Friday, September 28, 2012

The Myth of Religion "Shoved Down Throats" is Busted!

Once in a while you might hear someone say that they don't like it when others "shove religion down my throat" or Christians need to "stop forcing your faith on me". Is there a proper response to these statements and what is it if there is?

Well, the simple answer is this. It is impossible to force another person to believe as you do. Even if a gun were pointed at your head, you still have a choice in what you believe. Therefore, such statements are saying either:
  1. you shouldn't be allowed to state your opinion about religion - which is a violation of free speech.
  2. you shouldn't ever share an opinion with someone if it offends - yet, what if that opinion offends me? It is contradictory and silly.
  3. you shouldn't share an opinion about religion if I don't want to talk about it - but this is the closing of the mind and yet most who make the statements above consider themselves "open-minded".
What is really going on is that someone is most likely threatened by religious thought, because it challenges them to go beyond their own formulations about life, salvation, the world, the meaning of life, etc. The other choice is someone might have religious "baggage" from their past they don't want to think about - a bad religious experience.

The word "force" is used as if someone were torturing another person. Rather, when a Christian speaks about faith, they don't "force" it down someone throat or onto someone. Rather, they propose an argument in favor of their beliefs. This is exactly what others do when they offer an opposing argument. An open and free society needs this kind of dialogue to be healthy.

Yes, there are some Christians who are over-the-top when it comes to sharing the faith. Some are just offensive (think of Westboro Baptist members protesting soldiers' funerals). They still have no way of "forcing" faith on others.

What might be some other examples of "shoving" or "forcing" their faith onto someone? Maybe it is by those who go door-to-door to evangelize? But, what about salespeople that do the same thing? They aren't shoving vacuums down people's throat.

Then it must be the way the media always talks about religion. But, then we would also have much more instances of sex and violence "shoved" on us and that doesn't add up.

Maybe it is when a parent teaches a child their faith. That must be it! But, what about when an atheist teaches a child there is no God? Are they forcing their beliefs on their child?

Finally, it has to be when our government legislates based on Christian morality. Yet, even here, if one morality isn't accepted, another one will be.

The conclusion is - there are no real instances of religion being shoved down someone's throat in our modern Western culture.

So, I conclude that these sayings are myths and they are busted!


Brandon Vogt said...

While I agree that "there are no real instances of religion being shoved down someone's throat in our modern Western culture", I think when most people refer to 'forcing' your religion on others, they're referring to people thrusting religion regulations into law (eg. Sharia law.)

For Catholics, the answer of course is that *we* never force our faith on others through law. The Catholic Church does stand against legalizing same-sex marriage and euthanasia, but not because she wants to impress her religious beliefs on others. She stands against them because they threaten the common good of all.

I do think, however, that it's possible for people to impose or 'force' their religious beliefs on other, and I again reference Sharia law. Sure, people under Sharia law still have a 'choice' whether to obey the law, but their life would be threatened if they didn't. Therefore the choice is no true choice since it's made under sever duress.

I think most anti-Catholics in America are worried the Church will attempt to impose her moral laws through the US legal system in a sort of "soft" Sharia-like system.

Marcel said...

Brandon - working with college students they aren't worried about Sharia laws. They are worried about their "bible-thumping" roommates who want to talk to them about Jesus. They equate that with the "forcing"