Religious Freedom, Predatory Proselytization, & The Case for Pluralism
The common concept of religious freedom fails to embrace the right to freedom from religious intrusion and exploitation. "Predatory proselytism" is a term used to describe various unethical methods used in the attempt to gain converts. Evangelism should take into account the impact created by an imbalance of power, and an understanding of both colonialization and globalization. Padma Kuppa will make a case for pluralism, and how the existence of groups with different ethnic, religious, or political backgrounds within one society can work only if we respect others' beliefs and practices.
Also featuring a response from Paul Kortenhoven, a former missionary for the Christian Reformed Church to Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
Padma Kuppa is an interfaith activist in the Detroit area. She is also active in her own community, the Bharatriya Temple in suburban Troy. Padma is an IT professional in the U.S. automotive industry and a columnist for Patheos.com Padma focuses on interreligious cooperation as an Executive Council Member of the Hindu American FoundationAfter watching this video I came away with the following observations.
In terms of production quality, unfortunately, the video is one static long shot, so it is largely best to use this as an audio file. The sound is uneven in the Q&A, and it is difficult to make out the words of Kuppa's respondent.
On the positive side, this lecture and the response helps provide some introduction to a very important topic in evangelism, missions, dialogue, and interfaith. My reflection on Kuppa's concerns about unethical evangelism, my interactions in religious diplomacy where this and even ethical evangelism and persuasion are concerns, and my interactions with Elmer Thiessen, author of The Ethics of Evangelism (IVP Academic), come together to confirm the importance of this in a number of areas. It deserves wider distribution and reflection.
On the negative side, both perspectives would have been better served by more careful use of terminology, providing definitions of the key terms, and briefly laying out their major arguments. As it is, the listener has to work very hard to try to grasp the gist of the two viewpoints. It would have been especially helpful to hear how the unethical evangelism practices of proselytism relate to ethical evangelism, and whether these are viewed by pluralists like Kuppa as diametrically opposed, or as variations on a spectrum of unacceptability given the pluralist perspective. An argument for the ethics of persuasion from the Christian respondent would have been helpful, as would a back and forth on exclusivist vs. pluralist views on religious truth and persuasion, and how this relates to pluralism in the public square in democracies.
I hope these issues are addressed again in the future.