The idea that religious proselytizing is something to be avoided lest it cause (dread word) “offense” is idiotic, and all too typical of our times. Just because someone is from a family or, indeed, an ethnicity or nationality, usually associated with one particular faith does not make it wrong to try and change his or her mind. That’s called debate – and there is no good reason that religious ideologies should be immune from it.
And yet here we find a writer for the New York Times who is at least somewhat critical of Christians for trying to take their faith into Muslim areas of Nigeria. To be fair, the piece is reasonably subtle and well worth a look, but nevertheless this, in particular, struck me as revealing of a certain type of cultural cringe:
…Whatever form the recruiting takes, it is often perceived by Muslims as cultural aggression — unprovoked aggression, since they’re not generally inclined to proselytize, and serious aggression, since in many Muslim cultures it’s a grave thing for a believer to stray from the fold.
To which the response must be ‘too bad’. Christians should be free to try to tempt people to sign up for their faith, and so should Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists and, for that matter, anyone else, for theirs. That’s part and parcel of the free flow of ideas, and those who think that such a free flow is a good idea should not be in the business of propping up the cultural and religious taboos that stand in its way.