Project Conversion

Project Conversion


The Trouble with Being a Pagan Today.

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At the beginning of the month, a few Pagans (particularly within the Wiccan community) issued me a list of hard questions.

Was I willing to face discrimination for my new Wiccan personae? Could I stomach threats to take away my family for my beliefs? Would I risk losing my job, facing ridicule at work, social excommunication? Just how far could I go?

I’ve lived as a Wiccan for 29 days and I have yet faced persecution. My pentacle necklace attracts the occasional stare and my friends toss the occasional “witch joke,” but I can’t say I’ve felt uncomfortable. No, that was my month as a Sikh when I felt that way. What I have found is that a great number of Wiccans and Pagans live normal lives unencumbered by persecution.

But that isn’t the case for everyone.

Yesterday’s post touched on the scriptural basis for why Wiccans and Witches face social pressures. Today, thanks to the help of the Congregation, I will bring to light a few examples of contemporary struggles that plague this faith community today. I will offer a brief overview of the event and provide links to the full story. I encourage you to take time in reading about and internalize these occurrences.

  • Witch-burning in Africa: “The mob dragged them out of their houses and burned them individually and then set their homes alight…The mob came to his door and dismembered his wife, a retired schoolteacher.”
  • Forcing Christian prayers at non-Christian military funerals: Turns out that a few die-hard members of the American Legion, The National Memorial Ladies, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and a local Texas pastor are in a legal conflict with the Department of Veteran Affairs, accusing the department of “banning” mention of God or Jesus at military funerals. Trouble is, not all of our service members are Christian, so why should there be a Christian-based formula prayer for every warrior?
  • The Apostolic Reformation wants Bible as law of the land. The event is called “DC40″ in which members of the right-wing Christian group gather in Washington, DC in order to prayer and lobby for spiritual change in the United States. Christian doctrine should be law, in their eyes. Pagans organized a counter event in which the goddess, Columbia (a representation of which sits atop the capital building) was honored and prayers offered up for a continuation of religious freedom.

 

These are but a few stories regarding persecution and discrimination against the wider Pagan community. Each one is deplorable and inexcusable. As a member of another faith (or no faith at all) I hope you read each of these stories and feel a sense of urgency for change. We’ve covered these issues before with other faiths this year. Remember the Baha’is being slaughtered in Iran? What about the struggles of the Latter-day Saints in their trek across the country? How about the Sikhs and their martyrs?

We cannot forget that this disease is present within every faith and culture and that only through education and our shared humanity can we snuff out this sickness. No, I haven’t personally faced these social ills, but does that disqualify me from learning about them and sharing information with others? Ignorance breeds the hatred which perpetuates these crimes against humanity. My job this year is to help destroy this ignorance. Will it ever be enough? No. But then again, who wants to get involved in a pissing contest of who suffers the most? That’s not a competition I want anyone to win. By ending the bickering and infighting we can join together regardless of your spiritual disposition take part in the cause of peace and coexistence.



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abowen

posted November 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm


Aine,

Thank you. I thought it was a subject that needed more light, so hopefully it made at least some impact. I’m sorry you had a rough time in school. That’s the sort of change I’m aiming for.



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Aine Llewellyn

posted November 2, 2011 at 3:04 am


Very good post. I think you are doing an interesting project, exploring each of these faiths, and I’m glad you spoke about discrimination. The worst it has gotten for me was two years of harassment in high school (called devil child, shoved into bathrooms and told I needed to convert, etc etc). (Though I feel that itself was karma for my 12 year old intolerance and taught me many a valuable lesson about kindness.)

Sadly, Pagans who write online (or publish) or really just speak out in anyway get snapped at, berated, and harassed by their own community because they didn’t get one thing right. Which you saw, sort of…while Pagans do love debate and I don’t mind that, there are many that love just being snarky and mean. Which can sometimes suck worse than having some stranger give you a weird look because of your Thor’s Hammer, pentacle, triskele, etc



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abowen

posted October 30, 2011 at 3:14 pm


Iris,

Your attitude is beautiful. Pents out proud.



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abowen

posted October 30, 2011 at 3:12 pm


MerHart,

Boom.



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abowen

posted October 30, 2011 at 3:12 pm


Zia,

Thank you for sharing this. I’m sick to my stomach now, but the truth is seldom comfortable.



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Iris

posted October 30, 2011 at 4:07 am


I have been a member of the Pagan community for many years, although only becoming so in the past couple, I was the token open-minded Christian at that time.

Over the years I have seen children taken from parents for being Wiccan (not stated obviously but for skyclad rituals in their bedroom, the athame being in reach of 10 year olds, candles being lit and ‘questionable’ herbs being in the house {when was rosemary questionable?})

I have been in companies that if they knew I was even open to the idea of Pagans I would have been fired. I have seen others lose their jobs for being of alternate faith than the administration.

Another friend was shot at, losing his back windshield because of a pentacle bumper sticker. We know this was religion related since the shooter screamed about my friend being a devil worshiper.

Discrimination is rampant, it scares me when I go into the world with my pentacle showing, but I do anyways as we should travel in perfect love and perfect trust in the Goddess and God.



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MerHart

posted October 29, 2011 at 6:38 pm


YES.
Suffering is not a competitive sport. The problem isn’t persecution of Wiccans, or Sikhs. Or Muslims, or Latter-Day Saints. It’s intolerance and bigotry – period.



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Zia

posted October 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm


I have been fortunate in that I have only worked at large companies with well-defined anti-discrimination policies since realizing I am a Witch, and that there have been no custody challenges while my daughter was young enough for that to be an issue.

One young woman of my acquaintance had to leave her mother’s home where she had been contributing a good part of her income, time, and effort toward keeping the household running and together when a judge threatened to take her underage siblings away from her mother — their custodial parent — because she, a Wiccan, was living in the house.

Three friends who worked for smaller or non-profit businesses/groups lost their jobs, one when her pentacle slipped out of her t-shirt, one for participating in a public ritual, and one simply for being in the park where a “Pagan Picnic” was taking place. In these three cases, the people did not file suit as they had no time while looking for new jobs and trying to feed their families.



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