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Pregnancy Evangelism 5
By Mike Doughney


Time: Thu, 11-Feb-1999 10:23:46 GMT     
IP: 207.239.111.78

:Sarah Elizabeth Smith
:16 Years old
:Volunteer for Crisis Pregnancy Centers of VA
:Strong Believer in the faith, love, and life of
:Jesus Christ now and forever

Now let's talk about pregnancy evangelism.  First,
a bit of history, some background on how I view
evangelism in general, and how it's changed
throughout history.

Back in the days before electric lights, before
modern technology extended the concept of "leisure
time" beyond the wealthy to all other classes of
people, evangelism was the function of a
professional class of clergy, or preachers.  The
idea of "lay evangelism" would have been
ludicrous.  The average person did not have very
much free time.  The idea of many lay people
spending their time evangelizing others would have
been absurd - most people were concerned with more
pressing survival issues.

As time went on, survival issues became less
important.  We reached the 1950's and 1960's, the
work week became shorter, technology freed most
people from the drudgery of everyday tasks.
Cheap, instant communications and rapid travel
changed American social interaction.  Ultimately
we ended up with a huge middle class; and
ultimately, some portion of that middle class
would feel bored, or have that nagging neediness,
a feeling that something was missing even though
they'd "made it."  Booming suburbs were full of
people in the middle of a rapidly changing society
and who were looking for something - whether or
not such a thing exists in reality - providing
stability to hang on to.

Into this environment dropped a new breed of
professional evangelists.  Salesmen to the core,
they realized that religion could be marketed for
their own ends, or even, sold as an end unto
itself ("marketing the marketing.") They sold a
personal transformational experience that came
complete with a whole new set of friends, a
comforting, absolutist ideology, and its own set
of rituals.  But the key point is that the
participants would then be enlisted to gather
others into the churches - the church growth
strategy, made possible by lay people who, now
having leisure time that they hadn't had before,
would engage in evangelism themselves.

This model was subsequently taken to extremes by
religious cults and multi-level marketers such as
Amway that came into being in the late 60's and
early 70's, all of which were also made possible
by the existence of a middle class with time and
money on its hands.

Again, what has come to be was not always.  Lay
evangelism and the obsession with exponential
church growth was not always the way of the world,
and all you need to do is to go back and see how
the "church-growth" strategies and books like
"Evangelism Explosion" were accepted in their time
to see that radical change has been a part of
evangelical Christianity for decades; as I've said
earlier, anti-abortion activism as we know it
today is a new phenomenon.

Now when religion has become a marketed product,
with all the usual reporting pressures on
salespeople to generate numbers or else,
inevitably a point of market saturation will be
reached.  As time goes on, more and more
aggressive strategies to locate people at a
vulnerable point in their lives, to target them
for conversion, will be developed.  Everyone is
vulnerable at some point in their lifetimes, even
if at any one time the number of people who are
vulnerable and not already part of their group is
relatively small.

So what you end up with are things like prison
ministries, taking advantage of a captive audience
that can't walk away, that is sensitive to peer
pressure and the possibility of privleges and
reprieve upon conversion.  (See former Texas death
row occupant "Karla Faye Tucker," particularly the
CBN coverage that explicitly explains that a
special outcome for a convert was expected.)  You
see efforts to marginalize people with certain
lifestyles, to apply pressure on them to force
them to convert, through the use of anti-gay
marketing campaigns that, strangely enough, only
promote a conversion into their particular form of
religious faith as the only acceptable solution
for one's queerness.

=continued=


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