An Open Letter to Christian Witches

Jesus Christ Statue

On this blog, I often champion the idea that witchcraft is a practice, not a religion, and that a witch can practice any religion, provided that religion does not explicitly forbid witchcraft. I still very much believe this, and the point of this post is not to tell Christians that they can’t be witches. However, as a non-Christian witch who has been deeply traumatized by Christianity, I do wish Christian witches would be a bit more mindful of how they show up in witchy spaces.

Recently, I’ve noticed a pattern of self-identifying Christian witches dominating the conversation and centering their own beliefs in spaces dedicated to witchcraft. Now, I wholeheartedly believe that this is unintentional, and most of these Christian witches seem like lovely people. But it’s still deeply frustrating and upsetting to be promised a safe space and support from other witches, only to be preached at.

Or be told that I’m doing witchcraft wrong because my ethics are not the same as someone else’s.

Or be told that I don’t understand Christianity, despite having spent the first two decades of my life fully immersed in it.

Or have my trauma invalidated because, “Not all Christians are like that!”

Or spend the majority of our time together reassuring and comforting a Christian witch who is uncomfortable with the inclusion of pagan and/or occult elements in a ritual.

These are all genuine experiences I have had with Christian witches in 2021. And in every single one of these situations, the Christian witch had a very negative reaction to any kind of constructive criticism or request that they be more mindful of the diverse beliefs and experiences in the space. Any suggestion that their actions may be causing discomfort for others was met with defensiveness, if not straight-up denial. The result is a situation where Christian witches are at the center of every discussion and demand (knowingly or not) coddling or hand-holding from teachers and facilitators, while those of us who are not Christian are left deeply uncomfortable but unable to express that discomfort without upsetting someone or being accused of creating conflict.

And I get it. I really do. Because for most of the people in the above scenarios, this was the first time they encountered a situation where their religion wasn’t the norm. But what I need Christian witches to recognize and be mindful of is that this discomfort of being surrounded by people who do not share your beliefs is something those of us who are not Christian experience every day.

In the Western world, and particularly in the United States, Christianity is a religious hegemony. (A hegemony is a group with total political, social, economic, and/or military dominance in a given area.) Everything in Western society was designed for Christians, to serve a Christian worldview, and to reinforce Christian hegemony. Everything from our government to our business practices to our media reinforces Christian values. For Christians, this creates the sense of comfort and security that comes from being part of the in-group. For non-Christians, it meas being constantly bombarded with someone else’s religion. For former Christians with church-related trauma, it means reliving that trauma constantly.

Here’s a look at an average day in my life as a formerly-Christian pagan with religious trauma. Please note that this is not an exaggeration — this is a description of what I experienced on the day I wrote this post.

I get up and, because I live with Christian family members, I walk past exactly five images of Jesus and/or the Virgin Mary on my way from my bedroom to the front door. On my commute to work, I drive past at least a dozen churches, including the one I used to attend, where my religious trauma occurred. I stop at a red light, and the car in front of me has a bumper sticker with an image of a cross and the message, “If this offends you now, just wait until you see it on judgement day!” I happen to know that these bumper stickers are for sale not at a local church, but at a privately owned, nominally secular business. When I get to work, the woman who greets me at the front gate is wearing a crucifix necklace.

I work in diversity education. When I get to the office, my boss asks me to join the local Interfaith council because I am the only person in our department who isn’t Christian. My current big project at work is trying to get a transgender speaker to visit our organization and help us lead a workshop to work towards amending a history of transphobia in our organization. My boss tells me today the she isn’t sure the speaker I arranged will be approved, because our administration might not think it is in line with our organization’s values. When she says this, I know she means evangelical Christian values. She doesn’t have to spell it out — there’s a chaplain down the hall from our office.

After my lunch break, my coworkers are talking about a church event one of them attended over the weekend. I do not contribute to this conversation. It has been several months since I attended an in-person religious event with people who shared my faith. As I’m leaving the office at the end of the day, I pass a Bible study group that has set up in our recreation area. On my drive home, I pass the funeral home where my grandfather’s memorial service was held earlier this year. The programs for that service had the Lord’s Prayer printed on them. My grandfather was an atheist.

