And They Were Doing So Well . . . .

I recently suggested that people organizing or attending Pagan Pride events spend time making lists of the reasons why they’re proud to be Pagans. And in a number of posts, I’ve emphasized the importance of being clear about your own objectives before you talk to the press. Both of these steps are helpful when you’re trying to frame your message in a positive way.

Here’s an article and interview about a Pagan Pride Day in Portland that is really great . . . right up until the very end.

The Pagan being interviewed starts off with positive information. She does what I think is a great job of handling the question: “What are some of the most common misconceptions about paganism?” responding in a way that indicates that Pagans “come from all walks of life. We’re nurses, business executives, entrepreneurs and teachers.” All good.

The very last question, “What are your goals for Pagan Pride Day?” should be easy to answer. In fact, the introductory article already said, “she’s excited at the prospect of bringing pagans from many different paths to the oak grove that Portlanders think of as Oaks Amusement Park. The day will be an opportunity for pagans to learn more about each other and the spiritual paths they’ve chosen and, she hopes, a chance for those who are curious about paganism to ask questions.” Repeating that would sum up the interview nicely. Instead, here’s the actual answer to the question, “What are your goals for Pagan Pride Day?”

We’d like to open up communications among our pagan community and to allow people who are not pagans to see us and understand that we are not devil worshipers. We are moral, ethical and spiritual people who love our Mother. As far as pagans are concerned, Satan is a Christian idea, and satanists are not pagan.

But charity is part of the pagan path. We’ll be accepting donations for Esther’s Pantry, a food pantry for people with HIV/AIDS who have special diet needs, and for the Pongo Fund, which provides food for the pets of homeless and low income people. We’ll collect magical items for soldiers serving overseas — brass bells, white candles, books on paganism — and donations for Other Worlds of Wonder.

Look, collecting for charity is great, but that’s not the goal of a Pagan Pride Day. Here’s where having a list of reasons why you’re proud of Paganism would be really useful. Here’s where being clear on your own objectives before you talk to the press would be helpful.

And here’s where you have no business in the world talking about Satan. Please. People. I’m begging you. Look, even if your one objective in life WERE to somehow convince the small group of people who do actually equate Paganism with worshiping Satan (most of whom have their minds firmly made up and aren’t going to be swayed, no matter what you say), holding a Pagan Pride Day is no way to achieve that objective. 99.9% of the people who will attend your Pagan Pride Day are either already Pagan or are seriously interested in becoming Pagan. If you really do want to work at convincing people that Pagans don’t worship Satan, join you local interfaith group. At some point, someone may ask you if you worship Satan and then, and only then, and hopefully after people have come to know you as a person of integrity and compassion, can you pipe up about how Pagans don’t worship Satan. Otherwise, Pagans, please, shut up about Satan.

Picture found here.

2 responses to “And They Were Doing So Well . . . .

  1. I think you’re being too hard on them. I find that people will NOT directly ask you these things, but will talk among themselves, as in “Don’t they worship Satan?” It was informative and to the point to just say that, and to remind people that Satan is a Christian thing. There are many, many people out there who need to hear that at least once, so why not from a Pagan.
    But that’s just my take.

  2. I don’t know how it is in Portland, but sad to say, the Pagan Pride Days in my area are largely attended by Satanists. Anyone who wondered into one of these events and looked at the representative population, would have almost every ugly misconception about Pagans reinforced in spades. Last year a friend and I went to a Pagan Pride Day that was within walking distance of my house. Looked to me like the biker gang Pagans were out in force — not so much the kind Witches. I talked to one of my Druid friends who went to a PPD in Philly and left after 20 minutes.

    I guess our next challenge is this: How do we keep the Satanists out? Or do we?

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