View Full Version : Religion - Can You Be Converted? (Not A Troll)

10-11-2001, 06:25 AM
The topic is blunt, and intended to be so because this is often an issue that people face throughout their lives. Today, I participated in a large open discussion, roughly 150 people or so, and the 5 speakers were representing christianity. They were on a panel, but it was a completely open forum, where people could ask any question they wanted, and disagree etc. It was profoundly interesting to watch people of all denominations speak up their disagreements, agreements, and beliefs, and I believe that of all the people there, the overall goal was to walk away with an understanding.
Of course there are always some who are so consumed by their perception filters that they will not be willing to learn anything, but that is of course their fault.

My question to all of the forum members is this. Say for example, you have a set of beliefs, and you present these beliefs to say, the entire group of people, and they are not in disagreement with their beliefs, but they are not completely the same.

Lets take Taoism or Zen for example. Talking about experience of life, being oneself, doing, awareness, oneness, etc. Now, you can take these ideas and apply them to everything, and you can allow people to see a relation of what they are saying to your perspective/attitude.


So, lets say you do this, you express your view/perspective/opinions/truth as you see it, and suddenly they agree with you, but have a motive to attempt at converting you to christianity or whatever religion it is that they are.

What approach do you take to combat that, without hurting anyones feelings, and still staying in good terms with them. A lot of people are so involved and passionate about what they believe, and fail to respect that what others believe is ok to believe, that they are consumed with the urge to try and show you how what they are seeing is the "absolute" truth of things. This is the reason I ask this question, and I would be interested to seeing what everyone's answers here are. I don't think answers to this question will be right/wrong but I am looking for different thoughts.

I had some thoughts myself on this topic. So you share your thoughts, and you really enjoyed speaking with these people, but now suddenly they want to keep talking to you, but keep pressing that you ask yourself, "What does Jesus want me to do?" and "How can I change my life by Accepting jesus christ?"

So, you might say this. You might first ask if they truly respect your beliefs and views, even if they do not agree with them. If they answer yes, then you may further say that you feel that they are being overbearing in what seems to you to be an attempt at making you believe the same thing that they believe. You can ask them to please stop that, and instead just engage in discussion and understanding.

My idea here is so that you are not pushed into doing things you do not want to do, like suddenly you wind up attending missionary meetings and bible studies without actually wanting to partake in that.

Although, one should certainly be willing to learn about those areas, and can absolutely make a decision for him/herself in regards to what they choose to take out of that.

After all the talking is said and done, I must say that how you actualize and bring what you believe into the world is more important than the beliefs themselves. The way you express yourself is far more important than just thinking about expressing yourself. Just like a person can read any spiritual document, or scripture, but that doesn't necessarily mean because they know the way, that they will act upon it.

Just some thoughts I would like to share, as it is a question I have been interested in others perspectives. In fact, I would be most grateful if some Christians would even give comments as to a way they would feel comfortable being approached and responded to if someone felt they were being pushed.

Regards -

- Nexus

10-11-2001, 06:48 AM
I would be most grateful if some Christians would even give comments as to a way they would feel comfortable being approached and responded to if someone felt they were being pushed.

Personally, I think if you feel like you're being pushed you should just firmly ask them to back off. Take care of yourself first and don't worry about their feelings.

As far as being approached is concerned, I think the best way is from the age-old system of question-and-answer, born out of sincere curiosity.

I feel evangelists shouldn't take the air of a used car salesman. People should not be "sold" into religion, nor should they be scared into it.

The old lines of "What would Jesus do?" and "You'll burn in hell if you don't convert" are more emotional manipulation tactics than anything else.

BTW, I participate in local missionary efforts for my particular denomination when time allows, so I know that side of the coin.

10-11-2001, 06:49 AM
Bearing the integrity and confidence of what I know or believe to be true would make it much easier to "combat" "them" from converting me.

I would object nicely first, but if they keep trying to push me then I would just stay away from them or tell them to back off. I'm not anyone's cushion.

While we are on the topic of Conversion, I am not going to blindly follow a religion. I am not like that. I am a Roman Catholic not just because I was born into it, but because although I constantly find discrepancies in scripture, sayings and whatnot, I feel that the religion I have chosen is the best for me. If someone can prove to me otherwise positively, then I would consider widening my horizons. But, I am not going to follow a religion whose current representative in front of me is bashing my religion on the same token.

