Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

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Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby steveb1 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:31 pm

What is your view of engaging Christian fundamentalists? There does seem to be an array of choices, from ignoring them, to arguing your view against their views, to being assertive enough to (for example) hand out Buddhistic literature to fundamentalists and/or actually inviting them to Buddhist services (that's a stretch, I admit).

For me, it does get tiresome to hear conservative Christians knowingly or unknowingly misrepresent Buddhism. We've all heard the litany: Buddhism is "Satanic"; it is pessimistic; it induces trance and other mind-control techniques; humankind needs God/ Buddhism has no God; Buddha was a damned sinner/Jesus was God and sinless; Buddha died/Jesus is risen, and for that matter is eternal; Jesus saves from sin/Buddha has no such capacity; God set his seal on Jesus via miracles/God did not "vouch" for Buddha; etc., etc.

Obviously, the essential differences make even the most hopeful communication difficult, as Christianity is founded on the notion of a supernatural/personal god's miraculous activity, whereas no such entity exists in Buddhism. But there are other issues that can be addressed, starting with simple corrections of Christian misunderstandings of Buddha and Buddhism.

Is it worth a response? After all, fundamentalists' salvation rests upon their unswerving, total belief in faith-propositions. If they perceive that one is trying to correct views which fundamentalists firmly believe are God-given, then they will not jeopardize their salvation. Hence, any real dialogue is probably impossible. But, beyond considerations of communication and dialogue, there is always the consideration of truth.

That is, how do we "stick up for the Dharma" in the face of prejudice, misinformation, and sometimes contempt? Have any Dharma Wheel posters confronted - or better, solved - this problem? It would be nice to hear different views from Buddhists in confrontation with Christian fundamentalists.
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:46 pm

There is no point communicating with a fundamentalist of any dogma, Christian or otherwise.
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby Epistemes » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:55 pm

I think Karma Dondrup Tashi is right. Engaging any type of fundamentalist is like running against the wind.

If I could only retrieve the hours I wasted engaging Muslim fundamentalists. And for what? It only pissed me off, ruined my day, and caused me to only want to come out on top all the more!

You can recommend all sort of books, hyperlinks, essays, articles, etc., but, like most superficial debate, nobody really wants to have their mind changed, just reinforced.
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby Chaz » Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:00 pm

steveb1 wrote:
Is it worth a response?


Nope.

...there is always the consideration of truth.


Those who trulyt seek truth will find it.


That is, how do we "stick up for the Dharma" in the face of prejudice, misinformation, and sometimes contempt?


There's no need for us to "stick up" for the dharma. Not much point in it, either.

Have any Dharma Wheel posters confronted - or better, solved - this problem? It would be nice to hear different views from Buddhists in confrontation with Christian fundamentalists.


I have, on a number of occaision. Solved it? No. Gave up on that long ago. I've come to believe that someones spiritual path is their own and seriously not my concern. If someone is happy as a fiundamental Christian, I guess that's okay with me. If they want to denigrate Buddhism or practice of the Dharma, I let them. It's often an excercise in futility to try and change the minds of such people. Better to just leave them alone.
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby edearl » Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:21 pm

I had to leave my family, all fundamentalist Christians, because there was no crack of rational thinking in their fantasy life. Whenever I was around them, they tried to convert me back to Christianity :x You might try to change their incorrect impression of Buddhism a little. For example, you might say, "Some Christians study Buddhism. Buddha was a man, philosopher, and teacher. He taught people how to live a moral life, to be non-violent, and that meditation can alleviate suffering." If you know a Buddhist-Christian, you might mention him/her. If they know you are not Christian, they believe you will go to hell and need to be converted to Christianity, and they may preach. If so, listen to them attentively, to make them feel good. Don't say anything about any religious or Buddhist beliefs--it may ruin whatever good you are be able to do. Of course, if you are a Buddhist-Christian you can discuss it. Otherwise, if they ask about Buddhism, say you should not try to them teach Buddhism, and refer them to a Buddhist-Christian book or website, such as http://buddhist-christian.org/. Keep it simple, that's my opinion.
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby Acchantika » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:37 pm

steveb1 wrote:What is your view of engaging Christian fundamentalists?


Personally, I completely agree with edearl. Trying to convert, convince and persuade are often just signs of insecurity. Find the common ground, say only what creates the most benefit and least conflict, in my opinion. And be sensitive that people's beliefs are, to them, very precious. It can do more harm than good to take away people's footing.

It is like the way if you, trying to be compassionate, remove a butterfly from a chrysalis before it is ready, it dies, even though its shell ultimately constricts it. It needs warmth, light and comfortable conditions and it will find its own way out, eventually.

