Recently Jason from the Wild Hunt posted some articles about religious persecution which is occurring toward Pagans. Go here, here, and here, to read the articles on the topics. I also read another article on how Pagans in Wyoming are mostly solitaries and are very careful about sharing their beliefs because of the fear of persecution. Folks, even in a seemingly “advanced” country as the U.S. or the European countries there is still persecution if you don’t follow the religious practices of the Christian religion.
We can tell ourselves that surely by now people will learn to tolerate each others’ beliefs, but its not that simple. The reality of religious persecution is that it is another form of privilege. When a person from a majority religion says they are being persecuted in a place where that majority religion is accepted and tolerated (as some of the religious right like to believe) they are simply deluding themselves. After all they don’t have to worry about losing a job because of their beliefs, nor do they have to be careful about the jewelry they wear in public or for that matter they don’t have to worry if they bring up their religion at a meeting that isn’t about religion. Nor do they have to worry about having their books burned or being threatened by people simply because of what they believe, at least in the countries where they are the majority religion.
Pagans aren’t the only people discriminated against and some religious beliefs have it worse, but it doesn’t change the fact that if you are pagan there is a level of persecution that can occur just because you choose to have those beliefs. when you need to hide your beliefs because you are afraid of other how other people will react, and in particular are afraid you will be harmed, that is persecution.
We can hope for a world where people will tolerate each other’s beliefs, but to do that we need to really pay attention to how we represent ourselves publicly. Thus, as mentioned in the one article, where the parent got upset and called local authorities, the best way to handle it was to stick to the higher ground. But sticking to the higher ground also must involve raising awareness of these very issues and showing that there are problems that need to be addressed not merely by the community being persecuted, but also by the community doing the persecuting.