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Patti Wigington

How to Talk to Pagans

By April 21, 2011

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So yesterday, a friend sent me a link to a blog post by Matt Stone, who is an evangelical blogger over at Glocal Christianity. The post in question was, ostensibly, a list of helpful hints for evangelicals on how to talk to Pagans. While I realize that it was written in a manner intended to be positive, the further I read, the more obnoxious I found the whole thing. Oh, Stone includes lots of nice things, like "Do focus on relationships" and "Don't be quick to demonize," but on the whole, it comes across as incredibly condescending.

Stone says there's an emphasis on relationships, but really the only one he talks about is relationship with God. There's no real focus on cultivating friendships with Pagans -- or people of any other faith -- without ultimately having conversion as the goal. He says, Pagans are people, just like us, and they appreciate a personable approach. You know what I appreciate more? Someone who is genuinely interested in talking to me, and not just trying to win a free toaster oven by converting me to their belief system.

There's also a slide show at the top, which I can only assume is designed as a sort of Field Guide to Pagans, to help readers spot Pagans in their natural environment. There are stock images of Druids at Stonehenge, people in robes dancing around fires, a half-naked chick, and a variety of Big Name Pagan authors. There is a glaring absence of Pagans doing things like balancing our checkbooks, changing the oil in our cars, feeding the dog, or priming the wall in the kitchen so we can paint over the spot where the kids spilled hot cocoa.

He tells readers, Your story is what makes the good news real, plausible, and hopefully even attractive. I gotta be honest here. I have tons of Christian friends, and every single one of them demonstrates their faith and belief by their actions and behavior. They can sit there and tell me how they came to accept Jesus, but the bottom line is I'm far more impressed by what people DO than what they say. And again, if the whole purpose of sharing your story with me is make conversion "attractive," then really, it's no different than if you had invited me to your house for dinner and then started pitching an Amway spiel at me.

Ultimately, while I think Stone probably had good intentions in writing the piece, it's still an article on how to be an effective salesperson. And again, it's condescending as hell, because if you have to tell someone "don't be judgmental, be nice, listen to what they say," then it's not a religious issue at all. It's about cultivating a decent relationship with someone, that is not based upon racking up a potential convert.

Nowhere in Stone's list is the notion of respecting the beliefs of the other person. There's the underlying assumption that if we're Pagan we must not be truly happy, and we're just waiting for the right person to come along and tell us about Jesus. It doesn't even cross Stone's mind that perhaps some of us may be quite familiar with the Bible, and yet have decided that we can form loving relationships with a non-Christian deity anyway.

Blogger Hecate points out, "I can't get over the notion that, in a different context, this same post could be called "How to Talk to Black People" or "How to Get a Women's Libber to Date You." And she's exactly right, because the entire article is written as though Stone is explaining how one should interact with stubborn kindergartners, not with real people who have feelings and thoughts and are worthy of respect.

If you're a Christian, and you want to sit with me over coffee and have a theological discussion, that's awesome, I'm all for it. I'll ask you how your kids are doing in soccer, you can tell me how much you love your new mp3 player, we'll kvetch about our taxes, and so forth. And then, we can drift into a respectful conversation about what you believe and what I believe, and then we'll both be on our way with smiles on our faces. Because "talking to Pagans" isn't anything special. "Talking to people," however, is the basis for any relationship of value.

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Comments
April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm
(1) John says:

Very well said! Infact, a few months ago I was sitting in a dentist office waiting for a tooth extraction. A man that was christian decided that he felt the need to share with me all the news of the bible (I used to be an ordained christian minister). And we had a very good, long, and interesting conversation. It was oddly refreshing! Yet, there had to be a downer “christian” who simply must make their presence known. After about 40 minutes, an older woman stands up and speaks to the entire waiting room stating that she doesnt have to listen to our non-sense, her daughter doesn’t have to listen, and that shes leaving. Everyone can just burn in hell for all she cared. Then i calmly asked her to answer one question for me. “Ma’am, if what we were talking about was bothering you, why would you NEVER say anything, or ask that we stop? Instead, you sat there, festered in you contempt, hate, and juggemental bigotry while assuming that either myself, or my new friend here could automatically read your mind. Now i find it odd that you assume/expect that either of us should psychicly know your upset, yet if we actually did, then you would accost us as being of the devil and being magic. So please ma’am, tell me what either of us could have done to have ever made you happy.” She then proceeded to stomp out of that office like a 3 year old throwing a tantrum in the cereal isle of Wal-mart. But, on the good news of that event, it invited everyone from that waiting to all participate (on some level) to a light hearted theological discussion. So yes, it is possible to live civil with each other. Just need to seperate the bad apples (control freaks).

April 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm
(2) Ariasna says:

Hecate is right. This is a perfect example of discrimination that is okay in society because it’s not motivated by racism, heterosexism, androcentrism, or any number of other “-isms,” except for Judeo-Christianism (is that even a term?). This focus on Abrahamic religions is thought to be okay since the majority of Americans are Christian or Jewish (Notice that Islam also descended from Abraham, yet is unacceptable). We Pagans need to stand up for ourselves and not let our valid religious path be denigrated.

April 26, 2011 at 11:12 pm
(3) kk says:

you know what….. “christianity’ is one of VERY few religions that isn’t an “ism” (and was certainly the first in mind for myself)…
buddhism
sikhism
hinduism
confusianism (sp?)
taoism
paganism
judaism
even catholocism.

… who’da thunk?… ;)

April 28, 2011 at 10:38 am
(4) Hellbilly says:

Dude… “Catholicism”? Really?

Did I miss the memo when the founding Christian church ceased to be… Christian?

April 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm
(5) Autumn says:

I found it terribly insulting! It’s not how to talk to Pagans, it’s how to convert them! Pagans are people, not some sort of weird alien. Talk to us like you’ve known us your whole lives!

