Thoughts on evangelism

Sarah Caplin

Religious people (Christians in particular) are always the ones getting criticized for evangelizing. But the very people who do the criticizing are the same ones who are, more often than not, also guilty of the exact same thing. ?

?The word “evangelize” does have religious connotations to it. Everyone has his or her own thoughts and beliefs that they share with others – though not everyone has an agenda behind them, an underlying desire to convince people to see things their way. But a lot of people do. In light of the recent preachers I’ve seen at Kent State, and after witnessing the responses of several angry students who don’t like being told that the way they think and live is wrong, I feel compelled to point out that evangelism, in the sense that everyone has a message they want the entire world to know and agree with, is not just a Christian practice.

I recently saw a preacher surrounded by a group of students in Risman Plaza, and the atmosphere was just heating up when I walked by. I heard people whispering how wrong that guy was to come and interrupt their lives like that. I heard people say he was wrong to tell them that [insert vice here] was wrong just because he says it is (or, more specifically, because “a dusty old book says it is”).

The phrase “You’re wrong!” is a common one when dealing with people of differing opinions, I’ve noticed. And what always comes after “You’re wrong”? An explanation for why the accuser is right, of course. Doesn’t matter which side of the religious/political spectrum you’re on. The fact is, we all have a specific message that correlates with our lives, one that enables us to resort to drastic measures to spread to the world, whether that requires voting, passing out flyers, Bibles or writing to our legislatures.

My point is: Everyone preaches. Even you, I’m sure. We all know religious people do it on street corners from time to time, to make sure the “good news” is spread to all (and that’s a pretty noble thing if you can put yourself in the Christian mindset for a moment). Advertisements preach the “good news” of their products all the time as well. “Cosmopolitan” preaches the pleasure of sex by featuring a new position every month and insists you won’t know what you’re missing until you try it (now, how do they know if you’re missing anything in your sex life, anyway? How presumptuous! How dare they!).

Why are these annoying, redundant messages tolerated more so than the religious ones?

Next time you see someone on campus or on the street or anywhere you need to go to get to work or to class who is “preaching,” don’t automatically jump to the conclusion that they are in the wrong simply because they are passionate about something. I’ll admit, I cringe at some of the methods that are used to spread the word, but that’s another issue. We all have our reasons for believing that certain lifestyles and practices are wrong, but we are doing a great disservice to the validity of our own messages (whatever that may be) by refusing to listen to others and respecting them on a strictly human-to-human level.

Sarah Caplin is a junior English major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.