Diocese of Montreal evicts witches from rectory

As I mentioned here, a Diocese of Montreal parish is renting space in its rectory to witches. The original article, published in a pagan news site, The Wild Hunt, was taken down but has now been reinstated.

The diocese has now asked the two witches to leave the rectory belonging to St. Thomas’ Anglican Church, a parish which declares itself to be a welcoming, inclusive church. This can only mean that, even in Canadian Anglicanism, there is such a thing as too much inclusion. This is from the original article:

It is uncommon for Pagan groups to be operating out of an Anglican church facility, which begs the question: how are the Pagans and Anglicans getting along as neighbours?

Jory cannot say enough about how accommodating and cooperative the relationship has been. “They are fine with us doing our Pagan stuff indoors, they just say please don’t do rituals outside, because not everybody will understand. So, that’s our respect for them, we are on their ground.”

This relationship has provided opportunity for both sides to work together on interfaith projects. “They do a bunch of interfaith stuff. They wanted to do something that would help build community,” Jory explains.

Here is the update:

MONTREAL —  On Jan. 11, T. Scarlet Jory, co-founder of Crescent Moon School of Magic and Paganism, announced that The Rectory would be closing down as of February 2017. “This past Friday, January 6, 2017, we were given notice that we will need to leave our stay at the Rectory, due to some very awful miscommunications that led to a lot of anger on the part of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal.”

On Jan 5., TWH reported on a story about the birth of The Rectory, a new facility serving the Montreal Pagan community. According to the founders, Robyn and T. Scarlet Jory, the space was imagined as a place of inclusivity for a very diverse Pagan world, as a well as a proponent of interfaith community support. They had a successful soft opening in the fall, and were preparing for the full launch in January. What happened?

The trouble began after the TWH article was published and members of the greater Anglican community alerted the Diocese to the activities going on in the church. The Diocese and the church were under the impression that the space was being rented for a tutoring program, and neither organization knew of The Rectory founders’ full plans. After the Diocese learned about the scope of programming through internet reports, it immediately contacted the Reverend, who then called Robyn and Jory. In response, the two women asked us to temporarily remove our article in order to allow them to ascertain what exactly was happening. We agreed to do so, but the information was already public. Within hours, the founders had to remove all references to The Rectory in social media, as well as take down the new Rectory website.

In her Jan. 11 announcement Jory states that, after consideration, the Diocese asked them to leave, but it was not the church’s decision. Jory added, “We would like to be clear that the matter of our leaving is not a case of Christians vs Pagans. It is a matter of human error. […]. Rather than fight to stay where we are not welcome, we would like to move forward peacefully, with dignity, and respect for our present hosts who have been perfectly lovely with us to this point.”  Robyn agreed, saying that they are not blaming anyone for what has happened and that they are trying to just move forward.

Our article is available again, and we are currently in touch with the founders to learn more specifically where and how the communication broke down, as well as where the two women are going from here. Tomorrow, we’ll bring you their candid responses and what they have learned from this incident.

And there is yet more information here. One comment in particular from the witch who contacted me caught my eye. The rector of the church is her mother-in-law and knows her daughter-in-law is a “Pagan and deeply spiritual.” The rector ought to know better – much better: being “deeply spiritual” can easily be a recipe for disaster if the spirits in question are less than wholesome. But, as is so often the case with watered down Anglicanism, spirituality seems to have replaced truth.

We spoke with founders T. Scarlet Jory and Robyn about what happened in order to clarify the situation.

“Prior to [publication of The Wild Hunt article], there was nothing to suggest that we needed to hide who and what we were. We were not concerned about the diocese finding out that we were renting the rectory space,” said Robyn, who is co-founder and the daughter-in-law of the church’s reverend.

The women originally located the available church space through this family connection, and Robyn added that her mother-in-law is open-minded and knows that she and Jory “are Pagan and deeply spiritual.” However, the reverend reportedly did not know the full plans for the rectory space, nor did the diocese.