"****ed be the day that befalls us in a most hostile manner that shall compromise our Country, and ****ed be the great lengths at which are required of to stir our Patriotism." - Anonymous

10-11-2001, 06:50 AM
Hi Nexus,
Well this is an interesting question, and you posted it very well and with a clear voice. Very good post.
I do not feel that people (even though a lot actually DO feel like pushing these issues on you will truly help you in life)have a right to "pressure" people into a certain religous belief. Now obviously people have a right to tell someone their actions are harmful, hurtful, or perhaps even immoral, BUT when it comes to people's personal spirituality, I believe the more personal it is to you gives it the most power. I am sure some of these Christian people feel a very personal satisfaction with their religion, but be careful of people who secretly think you are "****ed" if you do not take faith in their beliefs. Someone who is truly caring will see the beauty and good deeds inside you, and will try to compliment, support, and uphold those rather than focus on your religious affiliation.
I feel the best way to politely decline those kinds of comments is to respectfully tell them that your religious life is yours to think about, they have already mentioned their beliefs once to you, and you'd appreciate it if they did not continually do so. If they do, they run the risk of possibly giving you a bad taste of their religion.
"Converters" sometimes bother me... even in Buddhism there are certain sects that have that "evangellical" feel to them. The Sokka Gakkai sect is one example, however from some of the people I know in the organization, I do not feel they are trying to hurt or manipulate anyone...however some of what they believe does not seem to fall into what I consider Buddhist teachings. However as long as they do not hurt anyone they can do their thing. What they do not have a right to do is "harass" me or anyone else.
This is where they cross the line of suggesting their way of doing it with demanding that you do it in order to be "saved".
Do not fall into that.
Christian philosophy of an older context (Orthodox, Catholicism, etc) does indeed have very insightful, and enlightening material to be researched and appreciated. Look, study, understand, and know yourself. Only then can you make an educated, and correct judgement for yourself. :)
And that journey is never really ending. That's what makes it so intellectually, and spiritually rich.

Hope that helps.
Take care!



"One who takes pride in shallow knowledge or understanding is like a monkey who delights in adorning itself with garbage."

10-11-2001, 06:52 AM
actually I think the notion of "you'll burn in hell if you don't convert" is a more of a puritan/calvinist belief and is not really popular anymore...

any people who still believe that are retarded. What if I was athiest? So I just burn in hell because I don't have a religion? I don't think so. What if I didn't believe that hell existed?

"****ed be the day that befalls us in a most hostile manner that shall compromise our Country, and ****ed be the great lengths at which are required of to stir our Patriotism." - Anonymous

10-11-2001, 06:53 AM
We had a born again come to my mother's house one Sunday afternoon to bring the good word. When he started telling my mother that she would go to hell because she hadn't been born again was about when I got up and told him quite firmly that he could leave.

I am all for sharing of ideas but my belief is that everyone should respect the beliefs of others. Let your actions rather than words speak of the value of your belief. When you stop respecting my beliefs (or those of my loved ones) then I will quite definitely tell you to f*ck off.

You're fu(king up my chi

10-11-2001, 06:54 AM
I agree that the Calvinist "burn in hell" rhetoric isn't that widespread these days, but my point being that religious representation shouldn't be done through tactics of emotional manipulation (ie. engendered through an attempted fear response).

10-11-2001, 06:57 AM
I agree with Watchman. Someone once said on this forum that they chose Christianity because it told you that if you didn't believe you would suffer for all eternity. Their reasoning was that it was best to hedge your bets.

To me, that is a terrible reason to follow a religion. Religions should teach people about love, not fear.

You're fu(king up my chi

10-11-2001, 06:59 AM
I agree, but without that emotional manipulation, 95% of the converted population wouldn't have converted in the first place.

Its just the way it is. Would you rather convert to a priest who was firmly taught under his beliefs, went to one of his masses and listened to his fiery homily about a scripture in Ezekiel, or convert to some near-dead guy with no emotion but spoke nothing but the sheer facts?

"****ed be the day that befalls us in a most hostile manner that shall compromise our Country, and ****ed be the great lengths at which are required of to stir our Patriotism." - Anonymous

10-11-2001, 07:00 AM
I actually believe that Christ taught that very concept. He was very against "fear" as a motivating factor in religion it seems. But like anything it has to be taught and understood the right way.

Buddhism can also get into the "fear" aspect of religion too I've seen. Again, not what the Buddha taught. :D



"One who takes pride in shallow knowledge or understanding is like a monkey who delights in adorning itself with garbage."

