Are Pagans Oppressed?

This shouldn’t be a point of contention. Yet, it is necessary. This is a continuation of my Persecution post.

Pagans are not a coherent enough group for this to even be true.

Let’s parse this one out.

Who are pagans?

We are a diverse group of people who worship a diverse group of religions. That usually means polytheism. Being a polytheist does not necessarily make one a pagan, however, as can be seen with the Shinto folks who do not like to call themselves pagan. There seems to be an underlying implication that being pagan equals being unrecognized by the State. So in reality, pagan is an incredibly broad word, but I’m sure you all knew that already.

Rhetorical side question: What happens when pagan religions get recognized by the state? This has happened with Romuva in Lithuania, for instance. That doesn’t mean acceptance, of course. It just means another option on a census and slightly more respect.

What constitutes oppression?

Merriam-Webster defines it this way:

a : unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power

  • the continuing oppression of the … underclasses  —H. A. Daniels

b : something that oppresses especially in being an unjust or excessive exercise of power

  • unfair taxes and other oppressions

Who is in power, then, if pagans are oppressed? I’ve seen people raise Abrahamic religions, which is an absolute farce. Antisemitism and Islamophobia are rampant in many parts of the world. Christianity doesn’t exist everywhere. Buddhists are just as likely to commit genocide as other religious groups, as the Rohingya crisis has shown.

Of course, pagans aren’t in power. But there is no clear party who is oppressing us either. So shouldn’t it then follow that we are not inherently oppressed for our religions?

 

Critiques of Christianity in particular fail to recognize that Ancient Romans crucified Christians while living and broke their legs so that they would slowly suffocate under their own weight. Pagans and more dominant religions have, in the ancient past, traded violence. The violence that the Church did inflict were brought about by racism; the Crusades, the kicking out of Muslims from Spain, et cetera.

The argument about pagan oppression seems to me to be a point for white pagans to stake a claim in suffering and finally get a chance to be the main character of their tragedy. A way that white, straight, cis people can finally, finally take a place in the Oppression Olympics (yes, that phrase has been used badly, but it applies here). If I have learned even one thing from being on Tumblr it is that people think being oppressed is cool; see: various groups trying to weasel their way into the LGBT community, arguments about depression being ‘less bad’ just because society understands it more, et cetera. It goes on forever.

So if you honestly believe you are pagan and oppressed, maybe self-reflect. Maybe write down a list of reasons you believe this to be true. Watch a documentary about the Civil Rights Movement and think, have we been put through this level of systematic violence?

The answer will be no.

 

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