Virtually every pagan I know that has made their religion public (or had someone find out about it) has had to deal with some type of intolerance at one time or another. Of course, we arenít the only ones, many people who follow non-mainstream religions have to deal with it. So do Atheists and Agnostics.
Of course, the fact that itís common does not make it right. I personally feel that every single person on this planet has the right to believe whatever they like. It is no oneís business but their own. Hating someone because of their personal beliefs is like hating someone because of their race.Hereís some ideas on what to do about intolerance:
I have many friends who are Christians. They respect my beliefs, as I respect theirs. I do not impose my morals, values, or beliefs on them and they do not impose theirs on me.
On the same note, I also know people that hate me because I do not believe the same way they do. I do not regard them as representing their beliefs. Instead, I consider them bigots. In my opinion, bigots are mentally ill, and therefore should be disregarded. It is illogical to hold an entire religious structure responsible for the actions of a few people that have psychological issues and use religion as a means for justifying them.
Personally, I feel that if a person persistently makes insulting comments about my religious beliefs despite the fact that I am not forcing them on anyone or even discussing them, then relative or not, I do not need that type of negative association. It was not difficult for me because I am not really all that close to my family. Some people are and canít bring themselves to do something like that, so it is really an individual choice.
If someone refuses to leave you alone, depending on the nature of the problem, you may want to contact
you local law enforcement agency. You should also report any act of violence or the threat of any.
If the harrassment is by phone, call the phone company and report it. If it is online or by email, contact the person's ISP
One final word: if you are being harassed in your school or workplace, report it immediately. You do not have to accept harassment. If nothing is done to resolve the problem, contact an attorney.
Discrimination: If you feel at any time that you have been discriminated against because of your religion, you should contact an attorney immediately. Do not be afraid to stand up for your own rights. You should also contact the Alternative Religions Education Network. They may be able to refer you to other organizations that can help.
By standing up for your rights, you will not only be doing yourself a favor. You could potentially stop it from happening to another person as well.
A word of caution: Please make absolutely certain that you were discriminated against specifically because of your religion before you take action to that effect. If you didnít get a job because you werenít qualified, if your spouse got custody of your children because you are a substance abuser, if you were fired from your job for poor performance, DO NOT attempt to use accusations of religious discrimination as means to correct the situation. If you have any of the above problems, then you need to concentrate on correcting them and possibly seek some type of rehabilitation. There are people that have real problems. Donít waste someoneís time when it could better spent helping someone that actually has been discriminated against.
Please take intolerance seriously. Through the centuries, religious intolerance has been responsible for the torture and death of innocent men, women and children. And it is still at work today. Please do your part to help end it.
This page is dedicated to Damien Echols