Dealing with Religious Intolerance By Shelia Santiago

We still live in a world where Witch burnings are a reality as recent as 6 months ago there were multiple Witches burned in a village in Africa. It is a scary thing knowing that someone would kill you just because your spiritual beliefs were different than theirs. It is a sad reality and one that has always been the source of war and conflict.

For many years I kept my beliefs and practices under wraps because of this. I always felt it was a personal choice and no one else had to know.

Once I joined a coven and began sharing my beliefs with others of like mind I began to come out of my shell little by little and now 6 years later I am completely open about my beliefs but I am also careful.

I have a few non-confrontational bumper stickers on my car and I have 3 pagan tattoos so while I am not shouting it to the world the signs are there for those who notice and wish to discuss or question.

I Have been the victim of religious intolerance because of my “signs” At my job I knew from my first week in training that I could never speak about my beliefs without being judged harshly or even possibly fired.

The people in the office were all very Christian and not only did a couple of people have Bibles out of their desks they would quote scripture across to each other here and there just out of the blue. I have never worked in an environment where there was so much “church” behavior. I kept quiet and to myself and never commented on any of it or added anything to the conversation.

A few comments were made about my bumper stickers so I knew that a lot of what was happening was because they wanted to make me uncomfortable…little did they know that I could care less what they talked about or believed. Good for them to believe in something is all I say. They took it one step further and took one of my bumper stickers off of my car.

Well that was the last straw. Not only did I replace the sticker I added 2 more not so non-confrontational and I also did not hide my tattoos any longer. Obviously my tactful and respectful manner did not matter so I decided to just be myself. I took my book covers off of my pagan books and wore short sleeves and no longer hid my pentacle necklace.

If I am going to be discriminated against why not let them know that their ignorance doesn’t make me run away, it makes me stand proud. I do not have to believe in what you believe in , but  I respect others choices in their beliefs.

I find it amusing that these so called “Christians” were not being very Christian. If people practiced what they preached then perhaps there wouldn’t be as much war and conflict over religion. All that should matter is that people Believe, period.

Why do some people feel the need to cram their beliefs down others throats? Be happy with what you believe in and go on your way.

All you can do when you come up against people like this is keep to your beliefs and go along on your way. If these people will not take the time educate themselves and don’t care that they are ignorant and just wish to believe that their way is the only way then there is nothing you can do but walk away. Sometimes it is just best to wish them well and ask the Goddess to let them let tolerance into their hearts.

I have personally found that true Pagans are the happiest most easy going people…I think perhaps it is because we are not concerned about trying to force our beliefs on others, nor are we concerned that what others believe in is wrong. We instead are happy with our choices and we are happy that you made your own choice. We just believe in Peace and Love and Living life happily. Shouldn’t everyone live life that way? 

Blessed Be!

 

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3 Responses to “Dealing with Religious Intolerance By Shelia Santiago”

  1. MayaNoor Says:

    Sometimes staunch belief in something is translated into arrogance and the need to subject others to that arrogance in order to ascertain whether or not they are “fit,” to be an acquaintance of that person. It’s very sad that we still encounter such prejudice in this day and age, but it won’t likely change for a long time. True, people do seem to be moving away from that type of bigotry, but there is a growing minority who are running toward it and embracing it full force. We should always be mindful of such people, but we should also never let our fear of rejection or judgment dampen our need for self expression and personal identity.

    I’m very proud of you for not letting this type of bullying prevent you from being who you are, even if there are those who would dislike you more for it.

    Preach on, sista!

  2. Sherry Says:

    Thank You Sheila for sharing this! I too feel as if I’m being discriminated against and have to remain quiet of what I so strongly believe in and am committed too. I am having a situation with an extremely Christian neighbor. She “tries” to confront my children actually, in lieu of “talking” to me?? Actually invited my daughter, only my daughter, to her church! So, I believe that I will listen to the Goddess and remain “quiet” with a few subtle hints. 🙂 I don’t believe that we should have to argue and defend what is right for each of us. I too am so happy to have found so many wonderful, supportive, friendly, kind pagan friends! Thanks again Shelia for helping to keep us aware.
    Sherry

  3. sheila1977 Says:

    thank you so much for your comments ladies!
    Be proud of what you believe in!

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