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Do We Have A Moral Duty To Bring Others To Our Faith?

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Do we have a moral duty to bring others to faith?

Rev. RAY INNEN PARCHELO is a novice Tendai priest and founder of the Red Maple Sangha, the first lay Buddhist community in Eastern Ontario

If you hear a knock at the front door at supper time, you can rest assured it won’t be a pair of Buddhists bursting to share the Dharma. There is very little in Buddhist history or teaching that looks like proselytizing.

In fact, the whole idea of there being some moral duty to convert or convince others is rare.

Conversions are largely irrelevant to Buddhists, since we understand that time is not a straight line, nor a ticking clock.

We are assured that in the fullness of time all beings will become Buddhas, that is, fully Awakened beings. Secondly, conversion is unnecessary.

The experience of “waking up” to our Buddha-nature is recognizing what was already always true, not changing into something new. That state of being Awakened is one of presenting the Way in our every act and breath.

We don’t do it out of duty, nor to collect new converts. An Awakened one, a Buddha, and, we as Buddhists, align our lives and actions with this presentation of the Way.

Buddhists aspire to “the mind of Awakening” (bodhicitta), a recognition of the interconnectedness of all beings and our common inheritance of dissatisfaction. This inspires a dedication to work for the Awakening of all beings. It is neither a morality nor duty, it is the consequence of the insight into these relations.

If you realize it is your own foot in a trap, not that of someone you scarcely know, what would make more sense than you trying to extricate it?

The only instances which might resemble “bringing others to the faith” would be the activity of numerous “bodhisattvas” (Buddhas-to-be) who frequently make vows to bring teaching to suffering beings. Most notable is Jizo, one of the most popular and recognizable figures in Buddhism.

His vow is to make a seemingly endless pilgrimage into every realm of existence for the exclusive purpose of making the teaching available.

Even so, Jizo is not so much a spiritual bounty-hunter as he is more the ultimate spiritual “medic,” providing what beings need to open their eyes to the Way.

JACK MCLEAN is a Bahá’í scholar, teacher, essayist and poet published in the fields of spirituality, Bahá’í theology and poetry

Most of the world’s great religions encourage their members to spread the message of their faith by word and by deed: to teach the faith and to live the life. Such a moral duty follows naturally from belief in an omniscient, all-powerful, supremely loving Divine Being who desires to communicate His will to humanity.

Bahá’ís believe that a rational, loving God desires to make Himself known to humanity through the Prophets or “Divine Manifestations,” who embody supreme love for humanity, but who also express the divine Will, revealed through “progressive revelation,” the periodical but co-ordinated appearance of a series of Divine Messengers who reveal the various holy books according to the needs of an evolving humanity.

We believe that the twin messengers, the Báb (the Gate) (1819-1850) and Bah’u’lláh (the Glory of God) (1817-1892), are the latest, authentic True Prophets for our age, whose teachings are designed to establish a richly diverse but united world community, based on the oneness of mankind and the unity of religion, their essential teachings. Naturally we feel an urgent duty to share the news of this latest revelation, particularly at such a critical juncture in mankind’s troubled history.

However, certain restrictions apply. Bahá’ís are exhorted to teach their faith passionately, but courteously and wisely. The listener should be open and receptive. Proselytizing is forbidden. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, (Servant of Glory) (1844-1921), the son and successor of Bah’u’lláh, wrote in The Secret of Divine Civilization: “Nothing in the world can ever be supported by words alone” (p. 56). Consequently, we are encouraged to teach by the most effective means — example: “O Son of Dust! Verily I say unto thee: Of all men the most negligent is he that disputeth idly and seeketh to advance himself over his brother. Say, O brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning” (Persian Hidden Words, no. 5).

While we are always ready to engage in faith-based conversations, we are prohibited from quarrelling with people of other faiths. Consultation is recommended. Nor do we condemn followers of our sister religions or take an exclusive stance of moral or doctrinal superiority over other faiths. Ours remains an invitation, timely but urgent.

BALPREET SINGH is legal counsel and acting executive director for the World Sikh Organization of Canada

I think the Sikh answer would be that we have a duty to inspire others to faith. Sikhs don’t actively seek converts but instead try to become living examples of the principles taught by the Sikh Gurus and by doing so, become an inspiration to others.

The Sikh faith holds as a fundamental belief the equality of all persons, regardless of faith, gender or race. Sikhs also believe that there must be complete freedom of religion and all persons have a right to choose which spiritual path they wish to follow. People of all backgrounds are free to become Sikhs but there is no obligation or duty to actively seek conversions.

Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, taught that while it’s important to have beliefs and principles, what is even more important is to give those beliefs and principals a practical form. Without action, words are empty. For example, Sikhs believe in the principle of seva or selfless service. To give this a tangible form, the Sikh community often organizes food drives and blood drives and sends teams to disaster zones across the world to serve those in need regardless of their faith. One of the greatest Sikh humanitarians in recent times was Bhagat Puran Singh who operated shelters for the needy all across Punjab. Many of those whom he served chose to become Sikhs like him, even though he never made any efforts to seek conversions.

When it comes to bringing others to faith, the example of the rose is one Sikhs strive to emulate. The rose doesn’t need to tell others that it has a pleasing fragrance, it is self evident for all to experience. In the same way, a person of faith shouldn’t need to sell their beliefs to others but should serve as an inspiration by the way they live their lives.

Rev. GEOFFREY KERSLAKE is a priest of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Ottawa

At the end of the Gospel of St. Matthew we hear Jesus give the great commission to his disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.

And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Mt: 28: 19-20). As Christians we have the privilege and the obligation to be witnesses to the truth of the Gospel in the world through our words, our actions and the way we live.

There is a quote often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi that captures this idea: “Preach the Gospel always and if necessary use words.”

Sometimes this means explicitly sharing and explaining the Christian faith with others, but often it involves being a living witness to what we believe in such a way that intrigues others and inspires them to want to know what we believe that causes us to act the way we do.

The way we live our Christian identity does have a powerful effect on others. I know of people who have expressed interest in the Catholic Christian faith because of the witness of Catholic believers.

It is important to remember that the Catholic Church teaches that every person must be free to practise their faith and that no-one can be forced to embrace a religion against their will.

We can ask God for the gift of faith, or to increase our faith, but we cannot by our own efforts “bring someone to faith” because that is God’s work.

There is a powerful brief prayer addressed to Jesus in Mark’s Gospel that every Christian can identify with: “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24)

Rabbi REUVEN BULKA is head of Congregation Machzikei Hadas in Ottawa and host of Sunday night with Rabbi Bulka on 580 CFRA

This is quite a challenging question. If we really believe that religion is essential to a meaningful life, a great gift that truly benefits others, then withholding this gift would be difficult to justify.

On the other hand, enticing others to faith may not be a welcome intervention and may instead discourage people from embracing whatever faith.

The irony in this is that in the process of living out our presumed moral duty to bring others to faith, we are more likely to fail reaching this ultimate objective. People generally recoil when being told what to do, or what is good for them.

How do we deal with this conundrum? By going about this in a different way.

Instead of focusing on how we bring others to faith, we are better off focusing on how we, individually and collectively, can better live a faith imbued life.

We should ask ourselves whether our faith really makes a difference in how we live, a difference for the better. Is being faithful causing us to be more honest, more charitable, more caring, more respectful? If we cannot readily answer a resounding “yes” to this question, it is time to go back to the faith drawing board.

If faith does not make us into better people, there is hardly a justification for faith. And if the embrace of faith results in greater, even surpassing honesty, integrity, philanthropy, respectfulness, etc., then that will most likely inspire others to look more seriously at faith as a life enhancer.

The best way to bring faith to others is to first bring authentic, meaningful, life-enhancing faith to ourselves, and thereby to naturally inspire others to follow that example.

In the end, our moral duty is less to bring others to faith, and more to bring ourselves to living out our faith in such an inspiring way that others are inevitably drawn to faith. We need to worry about ourselves, and leave the rest to the natural contagion of goodness.

KEVIN SMITH is on the board of directors for the centre for Inquiry, Canada’s premier venue for humanists, skeptics and freethinkers

Have you heard the good news? There is no God. At least that’s what the word on Middle America Street was as two Australians took a page from certain Christian groups by dutifully door-knocking their way to bring others to godlessness: going to home after home, spreading the Gospel of Darwin. “Have you ever considered atheism?”

These hell-bound heathens had tongues firmly in their cheeks. It was a joke, of course.

A bit of giving back a spoonful of Christian evangelizing medicine. But it made for good YouTube. Not surprisingly, they didn’t convince anyone to see the light.

As a spokesperson for atheism, on radio, during public appearances and in this paper, I’ve encountered my share of attempts by the faithful to drag me into their flock.

I, too, have had many a weekend morning disturbed by beaming faces at my door, dressed in their Sunday best, warning me we are all going to die. “Have you been saved?”

