Mizzou Pagan
United States of America flags hang between the columns on the Quad in front of Jesse Hall at the University of Missouri on Sept. 10, 2012. RNS photo by Shane Epping.

Fox apologizes for comments on Wiccans at University of Missouri

Mizzou Pagan

United States of America flags hang between the columns on the Quad in front of Jesse Hall at the University of Missouri on Sept. 10, 2012. RNS photo by Shane Epping.

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (RNS) Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson has apologized for comments he made about Wiccans, saying he "should have left them alone."

“Comments in the story offended a number of people – that was never my intention,” Carlson said on the show Saturday (Feb 23). "I also violated one of my basic life rules, which is live and let live. The Wiccans have never bothered me or tried to control my life. I should have left them alone. Sorry about that."

More than 40,000 people had asked for Carlson to apologize through two online petitions after Carlson, the editor in chief of The Daily Caller,  spoke against the University of Missouri’s guidelines for religious holidays.

"Any religion whose most sacred day is Halloween, I just can't take seriously," Carlson said on the Feb. 17 broadcast of "Fox and Friends" weekend show that touched off the controversy. "I mean, call me a bigot."

"Every Wiccan I've ever known is either a compulsive deep Dungeons and Dragons player or is a middle-aged, twice-divorced older woman living in a rural area who works as  a midwife," he said.

The university’s guide to religions, an educational and planning resource for faculty, staff and students, lists practices and observations for religious holidays from many faiths. It also recommends accommodations for students, such as avoiding major deadlines during holidays that involve fasting.

Eight pagan holidays were added to the guide last fall.

The buzz began on Feb. 12 with a post by University of Missouri graduate student Christopher White on The College Fix. White criticized the university's guide to religions for listing Wiccan and other pagan festivals “right alongside major religious holidays.”

Soon after, Fox News.com reported that “Students at the University of Missouri don’t need to cram for exams that fall on Wiccan and Pagan holidays, now that the school has put them on par with Christmas, Thanksgiving and Hanukah.” The article called it "all part of the school's effort to include everyone's beliefs, although some critics say listing every holiday associated with fringe belief systems is a bit much."

Fox contributor and radio host Tammy Bruce criticized the religious list in the article, saying “It almost seems as though we’re looking for excuses for people to not have to take their commitments seriously. It’s beyond political correctness; it’s almost like an excuse to do nothing. It’s like social nihilism, where nothing matters.”

Bruce said the university’s decision to include the pagan holidays is “less about elevating other religions and other individuals and more about diluting the dynamic about what’s important in people’s lives.”

Members of Hearthfires, a group of mid-Missouri pagans from different spiritual paths, watched some of Fox’s coverage during one of their regular meetings. The group’s response was mixed – half-smiles and raised eyebrows, half disappointment and hurt.

When Carlson said "Call me a bigot," one Hearthfires member responded: "You are."

tucker carlson

Television commentator and personality Tucker Carlson on the Exhibit Floor at CPAC. RNS photo courtesy Gage Skidmore via Flickr (http://flic.kr/p/7ENWmm)

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“How many Wiccans can name every Wiccan holiday?” Carlson said a few moments later. “I can – and I’m not even Wiccan,” another Hearthfires member said.

The Fox stories prompted a flurry of online responses in the Pagan blogosphere, with one Facebook page demanding a Fox apology generating close to 3,000 likes.  The comments prompted articles and editorials in the University of Missouri's student newspaper, The Maneater, as well as local newspapers the Columbia Missourian and the Columbia Daily Tribune.

"What we're doing is making sure people understand the Fox News article is wrong," said university spokesman Christian Basi.

Contrary to the Fox News article, “the University of Missouri is not recommending any accommodations for students observing Wiccan or pagan holidays,” the university said in a statement.

The Fox News story “made assumptions about our religious guide and the reporter did not read through the guide carefully,” the university said.

