Advice for Christians on How to Talk to a Neo-Pagan
Okay, many people out there approach Neo-pagans in very much the wrong way. Spouting bible verses, telling us we are going to hell, saying how you found Jesus and how we can too, are all things which will likely push our brains into fight mode. It is not that we have a problem with any religion, but we do not follow the religion, and for the most part any Neo-pagan you meet is likely a former Christian. There are reasons why we left the religion, and some of us feel particularly hostile to those trying to force us back into it through threats, coercion, and preaching in general.
Therefore, the first piece of advice is to not quote from the bible, especially if that is all you are doing. Bible quotes tend to give us those mischievous grins everyone dislikes, many of us know the bible as well as or better than most Christians do themselves. For every verse you can quote, we will probably have several that will completely throw that argument right out the window. In addition, if someone does not think something is the absolute truth, it is useless to use that as proof that the person should do something. Most pagans do not believe in the bible as absolute truth, thus, using that book as proof that we should bow down and worship your deity makes absolutely no sense.
The second thing it is not wise to do is to tell a Neo-pagan that they are going to hell. Most of us do not believe that there is a hell or anything like it. And well, you can't go somewhere if it does not exist, right? I mean, there is no such place as Middle Earth, thus none of us can visit it. Okay, so there is a Hell. It is in Michigan. I can probably get you the directions, if you would like. That is what you are likely to hear, or (even more likely) something along the lines of seeing you there. There are many different ways of responding to that particular line of reasoning, and few of them are very nice.
Saying that you found Jesus is one of the worst, and has some of the more humorous replies. There are so many ways of tossing that out the window that you can say it to a hundred pagans, and each one will give you a different response. For example, the classic, "You guys lost him... Again?!" Or, "Wait, how did he get out? I thought I had him locked in my closet!" There are others, many of them, and some are not quite so cute. The words "Jesus loves you..." are likely to elicit very unclean remarks, which would not be appropriate for children to read. Although I have seen a few comments that are not dirty, like, "Jesus loves you too, but I'm his favorite. He told me so. Sucks for you." (That was actually posted by a friend of mine in a chatroom, it got a lot of laughs.)
The best way to approach someone of another religion is to be prepared. First, make sure you know your own religion well enough that even a biblical scholar would be hard put to take you down in a debate. Second, study the religions of those you will be talking to. And not just from a Biblical point of view, look at it from the eyes of those who practice. The reason many of us know so much of the Christian religion, is that we have been there, tried it, and found it lacking to our own lives, this does not mean that we think that Christianity itself is lacking for everyone, just that it is not the right path for us. I have even recently found out that a friend of mine converted back to Christianity, he and I have some nice long talks about our religions, and are finding that the two are not really so different after all (we have found that the common basis for our religions lies in doing to/for others as you would have them do to/for you). The third thing you need to do is approach us with the understanding that we are intelligent, and that a snide, patronizing, or condescending attitude, will do two things. First, it will turn people off to your message, which means turning people away from your religion even more than they already were. Second, because of the first effect, you will, if your Bible is correct, go to hell. Causing another to fall from the path, or leading them to avoid the path that you follow, is one of very few things you can do to earn a trip straight to Hell with little or no chance of atonement, according to the Bible. Speak to us as intelligent people. Do not say we are wrong, because you have the same thing we have to go on, faith. Many of us were born into the Christian religion, and came to our current religions through study, and many times disillusionment with the Christian faith. We found ourselves, spiritually speaking, in the gods and goddesses of the old religions, or in the ways they worshipped, or just in what they believed in. Many of us have found the freedom to express our own thoughts of the way the world works, through these religions, a freedom that could not be expressed in the Christian faith. I, personally agree with much that is in the Bible, but there is also much that I do not believe in, and some things that are beyond what the Bible cares to mention. There are also some things which I just have not been able to decide whether I do believe, and to what degree.
Basically, the advice is to be aware that you are talking to people, who have their own opinions. People just like you, who may feel insulted by your lack of consideration. Many of us do understand that your religion asks, even requires, that you spread the word to others. The way in which you do so, however, can possibly close minds to you, and thus, to your religion. Try visiting pagan forums or chatrooms. Sit back and listen to what is said, and speak to them as you would your friends. Eventually, you may find that you have made friends, in an unlikely place. It may also help you help others find the path that is right for them.