Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just say no to proselytizing!!

Proselytizing is defined as; "To induce someone to convert from one belief, doctrine, cause, or faith to another."

Lets look at the verb in this definition, it is the basis of what drives proselytizing. Induce means "to lead or move by persuasion or influence, as to some action or state of mind."

Now if you want someone to believe in, cherish, obey, love, and generally give their life to someone would you expect that coercing someone to convert by means of persuasion is the best way to go?! Before I get too far into this I want to lead with the statement that I am not against religion. I believe fully that everyone has the right to believe in and worship whatever entity they so choose. I know that organized religious practices and beliefs help many people out and give them something to hold on to and a purpose in life. I think that this is great and should be a basic human right to pursue if so desired. (Ok, that is my preface)

But (you knew it was coming!), I do not believe that anyone has the right to push their belief on others!! Ever! Just because you are amazed by the wonderful things that your religion has bestowed on you, does not mean that everyone needs to follow that belief in order to lead a happy and fulfilled life! I view the act of proselytizing as an ignorant display of egocentricism with a front of fake altruism. It is absurd to assume that your views are the only ones that should be acceptable and the only path to righteousness! Whatever happened to equality?

Why am I posting this? I have been literally stalked by a certain religious group that goes door to door and doesn't take "I am busy" or "I am not interested" as a good enough reason to turn around and ride their bikes away. And no, I am not exaggerating with the stalking comment; they came by at least 3 times a week for a good month! Near the end they would park their bikes behind the house to hide and even tracked me down in the mall one time! How can anyone believe that getting someone into their religion in this manner could be beneficial to any party involved?! I have also witnessed the direct display of proselytizing in the prison system through my internship. There are certain religions who hound offenders to "find the light" or "right their wrongs through verse" while others simply provide an outstretched hand. This says, "I am available if you decide to talk" and guess which method attracts the offenders who really want religious help through their life change? I think that it is a terrible mistake to undermine the power of an outstretched hand. It is much more effective to be available to those who want to listen than to waste time speaking to a distracted and disgruntled audience.

Anyways, this topic has come up for me a lot in the last few years of my life and it always leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth and a very uncomfortable feeling. I am open to any thoughts on the topic though (just no stalking on bikes!) so...thoughts?


Anonymous said...

In short, I absolutely love this post. I have always agreed that actively shoving your veiws on someone is one step above criminal, especially if it involves small children.
If one wants to get their opinion out there, then fine, post about it or talk about it civilly with others, but don't shove it down someone's wind pipe.
However one must remember that influence and persuation saturate the social atmosphere. What is any essay out there but a persuation of sorts, an argurment? Any convorsation or mild statement? All will in some way reveal something potentially influential. The line must be drawn between legal exorcise of one's freedom of speach, and harmfull overload of personal opinion forced upon the unsuspecting public.
thankyou for a great post

crystal said...

Yeah, I thought about that but havent been able to work through my stance on it yet. Although I would love to say my views are just applied to religion, I know that is unfair and an ignoranct stance to take. I do think it is wrong in any arena to push your viewpoint on someone but that leaves a fuzzy line for acceptability. Sharing beliefs is ok and necssary for an informed society, but coercing someone into those beliefs is just too far. Im not saying it is a clear cut distinction, but an interesting discussion! Thanks for the thoughts :)

bumblebeesies said...

i could not agree with you more! i remember when we first came to the US and these jehovahs witnesses came with all these pamphlets and everything to convert us into christianity or whatever. It was so weird and they had this smug, patronizing look on their faces. And you are right it is very ignorant on their part and shows a complete absence of respect to the other party concerned. thanks for that entry. :)