With the political and religious climates being what they are in the United States of America, many people choose to be close-mouthed about their religious beliefs. Regardless of the fact that religious freedom is guaranteed by the US Constitution, there’s more of a “ONE TWOO WAY” environment than one that welcomes religious differences. And, regardless of what some readers may believe, this attitude of “UR DOIN’ IT WRONG!” isn’t limited to practitioners of Abrahamic faiths.
So, in light of the fact that stealth is often required to avoid those unseemly run-ins with the self-proclaimed righteous ones, I hereby present…
The Ninja Spirituality Guide (TM) or How to Keep your Practices Under the Radar
Tongue-In-Cheek Intro: How many times have you wished you could pray to your Deity-of-Choice without being assaulted by others? Are you tired of giving up on performing an important ritual because you live amongst the proselytizing masses? Fear no longer! You too can enjoy the religious freedom that is your RIGHT as an American while not tripping the sensors of those around you!
In all seriousness, keeping one’s spiritual practices under the radar is not terribly difficult and yet the question of how to do so is asked over and over on fora across the Web. I believe this is because people come to new religious beliefs/practices in such a state of excitement that they want to DO ALL THE THINGS and TELL ALL THE PEOPLE immediately and are unable to reconcile the new shiny feelings with what may the reality of facing censure if they do.
There’s a saying out there that “You are as sick as you are secret.” This rings true for me but goes hand-in-hand with the fact that not everyone is ready to be open about things to the same level…and that’s okay. Individuals get to decide for themselves when the time comes or if it comes at all.
With that in mind, here are my recommendations for practicing Religion-by-Stealth, if it is something one needs to do:
1. Use the Need-to-Know check
Before jumping into a discussion about your religious path, think about whether the knowledge directly applies to your relationship with that person. If it doesn’t, is there any reason to bring it up? Will bringing it up help or hurt how you interact with them in the future?
An example I like to use is as follows: I am polyamorous. The people who know this (aside from all of my blog readers now) are the people whom it directly affects – my husband, my son (as he lives in the house part of the year), and my lovers. My parents and siblings have, to this date, no need to know, so I’ve not told them. If I plan on bringing my lover to a family function, then I’ll make sure everyone in attendance who needs to know does know so my lover won’t have to be closeted.
“Need to Know” works also for jewelry, or items in your workspace, or in public areas of your home. If you regularly surround yourself with people who you think have no “need to know”, you should probably keep your pagan jewelry under your shirt and not have a Wheel of the Year screen saver at work.
2. Know what your path truly requires
I’ve said this before in at least one other blog post, but it bears repeating: don’t waste time focusing on the little things when the big things are so much more important. It is likely that you can use a working altar that can be put up and taken down as needed instead of a massive permanent stone structure (and yes, I do know people that have gone out and built HUGE stone edifices before really knowing what path they were following.) Hell, it is likely that you don’t even need an altar in the first place. So, know what you need and keep it small if you’re trying to fly low.
3. Follow the rules of etiquette for social chitchat
Politics and religion really have no place in small talk or conversations with strangers OR during parties/large family gatherings. Both topics are volatile and likely to cause problems. If someone else starts the conversation, you can politely smile and say, “I never discuss politics or religion in mixed company.” This statement will likely garner you at least one smile and nod, and then you can quickly make your escape.
Following these simple tips (along with a dash of common sense) will enable you to remain under the radar until you decide to be out in the open.