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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: 17,258,385  

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Reponses: 108

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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. Reverse Sort 

Well That Is A Tough Question, So To Speak, It Is Kinda... Mar 29th. at 2:27:31 am EST

Azriel Malaki (Lake Charles, Louisiana US) Age: 27

Well That is a tough question, so to speak, it is kinda hard to answer with just a few words. Growing up and being raised a different religion while being taught another makes it difficult for someone to answer but I will give it a shot.. When someone attacks you for being a Pagan or attacks you for being Wiccan is simply just not appropriate, if someone is gonna judge you because you have a different belief, well that is a bunch of crap in my book, (excuse me), I don't feel that anyone out there has the right to judge you or anyone for that matter, for what you believe. Your beliefs are your beliefs and people should accept you for who you are, even though that is never the case. There will always be that one opposing force that tries to convince everyone that their way is the only way and that all other ways are wrong, thus the term bigotry.

Well I try my best to live by the Wiccan Rede, and sometimes it is very hard to just let things go when you lose friends of almost a decade, just because you have a different religious view than them. You are asking when does one say "Enough" well that is a hard phrase, because if you say that, it never tends to cease, the bigotry, the ignorance, fear, and hatred will always be there. I just try not to think about and just do my best to continue on my path to understanding and knowledge. I try not to let other people's religious views and opinions affect my own generally because these are my beliefs, not theirs, adnd I will not sit back and let a follower of another religion try to condemn me because I don't have the same belief structure, nor will I accept that their way is the only way. My path is my path, and noone can change that.. Everyone's religion or belief structure is their own and noone has the right to decide what is right and wrong for them. That in my opinion is wrong.. Well thanks for reading... Merry Part....

Bigotry Arises Out Of The Misconceptions People Hold Concerning Paganism. When Confronted... Mar 28th. at 4:11:31 pm EST

Rebecca Vazquez (San Bernardino, California US) Age: 19 - Email

Bigotry arises out of the misconceptions people hold concerning Paganism. When confronted and badgered by "Christians" who tell me that I am heading toward eternal damnation, I give them a short abstract of what my beliefs are; seeing the divine through nature. I also point out to them that the ability to judge a person based simply on fear or appearance is the makings of a bad Christian. Living in a college dormitory and having a mother who was a Catholic Sunday School teacher, I have been subject to much criticism but after a short explanation of my beliefs and what Wicca is, most people accept it and actually I have had many people ask me about it and how they can get into Wicca.

So Long As One Faith Percieves Themselves As Better Than Another Or... Mar 28th. at 12:53:19 pm EST

Amaya Riordan (Purchase, New York US) Age: 19 - Email

So long as one faith percieves themselves as better than another or all faiths, there will never be complete 'peace' between religions. However, that does not give one faith the right to spread lies and hate against another. But is trying to set them straight really such a good idea?
Christians are definately the major religion that has a problem with the existance of Pagans. They tell us and others that we work for Satan, are controlled by him, make deals with spirits, are idolaters, are going to hell because we don't follow the bible. Even Christians who are more educated on the subject of Pagans say that what we do is wrong - we worship the creation rather than the creator, that we need to be converted, etc etc.
Hearing things like this can send us all into a bit of a tizzy, and most of the time we feel the need to explain to them that what they think isn't true, and then go on to tell them what it is we really believe and so on. But is that really the right thing to do? Lets try to look at things from the Christian perspective for a moment.
In the Christian belief, anything that is not of God is of Satan. Anything that is not Christian is not of God. It is a part of thier belief that those who are not Christian are being controlled by or willingly following Satan.
As horrible as it sounds, it's as wrong for us to tell them that they can't believe we are controlled by Satan as it is for them to tell us that we are not allowed to worship the Goddess - it would be taking away thier belief.
But obviously, there is a place to draw the line - those who say that we sacrafice and kidnap children and do all sort of evil things need to be set straight. But my general advice is to only fight against the spreading of lies about what it is we do and fight against only those who want to see us removed from the world.
I don't know how much sense I really made here, but I hope I at least helped someone. If anyone needs clairification on this, or simply wants to talk to me, feel free to e-mail me.

