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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 28,343,667  

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Question of the Week: 33 - 3/19/2001

What Is The Appropriate Response to Bigotry and Religious Hatred?

What do you do when someone attacks you for simply being a Pagan? Would this color your perception of all practitioners of that religion? Or would you see it as the act of an individual who may or may not reflect the views of the entire religion? Many Pagans are Wiccans. Does that mean that Wiccans must 'forgive and forget' in order to abide by the Rede? Must we embrace in the name of 'interfaith relations' those who follow a religion that directly or actively campaigns against Pagans? Should we all just 'go along to get along'? When it is appropriate to say "Enough!" and when should we just let it go? What about those anti-Pagan religious sites? What do YOU do when someone hates you just because you are Pagan?

 Reponses:   There are 108 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

I React In A Mature Manner. I Am Shameful To Admit That... Mar 18th. at 8:19:46 pm UTC

Emma (Ottawa, Ontario CA) Age: 16 - Email

I react in a mature manner. I am shameful to admit that I do tend to stereotype religions based on who attacks me but I don't let my opinions known .If they are willing to listen I talk to them. If they aren't then it's a waste of my time. I'm just thankful that I'm more open-minded than them. No one can make you "forgive and forget." It's a choice that comes from yourself. Don't let it eat you up inside. Forgive them for yourself. You are required to respect all faiths but that doesn't mean support them. There is a difference between telling someone their beliefs are stupid than their beliefs are close-minded. If you respect them, they are more likely to respect you. Some people assume that because you are not of their religion, you are against them. Let them know you that is simply not the case. It also helps to inform yourself of their religion. Lead by example.

The Response Depends Upon The Situation. As In All Things, The Correct... Mar 18th. at 8:48:25 pm UTC

L. (New York, New York US) Age: 19 - Email

The response depends upon the situation. As in all things, the correct response is relative. There is no one correct way to deal with religious hatred. However, some ways I, as an ethical pagan, would recommend are:
1. Advocacy. The pagan community needs more torchbearers. This should not be confused with proselytization (I think the christians have that one covered) - but, when possible, do your part to strengthen the community. When you hear someone bashing your group, try and talk to them or refute their statements. Refute all bigoted statements, not just the religious ones.
2. Live your religion. If you allow your personal belief system to guide your actions, your actions will become more informed and powerful, whatever they are. Be a living testament, I suppose.
3. Ignorance is bliss. If you can't work with them, if they won't listen, walk away. Just walk away.
As far as actual hate crimes go, report them to the proper authorities and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. If local law enforcement won't help, contact organizations that will (ACLU, various pagan organizations, etc). Take whatever steps necessary to protect yourself.
We need to walk a fine line between living our faith and protecting ourselves. I wish it weren't so.

What To Do In The Face Of Religious Bigotry? You Are Speaking... Mar 18th. at 9:33:29 pm UTC

Tarostar (Toronto, Ontario CA) Age: 58 - Email

What to do in the face of religious bigotry? You are speaking to an In-Your-Face old Witch who has never suffered open attack from fundy Xtians.
Being of my age, I suppose they feel I'm beyond hope for their ministrations, spiritual or physical.

The European immigrants and those from the West Indies generally never want to give an open Witch a hard time. They don't want their luck to change.

Some will spit through their fingers (Mano Cornuto) when passing on the street,
But I simply chortle gruffly and make them all the more nervous.

The local Parish Priest has his Rectory situated away from his Church WITH THE OCCULT SHOP positioned inbetween. He dashes to and from Church daily,
past the shop avoiding direct eye contact. So, I deliberately give him a cheery
"G'morning, Padre!" to watch him squirm.

I feel it is important to ferret out and publish all the Pagan Roots of Xtianity,
rubbing them in xtian faces at every opportunity.

It is very hard for them to deny the objective facts of History.

It becomes clear the moral and ethical standards xtians claim and cling to so
vehemenently show themselves as first having been Pagan.

The fact Xtianity is a variation on Pagan Greek Mystery Cult, dressed in Jewish drag, parading as History brought out into public view disconcerts xtians to no end. Presenting similarities and the xtian evolution of Pagan ideals seems to be difficult for them to fathom. More of it needs to be done.