Two days after the Feb. 17 show, Carlson apologized on Twitter: "To Wiccans and pagans: Sorry for my pointlessly nasty remarks. Your holidays still confuse me, but you seem like nice people."

(Kellie Kotraba is the editor of Columbia Faith & Values. The administrative offices of both Columbia Faith & Values and Religion News Service are headquartered at the University of Missouri.)


  1. If they don’t worship Jesus Christ, they are Pagan and non-essential to living and the eternal.

  2. Poor wiccans. I can’t believe he was forced to apologize…unbelievable!

  3. Derek, how would you feel if another group disparaged your faith and spread outright lies and falsehoods? I’m willing to bet you’d be pretty angry and would want some form of apology and acknowledgment that the statements made were false.

  4. Seriously? It’s wonderful that you believe that Jesus Christ is a god, or at least the son of a god. I’m assuming this based on your comment. However, “non-essential to living and the eternal”? Are you claiming that anyone who doesn’t worship Jesus Christ is non-essential? Please define “the eternal”.

    I do not worship Jesus Christ. I once did. I no longer do. I am an earth loving, nature worshiping pagan. I am essential to the community I serve and work in. I am essential to the lives of my loved ones. I am essential to the children I help raise. I am essential to the protection of the environment to the best of my ability. I am essential in caring for all of gods creatures.

    Remind yourself of this fact when you find yourself in a medical emergency, that nurse caring for you? That ambulance driver? That 9-1-1 operator? That citizen who placed the call? Any and all of them could be a pagan. Are they still non-essential in your eyes? I helped save a child from bleeding to death. I do not think his parents viewed me as non-essential. In fact, my spiritual practices weren’t even discussed, as it did not matter. What matter was my character and my quick reaction to the situation. What matter was that I cared for the safety of that child.

  5. Anyone who is TRULY a Christian knows that the Bible says to be peaceable to all men. A true Christian respects the rights of others to choose for themselves who and how to worship. In reality, most so-called Christians are just pagans called by another name because the “traditions” they follow/teach come from ancient pre-Christian (pagan) cultures/faiths. God himself will judge soon enough…

  6. Erin, while I agree with all of the points that you’re making, you really need to learn how to spot a troll when you see one. 😉

  7. I know trolls, but I figured that this should be said for those who read the original comment and agreed with it. I found it highly offensive and ignorant. Had this person been an actual “troll” they would have replied by now.

  8. What matters is the hereafter. The Earth is cursed from sin and is no longer a great place to live. Jesus Christ offers a chance to see the new Heaven and the new Earth that He meant for us to experience before evil ruined it. What I meant by non-essential was the fact that what is done now against God, and whomever lives against God, will burn in Hell. You can be as good as you want but your belief in the Son of God is the only Essential thing that you need. Heaven is open to believers, all others who don’t believe are therefore, non-essential to Eternity. Hell is there home. And if you don’t teach your children about Jesus and give them a chance to believe, they will go to Hell as well. Sorry to say but true. After the age of recognition, they are responsible for their own beliefs. No one can accept Jesus for them but themselves.

  9. Really? Some of us don’t believe in hell or that second Christian god you call the devil. Your bible says God is all good and all love, everything was created good. We are all the sons and daughters of God and have the power of God within, Jesus said, “all this and more you will do.” This is no different than what the Wiccans teach, or the Buddhists, or the Gnostics, or the Sikhs, or the Sant Mat, or many Native American religions. They can’t all be wrong,

  10. How true, CMR. A true Christian follows the teachings of Jesus and loves his neighbor. The Roman Christians took the pagan traditions to get more converts. But really, do you think God cares if we want to have some celebration? God does not judge, we make our own hell but not listening to that still small voice within.

  11. No one is a son or daughter of God unless they believe that Jesus is God’s ONLY Son and the only way to Heaven and that God is not A God but THE God.

  12. So you think that you are “good” because you help other humans, Erin? You are righteous if you fulfill God’s commandments, because He commanded them; you are unrighteous if you do not. You do not; you are a pagan. If you arbitrarily define “good” as “altruistic” or “beneficial to others”, then you can call yourself “good”. But I call you a sinner.

