I wonder how anyone here would feel if a Christian evangelist became a member here and started posting about how Jesus was the answer. I'm not talking about people who have faith and are open about having faith; we've had at least a couple of those here, though neither that I'm aware of is currently active. I'm talking specifically about people who try to push their religious viewpoint on you, who attack your faith or lack of it, assuming your beliefs aren't already similar to theirs; people who tell you you are going to Hell if you don't conform to their beliefs or simply that you're an idiot if you don't. 

I have a religion. I make no secret of that. However, one of the tenets of my religion is that we do not seek converts. I have never criticized anyone here for not holding some sort of Jewish beliefs. I have never countered a scientific explanation with a Biblical one, not that I ever would, because I tend to accept scientific explanations - that's not what I use my religion for. 

I have experienced online evangelism. I used to participate in AOL's Jewish chat, and we got a lot of people through who attempted to do that, including people calling themselves Messianic Jews, the main sect in that area being known as Jews For Jesus (J4J in Jewish shorthand). They in particular came after Jews hard. I never appreciated it because I thought they had no business attacking my faith if I didn't throw my faith in their faces. I mean as a faith; being Jewish also encompasses ethnicity/culture, which makes defining my particular religion confusing. People attacking my faith without my provoking such a move make me feel like I as a Jew am not welcome. 

When I chatted regularly, before I came to Open Salon and started blogging, I'd occasionally visit AOL's Muslim chat. At the time, I hadn't really spoken to Muslims about religion and I was curious. I was respectful. One thing that frequently happened in that chatroom was that they had other visitors, plenty of them, and they tended to be hostile. I heard the usual crap about "Why don't you denounce terrorism?" as if the questioners would know if they already had. And I heard attacks on Islam itself, including from Jews, with accusations about how Allah was a moon god. This is of course bullshit and that the Muslim God and the Jewish God are considered to be the same God is recognized by rabbinic law. I would fight with the idiots on the side of the residents of the room. I made some friends there. As a Jew, I'm sensitive to religious intolerance, regardless of its direction. That's why I occasionally post about intolerance toward Muslims in America. As an American, I believe that religious tolerance is fundamentally American and I'm proud to live in a place that makes a point of emphasizing that. And ashamed when it fails to.

I also visited AOL's Atheist chat once in a while. Interesting crowd. One of the things I noticed there was that I frequently ran across something I came to refer to as atheistic evangelism - the attempt to convert people to atheism. They were startled when I used that term. Of course, I was in their chatroom, so I wasn't going to object too strenuously. 

But I'm not in their chatroom here. Here I'm on what should be neutral ground but, when it comes to having a religion, neutral ground is not a good description. Every once in a while someone writes a post blaming "religion" for whatever's on their mind that day. I normally find that annoying because the characteristics of what's on their mind tend not to apply to my branch of my religion, and my branch is the largest American branch. I don't appreciate being branded as something I'm not, which people feel free to do because my own branch is something of an outlier, and because it's atypical I guess I'm supposed to assume that as a person practicing a religion this somehow doesn't apply to me. If I assume it applies to me, I have no choice but to take it personally. In any case, the message is that whoever writes this would be happier with me if I ditched my religion, even though I don't use my religion to inconvenience them, and even though I would argue that some of what they like about me may actually come from my religion. 

Sometimes the evangelism is more direct, more typical of evangelism, not targeted at the ostensible behaviors of people with religion but at our beliefs. If this were defensive in nature I'd say that whoever tried to convert the author had it coming, though if it were me I'd do what I could to limit collateral damage. I didn't get the impression that the atheistic evangelistic post I read here yesterday was a specific response to any recent conversion attempt; it was just an evangelistic message posted because the author felt like it and felt free to do it. 

All of this is accepted here. I generally respond to this sort of thing because they're often written as if they don't expect an answer that contains any thought, and I think it is my responsibility to help them realize that matters are rarely so simple as they portray them to be. 

What I'm beginning to wonder is if I'm accepted here or, to be more precise about it, if I'm accepted in spite of being a practicing Jew. Truth be told, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that arrangement. 

Now that I've figured out what I'm seeing, I realize I may not belong here. 

