More on Catholics, Pagans, and Propaganda

There’s been some good conversation sparked by my post yesterday on the effects of anti-Pagan propaganda (in this case from Catholic exorcists and the Catholic media outlets who shine a spotlight on them). First, for those who wanted to hear more about the incident I mentioned concerning the Indiana Pagan Pride event, and the tensions that resulted when a Catholic youth event overlapped with it, check out the inaugural post from the new Indiana PNC bureau.

Torcyr Storm Gull, who has been the security coordinator for Indianapolis Pagan Pride Day for the last nine years, commented, “Everything worked out beautifully. I had no issues with the organizers of CYO. There was I feel a lot of miscommunication between the parks and CYO. Honestly the only issue all morning was from a stereotypical soccer dad that threatened me with violence for conducting traffic safely so the children were NOT in danger. He seemed to settle down or at least grumble to himself after I pointed out if he wished I would let the park officers deal with his disruptive behavior. There were no vehicles driving across the grass. The problem is CYO believed they had free run of the whole park and tried to use it despite the fact that the 52 vendor locations were clearly staked out. I would like to thank CYO for being so understanding and helpful after things were explained to them. All of the uproar over this wonderful event is being caused by a few rowdy parents who have no clue as to what happened .

Of course, one of those “rowdy parents” called the media, which is what brought the entire situation to our attention. A few commenters here at The Wild Hunt pointed out that the matter was resolved peacefully, and thus wasn’t a good example of how anti-Pagan propaganda has negative effects, but I think that “rowdy parents” angry enough to call the media and essentially argue that we shouldn’t be allowed equal treatment speaks volumes about how ongoing rhetoric against our faiths erodes civility and peaceful co-existence. Propaganda, in my mind, doesn’t suddenly turn human beings into violent monsters, but it does erode our compassion for those branded as “other” (or demonic).

Here are some other thoughts from yesterday’s Wild Hunt comments that I thought were noteworthy:

A Catholic parent who thinks Pagans shouldn't be able to use public parks.

A Catholic parent who thinks Pagans shouldn’t be able to use public parks.

“I find that in prejudiced people (like the “concerned Catholic Parent” shown in the video, there is a kind of “cognitive dissonance.” He considers the Pagans “silly” (even laughing at them), and yet he is OUTRAGED by them. Why be outraged by silliness? It just doesn’t make sense. (I think HE finds them “silly,” but his Church teaches that they are something to be outraged by. Therefore, he must keep these 2 thoughts in his mind, and the dissonance of those 2 thoughts is what is disturbing him.)”Obsidia

“Certainly there are adherents who cling to the party line and cause trouble for the likes of us and this absurdity with increasing exorcisms is definitely problematic for us. But the farther The Church goes against all sense and reason, the more members they will lose. They’ll be reduced to the whackadoos ranting about demons and throwing salt in people’s faces. And yeah, that’s dangerous, but I’m not going to hold any hostility or anger toward Catholicism because of the hard-line whackadoos.”Sunweaver

“Jason, props to you for highlighting a serious problem, not just within contemporary Catholicism, but contemporary Christianity as a whole. I first encountered the “Pagans worship the devil” narrative within evangelical Christianity, and it remains as entrenched in certain corners of the Protestant world as within the Catholic right. Meanwhile, please remember that many Catholics (and Protestants) seek to promote positive interfaith dialogue and psychologically healthy models of spirituality that eschew these kinds of narratives. Any religion is capable of demonizing outsiders (yes, even Neopaganism). It’s certainly more pernicious when Catholics or other Christians do it because of their social influence and privileged status within our society. But it’s a problem of the human condition that unfortunately can be found anywhere that people settle for ethnocentric rather than world-centric systems of ethics and morals.” - Carl McColman (a Patheos columnist, and former Pagan turned contemplative Christian)

“As Jason says, this is something that actually does trickle down. As a Pagan married to a Catholic, I happen to attend Mass every once in a while especially recently as I’ve just moved to Massachusetts and my wife wanted some support as she ventured into various churches to try and find one that she likes the best. Attending Mass a few weeks ago, during the homily, the priest was fairly specific in his denigration of Pagan practices. He didn’t specifically link them (us) to evil or to Satan, but it was still an unsettling moment for myself and for her.”Dashifen

“Occasionally, when listening to some of the more, shall we say excitable adherents of other faiths, I find myself thinking, “Hang on a minute, they’re talking about someone they think is me!”. Trying to ride out that uncomfortable moment is always problematic.”Purple Pagan

Thanks to everyone who’s contributed their thoughts on this matter. I think that openly discussing how anti-Pagan propaganda actually affects us personally helps put a human face on an abstract concept peddled by the Catholic exorcism lobby. It’s only by seeing us as human, as realizing that we  are simply adherents of a different faith, not demon-ridden monsters, that interfaith efforts and understanding can find fruit.