April 26, 2011 at 8:49 am
(6) dorian says:

i totally agree with you it is insulting and we are spoken to like little children who have lost their way. we are all on a long journey before we get to a situation where everyone respects other peoples religious beliefs.

April 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm
(7) PaganRoots says:

This bothers me every day with christians and muslims, we live in Europe btw. They always call my pagan way of life satanic and evil. Tell me only Jesus can save me and mock my beliefs, symbols and even clothing. This seriously happens every day, we hear insults like treehugger, witch, demon, retard, satanist, even nazi etc. Some fanatics even roll on the ground praying and yelling… yeah, we dress up like vikings, but still… :P

I actually can’t live with (orthodox) christians and even avoid them as much as possible, which is very difficult considering almost the whole world population is either christian or muslim. Luckily not many christians venture far into the woods, probably too scary, so most of the time we hide in the wilderness :)

April 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm
(8) Diana says:

Now that I’m done shaking my head… It seems Mr. Stone believes you need to walk on “eggshells” when around Pagans and we are all uneducated and uncivilized. Almost every Pagan I’ve spoken to knows more about Christianity and the Bible than most Christians. I found his quote from Peter almost comical…“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
The standard answer from Christians is “The Bible says…” or “It’s in the Bible” as if this ONE book has all the answers and I haven’t met a Christian yet who truly follows the Bible. “Share yourself as you share God; share God as you share yourself.” Are you willing to openmindedly listen as I share myself, my spirituality and beliefs after I have so patiently listened as you shared? I hope so. Unfortunatly, there are too many unwilling to do so.
My favorite quote is…”There is no one right path, there is only the path that is right for you.”

April 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm
(9) Em Graves says:

I probably would have been offended way back when, but I’ve come to find myself so at peace with my faith that when I read such nonsense as this evangelical “How To” guide, it only serves to crack me up.

I honestly do not understand this need to convert — do we chalk it up to a human’s natural competitive instincts? How childish.

It’s funny — whenever I find myself confronted by a “my way is the only way” Christian, it always turns out that I know more about their holy book than they do! It never fails to amuse me. :)

April 21, 2011 at 6:19 pm
(10) Rande says:

I find this very funny. He’s a control freak and wants everyone to be just like him. Well we as HUMANS all come in different shapes and sizes and some of us actually have different spiritual beliefs as well. I see it this way, if BOTH of my grandmas were excepting of my choice before they passed away then who is anyone else to ‘condemn’ me of my spiritual path? However my mom and I don’t see eye to eye, but she’s slowly coming around, but she doesn’t try to convert me. Yes, she does throw the bible at me a LOT. I’m still her daughter and she knows I’m NOT this evil being, she knows I’m in a positive spiritual path, just not one she would have chosen for me. My close personal friends know that I’m pagan and they love me for who I am, Christian or not. Some of my older (age) are realizing that I’m Pagan and they don’t say much because I’m still me I’m still the same person that they’ve talked to and been around. That’s how it should be. Know someone for WHO they are NOT WHAT they are. I thought that’s what the bible taught you anyway, or at least that’s how my mom raised me to believe. Hell my family was invited to an Easter Sunday dinner. Don’t think I didn’t say no, I said yes. My kids are gonna go on a Easter Egg hunt, good food, great friends. We wont discuss religion, we’ll just enjoy our day. They wont try to convert us. It will be awesome. Just as if I invited them over to our house for a Pagan holiday.

April 21, 2011 at 6:36 pm
(11) Haakon says:

Living in a desert climate it’s rare to go out clothed so as to cover my Germanic Heathen tattoos or my amulets. So I get approached by the xians all the time, “Have you heard about jesus/the bible?” “Why no, I’ve been living in a hollowed out log all my life – what’s jesus/the bible?” Or, “I’d like to read you this interesting bible verse.” “Aren’t they all interesting? What makes that one more interesting than others? Are you sure it’s more interesting? Could you read that again? One more time? Nope. Not interesting.”

You get the idea. I usually end things with, “I’ve had this discussion with better xians than you,” and “I assure you I know more about your religion than you do.”

Of course I bite my tongue to avoid vocalizing what I’m actually thinking… “A thousand years ago I’d have run you through and hung your shield in my Mead Hall.” :-)

April 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm
(12) Cyn says:

Adding these quips to my “box’o'things to say”.

Ever had a very pushy fundamentalist that would not leave you alone? Finally after hearing multiple times “Have you found Jesus?” I answered, “No. Don’t tell me you people lost him AGAIN!. Try installing a tracking device. Check the prisons, I hear they keep finding him there.” At least it shut them up.

Normally I answer in the spirit of the way the question was asked. But sometimes being polite just doesn’t get the message across.

April 26, 2011 at 10:44 pm
(13) crane123 says:

I just had to reply to this! I love it! Well thought, even if it went unsaid.

May 2, 2011 at 10:01 pm
(14) Althea says:

Unfortunatley no matter where you live someone is always going to turn up their nose, preach or get frightened by what is unknown or what they have very little knowledge of. Special thanks to disney for all the evil scorcerer and witch images (my favorite being Ursula) for the early impressions that get put in peoples heads. As soon as i came out of the “broom closet” i would have people ask me things like “can you hex the store manager?” “why yes, just let me get my voodoo doll revenge kit!”or “do you sacrafice small animals?” “sorry i don’t do small animals anymore, my heathen gods prefer goats”. or theres my all time favorite “you know’re going to hell right?” “oh for sure i plan to pull up a lawn chair an roast marshmellows over your eternal hell fire” Seroiusly people educate yourselves. if you told me venice was in mexico i would laugh at you. you saying that i worship satan and dance around a bonfire adorned in nothing but babies blood is all the same brand of ignorance. i’m all about what goes around comes around and practicing patience in the face of ignorance but still i cant help but find myself wishing i had pikes to adorn my gates or my own mead hall.

April 21, 2011 at 7:25 pm
(15) Streghe says:

I think I’m sort of guilty of the same actually, I feel like you have to explain some of our paths/traditions very carefully to them (any faith with roots to Abraham), sort of like explaining Quantum Physics to an eight year old.