Views: 1107

Comment by Zanelle on August 29, 2016 at 1:24am

I accept the whole package of you and Im glad you are here.  I honestly try not to see race, religion, money or education when I meet someone.  I try to see if they are a good person in how they treat others.  You do good.  

Comment by Token on August 29, 2016 at 2:43am

I define "God" as "The supreme being"

I am a Being

If no other being is aabove me, I am the supreme being


You may think I'm joking

I'm not.

Comment by nerd cred on August 29, 2016 at 3:12am

kosh - in my view, your Jewishness is an integral and positive part of who you are. Of course y o ure accepted here. You're essential here. You bring reason and sanity, especially when it's most sorely lacking. As I see it, that's also almost indistinguishable from being a committed and informed Jew. I'm not saying all Jews are any of that, I know all too well they're not, but the best ones are. And I'm not saying I always agree with you. I value your presence here even when I don't agree. 

(Geeze, are you in a mood tonight or what? You're almost the last one I'd expect to flounce. Please don't.)

Comment by nerd cred on August 29, 2016 at 3:14am

And Token, like I said on the other blog: dogs.

My point being, there's a lot of unsupportable arrogance required to put yourself above all other beings. After all, poodles are dogs.

Comment by Zanelle on August 29, 2016 at 3:24am

I have different places that I blog.   I understand that this is not a forum for the sensual stuff I like to explore so I do that elsewhere.  I also have artistic places that fuel me and a few other places where I can comment and be part of a group without having any one of them completely define me.  

I like to have a blog as a record of my own thoughts that represent a line of thought by me. Im probably the only one who likes to look back and remember and I dont do it very often.  I realize that the feed is ever changing and moving along.  A blog is a little bit of security for me no matter what the comments are because I am trying to define what I see and feel and that changes.

  Im reading this Stephen Hawkings book  A Brief History of Time and chuckling.  It is almost like he doesnt really know any answers and is just wondering about stuff like I do.  For example...if the universe is expanding then what will it all be like when it starts to contract.  Will broken tea cups reassemble and hop back on the table?  Apparently he thinks not but is going to explain the unified theory of everything that so intrigues us all.  

  Token...I get that you are a being.  Supreme being is a stretch.  

  I  like this little blog o sphere.  It isnt Open but it isnt closed either.  

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on August 29, 2016 at 3:26am

What I know is that absent your voice, we'd have no one here who can explain consistently complex economic ideas in straightforward ways. 

Comment by Zanelle on August 29, 2016 at 3:28am

Kosh, I think you have an interesting relationship with science.  I hear you say you keep your religion and science separate.  I know some people do that with their Art too...but I dont.  I see everything as equally important and intertwined. 

Comment by Token on August 29, 2016 at 4:16am

Ah the arrogance of the non introspective mind.

I did NOT say I AM the supreme being. I said I am a Being,

if no other is above me then I am supreme.

I'm not stupid enough to think that I am supreme.

Are you?


Comment by koshersalaami on August 29, 2016 at 4:39am
Where I answered the most recent blogger to do this directly, I used your church as an example of what's right with religion.

I keep my religion and science separate because I don't use religion to answer science questions, for the most part. Religion is in that respect too much about the unknowable. I use religion for issues of morality, community, and how to deal with life.

I hardly do the economic thing at all lately. It hasn't come up.

I appreciate it. I am by no means saying I have to agree with someone all the time to like or respect them. That's not what this is about.

When I see the kind of post I'm talking about, I feel obligated to respond to it. And late last night it occurred to me why - because I'm defending myself and others like me. It never feels like an intellectual exercise. It feels more like a casual prejudice. Either "those religious people cause so many of our problems" for one kind of post or "those religious people are such fools" for the other.

I want these people to take their Atheist Watchtower and beat it.

Just to be clear, because I can see this one coming:

This is not a diatribe about atheism. Someone will think it is. It's a diatribe about evangelism. I don't care if you believe in God or belong to a religion. I care if you give me crap for doing so, unsolicited. If you're going to delegitimize my life, you'd better have a damned good reason.
Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on August 29, 2016 at 4:46am

Kosh   yet those posts resonate and help many.


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