About Jason Pitzl-Waters
  • http://twitter.com/thelettuceman Marc

    Thank you for following and updating this. I appreciate you weaving in community voices that may not necessarily have any other outlet! Always refreshing to see.

    These situations are going to be reported because they’re sensational, especially when people take it upon themselves to air their grievances through the media. I think that the Pagan response to this was very well handled, if unfortunate that it happened at all.

  • Ray

    Sometime we may be a little quick to assume the position of victim. To be fair to the monotheists the instructions in their book tells them to do horrible things to other religions sacred sites.
    http://bible.cc/deuteronomy/12-3.htm and
    http://bible.cc/2_kings/18-4.htm being intolerant of Paganism is clear in their book.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=586268271 Makarios Ofiesh

      ” To be fair to the monotheists the instructions in their book tells them to do horrible things to other religions sacred sites…. and … being intolerant of Paganism is clear in their book.”

      Well, all-righty then!

      “Sometime we may be a little quick to assume the position of victim.”

      Your concern has been noted.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      With that in mind, which ones are the ‘bad Christians’?

      The ones who espouse moderation and religious pluralism or the ones who evangelise and attempt to eradicate other religions rights?

      • http://twitter.com/thelettuceman Marc

        Yes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mtouketto Michelle Touketto

    I disagree that this is not a “good example of anti-Pagan propaganda.” This man’s actions and words stem from such propaganda. He was attempting to cause trouble. We were able to turn his actions to our advantage because his words and unsophisticated language made him look like a bumbling idiot compared to Morgan Tom Jones’s comments. What if he’d been more articulate, like some of the Catholic examples given in the previous article? And while his words weren’t the typical “evil devil worshipers” spiel, dismissing us as “silly” isn’t really any better because it portrays us as something not to be taken seriously.

  • Sunweaver

    Thank you for the continued coverage and for including me in the discussion. I finally showed the video to my husband (raised Catholic) who agreed that the gentleman in the Notre Dame sweatshirt came off looking like a jerk.
    The difference between the two speakers being that the one noted some rude individuals while the other was dismissive of “those people.” I am very glad that the PPD organizers handled themselves so well.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    How can you have interfaith with an organisation who does not officially recognise Pagan faiths?

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Christian denominations whose official position on each other is that they are bound for Hell, still do interfaith stuff with each other. In fact interfaith wouldn’t exist but for that. An authoritative position at the top of the hierarchy doesn’t always translate into wall-to-wall attitude at the grass roots.

      • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

        This is a major reason why Pagans should not participate in so-called “interfaith dialogue”, since its actual roots are in attempts by Christians to stop killing each other in order to better, and more efficiently, work together for their common goal: the eradication of all other religions.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          I daresay this eradication program is not uppermost in the minds of Christians doing interfaith work.

          • http://www.gopagan.com/ GOPagan

            Perhaps not consciously with that term, but are you actually saying that Christians aren’t interested in converting others to their religion? That the “Great Commission” isn’t a cornerstone of their faith?

            Whether one calls it evangelization or eradication, the end result is the same.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            Actually, I would say that, yes. Granted, I’m working primarily with those who are in the interfaith movement (for lack of a better term) so, frankly, the selection bias with respect to the cross-section of Christians (even Evangelical Christians) with whom I’ve worked is probably the problem here.

            Regardless, I think most people, regardless of faith, are far more concerned about where the money to feed their family, pay their bills, and pay their mortgage(s) are coming from and less what their neighbor is doing vis-à-vis their religious practice.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            What is, then?

