How Missionaries Have Quietly Transformed the World

By: Robert Woodberry

Despite the negative stereotypes about missionaries, they have effectively improved health, education, economic development, and political representation around the world—seemingly more effectively than government aid and secular NGOs. 

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Freedom to Proselytize Associated with Lower Religious Hostilities

By: Brian Grim

A new analysis by the Weekly Number shows that religious hostilities are consistently more likely to occur in countries where governments restrict proselytizing than in countries without such restrictions. For instance, looking at Pew Research data, hostilities over proselytizing are five times more likely in countries with laws restricting proselytism than in countries with no such restrictions. Also, hostilities over conversions are more than four times as likely in countries with laws restricting proselytism as in countries without restrictions. (See data here and at the bottom of this post.) 

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Proselytism or a Global Ethic?

By: Asoka Bandarage

On March 4, the Religious Freedom Project of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University held a day-long public dialogue in Washington, DC on the controversial topic of proselytism and global development. Three panels of religious leaders, development practitioners, and scholars examined the issue from diverse perspectives. The keynote conversation featured Pastor Rick Warren, founder of Saddleback Church, and Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service. This column seeks to contribute to the discourse on this timely and important subject.

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Ranking Rights: Does Protecting the Right to Proselytize Violate Religious Freedom?

By: Ani Sarkissian

One of the more complicated religious freedoms, the right to proselytize has both supporters and detractors. Proselytism can be defined as the attempt to persuade another individual to change his or her religion. According to data from the Pew Research Center, in 2013, 33 percent of countries limited proselytization by all or some religious groups. In the same year, 20 percent of countries limited religious conversion, 43 percent restricted foreign missionaries, and 47 percent limited religious literature and broadcasting, all activities related to spreading religion.

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Nagging Tensions Around Development and Proselytizing

By: Katherine Marshall

In an eight-year review of the development work of faith-inspired actors in six world regions and of more than 10 priority sectors and topics, proselytizing came up again and again as a concern. It’s time to reflect on why, and above all what, might be done to address both real concerns and myths.The questions come in various forms and from different directions. Some are quite readily answered while others look to deeper and more complex topics. In some areas the “rules of the game” are quite clear but elsewhere there are fuzzy boundaries. 

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