More Fun with WORDS - Calling a Catholic a Heathen - What's wrong with this picture?

In another Pit thread, allegations are being made that someone called a Catholic (Roman Rite) a heathen.

Aside from being considered libel by both sides, what is wrong with this assertion?

The fact that there’s no link?



Um, because “heathen” means “an unconverted member of a people or nation that does not acknowledge the God of the Bible,” and Catholics believe in God?

Ooh! Ooh! I get to be the first!

Main Entry: heathen
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural heathens or heathen
Date: before 12th century
1 : an unconverted member of a people or nation that does not acknowledge the God of the Bible
2 : an uncivilized or irreligious person

racinchikki may have gotten the meaning, but I quoted the dictionary definition.

I win.

think ‘origin’

Huh? The origin is “before 12th century.” Back then, the church WAS the Catholic Church. Heathens were Anyone Who Was Not Catholic.

yes, originally, ‘heathen’ was a Catholic term.

for extra credit: Pagan or Heathen?

Well, you fcould be a heretic.

Was the difference that a heathen had not been converted, and a heretic had been Catholic but stopped?

And happyheathen, I really don’t get your point.

Well, more that a heretic was a Christian who wasn’t Catholic…if you were a monophysite, or an albigensian, or a hussite or something.

Leave out ‘Heretics’ - they came later (generally, generally)

Most folk use ‘Pagan’ and ‘Heathen’ interchangeably - there is a difference (BIG difference).

Hint: Pagans outnumber Heathens 100,000’s to 1 (numbers are WAG)

Etymologically, they are basically equivalent. Pagan is the Mediterranean term and heathen is the Northern European term. They both indicate someone from the “countryside” who is not “sophisticated” enough to understand and accept Christianity.

(More recently, some neo-Pagans have begun differentiating between the two words, but I have not been able to get an explanation from anyone as to how they define them differently.)

Heretic comes from the Greek word for choice and simply indicates someone with the temerity to choose to believe something not approved by the church.

Mostly people use it anymore as the same thing as “pagan” “unChristian”, etc.

While said person didn’t exactly call me a heathen, she and her buds more or less implied that I’m not a “true” Christian-partly because I’m Catholic, but mostly because I’m:

  1. A Liberal
  2. A Feminist
  3. Hi Opal!
  4. I swear


As I use them:

Pagan: one who practices a religion other than Christianity, Islam, or Judaism.

Heathen: one who adheres to no organized religion.

A Hindu is a ‘pagan’; I have no identifiable religion, ergo, ‘heathen’.

glad to clear that one up for you, Tom :wink:

don’t worry about what some damned Heretic calls you :cool:

Is that simply your idiolect? Or is there some group of people that have imposed those meanings on the words?

(Not that there is a problem in either event, but I am curious.)

Didn’t someone say here recently that all pagan means is a faith that is not Judaism, Christianity or Islam?

My understanding is that “pagan” comes from the latin “pagani”, meaning country person. Long after christianity became the official religion of most of Europe, people in the isolated countryside still kept their older religions…worship of Greco-Roman, Norse, or Celtic gods, or various mystery cults.

Eh, what always gets to me are the people who assert that Christianity and monotheism introduced patriarchy to the previously egalitarian pagans. I guess they never heard of Jupiter, or Zeus, or Thor, or the Iliad, or the Greek Plays, or the Icelandic Sagas, or the all-male druids. Whatever, dudes.

I have, at this late date, absolutely NO idea where my distinction of the terms arose.

Part of my interest in starting this thread was to see if any others were aware of the distinction.



(circa 1918 Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Paganism)

I suspect it is the ‘all religions except’ verbiage which has resulted in the distinction of pagan/heathen - heathens are what’s left over (or behind :rolleyes: ) when those of ALL religions are removed from the population.

For ‘heretic’, see:

yes, Vat II eliminated the Protestant=Heretic language, but the essential idea of a ‘heretic’ is somebody who REALLY SHOULD be Catholic, but refuses to be.

Big difference between ‘Heathen’ and ‘Heretic’

(we’ll leave out the fact that ALL needed to be converted or killed)


Unless you’re ignoring the Ebionites, the Monophysites, the Monotheletists, the Sabellians, the Nestorians, the Montanists, the Arianists, the Patripassionists…

Well, you get the idea! :wink:

If this is in reference to the thread where you take me to task for making a joke based on Elton John’s sexuality and Guinastasia to task for swearing…

My only question is the same one there?

Where in the fuck do you get off deciding what her or my moral code ought to be and then judging us for breaking it? :mad: