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When Pagans Become Christian

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When Pagans Become Christian

A reader feels betrayed because her friend is leaving Paganism.

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Question: When Pagans Become Christian
A reader says, “I’m very upset right now, and I feel stupid asking about this. The woman who was my former High Priestess has announced that she is no longer Pagan, but has become a Christian. She’s getting baptized this week, and she seems to have found a pretty evangelical church to be part of. I might not have the right to be upset, because obviously it’s her choice, but I’m feeling hurt and angry. A lot of us in the community feel betrayed, because this is a person who was a leader in the Pagan community, and we feel a little bit abandoned. She says we can all still be friends but I know things will be different - she’s even told people she’s “renouncing the Devil’s ways” and I don’t know how I can have a conversation with her if she’s thinking that. HELP!”
Answer:

Oh boy. This is a tough situation - on a variety of levels. Let’s try to look at it bit by bit.

First of all, it’s important to remember that people leave Paganism on a regular basis, and for a variety of reasons. Many folks decide, after years of practice, that it’s time for them to move on to something else, and that’s okay. I suspect that what’s upsetting you more is not just that she’s leaving Paganism, but that she’s becoming part of a group that actively disapproves of Pagan beliefs. I can definitely understand how this might be a problem. After all, if she was leaving Paganism to become a Buddhist, few people would bat an eye about this.

If she says she’s willing to continue her friendships with members of the Pagan community, give her the benefit of the doubt. Time will tell if she’s interested in maintaining those relationships out of genuine friendship, or if she’s just hoping to evangelize to the rest of you until you convert. I’d say if she’s willing to make an effort, you can make one too, until proven otherwise.

The second part of the equation here is that this isn’t just someone who’s a former Pagan, but someone in a position of leadership. One of the Pagan communities near me went through something similar not long ago, when someone who was a High Priest and leader found that Christianity was where his heart truly lay. There was a great deal of backlash towards him (and his wife, who was also Pagan), and I know he lost some friends over it.

However, what I told him was this, “It’s obvious that some folks are feeling let down by your conversion, and maybe even a little betrayed. But it’s important to remember that spirituality is a journey, and it’s a road with many paths - and we have to choose the path that is right for us, first and foremost. Our obligation is to our souls and our spirits. I know this is not a decision you’ve made lightly, but it’s clear that it’s a choice which makes you happy and makes you feel complete. I know you’ll be as strong an asset to the Christian religious community as you have been to the Pagan one.”

If your friend, and former High Priestess, has converted to Christianity, it’s not a decision she made overnight. It’s a decision process that probably kept her up many nights, praying for guidance (to whichever god or gods), and wondering if people would still love her when she walked away from the Pagan community. But like I told my friend, it’s not about what other people expect or demand from you - it’s about what makes your heart and spirit sing and soar.

As far as her comment about “renouncing the Devil’s ways,” she is entitled to think that, however much we think she should know better. As long as she doesn’t try to bash you around the head with her evangelizing, it’s possible that you can just agree to disagree. Also, keep in mind that for her, the newness of the change may lead to excessive amounts of enthusiasm for Jesus, church, and all the other stuff she's discovering right now. It’s very possible that she’s capable of maintaining a friendship without discussing religion at all - after all, you probably have other Christian friends who don’t judge you or preach at you. She may well be able to do that.

While it’s hard to say goodbye to someone you’ve shared a spiritual bond with, I wouldn’t write her off just yet. Give her a chance, let her know you still want to maintain the relationship, and give her the benefit of the doubt. After all, if she’s sincere about still being friends, the religious differences shouldn’t get in the way.

Be sure to read some of our other articles about interacting with our non-Pagan friends and family members:

  • Surviving an Interfaith Relationship: So you’re Wiccan or Pagan and your spouse/partner/lover/significant other/fiance is ... something else. Is there a way the two of you can manage to find balance?
  • Do Pagans Hate Christianity?: A reader is thinking about becoming more involved in her local Pagan community but has some concerns that she'll be required to start "hating" Christianity, the religion in which she was raised.
  • Coming Out to Your Christian Friends: A reader has a dilemma - she's a former Christian, and she's not sure how to tell her Christian best friend that she's now Wiccan.
  • When the Evangelizers Come a-Knockin': A reader is upset because some Christians came a-knocking on her door to share the word of God. She wants to know why Pagans and Wiccans can't do the same thing.

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