Paganism is a term that is used to refer to a broad set of practices and beliefs outside the Abrahamic monotheistic religions, particularly Christianity. The range of practices ascribed as paganism includes religions from antiquity on to today’s neopaganism. A practitioner of paganism is referred to as a pagan.
The word pagan has its origins in the Latin word paganus meaning country dweller, which referred to people living in the countryside as compared to living in towns. The early growth of Christianity was in populated areas, whereas the beliefs of the country people, paganus, remained that of the old, polytheistic, religions. This structural difference led the term for the country resident to be applied to the religions of people that covered a broad set of spiritual, cultic, folk religion, and polytheistic practices. Orthodox Christianity generally ascribed the term paganism to religions other than Christianity. In recent years the term pagan has been adopted by adherents of Neopaganism.
- w:Paganism Wikipedia: Paganism
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Paganism
- Meaning of Paganism and Pagan