Thursday, February 21, 2013

Guest Post: Promoting Your Beliefs

Evangelism, by it’s base definition, refers to the preaching of the 4 gospels.

The actual definition of Evangelism is to preach to others about the 4 gospels of the New Testament.  No brainer right?  But symbolically, this word has meant a lot of things to all of us.  For those who are a part of evangelical Christian religions, it means “spreading the good word”. 

 For those who are not there, it means being annoyed by others trying to sell you on something.  And for those who have been there and are no longer, well, I’m not going to pretend to know exactly what that means, I’ve not been there.  But when I talk to many who have left, it seems like a really dark place, something that I can either guess is a pang of guilt for having done so in the past, mixed with a ton of anger that they feel that they were manipulated into such a life/lifestyle/belief.  I may be very wrong, but it’s simply what I see watching from the outside.

I’m going to do some preaching to the choir here, but I hope that the reality of this is not lost on many.

I just ran a search on Google, just to seek out some 3rd party thoughts on why people are supposed to evangelize, and mostly from Christian focused sites, I found myself looking at some answers that made me really wonder.  Let’s examine some:
Because Jesus said he is the way, the truth, and the light.  -  So if I say that someone important I know says they are right simply because they are, this is enough?  Hitler made a lot of promises too.  I wonder how his body count compares with the crusades…
Some believe that we should follow God out of fear of him.  -  My time in the military tells me that when you hold a stick over someone’s head, they will only obey you for as long as you hold that stick over their head.  Once you remove that stick, they often will do the opposite simply to spite the stick holder.

Because if you are not with me, you are against me.  And those that don’t gather with me are scattered.  -  We call this polarization in the modern day.  I always see this as a manipulation of others, not in any real “reason”.
Because of various promises of a positive afterlife.  -  So you are saying that if i advertise for you now, and get lots of people for your system, I get a place in heaven?  I have found it amusingly interesting the connections with Christianity and Amway.
Because all of these people will go to hell if we don’t save them.  -  So you are now saying we need to take responsibility for others’ actions?  What exactly are we saving them from?  Hell?  That thing that the church is cashing in on to keep people giving tithes? 

Where in the bible is there a commandment that I should be giving 10% of what I own to the church?  The funniest one, a Jehovah’s Witness actually taught me that there’s nowhere that tithing is actually dictated in the bible.  Jesus did give a lesson on how much better it was for an old woman to give all she had to the temple than the rich to give part, but this was a totally different context.

I can continue these for a long time, these are some of the more “rational” answers I found...  Some were simply a site where they listed tons of bible verses, where the first 10 answers might have had reference to the reason, and the rest were feel good brain chemical manipulating answers that had absolutely nothing to do with the reason.

There’s a long list of reasons people give, but what’s the real reason?  To justify their own belief?  Due to peer pressure?  Some need of feeling they’ve done something good?  Because their answer is correct, so everyone needs to believe it?  Perhaps because they’ve had a horrible life until they “found” Jesus (he was lost?) and now they have a reason to live?  I don’t fully understand it all myself.  
You know the deal, we all do.  If there are people that don’t, then they are not doing their jobs right.

So what’s the real failure of evangelism?  Oh let us count the ways!

  1. Arguing to someone else based on a context that does not work for them is a formula for failure.  Claiming something is a truth because the bible says it is so only works for those that believe the bible is truth.  But you knew that.
  2. Telling people you have the answer to their problems is not a good way to make a good first impression.  We are all taught from an early age that if something is too good to be true, it probably is bad.  
  3. Claiming you are right and someone else is wrong is not a really good way to make friends.  No one likes a know-it-all.
  4. Not respecting people’s lives and privacy is a big issue, and you will not get more converts by bothering people in ways that are intrusive.
  5. Hateful behavior to various groups will only piss everyone off.  Trying to disguise hateful behavior with some bullshit justification that “I love you but not your behavior or beliefs” is a way to make your obvious bigotry socially acceptable on the surface with your peers.  Luckily it does not work with others.
  6. Telling people they cannot do something because by your definition it’s bad.  Usually based on #1 where that basis is in a book that has nothing to do with the person in front of you....
  7. Your religion says a lot of things, then does things that do not line up with what you say...  evangelists keep getting caught doing naughty things behind the scenes.  Practice what you preach in your everday life.  
  8. Because most of what you say the other person really has no interest in.  Your preaching was not asked for.  
Oh I can go on here too, but these are some of the low hanging fruit that come to mind.

So all of this is familiar right? 

So let me ask a strange question...  Why the hell are atheists so busy trying to evangelize?  And why the hell is it that every other time I see a debate involving atheism, an atheist is out there trying to use very similar tactics to bring people over to their “side”?

Because you are right and they are not?  Where have I heard that before…

Because I know that once you let go of the false belief you will feel better and the world will open up for you…  yep, not original.  I’ve heard that one too…

I think I heard this in a post where someone was talking about their feelings on religion and suddenly got blasted for believing something.  Wait, I thought religious persecution was something evangelists did?

