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The ancient followers and believers of the old Gods of Germany, Scandinavia and Anglo-Saxon England did not have a name that they called their religion because their religious identity was simply part of their cultural identity. It wasn’t until Christianity encroached on these ancient polytheistic cultures that the term Heathen (used by the 4th Century Christian Goth Ulfilas in his translation of the Bible) was first employed to distinguish between Christians and the ‘other’ in these areas. It is believed that Ulfilas was inspired to follow the example the Romans had created when they termed the word pagan. Ulfilas’ use of the term heathen in his translation of the Bible would trickle down the centuries until the word was used in various Viking Age sagas later. In the modern day the term has been picked up and claimed by tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) across the globe today as a religious identifier.
You can’t and shouldn’t be able to trademark a religious term or identifying phrase. That belongs to those who use it. This trademark protection essentially throttles religious freedom, and threatens our Heathen artisans and small businesses, as they face legal and financial threats for using the word Heathen on goods, or in product descriptions.
Heathen is a religious term recognized by the United States Department of Defense in their “Faith and Belief Codes for Reporting Personnel Data of Service Members”. We have religious books under this identifier, such as: A Modern Guide to Heathenry, Hearth and Field: A Heathen Prayer Book, or Gods’ Own Country: A Heathen Prayer Book. Go to Goodreads and you can find a vast listing of religious books under the heading of Heathen. You can find a number of religious music with titles in it featuring the word Heathen, or find a large amount of religious music online under the heading of being a Heathen Songbook (like at the Odin’s Gift website, http://www.odins-gift.com/wichtig/heathensongbook.htm ). Go to Etsy and type the search term Heathen in and look at all the religious items that show up for our religious community: statues, devotional jewelry, ritual and altar goods. This is our religious expression, and the trademark infringes upon our religious freedoms.
I’ve signed the petition, and I encourage every Heathen, polytheist, and our allies to take a moment to sign it too, and when doing so remind and reinforce in your comments this is a religious term.
I recently signed a petition, and urge you to do the same. The issue: trademark protection of the word “Heathen”. I’ve seen how luxury brand Hermès has used their trademark to go after religious items for Hellenics and their God Hermes. We have a chance to try to save the Heathen term.
“Dave Lancaster owns a company called Heathen Productions which produces a t-shirt line known as Heathen Nation, who holds a Trademark on the word Heathen. His company has been serving vendors, crafters and merchants who even so much as use the word Heathen in their description box for their product with take down orders and threatening legal action if they do not comply. He is not a Heathen himself but he is affecting the livelihood of many Heathens just trying to support their families and or kindreds.”
You can sign the petition here: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/heathens-vs-heathen-nation
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