PETE JENNINGS , PAGAN FEDERATION'S PAST PRESIDENT, TO BE SUED FOR LIBEL.
Jennings' admits attack on SAFF was disinformation designed to turn Pagans away from us. Now Learn the recent history of Paganism and how it was hi-jacked over Interfaith.
At last the truth is out about how Pete Jennings' was able to steer the Pagan Federation (PF) into Christo-Pagan Interfaith policies. For years the SAFF had worked closely with the previous president of the PF providing her with priceless background information and direction on the fundamentalist campaign against paganism. This successful relationship was brought to a stop after Jennings took over. His take on the problem appeared diametrically opposed to the SAFF's. He seemed to see Interfaith as a way of 'legitimising' Paganism. We saw that the growing 'interfaith' movement was actually being used by fundamentalist insurgents to divide and conquer. To dilute genuine pagan ideals.
We have documentary evidence to prove that Christian activists who had ensconced themselves within interfaith committees disguised as bridge-builders and who were shaking the hands of Pagans at interfaith meetings were in truth denouncing Paganism as 'counterfeit' and announcing their intent to destroy it, behind closed doors to other fundamentalists. But when we alerted the PF to this Jennings didn't seem to want a debate or a consensus and instead promoted the idea of 'interfaith dialogue' unfairly rejecting the valid views of dissenting members of the PF . The man who was ostensibly calling for tolerance and dialogue with competing religions appeared to be anything but tolerant with those within our own ranks who disagreed with him. The sad part is that few pagans who gave their support to the PF have any idea what has been happening. Now this essential debate has exploded into the public domain again after Jennings made libelous allegations about us.
BUT IT ISN'T JUST THE SAFF WHICH JENNINGS TOOK A SWIPE AT:
The well established anti-fundamentalist group PAN (Pagan Anti-defamation Network) have campaigned to alert pagans to the folly of the PF's policy for years. Ever since PAN organisers were EXPELLED from the PF by Jennings and his coterie because of what they see as their opposition to his 'interfaith dialogue' . As members of the PF the organisers of PAN, Cathy and Pat Regan, had initially tried to warn other Pagans in the PF and start a proper debate on this issue. Astoundingly, they were actually expelled for their commitment! Pat Regan additionally says that he informed the PF that he was going to bring the matter up at the next PF national conference but Jennings wrote threatening to call the police to eject him if he did! So much for genuine debate within the PF.
PAN is now on the web with some excellent background on this and other pagan issues. (surf http://www.spanglefish.com/PAN/ ) When they recently opened up the Interfaith debate again in the www.ukpagan.com forum with a thread titled: ‘PAN WARNING OVER INTERFAITH.’ it was, as always, going to be a heated and controversial discussion but nobody had calculated on what was to happen next.
SAFF OFFICIAL APPROACH TO INTERFAITH:
Before we go any further, in the light of Jenning's fictions about the SAFF's supposed antagonism towards Interfaith we must make absolutely clear that the SAFF is NOT against genuine interfaith dialogue. It is clear that in a multi-cultural world the best way forward for all beliefs, particularly minority beliefs like our own, is through some form of interfaith dialogue. Indeed, the SAFF has never demeaned nor refused interfaith dialogue. In fact we have worked with government departments and various interfaith groups in the U.K. throughout the past 13 years to further it. We have filing cabinets full of positive correspondence with Christian, Buddhist , Hindu , Moslem, Pagan, Jewish and many other belief groups. We have undertaken unique sterling work with the UNCHR and other human rights groups on precisely this subject, to research a precise definition for belief which will apply to ALL beliefs without prejudicing any minority religions. GENUINE interfaith is always to be desired and the SAFF welcomes it.
Unfortunately the type of interfaith the fundies back is the one where New Religious Movements (NRMs)and beliefs are rubber-stamped for authenticity and acceptability by a committee made up of representatives of the main orthodox religions with delegates awarded places in proportion to their national prominence. This would mean the balance of votes going to Christian delegates in an unfairly balanced monotheistic triad of Christianity, Islam, Judaism. If accepted by the PF on our behalf such an arrangement would give monotheism a perpetual veto and control over the future development of paganism and many other pantheistic religions . Ask yourself which genuine religion would ever give power over what it should or should not do to a controlling body which was theologically and cosmologically diametrically opposed to it?
The idea that a coterie of people from the orthodoxies could be given the power to outlaw groups whose beliefs do not equate with a common-aggregate based on their own ideas of how a religion should be , is a poisonous development of the highest order and the institutionalization of religious censorship. Not only would it discredit many perfectly innocuous NRMs but it would also by qualification remove religious rights and freedoms from their adherents once it had been outcast. A far worse state of affairs in fact than we have already.
BLACK PROPAGANDA AGAINST THE SAFF:
What the SAFF and other groupings have been forced into doing by the lack of vision and reluctance to debate these issues by self-styled leaders of paganism in the Pagan Federation , is stridently warning the pagan community at large that the PF was falling into a trap set for them by various christian fundamentalists who were controlling the agenda in some interfaith groups to the disadvantage of New Age beliefs and NRMs Like Paganism. That view is of paramount importance to Paganism worldwide and we make no apologies whatsoever for publicising it. Unfortunately the SAFF's tolerant and wise approach to this issue has been constantly misrepresented by Jennings and his ilk for what can only be described as political reasons. In a letter to Chris Bray Jennings virtually admitted this policy by stating:
'Yes I would like to turn Pagans against you.'
