“Let me talk to you about religion” is a phrase that evokes revulsion from many who hear it at Southwestern College.
Eyes avert. Paths change. Paces quicken. “Not now.”
People pass by religious solicitors without acknowledging their existence. Some would sooner spit in their faces than stop and converse with them.
But they keep trying. Persisting after so much rejection is admirable.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and Hare Krishna are three organizations associated with religious solicitation. These organizations are criticized by the public and for trying to help others. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus charges his followers to “make disciples of people of all nations.”
Hare Krishna, more accurately the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, spread their Hindu teachings with the ultimate goal set by their founder of “achieving real unity and peace in the world.”
At their core, religious solicitors are people trying to help others. People may not like the method, but they should not look down on the attempt.
Solicitation has a negative side. Fringe groups like the Westboro Baptist Church do exist and the suffering they bring to those they solicit is real. Protesting the funerals of fallen soldiers with children holding signs that read “Pray for More Dead Soldiers” helps no one.
Organizations like these are rare. Judgment of the whole based on the few is unjust.
Religious solicitation receives the same response as solicitation of any other kind. If the people approached are interested they will respond positively and if they are not they will be immediately annoyed. On a college campus, organized religion is a hard sell, like selling gym memberships at a Krispy Kreme.
College is a time of experimentation and self-discovery. Students may seek spirituality, but not religion. They are the wrong demographic to advertise messages about faith. Students attend college to improve their minds and build careers. They have no time for preaching.
Perhaps they should make time. By learning new things in school students gladly embrace indoctrination of a different variety. History, economics and science are discussed freely on campus and nobody blinks an eye. History is based on educated guesses based on the source materials available.
Economics is a system that in light of the financial turmoil and imbalance of the past decade seems to have no basis in reality. Science is a vast desert of theories with oases of laws. All of these things, it could be argued, appear to be part of faith-based systems.
Faith is the belief in something that cannot be quantifiably proven. In scientific terms, religion is just another hypothesis.
Stop and listen. Treat religious solicitors on campus with the same compassion that they are trying to share with others.