• Preface

    John Witte, Jr. (see profile)
    Law, Religion, Human rights
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Evangelism, Missionaries, Religious Freedom, Proselytism, Interreligious Dialogue
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    This brief Article introduces a volume that compares Jewish, Christian, and Muslim teachings on mission work and conversion. The modern context for this inquiry is that the modern human rights revolution that has catalyzed a great awakening of religion around the globe. But it has also created a new “war for souls” between Western religions and local religious groups, many of them trying to recover from decades of political oppression. Particularly Orthodox Christians in the former Soviet bloc and Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa have resented the sudden rise of a Western marketplace of religious ideas, and have turned to the state to impose new restrictions on foreigners. They have also highlighted the sharp differences between Western voluntarist views of religious conversion that feature easy-in/easy-out religion and non-Western views that tie religious identity and practice to blood, soil, and family and view conversion out of the faith as a form of apostasy. After surveying the juxtaposed free exercise rights of proselytizers and the liberty of conscience claims by proselytizees, the Article advocates self-restraint and respect on the part of foreign proselytizing faiths, even a moratorium for a time. It also encourages local Orthodox, Muslim, and other groups, who see conversion out of their faith as a capital crime of apostasy, to adopt milder measures of ostracism and communal self-protection as some of their earlier thinkers had advocated.
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    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
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