Religion is such a fascinating subject. I have no doubts that having a belief brings hope, comfort and assurance in our uncertain life. It’s sometimes also a barricade from catastrophic temptations. The basis of a belief deals with the profundity of desires, intangible pain and other vulnerabilities of ours. However, its variety seems to have brought about manipulation of its intrinsic ability. For instance, Terrorism is one ostentatious exploitation of religion and look at the City Harvest Case in Singapore.
I grew up with some people asking me to pray without telling me the meaning of it. This inevitably makes me think that what I was doing was completely blind. I didn’t even know who I was praying to, what I want to pray about or what it even means to be praying. This showed me that engaging in something mindless was okay, when in fact it wasn’t. Certain things need to be told in order to be understood. You cannot expect a 7 year old who has probably not been through much adversity in life to find a connection with God miraculously, especially when his heart is still pretty much untainted.
I have previous friends who asked me to go to Church with them and after the first visit they would spam me with invitations averse to rejections. I have my own uncertainties and wasn’t ready to commit to a religion. Yet, it seems that they have problems understanding this basic idea of refusal. Of course, I never returned to that Church.
Another time when I was sitting alone in my School’s canteen, a group of fellow students came to me and started preaching to me about Christianity by beginning with a compulsory and seemingly caring rhetorical question of “How are you doing in life?”. That was some polite pressure, like a mildly aggressive mafia recruiting triad members. You know how inferior organisations always try their luck on seemingly needy and lonely people? Too bad for you, I’m none of those and two things were wrong. Firstly, they shouldn’t impose on me while I was having my peaceful lunch. They packaged themselves in such a way that it would make me an unfriendly person if I told them to leave. Secondly, they don’t give me the option to say “No”. It’s important that as you believe in something, you don’t say in front of people that you won’t force them to be the same as you when your actions ostensibly show tight coercion. With many against one, it’s subtle bullying.
I have also encountered Church members giving out leaflets to join their Church, addressing strangers as ‘sisters’ while doing so and being adamant that we call the number stated on the leaflet. I understand that you’re coming from a point of natural camaraderie among human beings, but there is an inevitable fence between people called awkwardness. If you break it hastily without the permission of the one on the other side, you are sometimes being rude. You don’t just go around calling every woman in the world your sister or every man your brother. Its unrealistic to ignore the different lengths of psychological distance that exist between you and the rest. Additionally, it’s legal to give out the leaflets because you were supposed to be providing an option for people. Whether we take up that suggestion or not, it should be entirely up to the receivers’ choice. Don’t tell us what to do.
One more encounter was with some men dressed well in suits giving out Bibles outside my School. It was clear that adolescents who haven’t had their mindsets fixed were their target audience. I was glad that the teachers in my School collected the Bibles from some of us who didn’t want it and sent them back. All of these encounters are purely anecdotal but it reflects strikingly the attitudes and intentions of those people of persuasion.
Lastly, persuasion is not part of the package of beliefs. By imposing one’s personally resonating belief on others is a grave sign of the lack of empathy on the gamut of one’s sentient encounter. You’re in other words, being contemptuous towards others who do not hold views that align perfectly with yours. Why do we need advertisements for religion? Since religion is supposedly an influencer of depth, I wonder how a person is able to trust the teachings of a religion when there is a lack of sincere effort to understand the profundity and complexity of feelings from someone advocating it.
To make things clear, I’m talking about religion in general and not mentioning Christianity on purpose. They just happen to be part of my experiences. While I have my doubts, it’s always beautiful to see someone become a better person with the will he gets from what he believes in, but more often than not, this is not what we witness.