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Britain officially recognizes Druidry as a religion
Britain has recognized Druidry, an ancient belief that worships deities that take different forms in nature, as a religion.
The decision will give the neo-pagan religion, known for its cloaked worshippers at Stonehenge (above, in 1999) and other sites, tax advantages and is expected to lead to broader acceptance.
"This has been a long hard struggle taking over five years to complete," said the Druid Network, which is based in England, in a statement on its website.
In some ways, Druidry in Britain is catching up to Druids and other neo-pagans in the United States, which already provides tax-exempt status for religious groups, said Marty Laubach, Associate Professor of Sociology at Marshall University.
The British commission noted that Druidry "is animistic and based on a belief that everything has a spiritual dimension." It also said that the religion recognizes deities within nature and conducts worship ceremonies.
The Druid Network, which has about 350 members, sought charitable status for "the advancement of religion for public benefit and no other purpose," the commission said in its ruling.
Druidry has no asserted dogma, the network said in its application. It added that members associate their gods with the moon, fertility, rain, love and other forces.
Druids were members of the learned class among ancient Celts, acting as priests, judges and teachers.