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Frank Merton

Explaining v preaching v prostlyzing

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What is the difference between explaining one's religion and preaching it? When does it become proselytizing and when does that become trying to "shove one's religion down someone's throat?"

At what age should children be taught religion and is it fair to a child for the parents to insist the child go to their church?

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In my opinion......

Explaining.........."My personal beliefs are........."

Proselytizing......"You really ought to give it a try......."

Throat shoving.."You're going to burn in eternal hellfire if you don't fall on your knees and worship my loving, merciful God!"

Children should be made aware of religion at an age appropriate to the child's ability to comprehend, and accompany their family to religious services if that's a normal part of family life, but they should not forcibly be made to adhere to any religion at any age.

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I suppose 'explaining' means putting your emotions to one side and just giving the 'bare bones' .... the facts as you understand them.

As for 'shoving your religion down another's throat', that's a tricky one because so much depends on how the recipient views what you've told them. If you bang on about your religion regardless of what the topic of conversation is, then that would be regarded as 'shoving', I'm sure. I think the main difficulty is that, for the ones who have no religion, it's very difficult to talk to someone who is always coming from the standpoint of 'faith'. 'Faith' translates as 'based on a lie/fantasy' to many people and if you don't share the lie/fantasy it's as bad as talking to someone who's drunk! There's no common ground to work from.

Children should never be taught religion, and no, they should not be made to attend the parent's church.

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At what age should children be taught religion and is it fair to a child for the parents to insist the child go to their church?

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Throat shoving.."You're going to burn in eternal hellfire if you don't fall on your knees and worship my loving, merciful God!"

Just ran into one of them about a week ago. He was standing outside the Landmark Theater in Syracuse, NY with his sign and megaphone. There was a large group of people pouring into the Landmark (Blueman Group was performing).

The throat shover started ranting about how what a huge sin it is to have sex before marriage. I looked him dead in the eye and proclaimed quite loudly "Heeey, I've done that many times and I'm still here and doing okay!"

Everyone around me laughed which set this guy off on a rampage. He started comparing me to a dog and saying something that I'm no better than an animal.

I looked him dead in the eye again and said, "No, I'm a bit better than my dog, I haven't tried humping the cat yet anyway."

The laughter from the crowd of people was tremendous. The look on his face was priceless.

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What is the difference between explaining one's religion and preaching it? When does it become proselytizing and when does that become trying to "shove one's religion down someone's throat?"

At what age should children be taught religion and is it fair to a child for the parents to insist the child go to their church?

The difference is simple actually. Explanations and debate are rooted in a give and take, where both are in essence teaching and learning, even if that takes the form of intense disagreement.

Preaching, is speaking regardless of who is actually listening, in other words an imposotion of ideas from without. This can be done with or without your consent. If one consents, one learns what the other person thinks but can give no input... without your consent, is easily handled... walk away.

Proselytizing, means that you are willing to entertain the ideas that someone is "preaching" to you.

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Proselytizing, means that you are willing to entertain the ideas that someone is "preaching" to you.

proselytize

1

: to induce someone to convert to one's faith

2

: to "]recruit someone to join one's party, institution, or cause

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/proselytize

The way I see it is when you are speaking to a large audience then you are preaching. When you come to my door and try to convince me your way is the only way you are proselytizing. I am just the victim. My point of view or how I feel about it has nothing to do with what is being proselytized by you.

Pagans for the most part don't proselytize. If people come and ask us about our religion we will be happy to tell you all about. If you want to join us, most groups make you think about it for an year and a day.

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The way I see it is when you are speaking to a large audience then you are preaching. When you come to my door and try to convince me your way is the only way you are proselytizing. I am just the victim. My point of view or how I feel about it has nothing to do with what is being proselytized by you.

Pagans for the most part don't proselytize. If people come and ask us about our religion we will be happy to tell you all about. If you want to join us, most groups make you think about it for an year and a day.

My opinion differs from yours in that I don't consider you to be a victim of any kind. Victims have no choice, in regards to hearing others on religious views you at this moment in time in this society always have a choice, it has not been taken from you. You can refuse to hear those people, you can refuse to allow them into your home and you can always walk away when you have no interest in what they have to say.

