Overcoming Criticism with Intelligence

Posted February 16th, 2012 by denwagh

As someone whose religion, beliefs or faith differ from the society norm, we as Pagans (be it Wiccans, Druids, Buddhists, etc) face a lot of criticism. Most of this is passive and we may not notice it but on occasion it is in your face in the form of debate, accusations or just plain fanatical screaming.

The later happened to me a few years ago in Deep Ellum when a Christian street preacher of about nineteen years old saw the pentacle I wear around my neck. Instead of ignoring him or telling him to go away with colorful language, I engaged him and used his own turf to prove the point that perhaps he should be studying his religious history rather than screaming at “heathens” on a street corner.

If you’ve read my bio, you know I was raised in the Lutheran Church and broke away later in life, with a firm understand of the Christian faith and having read it’s book many times. While I don’t agree with many of the teachings (and do agree with others), I do retain much of what I learned and can still quote Christian scripture when needed.

The young man spun on me as I passed him and to my back yelled, “You openly wear the sign of the believers of Satan!” This is what opened the discussion you see below. This is from memory but it’s fairly accurate and the Bible versus quoted I remember exactly as I wrote about the event in my personal journal and use it now as reference to write this.

ME: “Don’t you as well believe in Satan?”
SP: “Yes, but I do not worship him as you do.”
ME: But you said “believers” not “worshipers”.
SP: “You know what I mean”
ME: “I really don’t, but I’d be interested in hearing what your opinion of someone you met thirty seconds ago based on a symbol around his neck is”
(I really don’t think the kid was ready for a confrontation as he paused and looked caught off-guard at this point and I had to coax him into replying)
SP: “You wear a pentegram which represents Satan”
ME: “Actually, this is a pentacle, not a pentagram but they are often confused. This symbol pre-dates Christianity and symbolizes the four elements and the body or in some religions, the spirit. Did you know that the pentacle was inscripbed on King Soloman’s ring and in Hebrew scripture was the most important seal amulet of the 7 Seals?”
SP: “You are lying”
ME: “Why would I lie about something like that when you can simply research it to prove whether it’s false or not? I encourage you to look it up. In addition the pentagram was associated with the five wounds of Christ, and because it could be drawn in one continuous movement of the pen, the Alpha and the Omega as one.
SP: “…”
ME: “I don’t expect you to take my word for it but please do research it.” I am pagan, I don’t believe in Satan therefore would not worship him. I believe in spirit, and that the earth itself lives. I believe in “Do what you will but harm none”. I also believe in acceptance of others as you should as well based on Exodus 22:21 found in your Bible you have there”
SP: (gets out his Bible)
ME: Don’t worry about it, the passage is “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt” I am an alien to you yet you oppress me rather than witness to me. Shouldn’t you, based on your beliefs, be trying to witness your Lord’s word to me?
(At this time there are 4 or 5 people standing around listening)
SP: “Yes, we are taught to witness to non-believers”
ME: Does your particular denomination of Christianity teach you to scream heathen at everyone you see who is wearing a symbol that you don’t understand?
SP: “No”.
ME: “Pull out your Bible there and read Matthew 7:5 to me and then Luke 6:31.”
SP: (Reluctant, as by now he clearly realizes that I am not some dumb kid with jewelry from Hot Topic..”)  He reads the passages.
ME: “Does it sound like you are judging me? And as well, doesn’t that last line sound a lot like my belief of “Do what you will, harm none?”
SP: “Yes I am judging you and perhaps I got a little carried away”
ME: “There is nothing wrong with letting your beliefs ignite you. I learned that when I was still a Christian Youth Minister and it is something I carry today.”
SP: “You were Christian?”
ME: “Yes. For most of my adult life”
SP: “Why did you leave?”
ME: “That is a long story, but if you would like to hear it, give me a call”

I left the debate and he went about his business. In the end, he did call me about two days later. He was apparently very new and his denomination of Christianity was one I knew to be very “vocal” in the street preaching scene. I told him my story and gave him some references to consider for religious history.

As Pagans we have enough social issues without creating more by publicly yelling at another person whose views don’t match ours.. Instead, and in my opinion, “killing them with kindness” is the way to go.

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