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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| I Have Been Very Fortunate In That I Haven't Experienced Much Hatred... ||Mar 22nd. at 5:23:29 pm EST|
|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 EST|
|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 ;)
| Hi People. I'm Touching Base Late On This One But It Ties... ||Mar 22nd. at 6:44:00 pm EST|
|mik63033 (Ferguson, Missouri US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
Hi people. I'm touching base late on this one but it ties in with this week's question 'cause I want to talk a little about intolerence, and kids killing themselves or others warrants more than my usual quips.(besides, if a houdiniphile can put his 2 cents in the place that's set aside for traditions, I think I can be excused here) That said, please bear with me.
This strikes home. I was an outcast pretty much all my childhood. I'm still pretty much a loner(put those red flags down-I'm not of the psychotic variety)
The difference is, now that I'm grown I have and prefer the choice of my own company. I realize a lot if not most people aren't wired the same way.
When you're a kid though, and you're not ALLOWED in the loop, you tend to internalize, take it personally, and if it' a chronic, ongoing atmosphere, become paranoid. I can only speak for my experience.
I went from literally being shut out of a cabin at summer camp for being too lively to being nicknamed "strange" at high school for being too quiet.(o.k. it was really for wrongfully accusing Peter Popular of breaking into my locker-I told you I had grown paranoid)and trust me, when hallways of Junior and Senior strangers walk up to you and say "Hi Strange!" you tend to become quiet.
My point, other than to share some slice of my life, is to try to address the issue of kids killing themselves and others and how to prevent it. Obviously like many others, I have some experience with being picked on and a "Troubled Loner". The only time I ever thought of killing myself was when I was hurt and mad at my mother(I would show her) I didn't really want to die. I came up with this half-hearted attempt at an idea, and when the smallest minutia, say a commercial lasting too long, didn't go according to "plan", I changed my mind. I like to think I would've rationalized some other way out of my "decision" had that not happened.
As for revenge on my schoolmates - and this even strikes me as strange 'cause most people who know me also know I can get a bit vindictive - I never fantasized about doing any physical harm. The only fantasies I had were at a very young age when I would listen to my favorite tunes and cast myself and the boy I liked, but who nicknamed me "B.O.", as "The Cool Kids", and the popular girl that he liked, and all her friends, as "The Losers", in my in my own private videos in my head as I lay in bed. This by the way was in the late 60's, early 70's, way before I wanted my MTV. Strange, huh?
What to do about kids killing kids? Of course, there is no Band-Aid solution folks, far from it. Last week(I don't have my own computer)I read the posts concerning this issue and there were many thoughtful points. The key word here being POINTS. Plural. We've got a disease here. A disease of the spirit and it's spreading. None of us are immune, it seems to attack only humans but all humans from time to time. We've got to ward it off like the flu, and like any virus, it'll show up in our weakest, most vulnerable. Our kids.
Sure We need to have restricted access regarding guns and kids. Of course music, movies, etc. don't make a person kill. If you're going to copy something you heard or saw with the intention of killing---well you're messed up to begin with and have little imagination to boot. Yes there is the copycat syndrome to consider, with all the media attention of school shootings. The point is though, if you're relatively happy and moral, you can be raised on snuff films and never kill anyone. Of course that's not to say being bombarded with Violence-As-Entertainment doesn't have it's numbing, desensitizing effect. Of course it does, but it doesn't create the original unrest.
Certainly kids need mentors. Who should that be though? Some teacher or school bureacrat who's underpaid and probably can't wait to leave school for the day themselves? The obvious and sane solution is to stop raising bullies in the first place. Easier said than done because the parents of bullies are usually bullies themselves and can be either too stupid to realize it or too sociopathic to care. Tolerance should be taught by the parents. That's tricky because this society, while it may preach diversity, it does it's best to leach tolerance. The only time it values individuality is if it can make money for someone, and them it's mass produced and copied in other production lines. That's why 'NSync, The Backstreet Boys, Brittney and Christina are so alike. This society does not appreciate individuality, as much as we like to claim we do.
Bottom Line---as long as the kid's not torturing a dog, cat, or the like, tolerate the inherent individuality. If they're acting out, sit them down in private. Find out what's going on. Really listen. Give them hope.
I know i've taken up a lot of space. I felt like i needed to this. I also feel like this needs to be addressed. When i first started logging on to this wonderful site and forum, i was naive in assuming it was some safe harbor for Wiccans solely. Of course now i know it's for Pagans of every stripe as well as curious(or possibly malevolent)cowans. After reading the retarded, insensitive
remarks that Wren was e-mailed concerning Beautiful Tempest, I've sadly decided to no longer use my Wiccan name anymore when concluding my thoughts. It's a shortened version of the one that only the Goddesses and Gods know, and i'll continue to use it in private correspondence. It is not my intention for it to be known by cowans, and the ones that e-mailed Wren with their bile certainly don't deserve to look upon it or even "stumble" upon it.
