Sometimes deciding what to tell others about one’s religion can be a difficult thing. Unfortunately, not all societies are equally open minded regarding matters of faith.
To “come out of the closet” is to acknowledge one’s homosexuality openly, and similarly, the phrase “in the broom closet” refers to Pagans who not only keep their spirituality to themselves, but actively avoid mentioning it or acknowledging their spirituality publicly, often even one’s family and close friends are unaware.
Religious and spiritual belief is a very personal subject, it can be very private. Yet, at the same time, often our beliefs permeate the whole of who we are, how we express ourselves, from what foods we buy for our families to what we do on Saturdays to who we pray to on December 25th (Mithras? Jesus?). It can even dictate how we interact with others, whether we turn the other cheek, practice ahimsa, or harm none.
Unfortunately, religious persecution still exists, and it can be a difficult decision for some people to decide whether or not to tell their friends, or even their families about the path they have chosen.
I’m of the belief that it is always best to be honest and upfront with family and close friends, for those are the people are supposed to know you best, though not everyone may have the same relationships with their loved ones. However, not everyone may have the same support options available to them.
Religious discussion is rarely appropriate on the job, but if you have co-workers you are close to, and the subject arises, what you say and how you present it may affect work relations: not everyone may understand what it means to have a witch in the office. “Witch” is still commonly used as a derogatory term, and even when it’s not, it’s often misunderstood in terms of storybook hags or Hollywood light shows, and lengthy explanations of religious and spiritual beliefs are not often office cooler talk.
If you do decide to be open about your spirituality, you may want to consider who you want to “come out of the closet” to, and what their response may be. Some questions to mull over may include:
- Who do I want to tell?
- Why haven’t I told this person previously?
- What will their reaction be?
- Am I prepared to accommodate possible changes in our relationship, at least at first?
- Is it appropriate for them to understand my spirituality?
Next week we’ll explore methods of opening up to friends and family.
First published on Suite101.com on 03 July 2006. (Unfortunately.)