Secular Right | Reality & Reason



Faiths of our Fathers?

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.

H/t:The Daily Dish

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  • Author comment by David Hume · March 21, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    i’ve seen this thing about muslims not proselytizing, including by muslims. it’s crap. a bald-faced lie, basically asking to be called out. though often more style than substance, all muslims are called upon dawah, to spread the faith. in theory. just like christians. granted, there are many contexts when muslims, like christians, do no proselytize, but that’s a contextual thing. lots of regions have a delicate equilibrium, and local elites of different groups want to keep the equilibrium going as long as possible, so they dampen between group competition.

  • Snippet · March 21, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    It is truly amazing how totally some defiantly and even obnoxiously secular people will bend over backwards to avoid offending the sensibilities of Muslims, and will criticize those who – often unintentionally and inadvertently – offend Muslims, yet … for some unfathomable reason … seem to revel in the mockery of Christians.

    I am mystified by this.

    Completely, totally mystified.

  • John · March 21, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    The whole term “cultural aggression” is loaded. It is always used by people complaining that American culture is infiltrating their non-American culture. If Christians convert Muslims, a McDonalds opens in Paris, or people speak English in China, that is “cultural aggression.” For some reason, when we see more Muslims in the US, people open Thai restaurants, or speak Spanish, that is diversity we should celebrate.

    People who use the term “cultural aggression” are using it to express hatred of America and Western culture. That is the only time I’ve ever seen the term used.

  • Snippet · March 22, 2010 at 10:29 am


    Excellent point re: “cultural aggression.”

    Would Robert Wright write sympathetically about rural American Christians complaining about the “cultural aggression” of Muslims, Asians, etc….

    Let’s make it better, lets say the Americans aren’t complaining about “Cultural Aggression,” they’re intimidating and even killing the “agressors.”

    It is almost eery how perfectly it works:

    Liberals (..”Leftists?”..) are sympathetic to Third World peoples in almost perfect
    correlation with the degree to which those people epitomize everything liberals despise.

    When was the last time you saw a sympathetic treatment of a group of remote stone-age people making an honest effort to improve and modernize their societies?

    Yes, this is an over-generalization, but it is a very durable pattern, and I can remember seeing it since college in the mid 1980’s.



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