Paganism is a Faith?! ::Gasp::

Circle of Moms has been running several contests for the top 25 blogs in a variety of categories. Recently one of their contests was for the Top 25 Faith Blogs by Moms. Mrs. B., the writer of Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom was entered into the contest. After a while, her blog climbed to one of the top spots. Apparently, it was quite appalling that a Pagan blog could be included and possibly win a contest for blogs about faith — at least to a certain group of Christians.

This group of Christians rallied against Mrs. B. and her blog. They called upon their Christian brethren to keep these “Satan worshippers” from winning a spot in this contest. (For those who don’t know – Paganism and Satan worship are not the same thing – especially considering that Satan is construct of the Abrahamic faiths – meaning Pagans don’t believe in such an entity.) There were nasty comments (which have since been deleted). There were even death threats. Mrs. B. writes about this persecution in her blog. She even shared a few of those comments.

I only read the comments that Mrs. B. posted. I also read through several of the comments on her blog post. I was thrilled that it seems more people (Christian and Pagan alike) spoke out against this maltreatment. In fact, according to Religious Dispatches, several Christians were outraged at the rather un-Christ-like behavior of that first group of Christians — so much so that they called out support FOR Mrs. B. and her blog.

Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom took the #1 spot in the contest — Actually, out of the 25 top blogs, 12 of them are from Pagan moms. I wonder – would there be that many Pagan blogs in the top spots if the “Christians” hadn’t made such an issue over it to begin with?

I’ve read through Mrs. B.’s blog and definitely think she deserves that top spot (I can’t speak for the other 24). I am thrilled that Paganism has such a positive portrayal on Circle of Moms. I am all about breaking those long-held misconceptions.

In case you are interested, here is how Merrium-Webster.com
defines “faith”:

1 a: allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty
b (1): fidelity to one’s promises
   (2): sincerity of intentions

2 a (1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God
(2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
b (1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof
(2): complete trust

3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs <the Protestant faith>

If you want to learn more about any particular faith, I highly recommend BeliefNet.

What does “faith” mean to you? What are your thoughts on Mrs. B. and her blog? What do you think about those who attacked her during the contest? What do you think about Paganism in general?

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18 responses to this post.

  1. Faith is a belief in things unseen, that’s what I believe. Anyone can have faith….It said “Faith” blogs not Blogs run by specifically Christian faith believers so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with including her in the contest. I’ve never read anything by Mrs. B but this makes me want to read her now.
    I’ve noticed how un-Christlike people can get when defending Christianity and it’s so hypocritical……it’s why I am constantly irritated by other Christian people who make us ALL look bad. I most definitely don’t agree with how people treated her and they should be incredibly ashamed of themselves.
    People really should be taken in consideration for their personalities, what they stand for, their character, instead of automatically labeled acceptable because they fit with your religious views. Even though I’m a Christian…that doesn’t mean that I agree with all other Christians and it most certainly doesn’t mean that I LIKE them all. They’re are a lot of Christians out there that I would personally like to un-associate myself with permanently, like these ones that did this to this woman……UGH!

    Reply

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Sharon — though I’m not surprised by your views — I, of course, agree with them completely 🙂

      I think there are stereotypes within all religions . . . And Christians like yourself definitely have to fight against the stereotype that the Chrisitans like the ones bashing Mrs. B. and her blog have perpetuated. I think fear has a lot to do with most forms of bigotry. That’s definitely the case when it comes to Paganism. People don’t understand it and so they fear it. I’ve been told that I worship demons. When I said that I don’t believe in demons, I was told that I was worshipping them without realizing it. What?!

      On a more positive side —- When I taught pre-school, I put up a “Happy Yule” banner to go along with all of the other holidays that were represented. It brought questions. I explained. No one gave me any problems. I even had one parent give me a chocolate teddy bear lollipop instead of the “Christmas” wreath cause she didn’t want to offend me . . . I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I put up wreaths too – I appreciated her intentions 🙂

      Reply

  2. Personally, I think Mrs.B. and her blog are the most awesomest thing eve– wait, what?

    Seriously, though, thank you so much for the kind words! I’m glad to hear you enjoy reading. =) It was an amazing thing to see the Pagan and Pagan-friendly community rally together for all the Pagan mom bloggers. What started off as a silly popularity contest became something that brought us all together – including many Christians, atheists of folks of other traditions that wrote to me personally to leave kind words of support.

