Declaration 127 has become kind of a shorthand for inclusive heathenry. Heathen folks are essentially using it as a catch all for anything that would not be considered racist or sexist or whatever. That is a problem. From the perspective of acting like a contract, Declaration 127 is really incredibly weak. What you sign on to with Declaration 127 is a statement that says:
“We will not promote, associate, or do business with the AFA as an organization so long as they maintain these discriminatory policies.”
These discriminatory policies being that they are unwelcoming of anyone not straight or white. I love the sentiment, however there are a lot more racists out there than just those in the AFA and the declaration only prevents one from doing business with or associating with the organization of the AFA. Only the AFA, and only as an organization.
It does not:
- Take a stand against associating with individual members of the AFA
- Take a stand against associating with racist or sexist or bigoted individuals
- Bar a person from dealing with or including bigots in their group
- Do anything besides prevent working for or with the AFA organization
- But perhaps most glaring, it isn’t a statement binding a group to inclusivity.
So for all those heathens out there touting their signatory status on Declaration 127, while it is laudable for what it does do, in many cases I do not think it does what people think it does. Furthermore, it is not likely to ever do anything more than what it is currently written to do. There are some issues surrounding editing things people sign.
Declaration 127 is a product of it’s time, an artifact from that moment in time that the AFA was posting extremely bigoted material publicly. Before this there were ample red flags, but it still came as a shock to some people. So this is coming to light in 2016 and continuing in 2017; through this we get Declaration 127 as a reaction. It’s original intent was to face off against and call out the AFA, that is how it was written. It was not written to be a catch all because the only real actionable statements apply only to the AFA. It was a singular purposed document; it does this one thing for this one moment in time. It further has not evolved into something bigger or wider no matter how much people tout it; it merely sits there on its site as an artifact.
So herein lies the problem – the simple fact is that most heathens are ignorant of the actual reach of Declaration 127. They are not aware of its limitations, they are not aware of it’s actual content and purpose, they are not aware of it’s history, and so it has been stretched thin trying to cover more than it really was intended to cover. You would think heathens would be oath-aware considering the importance of oaths in our religious culture, you would think we would all be contract savvy because of oath-awareness, but no. We are, as a whole, not. The problem of this is in a group’s ability to make this actionable. Under Declaration 127 this is not actionable for what folks think it is supposed to do.
Since this has become an obvious communal need such that we stretch Declaration 127 far beyond its capabilities, we obviously need something new, we need something that actually can and will do what heathens have been assuming Declaration 127 was already doing but wasn’t – make a statement of inclusivity of some sort. We need some kind of philosophical statement like a Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen (Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen) but for heathenry. It needs not to be tied to being against any one organization and honestly considering how there is no enforcement organization to check up on things it needs to just be a statement of philosophy. So when groups sign on, they can be pledging that they hold with a set of philosophical minimums.
And yes, it needs to be set at a minimum bar – that those who signed on essentially would collectively pledge our groups and personal practices to be opposed to discrimination against others due to their race, gender, or sexuality. That is truly all that needs to be set at the moment too, a bare minimum against bigotry. So many times people set things at the highest level for idealistic reasons but for these purposes you want to include anyone who is not a sexist or racist or homophobe and not to exclude people who would otherwise support the non-racist non-sexist position. You essentially want to draw a line in the sand. Perfect is the enemy of good, we cannot allow perfection to prevent us from coming together to face off against these issues. But so too is specificity an enemy in this case; it was the specificity of Declaration 127 that effectively neuters it. We need something though, because we cannot keep just trusting that we’re covered by Declaration 127 when we’re really not.
We also need to collectively understand something about inclusion and inclusivity that many understand but some people still struggle to wrap their minds around – that just because we take a stand against bigotry in our religious groups it doesn’t mean we necessarily must throw wide the doors of our religious groups to anyone for any reason. Not everyone is well suited for every group, not every group is well suited for every person. Taking a stand against discrimination based on things people cannot control (race, gender, sexuality, etc.) does not mean you cannot close your group off from negative things people can control (racism, bad attitude, toxic personality, dangerous behaviors, etc.). You don’t want liars in your group, you don’t want unapologetic assholery in your group, you don’t want frithless folk. The choices we make, our deeds, and the people we choose to be are what we should be judged on, not who we are born as. You want religion to be enjoyable, you should not hate the people you’re standing in worship with.
(If you would like to check out the wording for yourself, pay close attention to the actionable parts underlined: Declaration 127.)
This is my attempt at a philosophical statement on these matters: Declaration of Deeds.