Hijacking Paganism in the Media

Imagine people began to refer to all people who wear religious jewelry as Catholic. The wearing of a Star of David could be characterized as the “Catholic Agenda,” and shops selling pentacles provided as proof of Catholicism on the rise. It’s a complete misuse of the word Catholic. It’s confusing. It’s inappropriate. It makes it seem as if Catholicism isn’t a real religion.

When Gingrich referenced Paganism the other day, he was talking about secularism. He was talking around us. He was speaking as if we aren’t here, as if we don’t exist. The way he was using the name of our faith, he dismissed us as irrelevant and invisible.

Which is why I responded the way I did yesterday. My response was as if he was talking about us. That’s my usual response when people invoke the names of our faiths. Because I refuse to be dismissed as irrelevant. I refuse to engage on their terms. I hijack the debate.

I think that’s what we have to do. I don’t think we can give ground on this. I don’t think we can stand idly by while people speak as if we don’t exist.

Anyway, those are my thoughts very early on a Saturday morning after not enough sleep. I have a very busy day ahead. I hope you have an excellent weekend. Have some music:

Third Parties, Choices, and Our Place In Paganism (and the World)
So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish!
Christians Acting Like Christians: Dissecting Tim Dalrymple’s Comments on Paganism
Pagan Americana: Murphey’s Midnight Rounders
About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • Silvergryphon66

    I agree Star….. this made me so mad that I outed myself on FB yestrday….. now I get to see how many family members are paying attention.

  • http://wp.wiccanweb.ca/ Makarios

    “When Gingrich referenced Paganism the other day, he was talking about secularism.”

    Indeed, but it is broader than that. Right-wing Christians, and the pols who pander to them, use Pagan as a form of verbal shorthand for “anything about contemporary culture that I happen not to like.” It can cover anything from hip hop to Harry Potter, from environmentalism to materialism, and everything in between. To employ your parabolic language, it would be as if a climate-change denier referred to the notion of global warming as “Catholic.”

    And I agree with your approach to dealing with this. If you allow the haters to define the terms of discourse, you’ve let them win. I, myself, have called preachers on this type of misuse of the term Pagan,, as well as of the term Heathen. Spirited discussion usually ensued, with much defensiveness on their part.

  • Cassandra Ciardi

    huge applause.

    when i first read gingrich’s statement – i knew he meant secularist, maybe heathens, but i had the same reaction you did; perhaps just not as eloquently.  

    plus, his argument carries no more merit if you “correct” the word.  are atheists or faithful secularists in opposition to civilization? hardly

    so even if newt didn’t mean me – i’m not going to be dismissed nor am i going to stand by as he “comes for the atheists.”

  • Nicole Youngman

    That’s it exactly I think. Plus, the term “pagan” has a more generalized dictionary definition (ie non-Christian) that many people have in mind when they use the word; with words like “Catholic” you don’t have that issue, it obviously is referring to a religious belief when it’s used (and yes small-c “catholic” can have a different meaning along the lines of “universal,” but it’s rarely used that way.)

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    I think you did the right thing, Star…From my viewpoint, he may not have been talking about “us” in terms of all modern Pagans, but he was certainly talking about me and part of what my explicitly religious positions imply in relation to very specific issues.

    I’m choosing not to say more about his nonsense on my blog, though; I have to admit partially out of apathy, as my writing about him isn’t going to change his behavior in the future, nor do anything about what he’s already said; but also, I don’t want to give people like him any more attention than they’re already getting–which is why I won’t even say his name.  He deserves to be forgotten and dismissed, just like he’s done to us by using our name as you’ve described…he’s not worth wasting the saliva to spit upon, I think.

    But, I’ll happily support your doing so and agree with what you’ve said, as you’ve said it far better (and more briefly!) than I’d have been able to!  :)

  • http://twitter.com/LadyMiraselena Lady Miraselena

    His entire statement was ludicrous regardless of whether he was referring to non-Christians or us.    But something did come to mind… something that scares Evangelical Christians and his constituents.    Something that is correct within his statement.  

    The increase in secular living (and even Paganism, the religion) does correlate directly with the rise in gay marriage.    Because both create a safe environment to be who they are and a demand for equality under the law.  And that’s a good thing.  

    A rise in the  instances of gay marriage proves that our country is on the right track.  

  • A.C. Fisher Aldag

    I’d say that instead of “secularists” he meant “people without morals” or “hedonists” in the destructive sense of the term. 

  • Averagebuddhist

    Makes me muse about the question: Hmmmm, which is better “heathen” or “Pagan”? Does using the word Pagan actually represent progress instead of saying heathen? Hmmmm…Must we chose the form of our oppressor? Good grief – hopefully, ignorance will cease to reign sometime real soon.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

     How is heathen a more positive term?

  • Averagebuddhist

    I was just being sarcastic actually. Hard to come across in text only… : )