News has hit the headlines that Druidry has been classed as a religion by the UK Charity Commissioners. Like everyone else here I’m still digesting what this means. This is the Druid Network’s initiative and it’s out of the blue for us in OBOD, we haven’t been involved. (Which is fine – consult 4 druids as they say, and you get 5 opinions.) But this means it needs careful consideration. On the one hand this could well be a positive move, bearing in mind though, as one commentator said: “there is in the UK no real way for a religion to be recognised officially as in the US, as our constitution relies on precedent and there is no single mechanism. The Charities Commission is an important body which regulates the activities of bodies constituted as charities (which Druid groups can now be), but its ruling will have no effect on other areas of UK law such as the registration of places of worship for weddings etc., until these different areas are tested in court or ruled on by other bodies or the Home Office. It does set a useful and helpful precedent though and opens the door for other Pagan groups who want to be constituted as charities.”
However, I – and many other OBOD members – have always liked the way Druidry has avoided being ‘boxed-in’ to one definition: a spiritual path to some people, a magical tradition to another, a religion to a third, a philosophy or cultural phenomenon to another, and so on. As soon as you start on the path of trying to define Druidry you run into problems: look at the last sentence of the quote I gave: ‘other Pagan groups’ – well some Druids don’t consider themselves Pagan so you’ve got a problem right away. Not all people who call themselves Druids would agree with all aspects of the definition of Druidry that The Druid Network have agreed with the Charity Commission. As with many things there are positives and negatives and it’s a question of weighing these up and looking more closely at the implications of the decision.