“The American idea of religious liberty does not forbid proselytization; it presupposes it”

The furor continues over Brit Hume’s simple and accurate about Christianity (it offers forgiveness and redemption) and Buddhism (it does not).  The hopelessly ironic “tolerant” crowd and the fake Christians are in an uproar.  Their frequent misapplication of the “separation of church and state” (which still isn’t in the Constitution — there is nothing wrong with letting your religious views inform your political views) has morphed into “separation of church and media.”  How dare someone express their religious views and try to change those of someone else?  My only quibble with Hume is that he didn’t consider it proselytizing.  I think it was, but I also think there is nothing wrong with that.

Of course, evangelism should not be coercive.  By definition, you can’t force true belief.  Yes, false and/or uninformed Christians have done that at times, but it is un-biblical.  You don’t judge an ideology based on those who violate its tenets.  Consider the rich young ruler, who walked away sad when he didn’t like Jesus’ terms and conditions.  Did Jesus run after him and tackle him and force him to believe?  Nope.  So if God in flesh doesn’t coerce people to follow him, of course his flawed followers should not either.

The title came from this article, which makes similar points:

Free, autonomous individuals not only have the right to hold whatever beliefs they wish, they have a right to change those beliefs — and to persuade others to change as well. Just as there is no political liberty without the right to change one’s convictions and publicly argue for them, there is no religious liberty without the possibility of conversion and persuasion.

Proselytization, admittedly, is fraught with complications. We object to the practice when an unequal power relationship is involved — a boss pressuring an employee. We are offended by brainwashing. Coercion and trickery violate the whole idea of free religious choice based on open discussion.

But none of this was present in Hume’s appeal to Woods. A semi-retired broadcaster holds no unfair advantage over a multimillionaire athlete. Hume was engaged in persuasion.

“Persuasion, by contrast,” argues political and social ethics professor Jean Bethke Elshtain, “begins with the presupposition that you are a moral agent, a being whose dignity no one is permitted to deny or to strip from you, and, from that stance of mutual respect, one offers arguments, or invites your participation, your sharing, in a community.”

Their real objection is that Hume thinks he’s right.  Eek! 

The root of the anger against Hume is his religious exclusivity — the belief, in Shuster’s words, that “my faith is the right one.” For this reason, according to Shales, Hume has “dissed about half a billion Buddhists on the planet.”

But consider how illogical it is to criticize Hume for that.  Fake Christians like this think they are right in “preaching” that Jesus is not the only way to salvation (despite the 100 passages teachings that in the Bible these phonies claim to believe).  They are dissing billions of people by being psudo-Hindus and claiming that all religions lead to God. Authentic Christians don’t believe that.  Muslims don’t believe that.  And so on.

But if anyone thinks they have the right view of God, his views, the way to eternal life, etc. then it would be profoundly unloving for them to keep it to themselves.  Consider how even Penn Jillette, a firm atheist and part of the Penn & Teller comedy / magic team, realizes that Christians should share their faith.

Hat tip: Pastor Timothy: “Again, kudos to Hume for being brave enough to endure the wrath of the left, so that Woods can be free of the wrath from above.”

12 thoughts on ““The American idea of religious liberty does not forbid proselytization; it presupposes it”

  1. I think it’s such a shame that Christians would “diss” all those millions of Moslems and Buddhists and all by claiming that Christianity is the only true religion — despite the fact that followers of Christ (the basic definition of “Christianity”) are forced to admit that Christ Himself said so. What I’m wondering is why it is that no one else is complaining about the disrespect given Christianity by all others (religions or not) for simply believing what they have to believe if they’re going to be followers of Christ.

    (End Sarcasm)

  2. Here’s what I wonder: news channels (and every other program out there) wants its hearers to believe certain things based on their programs. They present politicians in favorable or unfavorable light because they want us to believe something. They present all stories similarly.

    So why is it that Christians’ proseletization is so wrong? Isn’t the media proseletizing in a way? It may not be religious, but it is dogmatic none the less.

    My only issue with Hume’s statement (and I won’t fall on the sword for it) is that he said Tiger could be changed by converting to the Christian faith. Hogwash! Relgious faith doesn’t save or convert anyone. Tiger (and you and I, etc) needs Jesus Christ, not religion.

