A couple years ago, I posted a note on Facebook (I think I had intended it to be a comment, but it was “too long”) and ended up entitling it REALigion…it went something like this:
I don’t care what name (or names) you use to address what you believe to be divine in this universe, what books you read, holidays you celebrate, or what dogma (or lack of it) you claim represents that power; I care that you treat others with the same compassion and respect that you would wish for yourself from someone whose beliefs are different from your own.
I think I originally typed this in response to the sort of religious bickering that seems to cycle ’round and ’round…and after reading various FB feeds, news articles, blogs, and (worse) the comments, I think its time to break out the sentiment again.
This time, I even feel compelled to rant a bit…so beware (particularly since politics=religion seems to be a common theme this election cycle).
A message to (some) Pagans about Christianity:
Look, there isn’t some secret Christian agenda to ruin your life. In fact, there isn’t even some Christian Religion™ to have an agenda, secret or otherwise, to ruin your life. Because Christianity is a monotheistic religion, not a monolithic one.
There are some 38,000 religious denominations under the Christian umbrella, and some of them have about as much in common as Wicca and Asatru (compare the Christians that come to this church with congregants of Divine Science or with Mormons or members of the United Church of Christ–whom, if you aren’t familiar with them, marry h0mosexual couples in their church). Certainly they all have one thing in common–they all do religion with Jesus. But even then, there is rampant disagreement. Some denominations believe in the Trinity (others do not), some believe in universal salvation (others do not), some believe in the Bible as the literal word of God (and others do not)…and these are the Big Ticket Items! There are even more differences in terms of who can take communion, on baptism (infant vs adult) vs, Christenings and dedications, on who can marry, on the roles of women or of homosexuals, on proselytizing, on evolution, on politics, on so many things I can’t even list them all.
So please, stop lumping all Christians together. It is annoying (not to mention inaccurate). There is no such thing as the Christian Church (unless you are specifically talking about a church denomination also known as the Disciples of Christ), and all it does in the end is make you look like a bit of an ass. Sometimes it even makes you look bitter. And looking like a bitter ass isn’t really proper interfaith etiquette…
If you want to be taken seriously in a world of religious plurality, then you need to take ALL religions seriously, even the one’s you don’t like because of their most extreme members. Not all Christians are the Westboro Baptist Church, or Ted Haggarty, or the family that sent their middle schooler to proselytize to The Hubby at White Castle, or the Jesus Camp lady, or pedophile priests…in fact, most Christians are just like you or me.
All of us, just trying to live our lives in the best ways we can.
A message to some Christians from a Pagan:
Look, you belong to a monotheistic religion, not a monolithic one. There are some 38,000 religious denominations under the Christian umbrella, and you can’t even all agree on what makes you Christians, much the finer (and not so fine) points of your theology. So please, stop pushing your denomination (or just your opinion) as The Christian Thing To Do™ instead of YOUR thing to do based on YOUR understanding and interpretation of YOUR religion. Because I’ll tell you now, it makes it really easy for people to hate on you, when…well, just look at the Westboro Baptist Church, or the actions of Ted Haggarty, or the family that sent their middle schooler to proselytize to The Hubby at White Castle, or the Jesus Camp lady, or the Catholic church’s issues with pedophiles, or…well, you get the idea. And I’d like to continue thinking that most Christians aren’t crazy or hypocrites or crazy hypocrites.
From the PR standpoint of an outsider–the best way to look like a good Christian is to just be a good person first. Loving your neighbor sometimes means leaving them alone when their religious beliefs are different than yours…or their sexuality, their gender, their skin tone, their income level, or the amount of sin you think they live in (wasn’t it Jesus that said something about casting the first stone?). And voting to deny people the ability to live in the same freedom that you enjoy–definitely not loving your neighbor to discriminate like that (after all, Jesus himself healed the daughter of a Canaanite…or a Greek, depending on the author).
From the perspective of the adherent of another religious outlook, please have the decency, respect, and intelligence (if not for me personally, but at least for the free will you probably should believe that your deity gave me) to realize that I’m happy not being Christian–I (like most Pagans, or non-Christian Unitarian Universalists for that matter) was at one time Christian, I already know what you are selling, and I have no desire to buy into that brand of faith again. And, if by some chance you think you are that extra-special proselytizer that would change my mind, think again. I am surrounded by thousands of denominations IRL and online, and I am savvy enough to find one that would appeal to me without your assistance, were I interested. Oh, and if you are that extra-special sort of proselytizer thinks the threat of the Horrors of Eternal Damnation™ is an effective conversion technique, really–don’t bother. I’ve calculated the odds, and a God that uses intimidation tactics isn’t worthy of my time or energy.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m happy that you, whomever you are (and however much I might disagree with your theological opintion), have found a path that brings you peace and meaning. But so have I. And I’m pretty sure that at the end of the day, we aren’t all that different.
All of us, trying to live our lives in the best ways we can.