The tagline for this year’s Parliament was “The Promise of Inclusion, the Power of Love: Pursuing Global Understanding, Reconciliation, and Change.” What does inclusion mean? How can a modern Pagan organization such as ADF ensure that we are doing our best to include and welcome all?
What does this mean, in 2018, with our (supposed) better understanding of race, gender, disability, neurodiversity, and other differences?
Like Heathens Against Hate, the ADF Constitution states that we do not discriminate against “race, ancestry, color, physical disability …, age, gender, or affectional orientation, but may be denied to individuals practicing creeds inimical to Neopagan Druidism” of which “racialism” is listed. Thus, we are also “open to all who are open to all.”
Despite this, some of our members, especially LGBTQ+ members, feel that our church is not doing enough to be inclusive, that we are acting passively instead of actively attempting to break down barriers, be anti-racist, and make strong statements against discriminatory actions around the world, but especially in the United States. I appreciate the members who are taking this stance and speaking out, because I do believe it is important. What form that should take, I am not sure.
ADF just released an inclusion statement, reaffirming our values of inclusion and hospitality. This statement also says that we will work proactively to foster that welcoming environment, and so we should. ADF has also just lost a Priest, whose clergy status was revoked for conduct unbecoming of one in his position. I appreciate the tough decision the Clergy Council Officers had to make, in order to uphold our virtues and that welcoming environment for our members.
What will these proactive work be? I am not sure. It is the responsibility of our Clergy and other Leadership to improve their service in this way.
Ensuring inclusion is an ongoing action. We have to practice inclusion with our attitudes and our behaviours. We have to consider inclusion when crafting our rites – what words we use, what spaces we book, what actions we include in the rituals can all contribute to a welcoming environment.
Here is a resource called Our Doors Are Open, created by OCAD University, made specifically for faith communities, to aid with inclusion and accessibility for people with disabilities. They have a free workshop for faith communities in Ontario to teach inclusive thinking, talk about accessibility barriers, creating accessible media, etc.
What other resources would you recommend? How do you and your groups work towards inclusion at your rites and events?