Why are Christians so threatened by Neo-Paganism?
Why does it seem beyond the ability of so many in their number to live and let live?
In his post now closed to comments, Stephen’s tone ranges from slightly contemptuous (“We are in a season when people will begin to write silly things about the pagan origins of Christmas”) to openly venomous (“Neither is the Virgin Mary a thinly disguised version of some pagan Mother Goddess. She’s nothing like her. And if the art forms of such mother goddesses influenced later iconography, well so be it. We stole their art forms”).
The tipping point for me however was the author’s assertion that the Neo-Pagans of today are “wannabe’s” simply because they call themselves Pagans. Freeman states that ancient Pagans never thought of themselves as such, and so would not have claimed Paganism as a religious identity. He goes on to state that because Neo-Pagans do label themselves this way they’re actually “thinking like a Christian, a Jew, or a Muslim” and that “a Pagan would not think like that.”
Had I been able to comment, I would’ve said something like this:
I agree that the ancient Pagans would neither have pictured themselves as nor called themselves Pagan, Wiccan, etc. But there’s a good reason for this. In the words of Edain McCoy, “There was no need to name a religion in a community where simply being born into the tribe or clan automatically made you a part of its spiritual life.”
In the time between the founding of Christianity and now, many different schools of religious and spiritual thought have emerged. Though once unnecessary, today labels are important in establishing identity and distinction. Attempting to discredit the validity of Neo-Paganism simply because its followers call themselves “Pagan” is a weak argument at best. Whether you agree or disagree with its principles and practices is of no consequence. Follow your own path and let the rest of us follow ours.