Monday, January 22, 2007

Zeus Worshippers Demand Access to Temple

Zeus Worshippers Demand Access to Temple. Pagans have revived the worship of the Greek God Zeus. Several hundred followers have begun holding religious ceremonies honoring the head of the Greek pantheon in Greece.

I believe in religious freedom and I have no problem with people who want to honor ancient gods.

However, the following raises some concern for me:

"These are our temples and they should be used by followers of our religion," said Doreta Peppa, head of the Athens-based Ellinais, a group campaigning to revive the ancient religion. "Of course we will go ahead with the event ... we will enter the site legally," said Peppa, who calls herself a high priestess of the revived faith. "We will issue a call for peace, who can be opposed to that?"

The Greek government response is no. "Ancient sites are not available for this kind of event," ministry official Eliza Kyrtsoglou said.

This makes sense to me. People have the right to worship as they please as long as it does not involve human sacrifice, child abuse, etc. However, they do not have the right to gain access to any historical site they choose. Just because someone adopts Zeus worship today does not mean they have any special ownership of ancient temples built thousands of years ago.

Using this logic, I could adopt Mayan religion and then demand access to and perhaps ownership of Chichen Itza. Perhaps I could adopt Native American religion and insist on being allowed to practice my religion on the Great Snake Mound?

Not buying the above argument? I don't blame you. Adopting an ancient religion does not give one any right to ancient sites. I wish the Zeus worshippers happiness and religious freedom but I hope they never are allowed to do as they please with Greek historical treasures simply because they are associated with Zeus.


Robin said...

I completely agree with you. If they want to worship Zeus, fine, but let them raise the money and build their own temple in which to worship.

I posted about this on my own blog, too,

smellincoffee said...

Given the fact that SOMEONE allowed Zeus' temple to be destroyed, I doubt he's going to be inclined toward hearing mortals NOW. This reminds me of the fight over Jerusalem -- it's a city like any other, but who controls what parts of it will probably lead to a major war.

Anonymous said...

I think that these Greek neo-pagans have a point. Ancient pre-Christian religious sites are admired and gawked at today by scholars and tourists, but originally they were centers of spiritual devotion and practice, as well as centers of social power and status. While modern pagans could worship anywhere, the physical or geographical location of ancient sacred sites was important - the Temple of Zeus wasn't built where it was because the site was close to schools and shopping malls, but because it was auspicious, known to be pleasing to the God.

These ancient sites connect neo-pagans in a special way to the Gods whom they honor, to the traditions which they seek to recreate to the best of their ability, and to their ancestors, literal or spiritual. If tourists can tramp through these places, then why not allow others to worship in them?

Neo-pagans of all people would be more apt to respect the integrity of these ancient sites than some others would, and would, by worshiping in them, make them what they were intended to be and were for centuries.

The Temple of Zeus - all such places - were expressions of the human spirit and heart and mind.
To respect and preserve the stones of an ancient temple for reason of art history or science is good, but the impetus which inspired these places to be created in the first place was largely spiritual, and this connection is as valid now as it was then.

I have witnessed joint Anglican-Catholic services in the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey. Buddhists still worship in or near ruined structures in Asia. Some Native Americans, raised as Christians, have reclaimed the spiritual practices of their pre-Christian ancestors and honor them at traditional sacred sites, now "protected" and on Federal land. In can be done - and with respect for all concerned.

- Hans