Posted by Ian Samuels on 23:25 4/2/02
In reply to: Elks; religious conversions posted by Irgend Jemand on 20:53 4/2/02
Mark writes re: religious conversion:
"One factor is that historically, paganism does not have the cohesion and (so to speak) stickiness of the great monotheistic religions. To put it bluntly, it's easy to convert pagans."
$.02 from Ian:
Besides, conversion isn't necessarily an either / or situation. Very often, people simply take up the new religion and practise it alongside or integrate it with the old rituals and traditions.
Syncretism is a commonplace in both the histories of European and African paganism (as well as New World societies where African paganism took root and flourished, cf. Cuba and Brazil). It's what usually happens when religions face a mandatory top-down conversion by rulers (or conquerors), which was almost invariably the case wherever Christianity or Islam became really entrenched on either continent. The ability to keep the old traditions alive, overtly or covertly, makes the transition a lot less disruptive and often significantly reshapes the "converting" faith.