If you've been following some of the latest news in the pagan blogosphere, you've heard about the raids on two pagan churches in Arizona.
As a pagan, and as a magician, I understand the power sexual energy has, and how it can be transformative if used correctly. I understand that in the distant past, there were sacred prostitutes in such places as the temples of Aphrodite. I understand that sexuality isn't something to be ashamed of, and that it can be a beautiful thing.
Regardless of this, regardless of ancient traditions, it is completely irresponsible and illegal to try to create a business around services surrounding sexual healing services. It doesn't matter if they genuinely were practicing their religion. They took donations for their "church" for their business, which focused on providing sexual services.
Prostitution, no matter how sacred you may think it is, is illegal. I do have a lot of respect for the people who work in that arena, as I've seen bits and pieces of what that world is like, throughout my years of meeting people as a figure model. But the bottom line is, they broke the law, and weren't shy about it. I'm frankly disgusted at how many people are saying we need to rally behind these people who were arrested, for blatantly breaking multiple laws, all because they had "goddess" in their name, and claimed to be a part of the pagan community.
Besides breaking the law by taking money for sexual services, many of these people also called themselves councilors, and offered "counciling" services. From what I have heard, none of these people had a degree in anything, from any remotely accredited or respected institution. It is also illegal (though the law varies by state) to claim to provide psychological services when you have no degree or license to practice in that area. At most, some of these women had semi-formal massage training. (I say semi-formal, because the school in question that provided them with instruction is no longer in existence)
As pagans, we need to not rally behind these people, but distance ourselves from them! This is NOT a case of religious discrimination. This is NOT a case of gender discrimination, patriarchy, or whatever other discriminatory bullshit you choose to label this with. If you disagree, feel free to go back to your burning times conspiracy theories. Laws were broken, and the police had every right to arrest these people involved. Period, end of story, until I see something solid in the news that says differently. By saying that we should rally behind them, you're saying that we should rally behind criminals. That isn't ok, and it makes the rest of the pagan community look bad. I'd like to think that we're smarter, and better than that.