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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: 24,934,231  

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Reponses: 181

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Question of the Week: 4 - 8/27/2000

The Broomcloset-In or Out?... What's YOUR View?

Some Pagans feel that it might be better if everyone Pagan was just open about their beliefs. Some, on the other hand, are sick of 'in your face' Pagans or groups. Others feel that in some areas of the country being "in" is almost a necessity. But we've also heard some background grumbling that expresses rather resentfully that those who remain hidden are simply reaping the benefits earned-while experiencing none of the backlash-by those who are openly fighting for pagan rights.

The apprehension of what the impact of openly declaring a pagan belief might be on a family or work relationship is as much a concern in the decision-making process as what the reaction of a neighborhood or community might be in other cases. So, are YOU in or out? How far out is 'too far' out? What are the pitfalls or the rewards? Why should everyone be out, in, or just make his or her own decision about the broomcloset occupancy rate.

 Reponses:   There are 181 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

Ok, First And Foremost One Must First Review All The Pros And... Sep 1st. at 2:03:57 pm EDT

the everchild (Manlius, New York US) Age: 22 - Email

Ok, first and foremost one must first review all the pros and cons of coming in or out. There are pros and cons...

Pro : One may live ones life openly without fear.(and many other pros depending on individual circumstances)

Con: One could get hurt, ignored, ostracized, ect or your children for that matter or even worse. (and many other cons depending on individual circumstances)

in my case it was a whole lot easier to respond to questions or simply wear an ornament, due to my care free nature in many aspects of my life. When asked of my opinion I would give it as straight and clear as possible. Sure, I did not have the problem of being ostracized by those inmeadiattely around me for they were really understanding. My mother, being a pentescostal evangelic did not agree but she had to accept it one way or the other. My ex-companion firmly believes that my beliefs would eventually turn me to evil, hence we could not relate in a spiritual degree, and even still we are trying to find out a way in which we can bring up our children beleiving in something, a hard task unto itself. Yet I decided to go out by the age of 17 under the guidance of Saga, and I suffered too little to almost no harrassment in my past jobs. So I can say I was lucky, sure there exists extreme religious intolerance where I come from in Puerto Rico. But little by little I hear it has gotten better.

Yet not everyone lives in favorable conditions all the time. There are people (younglings for example) who get beaten by expressing their beliefs, or other who just lose thier jobs and cannot bring a paycheck to their houses. Others get divorced. And many other extremely hostile enviroments that one must take into account.

I for one am in a good position to express my beliefs, so I do. Yet even then I am carefull so as to not let the consequences of my actions affect those who do not deserve to be affected (as my children, friends, ect, ). And I know of others who are in a not so well a position and cannot risk letting their beliefs known due to the persecution that will ensue.

So what do I propose, I propose that those who have the courage to step up under any circumstances... to do so, not only for themselves but also for those that will lose too much by doing so. Theres nothing worse than being in a place where your thoughts can get you hurt or worse, and I recognize that many people live in fear that way.

After the burning times and the hangings and all that has transpired afterwards, I cannot blame those who choose to stay hidden... instead they must be praised by holding to their beliefs under such adversity, and hope that they may find people with whom they can share their thoughts (so that eventually they group up to the point that they can become a strong healthy influence in their comunity).

Not everyone is a one human army.

And to those who choose to fight openly... I praise with much fervor, for without those who band together to fight (and I re-enfasize in BANDING TOGETHER) then we would all still be in hiding.

It is wrong to force another into coming out just because I did. In time the person will decide what to do, wisely. And my sincere recomendation is that if one wishes to express ones beliefs openly but fears coming out because of the mayhem that comes afterwards... seek others of like mind. That always helps. A candle alone can be blown out by a gentle breeze... but woe to those who try to quench an inferno. Or better yet, a single drop of water can evaporate quickly depending on the heat, but try to evaporate a whole sea in a second. Alas in simpler terms: in unity there is strength.

Weigh your options... and make a wise choice.

No Matter What Religion One Believes's Not Good To Be... Sep 1st. at 2:47:01 pm EDT

Belle (Fort Collins, Colorado US) Age: 26 - Email

No matter what religion one believes's not good to be "in your face" - noone appreciates someone who tries to tell you that their way is the only way. Right? However, I don't believe in hidiing who you are - and religion should not be hidden because it says a lot about a person. Our goal should be to educate and help people understand paganism - not be "in their face". In most situations I am proud to say I am a witch; but there are certain times when some things are better left unsaid; you can not change a mind that won't listen to rationalization.

