Growing the Pagan Community
In a previous article I asked if Paganism was the fastest growing religion in the United States. While it is a very quickly growing spirituality – one of the quickest world-wide – our numbers are very small. About 0.3% of the American population considers themselves Pagan. This number also remains small in various other countries around the world (except if you want to include Hindu India and other Ethnic Traditions)
So the first question to ask is this:
Would it be good for Pagans if the Pagan Community was bigger?
My personal answer to this is YES.
More Religious Tolerance for our Community
Imagine a world where a church would be on one corner and a temple to Artemis on the other. Imagine trading Yule and Saturnalia cards at work along with Christmas cards as if it were no big deal. Imagine the idea that you could tell your friends, family and co-workers that you are teaching your child the Runes and the wisdom of your ancestors without anyone bating an eyelash.
Why is Hinduism an accepted religion while in many ways, a tradition like Asatru is not? Because Hinduism has millions of followers world-wide. Yet both traditions have multiple Gods.
If a community is small and elite, few people will know about it. There are still many people out there today who believe that Paganism is associated with Satanism as well as a whole host of other myths. There are also people out there who don’t believe we should ask for rights or recognition – or even have the right to exist for that matter. A wave of anger and annoyance rippled across the Pagan Community earlier this year when the Fox News “report” on Paganism ended up being a barf salad of stereotypes. Did they do their research on Yahoo answers?
I’m not saying I wish EVERYONE was Pagan. I just wish we lived in a world where more people knew what our community represented so that the people who do want to be Pagans can practice their religion openly and freely.
What Would Public Acceptance Look Like?
FOR ONE IT WOULD LOOK LIKE LESS OF THIS CRAP! Also…
The ability to take our holy days off from work.
The ability to wear our religious insignia without retaliation.
The ability of Pagans to follow their beliefs in the work, military, school or yes – even prison – environment without retaliation. (I mention prison because there is a large amount of pressure on prisoners to attend Christian themed recovery/rehabilitation programs.)
The ability for parents to pass their beliefs onto their children without fear of someone calling CPS. (Rare but sometimes happens).
Some Ideas For Growing the Community
Have more public awareness events! Check Meetup.com for Pagan Pride Days in your area.
Start a club at your university/college (if you are going to one).
Have an open booth/event where you discuss paganism at your university/college.
Start a blog!
Express your spirituality in art and music.
Get out of the broom closet! (Unless this action might put you in physical danger or get your kids taken away…then find a comfy broom to sit on).
Be more open about your beliefs with your friends and family. (I’m working on this.)
Don’t be afraid to teach your children about Paganism. Not saying you should “brainwash” them, just saying that it doesn’t hurt to explain your beliefs while giving them the freedom to explore other faiths as well. Patheos has a good article on this.
You don’t have to be a missionary or a Jupiter’s Witness throwing lightning bolts at non-believers…as cool as that sounds. But I think if we are more willing to share our beliefs with our local communities, we’ll help to spread tolerance for Paganism in a natural and organic way.
Agreed – on all points. I think many, if not most, within the community want the levels of acceptance that would come with a larger community. The problem, however, comes along when you ask the question, “what are you willing to give up to have it?” I, for one, would love to see the day when there is a Temple of Artemis sitting across the street from the 1st Baptist Church. The only way to build those temples is for folks to give up a little of the control that they cling to – to transform individual worship into community worship. The community has to want that. I’m not sure it does – yet.
September 6, 2013 at 6:42 pm
Yea to have a polytheistic religion that deserves respect you have to have lots of money, build large temples, and be able to afford lawyers, though the ACLU helps the rest of us uphold our rights. BTW i Love the cartoons, LOL.
September 7, 2013 at 7:50 am
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so glad i found this sight. in agreement to this article id like to state that i work to extend helpful relations to the community in the name of furthering our freedoms as pagans. i am open and proud about my beliefs and i frequently donate to local christian charities anonymously but always signing my notes with “Blessed Be” and a pentacle, in hopes of showing them that we are good, generous, giving people as well. however, i tend to get a lot of pressure from my christian relatives to attend church and teach my daughter christian beliefs(so not happening).
December 15, 2013 at 2:33 am
Glad you like my website! I’m also glad you have the courage to be open about your beliefs. Have a blessed holiday!
December 16, 2013 at 11:15 am
Found you website in a google search for links between heavy metal and the pagan religions.
Metal Gaia, you’ve just earned a dozen awesomeness points for referencing meetup.com. It was through meetup that I found, among other things, pagan groups in my local area.
I think people have this ‘phobia’ of Asatru because of its widely publicized ‘connection’ to right-wing politics and Neo-Nazi’s. It’s funny you mention Hinduism in the same sentence. Savitri Devi, “Hitler’s Priestess”, was a Hindu-mystic who spied on Allied powers occupying India at the time. Savitri Devi is a little-known figure, so the Nazi-Hindu link is lost on many.
I also don’t proclaim everyone should be pagan, that paganism is a pre-requisite for charisma and ethics, or that embracing paganism makes one infallible. Nonetheless, I think many of the religious “none’s” from another of your articles might actually give paganism a fair chance…if they knew about it. Modern paganism is still a fringe crowd, so if the “none’s” are oblivious to it, that is no surprise.
Since when does Fox News do anything that even vaguely resembles research? Pagans are not the only victims of Fox propaganda campaigns…
Keep it up. I love your site…even if I don’t agree with everything you write on it.
December 4, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Thanks for checking out my blog! Sorry it took wordpress so long to notify me about your comment. I think many of the “religious nones” in our world aren’t necessarily atheists, but people who believe in something without a label.
I don’t think that is much different from ancient times, a time before the word “religion” existed. People didn’t have this idea of “religion” being a nice, neat package of beliefs. There were simply the local Gods of the people, and then the foreign Gods who would be appropriated when new people were encountered.
I’m not sure if people will embrace Paganism in our time (even though that would be awesome). I think it will be more like people without a spiritual label embracing a variety of different practices from different traditions – like meditation, prayer, yoga, and the celebration of various holidays.
Even the idea of going to different churches isn’t a big deal today – like it used to be. I think we’re going to see more syncretism and less specifics over time.
December 5, 2014 at 10:17 am