I’ve been thinking about what makes proselytization inappropriate since I wrote this post.
I was at the Post Office (in the US) yesterday and a woman a couple of people ahead of me in line gave a Christian tract to the clerk after she finished her transaction.
â€œWould you like some Bible verses?â€ she asked him.
â€œWhy yes,â€ he said, smiling, â€œThank you very much.â€
He looked at the tract and carried it around while he was putting her package into the hopper, and I sighed to myself. Then, before he took another customer, he walked up to the station of another clerk and laughed. He put the tract in the garbage and said, loudly enough for everyone in the room to hear, â€œCan you believe that woman asked me if I wanted some Bible verses?â€
I was relieved, and I couldnâ€™t help but let out a little snort. I don’t think anyone heard me.
I guess that’s the difference between religious folks and skeptics and atheists. As far as I know, there are no unbelievers giving out literature to strangers in public places (although I have been tempted to put anti-tracts on cars in church parking lots, I have never actually gone through with it).
Itâ€™s fine to share your beliefs with your friends or people who ask you about it, but to shove it into the public sphere and to try to pass out literature to strangers at a place of business â€“ never mind a government place of business â€“ is just so inappropriate. Why donâ€™t people understand this?
Maybe we skeptics are in the minority because we are not bold enough about shoving our ideas in everyone else’s face. But I can’t help think that the end doesn’t justify the means and I don’t want to become what I hate to win a popularity contest. But if we don’t do something like this, will superstition win out over science in the public sphere? What causes sweeping changes in society like the Enlightenment or Christian revivals? Is there anything we can do to help increase science literacy and reduce woo without being annoying asses?
So that’s what’s on my mind. Have at it.