Organization can sometimes be a hot topic among pantheists. Some people believe that pantheists by nature are individualists and on principle should not organize. Others, based on their experiences of theist religions, believe that any religious organization will inevitably become hierarchical, dogmatic and intrusive.
The WPM’s “theology” is based on everyone having direct access to the “divinity” and therefore can never be hierarchical. It values the scientific method and therefore will always be open to new evidence and non-dogmatic. The WPM has no supernatural threats of promises with which to exert any pressure on anyone to join. People are always, and will always be, and should always remain, free to choose what religious belief of group they wish to belong to.
But the World Pantheist Movement believes that scientific pantheism is a sane and rational religious approach which can improve people’s sense of well being in this world; which can help them find a secure mental wholeness, and which can improve the human relationship with the natural world. In other words, it is good for people and for the planet.
We believe this religious approach should be made more widely available, and that organization is necessary for this. Of course some people – and many pantheists – develop their views independently. All you really need is an open mind, open eyes and an open heart. But even these self-discovered pantheists benefit from the mutual support of getting together and communicating with other like-minded folk.
And most people have not even heard of pantheism. They become aware only of those religious approaches that they come across, or ones they were reared in. Organizations like the Catholic and major protestant churches have truly massive funding and huge full-time staffs to spread their messages around: they make sure people come across them. The Mormons, for example, have an annual income of $6 billion. This enables them to run 16 missionary training centres and to employ 60,000 missionaries and distribute five million copies of the Book of Mormon world wide every year. They claim to make 300,000 new converts per year. The Gideons gave away 43 million bibles in 1996 in hotel rooms in 172 countries throughout the world.
These statistics can be repeated for many churches, and they show just what rational religious philosophies are up against. Tens, maybe even hundreds of millions of bibles and korans are distributed every single year in an attempt to gain new minds. For us, to do absolutely nothing to make people aware of pantheism is, against this background, not an option.
We would like to do as much as we can to make sure that people don’t just have supernatural or theistic material to come across, that they can also come across scientific pantheist material as widely as possible. We would also like to work towards a situation where any pantheist can have a ceremony, for child dedication, marriage or funeral, in keeping with their own deepest beliefs, rather than being forced to go along with Christian or other ceremonies that in their hearts they do not believe in.
All this will require time and effort and organization and funding.
The pages below give further explanations of why pantheists should organize, the form of organization that we have chosen for the WPM, and introduce the WPM’s directors.