1. The opposition has way better marketing and advertising.
You can get a free copy of the Bible, Koran, Book of Mormon, etc. extremely easily. On the other hand, materials on pagan religions are often costly and/or hard to find. This is because most people putting information out there are just in it for the money. And that leads us to another issue…
2. Most of the people writing about and/or defending paganism are our own worst enemies.
The majority of people putting information out there are just in it for the money. This means that plausibility is higher on the list of priorities than accuracy - which results in books stuffed to the gills with baloney. Not that there’s anything wrong with making believe in a little baloney for magical purposes now and then, but only if you understand that it isn’t factually true, and you’re not trying to convince others it’s factually true.
One egregiously bad book, Witta: An Irish Pagan Tradition, claimed that the potato was an ancient Irish symbol of fertility. If you don’t know what’s wrong with that claim, you need to hit the history books yesterday.
Most people create straw men to attack and burn down themselves, but these people are doing the work for them.
Here are a few straw warriors I keep seeing pagans and witches releasing on the Internet:
- Real witches never sacrifice animals. (It may be uncommon today in Western society, but in times past it was extremely common. Some still carry out these ancient practices.)
- Pagans/witches are peaceful goddess worshipers. (Except when we’re not.)
- Pagans/witches aren’t Satanists because we don’t believe Satan exists. (Some of us do. Some of us even take the position that even Yahweh exists; some even worship Yahweh, while others take the position that he’s not the sovereign creator of the universe, just a major attention whore.)
- Satan was invented by the Christians, who took the image of the Horned God and made it into a boogeyman to convince the pagans to convert to Christianity. (Then what’s Satan doing in the Book of Job, an Old Testament book? The evil!Satan trope started with apocalyptic Judaism, which rose up some time before Christianity.)
- Paganism is one of the oldest religions. (Anyone who says this can be disregarded as hopelessly ignorant; paganism is a class of religion, not a religion in and of itself.)
So, what can we do? We can stop making absurd statements about paganism that can be easily knocked over by anyone with a half-decent knowledge of history, anthropology, and modern religion. We can try to make good information easier to find. I’m not talking about reposting the Wiccan Rede and herbal correspondences for the 9021st time or quoting Yog-awful books like Raymond Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft. I’m talking about:
- Studying as much as possible so you can give the best possible answers to questions people have and recognize baloney when you see it. Don’t just read books written for pagans and witches; read history/anthropology books, watch documentaries, and read websites and magazines on archaeological discoveries. Discovery.com is one place to start.
- Respecting that not all pagan paths are sweetness and light and worship of the divine feminine. (Every time I see another person telling people that I worship the goddess by telling them that it’s what all pagans/witches do, I want to scream.)
- Seeking out pagan wikis and filling them in with verifiable information and promoting them. You don’t have to do it in a proselytizing manner; just make do your part to make sure the information is accessible for people who want to learn and understand more about pagan beliefs. This one looks promising.
May whatever forces you believe in speed you.