            Allow me to suggest a hypothetical situation:

            Christian – I’d like to further communication and understanding between ourselves and other religions.
            Pagan – Okay. We’re talking. What needs understanding?
            C – We believe that there is one true god and that following any other is idolatry and devil-worship.
            P – I disagree.
            C – You’re wrong.
            P – …

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            Assuming, for the moment, that the dialog is not set up to be a gotcha-style event, that almost never happens. I’ve been doing interfaith work for about eight years mostly with Evangelical Christians and Muslims, and I don’t think I’ve ever been told that I was wrong. People have asked me to explain my belief and people have asked tough questions about the nature of my faith, but people involved in interfaith work are not those who are out to try and prove any one religion right at the expense of the others. While the proselytizing religions certainly see the people of the world as a zero-sum game between us-and-them, the world of interfaith is not the same place or made up of the same people.

          • Strider

            This interchange has not been my experience when both people honestly engage.

          • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

            Would honest engagement with a Christian necessitate going over the 10 Commandments and associated teachings, and how these religious attitudes essentially stymie dialogue? When party one thinks party two is talking to demons, how much interfaith dialogue can there actually be?

            Understand that I have Christian parents and when we compare and contrast our religions, at some point we have to agree to disagree and move on. This is especially true when they tell me about a direct experience with their God, and I do the same for my own Gods, and I can see in their eyes they think I am either 1) Full of shit, 2) Talking to Demons or 3) They’re waiting for me to ‘get it’ that God is talking to me. How do I know? I have asked, and this is the answer I have received from them. This view is not uncommon among Christians.

            So, while I think that interfaith religious dialogue can bear fruit, and can generate understanding between diverse faiths, the question above still remains. How much honest dialogue can I have with someone whose religious aim is to convert the non-believers, or that anyone who worships a God/dess other than theirs is at the least worshipping a false God/dess or an idol, or at worst is trafficking with demons?

          • Strider

            I have seen the same look in a Christians eyes when relating to them my own experience of the Gods. At some level we may never see eye to eye on the particulars, but this disagreement does not have to define my relationship with them. I have worked on projects along side Christian brothers and sisters where our focus was the benefit to the community, not our differences of belief.

            I realized over time that what they thought of my beliefs was irrelevant, just as what I thought of theirs was irrelevant. My work with hospice has given me a whole new understanding of these kind of conflicts. I could care less whether a patient is Christian, Atheistic, Republican, or Democrat, they are a fellow human being and they deserve dignity and respect. If attacked I will speak in my defense, no question. But I speak with more power and conviction when I can remain calm and remind myself that for the most part they are really yelling more at themselves, and their own history, rather than at me.

            The Indiana PNC article sounded to me like a very typical case of this type of conflict. A few people act out, but most behaved with understanding and diplomacy. That *is* interfaith dialogue with a largely positive, but not perfect result. For the record I think ole “soccer dad” is acting like a fool. I also know that he does not represent everyone of his Catholic ilk.

            I have heard many pagans drone on and one about how intolerant Christians are and then spend the next few paragraphs talking about how Christians suck because of x,y,z. “Hypocrisy is not just a disease of the opposition.” I used to do the same thing, until magical training forced me to look in the mirror.

          • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

            Recognizing that I will never have true respect in the eyes of my family, neighbors, and friends has opened my own.

            I can keep my respect for myself, for our common humanity, without sacrificing that to the knowledge that according to their beliefs I am less than they are. Do you understand what this means in the context of my family, most of which is Catholic? How this hurts when I look into their eyes and know, that, because of their beliefs, I am less to them? How this demeaning view of others stretches out across society?

            I do not have experience with hospice work, but I do not deny that everyone who at Hel’s door should be treated with respect. Were I in your situation, being a hospice provider, I would provide that service regardless of religion or lack thereof. That is my job, whether you look at it from the secular/career level, or to me, my religious duty.

            Can Christians and Pagans not coexist? Certainly, we can. That is not the question at hand.

            Of what use is interfaith dialogue when one party, by necessity of the convictions/teachings of their faith, demonizes another?

            Yes, ‘soccer dad’ was acting like a fool. I would rather not overblow the situation; he does not represent all Catholics. However, the Church’s officials that do have taken a strident stance against indigenous peoples and Pagan religions. At what point do we recognize that interfaith dialogue is only so effective when the Catholic Church cuts their parishioners off at the knees?

          • Strider

            I think you make some excellent points. Many pagans deal with familial trauma from relatives who are lost in their own dogmas.

            The only real disagreement we may have here is:

            “Of what use is interfaith dialogue when one party, by necessity of the convictions/teachings of their faith, demonizes another?”

