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Freedom of Religion, or Freedom from Somebody Trying to Convert Us

St Francis quote 2Of late, there have been quite a number of rules/laws/guidelines – call it what you will – being put into effect that say “prosthelytizing” faith, as opposed to expressing it, is not to be allowed.  This has popped up in the military, particularly the Army and Air Force, and caused quite a bit of consternation.

(It’s always been the case where I’ve worked, even though most of my co-workers have been fairly religious in all sorts of different faiths.  But, no one tried to convert anyone else.  We usually just compared notes.)

It seems that the people out there who do not want to be bothered saying “no” to the cold calling evangelization that goes on – and that goes for those of us who are religious as well as those who are not – just want to be left alone.

As someone who has answered the front door on more than one Easter Sunday to a porch full of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I have some sympathy for the sentiment.  They usually come calling in the middle of dinner (and on Easter we generally have china and silver on the table), and just will not go away.  I also find various enthusiastic “holy-rollers” to be a bit overbearing, especially when their deeds don’t match the words coming out of their mouths.  That goes for people of my own brand of Christianity, too. I really don’t like it when my Church is called The Whore of Babylon to my face (especially when that creature was really Nero’s Rome).  My protestant friends don’t care for Martin Luther and John Calvin to be lumped together, depending on which of the two they admire.  And my Jewish friends really don’t want to hear much of anything about the Passion story.  We all have our own convictions and we are sticking to them.  So long as conversation can be civil and respectful, and no one tries to blow up anyone else, there really isn’t much complaining.

That there are people out there who want the idea that one should not force or push their religious convictions on other people enshrined in law, even in the military which is overwhelmingly Christian, should not be any great shock.  People comfortable in their own lives don’t particularly want that disrupted.  That every faith on the planet has provisions for evangelization and conversion should be understood by everyone, even atheists.  For many sects of Christianity, it is a part of the practice of the faith.  That there are humans on fire for their religion who do not recognize that they push disinterested parties away with their zeal, seems to be the real problem.

In other words, some individuals trying to convert other people to their persuasion don’t know when to say when.

What I am seeing on the more “conservative” sites in essays and comments is that this not so subtle request to lay off evangelizing when the subject is not interested, is a violation of our Freedom of Religion.  It’s taken as if people are not to be allowed to practice or express a faith.

My question is, how so?  Are we ladies suddenly forced to wear skinny jeans and skimpy tops that are plain and simply immodest to church?  Are Orthodox Jewish and some Evangelical women told they must uncover their heads?  Are Orthodox Jewish men told that they must remove their prayer shawls and yarmulkes?  Are we required to stay in a job where we object to immoral direction or policies of the company or a superior?  All of those parts of life are aspects of living a faith, particularly Christianity.  I’ve never been told I must remove my Crucifix OR my Rosary bracelet, let alone my Scapular.  I quit a job once partially over the overall policies violating my pro-life convictions.  I dress as an expression of religion – modestly.  None of this has been taken away.

Is it suddenly illegal to own a Bible and keep it at home?  Is saying a Rosary while out for a walk illegal?  Nowhere that I know of in this country.  Are we now required to break any one of the Ten Commandments?  More than a couple of the Ten Commandments are actually law in every state (see Thou shalt not kill and Thou shalt not steal), shopping on the Lord’s Day is optional, and it is considered bad form to dishonor one’s parents.  Although track clubs and cyclists plot their routes past all sorts of churches on Sunday mornings.  That’s just obnoxious, not illegal.

Are private business owners forbidden from hanging a Crucifix or Icon or some other religious article inside their stores or offices?  At this time, no, at least where I live.  I frequent three businesses that have a Crucifix at the cash register.  One has caught flack for it, but they did not give in and no one notices anymore.  Are homeowners told they cannot have a statue of St. Francis or Our Lady of Grace in their yards?  Not even in my very liberal neighborhood.

Are we now required to respect other people and politely accept no for an answer?  Always.  And that’s the way it should be in a place where Freedom of Religion is the law.

Perhaps that is the crux of it.  The zeal for evangelization – and it can be for environmentalism, feminism, marxism, any other ism – when forceful and relentless is a turn-off.  We might call it being a missionary or witnessing, but when the person being pursued is not open to the message, sentiment turns to anger, and resentment builds resulting in the pushback we now see.

