Proselytizing ... - Mothering Forums
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Spirituality > Proselytizing ...
merpk's Avatar merpk 06:12 AM 08-20-2002
Well, there have been a few threads touching on this, and I'd misplaced a previous attempt at this thread, so here's another shot at it:

My life is constantly effected by prosletyzers. My neighborhood is a magnet for them, and my people (Jews) are a target for them.
At the least I find them just litterers, as their tracts end up all over the ground. At worst I find them to be harassing, as they walk after my family down the street and beg my children to love Jesus.

Now, this is not to discount the good that comes from turning around the lives of people who are royally messed up and for whom religion is a lifesaver. Much kindness comes from mission work, although perhaps the subject of missionaries going to convert other cultures is a whole 'nother thread.

Anyway, my religion's view, Judaism frowns on proselytizing. While sincere converts are welcome and completely accepted (within Orthodoxy, anyway), purposely going out to attract converts is not the Jewish way. As a matter of fact, potential converts are traditionally turned away three times. And the conversion process is really ... not simple, is the only way I can say it.

How exactly do you feel about being approached by others who try to convert you away from your beliefs? Or the other way around, even, those of you for whom proselytizing is part of your faith, how do you reconcile the fact that it can be offensive to those you approach, or at least deemed intolerant?

Rereading that sounds more negative than I mean it to. Hopefully all you ladies know I mean no offense ... because I really, honestly don't ...

- Amy

3boys4us's Avatar 3boys4us 10:59 AM 08-20-2002
Well I am against prosletyzers and proseltyzing in general. I find it to be unbeleivably presumptious - that perhaps I am not fulfilled spiritually. That it is usually strangers who make this presumption is worse. I also find it intolerant and disrespectful. I beleive it leads to loss of culture and native beliefs. I also in some way find it racist, as most missionaries are white christians.

OTH I am unbeleivably polite when approached and say no thanks. But inside I'm usually seething.
Bekka's Avatar Bekka 03:32 PM 08-20-2002
It's interesting to me. I have not thought intensively about being on "the other side" of proselyting, b/c it is par for the course in my church--proselyting, I mean. I am Mormon--Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most people have run into Mormon missionaries at some time.

I have had tracts from other faiths left in my door, but I have NEVER had missionaries from another church come to my home ever. I have always thought that I would give them one hour of my time if I had it at the time to give, because our missionaries ask for people's time in the same way, but I would have no compunction to explain when I couldn't invite them in, and if it became repetitive, I might even have to use strong words.

Part of our beliefs are to share our gospel with everyone. It is a basic tenet of our gospel, and so that drives the large numbers of missionaries, as well as their hard work and persistence I know that can be perceived as offensive, but it is actually a very open policy--we want to share with everyone. Our missionaries don't target groups of people or anything. I think it's easy enough just to say no thanks. Perhaps I'm missing something. But I actually really relish interactions with those of other beliefs and learning about why and what they believe.

I just wanted to say to 3boys4us: there are many non-white LDS missionaries, but if they are from another country, they're often called to their own country or at least region, because they already have the language.
1jooj's Avatar 1jooj 04:13 PM 08-20-2002
A lot of what I think has been said, and very well said, by 3boys, with the exception that I cannot say I am personally "against" it.

What I think has not been done, and what needs to be done, is a little education/training in the areas of tolerance and sensitivity on the part of the proselytizer. Now, it can be argued that the potential convertee is often the less polite; true, perhaps, but they are LED into the discourse, while the missionary chooses with whom she speaks, and initiates the subject. For this reason, missionary types need to have a better grasp on when to quit with an individual--"no, thanks" should ALWAYS suffice. Period.

There are obvious places where people looking to share their particular good news can find those willing to listen, and there are usually signs that a person is looking to engage. There are also ways to show the good of your faith--listening to people who need to talk, feeding, clothing, sheltering, providing free tutoring/med. care...but I think these must be given freely. If the receiver "needs" scripture, he will ask for it. There are Franciscans in Morocco who do this beautifully. Granted, they have not converted many (if any) souls to my knowledge, but the community loves their presence.

The other thing is the arrogance we have when we think our way is the only way, like we know all the answers on the test...please. The ONLY direction a conversation in that key can go is down.