I don’t want to blast everyone for their beliefs or lack thereof, but honestly, do you think that looking as idiotic as Christian EvangelistsTM is really going to do good for YOUR side of the argument?  I’m not going to pick out all the reasons for this, it’s useless.  But please, for the sake of all that is or is not holy, please try to do something far more effective?  Why lower yourselves to their level?  Even if you are right, or it’s different, no one that you are trying to convince will see it that way.
I will assert at this point that the only belief that really will do anyone any good, is one that a person comes to without being pressured, that they choose of their own free will.  I might suggest starting with building common ground, finding ways to respect each other, learning to get along, find ways to help each other, and show the world that your way of life does work and is moral, without shoving it down anyone’s throat.  

Show in your conversation that you can see the point of view of others, and genuinely care for something besides your personal crusade for whatever it is you crusade for.  Especially if you have so much in common with each other.  With all this technology, this world is getting smaller and smaller, and you DO have to share this world with everyone after all.    Because honestly, we don’t need MORE evangelists out there.  No matter what gospel.

-by Jeffrey C. Anthony
Student of life and author of

(Sheldon's note:) This post will be controversial, I know, but it arrived at a rather appropriate time. I have been hearing more complaints than usual lately from liberal Christians, fundamentalists, and even people in the "spiritual but not religious" category saying that atheists are getting too aggressive with religious people.

 I'll leave that for you to decide whether or not that is true.

Jeffrey is a very liberal Christian, and one of my most loyal followers on Google +. If you are on Google +, add me to circles, it's the best way to keep up with the blog. 


  1. We're getting more aggressive because they tend to try and silence us at every given opportunity, so the more they try to silence us, the louder and ruder we get.

    Point blank being, if Christians would like the majority of atheists to let up and actually hush up, then they themselves can quit being self righteous dicks and stop oppressing people and being downright offensive in public.

    A Christian gets too unruly with me, I come out and show my true self, describing how I feel society should be run with myself being a social darwinist and inform them the reason I want them castrated and have any children they have removed is because they obviously lack the intelligence and rational mind enough to conclude that religion is bullshit and therefore, not desired within the gene pool.

    However, the reason I'm a social darwinist is because of the treatment I've received in my past and the emotional scarring I've been dealt with in life by so called "Loving Christians". The pain and horrors I've experienced, I blame them for it and due to those experiences, I'd rather purge the world of the disease of religion that has put so much pain in my life.

    Religion created me. It's the fault of the religious that I am the way I am. They created this monster and they can deal with it. If they don't like it, then the Christians themselves can STFU or kill themselves. There's been several Christian groups that have already spiked and drank the kool aid, just wish a hell of a lot more would follow suit.

    1. I feel your pain, as a Christian I've even been treated like shit by most Christians. I wont silence you. But do you ever consider that you are inviting their behavior by being as aggressive as you are? Not that it ever justifies their behavior, but I usually reserve the argument of who is justified based on who started it for when I'm bored and trolling not for how I choose to live my life.

      I have always wondered, what the real percentages are of people of all beliefs or non beliefs, of how many people are really bold and up front evangelists, and if we are really judging EVERYONE because of the 5-10% of the loudest assholes we can find out there?

      My biggest fear is that there's so many people out there letting the hate of someone else define who they are to your extent. Create yourself instead of letting their hate create you.

  2. The author has pointed out several great flaws with proselytization strategies. 1, 3, and 4 in particular rang true for me. Evangelical Christians really need to spruce up their marketing strategy, since they often don't understand their target audiences.

    1. Those are some of my biggies as well, but honestly, I fear a day when Evangelists spruce up their game. An organization that is obviously dangerous and hateful is very easy to deal with compared to one that is far more socially acceptable and secretive.

  3. Yes, I've thought this before too. I prefer atheists who respect my views, and I"ll respect theirs. His points about hell are dead on.

    1. The hell thing really clicked for me when I started looking at Judaism, and the fallacy that the only difference between Christians and Jews is the new testament.

      Hearing about a being similar to the one that Christians call Satan is actually an angel under God's employ that teaches others through hardship and the like made much more sense than the present insanity. We learn from our hardships, why we would want to reject them and just blame them on some invisible evil being I have no idea.

  4. I had just asked Sheldon about this not having seen this post and was hoping someone had spoke up. My issues with god aside the biggest issues I had with religion was self righteous people preaching to me about how much better they were and how much better their religion was and how wrong I was and how I was so dumb for not believing and that their way was the one true way and look at those idiots over there that do not believe. We must go after them even though they are minding their own business and ridicule them. I then go online and look in my stream.. I am ready to give up what little faith I have left only to find the exact same thing on the other side. At this point I no more want to be associated with being Catholic which I was than being Atheist... Quite bluntly too many assholes doing bad things giving everyone with the title a bad name. This is just an observation from someone in the middle with no agenda other than they lost their faith and are looking for answers.

    1. I'm very similar. Humility seems to have become only when convenient for the common person of religion when it makes them look better or converts people. Not how I understand things are supposed to be.
      I always feel like the problem is more of a people problem than any amount of belief or lack thereof.
      You aren't alone, I think we are just stuck all feeling alone because all we hear are the loudest of the idiots in all sides of life.


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