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Monday, 10 January 2011

Goths and religion

As I have stated previously, Goths do not have a mass religion. However, many Goths follow a religion of their own personal choice, and some religions are more widespread in the scene than others. This post discusses various religions which Goths are drawn to, the relationship that Goths have with religion, and misconceptions that many people have about Goths and religion. Oh, and a quick mention of the infamous GodHatesGoths site. Disclaimer: nothing on this page is said in an attempt to 'convert' anyone else to any religion or faith. I am not against nor biased towards any particular religion. I follow my own faith, I am happy with my choice, and I don't wish to force it on anybody else.

Surveys and discussions indicate that the majority of Goths are followers of a Christian religion (some people may still be surprised by this. If you are one of those people, I shake my head at you). There are many resources available for Christian Goths, including the Christian Goth website, of course; this post at Gothic Charm School has information on some Christian Goth bands and organisations which may interest you. I have also seen advertisements in Gothic Beauty Magazine for an event known as the Christian Goth Gathering - I will do my best to dredge up some information about this at a later date.

In the scene you will also find Jews, Muslims, and minority faith groups such as Shamanism, Gnosticism, Spiritualism, Buddhism, Wicca and other Neo-Pagan traditions. Some of these minority faiths have greater representation within the Goth scene than in the general population, possibly at least partially because Goth is more open about religion and spiritual choice, and as such Goths are tolerant towards people of all faiths. Within the Goth scene, it is not necessary to conceal one's religion, whatever it may be, as you will not be mocked, bullied or persecuted for it.

Disregarding media stereotypes (did anyone else see a relatively recent, massively prejudiced piece in the Daily Mail about Wiccans? It mentioned worshipping a 'horned god' and dancing naked in fields; taking a peaceful, nature-based religion WAY out of context, smothering it in discrimination and serving it up for a gullible public. Great.), Wicca, witchcraft and other Pagan faiths are not about orgies, sacrifice, or old women with warty noses. Most are a way of life based on reverence towards the earth, with natural healing arts and rituals practised and referred to as 'magick' or 'spells'. Wiccans and Pagans, Goth or not, are not 'evil'; nor do their religions cause or advocate bringing harm to others - exactly the opposite, in fact. A famous Wiccan tenet states, "And ye harm none do what ye will."

Goth Wiccans may be interested in this site. There are also books about Wicca, witchcraft or other forms of Paganism written with a definite Goth slant, such as Goth Magick: An Enchanted Grimoire by Brenda Knight, Goth Craft: The Magickal Side of Dark Culture by Raven Digitalis and Nocturnal Witchcraft by Konstantinos.

The strong interest that many Goths have in 'the unknown' may lead many to dabble in the occult. No, I'm not talking black magic or ritual sacrifice. If you're expecting blood, gore, or nudity, I'm sorry to say you are probably reading the wrong blog. Often, Goths may have an interest in the Tarot, runes, mediumship or other forms of divination and connecting with the great beyond. This seems to be because Goths are simply interested in things which those in the mainstream often consider taboo, or even 'scary', and generally has no reflection on or connection to the religion or faith of the 'dabbler'.

Of course, not all Goths are religious. Many are atheists or agnostics. Satanism? Few Goths seem to actually be practising Satanists - although many mallgoths and wannabes claim to be in an attempt to seem dark and spooooooky. The public incorrectly associates Goths with Marilyn Manson, who "publicly presents himself as a follower of the Church of Satan... He was ordained a priest in the Church of Satan by the [late] founder, Anton LaVey. Many fans refer to him as the Rev. Marilyn Manson." Actually, Manson is not a follower of that Church; he was simply appointed as a Reverend within the Church by its founder, Anton LaVey. From this connection, the perception that Goths are all Satanists has grown still further.

However, as those Goths who are interested in Satanism will be aware, Satanism is not what the mainstream thinks it is (why do we insist on typecasting anything involving the word 'Satan'?). It does not involve bloody sacrifices (chicken, goat, human or any other kind), cannibalism, the defiling of virgins, inflicting pain upon innocents or one-hundred-and-one other myths. Satanism does not equal devil-worship (OK, despite the misleading name).

