(Originally posted 8/8/08) While Pagans like to maintain a reputation, at least among ourselves, of being open minded, accepting and non-judgemental, I have repeatedly found myself in the uncomfortable position of defending Christianity against my fellows. This invariably leads to me being accused of being Christian myself, which puts me on the defensive and later has me wondering why I was so insulted at being accused of being a Christian. After all, my mom’s a Christian and so are my in-laws and they’re all very nice people.
I understand that many people in the community fled Christianity and found shelter in Paganism. I understand that many Pagans feel the Christianity is so infused into our culture that it’s impossible to escape. I understand that many Pagans feel that they are discriminated against by the Christian majority. And I understand that many Christian traditions were originally Pagan traditions. But none of this is an excuse to unleash bigotry and vitriol on an entire religion and all of its adherents.
Perhaps I do not feel the hostility toward Christianity that some of my fellows do because I did not flee Christianity. It is true that I had a very strict Christian father and aunt who I had pretty much determined by age 15 were lunatics. But I also had my own ideas about religion and Christianity itself. I knew that when I was condemned to hell by my aunt unless I repented to God for talking back to her, that she had no authority to condemn me anywhere. I knew that because I had gone to Sunday school and to confirmation class (which I heartily enjoyed) and I knew that no mortal, no matter how pious she believed herself to be, had the power to condemn me anywhere. That was up to God. Besides, the Bible told me to honor my mother and father, not my crazy aunt. I didn’t have a problem with the 10 commandments, though I didn’t see how anybody followed them and since everybody was a sinner and could be saved if they admitted it, I sort of viewed them as helpful suggestions anyway.
My problem with Christianity was simple. It was the God. I didn’t like him. I thought he was a pompous fool and a hypocrite. He meant nothing to me. This big spiritual ghosty guy in the sky who is so separate from humanity and has no idea what it’s like to be human (and no, living on earth for 30 years without any real material responsibilities, knowing you’re God the whole time and that you’re never going to really die and can’t be hurt until you decide to allow it doesn’t count as learning what it’s like to be human) going around making unreasonable rules and demands and deciding who gets to live and die- no, I couldn’t take orders from that guy. I couldn’t respect Him. Besides, it was completely illogical to think that He was the only God. The Bible itself contradicted the idea. I mean, if he was the only God, who was he talking to in Genesis before He created anybody? And if Adam and Eve were the first and only people, who did Cain marry? And who created her? And if there were no other Gods, why would the God of Abraham have to say “Though shalt have no other Gods before me”? I mean, that’s like me saying, “Though shalt have no other female, brown-eyed, five foot five, chubby white data entry clerks with an Anthropology degree and two kids and a dog named Griffin before me”. If none other exists, there’s none to put before, and there’s no point in talking about it!
Anyway, so yea. I didn’t leave Christianity because I hated it, or I thought it was inherently wrong or bad or its rules too stifling. I left it because it was illogical. And so, I don’t have hostility the way some other folks do, so it’s hard for me to understand how people think it’s okay to bash Christians at Pagan gatherings. My fiance said to me one day “Man, I don’t like Christianity, you know what? When I go to Christian gatherings with my parents, they don’t sit around and talk about what the Pagans are doing.”
Our culture is very infused with Christianity, but it’s becoming more secularized all the time. You hear alot more about fundamentalists these days because they are responding to the secularization of our country. It’s not getting more Christian, I assure you. Once upon a time you could go to jail for adultery. That’s not the case anymore, for better or worse. Now you see adultery on the TV all the time. Our leaders are adulterers and we’re cool with it. I like to watch old episodes of Star Trek from the 60s and there are all kinds of Christian themes there. Just yesterday I watched one about a civilization that was very much like Rome, but they had sun worshipers and they talked about how weird it was until it dawned on them that they were worshiping the Son of God, and then it was great and wonderful. That wouldn’t be on regular TV today, it wouldn’t be politically correct. The network would get all kinds of nasty emails.
