several years now the tension has been rising between Christian
missionaries, mission and evangelistic organizations, and the
governments and peoples of countries like India, as has been noted
by organizations like the Institute for Global Engagement. At issue is
the problem of unethical forms of evangelism, or proselytism, and it is
not limited to Christian-Hindu interaction in India. Examples can be found elsewhere, including the United States. In an article in Hinduism Today, Padma Kuppa of the Hindu American Foundation defines predatory proselytism by way of inclusion of various elements: a quid pro quo of
material enticement for conversion, misrepresentation and denigration
of the religion of the other, and the intentional promotion of religious
hatred and violence. In an essay
at Patheos, Kuppa adds an asymmetry of power as another defining
element. Evangelicals have spent some time addressing these issues, as
for example in Elmer John Thiessen’s volume The Ethics of Evangelism: A Philosophical Defense of Proselytizing and Persuasion
(IVP Academic, 2011), but much of the concern and reflection has been
related to restrictions on Christian freedom to evangelize rather than
on the ethical issues related to predatory proselytism, both in overseas
missionary contexts as well as within America’s pluralistic public
Call for Submissions
The editor of Sacred Tribes Journal
believes that this topic is an important one, and is planning on
exploring various facets of it either in a special theme issue of the
journal, or through a book if a publisher can be found. It is hoped that
a collection of essays can be compiled from a variety of perspectives
and disciplines that will address this issue. Submissions are not
limited to Evangelical contributors and perspectives, but may also
include those who have articulated the concerns of predatory proselytism
on the receiving end of these practices. Issues discussed in papers may
include the following:
• Perceptions and concerns of Hindus, Muslims, Pagans and others related to predatory proselytism.
• Religious, ethnic, and nationalist concerns about conversion and identity theft.
• Definitional and praxis issues that distinguish between ethical evangelism and predatory proselytism.
Asymmetry of power issues related to evangelism, particularly between
Christians and minority religions in an American Christendom context.
Considerations related to finding a “middle way” or balance between the
twin religious freedoms for proclamation and persuasion as well as
freedoms related to a lack of interest in hearing such messages.
• How the issues of predatory proselytism should be factored into interreligious dialogue, as well as missions and evangelism.
Abstracts should be sent for review to John Morehead (
email@example.com). The deadline for abstract submissions is June 15, 2013.