Saturday, August 27, 2005

Pagan Pride

By Alexander Samuels

Florida's Pasco County has much to look forward to next month. The pagans are coming. That is, the Pasco County pagans are coming out of the closet. According to an article in The Tampa Tribune on August 19, "After years of being labeled as devil worshippers who sacrifice animals under a full moon, the modern-day followers of ancient beliefs want to be a part of the community."

In his article, "Pagans Plan Pride Day to Ease Misgivings," Tribune writer Christian M. Wade writes that this will be the first Pagan Pride Day in Pasco County and will enable organizers to counter misconceptions about pagan religions.

The article goes on to report: . . .

Modern-day paganism is a collection of beliefs rather than a single religion. It's polytheistic - there are many gods - and it includes ancient religions whose underlying theme is of faith based on nature and respect for one another.

Followers embrace such movements as Wicca, New Age Mysticism, American Indian practices, tarot readings and even Buddhism, a mainstream religion in Asian societies.

It wasn't too long ago that pagans preferred to keep their beliefs secret, fearful of public assumptions that they are devil worshippers or "black" witches.

Mainstream religious leaders long have criticized paganism's liberal views on sex, divorce, drugs, homosexuality, adultery and abortion.

These days, more pagans are "coming out of the closet," modeling their emergence after the gay pride movement.

The celebrated Pagan Pride Day in Indianapolis, first held in 1998, attracts hundreds of revelers every year.

Last year, there were at least 70 pagan pride events in 36 states, including Florida.

We will leave the Pasco County pagans now and turn to other sources of information about modern day paganism. At PaganPath.com for instance, I found the following intriguing invitation:

Welcome to PaganPath.com and thank you for coming! We hope you enjoy your time here and return frequently for daily updates and additions. Though certainly not a poetic masterpiece, our site blessing was written from the heart by Volute.

Aloud we speak the names of the ancients; dancing spirals under bright moonlit skies.

We walk our paths with courage and joy; we are healers, scholars, seekers, the wise.

Content with the gold sun and silver moon; no leaders or followers will you find;

for we know true power comes from within; all Pagans each have independent minds.

All paths are one and lead to the center; bright blessings and peace to all who enter.

Discover the extraordinary. PaganPath.com if
[sic] filled with thousands of pages of original and insightful writing: Articles, recipes, gardening tips, games, and spells - plus interactive forums and online courses and classes for you to study at your own pace. Come learn about herbs or the tarot, Wicca and Witchcraft or the Sabbats. Maybe you just want to relax, or share your own experiences and knowledge. There's something for everyone from the curious beginner to the well seasoned sage. New and completely original material is added daily, and nothing is ever copied from books or other web sites.

As Christians, what shall we think of these self-described pagans? Are they just hippie-like individuals on some kind of nature high? One common experience of many pagans, I found in my own readings, was that they felt they had in some way been hurt by the Christian church. This is certainly a group with whom we want to do a better job of sharing the Gospel.

The comments below were written by Vincent McCann of Spotlight Ministries (you should check out his Web site). Vince was involved in witchcraft and occultism prior to his conversion to Christ and has gathered his information by reading various pagan and Wiccan literature, having pagan and Wiccan friends, and having numerous e-mail, message board and chat room dialogues with those in pagan communities. (Note: Vince says he may have to shut down his Christian Web site because the British government will soon label its content as "hate speech" because it discusses a Christian perspective on paganism and witchcraft.) Here are a few excerpts:

Most Wiccans do not believe in a personal entity called Satan or the Devil. Many will say that this being is simply something that the Christian Church has invented in order to control people with fear. However, well before the birth of the Christian Church, the Jews also believed in the existence of Satan.

The truth is, the Devil was not simply invented by the Church, but rather exists as a reality in the world today. One of the most effective deceptions he performs is to try and convince people he does not exist! Jesus called Satan "The father of lies" (John 8:44). It should therefore come as no surprise that he will seek to convince people that he does not exist. . . .

Most of those who are involved in Paganism hold to a belief in a multitude of gods, goddesses and various spirit beings. Pagan writer, Prudence Jones, observes that a pagan religion ". . . is polytheistic, recognizing a plurality of divine beings . . ." (Prudence Jones,
Paganism Today, p. 34).

But can these spirits really be relied upon? Can they be trusted? Prudence Jones observes the following: "When the world is seen as filled with the gods, however, it can be easy to lose one
[']s inner focus of control. Superstition results: the synchronicities of the world are seen as controlling everything, and the human being seems to have no power faced with the enveloping multitude of otherworldly forces whose influence can be read in every portent" (Prudence Jones, Paganism Today, p. 38).

Jones touches on some very good points here. There have been many people who have practiced various aspects of the occult and have had dealings with spirits, but at some point or another, have felt that they no longer have control over the forces which they call upon, but rather, they themselves are being swept along by forces beyond their control. This was certainly my own experience, and has been the experience of countless others, whose experiences I have also heard. The truth is that these spirits are highly intelligent and powerful evil spirit beings who are intent on manipulating and deceiving humanity, and leading people away from the true freedom and salvation which is to be found in Jesus Christ. . . .

M. Scott Peck, M.D., writes about his encounters with people swept up by spiritual evil in his book People of the Lie. The pagan's self-confessed involvement in a pantheistic supernaturalism should not be taken lightly as just harmless fun. There is a spiritual battle for the eternal destiny of souls taking place here. The Christian is warned in Ephesians 6:11-12: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

If we are in Christ, we have nothing to fear from pagans, witches and such. If they are coming out of the closet, now is the time to be a witness of the love of Christ to them. Now is the time to enter the struggle for their eternal souls.

Alexander Samuels is a regular contributor to Carolina Christian Conservative.

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