            Without some form of communication, NOT through the media, but from person to person, all sorts of nonsense can be invented and perpetuated. It has been my lifelong experience that people come to respect each other only through communication.

            What other option is there? If you are not for interfaith dialogue what do you recommend as an alternative?

          • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

            Honestly, the kinds of changes I would seek are changes to foundation in Christianity and Islam itself, namely the Great Commission found in Christianity and its cousin in Islam, and the view they take of indigenous religions and Pagans.

            Nothing else will really do. Dialogue without basic, human respect is rather pointless, and we can skip around this topic all day in interpersonal dialogue, but the fact of the matter is that so long as Christianity and Islam hold onto these points of contention it is impossible to have dialogue if they are adherents to their faith. I have found this to be true whether in one-on-one dialogue with my family, people on the street, or in interfaith dialogue. If you still hold the condition at the end of the day that I worship false Gods or demons, or at the least that I am delusional/wrong, then what has that dialogue actually done?

            Perhaps we can have dialogue with those who ignore and/or have done away with these provisions in their particular religion, but I am unsure of how to get around being seen as hell-bound.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            “What is it, then?”
            Often some secular concern, like coordinating community festivals.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I see that less as interfaith dialogue and more as inter-organisational logistics.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            It may or may not be uppermost in their minds, and, more to the point, it may very well not be something that they wish to be uppermost in the minds of those they dialogue with, but any Christian who takes his or her New Testament seriously must necessarily engage in dialogue with non-Christians only to the extent that this somehow furthers the Great Commission.

            There is no major (and vanishingly few, if any, minor) Christian denominations that have explicitly (or even implicitly) broken with the long-standing Christian tradition of viewing all non-Christian religions as ultimately (and usually proximately) arising from the workings of Satan. Historically Christians have also had precisely the same attitude toward all other Christians (that is, that “heretics” are seen as either consciously in league with, or the unwitting dupes of, Satan), but there has been some genuine movement in this regard over the last few centuries.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            If Pagans engage in interfaith dialogue, they encourage that genuine movement to include non-Abrahamics. If they refuse, they provide no such motivation. Which is in our long-term best interest?
            Of course, if you can’t stand the thought of it, don’t do it yourself. You probably would impede the progress.

        • Strider

          I am never a fan of these kinds of arguments on either side of the fence. I know many Christians who do not agree with me on religious issues, but they are still good friends. As far as I am concerned there are loud mouths on *both* sides. I do not advocate for intolerance, whether it is coming from Christians to Pagans or the other way around. And as Baruch says below “eradication” is not the goal of interfaith dialogues. In fact, most of the Catholics I know say that they fight amongst themselves far more than they fight with others.

        • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

          I know I shouldn’t do this, but I have to. Contrary to your statement, that is exactly why we have to be involved. If we refuse to speak with other religions about ours then we will be even more the Other than we may already be made out to be. That only makes it easier for people to make equivalencies between religions that aren’t their own (whether they be Pagan or otherwise) and evil.

          Interfaith dialog is, frankly, usually not that beneficial. More often than not, it ends in an “agree to disagree” state where, if anything, you might be able to earn a bit of intellectual respect from others if you speak well and can support your ideas. Usually — or at least usually in my experience — the dialog is set so heavily within a monotheistic paradigm that a polytheist of any stripe isn’t able to contribute in a meaningful way.

          That’s why a number of people, myself included, have begun to get involved with other religions not through dialog but through action. It becomes harder for the average person to call someone with whom they’ve packaged meals for the hungry evil, for example.

          Is this sort of activity going to change the church’s dogma any time soon. Of course not. But that’s not what we should be trying to do. Instead, let’s take our values of hospitality, security, and knowledge and translate them into results in the real world, in our communities, and with other communities. That has value. That has meaning. And, I’ve seen it change minds.

        • Guest

          I think most interfaith dialogues are cheesy and useless – but they are not typically harmful. And with many interfaith interactions in the world violent or leading to extremism, and where many people only know of other religions through whats presented online or in the news making people further divied up within groups, that is nice.

        • Sunweaver

          I’m sorry, what now?!
          That doesn’t parse.

          So, you’re saying that because there are misunderstandings between faiths, we shouldn’t build bridges by both educating and attempting to understand persons of other faiths?

