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Christians preaching in public places

Do you think Christians should be allowed the right to preach about their beliefs in public places?

Should they be entitled to preach that Jesus is the Lord and Saviour? How about to warn about the End of Days? Or about the evil influence of Satan and his demons, or eternal punishment in Hell?

Posted: November 15th 2010

logicel

Oh, heck yes. They are the best advertisement for atheism.

Posted: November 18th 2010

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flagellant www

Subject to the normal limits on free speech, I think that such preaching should be allowed. Indeed, the religiosi should be allowed to proclaim that the sun is just a giant pizza in the sky, should they so desire. However, I’d like things to be different.

Personally, I find it objectionable if religious proclamations impinge on me – preaching, religious advertisements, religious privileges, and the acceptance of faith as something good – irritate me and I’d like to diminish religious influence. It would be more desirable if all the proselytizing were to be done in private, rather than in public. Places of worship should be insignificantly labelled – perhaps with a discreet, dim red light, and a government health warning – and it should be more acceptable to keep quiet about religious beliefs than to talk about them.

If the religiosi were voluntarily to accept the restrictions I suggest, you would be amazed at how quickly atheists would stop pointing out how irrational religious belief is. I already laugh when I see signs saying ‘The end of the World is nigh’. References to Satan, demons, and punishment in hell make me smile, too. But this notion of eternal punishment, and the doctrine of original sin, are just plain nasty and such nonsense should not be visited upon children.

But, of course, the religiosi – perhaps with the solitary exception of Quakers – won’t accept these restrictions. Therefore, atheists will just have to continue pointing out the irrationality of faith in various ways; this may include shouting ‘BS’ in return. A fair bargain, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Posted: November 17th 2010

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Paula Kirby www

Sure, they should be allowed to, provided they’re not breaking any laws, and provided they are not abusing a position of authority in order to proselytise. Freedom of speech is an important principle, however silly or unsavoury I may find what is being said.

My commitment to the principle of free speech extends to views I vehemently disagree with. I wonder whether yours does too? Would you, like me, also be willing to permit, say, Muslims to preach in public places that Jesus is not the Lord and Saviour? And how do you feel about the atheist billboards that have appeared in various places and which have in some cases been removed because of protests from Christians?

Posted: November 16th 2010

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Eric_PK

I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “public places”. Schools are public places and they are clearly not allowed to preach there during school hours.

But in general, as long as people aren’t required to listen to them, in some other way compelled to be there, or harassed for not listening, then I don’t have a problem with it.

Posted: November 16th 2010

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George Locke

I believe that anyone should be allowed to say or do anything within reason. (Boring caveats to this are found below.)

Though you may not have intended this, you’ve asked your question in a provocative way. You’re asking whether we might be more forgiving of non-Christian religions, or if certain parts of Christian doctrine should be allowed but not others. The answer is an emphatic no. When it comes to the law, no religion, no belief is special (barring incitement to violence, etc).

Some Christians feel that their religion is especially targeted by secularists. This is just another case of people with unfair privileges complaining when their ill gotten goods are taken away. The fact of the matter is that Christianity sneaks into places where it shouldn’t be simply because it is very popular and has been for quite a while. (Such is the case in the West, anyway.) The secularist agenda is to deconvolve government and religion. Christianity is the religion which has real pull on (western) governments, so it should come as no surprise that secularist attacks on Christian involvement with government are the most common and visible. Such attacks do not represent anti-Christian prejudice on our part. (Nor, I might add, do they represent anti-religious prejudice. Arguments against church-state entanglement are about freedom of conscience. They stand regardless of one’s own religious beliefs.)

Here are my boring caveats: by “within reason”, I mean to exclude anything that threatens public safety, damages property, is otherwise illegal, etc. Further distinctions should be drawn between public places like drug stores and restaurants, where the owner of the property should have much leeway, and public property like the sidewalk or Washington monument, where the government must provide a very good reason to prevent its citizens from using the property it stewards for them.

Edit: Public employees (including politicians, teachers, soldiers) acting in their official capacity are a special case. For these people, “preaching” is generally unacceptable. There are a few exceptions (funerals come to mind), but when a government allows its officers to evangelize on the job, it is effectively sponsoring religion.

Posted: November 16th 2010

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