Wicca: The World's Oldest Religion?
Wiccans often boast of being the oldest religion in the world. As far as beliefs go this is far less harmless than thinking God told you to murder your next door neighbor, but the history simply does not bare out and the religion itself celebrated its 50th anniversary only a short five years ago.
Religions often present there history in a light far more positive than a historian trying to be neutral would in some cases this is extreme as was the case of religion that I was born into glossing over great atrocities like the Mountain Meadows Massacre, at other times it is completely inaccurate
The largest author of books sold to the practitioners, Llewelyn Books perpetuates this lie and makes no effort to correct it. Other glaring historical errors, such as calling the Pow-Wows of Pennsylvania Dutch country Pagans hiding their beliefs are woefully inaccurate and an insult not only to the people who practiced it, most of whom are dead, and their descendants who are alive today.
That is only a small part of the problem and any historian will correct you if you quote the claims found in Silver Ravenwolf's book American Folk Magic, but it is representative of a larger and deliberate misrepresentation of the facts. One can hardly claim that in the case of a decentralized and relatively new religion as many Neo-Pagan paths are that a conspiracy exists, so it can only be called willful ignorance instead.
Few people practicing the craft today can tell you here Gerald Gardner was, nor have they read his words. Strangely enough many books on the subject fail to mention him completely which seems strange since he founded the religion, most likely in the 1930s. The first book, however, Witchcraft Today was not released until after the repeal of the British Witchcraft laws in the early 1950s. The idea of an ancient religion ruled by a goddess figure was popularized by Dr. Margaret Murray. The anthropology of her work has been called into question and has largely been discredited.
Since Wicca's ancient history stretches all the way back to the Great Depression, it is time the oldest religion lie gets discontinued, but so many authors continue to put in their books even if they know better. If the publisher of most Wiccan books, Llewelyn, is doing this merely to cater to their audience it may be a good move on a business level, but it is inherently deceitful. Not one thing in Wiccan practice, not even the Gardnerian traditions at least as far as the author knows, requires faith in the historicity of the founder's claims. The people who condemn you for worshiping the Prince of Darkness will do so whether or not your belief system stretches back into the Stone Ages. Of course since this lie really does not harm anyone, the Wiccan Rede does not condemn it, but once it is corrected one legitimate criticism will stop being raised.