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Why you shouldn’t call yourself a pagan


Too many times, I hear people referring to themselves as “pagan” when the discussion of religion comes up.  You really need to stop doing this, let me tell you why.


Firstly, you should know where the word comes from.  We can trace its origins way back to the Roman Empire.  Just a few centuries after we started counting years in positive numbers, the Roman army was spending a lot of time watching over the people of various conquered nations.  These soldiers would spend their days watching poor, uneducated dirt farmers.  The word they used for these backwards people, was “pagan”.  That’s right, pagan started off as the ancient roman word for rednecks.  After a while, the Christian army started noticing something about these rednecks.


They all worshiped false idols.  Not a single one of these simpletons pushing around mud trying to grow turnips and what not were Christians.  The word changed over time from being a derogatory term for  uneducated peasants, to being a slur for anybody that wasn’t Christian.  This was a word that was used for the next millennium and a half to disparage anybody that wasn’t Christian.  If you were a pagan, it not only meant that you weren’t educated, but that you were going to Hell.  When you call yourself a pagan, you are saying the same thing about yourself.  It’s an insult.  Why the hell would you want to insult yourself like that?   What are you, an idiot?


Even if you want to claim that you are “taking it back” or some other such nonsense, there is an even better reason as to why you shouldn’t say that you are a pagan:

It’s completely meaning less as a description of a religion.  It only means that you aren’t of an Abrahamic religion.  And even then, various Christian sects have even used the term to describe other Christian sects.


There is no Pagan bible.


You don’t get a Pagan membership card.


There isn’t a Pagan church.


There are no Pagan rituals.

Pagan is like the Jewish word “Gentile”, only more insulting.  Gentile means: Not Jewish.  That’s it.  You may be Buddhist, Mormon, Raelian, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Muslim, Amish, or any other religion, they’re all Gentile.  If someone asks you what religion you are, and you answer, “Gentile,” you aren’t really answering the question.  Answering, “Pagan,” is the same damn thing.  It’s meaningless and tells you absolutely nothing.

If your religion doesn’t have a proper name, then maybe describe it as best you can.  “I worship nature spirits,” or “It’s a form of ancestor worship.”  If you don’t feel like talking about it, then at the very least, you could not use a slur to describe your religion.  Maybe just tell someone you don’t follow an organized religion or tell them you worship old gods or at the least, tell them you are gentile¹.

If they still push you for more details, then just bust out in an awesome song and dance routine or invite them to a movie or something.

¹Yes, I know that gentile has been used as a slur, but it was not originally meant as such.  It’s only a slur when one intends to use it as such.

  • Rai

    Interesting thoughts, but there are a few things I noticed… “Pagan” is an “umbrella” term, it’s not a religion on it’s own, but rather a bunch of religions that identify as Pagan. This is just something I noticed you didn’t (seem to) discuss. However, this will explain why there’s no official church, membership cards, or any of that bedazzle. Some people use Pagan just as you described, as a word to mark myself as “non-christian” (however this also includes identifying as non-Hindu, Buddhist as many have openly stated they do not wish to be considered “Pagan” religions. However there are some people who wish to identify as this, as well as Pagan for personal reasons).

    Now, I’d like to comment on a few things (if you don’t mind, otherwise you can ignore this… heheh, sorry)

    False idols, is really your opinion… or rather a part of a belief system that is most commonly Christianity. The idea that they worship false idols is under the assumption that Christianity is correct and all other gods are false. Considering the most pagans are polytheistic, and belong to other religions, I’d assume that they don’t believe that and they don’t pay much care to it.

    *scrolls down*

    Pagan rituals are a thing… I don’t know how you get that they aren’t… what definition are you using?


    Yes, in a way you are right, it is much like the Jewish word gentile. In terms of collecting information about a person’s beliefs it is rather useless, as it creates a large variety of possibilities of belief systems which this person could belong to. However, not everyone has, is apart of, or believes in organized religion, and might default to Pagan. Most people, however do not mind elaborating if you ask.

    However, there is nothing wrong with identifying as pagan in order to put things simply and avoiding wasting the time of both parties (where one or both might not be genuinely interested.)

