“Help, Help, I’m being oppressed!….Do you see him oppressing me?” The Holy Grail
When I was a christian we were told over and over how christians are oppressed in the world today. Just look at Christmas for a multitude of examples. “You can’t take Christ out of Christmas” and “Jesus is the reason for the season” were the mantras meant to hold back the crushing tide of secularization and commercialization. You can add trying to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegence and the debate over evolution vs. intelligent design to the issues guaranteed to raise the hackles of most good fundamentalists.
Now I see it from a different angle but the view hasn’t changed much. Pagan writers discuss the problems of living openly in a minority religion. While there are difficulties they are relatively minor. I don’t hear much about witch burnings in the U.S. nowadays.
What is the solution when both the majority and the minory feel that they are being oppressed? Or is it more accurate to paraphrase The Incredibles, if everyone is oppressed then no one is oppressed?
Here’s the solution I would come up with if I could wave a magic wand and have everyone suddenly play nice.
1. Holidays – Christians can celebrate Christmas however they want. Nativity displays in public places are fine. I figure if you want to expend the energy to set it up and keep it going more power to you. If pagans were that organized to set up a display for one of the Sabbats that will be fine too. So Christians can have Christmas as long as they quit trying to ban Samhain/Halloween. Pagans are free to point out all the Christian holiday customs that are based on pagan ideas.
2. Schools – There will always be prayer in schools. Try as they might schools can’t monitor what goes on in a student’s mind. A moment of silence is fine. Forced prayer of any tradition is counter productive because it numbs the people to the power of the prayer.
3. Creation of the world – Face it, there is no way to know what happened for sure. Honestly, why does it matter? If you want to present all sides of the debate add in some Native American and Norse stories too to make it interesting.
4. Life after death – See the answer to #3
5. Preaching – If your religion has enough good points people will discover and adopt it of their own accord. Quit trying to convert (or kill) people who haven’t adopted your religion. It reminds me of an inter-cat problem here. One friendly cat wanted a less friendly cat to be his friend. When she didn’t warm up to him right away he tried sitting on her and restricting access to her food until she would be his friend. Surprisingly, neither of these approaches endeared him to her.
So there you have it. My approach to religious harmony. It is ok to agree to disagree. I wish I had that magic wand…