No surprise, they never convince me to see their light.

Proselytizing doesn’t work, particularly in today’s freethinking society. It’s counter-productive. Rather than conveying a sincere desire to help one find the love of their chosen god, it feels akin to being targeted by a passive-aggressive hunter.

It’s a blessing that most religious groups practise their faith in a personal, private way; otherwise, streets would be chock-a-block full of various groups selling their goods.

Similarly with atheists. You’ll never find us preaching to the unconverted on the Hill or the ByWard Market — but there’s one caveat. While we need to respect other faiths, it is imperative to challenge them when they seek to limit people’s choices.

Most important is our moral duty to promote critical thinking. A think-for-yourself mentality will set you free.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen


Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/Religion+ExpertS+have+moral+duty+bring+others+faith/5252945/story.html#ixzz1V3y7xyAw
 

Ambarsaria

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I will wait for Confused ji's comments on this. For example one of the paras in the first section states,

We are assured that in the fullness of time all beings will become Buddhas, that is, fully Awakened beings. Secondly, conversion is unnecessary.
So no fuss no mess it is going to happen so why worry.

Sounds pretty good to me.

Sat Sri Akal.
 

aristotle

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Well, bringing 'others' to our faith seems a far-fetched term for me. Instead, I think, it is our moral duty to take the Gospel of Sikhism throughout the world, we must remember that there are thousands of potential Sikhs around the world, who aren't Sikhs just because Sikhism has never been known to them. Set an example, others will follow.
 

Ambarsaria

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Well, bringing 'others' to our faith seems a far-fetched term for me. Instead, I think, it is our moral duty to take the Gospel of Sikhism throughout the world, we must remember that there are thousands of potential Sikhs around the world, who aren't Sikhs just because Sikhism has never been known to them. Set an example, others will follow.
"Show and tell Sikhism spirituality and persona will come" rather than "Preach, promise, indoctrinate and ask people to follow".

The real ones will need little persuasion.

Sat Sri Akal.
 

Annie

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Do not give what is holy to dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine, for they will trample the pearls then turn around and rend you.
- Jesus

When you have learned enough, you will be called to teach.
- Unknown Buddhist author
 

Randip Singh

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Personally I find it quite arrogant that certain faiths think it is their dury to go around converting people to their faith.

It is basically saying, we think the way you think act is inferior and we are superior so act and think like us and you also will become superior.

Sikhi is about attraction not conversion. It is how you act, that will want people to find out more about you.
 

Ishna

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It's best for Sikhs to be an inspiration to others. To set the shining example which makes others want to do the same:

<table cellspacing="5"><tbody><tr><td>ਮਹਲਾ
Mėhlā 4.
Fourth Mehl:

</td></tr> <tr><td> ਜਿਸ ਦੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਸਚੁ ਹੈ ਸੋ ਸਚਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਮੁਖਿ ਸਚੁ ਅਲਾਏ
Jis ḏai anḏar sacẖ hai so sacẖā nām mukẖ sacẖ alā▫e.
Those, within whom the Truth dwells, obtain the True Name; they speak only the Truth.

</td></tr> <tr><td> ਓਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਆਪਿ ਚਲਦਾ ਹੋਰਨਾ ਨੋ ਹਰਿ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਪਾਏ
Oh har mārag āp cẖalḏā hornā no har mārag pā▫e.
They walk on the Lord's Path, and inspire others to walk on the Lord's Path as well.

</td></tr> <tr><td> ਜੇ ਅਗੈ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਹੋਇ ਤਾ ਮਲੁ ਲਹੈ ਛਪੜਿ ਨਾਤੈ ਸਗਵੀ ਮਲੁ ਲਾਏ
Je agai ṯirath ho▫e ṯā mal lahai cẖẖapaṛ nāṯai sagvī mal lā▫e.
Bathing in a pool of holy water, they are washed clean of filth. But, by bathing in a stagnant pond, they are contaminated with even more filth.

</td></tr> <tr><td> ਤੀਰਥੁ ਪੂਰਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੋ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਏ
Ŧirath pūrā saṯgurū jo an▫ḏin har har nām ḏẖi▫ā▫e.
The True Guru is the Perfect Pool of Holy Water. Night and day, He meditates on the Name of the Lord, Har, Har.