My reaction is: Up the old Gods, down with the cross! BB

What Do You Do? Keep On Revealing The Hatred, Showing It For... Mar 18th. at 9:42:54 pm UTC

S. John Browne (Pietermaritzburg) Age: 27 - Email

What do you do? Keep on Revealing the Hatred, Showing it for what it is. And then offer the Alternative. Of course they are not going to like being exposed for what they are. Of course they will accuse you of all sorts of things. And of course they will use their cronies in government to help them out by banning you and/or limiting you. Because they want to portray their beliefs in their words and their words alone. To paint it as being the Only "Rational" viewpoint and anybody who comes along and shows the Real nature of their Hate will come under attack. They want us to Keep Quiet. But most of all they want us To Fight With Ourselves.

To be honest i think there has been too much "forgetting" on the part of Pagans. We go out of our way to bend to their desires. To show just how Nice a people we are and how we deserve their respect. We have done that to gain their recognition and respect, two things they will Never give us. What has happened is that Pagans have been doing all the compromising. It's time to Stand Up And Say "This Is What We Are. Too Bad If You Don't Like It". If we had done that before maybe we wouldn't be at the point that we are now at where our Youth are killing themselves.

I have been thinking a lot over the last week about Tempest and How I As An Individual Pagan Am To Blame. Yes i live over the ocean and in another country but I Am Still To Blame because i have Compromised My Values, I have Failed To Reach Out To Younger Ones Because Of Fear. Each One Of Us Is To Blame For Fighting With Each Other Over Differences In Belief And Viewpoints Instead Of Uniting On What We Agree On. Our Enemies Are Using That Against Us. It's time that we all got together For Our Rights. We don't have to believe exactly the same thing to be Unified In Out Fight Against This Hatred. Our Diversity is Our Strength but at the same time we must show that Spiritually We Are Diverse, Politically We Are Unified. Most of all we must Treat Each And Every Other Pagan With The Respect That They Deserve and we must Treat Ourselves With Respect As Individuals.

Lately It Seems, And Forgive The Language But, "you're Damned If You... Mar 18th. at 9:45:48 pm UTC

Tanais (Spokane, Washington US) Age: 20

Lately it seems, and forgive the language but, "you're damned if you do and damned if you don't." I hate to blend quotes here but a reoccuring theme from world war II was "evil happens because good people do nothing." Granted World War II was not a religious war but lately it seems we have the making of one here in the United States. So as far as combating hate, in my opinion there isn't a whole lot anyone can do. Try and explain something, and they give their version of facts which just breeds bad feelings. Someone from "their side" tries to increase the peace and at least tries to convice the "other side" isn't all bad they get labeled a traitor. Letting things slide isn't much of an improvement on things because people will believe lies if they are given only lies. I give this proposal from a documentary movie I once saw but at present forget the title. People from all different racial backgrounds all convene to discuss the various ways they live. The moderator at the ending of the film referred this to be his greatest accomplishment. The people involved grew before my eyes and made me realize things about myself I didn't even notice. The same thing could help as well. Why not have people of various faiths meet and learn from each other about what it is to be someone of a differing faith? I know that ministers have a program like this in fact a few months ago a big deal was made about the Dali Lama could not attend and also various "minority religions" as well. I'm talking something on a little bit lesser scale. Talking to people not at the pulpits and the altars. Even if it only results in one person gaining some deeper insight into themself then I think it's worth it.

When Someone Attacks Me For Being A Pagan, My Reaction Usually Takes... Mar 18th. at 10:08:27 pm UTC

