A few months ago I gave a lecture at a small Midwestern college. Broadly put, my topic was the encounter with “the other.” In a discussion afterwards, a student suggested that engaging in evangelism and seeking to convert another person to the Christian faith is a form of violence, a form of harmful disrespect for the other. Although this opinion is prevalent in certain academic and religious circles, I had not expected it to have traveled so far, culturally speaking. After all, the college where I was speaking was a flagship institution of a denomination known for its evangelistic and missionary efforts.
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