When is it appropriate to share your religious faith with others?

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Dondi, May 2, 2008.

  1. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    When is it appropriate to share your religious faith with others?

    There was a pretty heated argument about this on another forum. The question was mostly directed to athiests. I'd like to include anyone of any faith. The OP of that forum listed some methods that have been used to get the 'message' across:

    -Knocking on doors

    -Passing out written materials

    -Inviting friends to religious services

    -Telling friends about your beliefs, with or without invitation

    -Mission trips to share beliefs and do good works

    -Faith-based movements or attempts to change laws or politics, from the Puritans to Dr. Martin Luther King to pro-life groups

    -Sharing beliefs with someone who is in distress

    -Faith-based help projects such as homeless shelters that require text studies, hospitals with religious ministries to patients, drug treatment programs (e.g., Scientology's Narconon), etc.

    -Pointing out weaknesses or faults in someone else's beliefs

    -"Slacktivist Witnessing" - e.g., holding up signs at football games, religious graffiti, T-shirts, etc.

    -Other??

    The assumption is that utilize these do so in a polite manner.

    What's your take on these?
     
  2. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    I think it only socially acceptable to share when you are asked about your faith. Anything other than that is proselytizing.
     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I can imagine! I'll answer from my viewpoint
    not for me
    I'll do these when it comes up in conversation, but no in your face stuff.
    again the good works, building something would be my main mission
    I like the Amish influence on slavery, etc I guess in this case I am swayed by what I feel is beneficial
    Would you like me to pray with you? is the extent of my sharing, until they ask for more.
    require I have issues with, offer, make available is in line with my thinking
    I love that when others open that door, time for some quid pro quo!
    signs at football games, not likely, tee shirts all the time, graffitti not into vandalism, polite manner, paramount.

    I think the biggest thing is actions, personal actions, and folks asking how can you be calm in this situation, why did you do that, wonderful how you said that, etc.

    Be the change, to me spiritual growth is about my path, my growth, I'll walk that path with others but I'm not about dragging or coercing or making others feel bad.
     
  4. Muslimwoman

    Muslimwoman Coexistence insha'Allah

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    Hi Dondi

    I can only tell you what I would feel is appropriate for me to do or would be comfortable having done to me.

    -Knocking on doors

    Nope, that to me is far too personal, it invades my private space.

    -Passing out written materials

    Would depend where and if the person showed any interest. For example I went to buy some light bulbs this week and after talking about Islam to the Muslim shopkeeper he offered me a leaflet to read, which under those circumstances I was happy to accept.

    -Inviting friends to religious services

    Again depends how it's done, if someone said I am going to a sufi mosque or somewhere to hear a certain Imam or Rabbi speak would you like to come along I would be happy with that. But if it was done in a "you heathen come so we can show you the light" kind of way I would not be happy.

    -Telling friends about your beliefs, with or without invitation

    I may bring up the subject of my faith in the same way I may bring up the subject of my new shoes or world politics and if they keep the conservation going or ask questions I would continue, if they don't I would change the subject.

    -Mission trips to share beliefs and do good works

    Personally I think the two should be totally separate. Do good works because it helps someone not because you may convert them to your faith. Mission trips - no I don't agree with them. If I was invited to a place where people were free to come and learn about Islam then of course I would be delighted to go and offer any help I could but I would not go somewhere with the sole intention of converting people (even if I am doing good works to disguise what I am doing).

    -Faith-based movements or attempts to change laws or politics, from the Puritans to Dr. Martin Luther King to pro-life groups

    Yes why not, every person that ever votes attempts to change laws or politics.

    -Sharing beliefs with someone who is in distress

    I think it would depend what you mean by distress. My gut reaction is no because I am thinking of emotional or physical distress, I should try to help them because it's the right thing to do. If once they are no longer in distress they thank me and it feels appropriate I may tell them that my faith is what drives me to do good and help people. If they then ask about my faith I would of course tell them.

    -Faith-based help projects such as homeless shelters that require text studies, hospitals with religious ministries to patients, drug treatment programs (e.g., Scientology's Narconon), etc.

    If it is designed to convert people then no. On the Day of Judgement I doubt I shall be asked how many people I converted but I am really sure I shall be asked how many I helped because it was the right thing to do.

    -Pointing out weaknesses or faults in someone else's beliefs

    No. I think it is great to discuss and compare beliefs but until you have concrete proof (ie would make every athiest convert to your faith) that your beliefs are right and someone elses are wrong then what right have we got to suggest their beliefs are weak or faulted?

    -"Slacktivist Witnessing" - e.g., holding up signs at football games, religious graffiti, T-shirts, etc.

    ICK no way, that is just odd and forcing your beliefs on people, which is more likely to turn them away than bring them into the fold of your faith.
     
