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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 78 - 9/22/2002
Would You Take Part in a Public Event or Protest AS a Pagan?
Many Pagans or Heathens have always been a little leery about taking part in public events, protests or in signing their real names to letters or petitions. Given the current climate in the United States and across the world since 9/11, are you more or less inclined to be open about your spiritual beliefs or religion than you once were? Are you more fearful of reprisals or discrimination? Do you think that you would be placed on a surveillance list if you participated in public events or signed petitions with your legal name? Are you more cautious than you may have been before? Or have the events emboldened you to take a more public stance?
What’s the current status of YOUR broom closet?
| Reponses: There are 268 responses posted to this question.
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| Mostly Out... ||Sep 23rd. at 3:39:41 am EDT|
|Two Crows (Ohio) ||Age: 37 - Email |
I came out of the broom closet to my family nearly seven years ago when my mother and sister broadsided me over the issue of christening (baptizing) my newborn daughter. They were insistent that it was necessary, and tried every argument to convince me that it was somehow immoral not to do it. After telling them that I believed in no gods that would send innocent children to hell for not having a little water splashed on their heads, my mother asked me agape what religion I was “now.” When I told her Pagan she lost it, and left. I’ve not ceased in shocking her even to this day, particularly when she induces me to discussions on the topics of religion, politics, or morality. She finds it absolutely unbelievable that I don’t consider Jesus to have ever been a real person in history, but rather a myth of the Gnostics hijacked by literalists. There is a karmic lesson here though, that being the fact that I helped her to conversion during my four year hiatus from magick in the Baptist Temple. (I was a little confused when I was seventeen, and now wear that experience proudly as badge of courage, for indeed it took a great deal of courage to stand up for what was really in my heart in the red faces of all those Christians that were content to feed me reality without any compunction as to what I thought about the whole thing.)
I’m still not openly out at work, though everyone that works with me is convinced that I’m somehow different, and quite vocal about it. If any of them knew anything at all about modern Paganism it would be an easy leap from my stances on religious and political topics to what I believe in. I’ve been known to stand up for the weird “crystal people,” and I wear a pent ring, but not one of them lately has asked me what religion I belong to. A few years ago it leaked that I was at a Pagan event, a girl was talking about witches as if in the know, and I offered to help her network. Two people later asked me about it directly, and I lied to them, partly because of the way they phrased the question, and partially due to the fact that they were both centerpieces in the nasty rumor mill. Both of them have since left the company, as have the rare few who were also Pagans and readily able to distinguish me from the crowd.
I’m a little older, and a little wiser now, but I don’t make it a habit to describe myself by my religious beliefs right off the bat. If new acquaintances like me for who I am, and decide they don’t after they learn that I’m a Pagan, then I’m comfortable with that. I allow them the right to dislike what I believe in, or to disagree with me. Perhaps that’s why I have so many Christian friends who don’t mind stepping into heated debates with me on the nature of religion. Some of them even think now as a result.
As for petitions and protests, I’ve signed a few petitions, but haven’t been overly interested in massing up to picket anything. If I thought it necessary I would. What did you have in mind?
| You're Kidding, Right? ||Sep 23rd. at 6:32:51 am EDT|
|Alumenios (Ocala, FL) ||Age: 27 - Email |
Of course I would. Some things are just not to be messed with. I was just doing some research on the guy that Kerr Cuhulain was writing about, this Jack Roper guy. I went to his website and was reading what was there. Most of his information was correct, sounding as if he was directly referencing Buckland or RavenWolf. His zeal, and his personal spin on information is what makes him dangerous. This is the type of person that started the Inquisition, and we all know that no one expects (or really wants to meet) the Inquisition. It is people like Mr. Roper that lead my parents, good European Catholic Republicans that they are, to rethink their opinion on their own son after almost 15 years of being out of the broom closet with otherwise complete acceptance.
Am I willing to protest? Hells yes. If one guy can make my parents doubt who they raised me to be (they wanted me to be able to think and believe how I wanted to, rather than endure the way things were where they grew up) by writing some slanderous and twisted words, then I'll fight that war of words as far as I can. If you want your children to have the same right then you should, too.
PS: Look at this guy's website. It will aid you in combating the negative perceptions of those around you.
Link to More info related to this post -- HERE
| A Delicate Balance ||Sep 23rd. at 8:22:20 am EDT|
|Trish Telesco (New York) ||Age: 42 - Email - Web|
I have travelled on approximately 52 planes since 9/11, I have been fully checked at least four times during that period. Is that profiling? Perhaps somewhat. And can my political or religious stances put me on "someone's" list... certainly. It happens. Will I live fearfully or silently because of such things? Absolutely NOT.