I say this as a person who converted. A lot of what led me into my faith was the fact that I was warmly welcomed, but never felt forced into anything. Someone was always willing to answer my questions, but ONLY AFTER I had asked. Force it down my throat, and even if it's good for me, I'll still gag on it.
USAmma's Avatar USAmma 10:43 PM 08-20-2002
Mainstream Hindus (not the cults) do not believe in this at all. Most find it offensive. Unfortunately in India there is a lot of missionary work, and most of it is focused on the poor and illiterate. They will give them food if they convert, and that sort of thing. Really shameful. I saw it for myself. These people don't even understand the religion they are converting to. When your family is starving of course you will do whatever it takes to keep them alive.

My dh brought up a good point-- that most of the people who are converted may not have a good understanding of their own beliefs. They may go to the temple and do the rituals but they don't understand the meaning behind them. This can lead to two problems: being converted easily ("if you don't stand up for what you believe in you'll fall for anything") and violence in the name of religion that goes against its very principles. The best way to compat conversion is to be firm in your own faith, and by all means pass your love and understanding of it on to your children.

boobybooby's Avatar boobybooby 12:53 AM 08-21-2002
"Proselytizing - It's not a dirty word"
DebraBaker's Avatar DebraBaker 11:11 AM 08-21-2002
Um Nah,

I'm agreeing with you along these lines.

I feel like it's inappropriate to go out troubling people with proselitizing (sp)

I believe that it's better to simply live you life well and if you have something to share people will be attracted by your life and actions.

I have door to door evangalists come 'round and I really give them a run for their money (shame on me) Since I'm Christian with a Jewish background I really *hate* the pushey witnessing stuff and I think I confuse them with my Mezzuzah (tee-hee) I figure if I scare them away they'll leave Other Jews who would really become upset with all the nonsense alone (hopefully)

I think this being pushey for Jesus approach has turned off more people than it has converted. I believe that the little bit of tension between Christians and Jews could be minimized if these types would be more respectful of the Jewish religion and the hardships Jews have endured over the centuries in the name of Christ.

Debra Baker
Mommy StormRaven's Avatar Mommy StormRaven 01:49 PM 08-21-2002
Okay - I have a few perspectives on this. I grew up with a JW - she hated knocking on doors but her parents forced her to do it. She never tried to preach to me. My father is a Methodist Minister who lives his life in such a way that peopel are drawn tohis church (in a very sparsely populated area his attendance has jumped from 25/service to nearly 100/service in one year with no population increase - to me that says something!) I however, have left the religion of my upbringing, I am now (and honestly bleive that I have always been) Pagan, I give honor to many Gods and Goddesses and have done this since I was 12 years old - with no pressure from my family not to. I found a local group of practicing pagans (ok it's a Coven but people tend to get really freaky about that word!) and went to a ritual, no one made me get into the circle, they asked freely - "do you enter this circle of your own free will?" yes, I did, and was welcomed "in perfect Love and Perfect trust" this is how I have found every coven I have known they never sought to force me or push their brand of paganism on me or even any brand of it without me asking. TO me that is the way it should be, Faith is sometheing you are either drawn to or not, and each varient of Faith shuold recognize that no one faith is any better or worse than the others, it is simply a matter of what is right for the individual.
hydrangea's Avatar hydrangea 07:01 PM 08-21-2002
I agree that Judaism doesn't frowns upon proselytizing to non-Jews, but I believe there is a fair amount of proselytizing among the orthodox, especially non-affiliated Jews. So maybe generally they're not usually running after people in the street, but a lot of non-religious Jews wouldn't see much of a difference between being run after and being somewhat pressured by someone asking them to shake lulav, for example. I am always uncomfortable when a black-garbed someone approaches me near the holidays and asks, "are you Jewish?" Isn't that an intrusive question? I know it's with complete love and friendliness, but I always feel a bit trapped when asked.
merpk's Avatar merpk 10:27 AM 08-22-2002
hydrangea, I know what you mean, the Chabad folks used to make me crazy, particularly because they would ask everyone around me, but never me. I figured it was a gender thing.