  5. Faithfulservant

    Faithfulservant New Member

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    -Knocking on doors

    I would if I felt called to do so.. but more than likely not because theres such a negative stigma attached to that practice.

    -Passing out written materials

    I would if I felt called to do so.

    -Inviting friends to religious services

    I do this...

    -Telling friends about your beliefs, with or without invitation

    I am convicted to do this the most.

    -Mission trips to share beliefs and do good works

    I would do mission trips if led to do so... Good works is product of faith so this is for sure.

    -Faith-based movements or attempts to change laws or politics, from the Puritans to Dr. Martin Luther King to pro-life groups

    Of course.

    -Sharing beliefs with someone who is in distress

    wow this is something I HAVE to do... I dont even think twice about it. Its automatic with me.

    -Faith-based help projects such as homeless shelters that require text studies, hospitals with religious ministries to patients, drug treatment programs (e.g., Scientology's Narconon), etc.

    I like this but minus the requirements... thats a no-no,... should make the texts optional

    -Pointing out weaknesses or faults in someone else's beliefs

    I will do this yes if the conversation is driven this way...if a JW comes to my house... I think everyone does it... Look at poor mee... he never gets a break :)

    -"Slacktivist Witnessing" - e.g., holding up signs at football games, religious graffiti, T-shirts, etc.

    I wear shirts I use bumper stickers I walk by people and say Jesus loves you... I attended a Mayday for Marriage which was highly publicized.

    -Other??

    I think the most obvious is just leading by example. Being a Light unto the world and taking seriously the Great Commision.
     
  6. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Great question Dondi.

    I read a lot of good answers.

    Seems to me the best teachers in my life were those who made the lessons pertinent, gave the lessons in a way that made some relevent sense. Foremost a student has to be in a willing frame of mind. In other words, the student has to be at a place mentally and spiritually where they are ready to hear. The teacher would know this by the student's invitation, the asking of questions.

    The good teacher would then tailor the lesson to suit the needs of the particular student, by asking the motivation and reasoning for the questions.

    In other words, teaching (of which preaching is only one style) is a two way communication, a give and take. The best teachers will tell you they learn continually from their students.

    Those who take the position that teaching is a force feed in one direction are quite mistaken. Virtually all I know who have discussed this matter come to the same conclusion, they are repulsed by such authoritarian communication.

    Don't tell me, show me. Walk along with me for awhile and discuss with me. Allow me to ask, and answer honestly. I will do the same for you.

    There is no need to waste effort on closed ears and closed minds. Some ground is simply not ready to cultivate, and it is not in my power to change the constitution of the soil. I can only work with what is there, and then only if I am given permission from the land holder.
     
  7. greymare

    greymare New Member

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    well, from the other side of the coin..... I welcome all input on a persons faith.... cos it interests me......... but i generally start the conversatin with........... I DO NOT want to convert but........ tell me why.........(again, thats why im here talking to you guys). If I was involved in a faith i couldnt go around spruiking it to people and handling out leaflets and door knocking (sorry mee) Im a people person but not that much. LOL. I like to think I help people when i can.....and for some, a hug is as good as a prayer... well, its all I can offer at the moment........... hugs to flow.
     
  8. Francis king

    Francis king New Member

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    When is it appropriate to share your religious faith with others?

    for me...

    -Knocking on doors- completely inexcusable- I really don't like this...

    -Passing out written materials- fine, so long as the material is free, and there are no threats or other form of cohersion to accept the literature- using buxom wenches to hand out flyers is a good move, but when the wenches are encouraged to perform sexual acts... not fine...

    -Inviting friends to religious services- fine, so long as it does not damage the friendship if the friend declines the invitation...a person , when given a refusal, should not press again too often...

    -Telling friends about your beliefs, with or without invitation- I'm okay about this, so long as when it's uninvited, it is merely passing comment, or basic sharing... as soon as the friend starts to look bored, or annoyed, it's time to shut up... if a friend invites you to talk about what you believe in- great! just as long as they are free to disagree and are not viewed as lesser, weaker, sinners, damned, etc, for not believing the same as you do......

    -Mission trips to share beliefs and do good works- it depends... I do not understand the logic of travelling halfway around the world to do "good works" when there's plenty of good works to be done in your own street, and I do not think these good works, when needed, should involve religion in any way shape or form... that said, there are plenty of religious charitable organisations which do good work, but in the case of organisations attached to long established and financially wealthy denominations I think that the church should put it's own money where its mouth is... I would prefer to support a charity which does not have anything to do with religion, actually...