Out of the closet and LOVING IT!!!

I Have Some Pretty Strong Feelings About This Subject. I've Been Out... Sep 1st. at 4:01:34 pm EDT

Gryphontamer Azurewing'd (Corona, California US) Age: 29 - Email

I have some pretty strong feelings about this subject.

I've been out since the day I figured out I was pagan. I started out studying Wicca, then recently discovered that Druidism was what really spoke to me. I'm now part of a grove in my area (this all happened within the past two weeks). I have a pentacle on my car, I wear a pentacle and an amulet bag at all times, and if anyone asks, I'll talk about my faith ("Yes, I'm a witch. Specifically, I'm a Druid. What would you like to know?"). What I don't do is walk up to people wearing crosses or crucifixes and get in their face about my faith or theirs. But if asked, I don't hide what I am. I couldn't do that and still be true to myself.

My husband is Catholic and doesn't really understand. He complains about me going out in the middle of the night for ritual. I can understand that. But at the same time, it's when I practice.

I'm out to my mother, my mother's partner, my father, and just about all of my friends. I would like to be out to my brothers, but I never see them -- one is away at school and the other lives in a house with no phone. I do know my younger brother and his wife are Goddess worshipers, but I'm not sure what flavor of paganism they follow (at least, not yet).

I shocked an ex-coworker who called the other day to invite me to her Foursquare Gospel church when I told her that I was attending our local Unitarian Universalist church and that I was not Christian. It turned out to be a much pleasanter conversation that I'd hoped for; she understood when I said "many paths, one destination." I'm not out to my husband's family, although I think my sister-in-law would understand, because his mother would freak. There's no way that she could ever understand what I believe.

I do tend to be rather "in-your-face" about my beliefs with people who challenge me on them or tell me I'm going to hell. But I don't go up and "witness" or proselytize at people who are obviously Christian. That's not my way. I just ask that my beliefs be respected.

As far as "should you be out"? That's a personal decision. Personally I don't insist that any of my other pagan friends come out. But I will be out, and I will not be quiet about it if someone attacks my faith. So I guess I qualify as an in-your-facer when it comes to that. But I sympathize with those who want to be out but can't be, for whatever reason.

A friend of mine in my grove is 15. His mother is Native American. He's Druid, like me. His school started yesterday and for the first time he wore a pentacle to school. Everyone was asking him "What's that?" And his simple response was, "I'm a witch." Nobody had a problem with it, apparently. A lot of the other kids responded "Oh, how cool!" That's the kind of world I'm hoping for for my own children.

If I don't stop now, I'll probably keep going :)

Blessed be.

I May Choose To Discuss My Religion When I Am Comfortable Doing... Sep 1st. at 4:08:03 pm EDT

Fareesha (Nelson, British Columbia CA) Age: 33

I may choose to discuss my religion when I am comfortable doing so. I am both in and out of the broom closet :) Then again, I don't believe that people need to run around announcing their political or religious beliefs anyway unless the occassion permits/suits the need.

Personally I Am "out Of The Broomcloset" When The Question About My... Sep 1st. at 6:41:25 pm EDT

Kerri (Windsor, Ontario CA) Age: 18 - Email

Personally I am "Out of the broomcloset" when the question about my faith comes up, I answer honestly and volunteer to answer any questions. However, I don't scream it from the mountain top that I am Wiccan. I am proud of my faith and of my heritage but I'm not going to throw it in other people's faces. I feel that your faith is something personal, you wouldn't announce to the world that you had great sex last night would you? People who are "in your face" about their faith bother me, no matter what religion they belong to, whether it's the streetcorner preacher, or the "Witch" at school who flaunts her faith like it was a Gucci bag. Your personal relationship with God(s) is something to be proud of and draw strength fron, answer questions honestly, but if you're too flamboyant with it you'll find that you'll turn people off. No one likes a Bible thumper, or a magic thumper for that matter.

