Is paganism a religion?

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  • :surrender


    Don't have the energy for debate right now.
    All I was getting at is that many people think because Paganism is a term that is used to describe a collective of beliefs-it isn't actually a religion itself. But if that were the case, then surely every Christian would need to explain what type of Christian they are. As they don't, the term Christian is efficient, so too should be Paganism.


    Either way, you win, if it was someone with less tenacity, I might have had a little more inclination to fight it out. As it's you, my brain has ceased to function already...


    :rofl:

  • :surrender


    Don't have the energy for debate right now.
    All I was getting at is that many people think because Paganism is a term that is used to describe a collective of beliefs-it isn't actually a religion itself. But if that were the case, then surely every Christian would need to explain what type of Christian they are. As they don't, the term Christian is efficient, so too should be Paganism.

    But (virtually) every christian shares a set of core beliefs. Paganism is a loose term to describe a variety of different religions with different beliefs.


    For example, ask a Catholic, an Anglican and a baptist what their core beliefs are, and they'd be identical. Try the same with a Wiccan and an Odinist....

  • You're insatiable...


    Ok, so it's a good label for non-abrahamic faiths. In fairness, most people accept Paganism as a religion, and happily leave it at that. Try obtaining the same reaction after telling someone you're an Odinist...


    It may be a lazy way to get round it, but I'd much rather refer to my religion as Pagan, that have to explain the fundementals of my faith, every time I'm asked.

  • You're insatiable...

    :reddevil:


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    Ok, so it's a good label for non-abrahamic faiths. In fairness, most people accept Paganism as a religion, and happily leave it at that. Try obtaining the same reaction after telling someone you're an Odinist...

    That's because they haven't thought about it properly. ;)


    Now Odinism or Wicca, you could reasonably describe as religions. But "paganism" is a collective term!


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    It may be a lazy way to get round it, but I'd much rather refer to my religion as Pagan, that have to explain the fundementals of my faith, every time I'm asked.

    But "paganism" says nothing about the fundamentals of your faith. :S

  • Oh but it does. Those funny looks I get when admitting I'm a "Pagan", that tells me it says a lot, maybe not what I want it to say. But frankly, if someone is happy to accept that I'm a "Pagan" without furthering the discussion to find out my values, then I couldn't give a monkeys what they think about me or my faith. They're clearly not the type of person I need in my life, as such, why would I feel the need to elaborate on something so personal?


    Have you noticed? The only people who seem to debating around here recently are me and you. Where the hell is Coyote? :eek:

  • Oh but it does. Those funny looks I get when admitting I'm a "Pagan", that tells me it says a lot, maybe not what I want it to say.

    Well I could achieve the same by saying I'm a Martian. Doesn't make it a religion. ;)


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    But frankly, if someone is happy to accept that I'm a "Pagan" without furthering the discussion to find out my values, then I couldn't give a monkeys what they think about me or my faith. They're clearly not the type of person I need in my life, as such, why would I feel the need to elaborate on something so personal?

    You don't need to. But it still doesn't make it a religion. ;)

  • Damnit, Atomik. Stop making me use my brain! :puppydog:


    Then neither is Christianity :pp Yes, you're right, it is a collective term, but so is Christianity. And if that's the reason it can't be a religion, then neither can Christianity, regardless of their common beliefs.

  • Then neither is Christianity :pp Yes, you're right, it is a collective term, but so is Christianity. And if that's the reason it can't be a religion, then neither can Christianity, regardless of their common beliefs.

    The difference being, Christianity is a collective term for a variety of faiths that share core beliefs. If you tell me you're a christian, then I know that you believe in Jehovah as the one true god, Christ as his risen son and the Bible as the inspired word of God. If you tell me that you're a pagan, then I know... erm... nothing. Pagans don't even share beliefs in the same deity/deities. In fact, they'll even differ on whether any of those deities are real, archetypes, or simply symbolic.

  • I understand what you're saying, trouble is, I'm having a bit of difficulty trying to get the words from my brain to the keyboard :S I know what I'm trying to say, but it just won't come.


    Hmm...


    Paganism by definition is something entirely different to its common application and usage. Ok, that made sense in my head, I hope it makes sense in writing. Fibro is really playing up this evening! Also, it defines polytheistic faiths, so even though they may not share the same core values, they have something in common.


    In all honesty, I find the term "Pagan" pretty offensive. But I can't deny that it makes life easier.

  • I understand what you're saying, trouble is, I'm having a bit of difficulty trying to get the words from my brain to the keyboard :S I know what I'm trying to say, but it just won't come.


    Hmm...


    Paganism by definition is something entirely different to its common application and usage. Ok, that made sense in my head, I hope it makes sense in writing. Fibro is really playing up this evening! Also, it defines polytheistic faiths, so even though they may not share the same core values, they have something in common.

    Trouble is, you just buried your own argument. Because by that definition, polytheism would be a religion. ;)


    Of course, paganism doesn't necessarily imply a polytheistic belief system - it's just more common. So in fact, you could argue on this basis that polytheism has more claim to being a religion that paganism. :p


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    In all honesty, I find the term "Pagan" pretty offensive. But I can't deny that it makes life easier.