Those who would be interested in learning more about Satanism, might like to read The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey. Even for those of us who are not Satanists, it's quite an intriguing read. (However, if you are still living at home or have a very conservative family, I would advise discretion - it may not be all hellfire and evil as the media likes to claim, but is still considered a very controversial book and you probably don't want the vicar to spot it on your shelf when he pops by for a cup of tea.)

Many Goths often wear religious symbols - for example crosses, crucifixes, pentagrams/pentacles, ankhs etc. These are sometimes worn as an expression of the wearer's faith, sometimes for satire, sometimes for the meaning of the symbol, and sometimes just because they like the appearance. (For example, I personally sometimes wear a pentacle as a symbol of protection, I wear a crucifix occasionally for satire, and I wear ankhs or large, ornate crosses because I like the way they look.) I would recommend checking out what a symbol means before wearing it, however - just in case you are broadcasting a message that you do not wish to.

Religion and life after death are frequently discussed on Goth newsgroups and forums, and many songs, band names and album titles have Christian themes. Even Nancy Kilpatrick's The Goth Bible has a section devoted to religion. Goths are often deep thinkers, and therefore do not shy away from considering 'the next step', as it were. (This, in part, has probably given rise to the common misconception that all Goths are 'obsessed' with death.)

Most of you have probably stumbled across the website God Hates Goths at some point. I've noticed that many people haven't realised that this website is a satire - which it is. It's written from a seriously exaggerated fundamentalist Christian viewpoint, and claims to be the official website of the Parents Against Goth organisation (which, by the way, does not exist), master-minded by the fictitious character Reverend R.G. Green.

This website has caused much anger throughout the Goth scene. It states: "GOTHS ARE PROUD OF THEIR SIN, PROUD TO PARADE AROUND LIKE SICK HALLOWEEN FREAK-SHOWS, PROUD TO DEGRADE THEIR BODIES WITH TATTOOS AND PIERCINGS, PROUD TO ENGAGE IN FILTHY SEXUAL PERVERSIONS, AND IN THAT PRIDEFUL STATE THEY CANNOT REPENT - YOU CANNOT REPENT OF SOMETHING YOU'RE PROUD OF. THE GOTHS' ONLY HOPE IS TO HAVE THE UNAMBIGUOUS TRUTH PREACHED TO THEM, AND PERHAPS GOD WILL SOFTEN THEIR HEARTS AND GRANT THEM REPENTANCE TO DEPART FROM THEIR SIN AND NAME THE NAME OF CHRIST. NOT VERY LIKELY, THOUGH, SINCE GOD HAS GIVEN UP ON THEM. HE HAS ABANDONED THEM. HE SHALL MOCK THEM WHEN THEY SUFFER, AND LAUGH AT THEIR DEMISE. WHEN A GOTH DIES, GOD LAUGHS." Thankfully, it isn't the real deal, since it also advocates torturing your Goth children to turn them back to the light of God. Or something.

As a random note, I thought I would conclude this post by mentioning the Goth Vicar. Reverend Marcus Ramshaw is a Church of England priest who has devised a worship service specifically aimed at members of his local Goth scene. It incorporates bands such as Joy Division and The Sisters of Mercy,  "as well as candles and other Goth-friendly symbolism". (Candles in a church? Who would have thought?)

Source: Photobucket
Listening to: Inside the Haunted House - Devilish Presley

Free download! This link was sent to me on Last.fm by Jacquy Vixen of Devilish Presley herself - you can download a whole bunch of Devilish Presley tracks, and it's totally legal. I'm so good to you.

10 comments:

Makarios said...

This is a very interesting post. Thank you.

Mark said...

