Monday, August 20, 2007

Rules for Conversions?

The New York Times
August 16, 2007
Evangelicals Join Interfaith Effort to Write Rules for Conversions


GENEVA, Aug. 15 - "Evangelical Protestant churches have joined an effort by Roman Catholic, Orthodox and other Protestant churches to create a common code of conduct for religious conversions to preserve the right of Christians to spread their religion while avoiding conflict among faiths....."

In any pluralistic society there will always be a tension between the rights of adherents of one religion to seek converts and the rights of the adherents of another religion (or of no religion) to be free of such proselytizing efforts. There has to be a balance. I don't want to take away the rights of evangelical Christians to "preach the gospel." That would be counter to "freedom of speech" laws that are part of any good democracy. But on the other hand, conversionary groups must respect the rights of others to ignore, criticize, or argue with their conversionist message. The consequences of overwrought evangelism by any group will be subtle at first, but eventually these insensitive missionaries will reap what they sow: negative public relations and marginalization in society.

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