While I would hope that Paganism never turns toward Book of Shadow thumping, I do believe that each of us has a duty to our family, our towns, our community and to the Earth in terms of being willing to stand up and be counted. There are things worth fighting for... and the neopagan community has had enough time of having to sneak off in the darkness to simply BE who and what we are. It's time to claim our share of the "light" and let it shine to the world in any way possible.
Now, I don't go hanging a "Witch Within" sign on my home - but if someone asks, I answer honestly and respectfully. Similiarly when I travel I feel no great need to tell everyone I encounter that I'm a folk witch, because religion is a private matter. Yet, when those private issues become public - it's another matter. We can't just let the media misrepresent our bliefs and practices. Similarly, when there are important societal issues being protested, we should stand proudly with those who fight for the Good of All.
Do we take risks when we stand up? Certainly! But IMO those risks are well worth it. Never underestimate the power of a determined soul -- be it one or hundreds, they can make a difference.
| Out Doesn't Mean You Have To Flaunt It ||Sep 23rd. at 8:42:22 am EDT|
|Starwalker (NC) ||Age: 54 - Email |
Yes, I would... and yes, I have. But as always, I believe it's important to pick your battles and your battle ground. As a Pagan who runs a (secular) business in a very conservative area, it would be shooting myself in the foot to be flagrant about my beliefs at times.
That said, I was responsible for starting our local PNO, and am "out" enough at my 9-5 job that I sent my bosses an equinox card this past week. When anyone asks, I readily admit to "not being Christian" and then let the conversation progress from there. If they are just trying to convert me (as in the Laundromat last week) telling them I am a Witch is not going to do any good, IMO. Instead I talked about the things the proseliting Christian and I had in COMMON... an abhorrance of hate... etc. It was enough of a stretch for this particular woman to grasp that someone who "had not accepted Jesus" could believe ANYTHING good...
Protests... well, I went through the 60s... been there, done that... and would again for the right cause/situation.
Am I afraid? no! Concerned... a bit...
| I Couldn't If I Tried.... ||Sep 23rd. at 8:54:11 am EDT|
|Ciarrai (Piscataway, NJ) ||Age: 35 - Email |
I try to avoid negativity at all costs, even for the best causes. I'd be more prone to write letters to our government, support Pagan Pride, donate money, spend some "positive" quality time on issues. I don't mix well w/ negativity, and in my opinion, Karma has a sneaky way of coming along and biting you on the butt, so I always bear that in mind too. I know it's a weak statement but I've gotta admit -- we all have our strengths and weaknesses -- and protesting publicly isn't one of my strong points! Peace Out, Ciarrai
| Free Thought ||Sep 23rd. at 9:24:30 am EDT|
|Michelle (New Hampshire) ||Age: 41 - Email |
I believe in "Free Speech" , and was born in a country where it was possible...."Freedom of Religion" is also one of my rights .... I would protest as a Pagan , for those who have gone before me . Spellheart
| No Skeletons In My Broom Closet... ||Sep 23rd. at 9:28:28 am EDT|
|Sahroe Night (Duluth, MN) ||Age: 18 - Email - Web|
I'm more open about being pagan. It's my way of fighting back against a country that's getting too oppressive. People are giving their rights up too readily and it hurts me to watch it. It has made me realize that I need to be who I am in this time of self-inflicted chaos. Besides, I don't look Middle Eastern so why should anyone have to worry about lil me? (Sorry for my governmental bitterness this morning but I found out some things about the gov this morning that make me terribly upset.)
It's almost as if I'm seeing the gaps and taking advantage of the chaos to slowly come out of hiding. I'm a person of love and compassion (though I may fall to anger as illustrated above.) The world needs people who are open-minded and accepting, especially right now. So, despite those who may persecute me, I feel like I can't go wrong. It's true, however, that I'm still selective of who I tell my beliefs to, just not nearly as much as I use to be. =)
| Wiccan Pride ||Sep 23rd. at 9:42:58 am EDT|
|Bob Hobz (Atlanta) ||Age: 46 - Email |
I'm still an initiate in training but before I chose the wiccan path, I was a gothic. So I sort of mix the two together. I wore black alot to work, celtic rings and a small pentacle around my neck. People just thought I was odd but being an artist, it was overlooked. At first these were just trappings of being a gothic, but now there's a deeper meaning to them. At first I had no problem at work but for the past three months I've been a victim of harassment by one or more people who have a problem with my being Wiccan. The problem is that I don't think the authorities here care. And I do have a problem with that. I work in a government installation and I'm pretty sure most of the people here are Christian so I'm not surprised that my situation is not being taken seriuosly. My wife, an elder and practicing wiccan for over 25 years, warned me about being out of the broom closet. I guess she was right, but still, I've never been one to hide so I'm fighting for my right to display my wiccan pride. So yeah, I'd take part in a public event, sure!
| Out Of The Closet ||Sep 23rd. at 10:12:37 am EDT|
|Phoenix Willowedancer (Martinsville Indiana) ||Age: 33 - Email |
I don't believe my thoughts have changed sense 9/11. I have always been "OUT". My spiritual path has not changed a bit.
