RELIGION - THE RATIONALE OF FORCED CONVERSION
 
Human nature is confusingly inconsistent. People who have no problem with babies being slaughtered may hate to see rabbits being killed by dogs. They may cry. This inconsistency is the reason why religions that endorse violence find it hard to get everybody to obey its warmongering dictates. Christianity has virtually given up because of the high level of apathy among Christians and many Christians have passion for some doctrines of the faith and hate or are indifferent towards the rest.
 
The Bible God endorses violence. The Christian cannot deny that people sincerely believe that God claims to bring good out of our mistakes meaning that if we do violence in his name he will understand and make it right. The Christian cannot deny that those who put the Bible together and who proclaimed it to be the work of God, the divine author, believed God has the right to command violence. He has this right in principle if not in practice. A God that lets sickness happen for a good reason is a God who can command you to kill for him for a good reason.
 
People liking God with all the dangers of belief in God proves that they are worshipping the version of him that they want to believe in. Some may say that those who kill in the name of God know it is wrong. But who are they to say what others know? Also, they are violent themselves because they argue, "We force our rules on those people for they know fine well we are right. We are not forcing belief in morality on them for they know what morality is anyway." It is violent to treat people as if they know something and treat them roughly because of that. It is running a risk of attempting forced conversion.
 
Forced conversion is a form of religious persecution. A religion can persecute by forced conversion. Or it might be opposed to forced conversion and instead persecute and imprison those who try to form new religions or get converts.
 
I argue that religion must believe that it should force people to join it when it is able, regardless of its utterances in favour of religious liberty, if it is being true to itself. I am not saying religious people will necessarily want to force people for most do not, but I am saying religion is dangerous for some people will want to force because of it. It is still a bad influence that the world could do without. I am saying the consistent and strong believer in religion - who takes its revelations seriously will develop a desire to see people forced to comply with religion.
 
St Augustine speaking for the Catholic Church hundreds of years ago said that forced conversion is good for it paves the way to real conversion. "It is indeed better (as no one ever could deny) that men should be led to worship God by teaching, than that they should be driven to it by fear of punishment or pain; but it does not follow that because the former course produces the better men, therefore those who do not yield to it should be neglected. For many have found advantage (as we have proved, and are daily proving by actual experiment), in being first compelled by fear or pain, so that they might afterwards be influenced by teaching, or might follow out in act what they had already learned in word." --Saint Augustine, Treatise on the Correction of the Donatists.
 
Augustine as a major father of the Church is studied by clerics and theology courses are created around him.  He remains a father and inspiration in good standing.  Because of St Augustine, the Catholic Church endorsed forced conversion of unbelievers into the Church. The last time that was done was under the Ustashi in Yugoslavia in the twentieth century.
 
Augustine's view that forced conversion is a great thing could be an embarrassment to the Church today. People have been excommunicated from the Church for dissenting from the teachings of the Church such as the bread being the body of Jesus at Mass. But nobody has ever been disciplined or excommunicated for teaching like Augustine that forced conversion is good because eventually the person should believe. And Augustine is a saint and a doctor (ie main teacher) of the Church. Actions speak louder than words - the Church still would like to force people.
 
The Catholic Church today claims that it is the one true Church so it has the right to make babies members of the Church and obligated to believe its doctrines when it baptises them. But the religion is not clearly the one true Church and the vast majority of students of religion find serious errors in the Church's doctrine and science is against the faith. Thus the baptisms are clearly forced conversion. Priests who cannot give a convincing case for Catholicism being all true have no business baptising babies and thereby degrading them.
 
Today the Catholic religion seems to back up the ideal of religious liberty. But it’s not that simple as we shall soon see and we still have reason to worry. The best Catholic theologians teach that Vatican II only taught that nobody can be converted to Catholicism by force not that religious liberty for non-Catholics is acceptable. And Augustine himself agreed that nobody can be forced but argued that the value of forcing is that they will soon freely give in. Vatican II did nothing to change that teaching or repudiate it.

 

HOW MUCH OF MORALITY IS ABOUT RESIGNATION?

 

How much of morality is about resignation?  A lot.  Everybody feels they are forced in so many ways.  The husband and wife in a dead marriage struggle day by day.  And they feel that in a religious community they cannot be themselves.  Religion can say morality should be free and uncompelled but that is thin when it knows what kind of culture we have and always will have.
 
