Being Publicly Pagan

November 22, 2006 at 10:28 am Leave a comment

Despite being rather outspoken on politics and current events, when it comes to religion I’m actually pretty moderate about discussing it. When I was younger I probably would’ve been louder about it, but after spending more time out in the community, particularly in a student pagan group, I’ve realized a better way to educate people is take a diplomatic approach.
I go to a Christian college and I’m open about my faith when it comes up, but I try not to make a bigger deal of religion than other people around me do. And if I’m in a situation/place that’s more conservative/close-minded then I just keep quiet, unless there is actual discrimination/harassment going on. Though even in that situation, I’d rather say vaguely that I’m “spiritual” or that my religion is a private matter, than pretend to be Christian or secular. When religion does come up -like if someone asks, unless it seems an inappropriate context, or they seem hostile I will answer truthfully.

Usually people either:

a) Don’t care or don’t want to seem nosy and don’t ask for more info beyond the label.
b) Polite or curious enough to listen to a “sound-bite” explanation. That’s one of the skills I’ve learned from tabling for UPS. Many people have short attention spans, and you need an explanation that is simple and not confusing to an outsider. Mentioning that it’s an *umbrella* term is often helpful. A lot of people have run across references to Wicca and such, and giving them more info often registers an “Oh, now I get it!”

c) are interested ask for a longer explanation, sometimes getting into a discussion, and even revealing that a friend/cousin etc. of theirs is Pagan, or that they themselves are Pagan! And it’s because of the C’s that I am out, and also for the A’s and B’s because I’m raising positive visibility.

I have encountered negative reactions very rarely, only once from a supposed “friend”. Though perhaps the “Oh, *silence* response is the Minnesota nice equivalent of a negative reaction. This is all partially because I live in a very liberal urban area, and partially because I’m careful. The important thing to me is to live by your beliefs, too many people loudly proclaim they’re this or that, while not walking their talk.

This topic came up from a friend who was discussing the Dominant Cultural Holiday dilemma. When acquaintances, sales-clerks and such tell me “Merry Christmas” I just take it as ordinary politeness. It’s really more of a cultural than religious thing. People do not go around telling you “Happy Easter” even though it’s actually the most important holiday for Christians. Then of course, remember Yule refers to both the Pagan and Christian holiday, that’s what it’s called in Germanic languages- Jul, Yul, Yule etc. So you can just wish everyone happy Yule and be done with it!
Anyways, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! (at least that’s a religiously neutral holiday)


Entry filed under: Interfaith, Pagan Communities.

Decline of the Civil Rights Movement Holiday Greetings

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