Never Get Into A Pissing Contest With A Skunk". Sorry For The... Mar 28th. at 10:41:15 am EST

Aradia (Anonymous for a Reason, Maine US) Age: 34

"Never get into a pissing contest with a skunk". Sorry for the vulgarity but in this subject it is apt. To know, to will, to be silent. i don't feel it is my duty to try to educate anyone. Don't get me wrong-if I hear some glaring propaganda (which I often do from family members) I don't hesitate to set them straight. Most of these comments are unfortunately cryptic, so now I fix them with a gaze and make them spit it out in plainspeak. I don't feel these unfortunates are ready to know anything about "the Mysteries". I believe when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.I made the mistake of telling a relative that I was doing some magickal application to make some negativity stop regarding another hateful, hurtful, negative-energy-throwing relative. The ritual I had done was for protection for AND from my family, stopping harmful manipulation, and peace and healing for all. As time unfolded I got accused of "doing bad thing" and making bad things happen.They were the ones bringing negativity into their own life. I had nothing to do with their abuse, bad business sense, and all their other problems! Aren't we here to make mistakes and learn? Its not like I don't have my own share of learning experiences. I guess that's the "christian" way- to blame others for self-created misery. Patriarchal, bigoted, hypocritcal, white supremacists aren't following the teachings of Christ, so I feel no need to go out of my way to educate someone so ignorant. I know they wouldn't even listen to me anyway. Because of this experience I will only share my views with someone who is truly searching, but cautiously. I also know tolerant christians that i can actually agree with sometimes! I think if one is following their faith and it is one based on love, we are arriving at the same destination from different paths. We are all one. Blessed be and protect yourself!

I Think That Hating Someone Based Upon Their Beliefs Is Wrong And... Mar 26th. at 4:59:52 pm EST

James Canup (Lockport, Illinois US) Age: 31 - Email

I think that hating someone based upon their beliefs is wrong and ignorant. I say this because there is too much of this sort of thing going on and somone ended up getting hurt. I hope that people look at themselves first before making a judgement on someone else. We as people need to talk to these people and let them know what they are doing is wrong. I don't belive in pushing religious beliefs on others. We seriously need to look at our actions and consider what we do and say to others and respect everyone else. I hope we learned something from all of this and not history repeat itself because of ignorance. I hope that Temapest Smiths family recieves all the energy and love right now and that they will heal from all this ignorance. I give my love and energy to them during this trying time.

Bright Blessings and Hope.

James C.

I Beleive That People See Us In A Different Way Than We... Mar 26th. at 4:52:03 pm EST

Jamie Chappell (Jacksonville, Florida US) Age: 26 - Email

I beleive that people see us in a different way than we see them.True all pagans are not Wiccan but I beleive that all Wiccans are Pagan.I don't fight the people anymore that hate me or my beleifs.I just simply walk away from them, sometimes I try to let them see what it is that i beleive.To show them that we are not evil, or satanist.Some people will never be able to see our point of view on our beleifs.My advice to all pagans out there is, just try to let them see what it is that you really beleive, if they won't listen then let them be.Don't argue with them , that will only bring you down to their level, which is real shallow.In all truth we should be trying to shine our light upon them and not shy away in the dark to never be seen.People are always going to hate us for our actions.It was once said that"People fight what they fear , and fear that which they do not understand".They will never understand us until we open up and show them what we really are "PEOPLE".

What Do I Do When Someone Judges Me Irrationally Because I Am... Mar 26th. at 2:44:39 pm EST

Courtney Dehon (Palm City, Florida US) Age: 16 - Email

What do I do when someone judges me irrationally because I am Wiccan? I try to ask them of what they know of wicca/paganism, and if their ideas are based purely on media b.s. and stereotypes, then I try to give them a real account of what most wiccans/pagans follow and a small explanation of the religion. The more they wish to know, the more I will gladly clarify. If they choose not to listen, accuse my ideas as lies/b.s., or continue to stubbornly follow the uneducated, untrue "facts" that they believe in, then I plainly cease the discussion of religion. If there's one thing that angers me the most it's miseducated (or uneducated)people that do not wish to become further enlightened and/or hear the other story. I cannot see why anyone who has read about any neo-pagan religion could dispise it so much, since these religions are so loving, open, and understanding. Also as fellow Neo-pagans, the only way to cease this discrimination against us is to educate. Not force our ideas upon others, but most definatly spread the word and educate. The worst thing is to go with the flow -change and love is the way of the Goddess!- and allow people to remain stubborn and ingnorant.

What Can One Do When Affronted By Bigotry In A Theocracy? Mind... Mar 26th. at 7:34:30 am EST

Sandra Rust (kihca) Merlaine or Saille (Glen Burnie, Maryland US) Age: 34 - Email

What can one do when affronted by bigotry in a Theocracy? Mind you now, this ISN'T the start of a defeatist attitude; Rather, it is a question to put to mind. What can WE do? As a pagan, I've faced teachers, employers, parents, people in postitions of "power"; I've lost my job, been harrassed, looked upon with fear and hatred... What did I do? To my Mother and to those who approached me with fearful questions, like: "Do you worship Satan?" or "Do you actually kill cats, or babies?" I mearly sigh and shake my head... answer their questions, give them the BASIC doctrines of our religion(s)... though some of them aggreivate my temper. Face not the fearful with anger, for it just turns upon you. Ask them instead, to judge you by YOUR "fruits". If you are "above reproach" (save except that you don't follow the "culturally acceptable" religion), the "fearful" usually become accepting; They may view you with a little wariness, but they are more apt to listen to an explaination.