I consider preaching and what you call proselytizing in the same way I consider commercials on TV. If it doesn't interest you, change the channel, no one is forcing you to watch the commercial., The remote is right by your hand I wager. In the same way, no one forces you to hear what others have to say regarding their religion. In ages past, news and commercials were proclaimed by Heralds and and Town Criers, nothing has changed over the centuries. Except now people tend to become irritated when they sense their "liberties" being impinged upon. The problem is in that very concept.

People tend to forget that my liberty ends where yours begins, but yours ends where mine begins...

Contrary to public assumptions all religions preach and all religions proselytize, no matter what they call themselves, if they didn't they would fade away after the 1st generation died. They simply choose methods that are original and creative when doing so. Historically, proselytizing is the most effective method ALL religions had of ensuring their religion lived on after they died away.

People may feel like they are being intruded upon when they hear preaching or evangelizing at their front door or in the street, but as I said, if you can handle commercials, you can handle that as well. If not there is ALWAYS a choice left to you.

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There are some who preach their religion in order to share the good things of the religion with others.

There are some who preach their religion in order to exert control over people.

I'm not going to try to quantify those.

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My opinion differs from yours in that I don't consider you to be a victim of any kind. Victims have no choice, in regards to hearing others on religious views you at this moment in time in this society always have a choice, it has not been taken from you. You can refuse to hear those people, you can refuse to allow them into your home and you can always walk away when you have no interest in what they have to say.

I consider preaching and what you call proselytizing in the same way I consider commercials on TV. If it doesn't interest you, change the channel, no one is forcing you to watch the commercial., The remote is right by your hand I wager. In the same way, no one forces you to hear what others have to say regarding their religion. In ages past, news and commercials were proclaimed by Heralds and and Town Criers, nothing has changed over the centuries. Except now people tend to become irritated when they sense their "liberties" being impinged upon. The problem is in that very concept.

People tend to forget that my liberty ends where yours begins, but yours ends where mine begins...

Contrary to public assumptions all religions preach and all religions proselytize, no matter what they call themselves, if they didn't they would fade away after the 1st generation died. They simply choose methods that are original and creative when doing so. Historically, proselytizing is the most effective method ALL religions had of ensuring their religion lived on after they died away.

People may feel like they are being intruded upon when they hear preaching or evangelizing at their front door or in the street, but as I said, if you can handle commercials, you can handle that as well. If not there is ALWAYS a choice left to you.

The only religions that die after the 1st generation are the ones who force everyone to be celibate. Pagans don't proselytize, we have no need, people come to us. You will never find a Pagan at your door at full moon asking if you have found Cernunno as your horned lord and savior. We are growing just fine as a religion we have no need to bother people with it.

When y'all come to my door you're not telling me anything I don't already know. Christianity is all over the place and touted as the only true religion. There is no need for y'all to be on my porch waking me up from my nap after a long night of frolicking under the full moon. The TV stations provide a service, commercials pay for it. The Baptist proselytizing on my porch are just being annoying and wasting my time and theirs.

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Contrary to public assumptions all religions preach and all religions proselytize, no matter what they call themselves, if they didn't they would fade away after the 1st generation died.

Euclidean geometry neither preaches nor proselytizes, and it has been around longer than most of the world religions, except possibly Buddhism, which also neither preaches nor proselytizes.

Geometry and Buddhism have something in common, which is an invitation to potential believers that they should determine for themselves whether the teachings of the discipline are true and useful. In both cases, we're into our third millennium of people trying it out and finding it so.

So, it is simply not the case that evangelization is required for survival. Since Jor-el brought up commercials, ...

I would like to counterpropose. It seems to me that Christian preaching and proselytizing are not primarily directed at bringing never-Christians into the churches for the first time. That is a specialized activity, often called "missionary work." No Westerner would see much of that, unless they traveled to mission territory, which these days would be very isolated places indeed.

No, most of the recruiting messages appear to be directed at people who are already familiar with the contents of Christianity, and to some extent, with the varieties available. The main object of the activity is to recruit people into one brand of Jesus-worship rather than another.

The object is, then, like MacDonald's goal. No doubt, their ads do persuade some people that eating meat is a good idea, or remind people who are already familiar with meat that it's been a while since they chowed down on a dead cow. But mostly, the point of the ads is to persuade economy-minded carnivores to fill up under the Golden Arches, rather than at Wendy's.

