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Featured In this day and age does proselytizing still work?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Vinayaka, Jun 9, 2021 at 10:00 AM.

  1. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    Let's assume that the goal of proselytizing is to gain converts. I think it's clear, because of religious growth statistics from the past, that at one time it did work. But in 2021 do you think it still does? So the 2 choices in the debate are simple : Yes it works, or No, it doesn't, and then give your reasons. Of course the third option of 'I don't know' is always available.

    I have a couple of observations. At a lot of the ex-________ discussion groups, one of the most common reasons for leaving is the pressure to proselytize, or just exposure to excessive proselytizing. So there's a statistic hidden there somewhere for net loss. Proselytizing also works in some places, I would assume. So which is greater, net loss, or net gain?

    The second observation is from the state of Kerala in India, where Christian proselytizing in a heavy way has been going on for about 200 years. As a result, Kerala has one of the largest Christian groups in India. There are smaller states with higher percentages, but Kerala and it's neighbour, TN lead the way in sheer numbers.
    The state government now keeps track of changes. Interestingly, in 2020, the highest number of conversions was the Christian to Hindu subsect. (for the first time in history)This wasn't due to proselytising, but due to peoples own volitions, and more or less deconversion, or going back to roots.

    Thoughts? (I have more as well.)
     
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  2. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    My answer is 'no'.

    One reason: With all the mass communication today and all the scandals that are in such evidence, failure to 'walk the talk' is a part of the equation. In simple terms: "why should I leave my religion with its corrupt leaders for your religion with its corrupt leaders and preachers"?

    There are other reasons to which I might post as I think of them, but hypocritical preaching has to be up there.
     
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  3. RestlessSoul

    RestlessSoul Active Member

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    Are you sure that the number of Christians (about 18% of the population) in Kerala is down to proselytising? The Syriac Christian community there believe that the apostle Thomas brought Christianity to the Keralan coast almost 2,000 years ago. So the presence of the religion is not exactly a recent thing, nor is it a product of 18th and 19th Century European imperialism - unlike, say, Catholicism in Goa and Mumbai.

    Christian proselytising in the modern world seems almost exclusively an American phenomenon. Maybe Christians elsewhere stopped doing it because it drove away more people than it attracted.
     
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  4. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    I think more European (broadstroking) not American. Ideally, we left our roots to be freedom of speech but then maybe later down the line I guess we figure we can still be missionaries, some goal, but without "traditions." America is too young for it to be an American thing.
     
    #4 Unveiled Artist, Jun 9, 2021 at 10:42 AM
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021 at 11:34 AM
  5. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    I "assume" it works more with those don't have strong cultural roots and/or pressured to find similarities in two distinct belief systems. If not for the political pressures, I honestly don't believe proselytizing would survive. I don't know. It's something I never supported and like other topics, sends a red flag when it's promoted too much.
     
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  6. RestlessSoul

    RestlessSoul Active Member

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    Yeah, I meant recently. European history is full of examples of religious conflict, forced conversions, imprisonment and execution of heretics, power struggles between church and state etc.

    But that’s in the past; we seem to have moved on. Faith in Europe is largely a personal thing; it certainly isn’t something you hear politicians talking much about, for example.
     
  7. Ponder This

    Ponder This Well-Known Member

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    I know that you want people to take the side that either, yes, proselytizing works or, no, proselytizing does not work... but I rather think that proselytizing sometimes works and sometimes doesn't work dependent on conditions outside of the mere act of proselytizing.
    It is probably more fair to say that proselytizing will work on some portion of a population and not work on some other portion of a population, rather than to say it simply works or does not work on everyone equally well.

    In terms of taking a side, I would say it can work and, therefore, the better answer is that, yes, it does "work" even though for some people it will have the opposite effect.

    As an analogy (which is not an argument), a medication might work for many people, but if some people are allergic to the medication, then it might simply not work for them. Would we say that the medication "works"? I suppose that we would say it works, even though for some people it clearly will not work.
     
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  8. oldbadger

    oldbadger Skanky Old Mongrel!

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    Yes.
    The JWs are growing in this area.

    We never know what amazingly attractive mind and voice will surface tomorrow, or next week.

    Like advertising and sales, proselitizing lives on.
     
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  9. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue The gentle embrace of twilight has become my guide

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    All proselytizing tells me, is that it's something that requires convincing and persuasion and not able to sit on its own merits.
     
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  10. RestlessSoul

    RestlessSoul Active Member

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    I agree. If the message is convincing enough, it doesn’t need a hard sell. Any salesman will tell you that the best products sell themselves
     
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  11. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    Keep in mind that you're looking at an incomplete sample.

    Just because heavy proselytizing pushes some members away doesn't mean that it necessarily causes a net loss of members.

