Sunday, December 22, 2013

On a Mission

During an online discussion about The War On Christmas - and how Christmas is stone-cold routing the opposition - it occurred to me that Secularism needs missionaries. Not because I think that secularism needs to proselytize, but more as a public relations initiative.

When I meet people who are interested in changing what they think my worldview is, they tend to fall into three basic camps:

  • People who are attempting to gain me as a convert to whatever their chosen flavor of Christianity is. (And the only reason I say Christianity here is that I live in the United States, and I've never met an active missionary for a non-Christian faith. And yes, as far as I'm concerned, Mormonism is a flavor of Christianity.)
  • People who are attempting to get me to reject atheism as a worldview.
  • People who are attempting to get me to reject deism as a worldview.
Generally speaking, people in the latter two categories are jerks of the highest order. Which is unpleasant, but understandable. They're pushing back against something that they see as undesirable, which seldom makes for pleasant work, and they're focused on everything they understand to be (self-evidently) wrong with what they're pushing against. Therefore, they tend to view people who hold to that worldview as fools, dupes or knowing agents of misinformation, which seldom makes for a pleasant interaction.

On the other hand, people who are actively trying to get you to join their group, especially the ones who are good at it, are like any other sort of skilled salesperson - and has been pointed out, you generally don't approach selling someone something by calling them out for having the poor judgement to not have already bought it. Instead, they focus on the positive, looking to understand what someone wants out of life (or convincing them of what they should want) and then making the case that their particular brand of religion fits the bill.

This approach would likely do a lot to reduce the common public image of secularists and atheists as people who are attempting to tear down those they don't understand as being as intelligent as they.

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