Why is it that so many Christians find it necessary to foist their
faith upon the world?
While walking through the halls at school, drinking coffee at the mall,
driving to the movie theater, and sitting at home watching TV, I find myself
assaulted by religious propaganda. In a more perfect world, I wouldn’t mind
this too much. After all, I do live in America, the land of freedom. Freedom of
religion, of the press, and, intertwined in all of the moral mire, freedom of
speech. These freedoms allow citizens to perceive themselves as equals (or not,
if they so choose; they have that right as well), a vision I support
What bothers me is the fact that there are those who use these freedoms
to pointlessly and offensively beleaguer those of a different faith, committing
what is essentially theological assault in an (often misguided) attempt to
convert a perceived “heathen.” The vast majority of the religious materiel I
see is Christian in nature. I have never seen a Muslim wearing a T-Shirt asking
“what would Allah do?”, and I have never seen a Seven-Pointed-Wheel (a
symbol of Buddhism) affixed to the back of a car. I have never seen a
red-in-the-face Sikh pounding his fist, rabidly attempting to convert a cornered
audience. I have witnessed many Christians exhibiting such behavior.
My question is this: why do so many (fortunately not all, but too many by
far) Christians find this sensationalism necessary? There are many, Christians
and Non-Christians alike, who find the display arrogant and rude. Is there no
quiet way to live your faith?
Publicly announcing one’s faith is a right protected by law and nature;
a simple announcement of one’s own beliefs is not a problem. There is,
however, a difference between a brief proclamation and an extended religious
force-feeding. I commend those Christians who lead a Christian life without
demanding that all others do the same; my complaint is that there is too little
evidence of such Christians, and too much sensationalistic fanaticism in the
Christian ranks. I find this
zealotry offensive, distasteful, and thoroughly unpersuasive.
It is true, certainly, that there are those Christians who are not so
militant in their witnessing, and that this religious belligerence is not
entirely rooted in the Christian ranks. Never let it be said that intolerance is
not a universal trait among religions; on the contrary, nearly all organized
religions attack others in one way or another. It is simply unfortunate that
Christianity makes such attacks so frequently and so loudly.
An example of this sensationalism is the “What Would Jesus Do?”
fashion-plate. This question does little more than create a new, material and
fashionable bond between members of a faith that should already be strong enough
to stand on the spiritual, not-always-fashionable bonds that history has
created. WWJD is merely a form of preaching to the choir, and often alienates
those not already singing. Finally, WWJD makes no move toward persuading
Non-Christians to convert; the question is likely only to offend.
Even more offensive is the fact that many Christians see no problem with
pounding a Bible at the drop of a hat. I have seen zealots leap into an
impromptu sermon simply because they have discovered that a student seated
nearby is not of their faith. Such actions are religious attacks, whether the
speaker means well or not.
Today, there are many examples of Christian belligerence. According to an
AP wire article, “Witches seek to halt Baptist-flavored Halloween
production,” the First Baptist Church of Dunbar, in West Virginia, puts on a
presentation each Halloween that is, in essence, little more than a disguised
sermon. It uses a public park—government property—to preach that sermon,
thereby violating the United States Constitution by validating a single
religion—Christianity—above others. This is only one example of the sort of
public religious assault that Christians so often commit across the world.
According to Arab columnist Ray Hanania, “the term ‘Christian Evangelism’
has become synonymous with the worst of Western immorality.” This accusation
was made in conjunction with the release of the news that the murder of a
homosexual was followed by Christian-led demonstrations that applauded the
killing and called homosexuals “fodder for Satan.” This kind of behavior by
many Christians has become almost commonplace in the world today, numbing many
to the militant nature of today’s evangelism. Jerry Falwell is well known as
the leader of the “Moral Majority,” a now-defunct organization of extreme
conservatives dedicated to making the world a place of higher morality.
Falwell’s preferred methods? Censorship, anti-Semitism, and the ramming of
Christian doctrine down the throats of American children. It is unfortunate that
Falwell’s hateful means have spread to many others in the Christian ranks, if
to a lesser degree; my experience has left me with no doubt that there are all
too many Christians who harbor a desire to “save” all others by destroying
all other systems of faith, no matter how long-held or sensible.
(the Crusades, The Inquisition, the Ku Klux Klan, et cetera ad nauseam), Christianity
has been a belligerent force in the religious community. I see no reason for
that image to continue when there is a very simple way to end it. Put away the
bracelets and the little fish (or at the very least stop trying to shove them
down others’ throats); if a man must preach his faith, there are more peaceful
and agreeable ways to do it. After all, the reddening, bombastic speaker may
draw a large crowd, but he is more likely to disgust and revile than he who
peaceably and confidently puts forth his views.
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Copyright ©1999, 2000 Adam Rutledge