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Posted: Nov. 17, 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 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.
| 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.
| 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! :-)
| I, Too, Believe That Christians Who Pursecute Other People Aren't Particularly Good... ||Mar 25th. at 6:33:12 pm EST|
|Lucinda-June (Elmira, New York US) ||Age: 48 - Email |
I, too, believe that Christians who pursecute other people aren't particularly good Christians. And I say so, "As it says in the Bible, those who do evil in God's name are serving other Gods. And do you know which other God? As the Church Lady says on Saturday night live, 'Can you say Satan?'"
Though I'll never forget when my neighbor confronted me in my front yard, "You're that evil Satanist that casts evil killing spells on people." Astonished, I replied, "If you believe that, why are you bothering me?" That shut him up, and he went away. I just couldn't believe what he was saying to me.
Mostly when someone tells me that I am a Satanist and cast evil spells I tell them that they watch too many bad horror movies.
| Well, I'm Probably The Youngest Person To Reply Here, But I Still... ||Mar 25th. at 5:40:39 pm EST|
|Sardonicus Tuljo Daka Kirkus de Fuere (Birth name: Jesse) (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 14 - Email |
Well, I'm probably the youngest person to reply here, but I still have faced discrimination. Especially from Christians though. I have had them say that I'm going to hell because I serve Satan and his evil cause and whatnot. Now I know they think they are helping and all, but THEY ARE NOT. I could be really ignorant and say something rude right back, but I just listen to them and their opinion, because to them, they are right, and to us, we are right. Now, I will not lie, I have tried to be Christian, but something they don't like is automatically a work of Satan, and they treat you like a moron. The most I will do is show them that Pagans are not stupid, and that we do respect others, but I will outwit them, I will not lie. BUt i think we Pagans should not get violent with others for their foolishness. They really only act as they do from ignorance or lack of education, that is all... Well, as for other things, I could curse them or something, but like I said, I leave EVERY form of discrimination at a verbal correspondence, that is all. So, best wishes to all, Pagan and non-Pagan!
| Honestly, The First Time I Was Discriminated Against Because Of My Religion... ||Mar 25th. at 4:13:09 pm EST|
|Michelle Lawrence (Kennesaw, Georgia US) ||Age: 15 - Email |
Honestly, the first time I was discriminated against because of my religion, I was really too hurt and shocked to do much of anything. It was at my first job at Brusters, and ice cream store across the street. One of my co-workers had been a witch, and another co-worker eavesdropped on us while we were talking in the back. She then proceeded to tell all the other co-workers that we were practicing satanic worship and that we would put a curse on them if we didn't like them. Some responded with fear, and basically shook or walked away whenever one of us came near them. Others gave cruel looks or whispered behind our backs. She ended up being fired, but was never told the reason. I was being payed less than all the other employees there, including another 15-year-old. So one day I just quit, enough was enough. I guess you never really think about facing discrimination until it happens, and then when it hits, its so sudden that you really aren't sure what to do. Thats how it was with me, but not anymore. I recently told my great aunt I was a witch, and she almost chewed me out, because shes one of those old-fashoined people who believe witches as the stereotypical devil-worshipping, animal sacrificing people they were (and sometimes still are) portrayed as. I simply told her she was ranting about something she has no knowledge of, and that if she didn't want to hear about my religion, that was alright, but that I didn't want to be preached at either. I simply explained it was a nature-based religion, that we are very spiritual, and do not even believe in the existance of a hell or satan (i'm still not sure if she believed me). Now whenever someone finds out (either by eavesdropping in conversations or by direct questioning), and begin to preach at me, I simply say that they are speaking out of ignorance and that they should really do a bit of research before blowing up at someone. The main point I try to make is "don't believe everything you hear and see", because sometimes its totally fake. I tell them they don't even have to believe me, just go your way and i'll go mine if u'd like, but don't preach to me about something you don't know. I have had one particular person that began to responded violently (a teenage boy I used to go to school with), and I simply told him that if he put his hands on me he would be arrested for assualt, and that was that. I've managed to avoid physical contact, and have actually educated a couple people, but the majority have just walked away with a few choice words. In my experiences so far I have found it is best to be as polite and civil as possible, while stressing that what they are assuming is wrong. If I were ever faced with a conflict where I believed phsyical contact would be involved, id probably run away as fast as I could, and yell out, lol. I do my best to educate where I can, but be absolutely certain to secure my own safety. Thats the best way for me to handle discrimination when it comes up.
