Is it just me or have you noticed that Pagans and Atheists seem (for the most part) to get along and even agree with one another most of the time?
If you visit atheist or religious forums, the trend seems to be pretty clear. I don’t think I’ve ever had an argument with a pagan or met one online or in person that I disliked. I really started thinking about it after reading a comment about how some Christians feel their religion is under attack. I started wondering – probably for the millionth time – whether that’s true. I then realized that you rarely see atheists arguing with Pagans, Hindu’s, Buddhists etc. You will frequently see them arguing with Muslims or Christians.
Why is that?
I decided to brainstorm reasons and this article is the result. Now keep in mind that I’m going to be talking in general terms for the purposes of this article. So if I say ‘Pagans’ or ‘Atheists’ or ‘Christians’, I’m not saying all Christians, Pagans or Atheists. I’m just talking in general terms.
Some Pagans will end their post with ‘Blessed be’.
Love the saying. And it’s much better than when a Christian says in a condescending manner, ‘I’ll pray for you’.
Ignorance of Pagan beliefs
Personally, I’m pretty ignorant of Pagan belief structures. I don’t know a hell of a lot about them. In order to debate someone, you sort of need to have a grasp of the subject matter. When I run into a Pagan, I’m more filled with curiosity. I want to understand and know more about them. Maybe this works in their favor?
It might just come down to demographics. According to Wiki, neo-pagans make up only 0.02% of the world’s population. Christians on the other hand make up a third of the population and many of them are concentrated in North America.
This means that Christian beliefs are going to impact society far more than pagan beliefs.
Satan and shared history
I’ve never had a pagan tell me that I’m going to be tortured for eternity for not believing in their deity(s). This generally leads to a more pleasant conversation.
I would assume that many pagans have read up on the history of their faith and realize that faiths like Christianity used to burn them at the stake, torture and rape them. Atheists also had to be careful in the past about sharing their disbelief. In fact, pagans and atheists still have to be careful. They might not get burned at the stake any more, but they can face being ostracized from the community.
I also think that some Christians think that atheists and pagans are tools of Satan. This might be another reason why pagans and atheists seem to have an unspoken alliance.
In a recent news article that highlighted the distrust and animosity some people have towards atheists it said:
“While atheists may see their disbelief as a private matter on a metaphysical issue, believers may consider atheists’ absence of belief as a public threat to cooperation and honesty.” In a 2003 study [PDF], 48 percent (the highest of disapproval rating of any group) of Americans said that they would disapprove of their children marrying an atheist.
This distrust prompts one to wonder if believers really do worry that people would engage in rampant murder and mayhem if they thought that there was no vengeful deity monitoring their behavior at all times. In fact, psychological research does confirm that a lot of religious believers do tend to think this way. In light of those fears, one prominent slogan featured on placards at the Rally for Reason, “Be Good for Goodness’ Sake” must appear nonsensical to believers.
I wonder if the numbers would be similar when it comes to pagan beliefs and atheism.
Christianity has a big influence on our laws. Paganism not so much and I’ve never met a pagan that believed their faith should be legislated into law. You never hear a pagan saying we’re a Pagan Nation or any other such nonsense.
For example, you can easily find news stories like this one:
Newt Gingrich likes to harp on the subject of “religious freedom” as much as the next Republican. Of course, as we have shown here repeatedly, the phrase “religious freedom” is a stand-in for something else: the privileging of Christian belief over all other forms of belief – or disbelief. Religious freedom should mean equal freedoms for all with regards to belief and that is what the First Amendment establishes by prohibiting government establishment of religion, originally applied to the federal government in the First Amendment and later applied to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment in the wake of the Civil War.
And when the separation of church and state is threatened, it would make sense that it threatens the pagan religion as well as atheists.
Perhaps it just boils down to common goals and vision for the future where no religion is given privilege over another and all are free to believe or disbelieve?
Islam and Christianity are built on converting people to their religion. Pagans (from what I understand) can literally have thousands of deities and they don’t believe their way is the only way. Pagans don’t attempt to convert people because they think they’re saving a soul from damnation. They may share their ideas and ideals, but rarely (never that I’ve seen) try to force their beliefs on other people by using scare tactics.
These are just some of my thoughts. I don’t know whether any of them are correct or if there really is an unspoken alliance between pagans and atheists or not or if it just seems that way sometimes.
What do you think?