That’s what conservatives seem to be missing.  We catch more converts both in religion and politics when we are happy in our lives and asked why, than by forcing our lifestyle on others.  It’s the fly – honey – vinegar concept.  Even Christ said to shake the dust from our sandals and move on if the message is not accepted.  Why aggravate a group already looking for a fight by vociferously demonstrating their complaints?  It serves no good purpose.

Prosthelytizing and expressing faith are not the same thing. We need to know the difference, and accept that not everyone shares our overt zeal for religion.  That does not mean we cannot live religious lives, just don’t push it on other people.  Save the fights for bigger things, like, the ObamaCare contraception mandate, which is a direct violation of Freedom of Religion that even non-religious people recognize.

The prosthelytizing argument is a losing one.  Let it go.

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14 replies

  1. I think the whole proselytizing kerfuffle was mostly them trying something and finding out it wouldn’t fly. I’d say justified, yep, we’re still paying attention. And yes, you’re right, evangelization can easily be overdone, live it, and people will want to be like you.

    Silly kids. Now we can return to the real issues, until the next time.

  2. I’ve always found it humorous (and blatantly hypocritical) how atheists evangelize their butts off – yet behave as if they’re vampires reacting to holy water whenever they hear so much as a peep about Christianity.

  3. This article is very thought-provoking. It’s very true, as you’ve said, that relentless AND forceful evangelization in spite of lack of interest is repulsive. I find it interesting that some who promote this style of proselytizing in the church are the most vociferous in opposing it from any other group. This is hypocritical in the extreme….no wonder many people want nothing to do with church folk!

    “Lifestyle evangelism” (using a life well-lived instead of words) has been promoted for decades as an acceptable substitute for verbal witness. However, as you pointed out, our life should be a means of providing opportunities to share, in response to genuine queries from interested parties, about the difference in our life.

    Excellent article! Thanks so much for writing clearly on this topic.

  4. Yeah, right…but: Kids are being forced to remove Rosaries from around their necks and to change from shirts displaying crosses in public schools. They are ‘offensive’ to some others…And as the post states, some of those complaining about missionaries among them are forever selling environmentalism, abortion, etc.
    We claim along with freedom of religion (excepting under Obamacare) also, freedom of speech. If we believe that, we may proselytize. And if I recall, that is one of the orders Christ left His flock. Which doesn’t mean acting like a repulsive TV commercial or emulating the Witnesses. But, nor does it prevent that if one wishes to do so.

    I’m not drawn to buttonholing missionaries either, but I recall the old story of the young man who went down the street propositioning every woman he met. He was asked: “Aren’t you slapped a lot?” And he answered: “Yes, but every one in a while…”
    If Paul and the Apostles hadn’t been pretty active proselytizers, would we have any churches now? But year, don’t push it to the point (counterproductive) of annoying everybody.

    • I actually have a problem with Rosaries worn as jewelry. In some countries, they are worn as a sacramental, but not this one. For some reason, it became popular to think of a Rosary just as a piece of jewelry, and it isn’t. So, believe it or not, on that score the public school officials are right in line with the American church. I bought my bracelet on a trip to Mexico, where the Rosary is a worn sacramental. It’s simple and not many people realize what it is.

      I find it interesting that “offended” individuals hide behind public school officials who probably couldn’t care less about kids wearing clothing with crosses to school. Actually, the dark, stylized crosses were more than a little disturbing, to be honest. I just wonder if they do the same with the ICHTHYS symbol, (I don’t have Greek on this keyboard, so please excuse the English spelling) which is not only older, but far more meaningful.

      Well, what they don’t know…..

  5. So you are saying there should be limits to free speech if it is bothersome to others or does free speech include the right to be bothersome to others. There are definitely non-religious free speech that is extremely bothersome to others; so why select bothersome religious free speech to limit particularly if the limit has not been in place before?

