Phil Wyman loves witches.
As pastor of “The Gathering” in Salem, Massachusetts, Wyman reaches out to disciples of the devil, both dabblers and druids.
All this month, thousands of tourists and a gaggle of witches – whether bona fide Satanists or snake oil salesmen – descend on Salem, the birthplace of sorcery in America, for something of an open-air conference and festival called Haunted Happenings that culminates in Halloween.
Wyman, 59, hosts bands playing music and booths where Christians soft-pedal the gospel. He hands out hot chocolate and offers spiritual conversations for the curious. His followers, sometimes dressed as medieval monks, walk the town and ask forgiveness for the sins of the church, the inquisitions led by the colonial Puritans.
When Wyman sees a witch, he doesn’t see Lex Luther. He sees a hurting soul who has fallen unwittingly in the wrong path. He recognizes that some resorted to Satan because they were rejected by church members.
“Christians have a National Enquirer view of pagans,” Wyman told Wicked Local of Salem. “They think they must be worshipping Satan or sacrificing babies. Or they view the pagan community as a well-organized machine that’s after the church. That’s a sad picture. In turn, because a few Christians have taken advantage of that to make money in the ’80s and ’90s, the pagans have a bad view of Christians. We want to break that.”
Unaccustomed to love from Christians, the witches appreciate Wyman.
A Wiccan and necromancer, Christian Day, 46, praised Wyman’s style (in a quote nine years ago): “If ever there was a person that could make me want to become a churchgoing Christian it would be Phil — not because he’s tried to convince me that witchcraft was evil, or hell is fire and brimstone, but because he leads a life of honesty. He’s one of the most honest people I know, and I’m a psychic. I look at people and I see their dishonesty.”
Not all Christians understand his approach, saying it’s dangerous to fraternize with the enemy.
Early on in this ministry, Wyman was photographed kissing the hand of a witch. It was an extravagant gesture, partly jest and thoroughly love. When it wound up on a Satanic website, Wyman’s church denomination defrocked him Read the rest of Should Christians celebrate Halloween?