  3. The insulted, I think, generally are content with their beliefs for whatever reason and it would be too much work, or worse, an admission that they are wrong or were unable to discern the truth, for them to change or allow themselves to be persuaded.

    Now indeed, the above assumes a correct position by the proselytizer and an incorrect one by the insulted. It might be that the insulted is correct. Fine. Show me why. As has been demonstrated on a recent post of mine at my own blog, the insulted certainly has been bested in matching arguments and taking offense is all that is left them. All the while, the criticized party is still standing there feeling certain of his position, but wondering if there’s any argument the insulted simply doesn’t know. The search for truth goes on, but some want only to carry one because their notion “makes sense” to them, nevermind if that factor determines truth or not.

    OK, I’m rambling now, but I’ll post this anyway.

    • I agree, Marshall. Too many times I see the theological Liberals resort to name calling (e.g., “radical right wing fundamentalist Christians”) that fail on multiple grounds.

      First, our basic views are actually in the mainstream — e.g., 80%+ oppose partial birth abortion. Those in favor of it are clearly the radicals. That doesn’t make their abortion view wrong (though it is, and horribly so), but it does mean it is fallacious to say we’re the radicals.

      Second, it is a personal attack designed to avoid debate. They aren’t trying to defend their views of Scripture. They just try to avoid the discussion by claiming victory.

  4. This is the typical catch-22 non believers like to catch Christians in… if you hold to traditional, orthodox beliefs, you’re “intolerant”, “narrow-minded”, shoving your religion down people’s throats, etc.

    But if you claim to be a Christian and yet do not hold to the tenets of the faith (including the exclusivity of Christ), you’re that other horrible thing that non-believers love calling Christian on – a hypocrite.

  5. I got this in an email and thought I would pass it along.

    This is a true story and the author, Rick Mathes, is a well-known leader in prison ministry. The man who walks with God always gets to his destination. If you have a pulse you have a purpose.

    The Muslim religion is the fastest growing religion per capita in the United States , especially in the minority races!!!

    Last month I attended my annual training session that’s required

    For maintaining my state prison security clearance. During the training session there was a presentation by three speakers representing the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths, who explained each of their beliefs.

    I was particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say. The Imam gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam, complete with a video.

    After the presentations, time was provided for questions and answers.

    When it was my turn, I directed my question to the Imam and asked: ‘Please, correct me if I’m wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world and, that by killing an infidel, (which is a command to all Muslims) they are assured of a place in heaven. If that’s the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?’

    There was no disagreement with my statements and, without hesitation, he replied, ‘Non-believers!’

    I responded, ‘So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can have a place in heaven.. Is that correct?’

    The expression on his face changed from one of authority and command to that of a little boy who had just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar..’

    He sheepishly replied, ‘Yes.’

    I then stated, ‘Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope John Paul commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Dr. Stanley ordering all Protestants to do the same in order to guarantee them a place in heaven!’

    The Imam was speechless!

    I continued, ‘I also have a problem with being your friend when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me!

    Let me ask you a question: Would you rather have your Allah, who tells you to kill me in order for you to go to heaven, or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to heaven and He wants you to be there with me?’

    You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame. Needless to say, the organizers and/or promoters of the Diversification training seminar were not happy with my way of dealing with the Islamic Imam, and exposing the truth about the Muslims’ beliefs.

    In twenty years there will be enough Muslim voters in the U.S. To elect the President!

    • Bill, please check the facts of mass emails like the one you posted above, because there are usually conflicting accounts of the same event. In this case, the ‘Imam’ was no Imam at all, rather one of the prison inmates who was in no way qualified to comment or answer hard questions about Islam. The Quran is not consistent in it’s doctrine of how to deal with infidels. Some verses preach war, others preace tolerance. It isn’t a simple thing.

  6. Another atheist who gets it:

    Except this atheist has probably made peace with the realities of his meaningless existence. In other words, if there truly is no God, why begrudge the masses their opiate.

    But then again, if there is a God; and by his very nature of being God he has infinite authority over us, and if we by virtue of being his creation we must submit to that authority; but instead we chose to rebel; I would expect the very coddling of rebellious religions, no matter how murderous or illogical, along with the hatred toward those who surrender to God, and especially when they suggest that you should too, that this Hume episode has elicited.

So, what do you think?

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