“The effort to create alternatives to marriage between a man and a woman are perfectly natural pagan behaviors…” – Newt Gingrich on Jan. 25, 2012 during a conference call with Jim Garlow (The full call can be found on his website)

Wow, break out the trumpets! Newt-G said something I agree with. Of course, he said this while revisiting his 3-year-old diatribe about how Western Civilization is going to pot because we’re surrounded by paganism.

Does he not realize the Greeks and Romans who founded Western Civilzation were… ohmigods, PAGAN! If you like the architecture of the White House, you like a Pagan design. If you like democracy (the principle or you just think the word is pretty) you like a Pagan idea and a Pagan language. If you like theater, Pagans created that. Or if you like writing… we started that. Do you think cement is useful? We invented that.

I’m not mentioning these things to say we’re better than everybody else. I’m saying this to reiterate that Pagans are no different from everybody else. We’re totally normal people who are well integrated into a society that we helped shape in many fundamental ways. America is here, doing what she does because Pagans and Christians and Atheists and a whole lotta other people over a whole lotta centuries thought and worked and worried and tried. It took all of us to create the culture we have today.

But back to Newt-G and his pandering to religious extremists, the idea that gay marriage is a SIN and an ABOMINATION under GOD seems to have become a rallying cry. I’m not going to rehash a defense of gay marriage in this post. If you’re reading this, there’s a high liklihood you know what I would say (“Why is it not legal already?”) and you agree with me.

Instead, I would like to thank Newt-G for the compliment he gave Pagans which I quoted above.

Yes, it is perfectly natural behavior for a Pagan to support the government getting out of people’s private lives. (Congress can screw us from the capital; they don’t need to get into our bedrooms.) Yes, it is perfectly natural behavior for a Pagan to think the government shouldn’t tell religions what they can and can’t allow or believe on spiritual matters – such as the spiritual union between two people. And yes, it is perfectly natural behavior for a Pagan to believe that what other people do in the privacy of their homes (that does not take away free will from somebody else – I’m not okaying Ted Bundy here) is not anyone else’s gosh-darned business. This doesn’t apply only to gay rights, but to a myriad of issues the government has no business dictating to us.

Why, oh WHY do we give a flying crap what other people do when it has zero effect on our own lives? If some other woman is married to a man, or to a woman, or to a squirrel for that matter, why would that affect the way I feel about my husband or my marriage? TheScott and my relationship has nothing to do with her or her squirrel (hmm… that didn’t sound right…) and our relationship isn’t so delicate that it can’t handle other people doing things differently than we do.

Unless, of course, that other person starts telling me that because she happily married a squirrel, I have to as well. Then her choice is affecting me – not her choice to marry a squirrel, but her attempt to force her choice on me. Then her behavior has become invasive. Then – and only then – has she created a problem for me.

When we Pagans or gays or any other minority group ask everyone else to “please just shut up with the telling us what to do already!” we’re not trying to oppress anybody and we’re not trying to take over, we’re just saying… well, we’re really saying: I don’t want to marry a squirrel. Any attempts to make me are an irritating waste of time. And, yes, I will fight to stop squirrel marriage from being a mandatory standard for everybody. Defending choice is not oppressing anyone – other people can still marry a squirrel if they think it’s so great – it’s merely allowing the millions of non-squirrel marrying people out here to do their thing, too. The fact that squirrel-marriage aficionados formed a club (or a church) and found an ancient document that depicts squirrel marriages ordained by the great god Squirlicious does not mean it’s okay for them to attempt a hostile takeover of the world. I have my own ancient documents I’d rather draw inspiration from, thank you very much.

Are we clear here? Marry a man, marry a woman, marry a squirrel*. Pray to Jesus, pray to Odin, pray to nobody. I don’t care all that much. Just don’t tell me I have to do what you do.

Oh dear gods, for the good of our nation surround us with paganism. Not the religion (note the little ‘p’), but Newt-G’s definition of paganism as apparent from his ranting: the belief that the citizens of a free nation can and should think for themselves. The pagan ideal which says we can choose our life’s path without interference. A pagan mindset that doesn’t take offense when somebody makes a different choice than I do. It isn’t a personal insult and it isn’t an infringement of my rights to let my neighbors live their own way. And if that’s paganism, then I am just as proud to be a (lowercase) pagan as I am spiritually fulfilled to be a (capital) Pagan.

Whether you’re Pagan or Christian or Atheist or Buddhist or Whatever-ist, I wish you happiness in paganism. Spread the gospel of free will and tolerance, not the vitriol of homogenity. Together we can celebrate the mixed bag of religion and culture and wacky ideas and stunning revelations that made and continues to make America great.

*Provided you can get the squirrel to say “I do.” The squirrel should also have free will in selecting his or her marital partner. As a side note, I would also suggest that before making oaths of marital fidelity might be the best time to agree on whether or not other squirrels can have access to your, ahem, acorns…. but as a wacky Pagan, my understanding of traditional marriage might be a little shaky.

+ Featured Image: Newt with Squirrel (badly) compiled from a shot of Newt Gingrich by Gage Skidmore and squirrels03 by Mattana. (Can you tell who doesn’t use Photoshop in her spare time?)