Yours in love, thought, and action
| Sometimes I Find Myself Being More Christian Than The 'christians' Who Attack... ||Mar 22nd. at 11:17:55 pm EST|
|Maura (San Francisco, California US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
Sometimes I find myself being more Christian than the 'Christians' who attack me. I turn the other cheek. If they're upset at me I let them be upset - after all, they're the ones who have to live with themselves. But if they're attacking someone else, I must stand up and defend the accused.
Sometimes I wonder how people can call themselves Christians when they use their religion to feel superiority over others, when they preach hatred and intolerance, and when they declare that they have the right to pass judgement on others. I believe that if Jesus knew the atrocities that would be committed in his name, if he knew that his words and teachings would be twisted around backwards, he would have left his followers. It disturbs and depresses me that people have so much static hatred they can't let go of that they must find a target in strangers who have done them no harm.
There are many good Christians in this world, I know and love many of them and have their acceptance and returned love. They are good of heart and always want to do the right thing for the most people possible. They are wonderful people who celebrate diversity instead of condemning it. Thay have taken the time to examine the ways of others before calling them evil. Please don't let the foul actions of an evil few discolor your respect for the loving majority!
When it comes down to it, we all claim to honor the same things - love, tolerance, acceptance, defense of the downtrodden, charity and mercy. It is up to the individual to practice what they preach.
| I Have Been The Recipient Of Much Verbal Abuse At The Hands... ||Mar 22nd. at 11:44:51 pm EST|
|Leathur (Hollywood CA/Atlantic City NJ, California US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
I have been the recipient of MUCH verbal abuse at the hands of Christians, for my spirituality. I make no secret of my practices. I wear my pentagrams and other symbols proudly. And, I'd like to say that this does not cloud my perception of most Christians.But sometimes I get so very angry. Especially in America, with this so-called "Faith Based Initiative".
It feels terrible to be the object of so much hatred, to be so misunderstood.
I even forwarded an editorial to my grandmother (A Xian) about the persecution of Pagans by Xians and she sent me a sarcastic response with some Bible stuff in it, and she told me "I am definitely NOT forwarding it!"
I am halfway thinking I might email her back asking her if she thinks its okay to terrorize somneone for believing in something different than you do. Especially when what you believe in is much older and has stood the test of time...
But maybe I'm wasting my breath. Besides, her birthday is in 2 days and I don't want to ruin it.
You know, come to think of it, maybe I am anti-Xian.
| I Grew Up With Two Major Holidays: Mardi Gras And The Sugarcane... ||Mar 23rd. at 12:32:43 pm EST|
|Raevyn Ryder (Freeport, Texas US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
I grew up with two major holidays: Mardi Gras and the Sugarcane festival (one dedicated to indulgence and the other, the harvest of our town's crops), so I was pretty much destined to become Pagan. While growing up different, other kids would yell "Satanist", "freak", and other less polite phrases just out of the general kids learn from each other. I'd tell them I had made a pact with Mother Nature (I did!) that when people insult me, it would build the shield that keeps me safe. I would thank them for helping make me stronger and adding power to my pact. When they realized the were "helping with the majick", they would just keep quiet. There was no need to assume ALL people of any group are inherently bad, something I don't really believe is possible. I can't find it in me to think anyone is bad, maybe confused, maybe in need of mood stabilizers, maybe just angry or hurt. People will behave in the mannerisms they've learned from their own lives. Some of those will have learned love and others, well..., they learned other things. "Turn the other cheek" and "Forgive and forget" are alien concepts to me now. Just love all life and allow the Law of Returns to make things right. Even this has its limits, though. If anyone is especially forceful in their wrongful treatment of others, I can call on Thoth (wisdom) to guide my methods of handling them. If someone finds they need to get physically forceful, well, we have War Gods for a reason (boys, often enough, will be boys!) Living this way has kept me out of more confrontations than I may know, and made my adult life much less violent than my youth. When love ahs filled your heart, there is no hatred, only misunderstanding.
Love and Light and Blessings Bright!
| I Just Find It Terribly Ironic That Any Religion That Claims To... ||Mar 23rd. at 3:07:38 pm EST|
|Completely Jaded at this point (Lakewood, Ohio US) ||Age: 36 |
I just find it terribly ironic that ANY Religion that claims to LOVE has so many
individuals who preach and practice Hatred. Everyone seems to be fighting in the name of His or Her God(s). How ironic. If we look the world over, all wars have been fought in the name of someone's God. The term Freedom of Religion actually means "my freedom to pray how I see fit" not your freedom. So, if Any God exisist do we really think S/he enjoys this type of behavior?
