UPDATE: Maury Johnston has responded to this article, and I have replied.
by Greg Griffith
It seems almost quaint now, but nearly two years ago there was a gathering of pagans in Michigan that shocked Epicopalians with seminars such as “Sex & Spells: Gender and Political Activism in the Witchen Community.” It was sponsored by Oasis, the California-based pro-gay activist group devoted to advancing the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gendered agenda in the Episcopal Church.
Then there was the much-publicized dust-up over William Melnyk, the Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, who was asked to resign his post as rector after it became clear he was moonlighting as a Druid priest, alternately going by the names “Oakwyse” and “Bran.” Melnyk’s Druidism was revealed when he and his wife submitted a decidedly pagan liturgy - complete with references to raisin cakes and sweet red wine (associated in the Old Testamant with worship of the pagan god Baal) - to the Episcopal Church’s call for “women’s liturgies.” The Episcopal Church’s web site published the liturgy, but later pulled it under pressure from traditional Episcopalian web sites.
Now, thanks to some research by commenter Liz at TitusOneNine, it turns out that Maury Johnston, author of Gays Under Grace: A Gay Christian’s Response to Homosexuality and the recent widely-publicized essay “Facing the Spectre of Schism” [Louie Crew has since removed the essay; a visit to the original page confirms this], is also known as “Shadwynn” and belongs to a Wiccan order called “Keepers of the Cauldron.” The coven is described as being in the “grail quest tradition,” based on the Arthurian legends and featuring a strong Eucharistic theme. Mr. Johnston claims to have “married” nine couples in his 18 years as a Wiccan priest, and his other writings only underscore his bizarre notions of how to “blend” Christianity and Wicca.
Mr. Johnston’s essay “Facing the Spectre of Schism” was also reprinted with much enthusiasm in this post at “Father Jake Stops The World” and on - surprise - the Oasis blog. Father Jake posted another Johnston essay here.
Many of us have taken solace in humor whenever we read of Episcopal clerics and prominent lay activists heavily involved in paganism, but it has not been without the knowledge that there is a sinister core to these peoples' alternative beliefs. Many pagans and Wiccans insist that they don't worship the devil, and that may be true as far as it goes, but it's small comfort to those Christians who have put their spiritual trust in those who, at best, profess contradictory beliefs and, at worst, are willing to serve up a potion of part Christianity, part Wicca to unsuspecting seekers.
But now it is time for us and for revisionist Episcopalians to have a serious discussion about the matter of paganism in the Episcopal left. It has become increasingly difficult to shrug off events like Michigan's seminar, and people like William Melnyk and Maury Johnston, as fringe cases, especially when the likes of Louie Crew and Father Jake - two of the Episcopal left's most visible activists - see fit to rely on Mr. Johnston's words to make their case that ECUSA should open its doors as widely as possible, to welcome in God only knows what.
It is time for Episcopalians everywhere - especially those in the "middle" who may just now be waking up to the crisis in their church - to know that there are more than a few pagans among the left, and that they are uniformly in support of the gay/lesbian/transgender agenda. There is much overlap between pagan views of sexuality, and the LGBT agenda; and while it's incorrect to assume that one who supports the LGBT agenda also supports paganism, it should give reasonable Episcopalians serious pause when they ponder why it is that the opposite is true - that it's safe to assume that if someone supports paganism, he also supports the LGBT cause in the Episcopal Church.
It is time for the Episcopal left to admit it has pagans in its midst, and to admit that this is a problem it needs to address.
It is time for Louie Crew, Father Jake, Oasis, and the clergy of the Church of the Holy Comforter to tell us what they think of Mr. Johnston's 18-year association with Wicca - and as a priest, no less... not just a curious bystander.
Is this the first they have heard about Mr. Johnston's life as a Wiccan priest? If so, may we assume that they will take this opportunity to disavow themselves of Mr. Johnston's practice of Wicca, and to begin seriously to confront the influence of paganism among their fellow travellers?
If this is not the first they've heard of it, what may we assume about their failure to mention it? Was it mere oversight? A calculated omission? Or is it tacit approval?