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About the Watchman fellowship:

The Watchman Fellowship Inc. is a conservative Christian counter-cult group. 1 They describe themselves as a "ministry of Christian discernment." It is "a nonprofit educational organization headquartered in Arlington, Texas, with additional offices in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Watchman Fellowship is an apologetics and discernment ministry that provides research and evaluation on cults, the occult, and new religious movements from a traditional Christian perspective." 2

Their web site refers extensively to "cults." They are not using the popular definition of the term -- i.e. a dangerous, destructive, doomsday faith group that places their membership in danger. Rather, they define "cult" as any group whose beliefs are "a counterfeit or serious deviation from the doctrines of classical Christianity." They refer to some large, well established faith groups, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), the Jehovah's Witnesses, some Pentecostal groups, etc. as cults. 

The biography of their President, James K Walker states: "Because of his background and love for those lost in the cults and alternative religions, James Walker has invested his life into reaching them with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. His desire is to work together with local churches to evangelize those in the cults and to bring them into healthy, Bible-centered churches."

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Their essay on Wicca: 

The essay is reasonably accurate, particularly when compared to many other attempts by Christians to describe Wicca. 3 However, it has some serious deficiencies:

bulletAt the beginning of the essay, they imply that the terms "Wicca" and "Witchcraft" are synonyms. In fact, "Witch" and "Witchcraft" have many different, meanings -- some mutually exclusive. The terms have been used to refer to such unrelated groups as Satanists, African aboriginal healers, persons engaged in black magick for the purpose of harming others, as well as followers of Wicca. We recommend that the terms "Witch" and "Witchcraft" be only used if they are very carefully pre-defined to avoid confusion. On the other hand, "Wicca" has a fairly well defined meaning.   
bulletThe essay lists two Llewellyn magazines (Llewellyn's New Worlds of Mind and Spirit and Llewellyn New Times) as two of Wicca's key periodicals. A better reference might be to "Circle Magazine" 4 published by Circle Sanctuary, or  "Green Egg" 5 published by the Church of All Worlds
bulletThe essay emphasizes the various traditions within Wicca: Gardnerian, Alexandrian, etc. But it overlooks the fact that the largest group is commonly called "eclectic Wicca." i.e. those who create and follow their own path, rather than adopt one of the Wiccan traditions.
bulletThey emphasize the belief that Wiccans belong to covens. This overlooks the large number - perhaps the majority - of Wiccans who are solitary practitioners.
bulletThey refer to Wicca as a "cult." Our belief is that the public and media have so many hateful association with this word that it should almost never be used, except perhaps to refer to dangerous doomsday, destructive faith groups. The Watchman Fellowship does define "cult" elsewhere on their web site as any religious group that deviates from historical Christian belief. However, this is not the most common usage of the word. The meaning generally attributed by the public is quite different and extremely negative. They will probably associate "cult" with Heaven's Gate, the People's Temple, the Solar Temple, etc.   
bulletThey state that "Wiccan groups do not accept the existence of evil." This is quite confusing. In practice, Wiccans seem to be greatly concerned with matters of ethics. They very carefully analyze the potential future implications of any decision, in order to avoid hurting others and the environment. A better wording might be "Wiccans do not believe in the existence of an all-evil deity, similar to the Christian and Muslim Satan." 
bulletUnder the "History" section, they imply that Wiccans were victims of mass murders during the Christian Inquisition and Salem tragedies. That is not a valid linkage. The Christian Inquisition and Salem murders targeted groups that were perceived to be Satan worshipers, not Wiccans.   
bulletTheir references to blood control through binding with cords, and to flogging with a scourge may have been true of Wicca in the very early years and may even be still practiced today by some very orthodox Gardnerian covens. But it is not at all typical of Wicca today. Including these references may well create unwarranted disgust towards, and fear of, Wiccans.   
bulletUnder "Biblical Response," they state that the Bible condemns Witchcraft. However, the original text in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) which are translated into English as "Witch" really refer to "women who issue verbal curses to harm other people." Passages in the Christian Scriptures which are translated as "Witch" refer to homicidal poisoners. Neither of these practices are related in any way to Wicca and Wiccans.   
bulletPerhaps the main deficiency in the essay is that they do not mention the Wiccan Rede or the Threefold Law. These are absolutely key foundational beliefs of Wiccans; they form the core of Wicca. 

Overall, we feel that the Watchman Fellowship has written one of the most accurate and balanced description of any conservative Christian group on Wicca that we have seen. However, it appears that the essay was never critiqued by person(s) of the Wiccan religion. It is almost impossible for a person to write about a religion that is not their own and produce an essay that is balanced, accurate and clear.

On a positive note, the Watchman Fellowship does encourage visitors to its website to Email them comments on errors and oversights in their essays. We did just that on 2000-MAY-29. We await their response.

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  1. The Watchman Fellowship's home page is at: http://www.watchman.org/
  2. A biography of their president, James K. Walker, is at: http://www.watchman.org/jkwbio.htm 
  3. Rick Branch, "Witchcraft / Wicca," The Watchman Fellowship at: http://www.watchman.org/witchpro.htm
  4. Circle Magazine is published by Circle Sanctuary. Their home page is at: http://www.circlesanctuary.org/circle/  
  5. Green Egg has a home page at: http://www.greenegg.org/
  6. The World Pagan Network has a list of U.S. Pagan periodicals sorted by state at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Aegean/8773/uspubs.html 

Copyright 2000
Originally written: 2000-MAY-29
Latest update: 2000-MAY-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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