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What’s So Offensive About Proselytizing?

Everywhere you go these days people are complaining about proselytizers. “Don’t shove your views on me.” “Don’t tell me what you believe.” Some people have even been sued over it. But it’s interesting that the complaint only seems to happen when it comes to religion (specifically Christianity.) When you tell someone about why you love your new car, or why the new diet is changing your life, they’re happy to hear it.  And nobody complains when someone thinks Islam or Buddhism is wonderful.  But when Christianity transforms your life, forget about it.

The dictionary defines “proselytizing” as: To induce someone to convert to one’s faith, join one’s party, institution, or cause. That never seems to be a problem with 99% of the things people are excited about. I sat for 40 minutes listening to a friend tell me about how a local rehab program had saved his life, and I wasn’t offended, I was thrilled for him. I’ve filmed among voodoo practitioners in the Caribbean and been absolutely fascinated. I’ve witnessed bizarre religious ceremonies in Africa and India and it didn’t bother me a bit.  But the minute you share your experience with Christianity, the wall goes up and people get absolutely hysterical. I have a friend who was actually fired over sharing his faith with a co-worker who had just gone through a nasty divorce.

The truth is, it’s not sharing your experience that’s the problem. Something else is up. Anyone care to take a stab at why people get so offended these days?