What do you prefer to be called?

As I have learned and read more about the Reformation, I have noticed that many of the names given during its course were not exactly given in good faith. Is there any name you don’t like your community to be called, and why?

As a Catholic, I prefer to be called Catholic rather than Roman Catholic. It is not a completely inaccurate name, but when I have heard it–for example once from a history professor–the phrase often drips with disdain, as if in an attempt to communicate the foreign and distant nature of the Church.


I would prefer that ‘Lutherans’ were called (and called themselves) Evangelical Catholics, or at least the Church of the Augsburg Confession. It’s more accurate than calling us “Lutherans,” which presumes that we follow the man, when we follow only Christ (1 Cor. 3:4).

This is an interesting question, I look forward to hearing what folks say about it. :slight_smile:

Personally, I don’t like it when people refer to Asatru and other Germanic heathens as pagans or Wiccans. I’m willing to tolerate the term “pagan” casually by people who don’t know any better and because I think it’s important for members of modern pagan faiths to maintain a sense of solidarity, so bickering about the exact nomenclature is counterproductive. It drives me batty when people conflate “Wiccan” with anyone who practices a pagan religion, though, because Wiccan and Asatru are very, very different in practice and belief. It’s sort of like conflating Christians and Jews. It’s not something I would get all frothed up over, but “heathen” is the preferred term. I just tell people, “Hey, you know how funny you thought it was when your grandmother used to call you a wild heathen? Now you can do so and it will actually be true!”

Is this because pagan was originally coined as an insult to polytheists? How is heathen any different? To me heathen sounds like an equally insulting term, but perhaps it has positive origins I don’t know about :blush:

Also Gullveig reminds me that this is not just a Western Christian issue. Are the names Hindu, Muslim (wasn’t it originally Moslem), etc. actually communicative of the real meaning of your faith or are they fabrications by outsiders?

Also, does anyone know if the Orthodox Churches actually refer to themselves as “Orthodox”? Or is there some other real name that has been lost in translation?

Is this because pagan was originally coined as an insult to polytheists? How is heathen any different? To me heathen sounds like an equally insulting term, but perhaps it has positive origins I don’t know about

Neither term is insulting to me, it’s just that they mean different things within the context of the pagan community. “Pagan” is sort of an umbrella term and also one that is commonly used to refer to someone who is either eclectic in their beliefs or part of a non-reconstructionist pagan faith like Wicca. “Heathen” specifically refers to Norse/Germanic reconstructionists. The religious philosophy and often the specific practices are just very different, and many heathens put a great deal of effort into the academic study of their traditions and so get a little disgruntled when people make assumptions about what they believe based on what less historically rigorous pagan groups do. Like I said, it’s like assuming that Jews and Christians are the same thing. They’re very similar in some ways, but they’re not the same thing.

‘Moslem’ is just an antiquated English form of ‘Muslim’. It means the exact same thing, and is the preferred term, arising from Arabic itself, as a participle of “wholeness”. The pejorative “Mohammedan” was the term I grew up using when I was a child a million years ago :stuck_out_tongue:

Just as a Lutheran poster above me mentioned that it’s considered a bit inaccurate to refer to them as ‘Lutheran’ (though obviously over time the Lutherans have co-opted the name), a Muslim will point out that it is incorrect to refer to them as “Mohammedans”. It’s sort of analogous to calling Catholics “Papists”.

Ahh okay so it’s not a case of derogatory usage as much as disagreements about your approach to rebuilding pre-Christian religion.

I’m officially a member of the LDS Church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), though my fidelity actually lies elsewhere.

“LDS Church” is a standard, inoffensive name for the church itself, and “Mormon” serves as a decent adjective for the people, culture, and history of all that relating to the LDS Church. The term “Mormon” began as a pejorative by our detractors during the founding of the church, but like so many titles the Mormons began to embrace the term. It’s why we speak of “Mormon food”, and “Mormon folklore”, or the “Mormon Trail”. There are some sticklers who insist that it’s inappropriate to use the term “Mormon” for anything besides the Book of Mormon itself (or the ancient American prophet therein for whom the book is named), but they certainly are in the minority.

What is insisted upon pretty universally is that one does not refer to the “Mormon Church”, for the same reason the Lutheran poster above mentioned: Mormons believe they are following Christ, not a person named “Mormon”. In reference to the church itself, LDS members typically insist on the acronym LDS or the full name of the church. There are some in the church who are trying to push the use of “Church of Jesus Christ” as the name used in secular publication and discussion, which I find entirely pretentious. It’s one thing if we were to use this shorthand among ourselves in our meeting, but in mixed company it will at best foster confusion and at worst disdain.

I prefer the term that accurately describes what I am, a Roman Catholic. Im not an eastern Catholic or a schismatic Catholic , but a Catholic of the Latin Rite. I dont care if the speech of some disdainful professor or other person drips with insult when referring to the Roman Church. Such disdain reveals more negativity from that persons prejudice and lack of charity than any negative connotation about the Roman Catholic Church as far as Im concerned. Let others be bigots as I stand firm in what I am. As Latin Rite Catholics we shouldnt shirk one instant from the term any more than the pagan shirks from his title. If youre uncomfortable about the term, you need to ask why and learn to be comfortable with what you are and what you believe and be ready to give defense when the situation offers itself. Im sick of these embarrassed Catholics who would sooner run and leave their faith behind because some bigot of a professor brings up the myths perpetrated over the centuries by anti Catholics, or even because of the Church abuse scandal. If you dont know your faith and are embarrassed by it, then learn it , and either leave or take a stand as a Roman Catholic or Mormon, or Lutheran, or even Pagan! But dont sit and quiver whenever someone uses a connotation that is “uncomfortable” for you. An uneasy feeling with any given title simply reveals ones own misgivings with who he is. If people want to call me Mackerel Smacker or Bead Rattler, or even a Papist, I say ,YES! I am all of those, but let me tell you why!