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I don't know that it can properly be said that Buddhists don't proselytize. You have to pay to get them to teach you Buddhism, so they don't seem all that eager, but there are plenty of books available (but come to think of it you have to buy them -- they don't give them away).

I might say that Buddhists perpetuate themselves the way most religions do -- by having babies, except there is no teaching in a Temple, just some chants and rituals. Nor do the parents teach their children, except that they go to Temple (some of them do at least). The plain fact is most Buddhists know damn little about Buddhism except a few fables and myths, and if you ask one a deeper question he will tell you to ask a monk (who will freely answer a few questions and then suggest a donation).

(By the way, lest the wrong impression be left, the monasteries are entirely mendicant and extra money goes into charitable stuff). I have found one good way to get my Buddhist questions answered -- volunteer to hold English classes. The trouble I find is when I do that and the young monks are explaining to me in English, that they each have a different idea on what the Buddha actually taught, or at least it comes across that way.

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What is the difference between explaining one's religion and preaching it? When does it become proselytizing and when does that become trying to "shove one's religion down someone's throat?"

At what age should children be taught religion and is it fair to a child for the parents to insist the child go to their church?

Since these questions have already been answered I'll submit some corollaries.

If you take your kids to church, is that preaching to your kids? If a parent or poster shoves his irreligion down someone's throat, should that be anymore tolerated?

"There is no Santa Claus. There is no Easter Bunny. There is no Tooth Fairy and there is no God. Death is permanent, college too expensive, and all you've got is the rest of this stinking life that I brought you into. Now before you resume your belief-bereft life mainly spent staring into a 4.2" pixelated screen, eat the rest of your Ramen and don't talk back to me, boy."

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Frank

I don't know that it can properly be said that Buddhists don't proselytize. You have to pay to get them to teach you Buddhism, so they don't seem all that eager, but there are plenty of books available (but come to think of it you have to buy them -- they don't give them away).

But we're discussing the English language, as your topic title suggests (What are the distinctions among three thematically related English words?), rather than trying to define Buddhism.

In English, few native speakers would describe the mechanism of intergenerational transmission of the contents of Euclid's Elements as proselytizing. Teachers of geometry are indeed paid, and there are plenty of geometry books available. Nowadays you can get many of them free on the web, but if you want hardopy, or something protected by copyright, then you pay.

The claim I was examining, to reject it, was that proselytizing in any usual sense was somehow essential to survival of a thought-packet beyond a human lifetime. It isn't, and Buddhism is more like geometry than a Christian evangelical sect in how it gets its message through time and space.

I might say that Buddhists perpetuate themselves the way most religions do -- by having babies,

Geometers have babies, too. There's nothing peculiar to religion about that.

The trouble I find is when I do that and the young monks are explaining to me in English, that they each have a different idea on what the Buddha actually taught, or at least it comes across that way.

Then again, Buddhism isn't a creedal religion, so there would be no reason to expect a gathering of experts to agree in all particulars. There are many ideas about how best to express and teach Euclidean geometry, too. Although the two-fold path (compass and unmarked straight-edge) is fairly robust, even the number, to say nothing of the precise statement, of the many noble truths (the axioms and definitions) can be varied as the instructor thinks best.

And of course there are mystical branches of geometry, too, where parallel lines intersect in eternity, or specialized spiritual disciples where only shape and its continuous deformations have any reality. A coffee cup and the doughnut beside it are "the same." But that's for adepts.

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Does it really matter your either preaching complete nonsense or explaining complete nonsense.... really all you have to go by is an old book re-written over 2000 years in which most of that time they thought thunder was god farting.

Edited by Silver Surfer

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really all you have to go by is an old book re-written over 2000 years in which most of that time they thought thunder was god farting.

Source?

Or were just preaching?

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What is the difference between explaining one's religion and preaching it? When does it become proselytizing and when does that become trying to "shove one's religion down someone's throat?"

At what age should children be taught religion and is it fair to a child for the parents to insist the child go to their church?

There are rtwo separate issues here. I am not going to argue the first. I have been forcefully putting my own views on UM for nearly 10 years and no one has ever accused me of preaching or proselytising. And that is not my intent. It is not my job to "convert " others or preach to them, only to provide information. Each adult must find their own way in life and their own relationship with god.