Nidawi Badria (Sangerville, Maine US) Age: 15 - Email

When someone attacks me for being a Pagan, my reaction usually takes the for of one of three responses. If someone I know and feel is open-minded enough to discuss religion with says something derrogatory, I will take the time to sit down and talk to them about it. Explain all that I can to get rid of the misconceptions. If someone random says something derrogatory, I ignore them. If someone ignorant and rude says something derrogatory, I'll probably say something condescending like, "You're not even worth the effort." I never judge a religion as a whole upon the actions of one member. You could write off any religion if you were to do that. Although I know that the people who are destructive to another person's religion will get what's coming to them, it is sometimes hard to repress your anger. But when girls are killing themselves to escape harrassment, we need to stand up and be heard. What is happening right now, all across the country, to our Pagan brothers and sisters is inexcusable. I think that the point has been reached, no, the point was reached long ago, when we need to put a stop to the hatred towards our faith. If we just keep letting it slide, saying we'll do something next time, nothing will ever change. Ignorance is deep rooted in the people of this country. Historically we can see that people resist change at all costs. But it can still be done. Just look at the African-American community, and the great strides they have made towards equality and freedom. Hatred is something that will never completely leave us. There will always be one more misinformed individual, one more evangelist, one more rabble-rouser. But what is one compared to millions? And about the hatred websites, there is nothing we can do about that. We are not the only ones who are targeted by such forms of negative media. But if we continue our efforts to educate the people, and to educate the government, we can emerge from the battle victorious. And we will.

I've Been At This Discussion For A Very Long Time Now. I... Mar 18th. at 10:22:49 pm UTC

Charlayne Denney (Friendswood, Texas US) Age: 44 - Email

I've been at this discussion for a VERY long time now. I was one of the Pagans that Tammy Richie (Sounddoctrine) got into discussions back WAY back in the days of the pagan/christian debates on the Christianity Online Message Boards on AOL. Yeah, that far back.

Most real Christians, and really anyone else with any original problems with pagans, generally respond to respectful education and dialog. They find out we're basically Episcopalians who see god as a woman (or something equally as benign) and they go "ok, whatever" and that's that.

Then there are the zealots, those who see the only way to their own salvation is in pushing someone ELSE into their place in Hell. These folks really aren't about saving your soul, they're about saving their own by either trying to save or condemn you. Theirs is a world full of fear, pain, and the only way they feel like they're doing "God's work" is to be condemning those who aren't what they say THEY are.

Funny, I don't remember that part being in their Bible. do I handle them. I smile sweetly and I say "well, we'll agree to disagree" and I move on. I don't waste the energy on them.

Now, that's not to say that if they decide that my turf is their turf that I wouldn't defend what's mine...damned skippy in a heartbeat with a gernade! There is a line, it's well marked and if they cross it, it's THEIR karma. Burn a cross on my yard and you'll be Bubba's bunkmate in a cell for a few years. Touch one of my children and being Bubba's bunkmate would be a RELIEF from what I would be doing...

Meantime, we teach those who need to know, show them how ridiculous the zealots are looking in THEIR name (making other, real Christians look really bad is not a good thing) and then working with them to shut these people down.

I can tell you, Tammy had to leave AOL due to the spew she put forth. Even the Christians who didn't like many of us Pagans were glad to get rid of her because she made THEM look bad. After going through 5 different ISPs, she finally had to set up one herself to do her ugly work. And it shows to this day.

We educate, we cooperate, we are inclusive to those who are reasonable and then we show the others we don't tolerate their behavior, together, the Real Christians and the Real Pagans, hand in hand.

They may not believe what we believe but they do respect our passion.

Blessed be:

It Hurts When I'm Insulted, And Verbally Bashed By Others Due To... Mar 18th. at 10:56:41 pm UTC

Silver Butterfly (Edmonton, Alberta CA) Age: 18 - Email

It hurts when I'm insulted, and verbally bashed by others due to my religion, especially when that attack comes from someone who I considered a good friend and someone that I could trust. When I first stumbled upon paganism, I could see only the evil in Christianity. I did everything I could to put it down. About six months later, I recived a very big wake up call. I realized that Christian beliefs were not that different from my own when I really looked deeply enough. I became a lot more open and accepting of other faiths. I think taht in many ways bigotry and religious hatred flow both ways. Sure it hurts to be called names, teased and taunted because of what we belive. I've learned to laugh at the people that call me a satan worshipper and evil incarnate. I simply smile and reply that I can't worship satan since I don't believe in him and that if I was the evil one, why were they the ones bad mouthing my faith.
Fortunately, I know very few people that think like that. I go to a Catholic school and even our school chaplin is open to sitting down to sensible, rational, civilized conversations about Christianity/Paganism. I don't think that any one individual can speak on behalf of his/her entire religion and I think that in every faith there will always be some ignorant and/or closed minded people who feel that their path is the only right one and that everyone else's beliefs are wrong. There is a point were we have to say enough is enough but I think the best method to deal with those people that express bigotry or religious hatred is to simply laugh it off and ignore their future rants.