    Reply

    • Thank you so much for coming by my blog, Mrs. B.! — And you are quite welcome! I’ve only read through a few of your posts so far, but I’ve loved them all!

      My former mother-in-law sent me the link to the story on Religious Dispatches. I read it out loud to my boyfriend, who basically said what I was thinking, “Are you kidding me?!” (There may have been an expletive involved in that question.) I was definitely thrilled to see how everything turned out . . . Especially as I read the comments on your blogs from people of all different faiths showing their support!

      Reply

  3. Posted by bryan on June 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    having answered this similar question on boards time and time again, i’ll be brief. i tend to stick to this definition: “firm belief in something for which there is no proof” for faith. of course this can be in anything from a God/heaven, to humanity and the sciences, to faith in yourself, to “this old car will take me from Maine to Florida.” there’s nothing wrong with faith in anything; they’re all equally swell. the problem, however, is one of the other definitions you listed: “complete trust.” its those with a blind faith, those that can’t accept another point of view even existing (let alone contrasting to their own views. zoinks!), that pervert the concept. its completely healthy to investigate other concepts or question one’s beliefs. how else will you know how strong yours are?

    as for the Mrs B fiasco, well it never surprises me anymore how big or how small an issue Christians will take offense to. as a lifelong atheist, i’ve heard it all. i’m just glad that story had a happy ending.

    Reply

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      “its completely healthy to investigate other concepts or question one’s beliefs” — I couldn’t agree more!

      Reply

  4. Fascinating topic. One of America’s founding principles (The Statute of Religious Freedom) is that we can practice religion the way we want to–that’s one of the reasons we wanted to establish ourselves as a country separate from the British. I’m not a religious person myself, but I feel strongly that we need to protect the rights of everyone who does practice a form of religion.

    Reply

    • “One of America’s founding principles (The Statute of Religious Freedom) is that we can practice religion the way we want to–that’s one of the reasons we wanted to establish ourselves as a country separate from the British.” —- This is exactly why religious issues never made sense to me. I’ve spent many years searching out a path that was right for me. I change course constantly, as I am constantly growing. But one thing I have learned more than anything else is that people cannot be defined by their religious titles.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Ginny Layton on June 18, 2011 at 9:59 am

    “Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you cannot see” a verse from the Bible I use as a definition for faith, a definition which could be applied to any number of religions. Christians give themselves a bad rap so often by focusing on tertiary issues and forgetting the thrust of Christ’s message: “Love one another.” True Christ followers would not respond in this way. . .fear, ignorance [I admit all I know of Paganism is what I learned from that novel by Robbins, “Skinny Legs and All” and snippets from “The Da Vinci Code” (I know titles are either in bold, underlined or italicized, but can’t figure out how to do that here.)], and a sense that the world is our enemy informs too much of Christian involvement in the social/political arena. Any politicizing of Christianity is taking it away from its force and focus–loving individuals as Christ loves. Sorry, Mrs. B, I’m glad some Christians came to your defense. Just as Muslims don’t claim allegiance to the radical factions that cause so much pain and heart-ache, as a Christian I do not share alliance with ill-guided, ultra-conservatives who believe the world is to be “won” by force.

    Reply

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Ginny!

      I love this line, “Just as Muslims don’t claim allegiance to the radical factions that cause so much pain and heart-ache, as a Christian I do not share alliance with ill-guided, ultra-conservatives who believe the world is to be “won” by force.”

      I’ve never read “Skinny Leg and All” or anything by Tom Robbins for that matter. I did just check it out on Amazon, and it looks interesting. Plus, the “customers also bought” sections shows Kurt Vonnegut (my favorite writer ever) and Christopher Moore (one of my newer favorite writers) – so I think I have to buy it now 🙂 (And if you are ever interested in learning anything about Paganism, I’d be happy to share. – Pop culture references are typically highly inaccurate.)

      Oh, and I can’t figure out how to italize and bold here either 😉

      I digress . . . back to the point . . . “thrust of Christ’s message: ‘Love one another.’ ” — That as always been my understanding of Christianity. Yes there are certain “rules” and “doctrines” but at the heart of it, Jesus taught love . . . Christian or not, I think that’s a message we all should follow!