I Like To Show People The Courtesy That I Expect From Them... Sep 1st. at 7:12:54 pm EDT

blackthorne (walnut creek, California US) Age: 35 - Email

I like to show people the courtesy that I expect from them. I don't expect the question about religion to come up with people in the workplace because I consider it rude, and I also do not want to know what religion the other workers are..If they want to tell me fine..but I don't want religion to be a game of show and tell. Even people who are pagan-friendly can be obnoxious with thier questions. I have had occasion to tell people about it at times, and I have had

the most wonderfull of not caring. Total Apathy. I think that we can all revel in what a wonderfull think in these times.

I Like To Think That I Have One Foot In And One... Sep 1st. at 8:08:17 pm EDT

Spicy (Victoria, British Columbia CA) Age: 26 - Email

I like to think that I have one foot in and one foot out.I have been rudiculed so many times about my religion that it is hard for me to maintain the "out of the closet".I wear my pentacle with pride and I answer questions openly and honestly to those that really want to hear.Others just give the "look" and carry on.My closest friends and my family know my religion.However my mother being a baptist had a problem with it in the beginning untill she took the time to listen to me and to stop thinking of me as a "broom-riding satanist".I feel that society has driven people to think of evil when they hear the word witch or when they see a pentacle.I was told at work to not wear my pentacle and I took it off right then and there and asked them to take off their cross.Discrimination, hatered and ignorance has what kept me some-what in the closet for the saftey of my children and my home.

I Am Not Wiccan Or Pagan, I Actually Do Not Know What... Sep 1st. at 9:40:49 pm EDT

Kimba (Las Vegas, Nevada US) Age: 33 - Email

I am not wiccan or pagan, I actually do not know what "religion" I am since society has to label everything. I wanted to be Celtic Christian, because I do believe in a natural state of being, in energies that heal and guide, and in one God..But, was turned away for not being catholic. I am with alot of others that have posted about not wanting the bible thumpers in your face or religion shoved down your throat. People see what you are on the outside and make a judgement without even getting to know YOU the INSIDE. It is sad when you even get the weirdest looks when people find out you read tarot cards, much less hear about your religious practices. I do know the persecution that society can inflict on people first hand, and I just do not understand it. I really don't. Hopefully one day our children will be able to live in peace and harmony, no matter their religion, skin color, or backround, one can only hope.

Unfortuneately, In Some Areas Of The Country, It Is Still Not Safe... Sep 1st. at 10:34:07 pm EDT

Gaoth (Small Town, Oklahoma US) Age: 38

Unfortuneately, in some areas of the country, it is still not safe to come out of the closet. Those, who like me live in the "bible belt" know what I mean. You can still have serious problems because of your beliefs. If you live in a small town, it is much worse. There is NO pagan community to support you, and an organized, powerful "christian" community to harass you. Why come out of the closet, when to do so would only cost you friends, business opportunities, and in some cases, even be dangerous.

Those of us who live in these areas know that the burning times are not as far removed as some might think. We still have to be extremely careful who we trust with our secret. Those of you who live in more "liberated" areas, should be thankful that you can be more open about who you are, but don't be too quick to judge those of us who must remain hidden for now.

That is my opinion, for now some of us must stay in the closet.

I Am Both In And Out. "what?" You Ask. How Can You... Sep 1st. at 11:46:22 pm EDT

Emerald Wave (Dallas, Texas US) Age: 21 - Email

I am both in and out. "What?" you ask. How can you be both? Well, my husband knows, of course. Then my friends here in Texas know. But my family and my husband's family, NO, and big N-O. I also want peace in my family. All of my family are strict Baptists and I already get the "why haven't you found a chruch home" every time I talk to them. My husband's family, well they are Christian as is he. They don't push it on me, but if his family did know they would definitely flip! So there I am in the "broom closet."

One the other hand I am out. I wear my pentagram necklace and my crystals. I don't shy away when religion comes up in conversation. I have a few Pagan friends and we don't run away to shadowy corners to discuss our religion. So there I am out.

Now for the benefits, well. Being IN the proverbial closet keeps family peace and avoids severe prayer and intervention by loved ones. Being OUT allows me to be comfortable with myself, and I definitely enjoy life more.

As for the pitfalls, IN makes me uncomfortable and not myself. OUT means everyone and their brother will at some point ask for a love spell! (I work at a resturant and I think that it is a prerequisite to have a messed love life to work there.LOL)OUT also proves to definitely be the uphill road. I have already had an intervention from the Jehovah's Witness cook that works with me.

