A few months ago, when doing a search in Altavista for Christo-Pagan pages (and I am delighted to report that there seem to be more every day), relatively early in the listings I came across a vile little Hate site, written by somebody Great Britain we'll call "Sidney" (not his real name), the alleged leader of a group we'll refer to as CHU ("Christian Haters Unlimited"). The real name, ironically, suggested that his was an anti-defamation group, an amusing thought as defamation was about the only thing that it could ever be seen to be engaged in. What made this site more than the work of the average crank was that across an ocean, and thousands of miles away, I had encountered literature for the hate group Sidney had started. CHU has achieved some level of Networking success.
God only knows why. There is little to be found in Sidney's pages that merits respect. One almost gets the impression that the author had been reading "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" before putting this thing together, with the evil plotting Christo-Pagans taking the place of the evil plotting Jews in his overly vivid imagination, scheming to destroy Pagandom instead of destroying white people. The reader would quickly discover that Sidney didn't even know what a Christo-Pagan was, and was under the impression that they were those who engaged in the building of Interfaith relationships between Christian and Pagan groups.
Wrong. A Christo-Pagan is a practitioner of one of a number of Synchretic religions which incorporate aspects of Christianity and some "Pagan" religion, "Paganism", historically, being defined much more broadly (in this context) than usual (when Synchretism with Christianity is not an issue), to include traditional ethnic religions from around the globe. (Real languages are seldom tidy). Some well-known examples are Santeria, Vodoun, and Mayan folk religion; these go back so far as to define much of the traditional culture of their homelands. There are also Western Christo-Pagan religions in their early formative stages, with a similar focus on the sort of duality we speak of elsewhere.
Being Christo-Pagan ourselves, we would rather not see fighting between Christendom and Pagandom, which is not to say that we don't want to see healthy, mutual criticism. But, bigotry, with its indifference to reality, is another matter. It falls especially hard on those who dwell on the boundary between two groups, as they end up being attacked by both. This raises some especially grim possibilities in the American Southeast, Florida especially, where some very poor and vulnerable Latin American and Carribean immigrants have already encountered racial hostility. The last thing that these (frequently Christo-Pagan) immigrants and their relatives need is a fresh source of Hate. That is exactly what Sidney, using the globe spanning power of the Internet, might just end up bringing into their lives.
CHU is engaged in the worst sort of bigotry, in that it doesn't merely encourage hostility and paranoia toward another religion (Christianity) and its adherents, but even toward those who, like the Pagan Federation (reportedly), seek to make peace. When attitudes like this spread through the Pagan population, an unpleasant Christian reaction is to be expected. Those in the Christian communities who have held out a hand of friendship to Pagans, only to be attacked, are rightly going to feel betrayed. Should they be left with the impression that this kind of bigotry is a well-entrenched norm in the Pagan community, having encountered it again and again and again, they're going to ask "then why shouldn't we hate those Pagans right back". Christ's poetic hyperbole on the subject of how many times one is to forgive one's brother is a call to his followers to show great determination as they try to make peace; it has not, historically, been seen as a call to refuse to eventually learn from experience, when overtures of peace are constantly rebuffed.
But is this message selling? When a group gains the ability to start leafletting in a city on another continent, common sense should tell one that the answer is "yes". A visit to CHU's guestbook, seemed to say the same, with a series of fan letters appearing in relatively quick succession, by Web standards. Personally, I was more than a little offended, and with good reason. On the second page of CHU's guestbook, I spoke up.
" 'Informative'? No, what I see is a lot of ranting and raving that just happens to suit the prejudices of your respondants. As a proud Christo-Pagan Synchretist (and former Jew) I found your content-free tirades tiresome. One can't even say that you've found an original way to be hateful. The self-righteous paranoia and the careless lumping together of the hated "other" are tediously familiar to anybody who had to grow up dealing with the Ku Klux Klan, even the misplaced sense of victimhood ...
... As I was saying before your logbook cut me off, even the misplaced sense of victimhood is nothing more than a rehash of old redneck politics. Suffice it to say that if you go out looking for enemies, you are likely to find them. "
What CHU had done was take a few alleged incidents of anti-Pagan behavior on the part of Christians in the British parliament and elsewhere (in Britain), and say this is what "the Christians" were doing, instead of what some Christians were doing; much as an anti-semite will make use of the alleged misdeeds of handful of Jews, and say "see how the Jews are acting", as if Jews, in general, had approved the alleged misdeeds in advance. "Alleged" is the word of choice, here, because with a paucity of links to non-Pagan sites in place to verify any of these charges, and a well-established history of misrepresenting remarks made on its own board, CHU has left the attentive reader with good reason to feel skeptical about any claims that it has to make. Having attacked Christendom in general, CHU then went on to rant about those Pagans who weren't anti-Christian enough, accusing them of either being covert missionaries plotting the downfall of Pagandom, or being too stupid to know that they were being used by the Evil Christians (tm). (*)
My opening remarks, above were met with some flaming by an alleged pair of CHU supporters, one of whom tried to label the above remarks a fanatical rant and SPAM! Rebuttals to these attacks were easy to write ( 1 2 3 ). The CHU fan club, discovering that it wasn't going to win on points, decided to go for persistance, instead.
To equate a protest against Christian bashing with anti-Pagan hatred or an attempt to convert one to Christianity would be a shamelessly dishonest spin, but that's exactly what the fan club tried to do in the messages that followed, with "Tobias" complaining that I was trying to oppress him, by 'shoving my misleading credo down his throat'. Common sense, as I was already rightly suspecting, was wasted on these people.
The paranoia continued, with Tobias 'revealing' that I was a church goer, apparently hoping that, given the incredible slowness of the server hosting the guestbook, the reader would not notice that I had identified myself as a Christo-Pagan synchretist in my first post there. Congratulating Tobias for his brilliance in uncovering what I had cunningly hidden on my front page, which I had given everybody directions to, I fleshed out the quotes that Tobias had taken out of context.
Click here to continue.
(*) Batteries not included.