In an ideal world: Christian (of the Catholic - universal - Church)

With the world being what it is, Roman Catholic is just fine since that’s the easiest and most recognizable label. It might have been used as a divisive label hundreds of years ago, but that fact has become a distant obscurity.

Three things: Child of God, Catholic, and not late to supper. :wink:

Mackerel Smacker

Is this an actual thing? I don’t think I could be offended by someone calling me a mackeral smacker, I’d probably die laughing.

I’m a Catholic and thankful to God that that is so.

Latin Rite or Roman, makes no difference to me. I prefer just Catholic because we do have more than just one rite and too often, it seems to me, that little fact is forgotten.

In ordinary English “pagan” and “heathen” are near-synonyms, with “heathen” having more negative connotations. As in many cases of such near-synonyms in the English language one is of Latin origin and the other is Germanic. The Latin word “pagan” originally meant a rustic village person and so is often said to have the derogatory meaning of a backwards country bumpkin holding on to old beliefs, but Christians used the word in our own way before the legalization of Christianity and so it is probably derived from another Roman usage of the word, designating a civilian as opposed to a member of the military. The original meaning of the Gothic word that became “heathen” is unknown, though it’s been proposed that it also meant a rustic person.

Am I right in supposing that the origin of this new distinction that has arisen in the modern polytheist movements is in the very fact that the word “heathen” is of Germanic origin?

Speaking for myself, I usually just use “Catholic”.

My avoidance of “Roman Catholic” has little to do with the idea (often gotten directly or indirectly from the old Catholic Encyclopedia that is available online) that the word “Roman” was invented by Anglicans to try to limit the sense of Catholicity of the actual Catholic Church. It has more to do with the fact that the term has two possible meanings both of which have been used in official Church documents: on the one hand it usually refers to the entire Catholic Church (Christians in communion with the bishop of Rome) and on the other hand it occasionally is used to refer to the Latin Church specifically, using “Roman” as a synonym for “Latin.”

Unfortunately, those who adhere to the latter meaning often do so in a stridently and ignorantly defensive spirit which projects their own preferred meaning onto the mainstream meaning of the term and sees non-existent discrimination or ignorance in anyone who uses it in the more common sense. It is better to avoid confusion and useless word-fights by not using the word “Roman” at all.

We call ourselves Orthodox here in the West. Among ourselves we might call each other Catholic but that gets too confusing for the public because people thinks it means y’all. What we tend to not like is being called “Greek Orthodox” or “Russian Orthodox” or another ethnic title. Not even in considering the fact that a huge portion of us are converts with no traditionally Orthodox heritage, for some reason a lot of people assume we’re all “Greek Orthodox.” Now, “Roman Catholic” might make sense because you’re canonically bound to your rite in your church. We don’t have that idea. It might also make sense because the head of your church is in Rome, but there is no earthly head of our church. The Patriarch of Constantinople is in no way analogous to your pope.

So we might call ourselves Orthodox, Orthodox Christians, Orthodox Catholics, and we call our faith Holy Orthodoxy, or The Catholic Faith, or The Faith, heck, at one point we call it “The Faith which has established the universe!” but lets leave off the ethnic titles unless you know the individual is of that ethnicity (and even then, maybe).

Yes, a slur used when Catholics abstained from meat on Fridays and ate fish, mostly less expensive fish like mackerel if you were poor and Irish in NY or Boston.

That’s the reason that the term “heathen” was chosen by the community to describe a particular Germanic subset of the reconstructionist movement, but not the reason for a different term being necessary or becoming common. That has to do with ideological differences that existed before either term really came into common usage among modern pagans and widened over time.

In Christian terms, presumably all Catholics and protestants are Christians, but they have different opinions about interpretations and about how things should be done, etc. There is definite common grounds, but to use a term that I hear tossed around here a lot, they are not “in communion” with each other, meaning in my mind that they have diverged in practice and ideology to the point where they are not mutually compatible anymore. A Protestant would not want to be called a Catholic and a Catholic would not want to be called a Protestant. Similarly, you have different divisions of Catholics and Protestants within their own larger groupings. So, all Asatru (which is my specific branch of heathenism) are heathens, but not all heathens are Asatru, and both heathens and pagans are Pagans in the larger sense, but they are not “in communion” with each other. If that makes sense.

We usually refer to ourselves as Orthodox Christians or Christians. Orthodox means: Straight/True Worship/Glory or Right Belief/Right Praise.

There is nothing derogatory in the word Orthodox, but there is a possibility of someone overhearing the term and thinking of a completely different religion.

In the West when people hear just the term Orthodox, they typically think Jewish even though there are far more Orthodox Christians (about 351,100,000) in the world than Orthodox Jews (about 2,179,000) - go figure :shrug:

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