I would happily join a protest if I believe the cause is a good one. Pagan or otherwise. And When I sign a petition I do use my "Hidden" name, but that is because I am doing it for something that is pagan based. But if it asks for both my given name and hidden or has a mailing address, I am not hesitant to sign it. Come what may. So far there have been no repercussions.
We live in the Bible belt. We are known for what we are. We are accepted/tolerated as Pagan and Witches. There is very little discrimination against us. And what we have had I do believe has been taken care of adequately. There will always be someone who disagrees with us, but as long as we can live together and accept our differences things are pretty smooth.
I am not ashamed of my path, nor for the way I raise my children. My children are bright well balanced and well behaved. I am proud of them. They have good morals and for the most part good judgement in most situations. They are of course children....we all make mistakes. But they are not violent the do not litter, they celebrate nature and try to help others. They strive for knowledge and they get good marks.
We have a good relationship and even my 16 YO daughter talks to me and asks me for advise. (I must be doing something right.) I believe our religion plays a great role in keeping us together, and the lines of communication open.
I would rally with other pagans for a good cause. I would involve my children if I thought it were appropriate for their ages. We are not frightened. We are not ashamed of our religion. Although we pity those who can not accept our differences and love us as brothers and sisters.
"I pledge allegiance to the earth, one planet, many gods, and to the universe
in which we spin-- interconnected, interwoven, full of harmony, with love and
balance for all."
Brightest Blessings to all!!!
Phoenix Willowedancer AKA Angela Jacobi
Link to More info related to this post -- HERE
| Of Course ||Sep 23rd. at 10:20:32 am EDT|
|Becka Barnard (Agawam, MA) ||Age: 21 - Email |
I want to help create tolerance and understanding between Pagans and the "Big Three" and the only way that I can see that effectively working, is for me to show them what kind of a person I am before I tell them what my religion is.
But, I will never overtly hide who I am or what I believe. I display my pent proudly and will talk to anyone who is interested in finding out more about my beliefs.
Am I worried about being put on some gov't list? No, because many a revolutionary mind before me who made a grand difference had his/her name on some list branding them as trouble. If we all hid behind pseudonyms then we are showing those we are opposing that we are scared of them and making them think that we are doing things that really are unlawful or wrong thus losing any respect they might have for us as opponents.
| Being "out" Is More Important Than Ever ||Sep 23rd. at 11:14:15 am EDT|
|StarDancer (Brighton, TN) ||Age: 21 - Email |
My thinking on this is that what people don't know or understand will automatically be something that they will fear, or in some cases, attack. I am a Pagan who is known around my community (a small one at that) and in my workplace as such, and I have encountered some persons who will simply refuse to associate with me. This, however, was AFTER, we had sat down and had a discussion, which did usually involve me heavily defending myself. These people are few and far between, and on the whole people who do know me either don't think about my religious path or accept me for it. If I were to conceal my way of life, I would not be true either to myself or the Goddess. I believe that this hold true for our entire community. We must not be afraid that by being seen for what we are that we will be condemed for it. It is more frightening that ever before, if we feel that we are different, to express those differences, but what we must remember is that we are NOT different. Not from each other or from most of the people in this country. All Americans share the same rights as all others, and most of us share the same dreams, we just have to bring that message to people outside of our circles, and we can't do that if we are afraid to walk outside. I, for one, would proudly demonstrate as a pagan in any gathering that has a worthy goal.
| I Agree With Becka Barnard .... ||Sep 23rd. at 11:32:30 am EDT|
|Shelley (Humble, Tx) ||Age: 19 - Email |
I totally agree with Becka Barnard. I think that it is more important for me to show who I am with someone for a while and then when the time is right or they question something about me I will explain my beliefs. I feel that if I just go up to someone and say, hey Im a pagan and I practice ceremonial magick, they might freak out thinking about all the myths they have gathered about pagans, it is better to teach by example.
Also I dont know if I would nessasarily protest or anything, because I feel that is what I was trying to get away from. I really hate having people trying to force their beliefs on me. I dont mind them educating me about what they believe but I dont like them trying to convert me, and I dont think I can stand their and try to do the same to them...
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