Herbart Armstrong and all of the men "trained at his feet" love to toss around the word "pagan" whenever they seek to deride and mock others outside their small circle of belief. Pagan was a word that was used as a weapon to alienate and to strike fear into members lives. If a member even remotely liked something considered "pagan" then their salvation was at risk.
On an exCOG member forum on Facebook, the following comment was made in regards to "paganism."
Just what do you mean “pagan”? 😀I don’t mean to trigger anyone by borrowing HWA’s default booklet title, Just What Do You Mean ... ?, but I thought I’d bring up the term “pagan.” While HWA said that his followers had to “unlearn” all they learned outside his cult, each of us here has learnt the hard way, and we’re struggling in common challenging ways, that we have to “unlearn” all the crap HWA and his cult put on or in us.
I’m going to suggest that one of those things to unlearn is how some of us consider the word pagan. Remember that HWA was untrained as a historian or anthropolologist and he was quite simplistic when it came to the term “pagan.” To him, “pagan” was (and is) the equivalent of a monolithic and organized devil worship system that somehow existed almost everywhere. If HWA was in charge of Rome in the first hundreds of years AD, and if he stuck to the crap he wrote, he would have torn down all those beautiful and historic buildings, statues, etc., which is the kind of thing the Taliban and ISIS do today to historic other-religion artifacts in areas they control.
Just as you know he was so wrong about other things, might I suggest that he was so wrong on how he painted paganism? Paganism is not a monolithic system. Whether you are religious or not, how people in history came up with their religious views (how they are common, borrowed and unique) is a fascinating human story.
In short, whether you celebrate Christmas for religious and cultural reasons, don’t let HWA’s misguided view of paganism hold you back. If you are a bit stuck on the word “pagan,” remember that almost everything borrows from previous religions (or on “paganism” if you use that term), everything including Thanksgiving (a fact that HWA was deliberate to overlook).