Religious Tolerance in Wicca
For the most part and in my experience, Wiccans seem to be religiously tolerant. Wicca is one of those things that will call to you if it is your path. I have been to open circles though and after the ritual, one often will hear one or two witches ‘Christian bashing’. In some ways, I can understand the sentiment because there are fanatics of other religions who likewise judge us. On the other hand, this only causes more intolerance and misunderstanding of our religion.
If we want to be recognized as a positive religion, I believe we must show what Wicca is about through our actions and words.* Not something I normally throw out there but, as an example, I know a doctor who is a Christian clergyman. By being respectful, and over time explaining our belief, he thinks it is positive for some people. When we disrespect other religions, it only makes others frown upon our beliefs.
There are so many things you can do to show the positive sides of Wicca. Do something for the community or to help others…something as simple as sending a happy holiday card around times the times we have holidays. Basic positive actions and friendliness can go a long way, even helping people via some simple magicks if you know they won’t be offended. I have programmed appropriate gemstones before to help people I know who are afraid of witchcraft and after respectfully explaining their history and meaning, the people were in fact happy to receive those gifts.
If someone becomes open to it and understands, then invite him/her to observe a ritual, solitary or not. They don’t need to be in the circle but if they have an understanding, curiosity, and respect, there should be no concerns about letting people see what Wicca is about. I do not think in any way we should push our religion, but if we want others to be more accepting, we should explain and show them what we are about.
Once I went to an eclectic open training circle; I noticed that when the ‘religion bashing’ started the high priestess got quiet and then simply walked away. I don’t think most people noticed it, but in my opinion, she took the higher road, so to speak.
Many Abrahamic religions associate Wicca with evil and dark magicks because they do not understand us. If they were to see us out in nature casting our circles, calling upon the elements and Gods or Goddesses it would scare them. Many people fear what they do not understand. This goes both ways, because I’m sure many Wiccans have encountered Christians they do not understand.
I know many that say they just blow off or ignore the people that come to their door to talk religion. Whenever a Mormon, Christian, etc. has come to my door, I invite them in and am polite. They tell me about what their religion has done for them and tell me about their beliefs. I always explain I follow a pagan path and talk shortly about religion with them. I imagine in some cases you may find a fanatic, but being respectful I have not once been insulted by a person I invited into my home to talk about his/her religion.
There are so many misunderstandings and symbols that scare people and I think we need to be aware of that. Someone who has not been exposed to Wicca and notices a pentagram on you may think you’re worshipping Satan. This can be somewhat blamed on movies and that is how it is introduced to most people in today’s society… as an evil symbol. Most people don’t know the inverted pentagram was adopted as satanic symbol. Now, I may be wrong but if I remember correctly, I believe the inverted pentagram is sometimes used in Wicca as well depending on tradition or coven at a certain degree, the reason being for the individual to understand and accept the darker aspect of self but not let it take control. That may even cause more confusion for someone only vaguely familiar with Wicca. (Please feel free correct me if I’m wrong about why the inverted pentagram is sometimes used, as I’m not well educated on when or how it is used in Wicca) .
Disrespect will get us nowhere, when someone says, “God bless you”, “you will be in my prayers” or maybe even offers you a paper to attend their church, there is no reason to be rude. Also, tactfulness is something I believe we should always keep in mind as witches or pagans. When dealing with people who don’t understand us and want to tell us about their religion, we should think of a way to politely tell them that we are not interested.
You will run into your religious nuts but just keep a low tone and be a better person. Making off color comments or insulting them only makes their negative attitude towards other religions stronger. For that matter, when it comes to the fanatics, I sometimes find it useful to use their own book against them (politely, of course!) One of my favorite quotes, if being judged is: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”. (Matthew 7:2; New International Version 1984, ©1984)
I know some Wiccans or pagans say they never touched a Bible, but sometimes reminding a person of his/her own religious text can be your best weapon. Using that as tool, tactfully, can put them at a loss for words.
Respect is earned, and if we want to receive it we must do so through positive actions. While I do think many of us try to respect other religions, we need to keep in mind religious tolerance means respecting all religions.
* I would like to say I did start this as a topic on another site just a few moments ago but it was ¼ the length of this article. I wanted to expand on it though but just felt it appropriate to say this was partially posted elsewhere. For reference I posted the short version on