My Mother Once Told Me Simply Not To React, Because Someone Who... Mar 18th. at 11:17:16 pm UTC

David Diotel (Montreal, Quebec CA) Age: 16 - Email

My mother once told me simply not to react, because someone who shows hate cannot change his mind with the help of what they hate. Sadly, I'm not as mature as my mother is, and tend to overreact. I'm currently learning the truth of these words, however, as this year is the first year where I have a practicing Christian demolishing most other faiths in his religious classes(which are supposed to be comparative religion classes). After three months of seeing him tossing my questions away with other negative remarks, while seeing that he is always repeating his rethoric, I discovered that the best I could do was to simply let him talk and answer a few questions(or correcting some falsehood during revisions before the exams). I've never faced real hate, except on the Internet. I don't think these sites can be taken really seriously, as many people know that lots of things on the Internet wouldn't be worth the ink to print them down. Only real-life hate is dangerous. A person is much more convincing than a message in a virtual area. Overreaction is never good, but reacting to a direct attack can help to forge sympathies(unless you're doing so in a congress of Southern Baptists) with other peoples who are not really part of the group. It can be encouraging to see that people care about rights of minorities(not only relgious). If someone is simply quoting the bible, without real support to prove his word this is not even necessary to care about him(unless he is influential), he is not worth attention. I belive that my ideas on this post seem to be all mixed up, and if you make a sense out of it, I apologise for the confusion of my ideas.

Blessed be

I Have Been A Practitioner Of Wicca For About Three Years Now... Mar 19th. at 1:16:39 am UTC

Amber Nicole Spires (Lancaster, Ohio US) Age: 20 - Email

I have been a practitioner of Wicca for about three years now. It never ceases to amaze me that, in the twenty-first century, many people harbor the same hatred toward Wiccans that there forefathers did in the sixteenth century.

I have several methods for dealing with those who "attack" me for being a Wiccan. Usually, those who confront me about my religion are simply misinformed. Once I have explained what exactly the Wiccan religion entails, they have a tendency to change their views. They become more receptive to other religious views.

Others, however, come into the conversation in "Attack Mode". They have no interest in listening to what I have to say. Not only is their way the Right and Only way, but it is also their personal responsibility to "save my soul". The method that seems to work best on those who insist on being belligerent and rude is that the United States Constitution recognizes Wicca as a valid religion. I have every legal right to wear my pentagram to work (and I do, which almost cost me my job) as my follow co-workers do their crucifixes.

My negative experiences with those of other religions does not lead me to stereotype all of the followers of that religion. It isn't right to hold all responsible for the actions of one. Especially if that one doesn't officially represent the many.

Wiccans must forgive and forget to abide by the Rede to an extent. If it is a situation where the person simply disagrees with your religious views, then let it go. They are just as entitled to voice their opinion as you are to voice yours. However, if the opposition becomes hostile, then a person has the right to defend their beliefs. Just remember, "the pen is mightier than the sword".

I think it seems rather contradictory to support the beliefs of those whose goal it is to cause me harm. It would be the same as an African-American voluntarily going to a Klan meeting and handing the Grand Wizard a Cat-of-Nine-Tails. However, I fully support their right to voice their opinion. All I ask of these anti-Pagan/Wiccan followers is that you remember your Rede to which you refer as the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as ye would have them do unto ye".

Concerning anti-Pagan/Wiccan webstites and publications, again, I support their first amendment right. I firmly belief in the saying of the French philosopher, Voltaire, "I may not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Those who insist upon hating me because of my religious views are in exceptional need of my tolerance. I have a very hot temper, once it gets going. However, for the sake of my religion, I have learned to keep it in check. If people see me getting angry and hostile in defense of my religion, that could have adverse affects. If I am the first and only experience they have with a Pagan and/or Wiccan, I am obligated to make sure that their experience is a positive one. We all know what they say about first impressions.

