Wicca: Casting a Spell Over College Students

Fox News reported in a December 12, 2002 article that pagan and Wiccan ceremonies seem to be growing and gaining more participants among U.S university students.

Anthony Paige, a recent graduate from SUNY-Purchase, was quoted in the report as saying that Wicca appeals to some college students because "there is no sense of sin." Paige started a Wicca group on his campus. "There is a karmic law, but there's no scorn or condemnation," said Paige, who was raised a Roman Catholic and whose book Rocking the Goddess, Campus Wicca for the Student Practioner profiles college-age pagans.

The article defined Wicca as a neo-Pagan nature religion influenced by pre-Christian beliefs that affirms the existence of magic and of both gods and goddesses.

"There is a cultural shift with college students identifying themselves less as religious and more as spiritual," the Rev. Thomas Wolfe, dean of Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse, told Fox News. Wolfe, who worried some would object to having Wiccan rituals performed in the same spiritual center used by Christian, Jewish, and Muslim students, said he's faced no objections.

Fox News reports pop culture and TV shows like Charmed and possibly Sabrina, The Teenage Witch have increased the awareness of witchcraft. Alyssa Beall, a Wiccan and graduate student in religion at Syracuse, said in the report that although the shows may not be accurate, "they have definitely raised general awareness about the idea that it exists as a religion."



Teens Dating Less

New research from the group Child Trends shows that teens are dating less today than a decade ago, according to a report from Focus on the Family. But is this a positive development? The study, which zeroed in on high school seniors, showed that ten years ago, 14 percent of them never dated. That number is now up to 22 percent. The study also shows that the frequency of dating has declined. Only 29 percent of twelfth graders say that they date often. A decade ago it was 34 percent. Brett Brown, from the group Child Trends, said that parents would be glad to hear the news that teens are dating less.

"We know from research that (for) teens who start dating later, the later they are in starting to have sex," Brown said. "Most parents may be pleased with that."

The numbers may lend one to believe that teens are bucking the trend of sexual openness and "safe-sex." But Jimmy Hester, with the movement True Love Waits, warns that the numbers could be misleading.

"I think the abstinence movement may have had some influence on dating practices with kids in our country, but I don't know if we could put too much there," Hester said.

Just because there are lower dating statistics does not mean that students are not involved in sexual practices, or keeping themselves abstinent. "Statistics will show in some of the studies that (sex) happens after school in one of their homes," Hester said. "Well, they're not calling that a date, probably."

Hester suggested that kids get to know people in group situations, rather than through one-on-one dating, to stay out of sexually tempting situations.

Focus on the Family, February 17, 2003

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