    -Faith-based movements or attempts to change laws or politics, from the Puritans to Dr. Martin Luther King to pro-life groups... disagree with this- while I can admire the Quakers for their conscientious objection and early anti slavery ideologies, I do not want evangelical christians outlawing abortion... I do not think that that religion should ever be a suitable alternative to politics, and do not think that people who are religious can be successful politicians and work democratically, for the good of all, as their own motivations will always surface which means they cannot serve the people adequately...

    -Sharing beliefs with someone who is in distress- I don't think this is right... instead, practical issues should be addressed- if I am homeless and sleeping at the back of the train station, offering to pray for me might make you feel good but does naff all for me... I would rather you put your money where your mouth was, and accomodate me yourself, or at least pass me some information about hostels and soup kitchens, or maybe give me a sleeping bag... I dislike the idea that phoney religious people who have often been brainwashed themselves think they have the right to minister to the sick, the weak, the vulnerable, when their ministering involves nothing practical and brings salvation attached to conditions... that said, in times of extreme distress, and terror, when people are grieving, sometimes being reminded gently that there is hope, and maybe a god who is watching, and maybe another place is comforting, for some...

    -Faith-based help projects such as homeless shelters that require text studies, hospitals with religious ministries to patients, drug treatment programs (e.g., Scientology's Narconon), etc.- again, I think these things are cons, too... you are taking advantage of weak, sick, and vulnerable people. Ethically, this is all wrong... recieving help should not be determined by your faith, or beliefs- but simply based on the fact you request help, and we have the ability to give it...

    -Pointing out weaknesses or faults in someone else's beliefs- I disagree with this... it is fine if you are old, firm friends, and are staying up late at night and drinking wine and debating, it is fine when you're in an internet forum, like this, and openly inviting criticism... but usually to behave like this tells me that you are impolite and inconsiderate of other's feelings...

    -"Slacktivist Witnessing" - e.g., holding up signs at football games, religious graffiti, T-shirts, etc- fine, I don't mind this- after all, advertising with wacky slogans and thought-provoking adverts is nothing new... I do not like grafitti- unless it is top notch art... scrawling jesus' name on the wall in felt tip? pathetic... Banksy inspired witty social commentary..? bring it on...
     
  9. Iacchus

    Iacchus God of the Mask

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    Back in the "old days," the only way people could get the word out was to proselytize. Nowadays, since the advent of the printing press and telecommunications (and the Internet), this is no longer necessary. It almost seems that, to some extent, the following passage now applies:

    Now that isn't to say not everybody is going to know but, not because it was not made available to them.
     
  10. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    I gotta go with Mark here. It's appropriate if you're asked. I guarantee you nobody enjoys being panhandled with religion. And please keep it out of the work place.

    Chris
     
  11. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    I think I agree with Francis Bacon about these things, and its sad that the only people who knock on doors are sales staff and evangelists.

    Neighbors should have some where to meet each other and drop in on each other -- like a small community area. That's where public speeches and mixers and things should take place. I know one community that has such a setup, and it is the coolest thing. Definitely its unhealthy the way that people no longer interact with their neighbors.
     
  12. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Guess where that makes me a little wierd. I get upset when I see a flyer in my door. Upset that I missed the Witneses, or Mormon's or Baptists that were out knockin. Now I guess that is partially because to me there is no better time to share your religion as when someone is sharing theirs. Like gray I do have an interest, but heck if you knocked and I open the door, and I've got the time, it's on! And my favorite thing is them looking at their watch and saying they have to go, while I raise my finger and say, "One more question" Oh and when they come back with bigger guns I like that too. And when I see them walking across the street avoiding my door and pointing, I like that to, as I run out and say come back as they scurry down the street...

    Of course I like telemarketers too. No better time to try to sell them Amway.
     
  13. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    You're a real sh** wil!

    Chris
     
  14. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Personally, I don't do this. The former is an invasion of another person's privacy and property and the latter has too much capacity for misunderstanding unless you're handing over a long manuscript to avoid misinterpretation of what you wrote or you're going so generalized that it is nearly pointless. (i.e., I guess I could hand out fliers that just say "LOVE.") Besides, I'm all for saving trees...

    The former I only do with people I know very well and who express an interest, or with whom I feel called to discuss my own practices. It is a rarity because I don't think my practices are particularly more relevant than any others, and seem to be more difficult for most people to enjoy and get into.

    The latter... with invitation, or if the topic comes up and it is a mutual discussion. I won't just launch into some treatise on my faith and spiritual practices. That's a stilted way of conversing with a friend in my opinion.

    My life is my mission trip. And it is all to spread love and goodness. I don't need to share my beliefs. My actions should speak for themselves and if people ask me my beliefs, then I share.

