The opinions posted on the Pagan Perspective pages are those of individuals and are not neccessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 102 - 3/11/2003
Do Interfaith Conferences/ Discussions Work?
Do meetings, discussions or conferences designed to promote understanding and/or tolerance between the myriad religions and faith really work? Do you think anyone’s view on Pagan/Heathen religions are changed if we engage in dialogue with mainstream religions?
What do you do/say when confronted by someone who thinks you are wrong/evil because you are a Pagan or Heathen?
Do you think that Pagans/Heathens should seek acceptance from other religions? Or is just being left alone to worship as you please enough for you?
How tolerant are YOU of people who believe in another religion? What do you think of the ‘Christian-bashing’ accusation? Is it a widespread problem?
| Reponses: There are 29 responses posted to this question.
|| Reverse Sort
| Do Interfaith Confrences/Descussions Work? ||Mar 14th. at 3:47:06 pm EST|
|Rising Phoenix (Earth) ||Age: 19 - Email |
Q. Do meetings, discussions or conferences designed to promote understanding and/or tolerance between the myriad religions and faith really work?
A. I belive that they work on a limited basis. Limited, because someone that has their mind closed is not going to learn or gain any knowledge; however for someone willing to sit down and listen they will benift from the experence. When I was attending a weekly pagan disscusion group we had people attending from all faiths, some to stir up troble, and some to sit down and have an intellegent discusion. In most case everyone that came went away knowing alittle more about the world.
Q. Do you think anyone’s view on Pagan/Heathen religions are changed if we engage in dialogue with mainstream religions?
A. It all depends on how we go about doing it, if we act pressering I doubt anything will be changed for the positive. However, if we go about it more in a way of presenting the facts it might gain us some more tolorance from others.
Q. What do you do/say when confronted by someone who thinks you are wrong/evil because you are a Pagan or Heathen?
A. In most cases nothing, and mostly because if someone comes up to me to confront me with a given mindset there is very little I can do to change that mindset. However, if someone comes up to me to ask questions or to start and intelegent conversation I am more than willing to sit down and talk.
Q. Do you think that Pagans/Heathens should seek acceptance from other religions? Or is just being left alone to worship as you please enough for you?
A. It depends on what you mean by acceptance, if we expect them to accept us as a equaly valid and fullfilling belife system I think we might be asking abit much right now. But, if we are merly asking for acceptance and peace that it could be very acciveable.
Q. How tolerant are YOU of people who believe in another religion? What do you think of the ‘Christian-bashing’ accusation? Is it a widespread problem?
A. I have always belived that the universe is too complex for *anyone* to realy know everything that is going on, so I consider all other belife systems as being equaly valid; and I enjoy learning about other peoples belifes as well. I think that 'Christian-bashing' is a problem, and I am sure all of us are guilty of doing it at least once; but, it is also somewhat understandable that there will be some hard feeling from someone forced to go to church for 18 years for example. However, I belive that this is a problem that will cure itself with the more people learn about others.
Well that's all I realy have to say, blessings.
| What A Question... ||Mar 15th. at 3:17:13 am EST|
|Erin (Huntington Beach, CA) ||Age: 19 - Email |
I don't know who is more uncomfortable when in an interfaith converstion with me...me or the poor sap who happens to call me an evil person. When I was a little younger, I wasn't tolerent of other's opinions. I defended my faith and called them all wrong, ignorant people. I had a hard time, wearing a symbol in public meant eggings for me, being spat on, and called evil. A woman once scolded her child for waving at me...a neighbor told all my other nieghbors that I sacrifice dogs and sell drugs because I am a "medicine woman." I have always had a nasty way of thinking about those of other religions. I never thought they had a right to tell me to worship their god, or talk to me if they had no respect for my faith, or to judge me on it. What do I say when confronted? (at least now, anyways) I smile, when the Johavah's Whittnesses come to my door, I bow, and I tell them "I hope you aren't offended, but I am sternly rooted in my faith as a Pagan. But if you want to discuss anything, share beliefs, and such, come in and have tea!" (I REALLY Do say this, folks!) It took alot of pain to muster it, but I stopped slamming the door and telling them they will suffer (because I don't know that, and shouldn't wish it on anyone.) And if they start telling me I am evil and a sinner heading for Hell, I smile and tell them they are wasting their breathe on someone who has been convinced otherwise. If it is at my door, I close the door. If it is on the street, I walk away. If they fallow me, I look for the nearest officer, because at that point, I know my rights.