      Reply

  6. I’d send you my copy of the Robbins’ book, but it’s probably cheaper to buy it on Amazon than it is to mail it! I’ve heard of Christopher Moore, but not read. I’ll have to check him out (also a big Vonnegut fan).

    I did actually study Paganism a little in undergrad. I minored in Religion at a public university, so I got a bit of it all. What would be the seminal text for me to read to find out more about its current practice?

    Reply

    • Ha, I understand about the book. I’ve been meaning to hit the used bookstore for months. I’ll look for it there before hitting Amazon! (I have 3 bags of book to donate to the used bookstore – I get store credit for them – it’s pretty much awesome!)

      I suggest A Dirty Job, if you want to pick up a Christopher Moore book. It’s the first of his that I read, and I’m actually rereading it now! Moore has a very Vonnegut-like style, so if you’re a Vonnegut fan, you should definitely check him out!

      My goal is to go back to school for Comparative Religion. I have a few book ideas swimming around in my brain. I just have to find a school, preferably online, that offers the courses!

      “What would be the seminal text for me to read to find out more about its current practice?” — That’s a really tough question to answer. There is no “current practice” per se. It’s like saying the current practice of Christianity – which denomination? There are plenty of organized religions under that umbrella term; there are also lots of people like me who follow a “non-denomination” type path. The best I can do is suggest a couple of my favorite books that influenced me the most. The first is Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham. I’ve never considered myself Wiccan, but I still found a lot of great information in this book. The other is Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today by Margot Adler. I never read the book from cover to cover, but I have found some great information in there. It is outdated and has some critics, but it was a good starting point for me. Honestly though, most of what I learned was from Pagan groups I joined online 😛

      That was a really long answer to a short question – Sorry!

      Reply

      • Posted by Ginny Layton on June 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm

        No, a very helpful answer. I’ll try to find both those books. I think I’ve heard of the Adler one before.
        That’s funny you say that because I was going to say Wiccan practice, but I didn’t think that the two were synonymous. Now I understand. I’m fascinated by the druids (I was one in a play, “The Cry of the Cockatrice” in college :), but perhaps wrongly think of that as belonging to long, long ago.

        Reply

  7. Okay, you know I read this when you first posted it, and I totally owe you a comment, after that wonderful one that you just left me! 🙂

    As far as the definitions you supplied for “faith,” clearly paganism would not fit with “belief and trust in and loyalty to God” or “belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion.” However, it would clearly fit the description “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” That more generic definition is cited in the Bible, too. Hebrews 11 poetically describes faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” A less poetic, but more literal and modern translation words it this way: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

    In the context of that chapter (see http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=hebrews%2011&version=NASB), “faith in God” and in His Word is delineated further, by brief summaries of Old Testament “saints” act as stair steps toward a sort of climax to the passage: “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. . . . [but rather,] they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”

    Elsewhere in the letter written to the Hebrews (Jewish people that had become followers of Christ), Scripture says “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Clearly, within the context, the term “faith” here refers to “faith in God” or “faith in what the Bible says.”

    So from a purely theological and philosophical and biblical perspective, to answer the question,”Is paganism a faith?” It depends on the context. If a pastor in a Christian church stood up and asked for someone to give a “testimony” (that’s Christian-ese, I guess, for an account or personal experience) about their faith, anything about a person’s pagan beliefs would clearly be out of place. (I’m wonky-wooed, tonight, or I would have thought of a less ridiculous example, but you get my point.) If the contest didn’t specify that it was a Christian or even religious contest, I don’t think such an entry would be out of line. (Is paganism a religion? Another good question, I suppose.)

    Back to the definitions that you gave, paganism, as you’re describing it, would be on par with atheism and secular humanism, no? It does fit the description of being “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” As such, sometimes “pagans” (who are also humanists and evolutionists, I think) make out science to be their terrain, when in fact, like Creationists, they interpret what they see in nature a certain way, through the lens of their worldview. Such theories have their place in philosophy class, but not in science. Why did I bring up that debate? Because “pagans” can’t have it both ways. Their belief system can’t be both a science and a faith. (And, as I’m sure you know from a debate, typically, the burden of proof lies with the person trying to argue against something being a possibility–i.e. an atheist would have more trouble proving there is NOT a God than the theologian would to prove there is–even though both believe what they do, in faith.)

