Paganism Information

Paganism is a blanket term used to refer to various polytheistic, non-Abrahamic religious traditions. Its exact definition may vary. It is primarily used in a historical context, referring to Greco-Roman polytheism as well as the polytheistic traditions of Europe before Christianization. In a wider sense, extended to contemporary religions, it includes most of the Eastern religions, and the indigenous traditions of the Americas, Central Asia and Africa, as well as non-Abrahamic folk religion in general. More narrow definitions will not include any of the world religions and restrict the term to local or rural currents not organized as civil religions. Characteristic of pagan traditions is the absence of proselytism and the presence of a living mythology, which explains religious practice.

The term pagan is a Christian adaptation of the "gentile" of Judaism, and as such has an inherent Abrahamic bias, and pejorative connotations among Western monotheists, comparable to heathen and infidel also known as kafir and mushrik in Islam. For this reason, ethnologists avoid the term "paganism," with its uncertain and varied meanings, in referring to traditional or historic faiths, preferring more precise categories such as polytheism, shamanism, pantheism, or animism.

Since the later 20th century, Pagan or Paganism has become widely used as a self-designation by adherents of Neopaganism. As such, various modern scholars have begun to apply the term to three groups of separate faiths: Historical Polytheism , Folk/ethnic/Indigenous religions , and Neopaganism .

Wikipedia, Paganism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paganism (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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