The second issue is different. Parents have a right and a duty to teach everything to their children. How to speak, spell, write, do maths; how to think, what ethics and moralities are good and which are bad. So every parent should teach their child, from birth through stories playing with them involving them in household or work activities, talking to them etc, what has worked for them and what has not.

it is as important to teach a child helpful and constructive spiritual truths, as it is how to cook safely and successfully, or how to play safely and have fun, or how to design and build something, or how to play with other children successfully.

Teaching a child spiritual dimensions and spiritual thinking, is as critical as teaching them how to think logically, and how to use their imagination for internal and external creative purposes.

A theist should teach their child to be a theist, because after all as an adult it worked for them. An atheist should teach their child to be an atheist for the same reason.

But there are many more important and basic ethics, knolwedge, teachings, understandings and moralities, than just religion. Children must not just learn codes of behaviour but internalise certainn values and understand why those values are productive and creative. They mus tbe taught that self is not as important as society tht they are not the most important person in the world, and that happiness does not come from material possessions. (you can disagree and teach a child that self is more important than society or that happiness comes from material possesions as long as this works and is true for yourself and for your child.)

children can be taught to read by age 2 and to think in logical fashion by age 3 or 4 They recognise the necessary elements of human thought by about age 4 and should be aware of their stream of consciousness and thought patterns by the same age. But the more, and early, you teach a child, the more it will learn, A young child can learn several languages several musical instruments how to paint and write poetry and lots of other things before school age simply by being taught them in a fun but structured way.

A young child (pre school age)ca n be taught the elements of logical thinking, of basic philosophy and how to debate issues in their mind using different points of view. they can be taught to see anothers point of view, how to develop sympathy and empathy They can be taught different forms of justice including retributive and restorative. most important they can be taught hw to recognise and exercise internal or self discipline. We had a 2 year old visit the other day who did not touch a single object in our house, despite being fascinated by many of them, because he had been taught not to do so without asking first. He couldn't talk properly yet, but he could understand the requirement, and exercise the self control necessary to do this. I spent a couple of hours talking to him, teaching him some simple games, and playing with some of the objects he wanted to touch. We both had incredible fun and learned a lot.

Edited by Mr Walker

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I've found that when I tell the proselytizer/preacher that I'm a witch the conversation ends immediately, usually with the person backing away from me with a terrified look making the sign of the cross. It's highly entertaining. And if you say that to the Jehovah Witnesses who knock on your door, you'll be crossed off their list. We can't change the behaviors & beliefs of others, but we can always change ours.

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I think explaining is answering questions, preaching is exhortation. They are both good things for religious people to do so long as it is done moderately and in its proper time and place.

Proselytizing is when one does one of the above without at least an implied invitation to do so. The shoving part starts when the attempt to proselytize is not welcomed.

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Three observations:

  • For a certain group of Christians, "proselytize" has a negative connotation: trying to lure Christians from another church to one's own church.

  • Evangelism, the process of trying to bring new Christians into a church, is a response to a Biblical injunction: "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. Matthew 28:18-20

  • The "shoving-down-your-throat" method is abhorrent to some Christians. Those who practice such are usually people who are highly drive by success, competitive and lack basic empathy with other humans.

Edited by J. K.

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Jehovah's Witnesses form a dear place in my heart. Way back at the beginning of time when I thought I was going to be able to finish school in America, a couple of them found me and offered a Bible Study. Well I was curious about American culture, so I figured I'd like to know something about the Bible.

We really didn't get very far. I just would not accept quotation of a passage from the Bible as the final word on something, especially when it was illogical and unscientific and unhistorical, and I could not get my mind around their idea of a judgmental God planning to wipe everyone on Earth except Jehovah's Witnesses off the planet -- realize that would include my entire people. Just didn't seem fair, and fairness didn't seem to bother them.

I did however read several of their books. They are a denialist sort-of group -- that is, if the majority of Christians seem to teach something, they teach the opposite, and they do it with Bible verse after Bible verse after Bible verse. I did learn that what Christians teach and what is in their Bible are sometimes very hard to reconcile.