But I don't know if that's considered proselytizing, showing a Jew what Jews do. If a Southern Baptist urges another Southern Baptist to love Jesus, is that proselytizing?

I guess I feel it's like someone on a street corner getting signatures on a petition. They want you to perform a concrete act ... signing said petition ... to accomplish some result. They're not asking you to change your life, just to take a pen and sign your name.

The Chabadnikim are doing the same thing, IMO. Not saying "change your life," but saying do this concrete act to accomplish a result (bringing down one of those sparks ... but that's another thread), just to take a lulav and shukle.

(And that's a difference between Judaism and Christianity ... concrete acts are more ... immediate, is the only word I can think of ... than faith. But that's a whole 'nother thread.)

Though I'm sure they'd like it if you changed your life by becoming religious, just as the petitioner would like it if you changed your life by stopping eating meat.

And they absolutely do not approach nonJews. Which is why they ask the aforesaid annoying question.

- Amy
hydrangea's Avatar hydrangea 02:00 PM 08-22-2002
Amy, you raise some good points. It still drives me crazy but so does someone trying to get me to sign a petition. It makes me wonder how different religious proselytizers and political proselytizers actually are? I've had some really awful run-ins with people wanting me to sign petitions. For example, there used to be a woman who would stand on street corners in NYC with a blown-up photo from Hustler of a woman's legs sticking out of a meat-grinding machine. Awful, yes, and it got the point across, but not appropriate for little children to see (I was in high school but my siblings were little, and I instinctively crossed to the other side of the street whenever I saw her in order to protect them). She would stand on the corner and rant against men. Once some friends and I were coming home from an anti-nuke rally, with our signs visible, and she screamed at us "why are you wasting your energy on that when men have a weapon pointed against us all the time, their penis!!!!!" Ugh. She was obviously crazy. She was an extreme example though of what I've often seen in political proselytizers.

Also, you said "But I don't know if that's considered proselytizing, showing a Jew what Jews do. If a Southern Baptist urges another Southern Baptist to love Jesus, is that proselytizing?"

There is a difference there. Jews are a nation as well as a religion. One is born Jewish, whether one likes it or not, whether one is religious or not, and having someone tell you "this is what Jews do," can be pretty offensive to some. Perhaps if someone was born and raised Southern Baptist and then went off the path for several years and another SB came along urging them to love Jesus, that would be proselytizing too.

As you say, most religious proselytizers want to change your life, but many, not just Lubavitchers, will do that by doing something in the moment, like handing you a pamphlet and letting you know they're there if you ever want to talk. And certainly, Lubavitchers make it clear that they are available for more than just a shake of the lulav. And most religious kiruv groups also are trying to change people's lives. They aren't as in your face about it as some religions may be, and they only go for born Jews, but they generally do make their presence very known at college Jewish groups, etc.

My issue with proselytizing is that I hate being forced into a position where I might have to reject someone else's spiritual choices to their face or defend my own spiritual choice. Some will take a polite "no," but just the very act of their asking raises my tensions, because many do pursue. With friends or in an outlet like this, I can choose whether to enter into those arguments or not. Proselytizers, however, tend to take people by surprise. And yes, I have felt taken by surprise by some Chabadniks. There happens to be a lot that I really appreciate about Lubavitchers and Chabad, and I understand why they do what they do, but looking at things in this way helps me to understand a little better where Christian proselytizers or Hare Krishnas or whoever are coming from.

BTW, Amy, please don't take this as an argument against what you're saying. You have just raised a lot of questions that I've been thinking about for a long time and I'm enjoying getting to talk about them. Thanks!
indiegirl's Avatar indiegirl 02:19 PM 08-22-2002
I don't mind telling them I am not interested--and if need be, I can be firm/and or "rude" depending on how you look at it. I try to remember they are doing what they think is right; I just don't want to be the target of their attention!

It's the same with telemarketers for me. One will call, I listen politely until they take a breath (usually after a minute or so) and then say, "thank you I am not interested" and hang up.

I'm not their target very often--I must look mean or something.

merpk's Avatar merpk 04:20 PM 08-22-2002

hydrangea, that lady is still around!!!! She's a city fixture since forever ... "Sign the petition!" She occasionally is on our corner ... and she now does animal laboratory testing petitions on her off-porn days ...