  13. To be perfectly honest and upfront, I don’t consider myself religious, or even spiritual. My fiancee is pagan\wiccan and i support her beliefs in any way I can. I believe that in today’s society we are casting long shadows on anything that goes against the accepted norm. I feel that the majority of people who believe in organized religions, are incapable of seeing past their own faith, and into the lives and actions of others. I also feel that those that judge others due to their lack of faith in their almighty, deity, prophet, or whomever and claims that due to their falsely placed beliefs (or even lack thereof) that there is only one place for them to go after death. This is my response to your scare tactics: I am not afraid. what is there for me to fear when I do not believe in your version of the afterlife. I also believe that if there is in fact a God, and that He is loving toward all of His children, I feel that he would not like to be represented by anyone who has a biased point of view, who has live with their face pasted to the spine of only one book, who may not have experienced what this beautiful world has to offer. The abuse, the violence, hatred, and more importantly, the FEAR of what you don’t know as far as any religions that are contrary to what you may believe, is unnecessary. Live and let live, let those who wish, believe in what they wish. It doesn’t hurt you in the slightest.

  14. So basically if i said i was a Buddist or a Taoist or even a Shintoist or a suddenly popular Zoroastrian I do not matter to someone perfect who is supposed to love everyone? The devil included? Turn off fox news and pick up the bible. Dont go to church and hear it from the filter of another bigots mind. Read. It. For. Yourself. And then tell me im non essential and worthless. Do you know the number of hairs on my head or the number of angels that watch me as I sleep? Then you do not know my worth to god and you need to shut your b III oted trap.

  15. You don’t “get” the Parable of the Good Samaritan at ALL, do you.

  16. You ranting lunatic, I can’t even begin to take someone seriously who posts a diatribe with spelling errors. Lets me know what level you are on.

  17. That funny that you took so long to answer SherryT. Lol. I also like how you notice “spelling errors”. Hmmm. You seem to have a problem with spelling.

  18. It comes full circle, Christianity in it’s budding years as a fledgling cult was condemned, ridiculed and persecuted. Now 2000 years later and actually earlier than that, Christians have become the persecutors and the words of the Man for whom they profess their love mean nothing to them. “Love thy Neighbor”, not beat him with a book which has been bastardized over the course of many centuries in order to perpetuate one belief over all others. Christians claim that they alone hold the keys to heaven, yet even within the Christian faith, no one can say that what the true path is to Heaven. Ask a Church of Christ member if a Baptist will enter the Gates of Eternity and see what their answer is. Ask a Baptist if a Jehovah’s Witness will know Eternal Life. Ask a Jehovah’s Witness what the chances are of a Mormon standing at the foot of Jesus to be allowed access to his palace.Christianity does not know what Christianity is. Catholics believe that without telling your sins to another man, you condemn your soul to hell. Baptists state that dancing and drinking is a sin and punishable by the fires of hell. Methodists believe that dancing is part of religion and part of ritual. Pentecostals worship snakes and fall to the floor claiming the hand of God on them and babbling in “tongues.”

    We pagans are many and we are mindful of the world around us. We accept and cherish the charge that was laid at our feet by our gods and goddesses. We as men and women are the shepherds of Mother Earth. We make no attempt to harm her by following blindly the babbling of mass media. We understand that within this world, what we do today will determine what we leave to our children and their children after.

    Our Fathers claim that this country was founded on Religious Freedoms. That all men are created equal. That “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” No where in any of the statements of these men did they state this country was for Christians only.

    I have served as a rifleman in the Unitied States Marine Corps, and I have fought for the freedoms of the peoples of this country, all peoples. I served side by side with Christians, Muslims, Athiests, other Polythiests, and Agnostics. None of us judged the others because of their religions. We did not refuse to fight side by side because we prayed to different gods. We were Brothers putting our lives in harms way that all Americans could worship as they felt would draw them to their Gods without causing harm to others.