I have no problem having a religious or Dogmatic DISCUSSION with those whose views differ from my own. My horizons could always be broadened. However, for those who insist upon preaching to me, I calmly remind them that if I wanted a sermon, I would go to Mass. I graduated from a Catholic high school and have probably read the Christian Bible more times in those four years then they will in their entire lives. The point is, I have given their religion an honest go and found that it is not the right path for me. They have choosen their religion (and I do NOT mean to stereotype) because it was the same religion as their parents. They never bother to question what they are told to believe. But, you know what, neither did the Nazis (CALM DOWN! I am not saying that Christians are Nazis by any stretch of the imagination, but I got your attention, didn't I?). I respect the fact that, for whatever reason, they have choosen their religious path. I ask that they give me, and all of those whose views differ from their own, that same respect.

We need to remember that we are all human beings and that we all serve a purpose on this planet. Certain people cross our paths at specific times for specific reasons (even those whose soul purpose seems to be to frustrate you, for they are here to teach you patience and tolerance). I will never forget an incident that occured probably around December 2000. A gentleman had approached me and asked me about my pentagram necklace. I told him that I was a Wiccan and a witch. After that, he launched into a forty-five minute tirade (trust me, I was not able to say a single word the entire time he spoke) about how I was evil and going straight to Hell. He ended his "speech" saying that it was not coincidence our paths crossed for he was here to save my soul from eternal damnation. Without missing a beat, I replied, "How do you know I wasn't sent here to open your mind?".

The Appropriate Response Depends On The Action Of The People Involved. If... Mar 19th. at 1:21:48 am UTC

Perrin (Denver, Colorado US) Age: 24

The Appropriate Response depends on the action of the people involved. If it just words, then great, verbal sparring is always goof for a democracy. If it becomes physical, make certain you have the bigger guns, it was not that long ago in our history that Witches were burned at the stake. Personally I would rather not be on the barbique. As to inerfaith marriages, they can work if both parties involved are truly in love, but if it is a forced marriage, IE someone caught doing some thing they should have waited for, then it won't last for more than 6 months at best.

Personally ENOUGH is when there are 300 of them & 1 of you, which is why I started looking into witchcraft.

What Is The Proper Response To Bigotry And The Religious Hatred? I... Mar 19th. at 5:22:12 am UTC

John T Morgan (U.S. Army) Age: 23 - Email

What is the proper response to bigotry and the religious hatred?

I have been a pagan as long as I was able to walk my mother and her mother walked the pagan path; while my fathers side of the family is devout babtists this posed some interresting discussions while i was growing up from one side of the family i was taught that do as thou will but harm ye none. but the other side of the family was if you even think of doing anything that we don't say is right you have sinned and out came grams bible for her interpretation of the word.

This taught me that it is always a good idea to look at everything with an open mind because there re vthose who don't look at things with an open mind and these are the people you have the most opposition from.

when i was in high school I was teased andtaunted because of my size; I am a man of small stature but I got the worse taunting because of being pagan I had sinner written on my locker I was active on the sports teams which they didn't care much about that.

One thing that living as a pagan has taught me is that there is a whole world of people that will find something to hate you for because they are clo0se minded and ignorant "There really must be bliss in ignorance because alot of people not just christians are enjoying it".

As for interfaith relationships my father was babtist he and mymother were married for 12 years before they devorced becuase of his drinking.I have had interfaith relationships it is a fear that when they find out my religious preference that they will run.. ohh well I guess that it was not meant to be so off to the market I go..

when you feelthat you have been truely threatened that is pretty much enough and time to defend yourself physically and spiritually. but don't jump to conclusions that will bite you back in the long run.

Why complain about what someone has on their site it its not like they made you go to that sites pay it no my and keep traveling your path

this is the wisdom of a Man a Pagan and a Soldier in the U.S. Army and Yes I Stand up and Fight for Your Right to Agree and Disagree...

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