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Dictionary.com : Religious Bias Against Paganism?

AN OPEN LETTER TO : Michele Turner, CEO, Dictionary.com

April 17, 2014
Michele Turner, CEO
IAC Headquarters
555 West 18 Street
New York, N.Y. 10011

Dear Ms. Turner,

The Wiccan Interfaith Council International would like to bring to your attention the lack of religious equality
on the part of Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com, towards those of the Pagan-based faith.

We are appalled at the definitions used on your sites for our religion. The Dictionary.com definition of PAGAN has eight
classified meanings, one is neutral and the other seven are negative stereotypes created during the dark ages. As we
now live in a more enlightened period, where religious diversity is respected, we view being described as "idolator",
"morally deficient", "savage", "godless", "profane", "spiritually stunted", etc., as religious bias. This prejudicial entry
is in stark contrast to the glowing definition afforded to the word "Christian", which references "decent", "human",
"humane", "not brutal", and "exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ". The antonym section gives
two positive words.

The entries for Thesaurus.com are even worse: A Pagan is described as "person who does not believe in an orthodox religion",
"irreligious", "agnostic", "heathen", "infidel", "atheistic", "idolatrous, and "impious". There are 114 extra "related words" that do
little more than reveal the author(s) and your site's discrimination against those that follow the Pagan nature-based faith.
Again, by contrast, the thesaurus has 57 entries for "Christian" that are positive, ranging from "honest" and "decent" to "ethical"
and "noble". The antonym section of seven words words that can be classified as negative.

For your own instruction, the generic definitions of a Pagan are from the Latin word paganus "a country dweller, and is often
coupled with the neutral descriptor "polytheist". However, the definitive meaning of the word comes from The Standard Dictionary
of Facts, 1908, edited by Henry W. Ruoff : "The word pagan was originally applied to the inhabitants of the rural districts, who,
on the first propagation of the Christian religion (my italics), adhered to the worship of false gods, or who refused to receive
Christianity after it had been adopted by the inhabitants of the cities." Pagans are members of polytheistic communities who
worship female and male deities, with some as mono- or duo-theists, henotheists and kathenotheists. And there are Pagans
who belong to mainstream religions such as Christianity. It is not the task of Dictionary.com nor Thesaurus.com to condemn
Paganism as a false religion and their devoted followers as "infidels".

We’d also like to point out that there are NO thesaurus results for the words WICCA or WICCAN. The Dictionary reference for
the noun WICCA is incorrect: “witchcraft, especially benevolent, nature-oriented practices derived from pre-Christian religions.”
If you visit our website, you’ll note an exhaustive list of meanings for WICCA, WICCAN, and our religion.

You state in your Mission Statement, “Our mission is to delight and inspire anyone using the English language by being the most
innovative and comprehensive digital source for everything related to words. We provide resources that enhance professional,
social and academic lives with the ability to accurately define, pronounce and apply words in the moment.”

FYI - Wiccans, who are also Pagans, are not be delighted nor inspired by these definitions.

As a 501 c3 Pagan-based organization, the Wiccan Interfaith Council International would like to see Dictionary.com and
Thesaurus.com, provide a more objective and more accurate definition and synonyms attached to the words: "Pagan", Wicca,
and Wiccan. We, Ms. Turner, are people of faith - a faith that has journeyed and survived thousands of years, pre-dating
written history. And while the word Pagan is an umbrella term for many paths and traditions of nature-based religion and
spirituality, we ARE a religious, moral, and civilized people who wish to be truthfully represented.

The definitions and thesaurus entries for the words "Pagan" and "Christian" are listed on our website at


and can also be located on your twin sites, Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com.

Blessed Be,

Paulette Reynolds
the Wiccan Interfaith Council International

International Office: Austin, Texas

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