Opinion

How to Foster Coexistence: A Pagan’s and a Christian’s Perspective

By: FAITH NICKENS

With Halloween right around the corner- or Samhain, if you’re a Pagan – it’s only typical that some tension is arising in the halls of Truman High School. Two groups were going at it, specifically, a Satanist and a Christian. Jones White, dressed in a black hoodie boasting the words ‘Hail Satan’ in white lettering, was approached in the lunch line.

“I was going into lunch, and this girl comes up [to me]. She comes up to me and she goes, ‘Are you actually a Satanist?’” said White. “Well, yes, I am, by most definitions of the word. I’m Pagan still, I still believe in supernatural things like that. She said, ‘Okay, I understand that you’ve made your decisions and everything, but are you sure that’s the right decision?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’ve pretty much made all my decisions, and I’m pretty happy with [my decisions]. And she seemed pretty put off by that.”

White says this isn’t the first time he’s had interactions like this. These situations have been happening to him since he’s been in elementary school. He’s been a practicing Pagan since that age, and therefore, people have been asking him invasive, pressuring questions about his religion. And while White says these questions are annoying, he meets them with respect, no matter how tense the other person seems to be with his religious beliefs.

Paganism has many branches and sectors, with different belief systems in each. There is The Satanic Temple, whose core beliefs center around respecting oneself, others and the nature of people. Wiccanism or witchcraft, beliefs stem back to the Earth, and the magik (that is the correct spelling) that comes from it. Hellenic polytheism centers around the worship of the Greek Gods and Goddesses. And a lot of these religions intersect. There are many branches of polytheistic religions that reach their hand into Satanism, Wiccanism, and many others.

Unfortunately, Paganism and all of the religions it encompasses, seem to get a bad reputation. With many Pagans practicing their religion privately, it is hard to nail down the exact number of how many people are devout Pagans. People hear the word Pagan and conjure up images of people with dripping black eyes and human sacrifice. The word Satanism brings up ideas of people with goat heads, wearing scary cloaks and chants in Latin. Many people fear witchcraft, and won’t associate with witches or even Pagans out of fear they will be cursed or “hexed.”

The world of Paganism isn’t scary if you ask White or any of the other Pagans who attend our school. It seems that people jump on the train of being afraid or against Paganism without even knowing what it is.

White mentioned that he believed the person he spoke with was Christian. Although we couldn’t find the exact person who he spoke to, we did find someone of the same religion to speak with.

According to Dixon, most Christians believe in God and the Trinity; God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus. They believe that Jesus came and was born from Mary on Christmas, died on the cross on Good Friday and rose again on Easter Sunday. These principles are the basis of Christianity, it seems. If you go to any form of a Christian church, you can find these main topics and symbols to represent them. Within the almost hundreds of denominations of Christianity, these basic details remain the same almost all the way across the board.

Makayla says she has shared her own beliefs at school, but not without being prompted. “There have been times when I ask people what they believe. We believe that we should evangelize, or tell others about Christ, so I’ve been able to ask what people believe and tell people who Christ is and what he’s done in my life,” says Dixon. She says there have been times of debate between herself and non-Christians, but she has been told if someone has a question that she doesn’t know how to answer, she can take a step back and ask her pastor or youth pastor for a better outlook on the Bible. She personally, however, tends to stay away from the debate.

After recounting White’s story for her, she has this to say on how the situation could have been handled smoother.

“It’s really hard when people do that, and not every Christian is the same; some tend to argue. I don’t think that is the right way [to handle Christianity].” She thinks everyone should listen to each other’s opinions. People believe in different things and she believes that the person Jones met handled it in the wrong way. She believes people like that tend to turn others away from learning about Christianity. She said, in conclusion, “I’m sorry for that person.”

With a whopping 2.2 billion reported practicing Christianity, according to The Washington Times, it is safe to say Christians outnumber Pagans by a very high measurement. Christianity dates back to the very first century and has over 30 million churches across the world. Christianity is one of the world’s biggest religions; so why is there such a disconnect between one of the world’s largest churches and a religion as seemingly small as Paganism?

Fear seems to be the number one driving force of why there is such a rift. It seems to be the natural reaction of people to become afraid when hearing someone is a Satanist, Wiccan or simply Pagan. However, searching Christianity and Paganism brings up articles about how the two religions are similar, even sharing some of the same rituals and holidays, most by different names. There is even a study of the Bible, proving how Christianity came from Paganism. While now, the two have seemingly split for good, there is no denying that Christianity and Paganism root from the same place.

So as the holiday season approaches, remember that not everyone around you will be celebrating in the same ways, or even celebrating the same holidays, as you. Remember that there are other people of other religions who may not celebrate any holidays at all. Maybe they’ll celebrate holidays you’ve never even heard of- and that’s okay. Overall, respect the religions, personal beliefs, and traditions of those near you. If you see someone wearing a ‘Hail Satan’ hoodie in the school hallway, don’t automatically jump to fearing them. Their religious beliefs don’t change what they are before all of that- a high school student.

Categories: Opinion

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