I was watching "The Colbert Report" last night and I heard about a program called "Jesus Ween", in Texas.  To celebrate, Christians staying at home must dress in white and pass out bibles to trick-or-treaters instead of candy.

Earler this week, I was paid a visit by a mother-daughter Jehovah's Witness team, at least I think they were Jehovah's Witnesses.  They left a pamphlet in my door that promoted Christianity and "The End of all False Religions".

Back in March, I was coming out of a movie theater when a man (with his son present) practically forced a fake million-dollar bill with a Christian message on the back.  And last year when I was house-sitting for my father, a father-son Jehovah's Witness team came to the door to talk about Jesus Christ.  Despite the fact (or maybe even because of it) that my car which has two Atheist bumper stickers on it was in the driveway.

My point is that many Christians seem to make a habit of pushing their beliefs onto people of other faiths in an attempt to convert them, as if the very existence of followers of other faiths is lethal to them.  Why?  And how can they get away with it?

My understanding of the Freedom of Religion that all Americans are guaranteed of by the first amendment of the constitution means that while everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, it is illegal for anyone, whether they're an elected official or the common man, to try to convert others to their beliefs.  (Again, this is just my understanding of it and I may be mistaken).

If that's true, then what the people I've mentioned above are doing is completely illegal.  How can they get away with it?  If it isn't true, if what these people are doing is legal, then why are we not seeing any telecasts from the Jewish Broadcasting Network?  Or getting visits from Buddha's Witnesses?

My intention in starting this discussion isn't to try and force my thinking onto you, but rather, it is seeking your help in understanding this situation and deciding what we can do about it.  For while everyone may be entitled to my opinion, I'd much rather they get their own.

UPDATE: OK you all make very good points.  They are protected under the Freedom of Speech.  However, just because they can do something doesn't mean they should.  But why do many Christians feel the need to convert every non-Christians they come across?  That's what I want to know.  America was originally meant to be a safe haven where members of non-Christian faiths come be free to practice tehir religions without fear of Christian persecution.  What happened was that Christians merely continued that practice here as they did in Europe.  Why?

And could we use a Jehovah's Witness door-to-door style to promote the theory of evolution?  If they're protected under the Freedom of Speech, then we should be too.  But should we decide to do such a thing, I feel we should relegate the door-to-door travels to areas where the teaching of evolution is under attack, such as the states of Kentucky, Louisiana, and Texas.

Tags: Jehovah's, Witnesses, amendment, constitution, conversion, first, freedom, religion

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Freedom of speech includes the freedom to try and convert others to your beliefs. It's my understanding that government officials and members of the military can not legally use their position to try and convert others, but are free to do so as individuals on their own time.
Ruth is right -- freedom of speech.

Unfortunately, your understanding of the First Amendment happens to be incorrect.  Here it is, in all its glory.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Now, to see how this actually applies, you also have to read the 14th amendment of the Constitution. The 1st amendment states that CONGRESS shall make no laws respecting religion, or prohibiting the free exercise.  Doesn't say squat about individual citizens.  The 14th amendment applied the 1st amendment to the individual states.  Now, Illinois. Vermont, California, Arizona, Hawaii, and the other 45 states have the same prohibition as the federal government.  Still doesn't say squat about individual citizens.  The prohibition is against government, not citizens.  If an individual citizen wants to try and convert you, they're protected by the "free speech" clause of the 1st amendment (as applied to the states through the 14th amendment.  Then again, you're also protected by the same "free speech" clause should you decided you want to tell that citizen to go f%*k himself.  So long as the government is not involved, the evangelist and atheist are equally protected, but - AND THIS IS IMPORTANT - protected only from the government.  Not each other.  You go into a bar or restaurant, and they want to proselytize to you, it's their right.  And, if you want to flip them the bird, walk out, and spend your money some place else, that's your right. 

Coming to your front door may be another matter.  If you have a "No Trespassing" sign, and they still come there, call the police and have them arrested.  They have no right to invade your private residence (assuming you have given prior notice) and you have every right to have them prosecuted.

I realize this is a bare bones thumbnail sketch (and it does get a lot more complicated), but hope it brings a little clarity to the situation.

There is the catch, though, that no EMPLOYER can try to convert you.  If you are having to put up with that at work, check out EEOC.gov.
Things are similar in Scotland I'm afraid, Yesterday was bonfire  night, And on said bonfires at the church's were Books on evolution.
Jokes on them, They just wasted not only truth. But money as well.
To qoute sickipedia
" Religion is like a dick, Just because you have one doesn't give you the right to shove it down peoples throat"
I'm glad your intention isn't, as you say, to force your way of thinking onto me. If you want to know what's illegal, speak to a lawyer first ! I would love to meet some of these door knocking christians you get in America. I would invite them in and offer them coffee and hash cookies. That would be fun.
Really, you don't have them in London?

They must be rare. I've lived here over 20 years and never had one. Religion isn't on the tip of peoples tongues here. Maybe they exist in deprived areas where they can prey on the weak and the vulnerable. I don't know.

 

That's a good attitude Napoleon.
At times, I think the evangelicals and JW's treat the first amendment as LICENSE as much as freedom.  Further, as the majority of Americans are christian, they take a "majority-rules" attitude toward their proselytism, figuring they have numbers behind them to bolster their right to harangue non-believers to promote their faith.

What they've failed to grasp is that freedom of religious choice includes choosing: "None Of The Above." Further, they either don't or won't recognize that their proselytizing trespasses onto another person's rights, that, as I like to say, "Their right to wave their beliefs about ends at another person's nose." They have become so immersed in their belief that doing without is either unthinkable to them or must be an aberration or results from the influence of satan or some other equally absurd rationalization.

I honestly think that, the next time someone accosts me either on the street or in my home and tries to shove jeebus down my gullet, I may ask them: "Suppose I came up to you unannounced and tried to tell you that your belief was false, based on an uncorroborated 2,000-year-old myth, and that you should adopt the disciplines of science and skepticism. How would you feel about that?"

This expresses at least a part of the door-to-door preachers' problem: a lack of empathy, a failure to look honestly and genuinely at their audience. Instead, they cling to their mission of spreading the word as their sole imperative, and respect for their would-be converts goes out the window.
That's well said Loren! I second that!

Loren,

   I echo Steph, well said!

   For the most part, the JWs usually leave when I just smile and say, "No thank you, I have my own thing", but I have had the mormons actuall try to get a foot into my door, (I was on crutches at the time, pretty scary).

 

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