Robyn explained, “When we signed our rental agreement with the church, to rent space within their rectory, it was with the understanding that we were opening and running a tutoring centre, and that we would also run some workshops on the side.”

When asked why they didn’t reveal the full scope of the project from the get-go, she said, “We didn’t know that things would take the direction that they did, or that the workshops and community events would become such a focus for us, until suddenly there was no tutoring happening, but lots of very excited Pagans and others who were interested in coming out.”

As we noted yesterday, it was TWH article, which is published and available unedited, that led to confusion among the organizations involved. Members read our article and alerted the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, who reportedly became angry and immediately contacted the church.

The reverend, who was at the time on her way to India, contacted Robyn and Jory about the news. The very next day, the women contacted us about misinformation and the anger coming from the church community. Additionally, Robyn reported to an Anglican blog site that we had taken quotes “out of context,” reiterating that the space was only for tutoring. She said:

“Yes, I am a witch by faith, and yes, I rent an office space at the Rectory. What I do there is tutoring, and offer some small spiritual services to a small group of people. We are an interfaith group. The Church itself is Anglican, and friendly, but not involved in my personal activities, or that of my business partner Scarlet. Further, a lot of what Scarlet is quoted as saying in the original article, was taken out of context from a conversation between her and the writer.”

When we recently asked exactly what was out of context and wrong in our report, Robyn simply said, “That is difficult to answer. I think Scarlet said some things casually that she did not realize would go on the record. She was also distracted and caring for her baby while doing the interview, which I was also told.”

6 thoughts on “Diocese of Montreal evicts witches from rectory

  1. I could never be part of such an excluding, unwelcoming, bigoted, dare I say hateful, dare I say – I’m outta outrage – church 😉

  2. It is to your blog’s credit, and the shame of our Pagan media, that the only timely and substantive discussion of the issue has happened here. This was a case of liberal ideals imploding under their own weight, and I say that as both a liberal and Pagan. Jory is essentially blaming the Wild Hunt story for the mess they’re in because apparently the news coverage put the church in the awful untenable position of (gasp), having to publicly live the inclusiveness they preach. If only the media hadn’t mentioned the obvious and glaring disconnect between the Pagan plans and Anglican understanding of the situation, it all could have been finessed somehow because a few church members liked them personally and were swell people.

    The unreality persisted to the end with the insistence that it’s not a Christian/Pagan thing. The whole incident gives the lie to the church’s claim to inclusiveness, but it must be said that their hypocrisy is in no way outstanding. When a white liberal says they practice “tolerance”, what they’re really saying is “I’m totally OK with everything in my little comfort zone of suburban sensibility, but I reserve the right to tweak if you demand more than that, and it will be your fault when I do.”

    At the same time, I must call out my fellow Pagans for laboring under their own delusions of politically correct notions of tolerance. Much of our movement is obsessed with the idea of “interfaith work” which seeks to build bridges by papering over deep theological differences among faiths. They like to pretend that we’re all taking different roads up the same mountain, and if we can just get along on a person to person basis, everything will be groovy.

    They also maintain a death grip on the idea that Pagans and progressive Christian denominations are perfectly compatible and interchangeable religious systems. Apparently because we share many positions on social and political issues, it’s thought that any other differences must be insignificant. As a Pagan, I bristle at the suggestion that what I do is just some sort of generic, beige “tech” for Forward Spirituality. Clearly many Anglicans don’t like similar assumptions about their faith. Christian and Pagan religions have radically different and irreconcilable core beliefs about the nature of humanity and the divine, and pretty much everything in between. That’s OK, and we’d stand a much better chance of becoming real allies on some issues if we acknowledge our real differences and respect the sanctity of each other’s worship spaces.

    • Pagans and Christians have nothing in common. Only where Christianity is devalued and its principle doctrines denied is there any commonality with the neo-paganism movement which, for all its protestations to the contrary, is a modern religion without the robust intellectual or historical heritage of Christianity. Therefore, any kind of “alliance” will always be based on condescension by Christians to pagans, and the benefit will be purely one directional.

