Britain’s pagan policemen and women have been given the right to take time off to celebrate their ancient festivals. The Pagan Police Association (PPA) has been recognised as a ‘diversity staff support organisation’ by the Home Office, a move which has polarised the force.
The PPA is thought to have up to 500 members, including Wiccans andDruids. Co-founder Andy Pardy has hailed the group’s progress, which will see members allowed time off to observe dates like the recent Beltane Fire Festival and Spring Equinox at Stonehenge.
“The recognition of paganism is a slow process, but the progress is evident,” he says. “Officers can, for the first time, apply for leave on the festival dates relevant to their path, and allow them to work on other dates such as Christmas which bore no relevance to them.” Followers of major world religions like Christianity, Islam and Judaism already get time off to celebrate events such as Easter, Ramadan and Hannukah respectively.
The Home Office’s move, made to have a police force which “reflects the diverse communities it serves,” hasn’t gone down well with everyone in the force. “When they talk about political correctness gone mad, this is exactly what they are talking about,” an unnamed officer tells the Daily Mail. “What has it come to when a cop gets time off so he can sit about making spells or dance around the place drinking honey beer with a wand in his hand?”
Paganism is believed to be Britain’s fastest growing religion, and its followers have enjoyed an increased exposure to the British media in recent years for their protests at Stonehenge. Major festivals include Yule, an ancient precursor to Christmas in which pagans burn a yule log in honour of the Germanic god Kriss Kringle, and Samhain, on Halloween, when food is left for the dead and worshippers cast spells as ghosts.
What do you think – should Pagans be given the same rights as believers of other religions? Or is it just ‘time off to dance around the place’? Have your say in the comments box below.