boomlogo.pngI didn’t know using the word Pagan could spark such a controversy, but apparently the use of the word and a potential misunderstanding of the religion caused some to contact Boom! Studios over their new five-issue mini-series Salem.

Read the initial letter of concern and Boom!’s response after the jump.

Ambrosia, a concerned Pagan, was kind enough to let us reprint her letter to us. Here it is in full:

Date: Sep 3, 2007 9:40 PM
Subject: Religious intolerance
I am an avid comic reader and I am also a pagan. I have been on this path for many years and my family and I have fought off hate, bigotry and verbal abuse due to the large quantity of misinformation about the craft. To think I would be safe from this sort of thing in my own genre of pop culture. I guess I was wrong because apparently you are publishing a comic named Salem Queens of Thorns which demonizes witchs and adds further justification for their torturing and death. Did you know that in the dark ages 9 million people (mostly women and some children) were accused, tortured and killed because of lies and misinformation spread by the church? These women were midwives, healers and herbalogists. All of these people were tortured into saying things that were not true. They were told what to say by witch hunters. Ever heard of the witch’s hammer? It was a book comprised of methods to identify, interigate, torture, prosecute and finally kill a witch for in the bible it says “Though not suffer a witch to live” I mean you all have a least a little sensitivity right? Would you write a comic putting the jews of the holocaust in a negative light? What about the slaves of the south? They practiced voudoun rituals to scare away slave traders from abducting them. But no of course everyone has enough compassion to not cause further distress to those who have suffered. I and other Pagans alike are trying to dispell ignorance and create a more tolerant world to accept our beliefs and right now you are creating an obstacle to that. I would look out for more pagan activists and lobbyists to get involved and speak out against this assault to our faith. This project was written in poor taste and is offensive to my brothers and sisters of the craft. Please take this into consideration when making such a decision…
Regretfully yours,

Hopefully, in printing this, we have put a preemptive end to this controversy. Thank you for reading.

From Boom:

Since announcing SALEM, a five-issue series written by Chris Morgan and Kevin Walsh shipping this November, we here at BOOM! Studios have been inundated with a tremendous positive response҆for the most part. Unfortunately, we have also received a number of alarmed reactions from the Pagan community. To address their concerns, Chris and Kevin have written the following letter:

To All Concerned Parties,

We agree that a comic book that asserts Pagans are evil and destructive might well be considered insensitive, offensive and even slanderous. However, SALEM: QUEEN OF THORNS is not that book. We appreciate your criticisms, but feel they are based on a mistaken understanding of the true content of our story.

In SALEM, the religious authorities are an evil force that persecutes innocents in the witch trials. They aren’t celebrated in any way and are, in fact, major villains.

Our protagonist, Elias Hooke, is a reformed member of the Church who carries a heavy burden of guilt for the evil he performed for them in ignorance. And his quest to redeem himself is one of his main motivations.

More importantly, one of our chief characters, Hannah Foster, is a healer accused of witchcraft. She is in no way the “demonized” villain of the piece. Rather, she is one of the key heroes on a noble journey to combat evil and save the world.

We welcome your opinions and realize that when all is said and done, you may still disagree with what we feel to be a positive depiction of Pagans and a strong pro-tolerance theme in SALEM. But we respectfully request that you base such judgment on the content of the work itself, rather than incorrect assumptions and incomplete information.

Because you are correct about one thing — prejudice in all forms is an ugly thing.

Kevin Walsh and Chris Morgan

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. Mark I.
    September 21, 2007 at 12:43 pm — Reply

    Yeah, leave the Pagans alone. It is no more or less ridiculous than any other religion in the world. Well, except Scientology.

  2. just me
    September 21, 2007 at 1:41 pm — Reply

    i agree, let’s not single them out, all religions are equally silly.

  3. Tom Cruise's Attorney
    September 21, 2007 at 2:11 pm — Reply

    Mark I., you should be receiving a copy of our libel suit, filed with the court, shortly. Please don’t think that the fact that its written in crayon is in any way indiciative of its seriousness. Good day sir.

  4. Some Net Person
    September 21, 2007 at 7:02 pm — Reply

    Indeed, paganism is on par with atheism, evangelicalism, and whatever Madonna’s into these days. But may as well be polite about it anyway.

  5. Kevin Breen
    September 21, 2007 at 9:08 pm — Reply

    I’ve found paganism a lot less silly than many religions. For one, they do not claim to be the only true religion. I’ve known many pagans who admit that their gods, goddesses and spells are not necessarily real, but just a means of focusing their thoughts in symbols that they can share in common. If all religions would admit that, there’d be a load less violence in the world.

  6. Brother129
    September 22, 2007 at 9:24 am — Reply

    Notice how people get so upset before the book/movie/tv show even comes out. I loved the intelligent response. How about reading the comic first than reacting?

  7. September 22, 2007 at 2:44 pm — Reply

    First I have no problem with Paganism at all, and have dabbled in pagan belief systems a time or two myself.
    Second, the letter writer applys the term ‘Pagan’ to wicca (and it’s many varieties), leaving out all kinds of other pagan belief systems that have nothing to do with modern wicca. Odinist/Nordic, Egyptian, Greek, Discordian, Magick, and all sorts of other ‘Pagan’ systems exist outside of wicca.
    Third, her assertion that 9 Million Pagans were killed during the dark ages is flat out false.
    If we call the Dark Ages the Period from 476AD to 1000AD as seems to be the accepted period:

    then I doubt Iquisitors and others were killing 3 and a third people out of every 10 (accepting that the European Population of the Dark Ages was 30 million tops).
    It simply didn’t happen.

    Now, there is an often quoted number of 9 million ‘witches’ killed from the period of 1400 to 1800 by Gottfried Christian Voigt who extrapolated from his section of Germany to calculate 9,442,994 witches killed throughout Europe during that period. Voigt published his rather dubious statistics, and was then widely quoted, establishing the 9 million number. More credible analysis, buy more credible historians puts the number somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 killed during the same period.

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