10-11-2001, 07:02 AM
in king james' version of the bible (he is calvinist) he always said that thou shall fear God and ye are but an insignificant insect which he holds by a tendril over the fiery pits of hell.

i don't remember the exact words. we were studying it in english

"****ed be the day that befalls us in a most hostile manner that shall compromise our Country, and ****ed be the great lengths at which are required of to stir our Patriotism." - Anonymous

10-11-2001, 07:05 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> I agree, but without that emotional manipulation, 95% of the converted population wouldn't have converted in the first place. [/quote]

Don't you think that is a really suckful way to teach people to be better people?

As Ryu has pointed out, the great masters probably did teach about love and peace rather than fear of the consequences. Their teachings have resulted in huge followings. The question is, why did anyone feel the need to change the teachings? I suspect the answer to that question may lie in ego and power.

You're fu(king up my chi

10-11-2001, 08:02 AM
I would like to thank everyone for their honest and spiritually inclined answers. I agree with all of you, in your tactics of understanding this pressing situation.

It is actually quite amazing to me, that people are so truly passionate about their religion and I respect them in that. I also think that they should find what works with them, and follow that path.

I had many very indepth and insightful conversations with all of them today, and I found that we all gained quite a bit, and not once did any of us leave with a bad feeling, at least I did not.

They offered to extend a chance for myself to attend future discussion groups that are non-directional in terms of what the base religion of the groups will be, but rather directed at people of several religions coming together and sharing. As I don't have a specific religion to come there with, I will likely come to listen to what others have to say, and share about experience, as that is about all I have to share :P

I completely agree with Ryu, that more important is our actions than what we believe. I spoke today with them about how we each have a personal relationship with (God ie Spirituality ie Tao) as in finding the truth, and that relationship is private. It is through our private relationship of spirituality that we gain insight, and then through that "realization" we "actualize" it and express ourselves in our experiences.

I was asked the question, "Do you believe that there is another way besides Jesus Christ, The Bible (Christianity)?"

My response was that it is all based on interpretation, and we each live our own way as we are each different people.

Then one of the people who was the leading speakers of the panel said to me, "Well, the bible is has only one interpretation and that is to follow Jesus Christ."

He was not trying to argue with me, but he was being completely sincere. In seeing this, I answered him by saying, "You are completely correct." And although he at first thought we were disagreeing, I explained to him that through our private relationship with god, we take what we gain from that relationship, what we learn from ourselves or from experience, I used "god" for the sake of the conversation, and we use what we learn from spirituality to interpret our experiences.

I explained this by saying, you read the bible for instance, and today in your life you have an experience that really reminds you of a bible parable. So today you relate to that part of the bible, but not the entire bible, even though you accept the entire bible as being true. Then tomorrow something different relates to an experience, and you interpret that through your spiritual understandings. I then explained how in that, we each have different experiences, and through that we each have different interpretations, because we cant have the same interpretations as we arent having the same experiences. So even though we are trying to access the truth, as good as we can see it, we are interpreting our experiences using that truth differently.

As for all of your comments, I must agree that you should be assertive when you feel uncomfortable or that you are being pushed in a direction you do not wish to be pushed in. You always have the option to leave, and not associate with those people if it comes that. Better that you be clear at first though, and ask if they respect you and actually want to share with you, and if thats not the case then there is no point in you being there.

Thanks again everyone, and keep posting on any topic you find interest in this "realm" so to speak.

- Nexus

10-11-2001, 07:36 PM
I heard an interesting quote re: organized religion in America the other day. It went: "Our forefathers ran to America for the freedom to worship how they want and to force others to do the same". Hey, I thought it was funny.

But really, there is nothing inherently wrong with religion in and of itself. I think everyone is free to believe what they want. However, once your rights begin to infringe upon mine, then your rights mean little to me. For example, the Constitution guarantees the right to "the pursuit of happiness" but if your happiness is to murder another, then your right to live should be immediately rescinded. There are, of course, mitigating factors to everything but those are case-by-case.

Debate is a great thing. However, it doesn't qualify as a debate when you make a point and receive a response such as "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." Then you are merely talking to an ignorant fool who isn't interested in aything more than self-aggrandizement through their one-sided belief system. These are indeed the type of people who should be ignored. However, if they tread further into harmful fanatacism, then again, I feel their rights need to be taken away.

We are trained in wushu; we must protect the Temple!

Kung Lek
10-11-2001, 07:58 PM
i personally do not subscribe to any particular religion.

I also try not to subscribe to hard and fast "beliefs" beyond that which is physically true. IE: the earth is below me and the sky is above, lest I turn myself over, but nevertheless, there it is.