I like what Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche said:

    "All spiritual traditions, whether Buddhist or non-buddhist, differ in their forms in order to adapt to the abilities and faculties of all different kinds of people. All of them, however, work toward establishing beings on the path of well-being and liberation. Since they all derive from perfectly enlightened activity, without exception they merit our trust."
...
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby edearl » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:12 am

TY Acchantika
:namaste:
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby plwk » Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:41 am

Well, if one thinks that one is up for it...
http://www.leighb.com/dn1.htm
'Monks, if outsiders should speak against me, or against the Dhamma, or against the Sangha, you should not on that account either bear malice, or be upset, or feel ill will. If on that account, you should be angry and hurt, that would stand in the way of your own self-conquest.

If, when others speak against us, you feel angry at that or displeased, would you then be able to judge whether that talk of theirs is well said or not?'
'No, Sir.'

'But when outsiders speak in disparagement of me, or of the Dhamma, or of the Sangha, you should unravel what is false and point it out as wrong, saying:
"For this or that reason this is not the fact, that is not so, such a thing is not found among us, is not in us."

'But also, monks, if outsiders should speak in praise of me, in praise of the Dhamma, in praise of the Sangha, you should not, on that account, be filled with pleasure or gladness or be lifted up in heart. Were you to be so that also would stand in the way of your self-conquest.

When outsiders speak in praise of me, or of the Dhamma, or of the Sangha, you should acknowledge what is factual, saying:
"For this or that reason this is true, that is so, such a thing is found among us, is in us."

If not...try this useful method...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html
"Bhikkhus, there are these five ways of removing annoyance, by which annoyance can be entirely removed by a Bhikkhu when it arises in him.
What are the five?

"Loving-kindness can be maintained in being toward a person with whom you are annoyed: this is how annoyance with him can be removed.
"Compassion can be maintained in being toward a person with whom you are annoyed; this too is how annoyance with him can be removed.
"Onlooking equanimity can be maintained in being toward a person with whom you are annoyed; this too is how annoyance with him can be removed.
"The forgetting and ignoring of a person with whom you are annoyed can be practiced; this too is how annoyance with him can be removed.
"Ownership of deeds in a person with whom you are annoyed can be concentrated upon thus:
'This good person is owner of his deeds, heir to his deeds, his deeds are the womb from which he is born, his deeds are his kin for whom he is responsible, his deeds are his refuge, he is heir to his deeds, be they good or bad.'
This too is how annoyance with him can be removed.

"These are the five ways of removing annoyance, by which annoyance can be entirely removed in a Bhikkhu when it arises in him."

From my own personal experience, I have found both as above useful in dealing with my own fundamentalist Christian parents...
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby catmoon » Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:44 am

I was dealing with some a couple of days ago. They were a couple. He is trained in the sciences, and pretty easy to talk to, since he understands the principles of fair debate. She, on the other hand, is as fundamentalist as they come. She comes up with statements like "Stephen Hawking is a flake", "I know there is a God" and so on. She likes to throw out challenging questions like "What has Buddha got that Jesus doesn't?", and "Why would anyone choose Buddhism?".

The key seems to be not wanting to win the conversation. If I don't have an answer ready, the answer is "I'd have to think about that." If one is very very mindful, very careful not to blurt out the first response, and thoughtful, if one is not attached to one's own "superior" point of view then things can go fairly smoothly. I think of many things to say which, although they would be beneficial, would start a great bloody fight, which would negate the whole point of trying to beneficial. These things do not get said. Buddha once taught that one should speak only the truth, but that it must meet other criteria as well. There are instances when truth is not beneficial. There are instances when truth can be beneficial but ill-timed. The teaching was to only speak when the thing said is true, beneficial and well-timed. When dealing with a hardcore fundamentalist this teaching must be followed quite perfectly. One must speak softly and kindly.

If I may repeat, the key is not wanting to win the conversation.
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby not1not2 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 3:04 am

steveb1 wrote:What is your view of engaging Christian fundamentalists? There does seem to be an array of choices, from ignoring them, to arguing your view against their views, to being assertive enough to (for example) hand out Buddhistic literature to fundamentalists and/or actually inviting them to Buddhist services (that's a stretch, I admit).

For me, it does get tiresome to hear conservative Christians knowingly or unknowingly misrepresent Buddhism. We've all heard the litany: Buddhism is "Satanic"; it is pessimistic; it induces trance and other mind-control techniques; humankind needs God/ Buddhism has no God; Buddha was a damned sinner/Jesus was God and sinless; Buddha died/Jesus is risen, and for that matter is eternal; Jesus saves from sin/Buddha has no such capacity; God set his seal on Jesus via miracles/God did not "vouch" for Buddha; etc., etc.

