Stigma and Resilience Among Contemporary Pagans
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Pagans are a stigmatized religious minority group within the United States. Previous studies have explored the prevalence of this stigma (Kirner, 2014), its impact in work environments (Reece, 2016; Tejada, 2014), and the way fear of stigmatization impacts individuals in personal relationships, in social institution, and in the public sphere (Reece, 2016). Building on this work, the present study piloted a measure of Religious Identity Discrimination and Experienced Stigmatization (RIDES) in order to explore the impact of religious stigma on an assortment of variables related to psychological well-being. Convenience sampling was used to gather data from Pagan (n = 142), dual and multifaith (n = 33), and non-Pagan individuals (n = 87), from across the United States, ranging in age from 18 to 82, with a mean age of 46.79 (SD = 15.07). The sample was 86.3% Caucasian, 73% female, 24% male, and 3% other (comprised of transgender and non-binary gendered individuals); 38% of the sample identified as LGBTQ. Participants completed a battery of tests to obtain information on personality, spirituality, satisfaction with life, social support, and resilience, in addition to the RIDES scale. Additional demographic data related to education, income, and religious involvement were also gathered. The study tested three hypotheses, H1: Pagans would report greater religious stigmatization than Christians; H2: Pagans who experienced overt discrimination would have lower overall well-being; and H3: Spirituality would evidence incremental validity over personality and social support when regressed on satisfaction with life.An initial psychometric evaluation of the RIDES measure is provided. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed, as are implications of clinical work with clients who have stigmatized religious identities.
Keywords: Pagan, psychological well-being, resilience, stigma, spirituality, counseling, scale development, minority stress