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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 17,667,570  

Vox Q Stats

Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 108

Lurker/Post Ratio: 303 to 1

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. Reverse Sort 

I Must Admit That I Am Quite Opinionated When It Comes To... Mar 24th. at 3:51:31 pm EST

Vivhianna (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario CA) Age: 18 - Email

I must admit that I am quite opinionated when it comes to religious bigotry and hatred--in fact, recently I devoted an entire semester to studying religious intolerance for one of my classes. (My research alone ended up filling two thirds of a two-inch-thick binder.) I apologize in advance if ultimately I end up sounding like I'm trying to be impressive. I'm not; it's just that I spent a significant amount of my time on this and much of my writing was very formalized. And if I'm completely wrong, well, that just calls for more study time, doesn't it? =)
First of all, I have never been personally under attack for being Pagan. (Witchcraft rumours that were spread around about me don't count; I was being accused of things that have nothing to do with being Pagan and everything to do with superstition. Anyway, I did't become Pagan until long after the rumours ceased to be.) However, I have heard disparaging remarks about Pagans, particularly from people who really should know better. Case in point: in grade 11, I took a mandatory course in world religions. The teacher, who was for the most part quite open-minded, one day said that a certain group of people were Pagans and therefore didn't think that killing people was wrong. Did this colour my perception of all Christians? Not a bit. My teacher was being unfair, certainly, but painting all Christians with the same brush would have been equally unfair. As my independent study project--and life in general--have shown me, a single religion is as diverse as the people who practise it.
As for forgiving and forgetting, it depends on what one means by that particular phrase. The "forgiving" part is straightforward, sure, but what about the "forgetting"? It depends on what we're supposed to forget, and how we're supposed to forget it. Is it the insult itself, or any anger resulting from that insult? Are we supposed to completely ignore it, leave it be? It's hard to forget something that hurts as much as bigotry and hatred of any kind and even inadvisable to ignore it in some cases. Who was it that said that hatred left to its own would only worsen and eventually have disasterous results?
My apologies again if I sound as if I'm trying to be wise when I'm nowhere near it. I'm not trying; it's simply my opinion.
Concerning religions which actively campaign against Pagans, and whether we should embrace them in the name of "interfaith relations"--well, it goes both ways, in my opinion. For there to be positive "interfaith relations", there has to be an acceptance on both sides, not just one. I'm not saying that I think that we should hate those who hate us; that's just stooping to the level of bigotry and it defeats the purpose of trying to relate to others in the first place. I have no idea how this should be handled; I've never really experienced this firsthand either. However, accepting the abuse of anti-Pagan crusaders doesn't seem to be a very good idea to me. Accepting the people themselves, and perhaps trying to teach them differently--if it's at all possible, that sounds like it might help at least some of the time. Hopefully, at least.
Perhaps when deciding when to say "That's gone too far!" and when to let it pass, perhaps we should consider the situation itself. Who is it that's talking? Do they appear to actually hate, or are they simply repeating things that they've been told to believe? And though it may seem silly and even a bit naive to ask this, are they joking or are they serious? Sometimes things are said in jest that are taken the wrong way. (I quite frequently stick my foot firmly in my mouth in this exact same way.) Finally, is it absolutely necessary at this point in time to raise a big stink about a single comment? Sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it could possibly just not matter.
Just my two cents; hope I made some sense, and that I didn't sound like I'm trying to be wiser than I am.

I'm Lucky In That I Have Not Met Alot Of People Who... Mar 24th. at 3:46:36 pm EST