    Okay, this was ridiculously long, so I should stop. But you asked one more question, and I just can’t leave it lie. (And I’ll stop short of reiterating what I think was a sad commentary on Christian behavior and lack of love and graciousness the other bloggers had. Or maybe not. True biblical faith is shown through love. See http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/saving-faith-produces-love)

    What do I think of paganism? I think it is sad. And the fact that it is so popular makes it even more tragic. Why? Because I strongly believe that it is false and the Bible is true. That does not mean that I hate pagans. What it does mean is that I do believe that if they do not change their views and choose to pay homage to their Creator, trusting the death of Christ as payment for their sins, they have not only stopped short of enjoying the greatest pleasures of this life, but they have a dread-worthy fate coming, in the next. As Matthew 10:28 puts it, “Do not fear those who can kill the body; fear Him who is able to cast soul and body into hell.” That is a hard truth, my friend. If I had created the world and written the “rules,” I might not have done it that way. I cannot understand the mind of God, but I can try to do so. Romans 1 is a good place to find such explanation. And this message wonderfully explains the way a loving God still does meet out eternal punishment, as contradictory (and unpopular) such a belief may be: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/universalism-and-the-reality-of-eternal-punishment-the-biblical-basis-of-the-doctrine-of-eternal-punishment

    Apologetics.com has some helpful resources, even if I find it difficult to navigate. I like it’s theme, though: “challenging believers to think and thinkers to believe.” In that context, “belief” is referring to belief in biblical truth, of course. Well, I am a believer, and I like how you encourage me to think. You are a thinker, friend.

    Reply

    • “As far as the definitions you supplied for “faith,” clearly paganism would not fit with “belief and trust in and loyalty to God” or “belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion.” ” — How is that clear? Many Pagan (capital P, as oppossed to lowercase p) faiths believe in “traditional doctrines of a religion” – just not the Christian religion. Pagans also believe in a God or Gods, and put trust and loyalty in those Higher Powers.

      “Back to the definitions that you gave, paganism, as you’re describing it, would be on par with atheism and secular humanism, no?” —– Absolutely not. Athiests don’t believe in any Higher Power, in any God. Pagans (capital P) most certainly do. That understanding of a Higher Power can be quite different from a Christian’s understanding, but it IS a belief in a Higher Power or Powers. (My 12-step background leads me to preference for that term.)

      “sometimes “pagans” (who are also humanists and evolutionists, I think)” —- Some Christians are also humanists and evolutionists. Some Pagans (again, capital P) are not. I disagree that religion and science have to be seperate. Though, I cannot clearly argue this because I have never and will never consider myself “religious.” Spirituality is entirely different – and that I can and will argue can coincide quite well with science. I believe in finding the happy mediums in life.

      Just to be clear – pagan (lowercase p) refers to anyone who does not follow the Abrahamic faiths. So yes, Pagans would be pagans as well. Pagan (capital P) is an umbrella term that refers to any number of mostly polytheistic religions (I have met a few monotheistic Pagans) whose beliefs have a strong base in nature – such as Druids, Wiccans, Neopagans and Shamans. . . . . Think of it like Christian. Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, etc. are all Christians, but not all Christians are Baptists, Catholics or Methodists.

      Reply

  8. Oops, re-read and found an error that may prove confusing. The last sentence of the second-to-last paragraph should have read as follows: “And this message wonderfully explains the way a loving God still does meet out eternal punishment as contradictory (and unpopular) such a belief may SEEM”

    Reply

  9. Okay, I clearly have a case of OCD tonight (Obsessive Commenting Disorder!), but I forgot to let this one other thought spill onto the screen (that was weird). Anyhoo, the faith mentioned in Hebrews 11 prompted those who had faith that what God said (namely, that heaven awaited them, in the afterlife, and they would be rewarded for trusting and obeying Him, then) was true. The entire passage repeats the phrase,”By faith, [name] [verb].” Plug that into Paganism: What does faith in Paganism prompt? Is it simply a faith that God is nonexistent, prompting a live-for-the-present mindset, or would you suggest a particular set of predicates that show the outgrowth of such a faith? (I’m very curious about your take.)

    Reply

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