To those who hate: (sigh) Send your prayers to ease their heart. It is not just you who they hate. Sadly, many "Christian" doctrines preach bigotry and hate; disguised as "love to your neighbor, to bring him to Christ". If the neighbor accepts Christ (their veiw of Him), then all is right with the world. If not, then they must be a "follower" or "mislead" by "Satan" and then must be FORCIBLY brought "back into the Light". These poor people are "brainwashed" into believing that what their doing is for the "better good" of the "poor soul". Showing them the error fo their ways is going to involve more than tutilage. I've calmly debated with those sort, and found that lesson all too well: One that I recall most vivdly was a "debate" with a Franscecan Nun (that's right! a nun!); I had never heard of a Nun of that particular order, and in the spirit of "religious understanding", I asked her about that. The conversation started out, quite pleasantly. Until she asked me MY religion. I usually avoid that question, fearing unnecessisary confrontation, but something in me makes it hard for me to tell "untruths". She quetioned me on my faith. Challenged me to defend my religion to her. I calmly answered her questions, each time she got more and more angered. She was practically rabid when my friend had told me he had finished shopping. I bowed serenely, and told her that our conversation was most stimulating, and that we must agree to disagree on the manner to which we combat the "evils" that plague mankind, and left the mall with my friend. My calm demeanor vs. her anger spoke volumns to those watching: Pagan and Chistian, Moslem, Buddist, Hindi, and Jew. I perfer not to have confrontation, and I'm not proud of the fact that I've had to defend myself physically (I am quite capable). I rather like "catching them young", teaching them tolerance as the true "Christian Way". I teach the parents through example. They see my "fruits" before they find out my beliefs. When they do, it is as someone who is more prone to ask questions, though not confrontational. Many times, they shrug the news off as "stories" or "rumors". Those who are confrontational fear a group. Their leaders fear a United Front.

Most aggrievibly, our worse "enemy" is ourselves. I explain: In my almost 2 decades in the pagan community, I've seen groups come and go. More often as not, they part in anger (and I'm not innocent in this either). Witch-wars, love gone a-wry, the all to simple pettiness, has eaten the pagan community from within, making us vuneralble to attack from outside. But we all know this; and if we don't, here's your "wake-up call". We need to be united! The Christians have several doctrines that are often in disagreement, but they are united. Pagans have several traditions, we are often in disagreement... even within our own traditions. The pagans have means to combat this. To the Wiccans: look to the laws. To all pagans: look to the redes. We are ALL Brothers and Sisters of the Goddess and God. Thus, we are Family. Siblings may disagree, but siblings defend each other. If one is to believe our doctrines, we are closer than blood. We Need to act as such.

My Belief Is That All Attacks, Whether Verbal Or Physical Upon Pagans... Mar 26th. at 4:50:00 am EST

Firesong (Chicago, Illinois US) Age: 24 - Email

My belief is that all attacks, whether verbal or physical upon pagans by those of other religions are based out of FEAR!!! I always try to educate, educate, educate! As a Wiccan, I absolutely believe in non-violent responses, and I also believe that those who persecute Pagans are simply not as evolved souls. They need more reincarnations, or "turns around the wheel" to develop the qualities of tolerance, fairness, and peaceful co-existence with those who are diffrent. I see them more as "children" in the bigger picture of souls and the enlightenment that is gained from more and more incarnations. That is what the reincarnations are for - to enlighten souls, and teach lessons.

This is not to say that I believe in turning the other cheek and just suffering through discrimination and hate. There are a number of of Pagan (specifically Wiccan) lawyers out there who work tirelessly on our behalf, for litle or no fee. This is the way to fight hate and discrimination - through the law, and through education. True witches are taught that you can only control your own behavior, and not to let the behavior of others throw you. Once you reach a certain level - this is possible.

Discrimination will exist in our lifetimes, and it is our duty to fight it appropriately and non-violently, and not succomb to anger, vengefullness, or hopelesness. I know I work at this daily, having come from a family of withches going back hundreds of years.

I am pround that I folllow the Old Ways, and I basically shrug off most discrimination, and do what I can to assist those who are in a position of power to fight legally and publically the damaging and misleading predjudice that comes from those few non-pagans.

That's it - I've said my piece, and I'll get down from my soapbox now :-)

I hope everyone finds their own way of dealing with, fighting, and at appropriate times, accepting the hateful things said and done by a very few non-pagans.

Blessed Be!

