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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: 16,478,710  

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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 

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.

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.

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


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 ;)

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, 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.

I Have Had A Great Deal Of Experience With People Attacking Me... Mar 22nd. at 3:03:05 pm EST

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.

brightest blessings!

There's African American History Month, Hispanic History Month, Asian History Month, Womens... Mar 22nd. at 2:28:47 pm EST

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 Believe That No Single Method Works With Everyone. I Just Try... Mar 22nd. at 4:16:01 am EST

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).

An Ye Harm None, Do As Ye Will." That Is The Abiding... Mar 22nd. at 3:49:35 am EST

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'm Of The Opinion That Hate Only Breeds More Hate. So When... Mar 22nd. at 2:25:49 am EST

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.

I Haven't Encountered Many Attacks In My Time As A Pagan. Most... Mar 21st. at 11:52:10 pm EST

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 Have Been Extremely Blessed To Have Grown Up With No Direct... Mar 21st. at 9:42:11 pm EST

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.

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