Thursday, February 28, 2013

Public Displays of Spirituality

So I often find myself winding up on the unpopular side of arguments about appropriate displays of spirituality in public (I have rather wide personal boundaries), so I was hoping to maybe get a bit of clarification on everyone's opinions. I've made, to the best of my knowledge, a list of the most common forms of public displays of religion. I've put them in order from least offensive to most offensive, IMO, and I was hoping you could let me know what you think. Where do you draw the line for yourself? Where do you draw the line for others socially? Where do you draw the line for others legally? Would you reorder anything on the list? Would you add or alter anything? I'm honestly curious.

Clothing: Wearing pentacles, crucifixes, turbans, etc.

Small to elaborate personal prayer: Crossing oneself, reciting a prayer to oneself, other small, ritual actions, etc.

Small group prayer/celebration: Any kind of small prayer/religious group meeting in a public place, minding their own business, but loud enough that they can be heard.

Friend-to-Friend (possibly acquaintance) Discussion: A friend or close acquaintance broaches the topic of religion, possibly inviting you to a service or ritual. (Clearly the tact of this one depends on how well acquainted you are.)

Casual Religious Greeting/Blessing: Blessed Be, God bless you, Dia Duit, Merry Christmas, etc.

Larger personal prayer: Bowing to Mecca, shouting "Hallelujah" for personal celebration, (I don't know how common this is, but I did see what I believe was a Buddhist chanting in a moderately loud voice on the street once), etc.

Polite Strangers Who Back off When Turned Down: Handing out pamphlets for churches or school, pagan groups, maybe a quick "Would you like to hear about Jesus," etc.

Large group prayer/celebration: Ranging from groups of Krishnas to religious parades (Mardi Gras, Xmas Parade, etc.) to gatherings in public areas.

Street Preachers (Being annoying, but not hateful): Name says it all.

Door to Door Evangelists (Being polite and leaving when requested): Name says it all.

Strangers, Street Preachers, and Door to Door Evangelists (Being aggressive and rude, but not necessarily hate speech): Name says it all.

Public Hate Speech/Forceful Behavior: Name says it all.

People Using Secular Positions of Authority to Preach or Discriminate: Teachers, bosses, politicians, etc.

Personally, I draw my own personal line at "Casual Religious Greeting/Blessing." That's just how I express myself sometimes. For others, I draw the social line at "Door to Door Evangelists (Being polite and leaving when requested)". So long as I don't have to open the door when they knock, or they're willing to leave when I say "no thank you," I don't mind. I might think they're silly, but it doesn't bother me. I draw the legal line at "Public Hate Speech/Forceful Behavior". I think that's fairly self explanatory.

I know this is a pretty sensitive subject for a lot of people, but I am interested.

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