</td></tr> <tr><td> ਓਹੁ ਆਪਿ ਛੁਟਾ ਕੁਟੰਬ ਸਿਉ ਦੇ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਭ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਛਡਾਏ
Oh āp cẖẖutā kutamb si▫o ḏe har har nām sabẖ sarisat cẖẖadā▫e.
He is saved, along with his family; bestowing the Name of the Lord, Har, Har, He saves the whole world.

</td></tr> <tr><td> ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਿਸੁ ਬਲਿਹਾਰਣੈ ਜੋ ਆਪਿ ਜਪੈ ਅਵਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਾਏ ॥੨॥
Jan Nānak ṯis balihārṇai jo āp japai avrā nām japā▫e. ||2||
Servant Nanak is a sacrifice to one who himself chants the Naam, and inspires others to chant it as well. ||2|| </td></tr></tbody></table>
 

kds1980

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Personally I find it quite arrogant that certain faiths think it is their dury to go around converting people to their faith.

It is basically saying, we think the way you think act is inferior and we are superior so act and think like us and you also will become superior.

Sikhi is about attraction not conversion. It is how you act, that will want people to find out more about you.
Reality check



The religions who consider it as moral duty to preach to others are on every corner of Earth with many countries and billions of people .Islam and Christianity

The religions that never preached to others e:g Parsi ,Jainism etc are on the verge of extinction
 

Harry Haller

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it does rather beg the question, do we behave as ordained by the Gurus and see their vision, or do we allow ourselves to be swayed by our own vision, and behave accordingly
 

Ambarsaria

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If you pull the thorns out of a horses feet, pat his head, stroke him lovingly, when he is thirsty, he will probably ask you where the water is
Harry Haller ji great point. Isn't that the approach at least the Christian missionaries have taken over the ages. Look for forsaken, the down trodden, the needy, and such and give them a shoulder. People will obviously wonder where such goodness emanates from. Then the missionaries are all well equipped with the tool kit to take the next step towards conversion of such people.

I don't think it can be said as "selling your soul for a loaf of bread", but the formula is non-violently very effective. Perhaps we need to learn from it. I believe Sikhism overflows with compassion but it will not be wrong to provide people basic tool kit to take the next step towards discovering Sikhism.

I believe it will also address kds1980's rightful observation about the growth of Christianity as an example.

Any comments.

Sat Sri Akal.
 

aristotle

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We don't just have to make ourselves known to the world. Instead, we should build a social setup to 'entice' (I couldn't find a better word) others to embrace our faith. Isn't this a reality that most of the converts to the world's statistically greatest religions, Christianity and Islam are not attracted by the book but by the social setup, even when it is not a paid or a forced conversion. Building a strong and healthy Sikh community is necessary. Without that we wouldn't be able to hold and sustain new converts.
 

Harry Haller

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Although sikhism certainly does not have the same numbers as Islam or Christianity, I would say the percentage of believers is higher. When I say believers, I mean those who truly believe rather than view religion as some sort of social club.

Also Sikhism is by comparison not a very 'exciting' religion, if you embrace Islam, you get to sleep with virgins when you die, in christianity you get to absolve yourself from guilt with a few Hail Mary's, certainly these religions, it seems to be, got the content and marketing right, these are religions that are easy to sell to the masses. Conversion in christianity is as simple as getting on your knees and asking jesus to come into your life, thats it, no understanding, no philosophy, just fear god, get on your knees, and bang, your a christian.

Three quick searches on conversion

ISLAM (islamreligion.com)
The word “Muslim” means one who submits to the will of God, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic background. Becoming a Muslim is a simple and easy process that requires no pre-requisites
If anyone has a real desire to be a Muslim and has full conviction and strong belief that Islam is the true religion of God, then, all one needs to do is pronounce the “Shahada”, the testimony of faith, without further delay.

Christianity (allaboutgod.com)

Become a Christian Today!
How do I become a Christian? Once you have asked all your questions, weighed all the evidence, and tested all the arguments, you will ultimately be confronted with the basic question Jesus asked his own disciples in Matthew 16:15:

‘But who do you say that I am?’

Simon Peter replied:

‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’

What is your reply?

If you have come to the same conclusion as Simon Peter, you are a few steps away from having a personal relationship with our loving God.

OK, now sikhi, well, you have to have long uncut hair, spend several hours a day in prayer, no miracles, no celestial virgins, well, no celestial anything, no afterlife, just a code of conduct to live your life on earth, and the bliss and contentment of peace,

Well, numbers mean nothing, I am a car nut, if Islam and Christianity are Ford and GM, then Sikhism is Subaru, loyal and proud, keen interest in the make, knowledgeable about the make, the car itself is capable of anything in most conditions, they are known for their speed and handling, and the people that buy them tend to carry on buying them,

Subarus are very individual cars, you either love them or hate them, they do not cater for the 1 size fits all philosophy of Ford and GM. There is little doubt in my mind that if Subaru were as big as Ford, you would end up with an inferior product as they would have to try and cater for everyone, which in my view would dilute the product.