The ability to quote Bible verses that contradict basic things like the Trinity, Mariolotry, Christmas, church Hierarchy, Hell, priestly celibacy, Mary's virginity, the Cross, and on and on has very much surprised a few Roman Catholics here in Vietnam. "Where did you learn such stuff!!" Of course I have long since forgotten most of this, although I dare say with the internet it wouldn't be hard to find it again.

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I did learn that what Christians teach and what is in their Bible are sometimes very hard to reconcile.

In fairness, if you work from a JW perspective, then you need to know, and take into account, that they have their own translation of the Bible, the "New World" version. This increases the distance between what other Christians teach and what's in the JW Bible.

Generally speaking, there is good agreement among Nicene Christians (the "others" from a JW viewpoint, and the kind of Christian of whom there are billions in the world) about the New Testament. The disagreements center on the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament.

Most Nicene Christians follow an Old Testament with a few more books than modern Jews do. The Protestant minority tends to follow the Jewish canon, although some of them give the Christian majority's "extra" books some status (as the "Apocrypha" found in Anglican Bibles). There are some glaring differences in translations of the Old Tesatment, between Christians and Jews and among Christians. (So, you can see where the JW's maybe got the idea of tweaking the translation for doctrinal advantage.)

The majority of Christians belong to churches who base their doctrines on something more than the canonical Bible, especially adding the writings of early church members. I was also caught short the other day to be forced to realize that some "Tradition" literature is frankly apocryphal, like Acts of Peter, which is nevertheless the written source for Peter ever being in Rome.

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There are rtwo separate issues here. I am not going to argue the first. I have been forcefully putting my own views on UM for nearly 10 years and no one has ever accused me of preaching or proselytising. And that is not my intent. It is not my job to "convert " others or preach to them, only to provide information. Each adult must find their own way in life and their own relationship with god.

The second issue is different. Parents have a right and a duty to teach everything to their children. How to speak, spell, write, do maths; how to think, what ethics and moralities are good and which are bad. So every parent should teach their child, from birth through stories playing with them involving them in household or work activities, talking to them etc, what has worked for them and what has not.

it is as important to teach a child helpful and constructive spiritual truths, as it is how to cook safely and successfully, or how to play safely and have fun, or how to design and build something, or how to play with other children successfully.

Teaching a child spiritual dimensions and spiritual thinking, is as critical as teaching them how to think logically, and how to use their imagination for internal and external creative purposes.

A theist should teach their child to be a theist, because after all as an adult it worked for them. An atheist should teach their child to be an atheist for the same reason.

But there are many more important and basic ethics, knolwedge, teachings, understandings and moralities, than just religion. Children must not just learn codes of behaviour but internalise certainn values and understand why those values are productive and creative. They mus tbe taught that self is not as important as society tht they are not the most important person in the world, and that happiness does not come from material possessions. (you can disagree and teach a child that self is more important than society or that happiness comes from material possesions as long as this works and is true for yourself and for your child.)

children can be taught to read by age 2 and to think in logical fashion by age 3 or 4 They recognise the necessary elements of human thought by about age 4 and should be aware of their stream of consciousness and thought patterns by the same age. But the more, and early, you teach a child, the more it will learn, A young child can learn several languages several musical instruments how to paint and write poetry and lots of other things before school age simply by being taught them in a fun but structured way.

A young child (pre school age)ca n be taught the elements of logical thinking, of basic philosophy and how to debate issues in their mind using different points of view. they can be taught to see anothers point of view, how to develop sympathy and empathy They can be taught different forms of justice including retributive and restorative. most important they can be taught hw to recognise and exercise internal or self discipline. We had a 2 year old visit the other day who did not touch a single object in our house, despite being fascinated by many of them, because he had been taught not to do so without asking first. He couldn't talk properly yet, but he could understand the requirement, and exercise the self control necessary to do this. I spent a couple of hours talking to him, teaching him some simple games, and playing with some of the objects he wanted to touch. We both had incredible fun and learned a lot.

MW, as a parent I teach my kids to think for themselves(of course this is a long process of maturity.) It never means I do not parent or teach the things that will aid them and society in being productive contributing members. There are a few major points in development, that as a parent, I encourage one is individuality. It is in this that my kids have a strong sense of self and can establish boundaries and have a good sense/grasp of realtiy.

