Last week, I submitted a letter to the ULC Monastery help desk to offer some constructive criticism regarding an article about Hellenic Polytheism, which was published earlier this month. To read that letter, click here.
I received a response from the help desk this Monday (July 18) that was not exactly what I was hoping for, but which wasn’t anything to turn one’s nose at either. I won’t quote the entire response here, but the basic gist boils down to two essential points:
The ULC Monastery will not adopt a stricter policy regarding the moderation of comments on its blog posts. This is due to the Monastery’s commitment to freedom of speech. Furthermore, such comments as those that I quoted last week are thought to reflect only on the individuals who make them, and not the Monastery itself.
My suggestions regarding the article have been submitted to the Monastery’s editorial board for consideration.
I was further encouraged to voice my thoughts on this issue in the comments section of the article, which I have now done. Here is my comment in its entirety:
July 22, 2016 at 4:15 AM
The desecration of Zoodochou Pigis is terrible, and I hope the persons who are responsible for this sacrilege will be brought to justice. No place of worship should ever be treated in such a way.
However, I would like to point out that this did not happen in a vacuum, and that polytheist hostility toward Christianity in Greece is not unprovoked. It has been stoked by the Greek Orthodox Church itself for centuries. Here is an article written in 2004 that details many of the ways in which Hellenic Polytheists have been persecuted in Greece for just the past few decades alone:
I would also like to say that some of the comments on this article are truly shameful. I cannot believe that anyone who would want to be a minister in the ULC Monastery would say such harmful and despicable things about a religious minority that has been consistently persecuted for so long. I can assure the people who’ve made these statements that the practice of Hellenic Polytheism or Hellenismos (as it is called in Greek) is a very serious affair to those who believe in it. They are actively seeking to reconstruct a part of their cultural heritage from which their people have been systematically alienated for centuries. Maybe that’s not such a big deal to some of the people who are posting here, and that’s OK; but suggesting that anyone who’s interested in Hellenismos is insincere or crazy or stupid is just plain wrong any way you slice it.
As a final note, I respect the Monastery’s commitment to the First Amendment; but there is a big difference between moderating comments on a church website and preventing people from exercising their right to free speech. Individual ministers should be able to say whatever they like within their own spaces (e.g., websites, blogs, podcasts, etc.), just as I am doing now; but the Monastery should also have a right to moderate what appears on its official website. To be fair, it is indeed exercising that right in the way that it sees fit; but I believe the way it has chosen is counterproductive to building a truly interfaith environment.
Oh well; at least the leadership is willing to consider my suggestions on the last two paragraphs of the article itself. Even if they choose not to take those suggestions, I’m impressed my letter made it as far as it did. I’d like to thank the leadership for at least being willing to listen.