Always with the opening line “we don’t believe in Satan…..” Then it’s fun to watch the expressions on their faces “like for real……really…..you don’t believe in Satan”…….nope not even a little. But in all reality I’ve actually had better luck converting them to either having an open mind or coming to a pagan coffee night and actually learning more, or converting all together.

But hey thats what they do……we keep silent……….they however do not…..peace, light and knowledge, help spread all three!

April 22, 2011 at 3:59 am
(16) Rahel says:

@Haakon
Lol! I want to see your Mead Hall!

April 22, 2011 at 10:02 pm
(17) Solitaire says:

I totally agree with @Em Graves and @Haakon. I have even had the Jehovah Witnesses come to my door and even THEY are more open then the “my way only Christians” In fact the ladies that came to my door had a very open and free conversation on what we each believed. Then all they ever did was leave the literature in my mail slot. I have much more respect for this usually persistent pain group after my encounter with these ladies. Also, when I get the have you heard the good news, people I say yeah I go to a nice Protestant church. Oh and if you are confused because of the pentacle ’round my neck, the Senior Pastor says it means I keep the rest of the Congregation honest. But then again he is a bit on the Unitarian side of things. :) I do love the how to lists, they make me laugh, I have heard enough disparagement from the “know it all” Christians that it doesn’t even make me angry just sad. Sad because they obviously don’t KNOW Jesus at all, he would have let me be me. That is in the Bible too. Light Love and Blessings to All

April 26, 2011 at 8:45 pm
(18) Buddhagan says:

Former JW here. Sadly, my own mother, JW for over 40 yrs, emailed me several bible verses when I told her I was studying wicca/witchcraft. I plan on writing her a civil letter for IPCOD on May 2nd. I will tell her that I’ve come home and I’m not ashamed to be pagan like I was to be JW.

BTW, I think the catholic church published an official guide to convert pagans. It was written by a former pagan.

April 23, 2011 at 6:38 am
(19) andrew says:

Patti, you are reading into Matt Stone an awful lot that is quite wrong.
His blog was not a sales pitch on how to convert pagans into nice middle-class, Protestant-Evangelical Christians.
You obviously don’t know anything about Matt at all or where he’s come from or what he is like.
I do know him personally and have been blogging at his site for about 4 years.
Matt used to be a Pagan.
Matt still has lot’s of friends who are Pagans, and several very regularly blog at his site.
This blog might read to you about some sort of strategy about how to convert Pagans, but I can assure you with some certainty that that was not what it was about.
Matt advocates accepting and respecting people as they come. That’s what its about!!!!
Ask Jarrod who is a Pagan and who has been blogging there for years on Glocal Christianity, what he thinks of Matt Stone.
In fact, I hope Matt gets him to reply to your blog.
And being an identified Christian website it is only reasonable and logical for him to write from a Christian perspective, just as a Pagan website would write from a Pagan one.
You have been quick to read into Matt’s motives very sinister motivations (e.g. he’s condescending toward Pagans). I know him personally and can tell you you are very wrong in your quick judgement of him. Maybe you should blog or email him directly through his site and clear this up with him directly.

April 23, 2011 at 9:34 am
(20) paganwiccan says:

You’re right, I don’t know Matt at all — all I know of him is what he presents of himself on his blog. And I do think he seems like a very nice and decent sort of person. I don’t find his motives sinister in the least — that’s your word, not mine.

The problem is, like many people of dominant religions, he seems to overlook the fact that not all of us are in need of conversion at all. I’d love to sit and have a cup of coffee with Matt, and talk about theology and belief — but not if I thought his ultimate intent was to “make the good news more attractive.” I have no interest in converting him to my gods or beliefs, and I think a bit of mutual respect would go a long way.

And yes, I do feel the article was condescending, because it encourages Christians to see Pagans as some “other” that must be talked down to. “Be nice, they appreciate that!”

As I said, he seems like a nice guy, who probably has good intentions. But as a member of a dominant religion, when you go and marginalize people of the less-dominant groups, you have to ask yourself whether you really want to be friendly and have a respectful dialogue, or whether you’re talking to them because you want them to see the light.

~~patti

April 26, 2011 at 9:21 am
(21) penelope says:

you have made the reply to andrew exactly as it should be.. if he is reading “sinister” into any of our interpretations of Matts Blog it is because of his narrowmindedness and that is all.. I do not like to be preached to by any person.. I am a Pagan Solitary.. My beliefs are mine, my Path is mine.. I will discuss just about anything anyone wants to discuss.. But no mr. nice guy or gal just to bring me to your “flock”.. Been there and bolted.. Blessed Be..

April 26, 2011 at 2:53 pm
(22) Persephone says:

@andrew, your logic fails, as follows: Jarred is Pagan. I am Pagan. Therefore, Jarrod and I should behave in exactly the same way, since we are both Pagans. That’s nonsense. Christians certainly don’t all behave in the same way, and they all claim to worship the same God.

Personally, I found Matt’s post condescending. It may be Matt’s age or his natural fervor in the wake of conversion, but it is condescending in its tone. He conveys the attitude that Pagans’ beliefs are immature and childish, as compared to the maturity and adultness of Christianity, and, therefore, Pagans themselves are immature and childish.

I found the slideshow bizarre and extreme. Considering the extreme views of some Christians, who, among other things, take part in rites recreating the crucifixion, complete with nails and blood, swear a lifetime of chastity and hide themselves away from the world, regularly beat and/or waterboard their children, I find all but a few forms of Paganism, even those that many consider extreme, pretty middle of the road.

Since Matt posts on a Christian blog, the likelihood of my reading any of his work is almost nil, especially since my desire to discuss/debate beliefs is nil.

