Why Don't Some Religions Proselytize?

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Christians have been "spreading the good word" since its very beginnings 2000 years ago. Jesus himself encouraged it, teaching that those who believed and were baptized would be saved, while those who did not would be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)

In the West, where Christianity remains the predominant religion, people commonly expect other religions to behave similarly to Christianity. As such, they are taken aback when they encounter a religion that does not proselytize.

Sometimes they come to the conclusion that such a religion either isn't serious or isn't safe, for they can imagine no other reason why one would not want to share their religion.

The short answer is that there simply is no purpose for proselytizing in many religions, because these religions operate considerably differently than Christianity.

Privacy for Self

Some practitioners are self-conscious about their own religious identity, fearful of judgment if their beliefs were widely known. As such, some people keep their beliefs quiet out of personal reasons rather than overtly religious ones.

Sacredness of Teachings

Knowledge of sacred things is often considered to be sacred itself. As such, believers may not feel it appropriate to expose such knowledge to the general populace anymore than a priest would use the communion chalice for his evening meal. Profane exposure profanes the knowledge.
Read more: Why do some religions keep secrets?

No Theological Purpose

Christians and Muslims proselytize because they believe that is the wish of their god. Christians in particular believe a horrible fate awaits those who do not convert. As such, in their mind being a good neighbor includes spreading religious truth as they understand it.

But that is not the theology of most religions.

In most cultures, everyone, or nearly everyone, has the same afterlife. It's generally a fairly neutral affair, neither blissful nor punishing. Some cultures have special rewards or punishments for a specific few: the truly horrible might be tormented, or warriors might gain access to a more rewarding afterlife, for example, but the vast majority of humanity faces a single fate.

But it is important to note that even when there are multiple afterlife options, none of them are generally religion-specific. Most often it is recognized that everyone is judged the same, regardless of faith. Alternatively, one might recognize non-believers to be judged by their own gods, rather than the gods of the believer.

Read more: Converting to Islam
Read more: Understanding Christian Conversion

Diversity and Self-Investigation

Many new religious movements focus less on revealed information through a prophet or text and more on knowledge the believer seeks out and gains through experience, study, meditation, ritual, etc. While the religion provides a basic framework, personal revelation (unverifiable personal gnosis) from believer to believer can differ significantly.

Moreover, they often recognize that spiritual revelation does not come only to believers, but that people of many faiths can, in fact, have meaningful religious experiences.

The sharing of such experiences might even be beneficial between people of multiple faiths. As such, each person is encouraged to follow his or her own path, rather than feeling forced into a single one. From this perspective, proselytizing is not only unhelpful, but most likely limiting and harmful.

Willing to Teach

Just because members of certain religions do not actively seek out new converts does not mean they will not teach those who seek out such knowledge. There is a large difference between providing requested information and urging people to take an interest in said information in the first place.
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Your Citation
Beyer, Catherine. "Why Don't Some Religions Proselytize?" ThoughtCo, Feb. 4, 2017, thoughtco.com/why-dont-some-religions-proselytize-95822. Beyer, Catherine. (2017, February 4). Why Don't Some Religions Proselytize? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/why-dont-some-religions-proselytize-95822 Beyer, Catherine. "Why Don't Some Religions Proselytize?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/why-dont-some-religions-proselytize-95822 (accessed April 27, 2018).