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: 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.
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| Honestly, Just Because A Christian May Verbally Attack Me For Being Wiccan... ||Mar 21st. at 3:31:23 pm UTC|
|Sara (Mexico, Maine US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
Honestly, just because a Christian may verbally attack me for being Wiccan, I don't think it means that all Christians think that way. It's unfair to judge an entire religion based on the actions of a few.
I think it's just as wrong to judge all Christians negatively, as it is for them to judge all Pagans negatively. I think that most people are afraid of what they don't understand. Alot of non Pagan individuals don't really know what we do.
It's easy to believe negative sterotypes if you are not aware of the reality behind them. It has been a long standing tradition in some Pagan groups to be secret about their practices. Although this is understandable, for fear or prejudice. I think it has also had a somewhat negative effect on the Pagan community at large. In order to make people aware of the fact that we aren't evil, and we don't sacrifice babies or drink blood, or have anything to do with Satanism, we need to get out there and educate people as to what we really believe. I understand that there is still going to be some people out there who are still going to believe the lies about us, even if we do try to educate them. But you can't force someone to change their beliefs overnight.
I know that it hurts when someone doesn't like you simply for what religion you practice, what color you are, or what sexual orientation you are, but I honestly think we need to get out there and show the world that we stand for good. Even if is it doesn't work, at lease we will have tried.
I especially commend websites like this one, for spreading a positive and educational viewpoint of Pagans. There are many out there that do the same, and I tip my hat to all of you.
I have only been Wiccan for 3 years, but it is something that has changed my life for the better. I feel more at peace with all things natural. Yes, it's hard when people don't understand us, but through positive education and getting out there in the communities, I think that we can definately make things better.
Do I think it violates the Rede to stand up for yourself? No, I don't. Trying to tell someone who believes negatively about us, that we are not evil, is not violating the "An Ye harm None Do as Thou Will". I think that the Goddess would want us to stand up for our beliefs, as long as we don't hurt anyone, physically or emotionally.
In conclusion, if someone is going to mistreat us simply because of differening religious beliefs, and all attempts at educating them to the truth fail, then it's probably just better to leave it alone. Because there are other people out there who will understand you, and won't judge you, but will accept you for who you are and what you believe.
| The Only People Who Have "attacked" Me About Being A Pagan Are... ||Mar 21st. at 5:31:18 pm UTC|
|Iris (Quito, Ecuador) ||Age: 18 - Email |
The only people who have "attacked" me about being a Pagan are Christians, very fervent Christians at that. People of other religions, such as Judaism, Hinduism and especially Buddism, don't look at me any differently. I have been approached and told to find my way back to Jesus... and my mother, who is in the process of reading Book of Shadows was greeted with the very common deer-in-headlights look. I have recieved that look many times. It doesn't change my opinion about people of that religion because I study religion and know that the core of all religion is the journey to goodness. Note: I am not even going to touch on Satanism. Furthermore, I haven't been confronted with HORRIBLE reactions, except those trying to convert me. It is only the act of one individual and perhaps family that is the case, not the population of that religion.
I do forgive, but I do not forget. I remember when I was in my early teens and got "attacked", it almost turned me off Wicca, but in the end, the memories are what make me stronger and allowed me to greet the next 'anti-Pagan' with a more experienced and ready mind. I know that this world is full of many different kinds of people and I will live with them, and try to dispel any myths that come up. Though I haven't been hurt, I do have friends that have been caught in painful situations because someone out there pulled them out of the broom closet. I believe that when the opposition becomes violent, that is the time to do something other than talk. But when it is only talk (or shouting), just talking back and possibly starting a theological conversation (this happened to me once! Very moving!), it helps.
I have never gone to an anti-Pagan site... though I think I must have a look some day, because I have been on news sites and of course, this site, which present the views of all the people that respond.