Dragon Eyes (Cambridge, Ohio US) Age: 25 - Email

I'm lucky in that I have not met alot of people who hated me because of my religion...For those who don't agree with me I simply explain that I believe in an earth based religion and in a God and Goddess...I have had a few people tell me that I would burn in hell for not being a christian to which I replied I didn't believe in hell and I guess I would just take my chances when I die...I do know there are people who tear down other's beliefs but I try and live my life with respect towards everyone and I hope that others will always continue to treat me the same way...I looked at some of the hate sites and I find it sad that people can be so blind to the truth...I simply work at letting others know the truth about pagan beliefs...And I try to be a good person...which to me says more than any words can say...I try not to assume that an individual is representative of their religion... but it is sometimes hard and tries my patience...It's hard not to say "I hate Christians"...because a few rude people choose to tear down and write things about my religious beliefs...but I try to remember that not all people are like that...I wonder sometimes what those people whould do if we wrote such horrible slanderous things about them without regard to the truth...
there will always be people who choose to walk a path of hatred and anger and sometimes those people pretend they are the only right path and all others are wrong...Hopefully someday they will learn the truth...the only right path is one of light and love...No matter what religion it calls itself...

Sometimes I Get Upset -- If You Catch Me On A Bad Day... Mar 24th. at 1:51:20 pm EST

Aine (Wellington, Florida US) Age: 17 - Email

Sometimes I get upset -- if you catch me on a bad day -- and I go home and growl about it.

Most days I just shake it off, because I realize that if they anger me then they did what they ultimately set out to do. It's up to Karma to handle them, not I. I do enjoy watching them get their threefold for being ignorant jerks, though!

Blessings, I Myself Being A Pagan For Over 12 Years Now Have... Mar 24th. at 3:13:03 am EST

Riki Crosado (Christchurch, New Zealand) Age: 34 - Email

Blessings, I myself being a pagan for over 12 years now have faced hate! I do not like it and it still makes me very sad and unhappy, Not in myself but for the hater. Most hate comes from a group that I have given the name of 'Shadow freakers' These are people that see evil every were but their own little world. This is a very sad affair. I know and I am good friends with a lot of people from different faiths. I feel my life is more full and lively for it. The people that hate do not have this. So I only feel pity for them.

Living In The Bible Belt And Still Being In High School Is... Mar 24th. at 12:08:06 am EST

Anna Lea (Ardmore, Oklahoma US) Age: 17 - Email

Living in the Bible Belt and still being in high school is sort of like a double whammy for me. I do get some hateful remarks, and fearful stares, but for the most part people are just curious. I used to get letters in my locker telling me about how "Jesus loves me, and wants me to return to Him" but I take it all in stride. I realize that they believe they're trying to "help" me, and I am relieved I have been fortunate enough not to recieve any sort of death threats. I know that I am the only Pagan in my school...well, the only one out of the "broom closet" anyway. Like I said, I live in the BB and down here, anything that isn't xtian just isn't right.

And so I get singled out a lot, and I get made fun of, but it's usually in a joking manner, and I serve it right back to them. But when it's serious, it's hard not to be angry. That's when those breathing excercises come in handy. Especially when there are those who just refuse to drop the subject of religion (and in the BB, religion always seems to be the topic). There is one boy in my class who just cannot understand my existance. He knows that I'm Pagan and yet, I have never done anything harmful to him, or anybody else for that matter. I've told him that I think Jesus was a wonderful man with a great message, and he just stared back blankly . He can't understand how I could praise any religion that is not my own. Nor can he understand how I cannot condemn anyone for their beliefs, even if they happen to be the exact opposite of mine. I repeatedly confuse him. And I love it. I am living proof that contradicts everything he has been told about Pagans. ^_^

Like I said, I do get some ridicule, but I took that risk when I decided to where my pentacle to school after my mom gave it to me. (I love you, mommy!) I choose to wear, it and with it I wear the weight of ridicule and praise proudly. I take the good with the bad, and so everything is balanced.

My advice to those who don't know what to do would be: If they are willing to listen, talk to them. Explain things simply, and with allusions they can relate to. You can't expect a child to read before they know alphabet.

However, if they are not willing to listen, but would rather keep talking to you about your "faults, " walk away. They do not deserve your time. And you probably don't need the stress.

Whatever you do, please don't lose your temper! If you start sreaming at them, it will only confirm what they probably already think you are: possessed. Sometimes fighting fire with fire is just not sensible.

Peace and blessings to all,
Anna Lea

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.

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.

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.

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. :)

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)


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?

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!

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