I’m continuing on my journey through the Delphic Maxims today with the second Maxim. Obey the Law. I think this is an easy one, as far as the rest of the Maxims are concerned. It’s very self-explanatory – as some of them are. Do as it says… Obey the Law.
This is important in so many aspects of life. I see so many pagans who seem to think that they are, in some way, above the law. I don’t care who you are, you are not above the law. No matter your political leanings, your job or your religion. This is especially true in the United States.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m the president of a local pagan organization. We’re an eclectic group, but we have it listed in our rules, bylaws and guidelines that every individual is expected to behave within the guidelines of local, states and federal ordinances/laws. We don’t allow drug use at our events. We don’t allow underage drinking at our events… that’s illegal. And that’s just a small sampling of it.
I’ve seen Wiccans say that they can “and if ye harm none do what thou wilt.” I call shenanigans on that. Now while I don’t know many Wiccans that use that particular bit of religious text as an excuse to break the law, there are those that toss around those words (ignoring the rest of the Rede, apparently) thinking that because their religious beliefs say they can do it… they can do it.
No. It doesn’t quite work that way.
We can’t just assemble wherever we darn well please and hold a ritual as an example. If it’s private property, and really if you analyze it parks are more private than public (you can visit as you like, but just try to hold an event there and tell me that it’s open public property), you can’t just do what you want. For my group’s annual picnic, we have to secure a park shelter in case it rains… which is costly. If we plan to have over 50 people we have to secure a permit for the event. If we plan to openly advertise the event beyond our own group, we have to secure a permit. And in either of those last instances, we have to secure event insurance (which includes liability coverage up to $1,000,000). Trust me, I’ve done the legwork already on it.
People say that their Will is above it. I’m going to say this again, and it’s an unpopular opinion: Your religious beliefs do not absolve you from making illegal choices.
That doesn’t mean all laws are just. You can certainly do what is within your rights as a citizen to try to get laws changed. But don’t break the law to make a statement about how the law is unjust. That’s counterproductive.
I could rant about this for days, but the overall message is the same. Obey the Law. If you want to see it changed (such as the laws against gay marriage), find a way within the law to make your opinion known. Write your congressmen, vote (please, please… by Hades’ sweet Persephone, VOTE!)… or in my case… fight to recall the Governor.. etc. But please, obey the law. As a pagan, if you don’t, you give us all a bad name.