          Just last night, I had a lovely conversation in our county interfaith group that includes UUs, Christian Scientists, Quakers, Baha’i, Methodists, Episcopalians, Unity church, various other Christians, Muslims, and several kinds of Pagans. The topic this month was “marriage and sexuality,” and while there were vast differences between us, we all were both inquisitive and respectful. It was an evening of learning about one another.
          We exist for the purpose of demonstrating that people of different faiths can work together toward doing good in the community (we’ve done a number of charitable works).

          Thanks to this group, there are a couple dozen more people out there from a variety of faiths that know what a Pagan is and that we are just people of faith like they are.

          Nobody’s trying to eradicate anyone. We’d much rather get together and have snacks.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        I will say it again – the POPE refuses to recognise the Pagan faiths or any ‘non-institutional’ religion. (I’d put in a link, but it was on TWH that I read about this.)

        The official stance of the Catholic Church is non communication with Pagans.

        How do you have interfaith dialogue with that?

        • Ursyl

          The Pope is not even remotely the entirety of Catholicism.

          Dialogue with local Catholics, particularly in America, is entirely possible.

          • Sunweaver

            I was gonna say, “Don’t talk to the pope, then.” There are looooots of Catholics out there who are willing to talk who aren’t the pope, some of them are even clergy!

        • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

          If the interfaith group already has non-Christian faiths represented, I’d think it was largely okay. Where I am (HI) Buddhists are actually a large enough bloc that any interfaith effort pretty much has to include them, so I don’t see why a pagan group would be any less welcome.

        • Guest

          “The official stance of the Catholic Church is non communication with Pagans”
          As far as I know, said religion doesn’t tell their adherents they can’t talk to people of other religions.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Perhaps not, but they are a dogmatic faith with a top-down power structure.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          As a Unitarian Universalist Pagan I have received a frosty reception much oftener from UU Humanists than from Christians of any stripe.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    “Many in the local Indiana Pagan community feel that the media missed a golden opportunity to showcase our charitable work.”
    Perhaps Indy Pagan Pride could meet the media half-way and issue a press release about those charitable activities.

  • kenneth

    We shouldn’t blow this incident out of its own scale or proportion, but we should also recognize that it was something more than one angry crank acting in isolation. The attitudes which informed this guy’s actions reflect the thinking of virtually all of the RCC leadership and a growing proportion of its most active and vocal membership. That doesn’t mean we should expect or look for a fight from every Catholic we run into each day, but we do need to wake up to the fact that Catholicism as a movement is a very significant driver of the “satanic panic” industry. They are as much a part of the problem as evangelicals ever were, and may in fact present a greater problem for us based on their numbers and the rapid radicalization of late.

    • Northern_Light_27

      Also, their recent rapid radicalization is tied to the evangelicals, not distinct from it. Catholicism is a major target for Dominionist steeplejacking efforts, particularly through “charismatic Catholicism”– if you see that phrase, you’re probably looking at a steeplejacked parish.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        Where I’m from ‘Steeplejacking’ means fixing the high bits on a church.

        Care to remove my ignorance?

        • Vision_From_Afar

          My guess is a play on “carjacking”, except it’s the direction and mission of the church (characterized by their steeple) that’s been “jacked”. Just a guess.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Ahh. I was overthinking the issue.

        • Northern_Light_27

          Sure: Term for the process by which theocratic Christians take over mainstream
          churches from within, with the express intent of eliminating
          progressive voices. The process is primarily encouraged by the Institute on Religion and Democracy. Term seems to be originated by Sheldon Culver, et al, in the book Steeplejacking: How the Christian Right Is Hijacking Mainstream Religion, ISBN:097719728X.

          From this glossary: http://dark-christian.clanxanadu.org/Main/Glossary

          (I’m going to continue to grumble about the lack of good, easily googleable primers on Dominionism.)

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Would you argue that the theocratics are trying to ‘reclaim’ their religion from those who seek to ‘pervert’ the message?

          • Northern_Light_27

            No, this refers to literal church takeovers, not the general being of the religion. And no, I’d have a hard time arguing that, since it’s not *their* denominations they’re trying to take over– they’re basically spreading into mainline denominations from fringe ones, using wedge issues to divide the membership, and gradually pushing out liberal and moderate members to the point where the church falls in line with their agenda and all the original members are gone.