This is my level of exposure to a religion I not only don’t believe in, but have been actively hurt by, on a daily basis. This is my normal. I’ve learned to live with it, tune it out, and self-soothe, because there is no other option.

When I’m finally able to be around other witches, many of them are coming from similar experiences. I am finally in a space where I can be vulnerable, where I can talk about what I really believe, and where I can receive support from like-minded people. But if there is even one Christian witch in the group, it’s highly likely that this space too will be dominated by Christian hegemony.

It’s a noted fact that a person exists within a hegemony, they have very little ability to tolerate challenges to this hegemony due to a lack of exposure. This is the origin of the term white fragility, which sociologist Robin DiAngelo uses to describe the discomfort and defensiveness white people feel when confronted with “racial discomfort” such as being asked to consider racism as a system they are complicit in and benefit from rather than as the actions of lone extremists. White fragility is something I have personally experienced as a white woman involved in antiracist work, and it’s something I have taken years to work through and am still actively working on. Since DiAngelo popularized this term, similar terms have been used to point to similar phenomena in other hegemonic groups, as in the cases of male fragility/fragile masculinity, cishet fragility, and yes, Christian fragility.

I’m not trying to argue that all hegemony is the same, and I am definitely not trying to say that my personal religious trauma is anywhere near the level of pain caused by the mistreatment of Black and brown people by white supremacist society. My point here is simply that being part of the dominant group breeds a very low tolerance for exposure to other groups.

Christian witches are members of a hegemonic group entering a space historically occupied by marginalized people, which creates an imbalance of power. (And yes, you can benefit from hegemony even if you are marginalized in other areas. Identity is multi-faceted. Queer Christians, disabled Christians, Christians of color, and yes, Christian witches still benefit from Christian hegemony.) The only way things are going to get better is if Christians are willing to do the work themselves of building tolerance for religious discomfort. The rest of us can host as many interfaith and secular events as we want, but if Christians aren’t able to tolerate the inclusion of other belief systems, we’ll never truly be on equal footing. Until Christians stop centering the Christian experience, it will continue to dominate interfaith spaces, including witchy spaces.

I’m asking Christian witches to be mindful of the privilege they bring into interfaith spaces. I’m asking you to be willing to feel uncomfortable, and to recognize that your discomfort does not invalidate the work your facilitators have put into creating the space and/or program. If you truly can’t stand the discomfort, I’m asking you to politely excuse yourself instead of demanding emotional labor from other witches.

4 responses to “An Open Letter to Christian Witches”

  1. Thank you for writing this post. It really resonated with me. As a thirty-four year old woman in the process of leaving Christianity and its baggage behind, it helps to read things like this.


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! Leaving a religion is hard, especially when that religion is so ingrained in society. Best of luck to you on this journey. ❤


  2. Christian Witches seem like an oxymoron to me, especially given Exodus 22:18 “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” and all that. I wonder why a Christian would want to be a witch? Surely their own religion gives them all the spiritual support they need without having to insert themselves into a minoritised faith that has been historically and currently persecuted by Christians themselves. Or is this an organised evangelisation effort, perhaps? Trying to infiltrate witchcraft and convert us from within? I haven’t come across this phenomenon, but thanks for forewarning us all to keep our eyes open for this.


    1. I think it’s worth noting that folk magic has always existed within Christianity. For example, I live in the American South, and most of the folk magic of this region is deeply rooted in Protestant Christianity. Using Psalms as spells, praying against your enemies, and casting out devils are all part of the culture of Southern Protestantism.

      It’s also worth noting that witches and witch-like figures appear in the Bible. In the Old Testament (Solomon, I believe), a figure called the Witch of Endor appears and performs necromancy on behalf of the king of Israel. So there is biblical evidence of witches being called on for help, as well as a long Christian tradition of folk magic. Like most things when it comes to Christianity, you can argue it either way.

      I think the problem is not that Christians can’t be witches, but rather that Christians need to be willing to acknowledge that most witches do not share their faith.

      Liked by 2 people

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