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05 December 2012 @ 01:15 pm
YaaD Work: Class 11: Discretion  
This is one of the reflection papers I wrote as part of my Year and a Day (YaaD) of study with Fieldhaven Coven.

The question is drawn from the Greenhaven Tradition; the YaaD course is not published on the Greenhaven Tradition website, but is made available on a person-to-person basis. Material that is not so closely held is available at http://greenhaventradition.weebly.com/

Class 11, Paper 1 (after reading, before class discussion): How do you feel about “outing” another person as Pagan? Is it wrong or right, or can that vary with context? Think about your ethical stance on this point, and be prepared to discuss your answers in class.

Assignment submitted July 30, 2012

Writing Assignment: YaaD Class 11 - Discretion

My view about outing someone as Pagan is the same as my view about outing someone as gay, kinky, or anything else they choose not to discuss publicly: it’s wrong. I suppose technically I should say that “it depends on the context,” but the only context in which I unequivocally support outing someone for any reason is “emergency.”

The first context in which I can see someone’s religion as an important piece of information would be medical: if doctors needed to know about it for some reason (I can’t think of any off-hand for Pagans, but there might be one), I would tell them. Similarly, if the attending staff felt it would be a good idea to call clergy for either the patient or to support family members, I would consider it appropriate to ask that the Pagan chaplain be called.

The second context might be police showing up at a Pagan event; it might be necessary to explain what was going on, which might end up outing people. On the other hand, public events seem more likely to draw police presence than private events are, and people who attend public events are more likely to be out at least to some degree already.

I suppose that if pressured, I could come up with a hypothetical scenario in which I might know that some politician is privately Pagan but supports and works toward passing laws that discriminate against Pagan religions (this has been said to happen with politicians who are in the closet about being gay), and in which
I developed some rationale about outing that person as a hypocrite, but seriously? I think that would do more long-term harm to other Pagans than it would do good for anyone, and so I don’t think I would make that choice.

I should note that within a gathering of Pagans, I don’t think it’s outing anyone to mention another member of the group, even if that leads to a newcomer saying, “Gosh, I didn’t know s/he was Pagan!”