I know folks who are constantly griping about this puritanical society we live in. Some go so far as to say that if the society weren’t so puritanical, that we’d all be able to explore our fantasies in healthy ways and there would be no sexual deviance or rape or other violent crime. I think this person hasn’t watched any television lately. Btw. I don’t let my kids watch TV, but while I was on vacation there was a TV in the hotel room and I thought, just for fun I’d watch it. About a dozen penis enlargement commercials later, I was convinced that I sure hadn’t missed anything in the last 10 years since I watched TV. This is a puritanical society? Where sex, drugs, disrespecting authority and graphic violence are part of everyday entertainment? Mostly naked women are used to sell everything from cars to chewing gum to life insurance. Puritanical my ass. It’s repulsive. We’re bombarded with images of sex and violence all the time, even those of us who don’t watch TV. Do you think the Christians approve of this? I assure you they do not.
I also hear a lot of screaming about people being discriminated against by Christians but I honestly don’t see it happening very often. Personally, I am out. I have always been out. It never occurred to me not to be. I told my minister when I was 14 years old that God didn’t make sense to me and I didn’t like Him much and asked what other options there were. He told me of course that there weren’t any, you either worship God or you don’t. But I went looking and found more and I asked a lot of questions on the way, shared my discoveries with my family and friends and that doesn’t lend itself well to secrecy. I have never been discriminated against. Yes, it’s true that there are some family members who aren’t coming to the wedding, but they’re all coming to the reception, so that’s cool. In all the jobs I’ve had, no one has ever put up a stink about giving me my holidays off and they generally appreciate me volunteering to work Christian holidays. So, I have no experience with discrimination based on my religion (though I have been discriminated against for being white and a single mother.)
Many people are scared to come out of the “broom closet” and insist that they will be discriminated against if they do. They point to isolated incidences, of which there are a few a year, most of which involve additional issues beyond religion. The fact is, you are protected by law. It is legal to be Pagan, it is illegal to discriminate against you for it. The government is behind you on this and if they fail to back you up, the ACLU will. But please, make sure you aren’t breaking any actual laws or city ordinances while being discriminated against because then you’re out of luck. You are not protected from being Pagan while naked in public, violating city noise and pollution ordinances, abusing animals, creating graffiti art, having sex with teenagers or using illegal drugs. Your job is not protected from religious discrimination while you are chronically late, argumentative, rude to customers, not following the dress code or habitually absent. You are not protected from religious discrimination in school if you are using your religion as an excuse to violate the dress code, harass Christians, or cut yourself. Let’s just be logical, shall we?
Finally, I come to Pagan traditions “stolen” by the Christians. I have news for you. It wasn’t the Christians, it was the Romans. And the Romans did that sort of thing, even when they were Pagan. All the time. It was the Roman thing to do. When the Romans became Christian of their own free will (or rather, by their leadership’s command) they continued doing things the way Romans do them.
But you know what? Regardless of who stole what from whom, does it matter? I mean, can’t you just hide your Ostara eggs and decorate your Yule tree and shut the hell up about where it came from? Who cares who had it first? They aren’t getting royalties. It's Walmart that's winning in that department. You’re not losing anything. Suck it up. And when they say Merry Christmas, you can be smug in the knowledge that decorating trees and exchanging gifts have nothing to do with Christ, who was born when the sheep were lambing and respond “Thank you! And a blessed Yuletide/Holiday season to you!”
All of this may be irrelevant to you, but here’s something else. My mother is a Christian. I love my mother. I think she’s awesome. She likes Pagans just fine, assuming they’re respectful to her. She doesn’t generalize based on religion. She takes the time to know someone before she judges and religion isn't something she normally even checks on. She goes to church every Sunday and served on the Board of Deacons. So can you please stop generalizing a group to which my mother belongs, because she doesn’t hate you. As a matter of fact, she is a big part of the craft section of my websites. Okay? We good? Thanks.
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