I have been taught throughout my life to respect the opinions of others, no matter how much I disagree. When someone hates me because I am Pagan (and a Wiccan), I accept it, even though I really do not like it. If it is how they truely feel, then it is deep within them, and only they, with a little outside help, can change it.
| Hatred Breeds More Hate, Intolerance Is Contagious And Fear Feeds On Itself... ||Mar 21st. at 5:31:43 pm UTC|
|David Aquarius (Renton, Washington US) ||Age: 42 - Email |
Hatred breeds more hate, intolerance is contagious and fear feeds on itself. This fact is great power to those that use these dark weapons and they are very good at it. When we encounter these folks our first response is to strike out at them, lash out in defense. But in the end, we merely play into their hands. There will always be anti-Pagan groups. It is a fact of life that some folks thrive on conflict and corruption. Their lives are so consumed by fear, hatred and intolerance that they are like nutrition to them. Life wouldn't be worth living if there wasn't a scapegoat for them to despise.
Our best defense is, as the saying goes, a good offense. Speaking out against the hatred isn't enough. We must live by our words, enjoy our faith and let the world know just who we really are. Let the hate groups show themselves for what they are. Their leaders will reveal their true colors eventually, as long as we don't prove them right.
| I Have Been Extremely Blessed To Have Grown Up With No Direct... ||Mar 21st. at 9:42:11 pm UTC|
|Margaret Quin Lyons (Albquqerque, New Mexico US) ||Age: 20 - Email |
I have been extremely blessed to have grown up with no direct experiences of religious persecution. I hear of it all the time, but I have only experienced anyone who hated me or even disliked me for my beliefs once. Of course I have had encounters with the occasional person who wanted to push their religious beliefs onto me, however all I ever needed to say was "no" and they would back off. Because of this, I cannot really relate to any of the experiences others have had with this kind of thing. One of my close friends used to be a devout Christian, and it was with her that I had my one experience. She attended a very open-minded Church and I sometimes went with her, as I wanted to experience all paths before I chose the "right" one for me. One day at this church there was a guest priest and he took to ripping apart the very person I am- everything he said was almost like he was speaking right to me. This caused me to run out of the church crying (keep in mind I was still pretty young) and not only caused me never to return but also caused my friend to rethink who she was letting to tell her what to think. I dont think, however, that most people are weak-minded enough to let someone else's opinion influence them too much. I think that everyone thinks exactly what they want to, and while outside factors have plenty to do with it, I know many Christians who are as accepting of me as one of their God's creatures that just sees him in another mask, as do many Mormans, Bhuddists, athiests, etc. that I know. When a person makes a choice to be a part of a community that condemns others, that, too is his choice. If we, as pagans are to continually condemn those who condemn us in such the same way, then we are just as bad as those that we are "fighting". Not to say that we should just sit back and take it, we all should make known when we are hurt, but on a personal level rather than a stereotypical level. And as for the anti-pagan sites, I found the ones listed to be rather comedic, we should all rest easy knowing how foolish they sound. Someday, perhaps they will realize it too.
| I Haven't Encountered Many Attacks In My Time As A Pagan. Most... ||Mar 21st. at 11:52:10 pm UTC|
|Kat (Buffalo, New York US) ||Age: 21 |
I haven't encountered many attacks in my time as a pagan. Most of the attacks came from my mother, who still deson't like my religion, but accepts it because it's my choice, not hers. However, as far as being attacked because you are pagan, I believe that we should fight the hatred, but not promote it and not forget. It isn't our responsibility to inform the whole world by ourselves, we can only do so much as people and if people refuse to open their minds, then no good will come from us turning blue in the face explaining. I don't hate all Christians, I have a few friends that are Christian, who know that I'm pagan and are fine with it. With Tempest's story I think 2 lessons are to be learned, both are very old, but still very much involved with everyone. One is the idea of religious freedom and tolerance. You don't have to believe in every system, but understand that what works for you doesn't always works for all. This argument is mostly aimed towards pagans and I think it must be stopped. Another lesson is flat out bigotry, the basic experience of being teased. Putting people down, verbally, physically, whatever the medium, needs to stop. Tempest is the not the first, and unfortunately will not be the last until oppressors can stop opressing and the opressed can take a stand. Until everyone can be equal. It's an issue we all have to get involved in, both with words and actions.