April 26, 2011 at 8:58 am
(23) Cinaed says:

As many have noted, there are a lot of us who have come from the church scene. And yet, these folks try to “convert” us much as a missionary would try to convert some secluded bushman. I, too, came from a Christian background, went through seminary, and was an ordained pastor. Yet, some of these folks insist I just need “to find Jesus.” One even went so far as to say I really didn’t need to know about the Bible, I just needed to know Jesus, and that my academic knowledge of the Bible was probably what led me astray. She was probably right.

April 26, 2011 at 4:59 pm
(24) Candi says:

I have to agree with that.

Funny thing – I know more about the bible, and the bible’s history, as a Pagan Solitary Practitioner than I did being dragged to churches growing up – and I went to quite a few! My stepdad was Christian but changed religions alot – been to Protestant, Baptist, Adventist, Seventh Day Baptist and Catholic churches, depending on what degree my parents had “found God” lately.

My last straw was when I was invited two weekends in a row to my stepdad’s newest church, a couple of months after I had gotten married. I had dyed my then chin-length hair lilac – the pastor made a sermon the next weekend about how we should be like one another in solidarity, how marking ourselves different somehow separrated us from God, how apparently our “behavior” made us bad Christians, and how looking like this is a gateway behavior to drugs and crime.

My husband and I rarely drink and don’t do drugs, and our social lives consist of sitting home and playing video games together while listening to rock music or playing D20 games with friends.

Who knew we were SO HORRIBLE?

April 26, 2011 at 9:11 am
(25) Wendy says:

You know, if Matt had written this in the context of converting Jews or Muslims, I expect this would have gone viral and quite a few organizations would be screaming their heads off.

And I don’t care if Matt used to be a Pagan or not because someone who would write this and use those images is probably one of those self – righteous people we would run away from not matter what they believe in. Frankly if he WAS a Pagan, then I’m very happy he’s no longer one. But not for the same reasons he might be.

April 26, 2011 at 11:34 am
(26) paganwiccan says:

Wendy, that’s an excellent point. If this was “How to Talk to Jews”, people would be pitching a fit.

patti

April 26, 2011 at 9:14 am
(27) Mary A. Axford says:

Excellently done! I posted something similar a few months ago and you did it better. What I’d like to know though, is if you emailed him your post or used it as a comment – he’s the one who most needs to read it.

Thanks for a great post – as I’ve come to expect from you.

April 26, 2011 at 9:22 am
(28) Kelly says:

Classic example of someone mistaking the word “Pagan” to mean “Person(s) without God” or “UnGodly.”

What’s the follow up article going to be “How to make a Wiccan bundt cake?” Lol.

Puh-leese!

April 26, 2011 at 9:51 am
(29) Sandre' says:

I’m always amazed that when you tell someone you are not Christian, they simply assume you are not religious.

April 26, 2011 at 10:04 am
(30) Ashgreymane says:

I could not begin to count the number of times I have been quietly minding my own business somewhere, only to be approached out of the blue by supposedly well-meaning people who ask me personal questions about my religious beliefs. Do ya know Jeeesus? Where do you go to Church? What religion are you? Have you heard the Word? And so on in that vein. I disguise my irritation, politely answer indirectly in hopes they will get the hint, (they don’t), then smile and more firmly say “I really prefer not to discuss religion; it’s such a personal subject, thanks”, which immediately makes them huffy enough to think they have the right to now demand answers from me: “Well what religion ARE you?!” I then smile again, gird my loins for battle, and say coolly “I’m Pagan.” Patti’s right–the article is patronizing and insulting. Also, I feel the behavior of many Christians in general flirts with illegality by forcing their beliefs down the collective gullets of fellow Americans. Maybe he “meant well”—from whose perspective? Not from a Pagan one, that’s for sure.

April 26, 2011 at 10:05 am
(31) RavenWytch says:

I really don’t care what this guy’s background is, I found his article completely offensive and insulting. It implies that Pagans are either inferior or “less-than” or misguided in their beliefs because they don’t believe in Christianity. His article had the tone of a condescending jerk who believes his way is the only way and that you should treat Pagans like a bunch of 5-year olds who don’t know what’s best for them. And, quite frankly, I don’t buy that it’s about “relationship.” It’s about them meeting their convert quota, because they get beaten over the head with the hellfire fear stick everyday and they’re scared to death of going to hell themselves.

April 26, 2011 at 10:20 am
(32) Deanna Anderson says:

I agree with you wholeheartedly, Patti. I am all for having a conversation on theological topics. I also love to discuss racial differences/similarities with my co-workers who are mostly African-American. I wish I could have the same type of theological discussion with them, but that’s expecting too much. But I have had amazing conversations with my brother who is Christian and with one co-worker who never refuses to answer my questions.

I don’t need conversion, I need people who are accepting and can carry on an intelligent conversation no matter what the topic.

April 26, 2011 at 10:25 am
(33) rowenna says:

I too found the comments he made condescending. I’m actually coming from Christianity to Wicca, and some of what he says is really, when you get down to it, offensive, to me at least. This is why I don’t have theological or thealogical debates with people. There are some things that I don’t talk about with anyone, religion and politic being up there!

Merry Meet and Merry Part and Merry Meet again!

April 26, 2011 at 10:35 am
(34) Kirsten says:

Whilst I do dislike the idea of him trying to convert Pagans, I do agree with what he says about Christians doing their research and taking time to understand what the Pagans they meet are about. Yes, it’s all about converting us, but imagine how much hatred and even violence could be avoided if everybody did that. If only all the Christians who’ve ever come to me telling me I’m going to burn in hell had taken this guy’s advice and actually talked to me about my beliefs and my life, maybe we would’ve ended up friends. I’m not saying I’d've converted to Christianity, or that they would “turn Pagan”, but I do agree with the idea of an approach that centres around discussion and understanding.

Honestly, he seems like a decent guy. He seems respectful of others, just based on what I read on that one article. That’s someone I can respect as well.