I particularly do not believe in following another person blindly, but rather to assess what they are teaching and distill it into terms that I can readily understand and apply if I find value in it.

To not question is an error in my opinion, and to believe is to stop questioning. When you stop questioning, either internally or directly, you stop learning about the most important thing you can learn about, that is yourself.

So, I question the agendas of those who profess but that does not mean I cannot accept their teachings. If I assess within myself that the teachings are "not up my alley", then I will not seek answers from those who profess.

There are thousands if not infinite paths that one can walk along for the entirety of their life.
All of them lead off onto each other and all of them cross and mingle like water.

Just keep walking, and growing as a person on these paths and in my opinion you will be fine.
In the end, we are nothing.


Kung Lek

Martial Arts Links (http://members.home.net/kunglek)

MonkeySlap Too
10-11-2001, 08:07 PM
Tell them you don't need imaginary friends...

I am a big beleiver in luck. The more I work, the more luck I have.

10-11-2001, 08:24 PM

- Nexus

KC Elbows
10-11-2001, 09:45 PM
I'm sorry. The post I was about to place was so heinously wrong that I am taking the high road, and keeping all the chuckles for my evil old self. So there. :p

yin lion
10-11-2001, 09:59 PM
as have I heard in religon class I attended when I was younger, but hear spoken seldom in the catholic (please excuse the spelling) god is every where in everything and everyone. I think they ment to say it differently but the prist jumbled the words. what he was trying to understand but could not was that I AM EVERYWHERE BUT NO WHERE EVERYONE BUT NO ONE. This the the mind no mind idea of somme religon I don't care which one it is but a lot of them say things like this in buddaism, taoism, zen.... It means that the nature of all things is emptyness. I know this and feel this and it has changed me and my thoughts we are not our body we are not our mind we are the thinker that thought the thought the silence between thoughts. our nature is emptyness the good and bad, right and wrong, yes and no, full and empty, finaly yin and yang. that is what the symble is empty and full and in each there is a little of the other, black fish with a white eye or vice verca

you must unlearn what you have learned then and only then will you be wise and have knolage

10-12-2001, 01:39 AM
Well, I'm a Christian, and the point I would bring up is that there's quite a variety of Christian denominations out there. I've been attending church more regularly the last couple months, and I would just like to emphasize that there's a lot more out there than fundamentalism--and even though every denomination does believe that they are the closest ones to the truth, not every denomination focuses on differences between faiths. I've been attending a Congregationalist church, which is a quite liberal Protestant denomination, and I've felt very comfortable there. There's no preaching about divisions of "believers" vs. "non-believers"---last Sunday was World Communion Day, and the minister stressed that different people might bring different levels of faith and belief to the church--and that was OK. What was really important though, was that we were all on the journey, and the destination was based on shared values. There's a lot of community outreach programs, discussion groups on various pressing current events(Christian response to terrorism, etc.), and a sense of just trying to lead a life that's beneficial to your fellow man. These are the type of things that are stressed, rather than the rigidity of your doctrine or beliefs. The Friday after September 11, there was an interfaith candlelight service in my town, held at the local Jewish temple, and co-hosted by the clergy of 6 or 7 Christian denominations in town---I don't think we really have much of a Muslim or Buddhist population in town, but they were certainly welcome. It was just a really great sense of community and shared values, even though there were some pretty different faiths represented. Just speaking for myself, these are the type of things that would draw me to a denomination---someone constantly stressing their strict view of the "truth" would tend to drive me away.
So, I guess the point I'm making is that if you're looking for a faith, sometimes the vibe, emphasis or spirit of a denomination/organization is just as important as their doctrine of beliefs.

10-13-2001, 02:05 PM
Why should you have to combat anything?

If it isn't true for you, then it isn't true. You don't have to fight any incoming beliefs. You can simply acknowledge whatever is communicated and think whatever you want about it and refrain from getting into it with them about whether or not you agree.

I don't recommend combating points of view. I would simply observe, compare with your own experience and knowledge, and decide for yourself whether or not it is true for you, or whether or not you need more data to make up your mind, or whether or not you really even care enough to bother with it.

I would say just be interested in what you are interested in and think for yourself and don't give or recieve communication unless you yourself desire it.

I wouldn't "be skeptical" or even "keep an open mind". I would just look at what you're looking at when you're looking at it and honestly make up your own mind about it. Keep it simple.

Hope this helps. :)

"Bruce Leroy. That's who!"