Why is evangelism so bad?

There is a joke going around Facebook right now that runs like this.

A Muslim, a Jew, a Christian and an Atheist walk into a coffee shop. They talk, laugh, drink coffee and become good friends. That’s what happens when you’re not an asshole.

Excuse the proctological reference but I think that the point of the joke is that nobody discusses their belief system and tries to persuade the others to believe. This reminds me of the saying that it is considered “bad form” in Britain to discuss sex, politics or religion. This is generally because the British hate conflict and to avoid embarrassment avoid the subject. This makes the whole subject of evangelism to be bad form.

I would like to make some comments about this assumption. First, this joke assumes that you cannot discuss conflicting belief systems and remain friends. This is plainly false. I am friends with my neighbour, we do talk about our beliefs and we disagree. We do not fight about it, although we both believe that these are life and death issues. We are friends.

Secondly, the joke assumes that we can discuss things that have nothing to do with our belief systems and our beliefs do not affect the way we think about a subject. The way I think about what has been named as the “migrant crisis” is deeply affected by the way I believe God would have a us treat those fleeing oppression. See my blog post on this. We do not simply hold beliefs we embody those beliefs.

Thirdly, the joke assumes religion is a private matter; something akin to a hobby. I am pretty sure that those five friends do not believe their beliefs are private. For the Muslim, religion is very public. The Jewish Law affects every part of life, the Christian declare Jesus to be Lord of all, etc.

Lastly, the joke also assumes sharing your beliefs is being an “asshole”. If this is true, then I would like to tell the creator of the joke, “you’re an asshole”. This is because they are imposing their belief system on the rest of us. It tells us what is acceptable to discuss and what is not.

Conclusion, sharing your faith is acceptable and a loving thing to do. The way you do that sharing is the more important thing.