April 26, 2011 at 10:45 am
(35) Chuck says:

Well, it was written by an evangelical Christian for evangelical Christians, whose stated mission in this lifetime is to convert as many people to their religious views as possible, so should we expect anything else from Matt Stone?

Blessed Be

Chuck in Savannah, GA

April 26, 2011 at 11:28 am
(36) Lake says:

I would be very offended if I were a Christian (I’m Pagan)reading this article. He is basically saying that as Christians you are adversarial and he must tell you how to engage in a conversation. He is telling Christians that they cannot be active listeners or have a deep conversation without really trying. He is making the assumption that they will dump on women, gays, and the environment! As Christians, I must tell you what to believe and how to tells others of your beliefs so they will listen to you. If this article strikes a cord, it really has nothing to do with being Christian or Pagan. Its very condescending and presumptious of both Christinans and Pagans. Who is he anyway? No really who is he

April 26, 2011 at 11:37 am
(37) paganwiccan says:

And you know, you bring up a very important point that I didn’t touch on. You’re correct – it’s insulting to Christians as well, in that there’s an assumption that they have to be told how to be decent people when speaking to those who are different than they are.

I’d like to think that my Christian friends are my friends because they’re ALREADY decent people, who respect me and my beliefs — not because Matt Stone had to tell them to be polite to the Pagans.

patti

April 26, 2011 at 11:28 am
(38) Locky says:

You know what this is about don’t you? Control. They control people with fear. And “they” meaning anyone that is not comfortable with another’s faith. We, as Pagans, can get upset and rant and rave but that won’t do any good because that just causes “them” to become more in control. Yes, I agree with you all about how they put us down and that we can’t possibly know the love of a higher being (which is wrong) but we all, every religion, are striving for the same thing. To be happy, loved, and respected. If we show them that we are happy and not lash out then we are the winners. Yes, it gets under my skin sometimes but I have found that sometimes no response or just a smile helps a lot more. Some people don’t agree with that and that’s ok.

Blessings,
Locky :)

April 26, 2011 at 12:03 pm
(39) Rising luna says:

This is too funny, I remember once bout few yrs ago before i realized christianity was not for me. The church had a medium size function outside in a park and “Preaching” the “word” I had gone to this homeless man i really felt for him, and i went to offer food money for a later time and one of the sisters got angry with me for what i did. (give the man money). I was confused cause we are suppose to love, love thy neighbor, and who does not accept the suppose word, dust your sandals and leave. It does not say anything bout go judge the are unworthy! No it says… Judge not or you’ll be judged. By God/dess. My point here is. STOP The nonesence and stop useing God for your own Stupid egotistic views. What i do believe of the bible is tht is only a skeloton of the truth. Now go share your so called truth to the jewish community and muslims and every other OGINIZED religion. Hypocrites!

April 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm
(40) Sage MacOdin says:

I came to the article through a repost of this blogpost. I read over the comments and then went to the source of all this offense, expecting to find some horribly biased and stereotypical depictions of Wicca and Paganism.

I just don’t see it. I was primed to be offended, and yet, found nothing offensive in what he presented. He argued for respect, meet them as people, listen to what they have to say, realize that your book isn’t their book.

That is an incredible amount of tolerance, well beyond what I have come to expect from evangelicals.

Yes, he wants to convert my pagan soul, and I don’t want him to. That’s their gig. Convert everyone. It is pretty essential to their practice of spirituality. I can’t fault him for doing what his Book and God have told him to do, that would be very intolerant of me. Tolerance of other beliefs is not a commandment to the christian.

If you don’t want to be converted, don’t convert. If you don’t want to entertain ideas and beliefs that are in conflict with your own, nothing is making you do so. But lets not fall in to our own intolerance trap of those that are following a different path.

April 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm
(41) paganwiccan says:

Sage – you’re absolutely right, there’s a decent amount of tolerance within Matt Stone’s post, and as I’ve mentioned before, he seems like a very nice person. He doesn’t accuse us of eating babies or sacrificing kittens or anything else that one might expect in a guide for evangelicals.

The problem is that while he argues for respect, in theory, by turning every “conversation with a Pagan” into a marketing pitch, he’s reducing the beliefs of Pagans to something with less value than his own. And that, to me, shows a fundamental — albeit, unintentional — lack of the respect he’s asking for.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not upset, I’m not angry at Matt Stone. I’m just disappointed that what could have been a really useful teaching tool for non-Pagans is in fact, at its very core, a treatise on how to sell religion and make it more attractive to us non-believers. That’s not respect. That’s advertising.

patti

April 26, 2011 at 4:33 pm
(42) Sage MacOdin says:

Merry Meet!

I do not disagree with your assessment that it is a marketing and sales strategy. I would not be surprised to learn that he sees non-Christian views and values as less than his own. In fact, I’d be surprised if that view wasn’t held.

But it kind of HAS to be the view, doesn’t it? If you are a true believer of christianity, you are indoctrinated to see only one way to salvation and every other way leads to damnation, no matter how good intentioned. So how could you hold my beliefs and values in equal esteem to your own when you are convinced yours leads to glory and mine leads to Hell?

Here is where I think I differ most from the people posting on this thread: I take Hope from the new Sales and Marketing approach. You going to ask me my opinions and listen to them before coming up with a response? That sounds wonderful! Going to accept that I don’t accept your Bible as irrefutable proof of the Bible and its irrefutable truth? How refreshing! Sure it might all just be a front to try to get me in to the conversation. They might not have any real interest in my life or my views (how is this different than most of our interactions with the outside world?) But even if it is an act, if a person plays the part long enough and true enough, he might actually become that tolerant inquirer.

As a comparison, there is a town in New York, Catskill, that is fighting to prevent a pagan organization from claiming the religious exemption to property taxes. Their only fight is with the religion, and have said as much, stating that they are fighting on principle to keep illegitimate religions from avoiding paying the tax.

Between the two, I will take this guy every day of the week. We should be encouraging tolerance, and building up anyone who professes it. Pretend Tolerance is tons better than blatant descrimination.

