Paganism, in its truest definition was really a derogatory term that the Catholic Church gave to the religion that they hijacked and claimed as their own. It has since come to mean ANY religion that is not in alignment with the mainstream religion that has control over a wide group of people. But, even today, it is mostly a term that the Church uses to denounce anyone who doesn’t follow their religion in the way that they do. In the eyes of the Church, it’s difficult to argue against the inherent evil of “paganism” if (according to them) it has followers who are devil worshippers. And it’s easy to create hate among the people towards another group if they call them “pagans”.
And it is no different today…there is one terms for a wide range of consciousness altering substances; drugs…but there are addictive ones, there are non-addictive ones, there are entheogens and ones called teacher plants…like the ones used by the Santo Daime church of South America. They use a brew they make called Ayahuasca to connect with their god, but, the Christian Church, of course, has no tolerance for other religions and cultures, even if it is the dominant religion of an entire continent, so they label it as evil, and put Ayahuasca in the same group as cocaine and heroin addicts…a tragedy. But that’s a topic for a completely different discussion.
Back to the pagans: For example, the Gnostics were a group of deeply philosophical people, who followed both the ancient “Mystery Religion” as well as Jesus. But, the Gnostics were much more peaceful than the Catholic Church. They had built many temples, they had developed/written many of the stories/myths of a ‘Godman’, that are believed to be the basis for many of the original stories/myths of Jesus. Their beliefs echoed that of several other religions that believed in a single god that would send his son down to teach about the religionÃ¢?¦someone they called a “Godman.”
The Catholics/Christians came along (who, from my research, seemed to be an inherently violent people) and burned all of the “pagan” temples, including the ones of the Gnostics. They also burned every library and record of the original writings that they could, and then built their libraries and churches right over the top of the Pagan churches.
Historians feel that they were trying to remove all traces of the previous religion that they stole, so that they could claim it as their own. In my mind, you only need to look at the factual history of this violent religion to convict them of their own actions; look up anything related to the “Salem Witch Hunts” to the “Crusades” to countless other historical documents and books that reveal the true nature of this religion, including the one I highly recommend called “The Jesus Mysteries”.
To justify their actions, the Church blamed the “devil” and said that Pagans were witches, warlocks, and devil worshippers, and all that they were doing was ridding the world of this evil and his evil followers. (Hmm…the Garden of Eden story started in Iraq, where language was also developed, and it doesn’t surprise me that the Christians and Catholics are now destroying the culture that they stole their Garden of Eden story from.)
The Church has a long history of not only rewriting the Bible to maintain control over its followers, but of actually ADDING parts they needed; no one can argue with something if it is the Word of God! ‘ If God said it, then it must be true, so there is a great deal of evidence that different people who were in power at the time, actually had people write new text and add it to the Bible. (This does not take into account that so many stories in the Bible were not translated very accurately from Hebrew at all; they were translated to suit the desire of the Church).
The Church even went so far as to create a phrase called “Diabolical Mimicry” (something that is STILL the official stance of the Catholic Church today), which states that any religion that came before Christianity was an invention of the devil to confuse the people and to make people doubt that Jesus was the true and only son of god. They knew that they had stolen many of the stories of Buddhism (see ‘Jesus and Buddha’) as well as stories from the Rig Veda, and had to come up with an explanation, that 2,000 years ago, people might actually believe.
Little did they know (I guess god didn’t tell them that part), that 2,000 years later, there would be people who wouldn’t be scared into believing anything the Church said.
Susi, this is the most popular religion on the planet, so you will get an incredibly diverse scope of opinion, though I have never met a people who so vehemently oppose or denounce any differing opinionÃ¢?¦kind of like the present Bush regime. I have literally had death threats by radical Christians for my posting of some of the information I have gathered, and put on the internet…but knowing in advance what kind of anger I will be faced with, I only post articles that I know I can back up, beyond a shadow of a doubt, with historical fact.
But one thing is certainÃ¢?¦no matter what scholars agree or don’t agree on, all it takes is looking at several previous religions, such as Buddhism, that existed long before Jesus came along, to see that they are not only eerily similar, but that they can often be placed right next to each other, making the parallels vividly apparent and undeniable.
Mind you this is simply offered to you as a broad overview in relation to the topic. There are many levels to this, and I couldn’t possibly address them in a short ‘Ask Keith’ answer. Many of my friends are Pagans and they are some of the most peaceful, level-headed, god-loving, Earth-conscious people I have ever known.