| I'm Of The Opinion That Hate Only Breeds More Hate. So When... ||Mar 22nd. at 2:25:49 am UTC|
|Ryan (Vancouver, British Columbia CA) ||Age: 19 - Email |
I'm of the opinion that hate only breeds more hate. So when someone comes up to me and judges me, I usually give them a quick glance and walk away peacefully. I do not stop, nor do I talk to them. Only once have I stopped, an all I got out of the person was unprecidented personal attacks. All I can do is feel sorry for these people. I've almost wanted to cry over them. Not because of what they're saying to me, but because of the pain they must feel inside. The anger that drives their lives. Hate only breeds inner tormoil. I can walk by them and feel how empty they must feel inside. How they must almost float through life. I don't want to be like that. I don't want to feel so empty. So I choose to simply walk away. If they cannot take the time to understand who I am, or how I feel, then they are no more then ghosts to me. Wisps in my life, and no more then wisps in the journey of life.
| An Ye Harm None, Do As Ye Will." That Is The Abiding... ||Mar 22nd. at 3:49:35 am UTC|
|Synergaia (Topeka, Kansas US) ||Age: 41 - Email |
"An ye harm none, do as ye will." That is the abiding rede in my life. I have come to realize that the none DOES include one very important person. Me. Every situation is different, as is every tormentor. I live in a town in the heart of the nation. Our great embarrassment is that a rabid, ex-lawyer, defrocked Southern Baptist preacher, Fred Phelps has chosen our town to make it a bastion of hatred and filth. He has his 5 year old grandson on the street corners carrying signs that say "Sodomy is sin punishable by death". When I encounter him I find myself unable to shake off the desire to get in his face and argue with him until I remember an old adage. A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. The truly ironic thing is that his main leutenant's daughter-in-law happens to be my best friend! She is Christian, I am Wiccan, and we have an excellent friendship.
I have studied their bible and a few quotations come to mind when I see him, quotations that I must apply to myself as well. "Judge not lest ye be judged" works for both sides. I truly do consider the man to be spiritually dying, if not dead, and cannot help but think of the karma he will have to overcome the next time around. I would not be even a bit like him, no matter how satisfying it would be in the short term.
I don't have a solution for this problem, but I know what I can do is ask the Goddess' blessing on all those who persecute me, and ask that their eyes and minds be opened, as mine have been.
| I Believe That No Single Method Works With Everyone. I Just Try... ||Mar 22nd. at 4:16:01 am UTC|
|War Cry (29 Palms, California US) ||Age: 27 - Email |
I believe that no single method works with everyone. I just try to respond positively and then figure out what the other parties motivation is. In the few negative encouters that I have actually had kind of reminded me of a playground encounter. The agressor either wants to attract attention to himself, embarrass you, or cause you to loose your temper. Don't fall into it, as hard as it may be. Some of these people genuinely think they are doing good by calling you out in public and don't realize that being too evangelical actually turns people off to their opinion. Stay positive, maintain a cool head, and educate the individuall if at all possible. Just my two cents. By the way I am in the military and I have found more openmindedness and inteligent conversation on the subject in the service than in the surrounding comunities. Service members seem to realize the inportance of individual rights more than some others (not all).
| There's African American History Month, Hispanic History Month, Asian History Month, Womens... ||Mar 22nd. at 2:28:47 pm UTC|
|Vanessa (APO, ARMED FORCES EUROPE US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
There's African American History Month, Hispanic History Month, Asian History Month, Womens' History Month.... you get the point. These days it seems to be cool to be a minority. I think a lot of ya'll out there who label yourselves Pagan are just graving attention! So you can be part of a minority, too & scream discrimination! You've read a book or two an now you're a witch. To people like that it's exciting & new & something you can shock others with. I was raised pagan & I have a daughter that I raise the same way. And believe it or not, we've never had any problems! I don't make a big deal out of my faith, but I don't keep it a secret either. When I was a child growing up I was not aware that Paganism wasn't the path of the majority of the people out there. Till I went to a Catholic preschool (it was the closest one to my house) & at Christmas time I got all excited about the presents, till the nun said to me "you shouldn't even get presents, because you don't believe in Jesus" I went home and asked my mom about this Jesus. She did't like questions like that...But in general I get along fine with everyone, whether they're Christian, gay, black or green. Because I'm just a nice person. I don't try to be someone other than myself, and my believes are just a small part of that. And it works. I'm just a small town white girl. Like a lot of others.