Everything is in the creators hands, we must do what we can to protect the brand as it is, we must enter the car in rallies and show the world how agile and fast it is, we must keep them clean and mechanically sound, so that people are in awe of the beauty of this car, the marketing plan we can leave to head office
 

Ambarsaria

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Although sikhism certainly does not have the same numbers as Islam or Christianity, I would say the percentage of believers is higher. .........

Also Sikhism is by comparison not a very 'exciting' religion, if you embrace Islam, you get to sleep with virgins when you die, in christianity you get to absolve yourself from guilt with a few Hail Mary's, certainly these religions, it seems to be, got the content and marketing right, these are religions that are easy to sell to the masses. ......

Everything is in the creators hands, we must do what we can to protect the brand as it is, we must enter the car in rallies and show the world how agile and fast it is, we must keep them clean and mechanically sound, so that people are in awe of the beauty of this car,

the marketing plan we can leave to head office
Harry Haller ji unless you meant by Head Office the Creator we really don't have a Head Office that functions in this aspect. Each and everyone of us is a franchisee, so each and everyone needs to be part of the the so called Marketing Plan. Now you have some great ideas about "rallies", etc., (granted Car rallies), perhaps we need to start a thread as to how best to communicate Sikhism to non-Sikhs beyond being a living example oneself.
Sat Sri Akal.
 

Searching

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Most Abrahamic religions states that their's is the only true religion and converting others is a very important part of their faith.
For example Islam considers "Dawah" or preaching of Islam to non Muslims obligatory to Muslims and is a good deed in the eyes of Allah.
Reason, Islam is the only true religion in the eyes of Allah and and converting people to Islam equals to showing them the only true path. Hence a good deed.
I believe similar is the case with Christianity.

Sikhism does not state that it is the only true path in the eyes of the God. But indeed A true path.

If we truly believe in Sikhism as a right or true path then i think we must show others this path too. But it is not imperative on Sikhs to preach the religion in any case.
 

Gyani Jarnail Singh

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ISLAM is the "Cannon Ball " that NOTHING can STOP !! and CHRISTIANITY...is the "WALL" that NOTHING CAN BREAK !!


What happens when a cannon ball that nothing cna stop meets a wall that nothing can break ???

You go figure that out !!!

To ME..BOTH are just claims..wild claims...and so I remain a SIKH. I am NOT too much bothered to bring others INTO "SIKHI"..and I am NOT PARANOID when a "SIKH" wants OUT !! Warm welcome to the one standing at my door...and a Warm Goodbye to the one leaving !! Becasue its ALL IN HIS HUKM..HIS WILL...whoever is whatever is..is because HE WILLS IT.

heres same view from a Muslim in the malaysian context.. http://malaysia-today.net/mtcolumns/no-holds-barred/42782-quantity-over-quality
 

Randip Singh

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If you pull the thorns out of a horses feet, pat his head, stroke him lovingly, when he is thirsty, he will probably ask you where the water is

Exactly.

My work place talks about Sikhs with great reverence. Why, because I try and inform themof what we are about, everytime they ask, without sounding all preachy......

Attraction rathe than conversion...
 

Gyani Jarnail Singh

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a few yeras ago in the BOSNIAN CONFLICT there were some SIKHS in the Malaysian Army contingent posted there to keep the peace. These Sikhs met up with soem Khalsa Aid Guys and they used to provide Guur ka Langgar, blankets, etc etc to mainly Muslim refugees. After quite soem time..the "Bosnians" began to ask the Sikh Volunteers...WE GIVE UP....WHEN ARE YOU PEOPLE GOING TO BRING OUT YOUR LITTLE "bibles" or whatever you clal them and start to tell us How Much YOUR God loves US..blah blah blah... Normally the Christians begin that as soon as just a day or so after they feed us/give us blankets..BUT you guys never mentioned any such thing and is ben 6 months already...?? The Khalsa Aid Sikhs told them..WE NEVER do that...and at the end of the duty my friend who came back from Bosnia said 19 bosnian teenage girls became singghaniah VOLUNTARILY and were sent to live with Sikh Families in Greece and other European countries.0:)
 

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