  19. There should be respect regardless to what religion you belong to. You cannot judge a person because of their religion or because of their holidays and in confuses you. nobody – i mean nobody has the right to judge anyone.

  20. Esther Scott>> your bible contradicts you. Sin died at the cross. Jesus said for us to pray to our father/mother that is in heaven he never put himself at the level of God. Do you literally worship Christ or the God within Christ which is within all of us? If your answer is that you worship Christ as God then you are a pagan just like me. And your bible says you will go to hell but of course there is no hell because God will never let you be eternally away from his sight because he loves mankind too much.He say for us to let the children come to him not to force religion down there throat. You are wrong again when you say that this place is cursed and no longer our home because the new Jerusalem will decent from heaven to earth REV. GEN.. And the lord saw that it was good… The lord is perfect and all he has made is perfect, everything has a divine purpose. Jesus is a fine example of how we should be but so is martin Luther king and many others who have come before and set a fine example. He is not the only messenger or son of God/Goddess. We must be kind to one another and seek only that which comes from the almighty. Hell is to be away from the presence of Gods/goddess grace aren’t we already in hell? But we are also in heaven. We are right in both worlds and in between we must decide what we are going to do. Do not judge but accept others as they are. The kingdom of God is for all people not just for followers of Christ. I am only correcting you. May the lord most high bless you and keep you safe.

  21. No, those who do not worship jesus aren’t automatically Pagan, nor are they non-essential to anything. I am Pagan, and Christian, and I’m proud of that fact. You say we aren’t essential to the living or eternal? Well according to our belief system we will travel to the Summerland and then be reborn again, so maybe we aren’t in the “eternal” as you think of it, but I believe that if you never stop being reborn that can just as easily be described as the eternal. BTW, some who don’t worship your god are Satanists, some are Buddhists, some are Islamic, some are Wiccan, and some are Pagan, so review your facts before you go and call all people who don’t worship jesus Pagan

  22. why is it so unbelievable that we don’t want to be steryotyped by this statement – “Every Wiccan I’ve ever known is either a compulsive deep Dungeons and Dragons player or is a middle-aged, twice-divorced older woman living in a rural area who works as a midwife,” and have our most sacred holiday Samhain mocked?

  23. What about those with a lack of religion. The Atheists should be able to work/study 24/7 365, That should put them at the forefront of society but they are not there. They are held back by bigots who insist that a person has to have a religion. Religious people are the most judgmental people on this earth.

  24. Perhaps the reporter’s confusions about pagan holidays comes from the fact that he is uneducated about the origins of his own religion’s holidays. Major encyclopedias have the information, but people are too complacent with what mommy and daddy told them as kids.
    Southern Arkansas University has a student organization called the World Religions Club, which aims to educate people on other faiths.
    We try to share information about each holiday (its significance and origin), from each religion represented on campus, as it rolls around on the calendar.
    We find that education goes a long way in promoting acceptance, more than just tolerance.

  25. The cost to humanity of fifteen centuries of Christian savagery – of
    hundreds of millions of lives brutalized and truncated, sacrificed to
    war, torture, pogrom, burning, pestilence and plague – is incalculable.

    Christianity is the worst disaster in human history

    Is it any surprise that organized religion draws into itself the lonely hearts and the abandoned?
    Jesus is not merely an imaginary friend, he is also a fantasy lover.
    The enthusiasts of Christ elaborated on the Jewish
    notion that the body was a source of shame and that women were an
    inferior breed. Mortification of the flesh became the path of ‘spiritual
    But a triumphant Catholicism happily compromised the
    fierce strictures of the founders for worldly advantage and predators
    replaced the puritans.

    The consequence is that for two millennia
    Christianity’s anti-sexual dogma and hypocritical behavior have
    inflicted untold damage on the mental, emotional and physical lives of
    countless millions of people.

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