- Amy
BelovedBird's Avatar BelovedBird 05:28 PM 08-22-2002
hydrangea and Amy-
I usually do not see much in-your-face kiruv except from Cabad and only some of it bothers me. Mostly the rebbe=moshiach centered stuff. Last week a group of "Chababichers" (as DS mistakenly calls them) was saying tehillim with kids outside my house and DS was hanging out on the window seat. They started talking to him, but I did not intervene because my other DS was screaming on my lap as I was nursing the baby. Apparently they gave DS ices after he said a pasuk of tehillim and then "yichi" The tehillim doesn't bother me. The "yichi" however really does.... I was actually pretty steamed. I told DS next time he can say it as long as he says "zichrono livracha" afterwards

merpk's Avatar merpk 06:30 PM 08-22-2002
slightly T

BB, it's precisely the "mashikhist" stuff that makes me nuts. And the other kiruv folks, in NYC, anyway, have classes that people choose to go to or not, they don't approach anyone, they just advertise.

My DS#1 goes to a Chabad preschool, as will DD next month, and the only concern I had I voiced to the administration, about do they teach the "yikhi" thing or mention anything like that. And they specifically do not, though they do have a huge picture of the Rebbe in the lobby ... which is okay. He was a tzaddik, right? Just not mashiakh : ...

Bimherah b'yameynu ...

- Amy
BelovedBird's Avatar BelovedBird 06:53 PM 08-22-2002
Even more OT,
Amy that is pretty good. My sister sends her son to Lubavitch in Brooklyn and they do teach the "mishachist" stuff.

Yes, a Tzaddik he definately was.

Bimherah b'yameynu ...

alainameow's Avatar alainameow 02:49 AM 08-23-2002
i found this thread very interesting...first there's the jewish question, i get it from time to being jewish a religion or a family have not been practising jews for about four generations, we have all have our own different belief systems centered around spiritual/esoteric phylosphies...some of us outright pagan/wiccan while others gravitate toward budism. however, and i am not sure why this is, we are jewish.

i have a very close friend who is a born again christian...we established early on that we would respect/accept each others beliefs and not try to convert or change each other. as a result we have had some of the best theological and spiritual conversations...we have been up almost all night looking at the world, all the different religions, the wars fought/blood spilled over religion, the origins of religions, the cult of christianity, orthodox religions and groups...the best times...we have both gained so much...but not too many people are ready to be able to be at that place.

there is so much more to say but have realized that i am too sleepy to be coherant.

one love,
Chanley's Avatar Chanley 12:44 PM 08-23-2002

I agree with you completely!! There was once a member here who was elated that a family member was going to India to do some mission work. What for her felt so good, felt to me like a funeral. To go in somewhere and teach folks that their gods are false and they will burn in hell for not believing in some other god whom is not a part of thier culture is just plain evil, ethnocentric and myopic. Not to mention bribing folks with the necessities they should be afforded anyway.

It breaks my heart to see what has happened at the hands of mission work. Has anyone read The Plumed Serpent by D.H. Lawrence?? he covers this so eloquently.

My heart grieves for those who think thier way is the only way. Living in South Georgia makes this very very hard. My closest friends are Church of God Christians here and I do feel the rift in what we believe and I have to be careful what I say and do around thier children for fear of making the parents uncomfortable. Lucky for me, they dont try to change us. We have told them we are Catholic and left it at that. This week a neighbor was quoting some scripture and asked me if we had a bible. I said we have a beautiful Catholic bible (it is really gorgeous) so the next day, she gives me a King James Version. *sigh*

When proselytizers come to my door, I am never rude. Dh will engage in discussions with them seeking to know more. I usually am too busy for this. But we are currently reading the Mormon Bible just so we understand (we had a client who is LDS and learned alot from them). I will not be converting in this lifetime but I am generally interested in what others believe. So I usually tell folks "I am very happy with my faith at this time, thank you for the offer."