    From what I read, you are concerned about the fact that it is a slur? Then, argue about the concept of reclaiming and saying it’s still useless… personally, I don’t find this so. If you’re reclaiming it, then why care if it’s a slur? And then you say it’s useless anyway, but if one is using it as a way to identify just as the word is used (as a non-christian), then doesn’t it serve it’s purpose?

    Lastly, just as a side thought, when people ask someone for a religion, and they say “Christian”. Would it make sense to hound them for detail after detail if they don’t specify their domination? Or would it be as with pagan (considering or not that pagan is less specific?). Also, I noticed you use a lot of Satan related pictures? Do you consider Satanism pagan? (though it is not, however some people might consider themselves pagan for personal reasons). Or is it a part of the aesthetic to this (religious) satire?

    Anyway, this is just my commentary.

    Nice satire 😉

    – Rai

    • Rai


    • Adam

      “Some people use Pagan just as you described”

      Yes, the poeple that coined originally started using the word used it as I described, and many people still do, since that is what it means.

      “however this also includes identifying as non-Hindu, Buddhist as many have openly stated they do not wish to be considered “Pagan” religions.”

      Not sure what you are saying here. Are you saying that Buddhist’s don’t want to be considered Pagans? Or that “Pagan” doesn’t include Hindu or other religions? Either way, Buddhism and Hindu are both “pagan” religions, since they fall outside of the realm of Christianity. Likewise, as I said before, since “pagan” is a word meaning uneducated country bumpkin, nobody should want to be called it.

      “False idols, is really your opinion”

      No, it’s the opinion of the Christian army that coined the term, and the opinion of the Christian chruches that applied it to those of other religions.

      “Pagan rituals are a thing…”

      Only as such that any ritual that isn’t a Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) ritual is pagan. There is no “official” pagan ritual. There may be rituals within individual religions. If I drain the blood from my genitals to ask Tlaloc to make it rain. It’s an ancient Aztec ritual in worship of the god Tlaloc, and it should be called as such. The only people that should be calling it pagan are the Christians that use it as an insult because again, they found themselves in front of what appeared to be a group of uneducated heathens worshipping false idols with backwards rituals.

      “However, not everyone has, is apart of, or believes in organized religion, and might default to Pagan.”

      Defaulting to the ancient Roman word for “redneck” is not a good way to say you don’t follow an organized religion.

      “If you’re reclaiming it, then why care if it’s a slur?”

      When you reclaim a slur, you are saying that what that slur represents is not a bad thing, and that it is who you are.

      For instance (gonna get a little un PC here)

      Dyke – generally referring to a more masculine lesbian woman. There is no problem in being a masculan lesbian. They can recalim this word.
      Queer, fag, gay – Used to refer to gay men. There is no problem in being homosexual. There is no problem in saying that, yes, you are homosexual, and that it should be accepted.
      Nigger – Coming from “negro” meaning black, used to disparage those of African descent. Being black isn’t a bad thing. Black people should be happy to be black. Saying, I’m black is not a problem.
      Geek, Nerd – Used to refer to socially awkward people that are smart/read comic books/play games/like science. Being smart is a good thing. Everybody should want to be smart. COmic books and video games have hit the main stream. There should be no shame in being a geek.
      Pagan – A word used to describe someone as uneducated or simple minded, later it was also used to describe someone as a person that is going to hell. By saying you are pagan, you are saying that you are proud of being uneducated. You are saying that you are proud that you are going to Hell. You shouldn’t be proud of being simple minded, likewise, if you aren’t a Christian, you probably don’t believe in Hell, and as such, probably shouldn’t believe that you are going to Hell.

      “Also, I noticed you use a lot of Satan related pictures?”

      All pictures are from the movie Dragnet. In this movie, Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd put their spin on the old TV series, and go up against an organization named P.A.G.A.N.

      It’s a great movie, if you haven’t seen it, I’d reccomend watching it.

      “Do you consider Satanism pagan? ”

      I’m fairly certain that if a Satanist (LeVayan or not) were to go back to inquisition, and describe their religion to a churchman, they would be hailed as pagans and tortured until they repented, so yes, I would consider them as pagan since they fall outside of the umbrella of christianity.

