Golden Rule FAIL

What do you think would happen if I said: “I know that there are some peaceful Christians who don’t go around preaching or practicing that. Well, unfortunately, we can’t sit back and tolerate the radical ones simply because we know that there are some of them who don’t believe in that aspect of the Christian religion. So their role is to be allowed to practice their religion freely, just like we should be allowed to practice our religion freely, and not try to convert the rest of us.”

I think that if I said that it would be taken as evidence that Witches are trying to silence Christians and prevent them from evangelizing (which many of them see as a religious requirement, remember), or that it would otherwise infringe on Christians’ rights.

That quote came straight from an article on Herman Cain, potential Republican presidential candidate:

“I know that there are some peaceful Muslims who don’t go around preaching or practicing that,” he said. “Well, unfortunately, we can’t sit back and tolerate the radical ones simply because we know that there are some of them who don’t believe in that aspect of the Muslim religion. So their role is to be allowed to practice their religion freely, just like we should be allowed to practice our religion freely, and not try to convert the rest of us.”

If Cain listened to his own words, he would realize that a religious requirement to evangelize is one of the tricky parts of living in a pluralistic society, no matter what religion it’s coming from. And he might just, maybe, realize that those of us who aren’t Christian don’t want to be converted to Christianity – or made to live under Christian moral codes – any more than he wants to be converted to Islam or live under Islamic moral codes. But while we’ve got people who might be running for president saying that “we can’t … tolerate” other religions, and others saying that there are no problems the Bible can’t solve, and that we need more Bible-believing people in positions of power, I don’t think any of those people have considered what the situation would be like if their roles were reversed. Golden Rule FAIL.

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About Literata

Literata is a Wiccan priestess and writer. She edited Crossing the River: An Anthology in Honor of Sacred Journeys, and her poetry, rituals, and nonfiction have appeared in works such as Mandragora, Unto Herself, and Anointed as well as multiple periodicals. Literata has presented rituals and workshops at Sacred Space conference, Fertile Ground Gathering, and other mid-Atlantic venues. Literata offers healing and divination services as well as customized life-cycle rituals. She is currently completing her doctoral dissertation in history with the support of her husband and four cats.
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7 Responses to Golden Rule FAIL

  1. Dav, who wants a nap says:

    I would like to see evangelicals of all creeds take a close look at what evangelizing ought to look like these days. It can’t just be a “loudest voice wins” kind of thing, but there’s always going to be fringe elements that can be used to make the relatively moderate majorities look bad. Especially embarrassing in the US, though, what with the whole “freedom of religion” thing we have going.

    I do find the “no problems the Bible can’t solve” thing so funny as to border on self-satire. Integrals? The proper response to a child tantrumming on the public bus? Which fork to use at a fancy dinner? Whether now is an appropriate time to address long-term prospects for peace in North Korea? All somewhere in the Bible.

  2. Literata says:

    Lord and Lady know that Paganism has its own thick, fluffy fringe attached.

    I think that, to a certain extent, a deep commitment to converting non-believers is incompatible with a “safe space,” and might even pose problems in a pluralistic setting. But I wonder if it might work to establish something akin to the guidelines for sexual harassment: Sure, you can ask him out, but you can only ask once, and if he says no, you have to drop it, and act as if nothing happened. You can’t create a hostile environment where people feel like their value is judged on their gender or on their willingness to participate in relationships with more powerful people. What do you think?

    • Dav says:

      I don’t know.

      For some of these religions, the stakes are really, really high. It’s like asking someone out . . . but if they say no, there’s a fair chance they’ll burn in hell forever and it’s at least partially your fault. For people who genuinely believe that, I totally understand why politeness may seem like less of an issue than converting people at all costs. And if they’re right . . . well, you know, I would feel kinda bad in retrospect.

      I do wonder if there are ways to convince evangelicals that this “I am going to talk at you about my beliefs” approach doesn’t really work, except in Chick tracts. Especially for evangelical Christians – as dmw points out, there’s really not many groups in America who have *no* clue who this Jesus guy was.

      I don’t mind hanging out with the ISKCON or Mormon missionaries in the park, but I do feel like there’s no attempt on their behalf to connect *really* with me and my life – there’s no exchange, and it tends to be fairly rote. Which is kind of sad. Not that I want to convert anyone to vague agnostic whateverness, but because it’s clearly a sales pitch at that point, which is kind of awful for everyone involved.

      My best experiences with missionaries/evangelicals have been when we connect as strangers-who-just-happen-to-be-talking-about-stuff-including-religion. It hasn’t converted me, but it’s a much less squicky. So I wonder if a gigantic emphasis on varied experiences and connection and (possibly) the numerous ways people find divinity in their lives might help, so evangelism becomes more of a sharing what good you have found, and less of a prescription of cures for Joe McStranger.

      And, of course, keeping evangelism out of the workplace as much as possible – putting it in a dark closet with talk about diets and budgets and daily grandchild pictures.

  3. As far as the evangelism thing goes, I honestly don’t mind the annoyance as long as they can take a “No, thank you” and go about their lives. Of course, the whole thing is that I ended up converting to a religion that traditionally spurns converts and doesn’t evangelize, so to me personally, evangelism is kinda like Madison avenue commercials.

    As in, I turned off my TV, because I really don’t like them. I may have to see them in public, fine, but please don’t FORCE me to turn on my TV. Of course, Far too many evangelicals think that it is their duty to tell Jews ALL about JESUS because we obviously are ignorant about his life and how he’s really the messiah. Oy vey. Once again, it’s like being forced to watch a tv program I don’t like. I got the message. It just sucks. You enjoy your Daytime soaps, and I’ll enjoy my Alec Guinness films, ok?

  4. Literata says:

    You enjoy your Daytime soaps, and I’ll enjoy my Alec Guinness films, ok?

    Good comparison. One of my personal rules for life is “De gustibus non est disputandem,” loosely translated, “There’s no accounting for taste.” You can keep the matzo, but share the kosher Coke and the Hamantaschen, ok? I’ll share the Irish soda bread but spare you the tofu. 🙂

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