Or does anyone really give a damn? Is it just an exercise in power over and Reliigion is just the excuse to do it?
| Hi Peops! Long Time No Post. I'm Gonna Pull Double Duty This... ||Mar 23rd. at 3:46:54 pm EST|
|mik63033 (Ferguson, Missouri US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
Hi peops! Long time no post. I'm gonna pull double duty this week and actually respond to THIS week's question. How to combat bigotry. (for it is combat) First, let me just start by saying that during my formal initiation (or if you wanna be more technical, self-dedication) I made a sacred promise to the Goddess to defend Her when slandered.
Now. How to do this. Burn down churches? Shoot up statues? That's a right-wing fundalmentalist xtian and Moslem thing. What I do when given the opportunity is try to dispel negative stereotypes and misinformation. For example: On W.A.R.D.'s website, they were looking for the snailmail address to the crappy cartoon oops i mean daytime serial "Passions". Having written these mental midgets myself like 8 mths. ago i still had the address. Thank Goddess i didn't throw EVERYTHING out last Mercury retrograde. Now, i stumbled across W.A.R.D.'s site Tues. while surfin' the web. I made a mental note of their needing that address. Thursday at the computer i navigated the net for an hour trying to remember and find that blurb on that site so i could deliver that address so those clueless writers in Studio City, Ca. may read yet again from a real witch (albeit perhaps one more talented in diplomacy) that their show's depiction is way off base.
As far as any threat of physical harm this is a no-brainer. Nobody has the right to do that to me. Self-defense is not anti-Rede. The most important one to remember in considering how self-defense relates to The Rede is yourself. If you're not alive, healthy, and well, how are you going to heal or otherwise help others or yourself with your majick? Besides, the Goddess does not want us to martyr ourselves. (or be masochistic)
I agree with the exellent points posted already that we need to remain calm, cool and collected when allowable. Dispel the misinformation as civilly as possible. If they still contradict you vehemently, you can assume they're not interested in learning and you can leave it at that, knowing you did what you could.
That said, i would be remiss and more than a little hypocritical if i didn't admit that while intellectually i see (and again, agree with) the pure logic and beauty in remaining calm, cool, et al., so as to let the psychos show themselves to the world for what they really are and so as not to be compared with them in any way, (not to mention the law of return), i resent having to constantly strive to be "better than the other". I mean after all, it is only a natural response to get defensive, mad, hurt, what-not. I'm not a robot or mythological Job. It's something i have to work on and i have a feeling i'm going to have many opportunities to do exactly that in the next few years.
walk in laughter and light (preferably a well-lit streetlight)
| Hello All!!! Finally A Chance To Vent My Actual Feelings On This... ||Mar 23rd. at 6:06:43 pm EST|
|Deagan (Jacksonville, Florida US) ||Age: 21 - Email |
Hello All!!! Finally a chance to vent my actual feelings on this topic!!!
Let me start right out from the top, by saying, i am NOT a peaceful man.
My ideas are often not the sort of thing we'd like to tuck our children into bed with but here goes anyway...
So What DO you do when your religion, name or even physical being is attacked for simply being a menber of a differing religion? You fight back. Not in the playground sense, nor do you fight with dishonor. Instead you fight face to face and take your own measures without sinking to a childish level. Never start a fight my friends, but always finish it. It is the unfortunete fact that winners write the history books, and peaceful and pacifist measures rarely get the job done. I don't like Christians. I said it. I'll say it again if asked. I also don't like Muslims and the pagan police. To be straight up, i don't like any faith that preaches intolerance. Intolerance in a person is one thing, in a religion that reaches millions and tells then that it is the word of god is another. I am perfectly happy to be left alone to practice my beliefs, and i'll let you practice yours. I see no reason however why we cannot fight back when attacked. I have been beaten for my beliefs on more than one occasion. On each of these times i lost the fight, but my attackers didn't come off scot clean and free. I left them with bruises and bumps and a hefty fear of the law by the time i had finished my police reports. It's imprtant to fight with what tools we have at hand. We have a justice system!!! USE IT! if your faith has caused you to be slandered or has lost you a job, FIGHT IT. SUE. Let your representatives in the political system know you exist. Be a pain in the ass. We can't be a whispering wind on a summer afternoon. We need to be a thundering hurricane that DEMANDS attention NOW. NEVER use spells or black magick publicly!!! that's the short route to another inquisition. Instead be the better man in the fight and simply go to the nearest authority and complain. If someone tries to physically harm you, stick up for yourself. Push them away and leave. if it continues fight back and make a police report.If you have a problem with your schools; policys on religion, ATTEND A SCHOOLBOARD MEETING. Don't let someone else do it for you, trust me they'll never get around to it. Punches hurt, but lawsuits and legal action hurt a lot worse, not only do they stick it in the wallet, but they really get the media's attention!! Speaking of the media, INFORM THEM. the local news stations LOVE controvesial material. what's more, they'll actually pay to investigate something for you!!! all it takes is one phone call. Lastly BE A ROLEMODEL!!!! Be pagan proud and loud but do it with class. if your place of office allows religious symbols to be worn, wear yours!! But wear the NICE one; you know what i'm talking about. Have your pentacle set on a nice chain, and save up for a quality one. Looking cheesey and acting cheesey are hand in hand. If we want to be taken seriously we have to act the part. DOn't be the first to picket skyclad, save THAT for the big issuse if you really need to go that far. instead, go the person in authority or human resources or whomever and Complain in a calm manner. if the issue ins't resolved go over their heads, if it still continues then it's time to inform the media. WE HAVE RIGHTS!!!! LET"S EXCERCISE THEM!!!
