Recent news that the Unitarian-Universalist Association (UU) suspended its Neopagan caucus suggests the uneasy relationship that may have existed between the establishment liberal denomination and this new religious movement. This development and others relating to Paganism and Wicca were discussed by specialists on these movement at a session of the Association for the Sociology of Religion (ASR) meeting in New York attended by RW. In the last two decades, the UUA has allowed “independent affiliates” to operate within its structure in order to cater to special interest groups. It was cautioned that the UUA’s action against the Neopagan association should not be viewed solely as a result of anti-pagan sentiment, since other independent affiliates were also disbanded in an effort to trim the denominational structure. Helen Berger, a scholar of Neopagan groups, added that many Unitarian-Universalist congregations and even UU Sunday School literature continue to draw on pagan teachings and practices.
Yet Berger added that increasingly many pagans don’t feel welcome in UU congregations, some of which fear that that the Neopagan current was becoming too dominant. There was also the concern that Pagans were not very generous in their giving to congregations. In the pagan movement as a whole, Berger sees a leveling off of interest after a period of growth. “The numbers may be decreasing soon due to young people (including the second generation) losing interest,” she added. Margot Adler, a journalist who has written on paganism, said that she sees more stability than decline. The burst of popularity of Wicca generated by portrayals of Wicca on such TV shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer may have faded, but today the “ones who stay with it are serious,“ she added.