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Proselytization And Charity


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A side subject cropped up in the "'faith-based' Programs In Trouble.." thread which I hoped could be explored further by starting again as it's own thread:


Transcendentalist posted that "IMO, people shouldn't feel pressured [to believe something] in order to receive a bag full of groceries or a winter jacket." Hopefully my editting (in brackets) reproduces the spirit of that statement accurately.


I suppose that I disagree, to a certain extent. Even as a progressive or liberal Christian, we should try to spread the Good News. What is immoral or evil about ministering to the needy while helping them with material needs?


Some thoughts:

"Man does not live by bread alone," or conversely, "With bread alone do we die."

Acts without faith is as "dead" as faith without acts.


Please chime in with your thoughts (in a friendly and respectful manner, of course :D ).



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Some thoughts...


I fully support the right of private organizations, including churches and charities, to establish their own policies and proceedures. If the Mormons say that you have to be re-baptized by them in order to become a member of their fold, so be it. Likewise, if the Salvation Army has a requirement that all who receive aide from them must "hear their version of the Gospel", this, to my mind is legally proper and should remain that way.


That said, I personally feel that charities which seek to minister to the poor ought not actually condition the aid they dispence upon citizens in need having to hear their sales pitch.


I'm reminded of those promos which advertize a free vacation at a condo in Florida .... if you sit through their 2 hour high pressure sales pitch.


To my mind, it isn't either/or or all or nothing..e.g. people can be fed in a church basement and a worship service and/or evangelism moment can be offered for those who are INTERESTED after the the meal is over or in another room.


If I were in need of feeding myself and my family, I'd want them to be fed first and foremost and if I had to sit through a religious sales pitch, I'd likely do so in a disinterested and reluctant manner (as would be the case for many others.)


From a pure evangelistic point of view, you can expect much greater "success" if the people in the room actually WANT to be there; i.e. are interested in learning more a about you and what makes you tick!

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I think the distinction must be made between "evangelisation" and "proselytisation". People have been given the wrong idea about the meaning of "evangelical" because for many "evangelical" churches what they mean is that they will actively go out and proselytise you and seek to convert you to their own personal worldview. This really is not what "evangelical" means. It is just simply good news. An evangelical is a bearer or witness of good news. It is, perhaps, an offering of sorts to others. To evangelise is to tell people good news (i.e. Jesus died for you) but does not seek to control the response. What is offencive to people is not so much that somebody would say "I am a Christian, I believe Jesus died for you and this is the good news that because of Jesus you can be saved". Unless someone has already been effectively turned off because of proselytisation, such a statement (even if someone totally disagrees) would not be offencive because it would be received merely as someone trying to share good news. However, when people use scare tactics, threats of hellfire and other "you will become a Christian (and my understanding of a Christian at that) or else" type claims the good news no longer becomes good news because all you are saying to someone is that you or someone else or for that matter God is going to do something horrible to them. No wonder people get turned off.

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  • 1 month later...
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Having worked for The Salvation Army for about three years I can tell you that at no time, never, had I ever seen or heard of anyone denying a client a food basket or a meal voucher or rent aid, etc. because that person did not want to listen to or did not believe ‘their version of the Gospel’.

I can say that almost every person was ask if they attended church, at the end of an interview, and that no questions or queries were made as to why they did or did not attend church. I certainly cannot speak for the SA as a whole, but as for the location that I worked for, there was a policy of, they get the food if they qualify. If someone didn’t want to hear about Jesus or didn’t want to be given a Bible they still got their food.

And why shouldn’t the SA tell someone that the reason they are getting this food is because Christ loves them? I am not sure that all place’s work like this, but I can tell you that nothing ever bothered me then or now about how the Salvation Army worked.

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