10 Most Annoying Things Christians Say to Pagans, Witches, & Wiccans
Christianity and Paganism
To those of you who read the title and are thinking, "Hey! Why are you picking on Christians?" the answer is rather simple (though "picking" on anyone certainly isn't my intention.) Since coming out of the "broom closet" (and coming out of the closet as a bisexual woman long before that), I've noticed that the most vociferous attackers of Paganism online are Christians. I don't have anything against the Christian faith, but the simple truth is, it's not people of the Jewish faith quoting off-topic passages of the Torah on our message boards, it's not atheists telling us to turn away from our "evil ways," and it's not Hindus who spam our websites en masse by proselytizing. The Christian call to evangelize combined with the rampant bigotry towards Paganism and witchcraft in general within the Christian Church has led to what often feels like a witch hunt online.
When I first began researching Paganism, I wanted to reach out to others in the online Pagan community to ask questions and gain from their experience, but I was intimidated by the slew of Bible passages and all-caps rants about the "evils" of "devil worship" that seemed to plague every Youtube comments section, message board, and Tumblog on Paganism. It's one thing to share your beliefs in a respectful and intellectual manner on a website that is dedicated to the discussion of inter-faith topics. It is entirely another to go into someone else's "territory," which is what a niche website is, and force your beliefs down people's throats.
One recent example of this is a specifically Pagan blog I was reading recently. A relatively new witch was asking for advice which she clearly solicited from other Pagans and witches. She was met with a barrage of Christians spamming the comments thread with lengthy and out of context Bible passages, e-shouting all myriad of ignorant and bigoted comments. She never asked for their opinion.
In light of what seems like an ever-increasing epidemic, and understanding that there are Christians who truly don't realize that their online behavior towards the Pagan community is both counterproductive and just plain rude, I want to put this list out there to illustrate some of the worst (and unfortunately common) things that many Christians say in an attempt to "convert' Pagans. These are personal pet peeves, and I don't pretend to speak for the whole Pagan community, however.
Have you ever felt persecuted/misunderstood by other religions for your beliefs?
1. You Just Hate Christians/Christianity
I dislike some Christians, just as I dislike some Pagans, Deists, Atheists, etc.. It has nothing to do with the fact that they are Christians, though, but rather who they are as people. In fact, I grew up as a Christian. Literally my entire family is composed of Evangelical, Charismatic Christians who belong either to non-denominational or Assemblies of God churches. I went to a Christian college, so a good majority of my friends are Christians. In fact, I'm ENGAGED to a Christian. Yes, I'm a Pagan engaged to a Christian, but that's a Hub for another day.
Admittedly, there are some of us in the Pagan community who have unfair animosity towards Christians. It's not an excuse, but it doesn't exactly come out of a vacuum. Most of us deal with attacks on our spirituality, morality, and sometimes our very physical safety on a daily basis, especially in the areas of the world that are very predominantly Christian. While most Pagans try to judge people on an individual basis, you have to understand that the moment a Christian inquires about that "star" hanging around our neck, there is going to be a moment of nervous pause while wondering if they're going to try to "witness" to us by randomly quoting Scripture, suddenly look at us like we're possessed, or worse.
The Bible Is Not Part of Paganism
2. You just haven't read the Holy Bible! Let me share this verse with you... Well, actually, I have read the Bible, many times. The NIV, the KJV, the NLT, and the Message, to be precise. I've also studied the Bible in its original languages and cultural contexts. I've written papers on the Bible, debated with some of the foremost Christian scholars, and I even have a degree from a Christian university. I think I've given the Bible a fair shake and, unfortunately, I find that I know the Bible better than most of the Christians who quote it at me.
3. If You Were Open to God's Word, You'd Turn Away From Paganism/Witchcraft
No. I was open. In fact, I was so desperate to be a "good Christian" in my earlier years that I went so far as to perform self-hypnosis in an attempt to make myself "feel it." Assuming that you know a Pagan's spiritual and life journey and that just because they didn't come to the same conclusion as you, that Christianity is "the truth," is about as prideful as it gets and it's certainly not going to build any bridges.