Obviously, the essential differences make even the most hopeful communication difficult, as Christianity is founded on the notion of a supernatural/personal god's miraculous activity, whereas no such entity exists in Buddhism. But there are other issues that can be addressed, starting with simple corrections of Christian misunderstandings of Buddha and Buddhism.

Is it worth a response? After all, fundamentalists' salvation rests upon their unswerving, total belief in faith-propositions. If they perceive that one is trying to correct views which fundamentalists firmly believe are God-given, then they will not jeopardize their salvation. Hence, any real dialogue is probably impossible. But, beyond considerations of communication and dialogue, there is always the consideration of truth.

That is, how do we "stick up for the Dharma" in the face of prejudice, misinformation, and sometimes contempt? Have any Dharma Wheel posters confronted - or better, solved - this problem? It would be nice to hear different views from Buddhists in confrontation with Christian fundamentalists.

Am sorry you thought you must choose family or Dharma. Did they push you out or did you push them out? We tred the path of Dharma and wish others well. Does there have to be a choice? Metta, Earl :anjali:
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby steveb1 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 3:36 am

Earl, I think you are thinking of someone else's post. I never had any family problems with Buddhism :)
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby steveb1 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 3:40 am

... and ... thanks to everyone so far, for contributing excellent ideas for compassionate practice in the face of social adversity :)
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby edearl » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:18 am

not1not2 wrote:Am sorry you thought you must choose family or Dharma. Did they push you out or did you push them out? We tred the path of Dharma and wish others well. Does there have to be a choice? Metta, Earl :anjali:


I realized we had nothing in common to talk about, and was unwilling for them to continually try to convert me back to Christianity, which is insulting. Moreover, their congregation contains people who are among the most bigoted among humanity. I tried to keep in touch with my brother, and for a while called him often. But, it was always me calling him, he has not called me, ever, in over 40 years. I did keep in touch with mom, until she died, but no one else in the family. Growing up, I barely knew my father, because he and mom divorced and he was a lifer in the Air Force who moved often. He was a good person, but was haunted by alcoholism. We spent some time together as adults. He was not a fundamentalist.

I am unable to pretend to believe as my family does, which is the only way I would be accepted by them. Thus, I accepted the lesser of two unfortunate life styles, and walked away rather than being treated as ignorant and stupid. I suppose they think the devil took me. IMO there is more devil in fundamentalists than in me. They badly want to live as good people, but their blind faith prevents it. Buddhist are good people because they had a good teacher and because they think things through, among other things.

I didn't give up Christianity for Buddhism, I hadn't heard of Buddhism at the time. For a long time, I thought I was an atheist, but eventually settled on being agnostic, because one cannot prove or disprove the existence of a god or gods.
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby KeithBC » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:57 am

catmoon wrote:If I may repeat, the key is not wanting to win the conversation.

:good: Yes, that.

I avoid getting into debates with Christian fundamentalists. It is a pointless waste of energy. If asked an honest question about Buddhism, I will answer truthfully to the best of my ability. If they don't like my answer, well, too bad.

The closest I get to arguing is if they say something that misrepresents Buddhism. I will speak up in that case, especially if there is a third party present, in order that the correct information has been presented. I don't expect them to believe me in that situation, but I think it is important that they know that I do not accept their version and that I have stated mine. I think that level of upholding the truth is an important part of what it means to take refuge in the Dharma.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby Kyosan » Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:08 am

I've seen Christian Fundamentalists and anti-religious people say false things about Buddhism on forums and have corrected them. The Christian Fundamentalists are generally ignorant about Buddhism and don't argue with me very much. I just explained Buddhism without attacking Christianity.
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby Kai » Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:20 am

catmoon wrote: "Stephen Hawking is a flake",


:rolling: :rolling: Man, she needs help..............fast..........


"I know there is a God" and so on. She likes to throw out challenging questions like "What has Buddha got that Jesus doesn't?", and "Why would anyone choose Buddhism?".


:rolling: :rolling: You know, the same questions can be asked of her........

The key seems to be not wanting to win the conversation. If I don't have an answer ready, the answer is "I'd have to think about that." If one is very very mindful, very careful not to blurt out the first response, and thoughtful, if one is not attached to one's own "superior" point of view then things can go fairly smoothly. I think of many things to say which, although they would be beneficial, would start a great bloody fight, which would negate the whole point of trying to beneficial.


Why do you bother with them? Just let them be.