I once read this quote and love it dearly

"people who are interested in sharing thier religious views with you, are rarely interested in hearing yours"
boobybooby's Avatar boobybooby 02:55 PM 08-23-2002
Thank you Nursing Mother, as always, you bring us back to reality

Thank you for giving us a real sense of what the missionary life is like in other parts of the world. I, as I have said before, as Americans we sometimes think that what's happening on our own front doorstep is the center of the universe! :

I know your families' work and the work of other missionary families everywhere around the world is appreciated by those recieving it, and that's all that really matters. The things that people go through in other countries really makes an unwanted solicitor or proselytizer look like small potatoes to me. thanks again.
3boys4us's Avatar 3boys4us 04:25 PM 08-23-2002
1) To amyrpk, hydrangea and BB: Can you tell me what some of the jewish terms are that you used in your posts? Or at least link me to a glossary? It's pretty interesting what you're saying but I have no idea what the terms mean.

The main goal of a missionary is NOT to spead the gospel first, but to minister to the physical needs of people. To clothe and feed them. Teach people, give health care to them. I know of missionaries serving who have yet to verbally share about God, but they share in their works and their giving of themselves to better anothers life.
Sorry but I disagree (why should that surprise you). I think it depends on which Christian organazation it is that you are talking about. Perhaps the org. that your mom belongs to does not encourage conversion but there are planty of others. I am not opposed to doing good works because it fulfills you spiritually however, when organized groups of Christians go to do missionary work, the real work at hand is to convert.

Here is a quote from an Islamic website regarding missionaries in Malaysia:

"The Bowens plan to help establish two Pentecostal Holiness churches in Kuala Lumpur by training the pastors and bringing forth leaders to start plant more churches in this emerging Southeast Asian Muslim-majority nation of 19 million. A spokesperson for the National Evangelical Fellowship of Malaysia claims that 600 Christian churches have started there since 1992. Evangelical Christians like the Bowens tout Muslims as the largest block of unreached peoples in the world. Having scored remarkable successes among Catholics in Latin America, notably in Brazil, and spurred by the fall of the Soviet Union, missionaries in the 1990s regard Muslims as a "final frontier" for evangelism. Their strategies call for "creative access, cultural sensitivity, and church-planting in the 10/40 Window." The 10/40 Window is evangelical-speak for the rectangle with boundaries of latitudes 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator; encompassing most of the Muslim World.

Muslim countries especially targeted are the newly independent states in Central Asia - particularly Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and the Southeast Asian tigers, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Nevertheless, Frontiers and other Christian groups strive to place missionaries throughout the tough "10/40 Window." Most Muslim countries remain closed, either because of the strong linkage between ethnic and religious identity amongst Muslims, or because of heavy restrictions on proselytization. This restricted access has led U.S. Christian mission groups such as Frontiers to lobby Congress on the issue of "the persecuted Church" in Muslim countries. These lobbying efforts have spurred the creation of a US State Department Commission on Religious Freedom, albeit one whose original stress on persecuted Christians has been slightly diluted. The Commission will now include representatives from multiple denominations and faiths, including Dr. Laila AlMarayati of the Muslim Womens League.

The "persecuted Church" primarily within the 10/40 Window has been a rallying point and foreign policy crusade for the Religious Right in their quest to gain wider access to the untapped millions of non-Christians within the Window. Frontiers, a mission group devoted completely to converting Muslims, boasts that "through creative approaches, patient sowing, and fearless proclamation, more Muslims have come to Christ in the last 25 years than in the previous 1400 years combined!"

The Mesa, Arizona-based group claims to have 500 missionaries in 30 countries, or about 20% of all North American Protestant missionaries serving among Muslims. Frontiers seeks missionaries for the 90's with the motto: "Muslims. It's their turn. It's all we do. Whatever it takes." From Bosnia to Bangladesh, American missionaries apparently have been doing whatever it takes to penetrate often resistant and hostile Muslim target countries. Two popular missionary approaches to Muslim countries involves setting up business ventures or non-profit relief and NGO work.

Christian relief groups have made inroads in places like Somalia (which is 99% Muslim) by taking advantage of humanitarian crises like the famine in 1992 that precipitated U.S. intervention. Some missionaries reportedly even hook up with the CIA, blurring religious and political goals. The Washington Post revealed February, 22 that CIA officials admitted a "controversial loophole" exists that permits the agency to "employ clerics and missionaries for clandestine work overseas."

