you are exactly right about this. for someone who doesn't believe in deity (or, apparently, tact, but we can forgive that) you seem at least to understand a little about power. one thing i've noticed about paganism, is that people who are not raised with it tend to go through a "persecution" phase, where they have a tendency to dwell upon the prejudices that some of us face, and cry discrimination at the drop of a hat. (i am NOT in any way implying that any of the posters in this thread are behaving in such a manner, simply noting my observations of trends over 14 years of practice myself.) they may burst obnoxiously out of the "broom closet" before they're really aware of what the real issues with secrecy are. they tend to drive everyone around them just a little bit crazy (pagan or not)...and then they move on. it's a phase so many of us go through; i went through it too. and perhaps it comes across as giving the opposition strength, or as a little whiney and obnoxious to those of us who've already gone past that stage, but i think it is in a lot of ways necessary to one's development as a witch or pagan, because once they move past it, the acceptance of the unfairness of life (following the next phase of bitter disillusionment) puts them in a position where they can more effectively change it - for everybody, not just wiccans - and have a more realistic view of what kind of changes they can expect. that being said, however, i still feel compelled to quote doreen valiente's comment that "witchcraft doesn't pay for broken windows." i think, where issues of religious discrimination is concerned, it's important to make the distinction between what is just ego-bruising, ignorance, or harmless assholishness, and what might actually be a real threat. the difference between having a friend call you a name, and getting evicted, fired from your job, or having CPS show up on yur doorstep responding to a report that you're planning on turning your nephew into flying ointment. those things happen far less than they did even 10 years ago, even in today's somewhat hostile political/religious climate. (you want to talk about religious harassment and discrimination? thank the blessed gods we're not muslim right now!) really, at least in my part of the country (admittedly, blue-state) we've got it pretty good. and i think in a lot of cases, discretion may be the better part of valor. intolerant people are less likely to get in your face if you don't fling your differences in theirs. yes, i'm pagan, and some people don't like or understand paganism. whoop-te-doo. they don't trouble me because most of the time, they don't need to know i'm pagan, at least as long as i'm not running looking like laurie cabot on a bad hair day, punctuating every sentence with "blessed be", and sprinkling "peace'n'protection" oil on everything i touch. and if they happen to find out anyway, and call me "evil", well, they're entitled to think that, and i'm entitled to think that they probably are in serious need of a good healthy romp by a beltane fire, if you know what i mean. that's not to say that name-calling can't be harmful, or that it should be ignored completely. i do recall reading about a young girl who took her own life, supposedly because of the religious harassment she recieved at school, when going through the proper channels failed to stop it. there may have been other issues, or side effects from medications she may have been taking. we will never know. but my point is that usually, being called "evil" is just a pain in the ass. actually, depending on my mood, and who's saying it to me, i may choose to take it as a complement. whining about being called names doesn't do anything to stop discrimination of any kind. but being fully aware and in command of one's personal power does. you have to be strong enough in your faith (at the very least, faith in yourself) to not let the little stuff get to you.