With this background of conflict rather than cooperation it was inevitable that this inherently controversial debate in the ukpagan.com forum would gather momentum. When it did Pete Jennings began to contribute under the guise of ‘Blackdragon,’ but the headers on his email revealed his full identity. He entered the forum debate with a snide email packed with falsehoods which was obviously designed to discredit PAN and the SAFF in the eyes of forum members. Jennings' diatribe was highly insulting to the Regans who run PAN but for some reason best known to Jennings (as the two have never ever met or corresponded with each other before this) he commenced a personal attack on the founder of the SAFF and the owner of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mr Chris Bray.
Jennings wickedly portrayed SAFF and PAN as troublemakers. He termed us 'mental' and used emotive language to try to convince the untutored observer that we were 'fanatics'. He told readers that The Regans had been thrown out of the PF because they were 'extremists', not that they had simply objected to the PF's interfaith policy. Not content with that disinformation, he went on to make a chain of astounding falsehoods about Mr Bray, amongst which were the following despicable claims :
All these statements were of course completely and utterly false!
SATANIC LIES GOOD ENOUGH FOR JENNINGS:
So what evidence did Jennings have to persuade him to make these very serious libels? In a written response to the S.A.'s first legal challenge Jennings actually had the gall to admit that he had extracted them from information sent to him by a Satanic Group. Yes folks, let us play that again in case you didn't believe it the first time. Jennings, the past Pagan Federation President relied upon lies from a Satanic Group to attempt to publicly discredit a genuine occult organisation with years of good work behind it. Even if we ignore Jennings attempt to extricate himself from the legal position by blaming someone else it comes as something of a shock to find the person who ran the Pagan Federation admitting that he would sooner trust in the outpourrings of 'the world's largest Satanic order' (which has neo-nazi links and fascist political intentions) in order to attack and besmirch a voluntary group which has a decade long track record of working for the best interests of Paganism! Particularly as there has been a historical pattern of that Satanic clique unfairly and unjustly attacking the S.A. using threats and intimidation which the police were called in to handle. Black propaganda indeed! We will leave it to PF members to enquire as to why Jennings, an avowed pagan, would be in touch with this scurrilous Satanic group at all let alone repeat its lies.
THE TRUTH WILL OUT:
The Sorcerer's Apprentice® contacted the people who ran the ukpagan.com forum. Once alerted to the libels they immediately struck Jennings email from the thread and carried the following correction:
With the removal of Jenning's falsehoods the truth behind the debate over Interfaith can be properly commenced.
Jennings might like to play the martyr and have everyone believe that Mr Bray was using mammoth resources to punitively sue him but actually Jennings was given the option of apologising in print over his libels to avoid being sued . He refused to do so and then illogically blamed Mr Bray for censoring free speech! There's probably nothing more revolting than people who glibly publish criminal lies about others without having any proof to substantiate their claims bleating that being made to correct them is a form of censorship.
Next Jennings claimed, ludicrously, that the email had been sent in by someone else. Almost in the next paragraph he admitted to having published the information before in his magazine! He baldly admitted that he did not know the full facts about the trade-dispute he had referred to nor whether the person involved whom he had portrayed as a pagan was one. Jennings stated:
'Personally I do not care whether he is a theodolite' .
In short Jennings was willing to make very serious libelous accusations without documentation, without proof and without, apparently, even caring whether the falsehoods he was disseminating had any basis in fact! Such attention to detail from one who lead the entire PF membership into interfaith dialogue?
IMAGE DOLLS NOT VOODOO DOLLS:
When he was told that the Image Dolls which the S.A. sold had been marketed for twenty years and were not Voodoo Dolls. He did not care. When it was explained to him that they had never come with pins he replied:
'Whether or not you sold voodoo dolls with or without pins I guess they could be used with pins for negative purposes.'.
Now Jennings, the self-appointed arbiter of all that is correct in paganism, displays the same illogical bigotry which sent thousands of innocent people to the stake as witches during the Burning Times. You can almost hear the witchfinder saying:
The point is Jennings, that the S.A. Image Doll does not come with instructions for using pins to harm anyone, least of all other pagans as you evilly suggested. It is mostly used for love-magic. People who work at the S.A. were quite astounded that you were not aware of this, as the use of image dolls for love spells is so widespread that it is virtually universal. Probably 9 out of every ten sold are for love magic and the other one is sold for healing purposes. The use of 'voodoo dolls' to stick pins into is a very, very rare occurrence indeed and the people at the S.A. do not encourage it. If we are to be generous we would say that you imagined it but if we were being cynical we might assume that you thought it would be a good way to blacken the S.A.'s reputation and lay a smokescreen over the SAFF's alternative approach to interfaith.
So there we are. When it comes to the crucial issues there's always some purveyor of mistruths ready to replace genuine arguments with fictions to foul up the debate. As always it is down to you, the independent reader, to avoid the stereotypical traps that manipulators set for you and look just that little bit further to find the actualite'. Yes I know that you are prepared for this when dealing with the Gutter Press, but it also appears you now have to be equally as discerning when dealing with the stories people tell you from within occultism, particularly those who are ever ready to seize the moral high-ground.
As Mr Bray often says;
'the true meaning of that which appears obvious always resides in its opposite'.
No doubt this issue will run and run. More on this legal situation soon:
(c) Tony Rhodes, The S.A.F.F. Leeds June 2002.