April 26, 2011 at 12:13 pm
(43) Ky says:

I am Pagan, and I do understand how annoying it is to have people trying to convert us, but as Pagans, WE need to understand, while we’re calling Christians “control freaks” and “fear mongers” and wondering when they will stop trying to convert us, they won’t. The notion of going forth and preaching the “good news of Jesus” is one of the prime directives of the religion, an instruction from the founder and from the earliest days of the formation of the belief system itself. They couldn’t stop if they wanted, not and remain Christian, any more than we can stop believing in our gods and remain Pagan. The best we can hope for is that at some point, Christian teachings continue to encourage spreading the gospel, but begin to include respect for others’ right to not convert to it upon hearing it, to include the same tolerance and respect for others as they expect in return.

April 26, 2011 at 12:23 pm
(44) Rising lune says:

This man maybe speaking peace just maybe. but he does not speak for the rest of “christianity” just like paganism is a huge umbrella. so is christianity. and not all would agree with him. I certainly dont, look how he depicts us. ok.

April 26, 2011 at 12:36 pm
(45) Gypsy E. says:

Wow…after reading Mr. Stone’s “hints”, I am just dumbfounded. It is so surprise though…people are very close minded.
As far as I know…I make a house payment, worry about insurance, taxes, food and gas prices like everyone else…wait…I even have to worry about the education of my child….hmmm…just like everyone else…including the Christians…I really dislike when people like Mr. Stone make us Pagans out to be so different. =(

April 26, 2011 at 12:57 pm
(46) Claudine says:

I was a Sunday school teacher, a Women’s Bible study leader, was highly respected, very knowledgeable, and very involved. As I grew spiritually, I saw that the Christian view of God was much too limited to be accurate, and that the Deity I loved was overjoyed to be in relationship with everyone, regardless of their path.
Christian teaching, and this is very clearly stated in the New Testament of the Bible, stresses that there is only one path to God, and that is through the Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to pay the consequences for the sins of man, and that one’s salvation requires recognition of this. The price for refusing that belief is damnation, separated from God the Father, burning in a lake of fire created for Satan and his angels, for all eternity.
That said, yes there are Christians who are only interested in upping their quota of converts. However, most all of them, and especially friends and family, are very sincerely heartbroken at the thought that you might die before accepting Jesus as your saviour, and therefore suffering eternally. They aren’t trying to convert you because they think your beliefs aren’t as good as theirs, nor is it because they don’t understand, and it has nothing to do with lack of respect. These people are speaking from their hearts, willing to embarrass themselves, and potentially lose your friendship, on the hope that they have planted a seed that will take root and will grant you eternal life with God, in joy and peace.
When someone speaks to you about Christianity, take a moment to consider what it costs them. If it’s a friend, address their fears lovingly. If it’s a stranger, please be gracious. We pagans are truly blessed to be part of such a loving community of people who are enlightened and able to appreciate that each of us can have our own beliefs without that being a threat to anyone else’s, and that we all choose our own beautiful relationship with Deity in the way that works best for us.
Blessed Be

April 26, 2011 at 1:53 pm
(47) Herbert Stewart says:

A Jamesian first Century Nazarene Perspective is considerably different than a Pauline ‘Christian’ belief structure. The Historical Figure that English speakers call ‘Jesus’ Taught, and practiced, something very different from ‘Christianity’…. Judaism; more specifically the anti-zealot Nazarene compliance philosophy of peaceful co-existence within Roman Occupation. I am not a ‘Christian’ nor am I a ‘Jew’ or ‘Muslim’…. I am simply a person interested in Historical Fact. Faith and Lie look too similar for me to be comfortable with. Something based on non-fact…. what might even be called non-sense, isn’t a Religion I want to practice. JMO. Is it an anti-Christian perspective, Yes… My own personal disbelief.

April 26, 2011 at 3:45 pm
(48) Claudine says:

Herbert, I agree with you. And if everyone studied history to the degree you have, the conversations would differ greatly. However, my comment is in response to the previous comments that indicate a lack of understanding as to why the followers of the faith generally referred to as Christianity feel compelled to not just share their beliefs, but to convert pagans, and everyone else. James’ first Century Nazarene teachings as opposed to those of a modern Nazarene fellowship is irrelevant, in my opinion, to this comment thread.
I am in no way suggesting agreement with Christian teachings, nor promoting a subservient doormat type response to their proselytizing. I am simply encouraging patience and graciousness in our dealings with them. And yes, that is more than can usually be expected in return. But what wrong with being educated and kind? Most times understanding enables better communication.

April 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm
(49) Persephone says:

Having survived Southern Baptists and Jehovah’s Witnesses (my parents really went for the jugular), I have little time or respect for those seeking to convert me. I’m not rude or loud or abusive, but I tell people I’m not interested and leave it at that. I have a lot of presence and, so far, people have dropped the subject.

But I truly resent the idea that I am somehow immature for my belief in Goddesses millennia older than their God, especially since they can’t even agree on how he should be worshipped.

April 27, 2011 at 8:47 am
(50) Kim says:

Greetings Persephone!

Thank you for your comment. I just wanted to let you know that it made me smile, because I have always thought that.

Blessed Be,

Kim

April 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm
(51) Adnyl Sylene says:

Well Said Patti!!! I don’t think I could add to that, you said it all and said it well!

Its amazing, that this is exactly as you said – a spiel to sell me their brand of religious belief. I’ve a sign on my front door that says No Solicitamos! Solicitamos Prohibido! No Sales! No Church Reps! No School Sales! NO Soliciting! and of course I will get “But we’re not selling anything!” Yes, they are, they are trying to sell me their brand of religion and mine isn’t good enough. I could also swear that we are in a direct line of 4 different door to door churches.

Thank You Patti!