            More info: http://ephphatha-poetry.blogspot.com/2010/06/calling-renewal-groups-to-account.html

            http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/10/06/254355/-Divide-and-conquer-Cell-Churches-and-hijacks (dogemperor is a walkaway from a Dominionist cult and probably one of the best experts on this stuff, she’s been actively researching and posting about it for years.)

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I was suggesting that, for those ‘steeplejacking’, that there are no real denominations of Christianity. Unlike Paganism, Christianity is based on a book.

            There are few who follow all of it, they prefer to pick and choose the bits that fit their pre-existing world view, as well as incorporating ideas and philosophies from other religious paths.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnWMorehead John W. Morehead

    More reasons for pagans to become formally involved in interfaith dialogue work!

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      Or possibly more reasons for believing that Christian-Pagan dialogue is either a fool’s-errand (when promoted by Pagans) or a cynical ploy (when promoted by Christians).

      • Guest

        Why interfaith dialogue? I also used to not know. Forget who is trying to convert who and “win”- that may be annoying, but that’s not important. Reason to attend or set up meetings would be that a minority faith might not want the majority’s only exposure to other religions be from online or the media who do their best to hype conflict and show the extremists. Most people would question their impressions they got about a religion being terrible if their representatives serve them a nice meal (respective of their culture) and are courteous, thoughtful, and polite.
        The indirect benefits to this is that people who are your friends and liked your hospitality never want to see your place trashed and you hurt personally. The Mosque gets along warmly with their Christian Church neighbors and can swap use of parking lots for the big festival dates, nobody protests in front of either, etc.

      • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

        An honest question that I hope doesn’t seem like snark in the light of the Internet: do you engage in interfaith work?

    • Guest

      Don’t know why someone has to do said formally, but being that this religion is the minority, the only other option is really to never do or say what one thinks, I guess.

      • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

        Formality just means that there’s people that have either volunteered or been asked to stand up and be the point people for this conversation. Without that formality, other communities of faith or of no faith do not have any clue how to get in touch with a Pagan should they want or need to. We have organizations like CoG and Circle Sanctuary that can be found fairly easily, but I truly believe that we need some sort of interfaith infrastructure within Paganism to begin to build connections between our community and others.

        To be honest, I think that same infrastructure could help to build bridges between our own traditions, too. From the outside looking in, we’re often all just Pagans, but we know that there are a wealth of traditions — some which wouldn’t even self-identify using the term Pagan — and making sure that we understand our differences is important if we want to try and share our point of view with others.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      The question that I would ask of both Christians and Pagans who promote “dialogue” is this: When did Christians stop believing that Paganism is Evil with a capital “E”?

      The New Testament, the early Church theologians (both pre and post Nicene), all of Catholic theology, and the writings of Luther and Calvin all unanimously agree that the only reason for the existence of religions other than Christianity is the influence of Satan. This is not something that has to be read in between the lines, rather it is spelled out very explicitly.

      What Christian denominations, or prominent Christian philosophers or authors, have explicitly rejected what Christianity has always taught, and acted on, in the past? Give me names and dates and references to actual documents.

      Until there is a genuine break with the historical theological position of Christianity on the intrinsically evil nature of Paganism lets “dialogue” about that first.

      • Obsidia

        Apuleius, I know you are passionate about this. Yet, I feel, really, what difference does it make if they think Paganism is evil? I know I can’t really change others. All I can do is change how I ACT. By fighting them, we give them power. If we look at them as adversaries, that’s what they will be. A child will sometimes see a Parent as an evil…someone who is preventing the child from having anything they want! We are here on One Planet with a lot of immature people. Many of those immature people are manipulated by some who use them for their own purposes. We can simply take care of our own selves and our own communities. I like how the Indianapolis Pagan Pride people ACTED in this situation. They showed their maturity.
        I feel that SOME of us are called to be “bridge people.” Those of us who have this calling approach others, on other paths. We reach out and show friendship to others, human to human. This is how we grow. We do it for OURSELVES, so we can learn to express ourselves AS WE ARE. This “bridge” path isn’t for everybody. So don’t sweat it.

        • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

          Obsidia: ” By fighting them, we give them power.”

          The Christians bring the fight to us, we don’t bring it to them.