Is Paganism Devil Worship?
4. But Witchcraft Is Devil Worship!
The irony with this common comment is that most of us do not even believe in the devil, at least not in the way that Christians think. Most sects of Satanism don't even worship an actual devil and the ones that do view him very differently than you do. Trust me when I say, worshiping the Christian construct of the devil is not a part of any typical Pagan belief system.
5. Your Gods Are Just the Devil/Demons/Evil Spirits in Disguise!
I think this one comes from the fact that many gods/goddesses in various pantheons seem at times to be amoral or, at the very least, capable of actions that would generally be perceived as immoral. The thing is, Paganism has a much more nuanced view of morality than the Abrahamic faiths. It's not that we don't have morals in our personal lives, but divinity is not linked intrinsically to "good" or "evil" in most schools of paganism. There are some deities that air more on the side of one than the other, but Paganism regards balance between light and dark as a good thing, not a band thing.
By contrast, Christianity embraces only light, and many of us feel that such a belief system is limiting to both the human and divine experience. Our deities are complex. They have individual personalities, stories, and yes, sometimes flaws, but that complexity is why we are drawn to them. YOU may see them as demons and you may feel the need to make everything black or white, but in doing so, you negate one of the primary elements of pagan philosophy and prove that you really don't understand our faith at all. Don't be surprised when we don't respect your assessment of it.
6. "You Pagan Satanist Wiccan Witches..."
Yes, some of us are pagan Wiccan witches, but assuming that all pagans are this or that is an automatic giveaway that you haven't really researched what you're talking about. Some pagans are witches. Some pagans are Wiccans. Some Wiccans are Witches. Not all pagans are Wiccans or Witches, and not all Witches are Wiccan or pagan. It just doesn't work that way. Paganism is a philosophy and a spiritual path that encompasses many different religions, Wicca is a faith that is also pagan, and witchcraft is a practice. There are atheist and agnostic witches, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist witches, and even Christian witches. A witch is just someone who practices Witchcraft. That's all, really. Some of us identify as Mages, Sorcerors, Ceremonial Magicians and Alchemists, and each label comes with its own meaning.
Within paganism, there are a variety of pantheons which a pagan may ascribe to exclusively, or along with one or more other pantheons. Before you label someone, get to know them. Ask them questions if it's appropriate in the context of your relationship, and don't assume you know what they believe just because you watched a documentary on witchcraft.
Witchcraft and Paganism Are Not Phases
7. Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism Is Just a Phase
For some people it is. But those people are not truly Wiccans, pagans, or witches. True faith is not a phase, and it does not rely on a label. Sometimes people latch onto paganism because they believe it's trendy and, once they realize that true paganism requires in-depth soul searching, study, and spiritual devotion, they back out. Oftentimes they back out because they weren't expecting the amount of persecution that often comes with being open about one's pagan faith.
It's one thing to be persecuted for a faith that is an intrinsic part of you, but it's another thing to be persecuted for a fad that you only latched onto for social points in the first place! That doesn't mean that paganism is a fad any more than Christianity, and believe me, there are plenty of people who claim to be Christians because the vast majority of the population is, or simply to avoid being judged by Christians at work, school, or home.
8. I Made a Witch Mad and Now I'm Afraid He/She Is Going to Curse Me! Help!
While I'm sure there are days all of us feel like putting a hex on that jerk who cut us off in traffic or took credit for our ideas at work, that's not how it works. We don't just go around cursing people left and right. In fact, Christians are much more likely to curse you. What, you say? Christians cursing people?? Yes, indeed. Remember the last time you prayed for God to "teach someone a lesson," or keep someone from doing something? Well, that's technically a curse. A curse is simply casting your intentions to some power outside of yourself in an effort to impede someone's free will. Christians do this all the time through prayer, and it takes nothing more than closing their eyes and sending a thought to their God.
