Question: Do Pagans and Wiccans Hate Christianity and Christians?
A reader says, "I've been studying Paganism recently, and although I'm very drawn to it, there's one thing that really concerns me. I've met several Pagans and Wiccans who are pretty vocal in their hatred of all things Christian. I was raised Christian, I have Christian family members, and I don't have anything against that particular religion, I just know that it's not the right one for me. Once I get involved in the Pagan community, will I be expected to badmouth Christianity too? This seems counterproductive, if we Pagans want to be met with tolerance ourselves."
You're absolutely right -- if the Pagan community is going to expect tolerance from mainstream religions, it behooves us not to spend all of our time trashing those groups, whichever one they may be.
Sadly, you'll find that there are some Pagans who are pretty vocal about their dislike of Christianity. They hate Christians, they hate the Bible, they hate anything to do with it. Why do they hate it? Who knows. Maybe they had a bad experience that they can't let go of. Maybe they've been raised to believe that "it's not for me" equals "it's bad for everyone and I should complain about it." Perhaps they think that an encounter with one unpleasant Christian gives them license to hate the entire religion. There's no telling.
Fortunately, these people are in the minority. Much like we know that fundamentalist extremists like Fred Phelps and Pat Robertson do not speak for all Christians in their hatred of Paganism, we also know that the Pagans who are rabidly angry at Christianity do not represent all of us.
Sometimes, you'll encounter someone who has lost a Pagan friend to Christianity, and may be harboring feelings of betrayal. Often, this manifests in words or actions that are anti-Christian, when really it's just the person working out how they feel about what they may see as abandonment or defection. Other times you'll meet individuals who are just so caught up in their dislike of Christianity that they don't want to see anyone else doing anything even remotely connected to it, like attending church with family members or owning a Bible.
There's not much you can do with people like that, except let them know you're not going to be playing along, and simply refuse to engage. Fortunately, though, most Pagans are supportive of respectful and healthy interfaith communication.
Something else to keep in mind, as a secondary part of the question, is that in general, Christians don't hate Pagans, either. They may not approve of our belief system or understand it, but "hate" is a pretty strong term that really can only be applied to the more fundamentalist (and loudest) flavor of Christian. Many Christians are respectful of differences in belief, and it's important not to paint them all with the same brush - just like we would hope they wouldn't think we all hated them.
For the most part, the typical Pagan or Wiccan is someone who was once some other religion, and -- like you -- found that it just wasn't the right path for them to be one. So, to answer your questions, no -- you won't be expected to badmouth Christianity or any other religion, not by most of us. In fact, you may find yourself to be the perfect bridge for an interfaith dialogue between the Pagan community and the Christian one.