By far, however, the most popular long-term method has been to establish front export businesses, a growing strategy used by missionaries to gain access into a target country. Often, missionaries start branch offices of American companies overseas or enter as consultants. Cindy Bowen speaks proudly of her husband's creative access to Malaysia, which capitalised on his landscaping business in LaGrange, located 6O miles Southwest of Atlanta. "

My bil and his wife lived in Asia for many years and were often astounded by the complex lives missionaries had: on one side business men/women and on the other "planting churches". I have witnessed this in the Caribbean. Usually American missionaries coming to "minister" to the lost. Dh and I often commented on how you couldn;t tell who was exploiting the situation more, the converted or the missionary.
USAmma's Avatar USAmma 05:18 PM 08-23-2002
Maybe things have changed but my great-grands were Chrstian missionaries in South Africa, and their main objective was to spread the word of Jesus Christ to the savages. Those were her exact words in her journal. They only brought enough supplies for themselves and the church sent them money as they needed it to keep going, but they never helped anyone other than to build a hut-type church to hold services in on Sundays. Maybe because that wasn't working so well the missionaries know lure people in with food and things.

I know there are some truly sincere people who want to help others first. Like Mother Theresa, who holds great respect in my eyes, but even she had a mission to convert. I'm sorry if my opinion seems harsh, but to go into someone's culture with the main objective being to convert people is just wrong. It's the whole "My path is better than yours" thing, and shows extreme disrespect for that native culture and its people.

Chanley's Avatar Chanley 08:03 PM 08-23-2002
Nursing mother,

I love you dearly and respect your convictions but I found the part about these religions

"But do remember that many cultures and religions are dark and dangerous especially to children and women."

I find this to be besides the point. Missionaries have done good work, one of my favorite movies is The Mission, in which the protagonists are trying to save the Indians from becoming slaves through converting them. Double edged sword, "I will save your life if you renounce everything you believe in".

These religions that I think you are talking about missionaries living in are so entertwined into the daily life, it is impossible to live the lifestyle without practicing the religion. To me that is the beauty, but I assume your mother did not do this things as it would be considered bearing false witness (i think that is what it is called). Therefore the missionaries do not completely live in the culture. however, if I am starving and my baby is very sick from malnutrition and you give me food, I will be greatful and love you for it, I promise. That is why I referred to it as bribery.

It is so easy to make the others seem like bad guys when in truth they are just misunderstood. That is called propaganda. Abuse is cultural NOT religious. the foot binding was NOT religious is was cultural. Please do not confuse the two, it only does injustice to the religions you are referring to. This would be like saying that Christianity is bad because in the predominantly Christian state of Georgia USA, folks believe in spanking thier children (and they do where I live, I am going to "spoil" aria with my refusal to hit her.) To say this, would be a disgusting mistake, Christianity does not indoctrinate spanking tho some seem to think so. this is off topic but foot binding is no worse than the US media making young girls bulemic or anorexic in pursuit of what is beautiful to them. Both are unhealthy views on what is beautiful, small feet or a small waist same mutilation, different country.

I think alot of missionaries would do better to help out the folks in the crapholes in thier town. I see the same folks who do the mission work in an exotic countries, turn thier noses up at the slums across the tracts. I see it here all of the time. These folks were raised Christian but really need "the word" in thier seemingly hopeless lives, they need food and hope as well as the word of God.

If you really look at most religions, they are all saying very much the same thing. I have yet to find a true religion that does not give a very similar picture of spirituality. For that reason, I see the divine in all of them.

festivus1's Avatar festivus1 09:01 PM 08-23-2002
I find this to be besides the point. Missionaries have done good work, one of my favorite movies is The Mission, in which the protagonists are trying to save the Indians from becoming slaves through converting them. Double edged sword, "I will save your life if you renounce everything you believe in".
Right before I got to your post I was thinking, "I should post something about the movie 'The Mission' b/c people here would really like that." That is my all time favorite movie and I highly, highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the subject of mission work - pros and cons.
alainameow's Avatar alainameow 10:48 PM 08-23-2002
while it is true that much physical good has been done in the name of the church, i often wonder what the spiritual ramifications are.

there is a church of ethical culture. it is non denominational. it has no religious philosophies/theosophies. it's basis is ethics. their philosophy is integrity, fair treatment and kindness to all people. do what is right, help others, etc. but do this from the heart because it is how we should treat one another. no agendas; no dogma.

our culture, "american pop/consumer culture," can be "dark and dangerous especially to children and women." --and this is a world wide issue, not just how we are treated in the states.

