My photo
I been a professional photographer since I worked for the US Government documenting Test and Evaluation of Research and Development projects for the US Army and US Navy in the later half of the 1980s. I came home to Maine to finish my Marketing Degree at USM and began to work full time in Market Research and Marketing for many years while documenting weddings and occasional photojournalist and commercial jobs on the weekends. In 2001 I again returned to photography as a full time trade and have never been a happier man. I love working with creative individuals, couples, small businesses and select Non-Profits and can’t imagine working in any other trade. In 1987 I was lucky enough to wed my high school sweetheart and we now live in a cozy little solar powered, recycled bungalow a mile deep in our woods in the Western Hills of Maine with our two brilliant home-schooled teenage daughters and our three cats.

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Maine Chrsitian Civic League

Though I'm a fairly political person, I really try to keep politics from creeping in to this BLOG, but I need to take a short break from photos for a moment though...

A long time friend of mine was recently attacked and slandered by the Maine Christian Civic League in their online publication 'The Record.' (They stole copyrighted photos from her site too for that matter!)

As some of you may have shown up here at my BLOG from the link on their site I would like to take this short opportunity to set The Record straight on a few things...

My friend, Rita Moran, happens to be the Chair of Maine's Kennebeck Cty Democratic Party. She also happens to own a wonderful bookstore with her husband in central Maine and they happen to be Pagan.

The hacks at the CCL find the notion that someone may be politically active in the community who doesn't happen tow the line with their own particular brand of theocracy to be completely intolerable and so in an unmitigated display of 21st Century Witchhunting, a one Michael G. Hein posted an article in The Record intimating that Rita is nefariously practicing witchcraft 'underground' and trying to somehow recruit unsuspecting Maine children into 'Pagan worship' through her bookstore and online activities.
Why would this upset me?
For the record... If you read my BLOG at all, you'll notice that I've taken no particular pains to hide the fact that I've considered myself a Panentheist Pagan for quite a few years now. While not having a huge amount of time for more active participation that a leadership role would entail, I've been fairly active in Maine's burgeoning – and certainly NOT underground - Pagan community online and occasionally have been able to attend (and host a few) public gatherings to celebrate the turning of the Seasons in our beautiful state.

While it is a general rule of thumb anyhow in Paganism, the two largest Pagan organisations in Maine, The EarthTides Pagan Network and Maine Pagan Clergy Association both have policies and standards in place that Pagans do NOT proselytize Paganism to anyone and moreover that any minor is expressly required to have written permission on record from their parent or legal guardian in order to participate in any public function by any group linked by association.
Am I just an Anti-Christian Liberal Commie?
For the record... I have NO issues at all with anyone just because they consider themselves Christian. I try my best to judge individuals based on their actions not by their beliefs. As a wedding photographer I work quite happily and respectfully with a great number and variety of Christians (and people of a lot of other religions as well). I was Baptised, raised and Married in the Methodist Church. I have several versions of the Holy Bible and refer to them quite often. As a Mainer of Gaulish/Gaelic heritage, my family is largely made up of devout French Canadian Catholics and devout Scottish Methodists for whom their faith offers great solace and shelter from the inclemencies and vicissitudes of life here on Earth. I respect these Christians for actually LIVING their faith, and firmly agree that the teachings of Jesus are perhaps one of the best plans ever devised from which to live a happy life. I simply don't have any faith however that any of the many versions of The Holy Bible is The Inerrant Word of God, nor do I believe that one must have a belief in the resurrection nor a faith that Jesus' sacrificing His blood somehow absolves me from mistakes that I may make in my life 2000 years later in order for me to follow His Way. This doesn't mean that I worship the sun, the trees, or false gods or demons, nor that I've no moral compass nor that I'm evil. It only means that some people who consider themselves Christians will never consider me 'saved.' I'd point them to Luke 10:25 and assure them that I'm going to be fine, but they only wish to pay attention to those parts of their version of the Holy Bible that they can use as a weapon against those with whom they disagree.

For the record... I am not a Democrat. I happen to be registered Republican to vote, but I am neither a Liberal nor a Conservative. Like the founding fathers of our great Constitutional Federal Republic, I'm a Libertarian and I'm very active as the Chair of in my local town government's Board of Appeals.