April 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm
(52) Laramie Roush says:

I just wanted to say, very briefly, that some of the Christians who replied to the Stone blog were much more in touch with the point of this matter than Matt Stone was himself. It is a nice reminder that there are indeed some very understanding Christians out there . . . Stone just isn’t one of them.
Blessed Be

April 26, 2011 at 5:20 pm
(53) Tala Luna says:

Very true Laramie, Very true.
Blessed Be

April 26, 2011 at 4:42 pm
(54) Tala Luna says:

Weather Mr. Stone is/was pagan or not is not even note worthy. Andrew, by letting people know this, are other suppose to over look his condescension of pagan people? Are you saying others would or should accept him because he used to be Pagan? It doesn’t matter what religion Mr. Stone claims to follow. Mr. Stone is leading others. I have not personally seen a blog, article or writing from Patti, or anyone else for that matter, on how to speak/talk to Christians. I personally think, being nice should be common knowledge, most everyone (pagan, Christian, Jewish, black, white or even pea green with poke-a- dots, would not only like that but appreciate it as well) or am i expecting to much for another human being?

April 26, 2011 at 4:46 pm
(55) Gentiana says:

Today I went to the library, tried to find a job, downloaded a history related ebook, came home, feed the animals, did the chores, ate lunch, played chess, read a book about Pontius Pilate (by Anne Wroe), and now I’m going to watch a Japanese horror movie. And I am pagan.

And that’s that.

April 26, 2011 at 6:26 pm
(56) Calme Wynde says:

I`m very impressed with your discussion..I will be quick to add, that as a Wiccan, I find that some people really dldn`t or don`t know how to talk to me or even know how to act around me! I don`t know what gives anyone who isn`t wiccan the idea that we`re different..we`re not..we`re just like everyone else..I can`t be friends with others who aren`t wiccan because of the way they speak to me.I even have people who have told me that I would go to hell if I didn`t convert and be `like them`whatever that means..what it all comes down to is this..their so-called path was stolen from ours watered down to make it look different and made too seperate us from the Earth, and everything she represents..they even go so far as to add on to their path that we`re all sinners..whatever THAT means..anyways..thanks for this..it`s much appreciated..

April 26, 2011 at 8:35 pm
(57) Michael says:

No matter how “tolerant” they try to make it sound, when your root motivation is the unshakable belief that “We and we alone have an exclusive franchise on the Sole, Perfect, and Eternal Truth,” the difference between “evangelism” and burning at the stake is merely one of degree.

And given the right (wrong) circumstances, the former would become the latter in the proverbial heartbeat.

April 26, 2011 at 11:13 pm
(58) Morrin says:

I found the article very interesting. The kind of person that tries to pump information out of you then proceeds to use it against you. Interesting game. Problem with games, once you see what rules their following you can use it against them. Just like politics and poker, read the hand and shuffle it back at them.
Hypothetical question: What would happen if this article were to be sent to the pope and whoever is over the mormon church? How would he explain what the hay real christians are to them? I think that would be interesting.
On the lighter side, I haven’t had a good debate lately. It seems everyone that knows me has stopped trying to convert me. For the time being. The big converters that I know (pastor and daughters) found out I like debates and that I know what I’m talking about. So the topics have gotten down to what’s new, what’s your daughters up to, how’s the grandbaby, etc… They know I’m not just pagan but a bookworm and a nerd, and the mother of pagan/wiccan bookworms and nerds. The grandbaby is only 6 months so she can’t read, yet. Ok I live in a small town intelligent conversation is fun. Even if both sides are trying to convert the other :) It’s more fun than bingo but not many prizes.

April 27, 2011 at 12:13 am
(59) Ellen says:

Amen and ply the Dar Williams song again please

April 27, 2011 at 8:39 am
(60) Kim says:

I posted this article on my FB page, Patti. Your response was very good. But then again, I enjoy reading most of your responses to crazy articles!!! lol
Anyway, when I think of the way Christians behave, and proselytize all of the time, the first thought that comes to mind is; “misery loves company”. If they were truly happy in their decision to be Christian, why must they talk about it all of the time and try to get others to join their club? That right there flashes the red cult flag for me!
They should be more at peace, and be happy having a private, spiritual relationship with their lord. And when they run around and judge everyone, it’s almost like they are really so jealous and angry that they have these strange rules that no human being can ever really totally follow.
I don’t know. I have been around a lot of them, unfortunately, and it just makes me sad that they are so angry a lot of the time. They don’t seem to be at peace at all! Maybe it’s the inner child crying out to be free to be what they want to be, and not just a sheep following a shepard.
Blessed Be to all

April 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm
(61) Shoshanna says:

Well I read his article and some of what he said refreshing. No really. He invites Christians to learn about what Paganism is before they try to convert us. At least he actually said, “There is nothing worse than confusing witchcraft with Satanism, or reciting urban legends about child sacrifices, or demonizing practices you understanding nothing about.” Fundamental to evangelical Christian beliefs they are want to convert as many people. They see it as a agreement god has with them. Like a ‘I saved you. Now you save all these other people by telling them about me so I can save them too.’
As a Wiccan, I could read this article in two ways. One way is I could be annoyed how his article sounds like a “how to” for a sales person. It actually reminded me a little of the handbook for the customer service complaint line I worked for. Listen to that person and try to understand what they are saying. Instead though I see this as at least some progress. That he is even encouraging his readers to approach our “kind” is progress. He says more than once that “pagans” are just people. A short 20 years ago when I was a fundi-Christian, my youth group leader told us to avoid those “Pagans”. He said that they were devil worshipers who weren’t redeemable. So at least we have moved up to people now who are going to hell.

April 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm
(62) inspiraven says:

I was in on the conversation over there for a while. I thought he had good intentions but what struck me was how unwilling Mr. Stone seemed to admit to the (as Hecate put it) elephant in the room.
I wrote a bit about it at a post titled How to talk
to …..”other”

My head started spinning after Mr. Stone explained to me that :
“It’s clear that the particularity of Christianity, its Christ-centred convictions, turn off many Pagans. I use the word “unavoidable” however, because renouncing this convinction would amount to you “converting” me! Demanding we do is, from a Christian perspective, “evangelism” of sorts.”