Sorry about that, i don't know what got into me. :)
| Well, After Having Lurked At This Question For A Week, I Just... ||Mar 23rd. at 8:23:41 pm EST|
|Filomena Sophia (Duluth, Minnesota US) ||Age: 30 |
well, after having lurked at this question for a week, i just feel the need to respond. let me start off by saying something completely shot from the hip. i don't consider people who slander other religions "christians." i think that they degrade the teachings of their spiritual advisor, and that they are hypocrites when it comes to all that jesus purportedly taught. this may be coming out of anger today, so bear with me. i work in a supposedly "christian" community. this morning, i parked my car in the parking lot as i always do, the body in relatively find shape. when i left at three o'clock this afternoon, part of the striping had been taken clean off (the entire passenger side rear door, in fact), and there was a nice, visible dent in the door as well. no note, nothing. it's as if these faux "christians" don't have to take personally responsibility, because, after all, "jesus forgives me, so so should you." what a bunch of @#(&)%*! i'm *sick to death* of people who pray over thier lunches and then just do something like this to somebody's car and don't have the balls to admit it!
sorry if this was a bit reactionary, but i am *tired* of phoney christians! and you know what? so are all the true christians! i know because i've talked to them and it makes them just as nauseated as it makes me/us.
| What A Good Question! But Not One That Can Be Answered Easily... ||Mar 23rd. at 9:29:43 pm EST|
|Molly (San Jose, California US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
What a good question! But not one that can be answered easily. Reading over some of the other posts, I was a little disapointed to read that there seems to be alot of "Christian-hating" out there. I have been both Christian and Pagan in my life. Along the way I have learned one basic but important principal- everyone has the right to believe what they want! I don't push what I believe on anyone, but I don't let anyone push their beliefs on me. We all need to 'agree to disagree'. Do I calmly stand there when another attacks my beliefs? Of course not! I defend my right to have my own opinions- God/dess has created us with the ability to make our own decisions. Follow our own path. And that's what I do. But I don't attack another for believing in something else either. You have to 'practice what you preach', as the old saying goes.
I don't have a problem with other religions; okay, sometimes I have a problem with those who practice, but not with the religions themselves. Not everyone strives to the higher principals their religion teaches, which is where the problems arise. Most religions teach the same ideals- be good, love one another, live well. But since we are only human, we forget to folow these lessons at times. So when someone hates me just because I am Pagan I realize that they are not striving to be open and learn about what I believe. I try to gently educate them. But I certainly know when it's time to 'throw in the towel' and defend myself. No one should put up with threats or violence. And there are many ways we have available to protect ourselves- legally, physically, and magickally. A combination of all three work well together. Just because we're Pagan doens't mean we have to act like 'fluffy-bunny new-agers' and let love protect us. Be smart- don't put yourself in dangerous situations, keep your personal information private, learn when to speak up and when to just smile and nod, and know that being 'out of the broom closet' doesn't mean wearing a black cape and a pointed hat to work. That's just pushing your beliefs in someone else's face. I answer questions regarding my religion honestly, but I only answer the question I have been asked- if someone wants to know more, they can ask.
So, do I just forgive and forget when another hates me because I'm Pagan? Usually. I don't let the ignorance of others hurt me. But I protect myself too. My knoweldge is my strength- I know when to walk away and when to dial 911.
| Everyone Is Entitled To Thier Own Oppion. I Have Since My School... ||Mar 23rd. at 10:39:53 pm EST|
|Heather E. Johnson (Houston, Texas US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
Everyone is entitled to thier own oppion. I have since my school years, been a victim of verbal abuse for following my religious path. Normally I just go along and gripe about it later to those who understand. Time has changed and the abuse has become more and more sinister. We can't keep turning our cheek, as it were. With Bush trying to butt in and children killing themselves and other people, standing by and letting things go can no longer be the way of things. There are many groups, i.e. covens and study groups. If we can get together and make small groups then why can't we network those smaller groups. Witch Vox has a great start on this network. We need a center of opperation. I would like to nominate Witch Vox for our center.
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