The CCL's slanderous article struck me as foul and against my sense of fair play and justice. I kept my passions in due bounds, but was compelled to post a comment on their site in response thusly:
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What is 'Underground' about Maine's Pagan Community? Most of the thousands of Pagans in Maine live our lives quite happily out in the open here. Even those of us who are registered Republicans and active in our own town's local political scenes need not hide our religion for fear of the ignorance and false judgments of our neighbors. Most Mainer's realize that in the United States, a person's religion is a matter best left between them and God.

Is it any wonder at all that with such 'upstanding and moral' people as Mike Hein acting as the 'voice' of the Maine's CCL, that this once powerful and effective organization has become a political laughingstock even amongst the Conservative Right in Augusta and about the State? I've known Ms. Moran for well over a decade, and while I disagree with her politically on a great number of fronts, she is one of the most moral people I know with ethics beyond the reproach of someone who would stoop to a modern day witchhunt in a pathetic attempt to discredit a political opponent. But then, that is likely why Mr. Hein didn't have even the support of our own party in his failed bid for public office.

Such vindictiveness doesn't reflect well on the ideals that Jesus spoke of in His teachings, nor would one think, well on the CCL.

Michael Eric Berube, photog@fairpoint.net
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Of course, because the CCL has no real interest in honest debate, but is interested only in scare mongering to prove that the faithful are besieged by us evil doers, my response got edited down to just my first two sentences.

I had included my personal email address per instruction when posting. The site claimed that my email address would NOT be published with my response. Instead of holding to this contract, Mike G. Hein (the CCL Administrator, I've since found out) dug up my home street address, my business URL, this blog's URL, my Toll Free business number and my business and personal email addresses from my website and published it all with my edited comment. One would assume that he did so as some attempt at political/financial intimidation.

Well, that didn't work. Those of you who have met me realise that I don't live my life 'flaunting' who I am in people's faces, but I'm proud of who my parents raised me to be and I am completely at ease with letting the whole world know where I stand on any given issue if they have any real interest in knowing. Of course, Mr. Hein hopes that general public knowledge of my religious path will hurt my business. I believe that he is greatly underestimating the sense of right and wrong that the Maine people and people who wish to be married here in Northern New England hold in their hearts. I got the same assumption from a colleague or two when I included photos from same sex weddings that I've photographed into my online business portfolios. “It will cost you business to take a stand on anything political.' My response is the same in this situation as in that one...

For the record... any prospective client of mine who would wish to reconsider procuring my services to artistically document their event simply because of my religious beliefs or my willingness to photograph the events of any adults who happen to love each other and want to formally make a such declaration of that love with family and friends is someone I'd probably rather not work with anyhow. In fact, if it ever gets to the point where I needed to rely on such people in order to stay in business, I'll quit and happily flip burgers for living.

"If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: Someone flattened by an opponent can get up again. Someone flattened by conformity stays down for good."
~ Thomas J. Watson, Jr.
As of this afternoon (28JUN07) the CCL has removed all of the nearly 80 comments on this article from their site so this note may seem out of place. My apologies, but I hate being censored and really I wanted to set The Record straight.

Thank you for hearing me out on this matter. I'll now return you to hopefully enjoying my photographic documentation of a life in the wild wooded hills of Western Maine.


3 comments:

anothermaine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Parrishouse said...

Hi Michael - As a person who considers herself a Christian, in the sense of trying my best to follow the teachings of Jesus (and Buddha actually - I guess that's really not ok with the MCCL), I really wish the so-called "Maine Christian Civic League" would change its name to something that better describes its bigoted agenda. They certainly do not represent me, nor my Christian friends, nor Jesus' teachings. Remember the slogan, "The Moral Majority is Neither"? Well, that about says it all. Thanks for your courage in standing up to these people whose agenda seems more fascist than Christian most of the time. And no need to apologize for bringing politics into your blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael-
I'm so sorry that you've run afoul of Mike Hein. I too, crossed paths with him last year, and after he mined my blog for personal information and then used that to intimidate me with a number of emails threatening my family with financial ruin and lawsuits, I took down the blog (and it's why I'm choosing to comment anonymously here). Unfortunately you and I aren't the only ones who have been subjected to his abuse.
There is a pattern of behavior from Mr. Hein that is bullying, bigoted vindictive and downright unchristian.
Thank you for having the courage to stand up to Mike Hein and the CCL. Your post is right on.