| I Have Had A Great Deal Of Experience With People Attacking Me... ||Mar 22nd. at 3:03:05 pm UTC|
|Silver (Calgary, Alberta CA) ||Age: 20 |
I have had a great deal of experience with people attacking me because of my choice of religion. Most recently, my Christian grandfather has been telling me that he is praying for me, and that he thinks I am going to go to hell. He tells me that I am a hedonistic heathen, and that Jesus is the only way, and I had better learn to change my path before I am eternally damned. In a nutshell, that is it. I've had problems with other people too.
But, I generally ignore those who harass me, or ask them why they have the perception that they do. Often their perception is due to misinformation, and I do what I can to correct it. But, I don't paint everyone with the same brush, I know that there are Christians who harass, as there are those of other or no religion who do so also. One of the nicest women I know, and she is also a devout Christian, has never judged me on my choice of path, as I do not judge her on hers. We can discuss our choices of religion, and do so peacefully. She is an amazing example of a person who truly cares, and is non-judgemental. I just wish more people could be like her.
| I Have Been Very Fortunate In That I Haven't Experienced Much Hatred... ||Mar 22nd. at 5:23:29 pm UTC|
|Harmony (St. Paul, Minnesota US) ||Age: 15 - Email |
I have been very fortunate in that I haven't experienced much hatred due to my religious beliefs. Most people around here are just curious about it, and although I get some odd stares at times, no one has ever been hostile. One of my friends tells me frequently that she prays for me in hopes that I will accept Jesus into my heart, but I know she means well and we often have intriguing, tolerant discussions about our beliefs. I assume the acceptance and tolerance at my school stems from the diversity. There really is no "normal" and everyone's differences are respected. Two of my four teachers are openly homosexual and one of them is Taoist. Although there is no class on religions, religious discussions are frequent and looked forward to in some of my classes. It's wonderful, and it saddens me that scenarios like this are very rare.
I think two things are needed when dealing with hatred, ignorance, bigotry, etc...love and patience. Paganism is just getting out there again. After hundreds of years of almost exclusively Judeo-Christian religions, we have to realize that prejudice towards anything different is going to be present and it's not going to disappear overnight. Rising up above things like this has always proven to be a long, hard battle. These battles must be fought peacefully. The only way to show people that Pagan religious are not evil is to act with love and kindness. If I snapped on everyone who was misinformed about my religion, I would be setting myself up for discrimination. That would also set itself in peoples' minds that I am Wiccan and I was rude...and that's how they would see Wiccans, because I have to set an example for them. I haven't come across any other Wiccans in my school, though I'm sure there are some, and for right now I represent Wicca to them. It's more beneficial to just patiently and calmly explain your beliefs. If people won't listen, just move on. Eventually we will be accepted. Fighting hatred with hatred is not the way to go.
| To Be Honest, When Verbally Attacked For Being Pagan, I Walk Away... ||Mar 22nd. at 6:29:20 pm UTC|
|Cedar GreyWolf (Columbus, Ohio US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
To be honest, when verbally attacked for being Pagan, I walk away. I don't want the stress, and I don't need it. If someone wants to shout at me about how evil I am, so be it. I understand that some religions... or rather, religious leaders... espouse that idea. Sad though it may be, I have to respect that belief. If I do not respect another's right to believe in one fashion, or another, then who am I to expect that others shall respect mine? On the other hand, I refuse to have my right to religious freedom in this country denied. I will not loose a job for religious descrimination without a fight. I will not suffer the slandering of my character at the hands of another. I will not be denied the right to worship my Gods as I see fit. Now, I will grant, I could ramble about this topic for hours. But this is my opinion in a nutshell ;)
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