Saturday, March 14, 2020

I Call Your Bluff

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness


Dear You,

I love you. I love you so much.

But you have to convert to my religion or I’ll dump you. You have to convert to my religion because my religion demands it. And if you have your own religion—to hell with it.

You know, I’m not really even all that into my religion, and I know you’ll never quite accept mine—you may only say you accept it because you love me just as you think I love you (your non-conversion would separate us, of course)—but entertain me and learn about and pretend to believe in the doctrines and participate in the rituals anyway.

Do this for me because I’m too afraid to walk away from my religion because there’s too much familial and social pressure to uphold the status quo. I love you so very much, but, to be honest, I’m more seriously in love with my fear of authoritative disapproval, of abandonment, of losing familial affection.

Forever yours (unless…),

Me


Have you ever gotten married and converted religions to do so?

If you’ve answered yes, unless you’re one of what I imagine are only a few uncommon cases, I call your bluff.

I call your bluff that you actually believe in the religion you converted to.

The Paths of Most Believers

Most people believe in a given religion because they’d been raised in it from birth.

Since people tend to follow the herd and never ask their burning questions, say the uncomfortable things, and avoid walking their own path, being raised in a religion from birth can be compared to being in a culture where every child is raised by two parents: having two parents is so prevalent that people may not think otherwise or may avoid the notion of other possible paths as being taboo; cultures in which children are raised as members of a community (as with some indigenous cultures), for example, are given minimal-to-no attention. Peoples' respective religions are what they know, they're "how it is."

I would guess the next most likely reasons for religious belief are because, one, people think they have to have a religion and, two, religion just happened to show up at their door at a time in their religionless lives when things seemed particularly hopeless and in need of upliftment (i.e.: a “savior”).

Even in the most frequently occurring cases, belief isn’t actually as solid as it may appear.

I don’t mean this in the sense that people don’t cling strongly to their religions, but that whatever their religious beliefs are built on is quite fragile. (Hence, all the religious wars and segregation and the like—people are seriously scared that their faith and their God is false, and they fight and persecute “other” for the sake of self-protection.)

Moving away from the above cases, the strength of peoples’ religious beliefs increasingly wanes. People usually just don’t have enough knowledge, trust, awareness, interest, and so on to muster up the conviction to be true believers.

I can't help but think that most of those who convert religions for the sake of marriage come in somewhere fairly low on the list.

I Call Your Bluff

As regards these marriage-driven religious converts, when did the converts start caring about their new religions?

Months or years before they’d met the person of the religion they had to marry into? Gradually through the time they were dating? Or conveniently when the partner who demanded the religious conversion told the other partner to convert or leave?

And what does this say about the ones who've chosen to convert?

So the person falls in love with someone (or thinks they do) and maybe just dumps off their former religion because it doesn’t complement their new partner?

I’m certainly not going to tell people to put their religion before those they love if there’s a sharp contrast that can’t be accepted as is. This is, personally, because I very much dislike and disagree with religion. However, for supposed believers, it’s often their salvation that’s imagined to be on the line.

Isn't salvation seen as more important than a few fleeting years with a particular partner, or didn't they believe in or care much about the salvation claim to begin with, or what?

If they weren't really into it to begin with, what's with the weakness of not walking away sooner, and how does this weakness equate with joining some new religion not for one's self but as prodded by a claimed "necessity" of someone else?

Furthermore, of all the world’s religions and tens of thousands of smaller sects, what are the chances that a convert’s new religion really actually resonates with them? Does it resonate at all?

What about someone who converts, say, from Christianity to Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism, or the reverse?

In asking this question, I don't mean to imply that all these religions have rules denying marriage to those of differing religions; I simply ask the question in the sense of expressing the dramatic shift of direction potentially required for a person to go from one religion to another.

For as big of a deal as religion apparently is, to convert primarily or only because of marital demands seems highly suspect as to how much the convert even cares.

This is sort of like when people look for a new job, apply to 400 different places through an online job search database, and to every single company they write in their cover letters how they like what the company has to offer and what the company is about.

Are they being honest? Are they, really? In most cases, no, because such unwavering interest isn't reasonable. By and large, people are merely trying to sound appealing in order to acquire work to get paid so they don’t die.

Who honestly cares that much?

Again, I’ll give a couple people the benefit of the doubt. But I really don’t think it’s reasonable to believe that most people who convert religions for the sake of marriage are all that into it, no matter what they may show outwardly.



[Aside:] Why, Religion?

What’s with religions’ demands regarding forced conversion, anyway?

Are they just fooling themselves, or looking for new bodies as revenue streams? Is it a source of power and pride? Is it a black magic way of stealing new names and claiming ownership over souls?

Religions can’t vet every single one of their followers to see if they truly believe or not, and, as much as they often judge like crazy, religions aren’t set up in such a way as to kick out the “imperfect.”

But to make conversion demands, especially nowadays, knowing that either current followers may leave because they won’t put their future spouses through the conversion or they’ll pick up new converts that don’t truly believe seems irrational (at least to me) unless the reasons are selfish, if not conniving.

What are convert-or-be-gone religions looking to get?

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