The practice of cursing and hexing in witchcraft, however, is usually much more involved. Many (not all) of us use tools known as correspondences to work our crafts. Even a simple curse typically involves the use of one or more correspondences, and it must be done in a peaceful environment in which the witch is able to fully focus her intentions into the curse. Cursing is not something that is done on the fly. It takes a great amount of energy and, very often, the curse causes at least some negative repercussion to the witch, the least of which can be a drain of energy.
Another important aspect of cursing that most non-witches fail to understand is that many witches believe in something called the rule of 3. The rule of 3 states that whatever you put out into the universe comes back to you threefold. Some witches believe this to be a literal return of the curse multiplied by 3, while others feel that it's a more symbolic repercussion of negative actions taking place in the mind, body, and spirit. Not all witches believe in the rule of 3 by a long shot (myself included,) but many Wiccans do. The Wiccan rede also states, "An it harm none, do as ye will." For many witches, this is a prohibition against black magick, such as cursing, in all but the most extreme circumstances.
That's an awful lot to contend with just because someone cut you off in traffic, don't you think?
9. I Don't Believe in Witchcraft—Witchcraft Is Just Made Up/Imaginary/Silly
Strangely enough, I'll often hear 8 and 9 uttered within minutes of one another. Often those who put the least stock into witchcraft are the ones who fear its effects the most! You're certainly entitled to your opinion that witchcraft is not effective, but to claim that you don't believe it or that it's made up is a bit like saying that you don't think prayer exists. I may not think Christian prayer works, but I still acknowledge that Christians pray and thus, Christian prayer does in fact exist. Witchcraft is much the same. It works for us, just as your prayers work for you. No two Christians pray in exactly the same way (at least, I hope not!) and no two witches practice the Craft in exactly the same way. It's a personal experience. I, for one, believe without a doubt that magick is a real, natural, and powerful force in this world, even if we don't empirically understand all the laws by which it works and manifests.
Either way, just because you don't see the evidence that witchcraft is effective doesn't mean everyone has to agree with you. Much of witchcraft manifests internally, and helps us to meet our personal and spiritual goals. You wouldn't go up to someone and tell them that they're silly for praying or meditating, so refrain from making the claim that someone's Craft is ineffective just because YOU don't see the results that you EXPECT to see on the outside.
10. You Don't Look/Act/Sound Like a Witch
Just as there is no one type of Christian, there is no one type of witch. Some of us practice in traditional garb, while others practice the Craft in jeans and a t-shirt. Some of us have high-pitched, enthusiastic voices while others of us have deep, husky voices and speak in formal ways. Some of us are goth, some of us are preppy, some of us are rockabilly, retro, or vintage, and others of us just do well enough to leave the house in matching socks. There is no "right way" to look or act like a witch, but that being said, there is nothing wrong with attempting to dress or behave like a "traditional" witch, either. For many people, wearing the traditional garb of their ancestral heritage helps them to get in touch with the cultural aspect of their practice, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I myself lean towards more formality in practice as a Ceremonial Magickian, but some of my best practicing witch friends prefer to practice in jeans and a comfy sweatshirt.
The media perpetuates plenty of stereotypes about what a witch is supposed to look like. From the lovely ladies of Charmed and Buffy to the wart-laden crone in Snow White, everyone seems to have an idea of what a witch looks like. The simple truth is, a witch looks like your next door neighbor whose subtle pentagram necklace you probably haven't even taken notice of while chatting about your gardens. A witch looks like the guy at the checkout counter who strikes up a conversation with you about the price of groceries these days. A witch looks like that soccer mom you sit next to at your kid's game. Witches are everywhere, just like you. Get to know us for who we are, and you'll learn a lot more than any movie or TV show will ever tell you.
Update: Please Read
Hey, dear reader. While I still stand by many of the things I said in this article, and believe the way the vast majority of Christians "witness" aka harass pagans and witches is wrong, there are a couple of things you should probably know. A LOT has changed since I wrote this article. I'm no longer a witch or a pagan, and I'd be so grateful if you could take a moment to read this article about why I left witchcraft and found Jesus through the Anglican Church.