    Oh hell yeah. No problem with it on that level. But it ain't a religion. ;)

  • I gotta agree with Atomik on this one, I have never found a significant way to desribe someones Pagan beliefs, however Christianity and its spectrum have a basic collective belief. However similarly, when people think of someones Buddhist beliefs in an umbrella term the same happens, not all Buddhists believe or follow the same path so again is a very general term which can be misunderstood.

  • From Dictionary Corner... Paganism as a word seems to have taken over from "heathen" at some point, as a somewhat condescending catch-all term for any non-Abrahamic faith (ie anything other than Judaism, Christianity or Islam). Which does enforce Atomik's point about Paganism as the dictionary definition would cover anything from Hinduism to Native American beliefs.


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    Originally Posted by Minimummy
    Saying Paganism isn't a religion is like saying Christianity isn't a religion...



    So by that definition you are telling people what you are not rather than what you are.

  • Not sure about this. It's true that Paganism isn't one religion but I wouldn't say the different strands within it are completely unconnected. At a moot or and open ritual you regularly have people from a variety of different strands working and meeting to together because they do have something in common. The local moot that I sometimes go along to has Wiccans, Witches, Druids and Heathens and who knows what else all in attendance. The neo-pagan groups do have something that we feel connected to each other by. The differences between a Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church for example would make that sort of meeting together difficult even although there are shared beliefs.

  • I think the difference between CoS and RCC and them meeting together is a different reason than they don't all believe in one God though, that is historical, and completely different to what there religion dictates. To all intent and purpose they believe in the same diety.

  • [INDENT]

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    [INDENT]Not sure about this. It's true that Paganism isn't one religion but I wouldn't say the different strands within it are completely unconnected. At a moot or and open ritual you regularly have people from a variety of different strands working and meeting to together because they do have something in common. The local moot that I sometimes go along to has Wiccans, Witches, Druids and Heathens and who knows what else all in attendance. The neo-pagan groups do have something that we feel connected to each other by. The differences between a Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church for example would make that sort of meeting together difficult even although there are shared beliefs. [/INDENT]


    They do have a fair bit in common agreed, certainly in spiritual values, which can be celebrated. But the fact that they are "open rituals" suggest that they cover areas of worship common to all. [/INDENT]





    There are Christian services open to more than one church; you will find ecumenical prayer meetings that are open to all. Also Anglican worship specifically includes all Christian denominations even including the taking of Communion, something the Catholics specifically prohibit.

    The best thing about the internet is that no-one knows you're a cat...

    The post was edited 1 time, last by mithra: Missed the quote ().


  • With neo-paganism I feel the bond is closer. People will talk about the pagan community in a city without specifically saying Druid or Wiccan etc and we have the Pagan Federation which brings in many different pagan faiths together. I wouldn't say paganism is a religion in the same way Christianity or Islam is but I think non pagans can get away with seeing it as being similar to a religion because of the fact the different faiths seem to have similar outlooks in ways.

  • In my opinion it is, although people believe in differnt parts there is still a collective who celebrate it etc...I think thats the definition of religon, something that brings people together in a common goal, that teaches morality, ethics etc...answers 'the big questions'. The beauty of paganism is you can make it want you want, i guess i'd be classed as a 'neo pagan' i take the parts that make sense to me along with sicence etc... Paganism dosnt rule your life like other religions and personally it makes alot more sense than believing in an all seeing all knowing bloke in the sky, no offence to christains, jews etc...but at the end of the day i see it as quite a big ask to believe in something you cant touch or see. For me paganism is about believing in the earth, nature and people, real things actually relivant to us as animals rarther than the egotistical 'intelligent' beings alot of us think we are. For me personally answering the big question has no meaning, it never has, i've always found the mystery of the universe and the after life a facinating subject, why try to answer it? Not to say we shoudnt explore theorys and idea's but we're all gonna find out one day anyway, lol.

    Taking Life To Seriously? Just Remember We Are Talking Monkeys On An Organic Spaceship.

  • The beauty of paganism is you can make it want you want

    Well not really ... If I decided to make paganism a monotheistic male dominated belief system, it would no longer be paganism.


    So while I accept paganism is an umbrella term rather than a religion, it does have some common core beliefs ... polytheism for instance.


    Paganism dosnt rule your life like other religions and personally it makes alot more sense than believing in an all seeing all knowing bloke in the sky, no offence to christains, jews etc...but at the end of the day i see it as quite a big ask to believe in something you cant touch or see.

    But many pagans believe in Pan, Diana and a whole host of other deities that can't be seen either, and in some cases it does rule the life of the followers. Faith is faith no matter what "energy" you focus on or surrender to.


    For me paganism is about believing in the earth, nature and people, real things actually relivant to us as animals rarther than the egotistical 'intelligent' beings alot of us think we are.

    I believe in the Earth, nature and people too. I believe in the marvels of science and I think this planet and the universe are awesome ... I also believe in a universal non-judging God that's present in everything we experience, and I'm neither a Pagan or a Christian or religious.


