Friday, April 12, 2013

To Evangelize or Proselytize

In a democratic society, we respect the religious freedom of others and their right  to spread their teachings. Proselytizing has a bad connotation in English, so there is a need to avoid the word for the softer understanding of the word evangelizing. Catholics are asked to be sensitive when doing missionary work but also to understand the right and freedom to publicly profess, practice, propagate and to change one's religion.

Deception and coercive methods to win converts is to be repudiated for there must be respect for the conscience, the dignity and convictions of  others. Evangelizing is witnessing to our faith and respecting the freedom of the other.  As Pope Paul II said, we do not want to impose but to propose. A Peace Weekly editorial has brought to our attention the Shinchonji movement  of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony. One person said that once they start teaching and using  the book of Revelation, there are few that do not accept what is proffered. The members of the movement are well-prepared, employing a one-on-one effort and interesting examples and parables. However, it should be a warning that not all that is done well and has sincerity as a motive is good for the health of those that accept what is being taught. 

The movement is using a hard-sell method that offends many but is justified, they say, because of the importance of what they are about. They were mostly interested in getting converts from other Protestant Churches  but this has changed, and Catholics are now being selected; Protestants, it is said, have hardened against them. Catholics, on the other hand, are not as prepared for efforts of this type and so the Catholic media has begun to publicize their teachings and the structure of the movement.The Peace Weekly in four installments will deal with the make up of the movement and the strategy they use to make converts. The Peace Weekly will also present ways of dealing effectively with them, giving reasons why people accept what is taught and offering a pastoral proposal, also noting that Korea has lately been a home for many of these apocalyptic religions.

The editorial mentioned a few problems that came from the Shinchonji movement. In one diocese, something happened among the clergy that the editorial found embarrassing to speak about.  In a  parish  two of the parishioners went over to Sinchonji, which caused much trouble before it returned to normal. All have a right to express their opinion and gain converts to their movement, but the means used should not be  overlooked.

An article that accompanied the editorial mentions what is necessary to receive an identity card for eternal life, and the requirements for entrance into the movement: introducing two others to Shinchonji, scoring at least 80 percent on the 500 questions that are asked at the completion of the introductory course, and getting those interested to go on for the advanced status by means that do not respect freedom.  Even after a person is accepted into the movement, more education is required, which the article mentions is frank and intense in divinizing the chairman  of the movement. A blog on the Sinchonji was presented on July 27, 1212.


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