The Archbishop of Canterbury has condemned evangelist “bullies” who attempt to convert people of other faiths to Christianity.
Dr Rowan Williams said it was right to be suspicious of proselytism that involves “bullying, insensitive approaches” to other faiths.
In a speech at Guildford cathedral, Dr Williams criticised those who believed they had all the answers and treated non-Christians as if their traditions of reflection and imagination were of no interest to anyone. “God save us from that kind of approach,” he said.
Save the invective for the atheists.
It’s a common legend amongst many that the only people who want to “impose” their faith on others are Evangelical Christians. This legend is especially prevalent amongst those in what we would call in the US “Main Line” churches. Part of the problem is a turf issue: the Main Line churches (and Roman Catholicism) have lost a good portion of their membership to churches through such approaches, be they appropriate or otherwise. (Something tells me that, if they were as bad as His Grace portrays them, they wouldn’t be successful, but I digress…)
As is the case with many things in the Main Line churches, the world has passed them by. Today we have “evangelists” (the word implies good news, but the news isn’t always good) for many causes, and most of them, in addition to whatever rude bullying they might employ, also have in mind to gain for themselves the power of the state, which is the ultimate form of bullying.
Rowan Williams needs to present a credible form of Christianity and leave the discussion of appropriate methodologies of evangelism to someone else.
P.S. Evidently the Times’ copy editing is going downhill: I had to correct three errors in just the three brief paragraphs I quoted above. And that doesn’t take into consideration the UK/US spelling divide, as UK spelling is the “official” standard for this blog.