In a democratic society like Greece, the co-existence of differing religious groups is crucial. Religious freedom is a long established human right. However, it should be examined under the local light of the peculiar pre-dominantly Orthodox Greek society.
Evangelism can be easily misunderstood by people to mean proselytism, and its post-modern face appears to be that of an arrogant colonizer who is a threat to the indigenous traditions of a certain community. This definition of evangelism, however, should not be allowed to “colonize” other ways of defining it, but should be brought into the light and examined more thoroughly, so that its flaws may be exposed. The 3 following fallacies should be pointed out:
1. Such a negative understanding of evangelism ignores the value of the free communication of conversion opportunities to the members of a community. It is identical to the obstruction of healthy competitiveness for the sake of feeding a monopolistic beast.
2. This negative definition of evangelism discriminates against small religions which rely upon adult converts, rather than traditional adherents, to expand. Again, this is identical to a first-come-first-served monopolistic mentality. Every religion should get a “fair” hearing regardless of size or “time of residence”.
3. Defining evangelism in this way is dangerously paternalistic. The State or the State church may be abusing its ability to decide FOR their own members thus denying them their basic right of individual autonomy.
I do not pretend to be treating an easy topic here, but I would go ahead and throw a suggestion out, always open to criticism and refutation. Instead of Tom trying to crash Jerry, and Jerry sneaking around Tom, an ideal situation would be for the majority church to allow its members some exposure to the existence of other beliefs. This can happen in an environment of trust and co-operation where a representative of each minority church is invited to present their views openly, answer questions and give their testimony. I have been loyal to a travel agency for years, until one day they presented me with all the possible options I should consider for my benefit. They took the risk of losing me as their customer by disclosing their competitors’ lower and sometimes higher prices. The choice was mine to make.
Maybe it is time to learn from our common ancestors and bring back a βήμα in Athens.
[see more, Peter W. Edge LLB, PhD (Cantab), The Missionary's Position After Kokkinakis v Greece].