      It is a sad reflection that “political and social aims” have become primary among Canadian Anglicans. No wonder the denomination is shrinking at a pace of knots, since people can better achieve those aims by joining a lobby group or a political party. And when the landscape is dominated by the social gospel, the very things that distinctively define true and authentic Christianity are lost.

      It is the “abomination of desolation” that the glories of Christ and the self-evident supremacy of the moral purity of Christianity which is unparalleled as an ennobling power because it alone authentically lifts men into communion with God, has been set aside for the sake of “inter-faith dialogue” and the environment.

      I doubt there are very many properly orthodox Anglicans left in the Anglican Church of Canada. Practically the only thing holding the denomination together are those faithful souls who struggle onwards, despite being starved and misused by faithless shepherds.

      But there is a better way. “Come out from among them and touch not the unclean thing, and you will be my people, says the Lord”.

      • There must be some number of orthodox Anglicans still around, as evidenced by the fact that the witch group was run out of St. Thomas within days of their story’s publication. As I don’t live in Montreal or even Canada and have no insight into Anglican politics in general, it’s a little hard to gauge whether lots of local parishioners wanted the witches out, whether the heat came from a wider base outside of St. Thomas or whether it was mostly one orthodox official at the diocese level.

  3. “Pagan, but deeply spiritual”.

    Why is this woman given any oversight of souls in a Christian church? According to infinitely greater authority of St. Paul, and the supreme authority of Christ himself, there is no salvation outside of faith in Him. All who are outside of Christ will perish in everlasting destruction. “Being spiritual”, as if it is a valid alternative, is sheer heterodox nonsense as far as real Christianity is concerned.

    I have recently written to to the Bishop of St. Andrews in Scotland regarding the “Koran reading in St. Mary’s” fiasco. I pointed out to him that every inter-faith experiment diminishes the church, and encourages people to go elsewhere.

    If the Church can happily rub shoulders with pagans, Muslims and all sit around as one happy group, neither challenging each other, nor trying to convert the other to their faith, then what does the Christian religion matter anyway? What does it matter if a person is an Anglican or a pagan or a Hindu – or, the easiest choice of all – to be absolutely nothing: “spiritual, but not religious”.

    Being “spiritual but not religious” imposes no discipline, requires no submission to the authority of the Church or scripture, requires no devotional practice, no personal sacrifice, no nothing. It’s so easy. Why not be that?

    Inter-faith experimentation is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard of. Not only is it antithetical to virtually every faith sitting around the typical table, but it achieves only understanding among the immediate participants (who evidently arrogantly believe that their inner feelings are representative of everyone else), while alienating people who are desperate for a firm, doctrinal pole in a changeable world.

    Even the most novice advertising guru would advise that this is an approach that is guaranteed to send the business bankrupt and to devalue the product. Imagine trying to sell toothpaste to the segment of the community implacably opposed to fluoride or who have no need for it: to infants, conspiracy theorists, to people with dentures. Imagine sending the message to regular folks that fluoride is not, after all, dreadfully important and that if people really, really like scrubbing their teeth with bicarbonate soda or salt water, well that works just fine too.

    Imagine advertising every occasion where the “fluoridites” sat down with the “anti-fluoridites” and threw arms around each other, celebrated each other’s mutual theories on the relative merits of fluoride, and argued that it was one big happy family after all.

    Would such a toothpaste company survive? Most assuredly it would not. Nobody buys a product that its own originates seem not to believe in. And yet, this is precisely the path the Anglican communion has set down, with predictable results. If you want the Church to grow, the first port of call – the absolute first – is to put an end to inter-faith experimentation nonsense, which is not only contrary to scripture, and is not only worthless in attracting the kind of committed and devoted converts the Church desperately needs, but is actually less than worthless insofar as it drives away such people.

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