ESSENTIAL INTOLERANCE IN COMMAND TO LOVE GOD ONLY OR MOST
 
The doctrine of God implies that since God is the law and is not subject to the law that people must agree with him. They must not divorce goodness from God but fuse the two. Since God is supreme there can be no law over him to punish him or reward him for what he does which raises the problem of how we know we can trust him. Christianity says just trust him. But it is unfair and bigoted just trust a being that makes such serious and heavy demands on us: love me with all your heart and do what I say and condemn what I condemn even if my rules make no sense to anybody and put yourself and your neighbour in second place to me. It is like marrying somebody within seconds of meeting them. The God concept then is inherently violent and intolerant and bloody.
 
DOES RELIGION MEAN THE HYPOCRISY OBJECTION?
 
Religion claims to be opposed to compulsion in religion for that produces hypocrites. In other words, if it didn't make hypocrites they would be happy to do it. The underlying attitude is that they still want to force.
 
Also, to say that it produces hypocrites contradicts the doctrine that it is really God's intervention and attractiveness and his power to enlighten the mind that gets converts. It follows that though we force, God could be using our evil to help the person convert freely. This derives from the Christian belief in the power of God to turn evil into good. If the Christians really believe in God's intervening grace they do not really believe the hypocrisy objection and are lying that they do.
 
The doctrine that God knows what is best over all and we don't for we don't even know the future or how our plans will turn out implies that he could command us to use forced conversion but perhaps carefully and with a view to inspiring the victims to convert in reality and in their hearts. If you believe in God, logically you cannot say that forced conversion is automatically and undeniably wrong. You are making God's opinion your own. If your faith tells you that God does not sanction forced conversion, you mean that you only believe that it is wrong not that you know it is wrong. You are saying you are not sure on religious grounds that forced conversion is wrong because belief is not certainty. It is taking a small step towards approval for forced conversion for you are declining to condemn it outright. Your opposition is weakened because it is based on belief. Believing that forced conversion is wrong implies that you are open to changing your mind. Also you are saying that what matters is what God wants so if he wanted forced conversion you would believe in it and help people to be forced into your religion. To say such a thing implies that if you have the right to decide what God has revealed then others have this right too and can believe that God demands forced conversion and the persecution of heretics and those who belong to religions different from your own.
 
Religion cannot say that it is wrong to take away a person’s freedom for you always have a choice. When a priest puts a gun to your head saying, “Convert or die”, you can either convert sincerely or insincerely or get shot. If you believe in religion then why fear death? If you feel you had no choice because of the fear that is your fault and not the priest's.
 
Religion does not mind forcing faith on children for they are easy targets though that results in hypocrisy. It would do the same to everybody else if it had the resources and society's permission. It is no objection to say that the child has to be forced for she or he does not understand what she or he is doing or how to approach life. Surely the unbeliever child does not understand either and religion certainly doesn’t agree with children being raised as humanists. If religion is consistent and honest it will see that as child abuse. Taking advantage of a child to get him to accept a religion is worse than doing it to an adult.
 
Forced conversions will produce some or mostly hypocrites yes but it will fairly ensure that their children and their children’s children will truly believe in the religion. Better to force some than to force error on more by doing nothing especially when God's grace and power is infinite. Forcing the hypocrites to practice and defend it will be a powerful inspiration that will make others closer to it. Furthermore, it is not sinful to be a hypocrite when you are forced to be one. The religion, however, cannot be satisfied with a false commitment and will prefer sincere devotion. It would be affirming belief in magic to say that God would be pleased with play-acting.
 
Forced conversion is one of those things that eventually become unnecessary.
 
The hypocrites will come to reason that God will not reject them for sincerely believing in a false religion that they might as well believe. They can be told this so that compulsion will do them no spiritual harm through it being the fault of the religion that forces them.
 
God may want them to commit the sin of hypocrisy in order to bestow on them the knowledge that will draw them to drop it and be holy. God permits temptation to being good out of it even if it succeeds. God uses sin for a greater good. Those beliefs give a confidence that forced conversion will be a good thing ultimately.

 

Faith in God undermines problems with forced religion or forced spirituality and forcing religion on children as the Church does amounts to forcing it on society and that affects people who don't want to be drawn in.