    Many people feel tremendous pressure to save face: once they've publicly declared a position, it can be hard for them to admit that they were wrong. We're also prone to the sunk cost fallacy: investing a lot of effort and resources in something can make people unwilling to abandon it even when it's in their best interests.

    These tactics aren't foolproof - as you got at, some people will push back and leave - but I wouldn't be surprised if they're more effective than not for retaining members.
     
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  12. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    On the outside, it seems that way. One doesn't need to kill and imprison to convince someone their religious views are wrong, pagan, or not real christian. I think usually people get it when something rocks their faith such as something their child experiences or a crisis.

    I can't think of a good "nice" word for my feelings about proselyting, but anything that has to do with coercion, promotion, convincing people, while saying "it's for your own well-being" sends red-flags.
     
    #12 Unveiled Artist, Jun 9, 2021 at 11:47 AM
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021 at 12:07 PM
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  13. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    Yes, I'm not sure about Kerala. I'd have to do more research. Maybe it grew by birth rates from the distant past. I did know that about Kerala's past.
     
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  14. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Whether St. Thomas came to Kerala or not is debatable, he has his resting place all over the world. But, Christianity came to India within 50 years of Jesus' time.
    Some people ignore the red flags and carry on. :)
     
    #14 Aupmanyav, Jun 9, 2021 at 12:50 PM
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021 at 8:38 PM
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  15. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    We should ask the JWs. They are heavily into proselytising and could contribute some numbers. @Deeje, @Vee?
     
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  16. Hockeycowboy

    Hockeycowboy Well-Known Member
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    Is it still successful? For JW’s, it is. Although we’re not at the moment going from door-to-door, we are continuing our ministry through other means....letter-writing, phone calls, etc. And we’re growing in number.

    For some, though, they don’t persevere in it. Why?

    It depends on the motive for proselytizing, i.e., the reason behind it.

    For the vast majority of JW’s, our love for Jehovah and for His Son, Jesus, moves us, also our love for people.
    Jesus tells us what leads to gaining everlasting life in his prayer to his Father at John 17:3 : “taking in knowledge (coming to know / displaying faith) in You, the Only True God, and....Jesus.”

    It seems everyone ‘knows’ Jesus, but practically no one is taught about his Father, Jehovah....”the Only True God.”

    Since “coming to know” Jehovah is necessary for gaining everlasting life, we feel it is necessary to reach others and teach them.

    Oh, Jehovah promises another opportunity for all who’ve lived to come to know Him, when they’re resurrected back to life; however, for those alive now, living in the Last Days, We want them to live through the end of this System, and be granted everlasting life.

    Hope this helps to explain why we continue our preaching work?
     
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  17. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    What if people have never heard of the product? How would they know it exists if nobody told them about it? Do you consider 'telling' someone about the product proselytizing? By definition, it is not proselytizing unless you are trying to convert somebody.

    proselytize: convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.

    "the program did have a tremendous evangelical effect, proselytizing many"

    evangelize, convert, save, redeem, win over, preach (to), recruit, act as a. https://www.google.com
     
  18. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    Thank you. It does help. I find JW an interesting group, as it more or less stands alone as to the commitment to proselytizing is high, and a certain amount of time is compulsory, at least by what my minimal research indicated. The success rate was high, but it also had the highest rate for leaving. Overall, more join that leave.

    The group also seemed accurate on self-reporting, as Pew Research had the numbers higher than the JW organisation itself. Failure to submit proselytising records got you off the active list. I wouldn't normally trust self reporting, as there's obvious reason for exaggeration.

    But I think the success is largely due to the commitment to it. Perhaps a more fair assessment would be converts per hour of proselytising, and look at how that's changed over the years, or by group.
     
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  19. RestlessSoul

    RestlessSoul Active Member

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    Fair point. If we consider a particular spiritual teacher to have a message that will benefit mankind, then of course we would want that message to be heard. And if we feel we have struck gold in our own spiritual journey, we will naturally want to share that gold with others.

    But to proselytise implies a degree of imposition, if not coercion. There's no point offering a gift to someone who clearly isn't interested in receiving it. And to try to convert somebody from one religion to another smacks of arrogance; I don't believe any one faith has a monopoly on God, nor on spiritual enlightenment.

    I believe we each have our own journey. We will meet others as we travel, and fall in step with them for a while; but when our paths diverge as sometimes they will, this doesn't necessarily mean that someone is going the wrong way.
     
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  20. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    If proselytizing is necessary, shouldn't we do this by our actions not by asking people if they heard about christ while waiting at the bus stop (my experience)?

    When does this (being at the bus stop, at the mall, walking in stores pretending like they are shopping, etc) get more about coercion and less about "but they have a choice to reject."

    It may work, but I think for the wrong reasons. In general, christian denominations vary in their proselyting and how. For example, catholics don't proselytize in the way others do, but they do.

    @Vanayaka I think it works just I feel people are converting more than genuine interest.
     
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