Religion has been on my mind a lot lately. A combination of The Book of Mormon, the Woolwich shooting, a school mentor who claimed to be ‘Richard Dawkins biggest fan’ and my mum becoming a Street Pastor have thrown up some interesting debates about Evangelism. This article – slightly confusingly written, if i’m honest – is a fair summation of my views, I think.
I think that ‘humility’ is the most important word here. I have absolutely no comprehension of how people go around belittling, demeaning, even attacking those who have a different faith. In all honesty, none of us know what forces govern the universe, and to claim we do shows a complete lack of humility. Whilst this is an aspect of most major religions which is widely criticised, there are also a lot of non-religious people/groups that are equally as aggressive in their evangelising.
And I don’t know about anybody else, but for me, being told what i ‘should’ believe has the opposite effect anyway. I resent people thinking that they know the absolute truth, that there is no other possibility and that i’m categorically wrong. There are better ways of endearing your views to the general public. Being polite, respectful and a person I admire is far more likely to make me want to take the time to understand your beliefs system, no matter what they are.
Having “You’re going to hell!” yelled at me on the high street by a preacher is not going to make me want to have a discussion about Christianity, and equally being told that “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that)” is not going to make me want to convert to atheism. The best example I can give of ‘positive evangelism’ is that of Street Pastors, who go onto the streets of major cities late in the evening, handing out flip-flops, water, and liaising with bars and clubs and the police in order to try and keep people safe. They don’t ask for anything, they don’t publicise their religious beliefs, they just help people out, and act as positive role models to those who encounter them. Now that’s an idea i can get behind, no matter who is organising it!
So until someone finds categorical, unequivocal evidence one way or the other, I don’t think anybody should assume they have all the answers, let alone try to force them on to those around them. Just be cool, guys. Live and let live. Have enough respect for your fellow man to allow them to believe in whatever they want to. For all we know (in spite of what we believe), there might be a giant sloth in charge of the universe.