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Christian groups agree on ethical limits of proselytism

Catholic World News - June 30, 2011

Catholic and Protestant leaders representing “over 90% of the world’s total Christian population” have reached an agreement on standards for evangelization, aimed to counteract complaints of “proselytism” that are frequently raised in non-Christian societies like India.

"If Christians engage in inappropriate methods of exercising mission by resorting to deception and coercive means, they betray the Gospel and may cause suffering to others," the Christian leaders agreed.

Agreement, released on June 28, has the endorsements of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, the World Council of Churches, and the World Evangelical Alliance. The document calls on Christian missionaries to show respect for other cultures and faiths, to reject all forms of force, and to allow “full personal freedom” to all potential converts.

The agreement stipulates that those who are introduced to Christianity must be given “sufficient time for reflection and preparation” before formally entering the Church. The document forbids offering financial incentives, and cautions against exploitation of needy people through faith-healing services. The agreement categorically condemns violence, “including the violation or destruction of places of worship, sacred symbols, or texts.”

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