Hi there. Like your dark Gothic Blog of cool stuff. I love many things that are Gothic. I grew up in the 1980's listening to all Gothic stuff. We need to be different in this day and age. Stuff the crappy ignorant government. They are unworthy to fall at our feet/black boots and kiss them. Check out my other Gothic blogs too. http://meoutcast.blogspot.com and http://whitewitchgoth.blogspot.com

Enjoy my dark ramblings of what I love and hate.

Kitty Lovett; A Charming Notion said...

For the record, while Parents Against Goths is fake, Jesus-is-savior.com and David Stewart are depressingly real. I'm an admin at fstdt.net (anti-fundamentalist quote harvesting site - anti-fundamentalist, not anti-religious) and we get the good David's anti-goth quotes and not to mention Rapture Ready retards and the occasional Christian Forums spazz. And most of them say the same thing as the Parents Against Goths quote.

NephaeliaVonDaemonen said...

First, I must say that this is an interesting post, good job. :]
I always see things about how goths are not Satanists, but what bothers me is that they almost seem to the point where they are ignorantly bashing all forms of Satanism. I think you did a decent job NOT sounding like that.. However, I thought I should point out that LaVeyan Satanism isn't the only type of [peaceful, non-steriotypical] Satanism. I personally am a Spiritual Satanist. Basically, we believe that Satan and the "demons" (who are the Original Gods, who are NOT EVIL) are real beings, and the goal of the religion is to reach Godhead- full spiritual power and immortality. We aren't "evil", for the most part we believe in a balance of things. We practice both white AND black magic, but we only use them when we need to. We meditate to empower ourselves, looking to Satan and the Gods for guidance. If anyone wants to know more about Spiritual Satanism, joyofsatan.org is a good website.

I really love your blog ^-^ I was happy to find it.
Thanks,
-Nephaelia VonDaemonen

Black Rose said...

I like this blog.
Black Rose

Anonymous said...

Hello, there :)
I am in middle school and have an awful problem. Because I am gothic, And because I live in North carolina where being Baptist means God loves you, I am constantly called a Satanist (not that I have anything against ones religion) and "the Devil's little Girl". I'm always bullied, and the school does NOTHING for it, because to them, I am a freak. Have you got anything I can do to stop this? Or will I have to deal with it?

ultimategothguide said...

@ Anonymous - Hello. ^^

I'm really sorry to hear what you are going through. :-( I highly recommend that you check out the following posts on Gothic Charm School, which have some good advice:
http://gothic-charm-school.com/charm/?p=482
http://gothic-charm-school.com/charm/?p=159

If the school refuses to help, go to the board of governors, police, or whoever you feel you have to. Yes, as a Gothling you will have to take a lot of stick from stupid people, but you DO NOT have to sit there and take it in an environment where you should feel safe.

Keep in touch and let me know how things go. I will always try and help as best as I can.

Anonymous said...

Some of the anti Goth bias is sickening. There is a church pastor who will remain unnamed who has some Goth slurrs on his web site about how Goth and Christianity are not compatable with each other and you cannot be a Goth and Christian, you have to repent, get rid of the black clothes, etc.

U exchanged thirteen long e mails with this guy and sent him photos of victorian Goth girls and links to Christian goth sites, all ignored, and even showed him scriptures he took out of context, yet in the end, he remained convinced that Goths are a dark, unholy bunch and that if they do not repent then his Jesus will one day really come down on them. Ofcpourse the fact that he conveniently ignored all the materials I sumitted did not help.

But I decided to go ahead and trash all my stuff and put on a pro golfer's clothes so I could fit in properly in society...Yeah, right:)

Anonymous said...

So I'm curious Amy, what's your religion? : ) I promise I won't try to convert you to any other religion if you tell me.

Aiden Elansonia said...

It's sickening that people like to indulge in the stereotype that all goths are satanists, I myself am a spiritualist (as I am opposed to ALL organized religion) yet when people come up to me they start asking me stupid questions such as "Sacrifice any babies today?" and other nonsensical crap such as that, I've even been splashed with holy water by some ignorant assholes at my school. :/

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