Neopagansim has experienced considerable success in gaining acceptance in interfaith circles. However, at the same time has been drawn into increasing controversy over the diverse racial tendencies in its East European expressions, according to a prominent scholar in the field. At the New York meeting of the Association for the Society of Religion, Michael York, a specialist in Neopagan religion at Bath Spa College in the UK, outlined salient developments in Neopagan religions throughout the world and found growing acceptance.
This is most obvious in newer interfaith initiatives, such as the Assembly of the World Religions. After years of interfaith dialogue, the Scottish Pagan Federation has been officially recognized as a member of the Scottish Interfaith Council. There has also been progress in Neopagan chaplains gaining acceptance in prisons, according to York. Much of the acceptance of Pagan clergy has been facilitated though the establishment of Cherry Hill Seminary, the first Neopagan theological seminary, based in Columbia, SC.
York also reported that there is some resistance to giving Neopgans equal privileges with other religions, especially in the UK under the British Charity Commission. Another challenge is the growth of Neopagans in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, who have a strong racial and anti-Semitic orientation.
Pagan groups in Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Russia have strong nationalist tendencies, often linking racial identity with paganism. York notes that while Western Neopaganism is often liberal, with its roots in the 1960s counterculture, promoting feminist and sexual liberationist causes, “blending easily into subcultures such as sci-fi conventions and heavily involved with the occult . . . the Eastern type of Neopaganism is often right-wing and conservative.
Interest in ecology is often linked to preserving ‘natural’ folk heritage.” Eastern Neopaganism is often academically inclined and is suspicious of occultism. Sexual ethics are most frequently conservative, “emphasizing family values, which in some extreme groups can even become misogyny and homophobia,” according