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• Try to take seriously your friend's belief system, just as you would for a Muslim or a Jew. Become acquainted with the various Wiccan traditions that may be popular in your local community. "But don't rely on those Christian books that claim to decode witchcraft," Wift cautions. "They are by and large condescending." Instead, ask your friend what her most important holidays are, or why she calls her group of worshipers a coven.• Emphasize some similarities between Christianity and Wicca. As Wicca is a nature-loving religion, mention a book by Christian environmentalists, such as Cherish the Gift: A Congregational Guide to Earth Stewardship by Cindy Ubben Causey and Donald Conroy, or Stan L. Lequire's The Best Preaching on Earth: Sermons on Caring for Creation.• Use inclusive language. Many people, women especially, were drawn to Wicca because they were put off or hurt by the church's use of male pronouns for God. When telling your neighborhood witch how much God loves her, say God or Jesus rather than he.• Do not imply that accepting Christ means accepting your culture. If your friend burns incense and has 19 earrings, so be it. Maybe churches would look less dour if more people sported 19 earrings.• Above all, follow the advice of Wesley United Methodist Church pastor Ken Steigler: Love them and let them know they're welcome.

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In the Magazine

October 23, 2000

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