    Yes, in a way. My faith impacts my politics and sense of social and environmental justice. I do not want a theocracy by any means- I am very pro separation of religion and state. However, one's faith and beliefs will necessarily impact one's way of viewing the world and interacting with it, one's ethics, and a sense of what is appropriate action.

    I'm closest to being Quaker and Druid, and both have a long history of social and environmental work as part of their spiritual practice. The druids, after all, were originally the advisors of the rulers; the bards' poetry was political as well as spiritual. Religion was not created to be separated from social life, but rather was an integral part of people's lives. I believe in freedom of spirituality (complete freedom except that which harms others), but I don't advocate a life or society free from spirituality.

    Only if I feel deeply called to do so, which is rare. I generally sense distress in others and feel called to listen. Most people need a listener more than they need my ideas.

    No. I do these things free from religion. I believe people should receive this help without having to accept a certain religious viewpoint at the same time. I tend to thing that is a sort of bribe. It just feels wrong to me.

    Helping others should spring naturally from motive-less love. I trust that if I show the love of God, people will see Him through me, and will therefore get on the most harmonious, best path for themselves.

    Only in debate (and I only debate when invited, in venues that are appropriate). Or very, very kindly to those I am so close to that they know I am coming from a place of love. Otherwise, this sort of thing tends to make people defensive, which actually shuts down the parts of the brain that allow people to learn.

    Does my "Coexist" bumper sticker count? :p
     
  15. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    LOL You and me both, Wil. If I have the time, I'll gab for hours about religion. Unfortunately, I seem to be a very tough nut to crack in terms of sales- whatever the item is, including religion.

    So far, I've only had one door-knocker and I was unfortunately running out of the door to the barn and the dogs were going crazy. But I still told them, sure, I'm always up for a Bible verse, but no thanks on the pamphlets- I love trees and I have a whole library of religious books of every flavor, so I'm fairly selective in what is worth sacrificing a tree for. Waiting for the next one...
     
  16. mee

    mee Interfaith Forums

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    well Jesus did say GO matthew 28;19-20

    and he did sent his followers out to the houses

    acts 5;42 acts 20;20



    listening to Jesus is the way to go:)



    and its still going on matthew 24;14.
     
  17. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Dondi asked:

    When is it appropriate to share your religious faith with others?

    There was a pretty heated argument about this on another forum. The question was mostly directed to athiests. I'd like to include anyone of any faith. The OP of that forum listed some methods that have been used to get the 'message' across:

    -Knocking on doors

    I've never really felt this was an appropriate way to share my faith.

    -Passing out written materials

    I've done this in conjunction with displays and people take them if interested.

    -Inviting friends to religious services

    I've invited people to Holy Day events and also responded to invitations so it goes both ways with me.

    -Telling friends about your beliefs, with or without invitation

    Usually if it's my friend we discuss religion, politics and so on and so it's by invitation..

    -Mission trips to share beliefs and do good works

    My wife and I visited a Caribbean Island years ago and worked with some people who lived there to teach the Faith. It was an invigorating experience and we had a lot of friends as a result of that.

    -Faith-based movements or attempts to change laws or politics, from the Puritans to Dr. Martin Luther King to pro-life groups

    I've been involved in civil rights and antiwar demonstrations in the past along with many other people and friends. Lately I think Forums are important ways to educate people so have done that more recently.

    -Sharing beliefs with someone who is in distress

    If the person in distress is reaching out and wants to talk I've done that.

    -Faith-based help projects such as homeless shelters that require text studies, hospitals with religious ministries to patients, drug treatment programs (e.g., Scientology's Narconon), etc.

    I've been involved in Inter-faith groups where we've supported services for people as no one else seems to be doing it in an organized way and felt it was meeting a legitimate need.

    -Pointing out weaknesses or faults in someone else's beliefs

    I usually am more defensive...respond to attacks than attacking.

    -"Slacktivist Witnessing" - e.g., holding up signs at football games, religious graffiti, T-shirts, etc.

    I've worn message T-shirts about war and peace, race unity in the past... I don't go to many foot ball games.

    -Other??

    The assumption is that utilize these do so in a polite manner.

    What's your take on these?

    I think the best circumstances to share one's Faith is in a mutual kind of open dialog and sharing.
     
  18. mee

    mee Interfaith Forums

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    As christians, listening to Jesus is best way .

    And a voice came out of the cloud, saying: "This is my Son, the one that has been chosen. Listen to him." luke 9;35



    And Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: "All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded YOU. And, look! I am with YOU all the days until the conclusion of the system of things."

    matthew 28;18-20




     
  19. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    But it doesn't say HOW to make disciples of all nations. Hence this conversation.
     
  20. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Way to go. wil!

    Had a couple Mormons knock at the door this evening.

    Couldn't let them get away without an invitation to join us here at CR.

    :)
     

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