Looking for acceptance from other religious groups? That is hard...I prefer to not need it, but I also will, if pressed, state my piece and hope it will be heard and understood. If not for full conversion, just so that they respect me more then to try to convert me. Any pagan/christian or other interfaiths would want to try to work past that to be friends, if a friendship is indeed there. My little sister is pagan, the rest of my family is mono-theistic. Last yule, I got her a pentagram, my grandpa got her a cross! Silly to fight, she wears both. :)
| A Question Of People & Understanding ||Mar 15th. at 7:47:40 pm EST|
|Amethyst (TX) ||Age: 26 - Email |
The willingness to open one's mind to honest dialogue is perhaps the key to having an interfaith discussion. Many of the problems stem from people's unwillingness to open their mind because by doing so, it may demonstrate a lack of faith in their own belief system. The key to any discussion regarding people's beliefs is the ability to see all sides, not just one's own perspective. People are socialized from birth to take on beliefs and perspectives; as we grow older, we are enabled to make the decision to reshape these beliefs and perspectives to our own personal path. When we grow too comfortable in our socialized niches, we may find ourselves unwilling to see from the shoes of another person...and therefore gravitate toward those whose beliefs and value systems mirror our own. If engagement in discussion to better explain ourselves to mainstream religion took place more often, no doubt some people out there would be willing to open their minds a bit more, at the very least give pause for thought. However, the many at the very least would not be swayed, and at worst would most likely launch a tirade against the evils of Paganism, Wicca, and other forms of open-minded spirituality.
I do not often engage in discussion with people in regards to my personal beliefs. In my experience of opening up to some people, I often found myself afterwards, wishing I had not. Again, this leads to my earlier point on that which is ingrained in people is often hard for them to open up to any kind of discussion without some sort of tirade about hell, God, etc. etc. I also feel it is pointless for Pagans and Wiccans to garner some sort of acceptance from the mainstream, and honestly, no one should care about this acceptance. It is not important whereas your personal spiritual path is definitely important. There are many paths to spiritual enlightenment and synchronicity with all that is this world and beyond...and everyone should be privledged and honoured to travel that path...whether other people know about it or not...accept it or not! It is all that is within your soul. I think it would be wonderful if the entire world could be open-minded to the beauty of the universe...but if this were the case, there would be no need for this discussion. I accept people as being who they are as individuals. While I may not gain this acceptance from them, I feel no need to "bash" a person for their beliefs, religious and otherwise. It serves no purpose for me to berate another for their position. Again, this is why I choose not to discuss my beliefs with everyone...instead, I follow my intuition and this saves me from engaging in such a negative circle of arguing that may only end with one feeling bad while the other feels triumphant in what they believe to be a victory.
I thank you for reading and bid all of you many blessings and continued enlightenment in your respective paths.
| Sometimes ||Mar 16th. at 12:06:40 am EST|
I know that there are situations where discussing religion works because I have been part of it. However, I think that htese discussions work on a case by case basis. There are people of all faiths who are more tolerant than others. There are people of all faiths who are willing to listen before they judge. There are even people out there who don't care one way or another what faith you are in any way, shape, or form. I don't think this situation is as rare as it may seem. I just think that it is much easier to get swallowed by the negative, hurtful people because they are more likely to be in your face.
When some one calls me evil, I just ignore them as best I can. It is not my job to argue with everyone who wants to pick a fight with me. This situation doesn't happen to me very often, however, because I don't go looking for it, (I'm not saying that others do, by the way.)
As for my tolerance of others, I think that all faiths have their points of beauty and their points of ugly. I try my best not to bash people who are different from myself, but I'm only human and falter at times, especially when I'm hurt or angry. I don't think that we all need to be 100% accepted by other faiths because NO FAITH is 100% accepted by other faiths. That is kind of what religion does to people. However, i think it would be nice to not have to hide, (or be ready to fight, ) just because of what I believe in all the time. That would be nice.
| Faiths Are Different, Yet One ||Mar 16th. at 2:24:54 am EST|
|Dreamless (California) ||Age: 13 - Email |
Nobody will ever know what's really out there, what's waiting for us, untell they die, but nobody has ever come back from the dead to tell us what's out there, but than, if somebody actually did ever talked to a dead person, than nobody would ever believe them. Because of this, people just have to go with theories and ideas that they might have, and believe in what they want to beleieve in, it is difficult, and almost impossible to convert somebody to a different religion, because nobody can actually proove a faith to be real, it's just another opinion.