All in all, I believe that it should be a personal choice. As far as how much is too much, well, we will just have to trust that our fellow Pagans will remember the burning times and know when enough is enough.

I Come From An Area That Is Mixed And Diversed With Religion... Sep 1st. at 11:58:22 pm EDT

Quinn J Roundy (Brigham City, Utah US) Age: 21 - Email

I come from an area that is mixed and diversed with religion. I go to work to find many of a like mind with me as well as those who opose my beliefs but not me. So in short I am out of the closet.

I am moving to a high christian area (Utah) and have not as yet considered the notion of whether or not I should reveal myself there or not.

I think that if you live in a community that persecute witches and pagans than you should remain in the closet just for your own protection. There are other ways to protest and defend your beliefs.

Even though I do live in a open community I am currently facing criminal charges which relate to the practice of witchcraft. I have not yet been tried and feel that I have a very good chance of "winning" my case. If this case was held in Utah (where I am moving in one week) then I would not attempt and simply plea guilty and pay penalty.

I am not an activist, I belief that there is a difference between believing and enforcing in a faith. When people ask me about my beliefs I openly explain what we are and are not. If people persecute me I have the option and means to ignore or walk away. I believe that trying to convince somebody of something that they are already against is futile. Pagans and Witches have seldom been "evangilists".

As far as reward for being an open person about my beliefs, I think that making friends and finding support is the greatest and most important thing you find.

As far as pitfalls, well, I am being sued because of the ignorance of the local police and do still hear harsh words from many (thou most people just give dirty looks)

These are just my thoughts and beliefs, do with them what you will and Blessed Be.

PS: the city shown below is where I am moving and not where I am at now.

Well, I'm Essentially Out, But I Don't Broadcast It Nor, Which I... Sep 2nd. at 12:01:20 am EDT

Luis Felipe Morales (Santa Barbara, California US) Age: 23 - Email

Well, I'm essentially out, but I don't broadcast it NOR, which I think is just as bad as broadcasting and which IMNSHO displays the same underlying insecurities, do I rabidly jump on every opportunity to tell people I'm a pagan. If they ask, or if it seems VERY appropriate to the conversation, I am as open about it as I can be, given my own underlying insecurities and slight apprehension as to most people's reactions.

The exception to this is that I have quite methodically outed myself, always in private and almost always in person, to my nuclear family, relatives I'm particularly close to, and all my close friends. Reactions have varied (my a-little-too-Christian sister avoids the issue, my mother smiled at me and said "I raised my kids to know what they were doing and I trust you to make the right decisions for your own life." (big ups to Mom!).

As a matter of fact my more liberal friends have rather blithely accepted it, while my devout Christian friends have actively engaged me in discussion! I much prefer the latter, to be sure, as long as it remains civil, which admittedly it hasn't always -- I have one friend, a pastor-in-training, who manages to bring out a lot of the anger I still feel at Christianity's habit of active dissemination of disinformation and we thus don't always stay too civil -- but there again, I have one friend who emailed me: "I know that if you've chosen to be a pagan, that means you've done a lot of thinking and reading and research -- I know you didn't choose blindly. But I don't understand your choice to be a pagan. Please tell me about it. I want to know more." (Big ups Margie!)

Now, I have the freedom to be out, as out as I care to be, because I live in Santa Barbara, California -- now while many of our liberals are just guilty rich liberals, we do have a sizable granola contingent and not too much in the way of hardline Christianity, except perhaps among our Latino population, which appears to basically choose between hardcore Catholicism and hardcore evangelist Protestantism (DISCLAIMER: Yes, I'm Latino. No, I'm not a 'member of the community.' This is a halfass opinion based on equally halfass observation.)

So not everyone has my freedom to be out. Not everyone lives in SB -- some of us still live in my native Santa Maria, Gods help 'em!

Of course there IS a 'too far out.' It's when I think I'd rather be dealing with an entire Foursquare youth ministry than with your obnoxious Pagan ass.

And of course I think everyone makes his/her own decision. There is no why; it's a basic human right called 'self-determination.' 'Those who remain hidden' have made a decision to be so and 'those who are openly fighting for pagan rights' have also decided: they are fighting (not solely, but obviously) in their OWN self-interest and have no need to be dog-in-the-manger about it when their good works trickle down to benefit cryptoPagans.

Me? I'm somewhere in the middle, fighting, if what I do is fighting, one person at a time.

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