      “Or is it a part of the aesthetic to this (religious) satire?”

      Can’t it be both?

  • Pagan

    *sighs* Paganism is about worshiping the Earth. We believe that everything on Earth has a spirit. We worship the planet. So how would that send us to hell? Also, most people these days are Neo-Pagan. And another thing is that PAGANISM IS NOT A RELIGION. IT HAS MANY DIFFERENT RELIGIONS WITHIN IT, SUCH AS WICCA, DRUIDISM AND NORSEISM. Paganism is about the Earth, and Nature, and we took that word from our ancestors, those ‘redneck farmers’ you spoke about.
    And next time, don’t make fun or discriminate someone’s religion, idiot

    • Adam

      You didn’t take the word from the ancient ‘redneck farmers’. It wasn’t their word. It never was. It was a word used by roman soldiers to describe those people. Those farmers had their own words to describe themselves, it wasn’t pagan.

      The word was then used by later Romans to describe those that they saw as heathens. People that were ignorant of, or denied the teachings of Christ, which to Christians of the time, meant you were going to hell. Doesn’t matter if you believe in it or not, that’s what they meant when they used it.

      You took that word from your ancestors conquerors.

      I also stated that no, pagan is not a religion, but a catchall of any non Abrahamic religion, though even some sects of Christianity and such have been described as pagan for their differing beliefs.

      Lastly, Neo-Paganism was started by a group of people that didn’t like what society asked of them, so they started little cults as a way to rebel. They generally knew very little about the ancient religions they were “rediscovering” but neither did anybody else so they got away with it. Take druids for example. The religion of the celts was wiped out within the first couple centuries AD. They had no written records, so all of our information comes from a handful of Roman records, that may be extremely biased since they were the ones stamping out the practice. Pretty much anything you hear about the druidic religion was completely made up within the last century or two.

      Many of these leaders had their own agendas when it came to starting their movements. Wicca, for example, was started to help Gardner practice his sexual fetishes. He cared less about mother earth and more about spanking girls, but all that magic talk brought him willing participants.

    • Adam

      Paganism isn’t about the earth or nature, it’s about not being Judeo-Christian.

      Worship aliens? Pagan.
      Worship your ancestors? Pagan.
      Worship Clippy from Microsoft Office? Pagan.

      You also didn’t take the word from those ‘redneck farmers’, you took it from Roman soldiers who used it as a derogatory terms to describe the people that they would have considered “redneck farmers”.

      They initially used it to describe the people they had comquered, which they saw as uncivilized, uncultured, uneducated and basically unRoman. When Rome became predominantly Christian, it morphed to mean “Non Christian” as well since they noticed that all those conquered people were worshipping the wrong gods too. (Please note, that it is generally a Christian belief that worshipping false gods means you are going to hell. It doesn’t matter if YOU don’t believe in hell, because THEY do, and THEY are the ones that created the insult, and the very fact that you don’t believe in hell is part of the reason THEY believe you are going there.)

      Please note, I was not calling these people hillbillies, the Roman’s were calling them hillbillies. You are using a Roman insult to describe yourself. I am not making fun of you, I’m pointing out you are making fun of your self. That was half the point of this post. The other half (which you didn’t read I guess) also points out that “pagan” isn’t a religion, but a very general description of any non Christian religion.

      Neo-Pagan is a little better as a descriptor since it points to a religion created in the late 18th century by English people that were bored with the status quo and wanted to mix things up a little so they told people they had rediscovered ancient religions. A lot of what they said was completely fabricated since, as is the case of the Druidic religion, nobody had practiced them in over a thousand years and almost zero reliable records existed. With the Druids, we had two ceremonies and some reports by Romams that they were cannibals. Though that is suspect because the Romans generally did what they could to make the natives of the British Isles look bad. They had successfully stamped out the practice of Druidism by the 4th century, and they kept no writings of their own religion. Only the Roman propaganda remained. This would be like recreating Islam a thousand years from now based only on recordings made from Fox News.

      Many of these Neo Pagan religions grew out of a single individuals desire for power and influence, or, as was the case with Wicca, the desire to see girls get naked and spanked.