Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's Apparently Time For A New Satanic Panic

Now Satanists are making the Dallas Cowboys lose. Living in DC, I can't say that would be a bad thing.

The object of the xian attack is a park in the city of Arlington Texas. The Caelum Moor commission took two years to complete and cost $1.5 million to construct. The completed work of art, which included a park that Hines also designed, was later appraised at more than $3 million. The sculpture is comprised of five individual groups of stones, each with its own Celtic name within a landscaped setting.

The stone monuments range in height from 8 to 30 feet, weigh a total of more than 540 tons and have no celestial connection.

From 1986 to 1997, Caelum Moor was located at the headwaters of Johnson Creek along Interstate 20 in south Arlington. In 1997, the land was acquired by a developer, and the stones were donated to the City of Arlington.

The city's press release indicates that: For 23 years, Arlington has hosted the annual Texas Scottish Festival and Highland Games. First held at Caelum Moor in 1989, the annual tradition moved to Maverick Stadium on the UT-Arlington campus. Each year, the games attract about 30,000 people. The three-day event is typically held in June and is renowned for outstanding musical entertainment and celebration of the Scottish culture. For more information, visit

The Star-Telegram reports that: City leaders and the family of late philanthropist Jane Mathes Kelton gathered Thursday to rededicate Caelum Moor, a former $3 million corporate sculpture park now relocated as public art along the bonny banks of Johnson Creek..

Apparently, the vaguely Celtic nature of the sculptures and the fact that Pagans (including, ooooh, scary, a Wican "high priestess" -- complete with the quotation marks, which of course, would never get applied to a description of a Catholic "priest" or a Jewish "rabbi" or a Methodist "minister") may or may not have gathered at, at least, the original corporate sculpture park, are the "cause" of the xians' concern. There's of course, the usual conflation of Satanists with all other Pagans and vague, undocumented charges of animal sacrifice.

The Star-Telegram notes that, on the day the new city park was dedicated nursing home chaplain Michael Tummillo of Stephenville posted on a Web site: "Occultic landmark resurrected near home of the Dallas Cowboys." He warned Arlington about a "demonic backlash."
. . .

Tummillo was part of a 1996 witch hunt in Arlington, when 20 evangelical pastors signed a letter complaining that Caelum Moor, then near Interstate 20, was attracting pagan and Wiccan religious events.

The letter was headlined, "No Witchcraft Park in Arlington."

In a Thursday phone interview, Tummillo called Caelum Moor "a mockery of Christianity" and said those near the park — including the Cowboys — are "in a dance with the devil."
. . .

Tummillo was a youth pastor with the now-disbanded Redeeming Love Covenant Church when the Rev. Danny Smith and his wife, Dena, took their witchcraft warnings nationwide on CNN and even to the syndicated TV entertainment show Strange Universe.

Church members said they saw pagans and Wiccans worshipping in the park, just as pagans have at the original Stonehenge. Police had no reports. But reporters found a local Wiccan "high priestess" who had been there.

In a time when evangelical pastors were really worried about (1) teenagers’ dabbling in Satanism and (2) getting lots of free publicity, the ministers accused the city of supporting satanic worship.

"What about separation of church and state?" Tummillo asked Thursday, even though the sculptures represent Scottish and Celtic tradition, not religion.

In an online religious tract, The Battle of Caelum Moor, Tummillo even sadistically blames Hines and Caelum Moor for a series of divorces, deaths and church and business failures.

"I believe there’s a devil and that we tugged on his cape," he said by phone. "There was a demonic backlash. That satanic spirit has been lying dormant. It’s back now."

One can't escape the notion that this minister from a disbanded church, finding himself a "nursing home minister," simply longs for the days of lots of national publicity and the bennies that go along with that publicity, but that doesn't change the damage that this sort of nonsense can do. Coupled with attacks around the world on "witches," attacks often led by xian evangelicals and re-imported into America in the form of support for politicians such as Sarah Palin, this sort of persecution can grow into a conflagration awfully quickly.

I do have one word of advice for Mr. Tummillo: you're going to have to shut down a hell of a lot of parks if the mere fact that Pagans gather at them makes you terrified. A whole lot of parks. Cudos to the local paper for an editorial that, aside from the irritating quotation marks, does a pretty nice job of handling this issue.

Meanwhile, Jason over at the Wild Hunt has an informative post about the effects of these manufactured Satanic Panics. As we say in the law, Qui bono? Ask who benefits from stirring up this kind of utter bullshit; in other words, follow the money. Economic times are tough. People may turn to religion in such times, but donations are down. Starting a war on witches is a time-tested way to gain both power and funds. Just Saying. Again, I'm urging Pagans to do some magic at Yule to neutralize this sort of prejudice.

Picture found here.


xan said...

Knowing nothing about Arlington (the texican one, not yours) geography I am hopelessly confused about the sequence of events here...somebody bought the land these stones were under. Then he "donates" (aka dumps) the stones to the city, presumably to stick them with the extremely large tab for moving them so he can build some crap on this land?

So the city laboriou$ly totes them to someplace else and now declares that a park, which is what's got the whackjob's pantaloons in peril? I iz confused. Agreed, though, this is more about Rev. Whack's need for a new gig conflated with the paper's delight in a "topical" Halloween story.

Maybe the local (real) Pagan community could do an outreach--go to the park in daylight, invite the media, do magic to bless the stadium or promote a Cowboys win or the like. Demystification takes place and cognitive dissonance abounds in the fundy-but-Cowboy-loving brain. :)

Wouldn't hurt for a few folks who are out of the broom closet to reach out to the local media, so there are some names in Rolodexes for contact other than the self-described high priestess quoted. Lack of structure and heirarchy in our religion is sometimes a problem when dealing with a "who's in charge here?" based society.

xan said...

o dear, that should have been "...bought the land out from under these stones."

And the point was to find out who this "developer" was and start the money trail from there.

/replaces copy editor hat with dunce cap, puts self in corner

Lyon said...

I don't know how I can even still get surprised at how ridiculous people can be, but I do.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Priceless! Wherever two or three stones are gathered together, there Satan is also. ;-)

I am definitely linking this.

Anne Johnson said...

So. Ahem. If the Dallas Cowboys win the Super Bowl this year, are we to assume that Satan wants it that way? This is already the prevailing attitude in Philadelphia, but it would be new in Arlington.