"There is terrible evil in some religions, death and destruction."...this seems to be a common imperialistic platform, and when ideals such as these are presented i find them more frightening then a foreign culture or religion. lots more to say but it is time to close my shop and go home.

Deirdre's Avatar Deirdre 01:43 AM 08-24-2002
Soryy, Amyrpk, I think we may be veering off topic

Regarding your original question - I am afraid I don't have much to say because my life is barely ever affected by proselytizers. Maybe every two months or so a JW comes to our door and that's about it. My SIL and her family are Mormon but they know better I hardly ever have run-ins with born agains and if I do I just say I am Catholic (which often causes them put their fingers in the shape of a cross and and start screaming "SINNER,SINNER" at the top of their lungs he, he, I'm kidding) So I'm not much help. I imagine it would be quite annoying.

Regarding missionaries (since they have managed to find their way in here, those sneaky bastards )
I read a startling report a few years back about the very high percentage of Catholics in Latin America who have converted to the Pentecostal church. I don't have an issue with the conversions, per se, but rather what it does to the people. The Catholic Church in Latin America has traditionally been aligned with the poor. It is the birthplace of liberation theology and most social movements to help alleviate suffering have been initiated, coordinated and supported by the Catholic Church through Small Christian communties. The Church has sought justice in land distribution, indigenous rights and alleviation of poverty. Now these Pentecostal groups (like the very one 3boys referenced) have come in droves and and converted people. They have told people that their plight here on earth doesn't matter but that they will have their reward in heaven. They have told them to do nothing about the injustice because it doesn't matter. Just accept Jesus and forget about what is going on around you. Well guess what, the RICH landowners and oligarchs just love this....they are encouraging these groups to come and convert. They won't have to be bothered anymore by those damn peasants looking for human rights in the here and now. Well, this truly annoys and disturbs me.

I am going to try to find that article....

moondancer's Avatar moondancer 11:42 AM 08-24-2002
Wow chanley, you know people who travle to exotic places but turn their noses up at the slums huh? Are yousticking your nose in those slums to help?

I would like to ask each and every one of you who is complaining about the horrible stuff that missionaries do if you are doing anything to help your communities. Are you feeding the hungry? Are you clothing the naked? Are you sheltering the homeless? Or are you just sitting in the comfort of you homes and complaining?

My dh and I are 'missionaries' if you will. We bring inner city kids out here to give them a farm experience. Do we tell them they can come and run around our farm and eat our food if they'll love Jesus? Oh pu-lease. Did we take in Tiffany when she needed a place to live if she promised she'd go to church with us and follow Jesus?

I cannot believe some of the arrogance on this thread.

So my friend Sally who is in India picking up dying people on the streets of dehli is ruining the culture of India? Which part? The poverty? Or the distaste that folks have for the dying they pass by and walk over and ignore. Huh?

I am reading alot of sanctimonious crap on here. Am I angry? You bet. I'll let NM stay gentle and kind. You (collective) just piss me off and I'm saying so. Flame away.

peace, moondancer who wonders just how many of you really know a missionary personally or are you just regurgitating the same old anti christian crap.
Deirdre's Avatar Deirdre 04:26 PM 08-24-2002
Originally posted by Nursing Mother
Deirdre, I don't give a rip about what article or reports you've read. I know first hand and obviously so does Moonie.
and you call them bastards, Deirdre ? A joke perhaps huh?
Give me a BREAK, NM!!!!! Perhaps you need to go back and read your sig line...I guess you are the only one allowed to joke around on MDC!

