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On the growth of the Baha’i Faith and Wicca in Britain, compared through the lens of the "Theory of Relevance" as the driving force in their further development.
Paper first presented at the 2008 International Conference, London, UK. Also available in Microsoft Word format.

The Baha'í Faith and Wicca:
A Comparison of Relevance in Two Emerging Religions

by Lil Osborn

published in Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies, 11:1
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to make comparisons between the growth and potential for further development of the Baha’i Faith and Wicca in Britain. This study uses the Theory of Relevance developed by Sperber and Wilson to explain cognition in the field of linguistics and applied to the field of religious studies by the author in an earlier work.

The paper begins by outlining the milieu in which both traditions began and notes possible overlaps of individuals and networks. It continues by contrasting motifs of beliefs and values between the two systems and investigates the history of both by arguing that relevance is the driving force in their respective development. Thus, the Baha’i Faith which began by attracting radical and progressive elements gradually became more conservative as its principles became generally accepted and its legalistic structure ensured the upholding of traditional concepts of family and sexuality. Conversely, the interaction with feminism and the ecology movement caused Wiccans to embrace a radical and inclusive perspective which was not present in the inception of Gardnerian tradition.

Finally, the potential for growth and influence of both traditions is assessed within the context of the Theory of Relevance.

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