| I Have Not Had The Time Yet To Read The Previous Postings... ||Mar 25th. at 4:06:39 pm EST|
|Elizabeth (Springfield, Missouri US) ||Age: 36 |
I have not had the time yet to read the previous postings. I hope this is not repeating a previous response. Here, I am dealing only with the most frequent threats in my life and the lives of those I know, 1 or 2 pseudo-Christians in a face-to-face confrontation. I am very aware that pseudo-Christains are hardly the sole threat out there, but time and space will not allow me a thorough treatment. For more insidious, long-term harrassment, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT! Such efforts often grow into more direct, physical threats.
Scenario - personal safety not at risk
depending on the specifics
"I am so glad I have known REAL christians before this so I won't be thinking that YOU are representative of the faith you profess." Walk Away
"I am so sorry you are having such a hard time in your life right now. Is there anything I can do to help?" Use your judgement and stay or Walk Away.
"Why do you have so much anger towards me? Do I remind you of someone else you had a problem with once?" Use your judgement and stay or Walk Away.
"Are you aware of the Constitution that allows YOU to practice YOUR faith?" Walk Away
JUST Walk Away
Endless variations thereof. You can choose to be compassionate or sarcastic depending on how you feel at that moment but try NOT to attack back. Do not become what you hate/fear.
Scenario - personal safety IS at risk
depending on the specifics
WAlk/Run away - get to a place of safety - if you cannot, then..
TALK - engage them intellectually - try to turn the situation into one where they are teaching you, the misguided innocent, the errors of your thinking. Do NOT feed the emotional response in ANY way. Ask them to show you the Bible, to introduce you to their pastor, to let you come to their bible study. If they are REALLY trying to save/help you this will usually do the trick.
ex. - "I don't understand. What do you mean? Could you show me where it says that? Wow, I didn't know it meant that!" Once the twisted, inner fury has been defused THEN Walk/Run away! SAY ANYTHING TO STAY SAFE!
TALK - If it is obvious that their profession of faith is just a smokescreen and they really just want to hurt someone then treat it exactly as you would an assault/rape scenario. Defend yourself aggressively, use your body and GET AWAY. Scream. Get attention from passers by. If you cannot then curl up and try to protect yourself as much as possible.
Regardless - DO NOT - EVER! - let them take you somewhere else "to talk about it." Even if you do not feel threatened at the time, stay in a public place. The promise of PRIVACY can push someone, who is already passionate enough about the subject to accost you, over into violence. Think about it - they came up to you, a total stranger, and trashed your most personal, intimate and private belief systems and threatened you with endless torture and despair. They are on the edge already. Let's get them away from the precipice as quickly and safely as possible.
And lastly - REPORT IT!!! There are laws and they apply to ALL of us. Report the assault and FOLLOW THRU with it all the way to trial if necessary. Send a message to that fringe element of the Christain community that attacking us is not a freebie. The minorities of this country have ALL gone through this and had to screw up their courage to stand up for their rights. There is a LOT we can learn from studying what they went through. The nonviolent confrontation training is a BIG case in point.
Know this. In most such situations these are ordinary people who have been pushed by something else in their lives you know nothing about. Once they calm down and start to honestly interact with you as a human being and not as an "enemy of the faith" you'll discover that a lot of them are really nice people. People you would like to have in your lives. If your safety is not at risk, then this can be an opportunity. Use your judgement. Also be aware of YOURSELF and the load of stress that YOU are carrying at that instant. It does NOT take two to have a fight, but two makes it worse.
| Sometimes You Have To Take It...sometimes There Is Nothing That Can... ||Mar 24th. at 10:59:10 pm EST|
|Jen (Beverly Hills, Florida US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
Sometimes you have to take it...sometimes there is nothing that can be done. I really don't understand why anyone has to be "anti" any religion. I mean Peace is the objective people! Peace and understanding.
And for those who are "anti" - that's you're opinion. All I ask for is respect. Try to understand instead of persecute. Use kindness and compassion. Harsh words help no one. No matter what religion you are...you have love for your fellow human being...you have kindness. It is in a sensitive time like this that we all need this loving unity. Hate seems to have sprung up everywhere...these school shootings, and with Tempest's passing. Everything aside, no matter what religion, race, sex, or sexual preference. There is no time for hate. It is time for Love. I send out a bit of love to everyone, we certainly need it. :)
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