If I am ever confronted with a person who thinks I am evil for being a Heaten, than I try and explain. I explain who I am, and why I don't believe in God, and what I do believe in. I try and make the person see that I am not a bad person, and that there is nothing wrong with being a Heathen. Sometimes I do take part in the bashing of Christians, we all do from time to time. I like to point out the things that are so hypocritical, and laugh at things that sound so redicoulous and say "and they think we're the ones that are crazy?". I think that peeople only bash on them because they've said that we're evil for so long. Sometimes I think we all take each religion for grantid. I read this essay the other day, starting with how some people think that Satanism should be a Pagan religion, but than it goes into that if people thought like that, than practically everything in Paganism would be gone, because each religion bases ideas off of eachother. Without Christianity, Paganism would be no more. Without Paganism, Christianity would be no more. It would be nice if everbody would stop picking on eachother, and stop making accusations, so that people can freely worship, or not worship if they don't believe in any God, but also remember that their faith wouldn't be their faith, if it wern't for somebody elses fath.
| Christian - Pagan Dialogue That Works! ||Mar 16th. at 6:50:48 am EST|
|Bruce Fraser (North east England) ||Age: 42 - Email |
If you go to this site
you'll see that us pagans can get along just fine!
| Anything Is Possible... ||Mar 16th. at 9:18:18 am EST|
|Dana (Toronto, Canada) ||Age: 35 - Email |
Interfaith/multifaith dialogue is not only beneficial but necessary. Learning is essential in the process of acceptance. That education can not always come from books.
I believe it is important to be given the freedom to worship my gods. I do not require a temple on every corner. I seek out the similarities not the differences. I expect that from my fellow humans.
I do believe that there is a dynamic around Christian bashing that is saddening and disturbing. I realize that sub-cultures often poke fun at other sub-cultures. My feeling is that stands in the way of progress. I try not to partake and don't encourage it in my circles.
| Information Fights Fear ||Mar 16th. at 6:53:28 pm EST|
|Little Glo (AR) ||Age: 38 - Email |
Of course these discussions work - as long as they are truely open discussions. I recently visited with my stepfather who is a Muslim. He knew I wasn't a Christian, and my whole family has seen the pentacle I wear around my neck, but noone has ever asked me anything about it, until now. We spent about 2 hours discussing religion in general, me sharing my beliefs, him sharing his. It was absolutely one of the best dicussions I have ever had about religion. Neither of us were trying to convert the other, or discount the other, we were both trying to understand eachother's perspective.
Now realize, both of us grew up in Christian households.
One of the most important thing my stepfather said is, "there are so many paths to God (or the Gods) , how can anyone be certain that their's is the one true way."
This is really important when you are in a discussion about religion, with people of the same path, or different paths. We MUST remember that we have chosen a path that works for us (some would argue it chose us) - and each person is free to choose their own path. It seems to me, that all paths are leading in the same general direction. Is it really important how each individual comes to Diety?
That is the reason for religious freedom, discussion and breaking down of fear.
| If There Is A Will There Is A Way.... Right?? ||Mar 16th. at 11:47:48 pm EST|
|Karmann MoonWitch (St. Louis) ||Age: 24 - Email |
As the Missouri Director of WARD (Witches Against Religious Discrimination) and after having a very indepth meeting just last night with an interfaith group.. I can say no.
It doesnt matter how many meetings we have.. how many times we go and lecture, discuss, teach the truth about our faith.
The fact is.. everyone is going to believe what they want..
There is a split between all religions, even ours. We have different traditions that believe different things. And I have met Pagans that feel there way is right and all others are wrong. So it isnt just the other religions.
If we really want to educate other religions about our own.. we also need to listen to them and learn about there religion.
Give and Take.
I promise you.. if a Pagan walked into a Catholic church and said I want to learn... but I also want you to listen. You do not have to agree with me..just listen to me. They willl be heard.
We as a community, a Pagan community, need to realize that we are at as much fault as they are when it comes to discrimination and education.
We want to be accepted, we want our faith not to be feared, we want to fit in with the rest of the crowed.
If we stick together, show more support in groups like WARD or Pagan Pride or any other group in your area. If we work hard and for the right reasons, then yes there is a way.
But if we fight just to be heard.. just to prove that we are not bad people, then we are fighting for the wrong reason.
These are just my thoughts.
I hope that one day we can live in peace, peace with each other and ourself.
Until that day I will contenue to do the work I do for the children of tomorrow.
| My Answer ||Mar 17th. at 2:23:04 am EST|
|merlyn (clinton, mo.64735) ||Age: 47 - Email |
no i do not believe that it helps to discuss you religion with other faiths. they seem to go into atac mode.point, when the new preacher came to my house. and after telling him my belief he told me thjat i was a devil worshiper. i told him i didn't beleave in the deviland he called me a blasfeemer. when i am asked about my religion i tell them that i am wiccan. i think that we should others that think the you do. i think what one beleaves is between the beleaver and GOD, GODDESS, what ever. leave people alone let them worship the way they want. And in it harm none do what tuough wilt. merlyn priest universal life church of GOD. pray to god thank him for his seed. pray to the goddess thank her for for giving birth for all living thing.
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