To Be Honest I'm Not Too Sure How I Would React. If... Mar 26th. at 3:59:23 am EST

Autumn SilverFerret (Montoursville, Pennsylvania US) Age: 22 - Email

To be honest I'm not too sure how I would react. If the person was open minded I would try to explain any misconceptions and answer any questions I could. However there are just some nuts you can't crack. I've had neighbors who were born again Christians that were so sure and determined that there way was the only way. They would say things especially if the person were non-Christian such as "You can't be that way." Be what way? There is nothing wrong with the way I am. I think those people forget that Jesus preached love and forgiveness. But they feel that they must proseltyze as though their religion is going out of style or something and forget that it is more important to live their religion. I think they feel threatened. All in all though I think knowledge is power. It leaves us less ingorant, more open, and more accepting. It all depends on if the person chooses to embrace it.

Blessed Be


I Personally Find It Frightening, Not That I Am Ever Asked The... Mar 25th. at 10:21:45 pm EST

Helen Schenning (Westmoreland, Tennessee US) Age: 47 - Email

I personally find it frightening, not that I am ever asked the question, as the Bible Belt does not recognize the actual existence of any none-fundamentalists in their domain [never mind that the Catholics are alive and well, as well as the Jehovah's Witnesses and Moslems] But there is a hue and cry against all who "stray from the path of righteousness." I keep thinking about the Viet Nam war, when a village was destroyed to save it. We all know one sentence in the bible reads, "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." never mind that no one knows exactly how the original Greek read. I worry for the day the religious right rises up and segregates all those who "believe wrong" for "retraining." it's accepted practice if one's child falls in with a cult. why not pagans? after all, Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, etc, are in the minority. and no one will miss a few thousand people, will they. notice any similarities between the current governmental policies and those of Nazi Germany? it could be coming, and sooner than we think.

Having Mainly Been A Solitary Practitioner Who Picked Up Wicca While Living... Mar 25th. at 7:32:27 pm EST

Karen E. (Billings) Age: 30

Having mainly been a solitary practitioner who picked up Wicca while living in the Bible Belt, when I moved back home I have kept quiet about my personal views. There are many esoteric traditions which teach silence in regard to giving out information, and many of these same traditions also teach initiation, though the 2 ideas are not necessarily mutually inclusive. Silence can be many things: it can be a tacit agreement; it can also be a holder of one's better wisdom!

I find that most of the inflammatory stuff (in the various media) are presented in extremely illogical fashions, and are greatly propagandistic in nature, with almost no bother at quoting any real references for their "information." As soon as one tries to respond to illogically-emotional blahblah, one gets pulled DOWN to the level of the person spurting the "crap." It wastes our energy. It muddies our karma. It becomes difficult to speak and act without getting caught up in the emotional mud of the situation. One of the psychiatric criteria for determining madness is when one attempts precisely the same act over and over again with the expectation of eventually accomplishing a different outcome. Again, this wastes energy and time better spent on positive thinking! This 'madness criteria' could describe not only the puritanical types who continue the bashing, but also those of us who continuously try to combat it. After thousands of years of disputes, I don't expect the politically-charged behavior (especially that of a particular side of the issue) to ever reconcile to a peace.

But, I CAN CHOOSE either a path of peace, or a path of combat... especially keeping the 'threefold rule' in mind. There is a time to defend, and a time when fighting only begets more fighting. There is a time to stand up for the rights of one and all, including under the laws of this land, and a time when turning away with a Mona Lisa smile can do more than a sword can to disengage a rabblerouser. For no man/woman/child will escape their karma...and one can choose whether a defense will save one's energy, or whether to fight will give our energy away to someone who clearly doesn't deserve our time. Even the Bible says that one who builds his house upon a rock has nothing to fear of a storm. Let the irrationally-charged puritanical types rage on! Indeed, the Rede itself helps us determine the right action for a situation. At the end of the day it is only important that you can live with yourself, not whether others agree or disagree with you. As the Sufis say, there are as many roads to the Divine as there are humans. So Mote It Be!

P.S. - I found it interesting that one of witchvox's hate links - the web author of "Balaam's Ass Speaks" - cautions at the bottom of his page that he does not want any of his "own brotherhood" to read any of the site links he lists as "un-Godly" unless they absolutely must access the links for research only - further cautioning that his page is not intended for amusement or casual reading! I thought his list of "un-Godly" sites was EXTREMELY AMUSING!!!--and he doesn't want anyone to look at the original references for the information! His own shame speaks more clearly than anything we can say to him!!! To try to further respond to "Balaam's Ass" would only serve to feed him (read: waste) more of our energy, when he has so clearly shot his own negative efforts in the foot.

Blessed Be: Spirit moves in mysterious ways! :-)

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