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Proselysing is not anti state

Reader comment on item: [Finding Moderate Muslims:] Do you believe in modernity?

Submitted by Garry Prior (Malaysia), Dec 29, 2004 at 21:28

... Christianity and Islam are proselysing religions. As a Christian, I am always pleased when I learn that someone has discovered Christ, but I utterly abhor the notion that such conversions should be forced on anyone. A relationship with God is essentially personal. I have no problem with Muslims who have a similar belief and who want others to experience the profundity of their religion out of choice. Like them, I regret it when I see someone convert from Christianity to Islam, in my case, or vice versa in theirs.

The peaceful propagation of Islam on a conviction basis is not only acceptable in any civilised society, it is an expression of that freedom of thought and action that makes for a free society. To believe otherwise is to subvert the principles of freedom, enshrined in the US Constitution and in the practices of many countries in the west whose origins are Christian. In making this statement, I am well aware that there may be far reaching consequences, especially as the numerical balance starts to shift. However, that has been the case with many other divisive issues, such as atheism, slavery, abortion, gay rights, legal and illegal immigration and so on, that have profoundly affected and in many ways undermined the Christian ethos on which such societies were founded.

The solution is not to prohibit or restrict, but to educate and proseletise from the other side, peacefully, openly and sincerely and to be seen to act upon such principles and belief. That is one of the reasons why I read your articles and why I regret that sometimes you lean too far in a particular direction to win my support, despite my respect for and gratitude to you for analysing and articulating many issues so clearly...

As a detribalised Christian, I cannot see the justification for the preservation of the interest of any group, including my own, at the long term expense of the rights of others. If my group cannot defend their interests morally and within the concepts of civilised behaviour, we deserve to be subsumed. Any other approach will only return us to the largely tribal conflicts of the last 2000 years that we were in danger of escaping. Tribalism is emotionally attractive for its inclusiveness but its consequences are always bitter.

Clear guidelines, even handed enforcement, consequences for crossing the lines. These are what is needed , but in defining the lines, we have to be extra careful not to overstep our own bounds. Otherwise we will be guilty of gerrymandering. Muslims should have the same rights to seek conversions as any other group, even if that should lead to a fundamental shift in the balance of a society. They must also respect the rights of others, even the miniority.

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