    • Free Speech, is Free as long as it is not hurting someone wrongfully. It was designed to convey Truth, Facts, and freedom to Preach Gods words. Free Speech is Free as long as your Not doing damage to someone. Saying that Slander is Free to Speak, but you endanger yourself with retaliation or Court action because it is Not Truth or Fact. Truth and Fact have Substance, and can be proven as Truth and Fact. However Belief in say a Hidden Treasure, could be Fact, but also could be false information, however until it is proven to be Fact, it is Free to say and anyone else may challenge it’s authenticity with the same degree of Speculation or assumption. Free Speech was to be allowed so Free people could speak without fear of being imprisoned for proselytizing or preaching what was contrary to the norm, without fear of being arrested for speaking something contrary to the norm.

      I wish I was an Educated man, My words would be a great deal more eloquent. If any of you can say it better, feel FREE to Speak. Educate me.

      • Sorry not too good at educating, just thinking that if limits begin to be placed on free speech because it is offensive, disturbing or irritating to someone then it will be easier to make more stringent limits to free speech thus making speech not free as is being done with talking about homosexuals or other areas protected by political correctness. The being offended view is a favorite one of the Muslims yet they make speeches that are offensive to me. It is similar to the argument that after birth infanticide is ethical because it is ethical to kill unborn children. Using the same argument that makes abortion ethical will be used to make after birth infanticide ethical which in turn will open the door to killing humans for costing too much to keep alive. It is the wedge to be used to open the door to killing anyone the authorities decided should be killed.

      • I see your point, and I’m sorry to say, that is the point of what the Super Rich 1% are trying to do. I don’t know how much of the Bible you know, and I’m not trying to Preach, however I need to useit as a reference at this point.

        Without hunting the exact verse down, I will paraphrase. The Bible End Times, are spoken of as most of the world population being killed off. The Super Rich are Trying to do just that. They are attempting to usher in their One World Government, and they need to make everything Illegal, so they have a reason to come to your and my home and kill us. Look up “The Georgia Guide Stones” and read it. These Granet stones hold the Key to the Super Riches Global Goals.

        Currently there is a little over 7 Billion people on this planet, and the Elite want to cut that down to 500 million. So they are pulling out All the Stops, to make that happen. Every Human they can get killed is one less they have to worry about. And we are all Expendable to them. Even those Fools in DC are Expendable, but will be kept around till last, when they too will be killed off.

        We are living in the Last Days, and the Next Big War, will see Nukes used against a few countries, and you can expect a Nuclear Winter as spoken of in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, and where the Lord Parts the clouds to collect the Elect, the Dead in Christ First, and those that are alive and remain, will be changed in the Twinkling of an eye, and we will meet him in the air to return and take Judgement on this world with him.

        Soon, it won’t make a lot of difference if you die fighting for your freedom, or some other way, because there will only be a few hundred thousand Believers saved alive.

        We are living in a time that many of the Old Testament Prophets wanted to be alive to see all this happen. Sit back, tell everyone you know, and enjoy the ride.

      • I wasn’t really planning on getting into the conspiracy with this post, regardless of how things seem to be playing out.

        I don’t think free speech is exactly the right argument here. More like the Golden Rule which is in the Gospels.

        There’s also the matter of invading space, which seems to be part of it.

        All of us are offended by SOMEthing or SOMEone. And it is our responsibility to say something when another party has stepped over the line. The problem comes in when that party will not take no for an answer.

      • Your completely right. Sorry about the political stuff

      • Please allow me to conclude. Many people who do not know what I have learned over 30 years through a great deal of research, that the Super Rich ARE Running everything, and they also control Everything that happens in the US Government. Oliver North talked about them when he spoke of the Shadow Government. So yes it is a Conspiracy of sorts, a well hidden one that is about to make everyones lives a living Hell.

        I know many people don’t want to believe that OUR Government would do such a thing, but they are deceiving themselves. I suggest that everyone reading this make time to learn the Truth of what is happening while you still can.

        If you feel this to be Rude or out of place, you won’t hurt my feelings if you delete this post, but I offer a bunch of my own research for others to study if they like. I’m not much of a writer, so please don’t diss me for errors in spelling. But if you find an error in content, please feel free to show me Proof, and I will learn from it.

        I have a WordPress site where I have Posted the Federal Reserve Act, and there is a lot more there as well that covers a great deal of the ” Conspiracy stuff” in detail. http://fracontract.wordpress.com/

        Look for TEXT of Federal Reserve Act and read it for yourself.

        Thanks for allowing me to speak. Honestly

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