Is ADF Dogmatic?

ADF has only three dogmas, which I announced during my tenure as the first Archdruid: The first is the Doctrine of Archdruidic Fallibility (all members are required to believe that the leadership messes up from time to time). The Second Druidic Dogma is that there are to be no more dogmas. The Third Druidic Dogma is "No, we really meant it, there are to be no more dogmas!"

Somewhat more seriously, there are important differences between doctrines and dogmas. Every religion has doctrines, which are merely formal statements of belief or disbelief. A doctrine becomes a dogma when some institution has the power to literally or figuratively destroy your life for disagreeing with the doctrine.

ADF does resemble structured churches in some ways because it was designed to be a mainstream religious institution someday and we didn't think it made sense to reinvent the wheel over and over again. Many things that mainstream religions do are sensible and harmless. You may have noticed the lack of religious murders among American Buddhists, Quakers, and Unitarian Universalists, even though those groups all have bylaws, customs, buildings, fund raising activities, etc.

Strong beliefs rooted in a common vision are not dogmas, even if membership in a group may depend upon accepting those beliefs. Refusing to allow others to have strong beliefs, however, may border on the dogmatic.

ADF is, among many other things, a complex game we have all agreed to play according to a set of rules. Insisting that the rules be honored is no more doctrinaire than insisting on football being played with footballs rather than baseballs or soccer balls.

American Pagans in particular often have difficulty with organizational structures and methods, since our mainstream culture glorifies individuals and denigrates communities. In ADF we try to balance the needs of both individual members and of the organization as a whole. To do that balancing act often requires making rules and enforcing them, not to mention a constant tinkering with the rules to improve them.

ADF isn't for everybody. Fortunately, there are many other backyards and balls, and people are free to chose their favorites so they can play the games they want to play.

Author Information

Rev. Isaac Bonewits

Author's Bio:

Isaac Bonewits (10/1/1949 - 08/12/2010) was the founder of ADF and was our Archdruid for ten years, and a contributor to ADF until his death. He was very active and well-known in the Neopagan community at large.

Articles by Rev. Isaac Bonewits

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