Today I did go back to read many new comments. On the 125th comment, Mr. Stone finally admits that evangelizing is one of the purposes for said discussion. Ya think?!?

Nice Article.
Breathe deep and live true

April 28, 2011 at 5:45 am
(63) luna says:

I don’t mean to be nasty, But want to talk about truth start with the witch hunts and the real reason it started! Not by what the minister priest, pastor tells you. Women children men grandmother grandfathers were burned alive boiled,hung and tortured. All because of ignorance! That my dear does not sounds like gods loveing children. blessed be!

April 28, 2011 at 10:40 am
(64) Hellbilly says:

Greed, actually.

April 30, 2011 at 8:42 am
(65) Katie says:

Look, on the surface, this blog may have started out in a way that seemed condescending. The point though is that this man was expressly directing this material to people of HIS faith, not ours. And by our hostility toward what he is saying, and not to us, we are hurting his feelings. I invite you all to read past the blog and into the commentary below, in which he apologizes for making it sound as though he was making an attempt to convert us, but that was NOT his intent by any means. His sole goal was to open a line of communication. While many of us may have no problem, we are speaking of a group that absolutely does have a problem with such a thing. The commentary goes on to have suggestions and elaborations on what he was wanting to get across, which he encouraged. This man honestly is trying to do something good here, and the general reaction after several posts became so negative without warning that he now feels the need to take a defensive stance. It is going nowhere quickly.
The Evangelists that this blog posting was intended for are a group of generally closed-minded individuals and he is trying to stop that. The Pagans that wrote in in the beginning were contributing in a healthy way. I saw that he was trying to open the minds of folks that are ignorant of our religion and make an attempt to stop the judgement and thwart further hurt of a faction of people who are, indeed, people too-with different ideas and feelings on a particular topic. Okay, we are all taking this to a place it doesn’t have to go. The ensuing conversation developed into something that is black and hateful and purposefully disrespectful, when that is not what was intended.
Is it possible that we could all open OUR minds and try again?

Thank you for reading if you still are.

:(

May 2, 2011 at 11:48 pm
(66) Ashgreymane says:

Good Grief. Why are we still talking about this? Do you think they are? Folks!! Come On!! And Patti-Cat—you know what? At least one person out here gets it! Jumpin’ Jeminy.

May 3, 2011 at 9:44 pm
(67) Ellen says:

As much as I wanted to hate this article I couldn’t. Yes, it is written in a format that comes off like an article on how to speak to a small child and I understand why so many have found it horribly offensive. But, I think what we need to look at is what is behind it, an evangelical Christian man who is outright telling his readers not to treat us like devil worshiping lunatics. How often do you really come across that? Not only does he state that they should not judge the parts of our religion that they do not understand, but he tells them to try their best to find common ground with us.
As a proud pagan, I was happy to read something written by a christian that wasn’t hate filled and misinformed. He even has another blog post about why The Burning Times and all other discrimination against pagans is wrong as written in the Bible:

http://mattstone.blogs.com/christian/2009/07/how-to-treat-a-pagan-old-testament-style.html

May 5, 2011 at 12:45 pm
(68) Herbert Stewart says:

RE: not to treat us like devil worshiping lunatics

You think US ‘Devil’ Worshiping Lunatics should be treated Differently? LOL! I Honestly hope some people can keep a sense of humor about this.

May 5, 2011 at 1:15 pm
(69) Ellen says:

What is that comment even supposed to mean? Are you saying we should be treated like “devil worshiping lunatics?”

May 5, 2011 at 9:51 pm
(70) Ashgreymane says:

I have enjoyed reading the additional comments past the one I made, but um, ahem, how do I stop it? Mr. what’s-his-name is unknowingly making his presence known in my inbox far past what I intended when I made my remark on this article. You know Folks, they will take us as seriously as we take ourselves. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I believe my Gods and Goddesses allow for humor. My cats aren’t the only ones who silently chortle with their legs in the air! In the immortal words of the Eagles: “Get Over It!” Never stop standing up for what is right; but develop a sense of what this is.
Ms. Patti simply commented on an article and has been alternately hailed and crucified for it on her own damn website. When in the hell did we in this country forget that all have the right to express their popular or unpopular opinions?? It is thanks to her that I even knew this existed. It was a commentary, folks. Good Grief.

May 11, 2011 at 11:06 pm
(71) Amethyst says:

That’s just it, most Christians want to talk to you about their religion, about their God, because they believe no one can be truly happy until they accept Jesus as their personal savior. I have a friend that I have known for many years. He still asked me if I want to go to church and find Jesus. I simply decline or sometimes crack the joke, “What you lost him again?” Even though he knows that I have a great, rewarding job, a good education, a fine house, and a very active social life he still feels my life is lacking Jesus Christ.
Smile and nod, but that’s the end of it.

May 22, 2011 at 4:46 pm
(72) Kiara says:

Someone please explain to me what the purpose is of a guide to speak to pagans! I fail to see the point. How does your belief affect the type of conversation you have? Would a non-pagan be able to determine that i was pagan in an average conversation? I dont understand why we need to be spoken to in any different way. I dont go up to my muslim friends and start speaking to them in a different manner, why should they speak differently to me? I live a normal life, and i am fully capable of having a conversation with you about the world and whats been going on in my life without ever feeling the need to discuss my beliefs with you? So why when i tell you what i believe in do you suddenly feel compelled to treat me differently? PS Patti thank you for a wonderful and insightful page.

May 22, 2011 at 11:08 pm
(73) Autumn says:

very well said we are normal everyday people with feelings and emotions. We aren’t stubborn we just have different opinions on things. All my friends are either Mormon or Catholic and they thank the gods still talk to me as if I was the same person was I was when we where in Junior High. There is no right or wrong way to talk to us except in with the norms of society.

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