samhain approaches, Druids have something else to celebrate.

Druidry, an ancient Celtic belief that worships deities who take their forms in nature, has been given the official status of a ‘religion’ in Britain. It is a form of neo-paganism, along with Wicca, Voodoo and Shamanism. Surprisingly enough the belief system is already provided with tax-exempt religious group status in the US.

The Druid Network in Britain, which has only 350 members, sought charitable status for “the advancement of religion for public benefit and no other purpose,” reported the BBC. They insisted theirs was no ordinary religion, claiming that it has no asserted dogma, and explaining that members associate their gods with the moon, fertility, rain, love and other forces.

“We often tend to be demonized,” said Marty Laubach, a member of the neo-pagan movement. He went on to suggest that the British decision would help to legitimize the religion. Many people look at satanic worshipers and neo-pagans “as a bunch of people dancing in the forest” without realizing the difference between the two, said Douglas E. Cowan, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. Neo-pagans seek to communicate with spirits, but witchcraft is not satanic because its believers don’t recognize the Satan of Christianity, Judaism or Islam.

According to the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey, neo-pagan groups are growing in the United States. So, who knows what will come next: Druid Schools, Druid hospitals, maybe even a Druid center of worship near Ground Zero.