Monday, 5 September 2022

Thinking about conversion

There are four reasons (that I can think of) why people change religions.

1. A change from within, a new belief system.
Faith change is deeply personal and the business of nobody but the person converting.

2. To-be spouse of different faith wants religious marriage ceremony.
Often just for convenience, an on-paper conversion that is only of concern to the hopefully-happy-ever-after couple, and the spiritual advisor from the religion being converted to, and maybe their families.
Basically, also not the business of the rest of the world.

3. Being at the wrong end of something sharp and/or pointy.
This has happened often enough historically, as religions and kingdoms warred with each other. Obviously, it is reprehensible, and right-thinking people must oppose it, condemn it if it happens now. (Yes, if you know me at all, you know I am anti-religion, and loathe organised religion and its stakeholders, but I support the right of people to find comfort and safety in religious belief.)
The problem, though, is that this cause is being ascribed these days to what is a very different reason, the fourth item in the list.

4. A better life.
That is, someone sees advantage to themself, their family, if they espouse a new religion. Maybe education, food security, acceptance. Those invested deeply in the religion being converted FROM must ask themselves why they did not provide this former faith-mate with a better life when they could; they must ask why they could not feed her family well, educate them, make them feel cherished and part of the community.
Agnostic, anti-religion me also wants to add this: if corporeal things like food, education, jobs, etc., can attract people to another religion, perhaps your religion — any religion — really isn’t very strong at all.

(That last bit also applies to anyone who takes offence on behalf of their god. How weak is your divine being that anything a mere mortal human could say or do could endanger or harm it? How weak is your faith that a non-believer’s non-belief could threaten your all-powerful icon?)

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