As Wiccans and Pagans, we sometimes find ourselves at a disadvantage. When our spiritual path is known to others who don't understand it, or worse yet, have a distorted idea of our path, what we believe and how we worship, often we encounter prejudice. Sometimes this may be overt, and sometimes extremely subtle, but it exists none the less. More and more of the general population is becoming better informed and educated about our spirituality, and are becoming accepting and tolerant, but there will always be some who, out of ignorance and fear, are still openly hostile. These are the "problem people"; that we must contend with and educate. They aren't malicious, just ignorant and afraid of what they don't know.
Occasionally, someone is fired from a job, or has a child custody fight because of a divorce or because someone has reported their religion to the state Child Protective Services, ignorantly and fearfully depicting it as somehow satanic or abusive. These are a few of the more serious situations. There are many more subtle forms of prejudice being practiced against Wiccans and other Pagans almost daily. Only well planned and carefully thought out educational counter-efforts can end such bias.
One of the reasons this illegal, prejudicial behavior happens is because unlike other more organized faiths, we have no overall church structure, no visible and well recognized organizational strength, no "authorized" spokespersons. For centuries, we have mostly kept to ourselves to avoid these biases, but today that lack of visibility is working hard against our freedoms. The last few years' successes have proven the value of the ATC's outreach to the larger mainstream religious community, resulting in the acceptance of Wicca and Paganism by many mainstream Interfaith and religious bodies. We are "on a roll" - we must not stop now!
The Aquarian Tabernacle Church, as Washington state's first (and one of the nation's few) legally constituted, accepted and recognized public Wiccan churches, holds the highest governmental recognition from the U.S. Treasury Department, an IRS Group Exemption Letter. Any congregation accepted by ATC as an affiliate and issued a charter automatically shares in the legal status enjoyed by the Mother church without further applications or fees to the IRS.
In this way we gain recognition for our congregations and end the hateful acts of pointless prejudice. By banding together, no matter how informally, we forge a bond of strength through our church - one that has tangible legal status, constitutional protection, and strength through numbers - in short, we gain "clout"; for our faith when people help people. This comes not just from cooperation between communities, but from cooperation within communities. We also forge lifetime friendships with others on the wide Pagan path. ATC has entered mutual support agreements with a number of other traditions, including the Church of All Worlds (CAW).
The ATC is an accepting magical community open to everyone on a positive, balanced Goddess- and God-centered path. Everyone is welcomed and given a place of safety to "say their piece." Perhaps not every idea is agreed with by all, but every idea is given access to a forum of tolerant listeners, for it is clear to us we do not all tred the exact same path. Ours is a personal religion, one where every individual is the final arbiter of what is (or is not) a part of their own belief system - that's the beauty of our wide Pagan spiritual path.
All of us are expected to solve our own current problems on all levels through cooperation, personal growth, evolution and balance. We accept that human interdependence implies community cooperation, and must actively use our talents to help each other and our communities.