          There is an active movement among Christians to specifically target Pagans, Buddhists and Hindus in the West and to bring us back into the Christian fold. John Morehead, whose name keeps popping up here at the Wild Hunt, is one of the leading activists and ideologues in this movement. “Dialoguing” with us is central to their efforts, which are aimed ultimately at conversion. If you listen to what Morehead and his compatriots say when they think we aren’t listening, they talk very openly about this.

          As far as the Indy Pagan Pride event goes, and the Pagans who organized it and participated in it, I have nothing but great respect and admiration for them. I lived in Indiana for almost three decades, so I know what they are up against.

  • http://www.gopagan.com/ GOPagan

    It’s somewhat tangential to this specific issue, but one thing I noticed when the Pope famously asked forgiveness a few years ago for the church’s persecution of Pagans and witches was that he asked forgiveness from his god, but not from those who were actually persecuted, nor their spiritual descendants.

    We definitely need to hold those who make these sorts of offensive and outrageous statements accountable. It’s a pernicious attitude that needs to be combated every time it rears its ugly head.

    On the plus side, when Pagans are offended by someone, we tend not to storm embassies, burn buildings, and cut peoples’ heads off. So we’ve got that going for us.

  • Katharine C.

    I find it’s very rare that Christians in general want to have open religious discourse with people of other faiths, but I fortunately DO get proven wrong from time to time. There is a group of Episcopalians at my university called the Canterbury Club that holds meetings every other week to discuss a variety of religious-centered topics. I’ve been going to these meetings for almost 2 years, with full disclosure that I’m Pagan. The meetings used to be called Pizza, Beer, and Jesus, but a couple of months ago, they changed the name to Pizza, Beer, and Religion, out of respect for myself and for the increasing number of members who are of minority or no religious faith. I am frequently invited to talk about Pagan-centered topics, especially surrounding holy days, such as Samhain and All Soul’s Day, or Ostara and Easter. They have never once tried to proselytize me; they’ve only invited me to their church services, and I’ve attended a few times and felt very welcome. I’m not a fan of Christianity in general, but there are Christians out there who are awesome people. People who aren’t afraid to answers hard questions about their faith and be willing to hear alternative answers. The Canterbury Club and I have spoken many times on the negative propaganda and pop culture references to Pagansim and witchcraft, and they actively promote interfaith discourse and understanding, in ways that go far beyond pure tolerance. The next time we meet, I am going to bring up the stories you’ve spoken about in your last couple of posts and I’m excited to hear their opinions about them. Jason, thank you so much for continuing to bring these stories to a wider audience. I appreciate and look forward to your blog more than any others.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      “They have never once tried to proselytize me; they’ve only invited me to
      their church services, and I’ve attended a few times and felt very
      welcome.”
      That’d be what I call ‘soft evangelism’.

      Why would they want someone to go to their church services if not to worship their god? Another term commonly used for ‘Church Service’ is ‘Collective Worship’. Even the peal of church bells before a service is known as a ‘call to prayer/worship’.

      I very much doubt they’d be happy for their church to be used for the worship of any other gods.

      (I say all this as someone who grew up within the Church of England.)

      • Strider

        I would never expect them to want me to worship Lugh in their church. That seems like a rather common sense notion, and one that does not stem from hate. Inviting people to talk and understand one another is not “soft evangelism” it is a simple act of building bridges and one that I deeply respect.

        I know that many of us have trauma from interaction with Christianity and family members who are Christian. But one of the lessons I have learned from my studies in magic and from the mouths of the Sídhe is that part of our work is to heal the mistakes/ignorance of our ancestors, not demonize them for it. Fighting fire with water. It just works better.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          I have no problem with Christians or it’s structure. It’s their pantheon I despise. That isn’t trauma, that is just strong preference.

          Weren’t the Sidhe great warriors, until they stopped fighting and promptly disappeared from the face of the world?

          • Strider

            I am not sure what your history of the Sídhe is based on here?

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Folklore.

          • Strider

            Such as?

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            How about the idea that the Sidhe are the remnants of the Tuatha Dé Danann who retreated underground after their ‘defeat’ by the Milesians?

            As the Tuatha, the Sidhe were mighty warriors who legends are primarily of combat (notably against the Fomor).

  • Ursyl

    It was good to get the real story from those involved. Thank-you.

    May I make a suggestion that the Indiana group find someone to do some proofreading of the articles, please? Messing up elementary level grammar does not add to the credibility of any organization.


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