I think if a parent wants to filter things through religion and is informed/evolved/fair and has a growth mindset themselves, this can serve as a good model for the child. I know people as this and I know people who do not put much thought into why they are teaching anything; regardless, of what it is. I do not think just because someone is a parent this automatically makes them an authority on all matters as your quote suggests to me," Parents have a right and a duty to teach everything to their children."

I think I would say a parent has the obligation to make sure that they themselves are up to par and informed/growth minded and take the steps needed to do so for the sake of the child and society. I think encouraging curiousity, topicality, and an interest in many things can lead to more options for growth as opposed to just teaching ideas because they serve to affirm ones beleifs. In the big picture it is curiousity that drives one to seek new solutions to old ways of doing things. And well meaning parents can literally limit their childs options by how they teach them things.

If a parent themselves doesn't question, doesn't challenge ideas, isn't curious about other positons and outlooks nor cultivates sympathy to other doctrines how would they go about teaching this? I do not agree with parenting that seeks to teach by limiting a child to certain commitments or conclusions.(I would use great care in this area.)

Edited by Sherapy
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The only religions that die after the 1st generation are the ones who force everyone to be celibate. Pagans don't proselytize, we have no need, people come to us. You will never find a Pagan at your door at full moon asking if you have found Cernunno as your horned lord and savior. We are growing just fine as a religion we have no need to bother people with it.

When y'all come to my door you're not telling me anything I don't already know. Christianity is all over the place and touted as the only true religion. There is no need for y'all to be on my porch waking me up from my nap after a long night of frolicking under the full moon. The TV stations provide a service, commercials pay for it. The Baptist proselytizing on my porch are just being annoying and wasting my time and theirs.

Pagans do proselytize... They just use different methods in doing so, instead of the 'ol door to door.

When I buy a book explaining pagan worship in one form or another or hear an interview, or come across a newspaper article, I 'm coming into contact with their ideas, their opinions, their beliefs, the fact that I do so willingly does not make it any less an act of proselytizing.

A religion that does not proselytize is a religion that will die, irrespective of the number of babies they may produce over a generation.

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Euclidean geometry neither preaches nor proselytizes, and it has been around longer than most of the world religions, except possibly Buddhism, which also neither preaches nor proselytizes.

Geometry and Buddhism have something in common, which is an invitation to potential believers that they should determine for themselves whether the teachings of the discipline are true and useful. In both cases, we're into our third millennium of people trying it out and finding it so.

Not to be a hard case or anything, but Euclidean geometry is not a religion, nor was it ever brought forth as one by the gentleman himself.

Buddhism does proselytize, if it didn't it wouldn't have a problem co-existing with Hinduism. The very fact that it does, demonstrates that it is not pacifist except as a window dressing to attract people, which immediately demonstrates the most important feauture of a proselytizing religion.

One does not need to preach in the streets or go door to door to proselytize. The fact that it admits new believers into its midst and encourages people in doing so says it all.

So, it is simply not the case that evangelization is required for survival. Since Jor-el brought up commercials, ...

I would like to counterpropose. It seems to me that Christian preaching and proselytizing are not primarily directed at bringing never-Christians into the churches for the first time. That is a specialized activity, often called "missionary work." No Westerner would see much of that, unless they traveled to mission territory, which these days would be very isolated places indeed.

No, most of the recruiting messages appear to be directed at people who are already familiar with the contents of Christianity, and to some extent, with the varieties available. The main object of the activity is to recruit people into one brand of Jesus-worship rather than another.

The object is, then, like MacDonald's goal. No doubt, their ads do persuade some people that eating meat is a good idea, or remind people who are already familiar with meat that it's been a while since they chowed down on a dead cow. But mostly, the point of the ads is to persuade economy-minded carnivores to fill up under the Golden Arches, rather than at Wendy's.

I agree with the above for the most part, but I do disagree in one aspect, mission territory are not isolated places as you propose, most of the Asian continent as well as much of the African continent does not know or has never heard of Jesus Christ.

They may know about christianity in a vague way, but they have never heard the message of Christ. That said, the same can be said for many places in the USA or Britain, or even Portugal for that matter.

Edited by Jor-el

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