And you should "give a rip". I know PLENTY of missionaries, CATHOLIC ones, who don't just go to a country and try to convert people......they actually try to do something about the social and economic structures that create the poverty in the first place...I think it is really sad you are so self-righteous about this issue you are not even seeing the POINT I was trying to make in my post...which, BTW, was a valid one.

I will go now and leave this topic to you, Nursing Mother, self-designated spokesperson for Christian missionaries obviously are the only one who has the right slant on this issue....since you've decided that "you and moonie" are the only ones here who know firsthand about this and therefore are allowed an opinion....

Frankly, if you can't take a moment to consider what I have written and, umm, might just happen to "know" from firsthand experience myself then I guess I'll just have to not give a rip about the people you know who are missionaries and/or your firsthand experience. Do you actually expect me to respect your point of view when you so blatantly disrespect mine?

1jooj's Avatar 1jooj 08:41 PM 08-24-2002
I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, as most of you know, in Morocco. As a PCV, I signed a code of conduct statement agreeing not to prosyletize. We also agree to maintain an apolitical stance (in my case in a monarchy). The religion thing was no biggie for me, even though this was years before my acceptance of Islam.
As a PCV, you gain entrance into the expat world. In Morocco "the gateway to the Muslim World," there are loads of NGOs, religious an otherwise, looking to "open" it up. Arab and Muslim NGOs and service orgs, too, but a lot of American and European faith-based NGOs. A lot of them doing some very admirable work in environment and maternal and child health, and frankly not enough in sustainable agriculture.
My own experience, though, was generally not of people becoming a part of the culture and taking it on. Rather, they still drink, smoke, surround themselves with one another only, wear clothing that clearly marks them as NOT of the culture (i.e. significantly less clothing and western-style makeup), and speak French instead of Arabic or Berber. They don't use public transit. They stick out.
NM, you campare this to Muslims in America. That stings a little, since America strives to be a political body, not a theocracy (and I think even Jefferson was a deist--but I could be wrong), and up to 7 million Muslims are a part of this culture, and have been since even before they were "imported" to this country as African slaves. We don't choose not to "act like Americans." Many of us just plain are Americans. Born here and everything. We might differ from your culture, but I hope the US can avoid becoming a monoculture. In farming, a monoculture is more prone to disease and infestation. Many Jewish Americans observe similar rules regarding food and dress, inject Hebrew into their talk, and don't go to church on Sunday. They might not even approach marriage as most Americans do--and yet we never doubt their American-ness. And, no, Jewish sisters, I don't for a second doubt your right to be here and be Jewish!
But, say I eat the same food, wear the same clothes, speak the language. How do I represent my faith? How do I regard the faith of my hosts--do I regard them as ignorant, uninformed? Or do I respect the truth that their Prophets and Masters have delivered to them, and appreciate its effects on their lives, and its appropriate place in their culture? Of course, I believe in a balance of faith and works, and I know this shows in my opinions of what is appropriate in cross-cultural communications.
And, yes, I also volunteer here stateside.
1jooj's Avatar 1jooj 08:42 PM 08-24-2002
And I don't think this subject should end--just yesterday those nice young LDS men stopped over at my house. And they really are nice.
3boys4us's Avatar 3boys4us 11:34 PM 08-24-2002
Whoa - moondancer and NM: Yeah I volunteer, I don't use my spirituality (or lack of it) define whether or not I should I give of my time. I'm glad that there are so many missionaries that give of themselves but I disagree with the use of proseltysing as a methodology. I do think it erodes culture and I think it introduces conflicts in areas where there have been none. I question missionaries in countries where the govt. is openly hostile to proseltysing. The article I quoted stated that in some areas missionaries and US political needs worked hand in hand. I don't doubt that there are those who are sincere about their work but I still think the main business of being a missionary is conversion. There is an excellent Native American account, Zitkala Sa of missionaries and their "works". I've been looking at missionary websites and I can't find one that does not mention the number of converted or conversions - can you find me one?

I would like to ask each and every one of you who is complaining about the horrible stuff that missionaries do if you are doing anything to help your communities. Are you feeding the hungry? Are you clothing the naked? Are you sheltering the homeless? Or are you just sitting in the comfort of you homes and complaining?
And I'm sorry but I find this sanctimonious in itself. It is self congratulatory.
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