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In "Amazing Grace," a Tapestry of Faith program
This activity asks participants to think about what they would be willing to do to save other people. In the process, it introduces the idea of religious proselytism and evangelism.
In advance, prepare and place eight sheets of newsprint, each with one of these actions written at the top:
Point out the posters around the room. Say that each of them has a possible answer to the question, "What would you do to save another person?" Ask the youth to move around the room and read what each poster says, and then to sign it if they would do what it describes. When all have finished, have them return to their circle and discuss what they have done.
Read the words at the top of each poster and see how many participants have signed. Ask if anybody wants to say why he or she signed (or did not sign). Seek out remarks about the differences between similar actions, such as telling someone to stop smoking versus hiding cigarettes.
Focus on the two posters concerning religious beliefs. However youth responded to these written questions, ask them how they would answer if they believed that they could keep a person from going to hell and save them for all eternity.
Explain the concept of religious proselytism and evangelism with words like these:
Some people believe that their own religion is the one true religion and that it's the only religion that will allow people to be saved. These people try hard to spread their religion by persuading other people to share their beliefs. One word for trying to spread your religion is "proselytizing"; another is "evangelizing." "Proselytizing" is a stronger word than "evangelizing." People who proselytize might try really hard to convince somebody to accept their beliefs. People who evangelize are more likely to preach their ideas loudly and hope that people who hear them will decide on their own to accept those ideas.
Lead a discussion about how youth feel about proselytizing and evangelizing. Point out that the word "evangelism" is most often heard in connection with Christian churches. In fact, some Christian churches have the word "evangelical" in their names. However, there are also Jewish and Muslim evangelists, and other religions around the world frequently try to "convert" nonbelievers by getting them to accept their religious beliefs. Consider asking the following questions:
Adapt the activity as necessary to allow participants with limited mobility to be part of it. Do not assume that youth using wheelchairs or crutches will not be able or eager to move around the room with everybody else. You could eliminate the need for motion by having youth list their choices on paper in order of their comfort level with each action. If you have youth with limited reading skills, read each of the posters aloud before they get started.
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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.
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