Should Pagans Convert?

As I sit in a local cafe, the only Pagan in the store, likely the only Pagan in a few miles in my area,  I think about our future as a faith. Of course Paganism isn’t a monolith and has several facets, factions, faiths, and groups, but as a faith in general I think about us and what is largely a dying tradition compared to other faiths. There are other faiths with various traditions, holidays, rites of passage and the like. When children are birthed, come of age, last rites, chaplains in the military, religious traditions. So many ways of experiencing their God and rituals to commune with others and their beliefs. We have some traditions as well yet I feel that ours aren’t to the same to degree as other faiths as we are so disparate in our practices and beliefs. There needs to be greater continuity between older folks and the younger generation and a willingness with the younger generation to embrace, incorporate and hold the banner of what we pass so that as they grow in age they pass the banner to their replacements.

I’m unsure if such a thing is possible within our community. Most of us come from Christianity and have suffered under parents and loved ones who tried to convert us and have us reconsider our faiths to “save our soul”. To have us then go and try to convert others is using the same weapon we were hit with. Separating the action from the faith, is it really worth it to sit someone down and convince them to follow your faith? To combat their protests to get them into the fold? Depending on the person’s personality, they may not feel free to leave even if they want to. The respect from the practitioner to the one being talked to is typically lacking if not nonexistent depending on the person. So for that alongside our history I do not believe its good for the community to seek people out for proselytizing.

Despite that, I wish we were more public. Doing rituals, celebrations, festivals for our own folks alongside outsiders who our curious about us and what we do. I believe the best way of conversion is by doing good works for the public good and being more public. Firefighters don’t need to work on recruitment as much as cops for a reason. Every time you see them they’re saving a life, doing good work, being on calendars. Cops on the other hand….

The unfortunate fact is that we’re vilified by world religions the world over, so we have to find outward ways to not only expand numbers, but extinguish the hatred geared towards to ave a greater stake in the community. Our detractors see us as Devil worshippers, evil vile folks who are actively against God, so we have a lot to do. So what could we do? Work on soup kitchens, do plantings and gardening, conduct public facing events and team up with local bookstores and Pagan allies to further our cause. Its a lot considering the retaliation I’m sure we’ll face from the Christian community at large. Being that I’m new to the state I’m assuming there are deep rooted communities here that are not as public facing to avoid harm. Mitigation factors need to be considered for their safety and privacy when conducting events.

Beyond the safety, which is very needed, someone needs to do public facing events and take an active role in the community to ensure we have a network and support group for old and new Pagans and to establish deep roots within the community. It will take a lot of work, but someone has to do it, right? Of course its something I’d like, but community support is the lifeblood to the success. I’m sure there are preexisting organizations, so there’s no point reinventing the wheel and duplicating efforts. Let’s see what’s being done in my community to give us a more public presence and to grow our traditions, values, and practices.