Having dealing with Christian fundamentalists (Most of my friends are those) for most of my life, my answer to the OP's questions is "Don't even bother". If you have free time, read the Sutras and if those people are your friends or colleague, then try to keep them as distant as possible, continue to recite the refuge prayer and Buddha will take care of the rest and very soon, they will be out of your lives.....really... :smile:

And if a confrontation could not be avoided, try history and science (Don't use Religion), most Christians are epically and amazingly lousy at either one or both and easily become irrational and emotional after a while. Don't hold back, btw because if you do, they will keep on pestering you with their fantastic theories about Buddhism which is bad karma for them and you. When you are aggressive with your facts and logic in the first exchange, chances are that they will leave you alone and possibly even avoid you as the stuffs you said is bending towards harming and destroying their faith. This is how it works for me so far.

Hope it helps.......
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby steveb1 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:00 am

Thanks, keith and kai, for your insights.
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby Kyosan » Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:40 pm

steveb1 wrote:......Is it worth a response? After all, fundamentalists' salvation rests upon their unswerving, total belief in faith-propositions. If they perceive that one is trying to correct views which fundamentalists firmly believe are God-given, then they will not jeopardize their salvation. Hence, any real dialogue is probably impossible. But, beyond considerations of communication and dialogue, there is always the consideration of truth.

That is, how do we "stick up for the Dharma" in the face of prejudice, misinformation, and sometimes contempt? Have any Dharma Wheel posters confronted - or better, solved - this problem? It would be nice to hear different views from Buddhists in confrontation with Christian fundamentalists.

If they misrepresent Buddhism just educate about Buddhism without competing with them. Think of it as a good opportunity to educate them. You don't need to argue against their religious beliefs. I think, the hardest part is explaining Buddhism to them in a way that makes sense to them.

In discussions with non-Buddhists, I have used the analogy that Buddha is like a doctor and Buddhist practice is like medicine, that the medicine helps one get through the hardships of life and be a more caring person. Most people understand that.

I made it clear to them that Buddha is not a god that we worship.
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby Ogyen » Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:25 pm

steveb1 wrote:What is your view of engaging Christian fundamentalists? There does seem to be an array of choices, from ignoring them, to arguing your view against their views, to being assertive enough to (for example) hand out Buddhistic literature to fundamentalists and/or actually inviting them to Buddhist services (that's a stretch, I admit).

For me, it does get tiresome to hear conservative Christians knowingly or unknowingly misrepresent Buddhism. We've all heard the litany: Buddhism is "Satanic"; it is pessimistic; it induces trance and other mind-control techniques; humankind needs God/ Buddhism has no God; Buddha was a damned sinner/Jesus was God and sinless; Buddha died/Jesus is risen, and for that matter is eternal; Jesus saves from sin/Buddha has no such capacity; God set his seal on Jesus via miracles/God did not "vouch" for Buddha; etc., etc.

Obviously, the essential differences make even the most hopeful communication difficult, as Christianity is founded on the notion of a supernatural/personal god's miraculous activity, whereas no such entity exists in Buddhism. But there are other issues that can be addressed, starting with simple corrections of Christian misunderstandings of Buddha and Buddhism.

Is it worth a response? After all, fundamentalists' salvation rests upon their unswerving, total belief in faith-propositions. If they perceive that one is trying to correct views which fundamentalists firmly believe are God-given, then they will not jeopardize their salvation. Hence, any real dialogue is probably impossible. But, beyond considerations of communication and dialogue, there is always the consideration of truth.

That is, how do we "stick up for the Dharma" in the face of prejudice, misinformation, and sometimes contempt? Have any Dharma Wheel posters confronted - or better, solved - this problem? It would be nice to hear different views from Buddhists in confrontation with Christian fundamentalists.


be buddha. Don't be Buddhist. You can't engage fundamentalism of any kind with reason. You must reach it where it clings - in its human factor. Everyone understands feeling like crap. Touch into the human common ground. That is all. Everyone suffers, this we can agree on. Ideology need not be a factor to be kind. Differences need not impact how we choose to be with others.

_/|\_
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Re: Dealing with Christian Fundamentalists

Postby AdmiralJim » Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:14 pm

I wish someone would come round and get rid of these Jehovahs Witnesses that come round every Sunday to my house, I have ignored them for ten weeks and they still come round to my house! It was a mistake to ask there opinion about a strange phenomoneon that occured while my mother was in hospital. Their conclusion was that an 'angel' followed me around the hospital because I am a God fearing man apparantly, this explanation convinced me even more to stay away from them, not to mention the fact the literature they write is so simplisitic it could have been written by a school kid :S
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