    For me personally answering the big question has no meaning, it never has, i've always found the mystery of the universe and the after life a facinating subject, why try to answer it? Not to say we shoudnt explore theorys and idea's but we're all gonna find out one day anyway, lol.

    Most human beings ask questions about their place in this universe, and most religion and science attempts to answer these questions from the limited perspective available to them. Surely seeking answers (to pretty much anything) is what makes us evolve and grow.

  • I guess I'm kind of with Atomik here.

    Most types of Christianity do share a lot of doctrine in common, despite not liking each other much. There is no such commonality among Pagans.

    I thinks it's probably best to use "Pagan" as a catch-all for anyone who isn't Abrahamic, BUddhist or scientific materialist.

    However, in the sense in which "Pagan" has come to be used in the English-speaking world since about 1970, it tends to suggest a particular set of values, such as sexual freedom, love of nature, soft-left or perhaps libertarian politics, interest in the "Celts" and/or Native Americans, and practising magic on some level. This really refers mainly to Wicca and neo-Druidism, but people tend to say "Pagan". "Pagans" who don't really fit in with that set of values, such as Hindus or Asatruar, often reject the term "Pagan". Once a word is associated with a particular meaning, it's kind of a waste of time trying to change it.

    However, you could argue that "Pagan" refers only to religions closely related to those of the ancient Mediterranean, as that is the meaning it had when it was first used, round about 300-ish, in contrast with Christianity and Judaism.

    Also, if you go over to sites like Wildhunt, you'll find people who insist that Pagans must be hard polytheists, meaning that they believe in the gods as literal beings, and that these gods are those of pre-Christian Europe - no new gods allowed.

    Personally, although I probably belong somewhere in "Paganism" in the popular sense, I tend to call myself "Animist". I'm not keen on the whole white and middle-class, but more-persecuted-than-thou side of Paganism.

  • Well not really ... If I decided to make paganism a monotheistic male dominated belief system, it would no longer be paganism.


    So while I accept paganism is an umbrella term rather than a religion, it does have some common core beliefs ... polytheism for instance.


    I ment that in an umbrella sense, you can take the exsisting parts you feel relivent to you :)


    But many pagans believe in Pan, Diana and a whole host of other deities that can't be seen either, and in some cases it does rule the life of the followers. Faith is faith no matter what "energy" you focus on or surrender to.

    I believe in the Earth, nature and people too. I believe in the marvels of science and I think this planet and the universe are awesome ... I also believe in a universal non-judging God that's present in everything we experience, and I'm neither a Pagan or a Christian or religious.


    I'm totally with you on the universal non judging god, for me its, nature, the universal fabric that holds everything together. Paganism covers some of those points and it makes sense for me to believe in them, thats what i mean when you can make it your own, its a personal belife system, well thats what i make of it.


    Most human beings ask questions about their place in this universe, and most religion and science attempts to answer these questions from the limited perspective available to them. Surely seeking answers (to pretty much anything) is what makes us evolve and grow.


    I agree with this, i'm more sicentificaly minded, for me main stream religions hold us back, in a learning evolutionary sense, although the moral teachings will always be the same, for good reason of course the other answers those religions suggest would keep us in the dark ages. A balence of science and religon makes sense to me, paganism allows me to bring them together without being outcasted like i would be in say a strict catholic church.

    Taking Life To Seriously? Just Remember We Are Talking Monkeys On An Organic Spaceship.


  • I'm totally with you on the universal non judging god, for me its, nature, the universal fabric that holds everything together. Paganism covers some of those points and it makes sense for me to believe in them, thats what i mean when you can make it your own, its a personal belife system, well thats what i make of it.

    Yup. Not a religion. In fact, quite the antithesis of a religion on that basis!

  • Aww you gave us our own thread! ;)


    I did post last night, but for some reason it didn't show up, and I only noticed now...


    I was basically making the point about Paganism being a term for polytheistic faiths, so even though they may have different "policies", they do share certain fundemental similarities. I agree, it's probably not correct to call yourself a Pagan, but it is a damn sight easier...


    Mithra: Yes! I'd much rather tell people what I'm not, far too complicated to discuss what I am. It's amazing how many people don't have a clue what I'm talking about. At one time I would happily explain, full of faith that the person I was talking to would go away and do their own research.


    Now I know they don't actually give a crap, I really can't be arsed. Is this not another example of

  • Yup. Not a religion. In fact, quite the antithesis of a religion on that basis!



    That depends on your definition of religon, Paganism still draws people together in one way or another and teaches some of the same idea's no matter what 'strand' you believe in. To me that is religion.

    Taking Life To Seriously? Just Remember We Are Talking Monkeys On An Organic Spaceship.

  • That depends on your definition of religon, Paganism still draws people together in one way or another and teaches some of the same idea's no matter what 'strand' you believe in. To me that is religion.



    I wish my brain worked. If it did, I'd have just said that. :badger:

  • That depends on your definition of religon, Paganism still draws people together in one way or another and teaches some of the same idea's no matter what 'strand' you believe in. To me that is religion.



    The basis of yer traditional religions is 'Don't bother to think for yourself, believe this, it's written in this book so it must be true.' At least pagans of any sort will generally have come to their beliefs by thinking about it.