Ebert on Evangelization
Your religion is a matter between you and the god of your definition. The eagerness to convert outsiders strikes me as one of the aspects of a cult. I believe the low emphasis placed on conversion by Jews is admirable. If you want to become a Jew, you go to them. I believe religions should convert by attraction, not promotion. Respect for other beliefs, or the lack of beliefs, should be at the heart of religions.
This sounds nice, but it fails to account for the belief many religious people have that the tenets of their religion are universally true and meant for everybody. Religion is not merely a matter between an individual and the god of his or her definition: many religions don’t even work that way. Religions can also be also about community, shared ritual, and the ultimate destiny of humanity. If you believe your religion speaks to matters of eternal life and death, you’d seem pretty duty-bound to share your religion with outsiders.
Rather than avoid promotion, I say share your religious beliefs in a spirit of hospitality and with an ear open to the possibility that what you share may not be what you believe it to be, namely true. Devotion to the truth should have nothing to fear from criticism, evidence, and argument. I want to hear what the believers of other faiths and religions have to say. I desire the company and counsel of agnostics and atheists. And I want to share what I believe to be true. Let’s dialogue.