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More than half the world is either Christian or Muslim. Islam and Christianity duke it out on the world stage. On one side of the ring you have tele-evangelists and gigachurches and Mormons spreading the word and trying to urge mass conversions. On the other you have those of Islam undergoing heavy reproduction. Who will win the Christianity vs Islam fight?


 
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The Cross And The Crescent:  The Mass Market Of Religion

If these two religions hadn't been mass marketed so effectively, the idea of world peace might not be such a cliche


Islam and Christianity have sure done a super job spreading the word. Half of the world's current population is either Christian or Muslim, with the two religions roughly on par with each other.  Neither religion is pausing for breath, and both should easily maintain or increase their share of the world's religion markets in the coming century.  

Religion is a market. It's big business. Everyone knows tele-evangelists have been raking in the big bucks off believers for years.  Christian Post publishes a list of America's largest churches.  Thirty five of the top one hundred churches, coined gigachurches, lure in more than 10,000 Christ lovers per week. The other sixty-five in the top hundred draw in more than 6,000.  There are now churches online, whose congregations span across borders.  The attendees pay church membership fees, buy crosses and wafers, and send their kids to Christian schools and camps.  

Islam hasn't been quite as efficient at monetizing their market.  There are no gigamosques, as such, and since the majority of Muslims live in poorer parts of the world, they lack the disposable income for potential Muslim tele-evangelists to milk the most from it.  The annual pilgrimage to Mecca remains a nice money spinner for the Saudi Arabian economy.  Three million people show up annually, infusing the Meccan economy with US$100m.  Saudi Arabian Airlines derives 12% of its annual income from the pilgrimage.  

Both religions have great marketing teams they call missionaries.  The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints (LDS) has some of the most active missionary teams in the Christian market, with over 50,000 Mormons at any given time spreading Jesus Christ's and Joseph Smith's words at their own, not the Church's, expense for two years.  It's a very sweet deal for LDS -- fresh converts brought in without having to spend a dime to get them, like having your very own multi-level marketing scheme without having to pay any downline commissions for bringing in sales. When I was 13, our family drove across country, and we stopped for an afternoon in Salt Lake City, Utah to visit the Mormon Temple grounds.  By my mother innocently filling out the guestbook there, the ever efficient Mormons logged our address and within a month a Mormon self-financed proselytizer was knocking at our door and trying to convert the entire family.  Talk about chasing up every available lead!  

Missionaries have always found ready targets in the poor and the disenfranchised.  The classic missionary stratagem is to show up in an economically undeveloped area, say an Indian tribal village in Central or South America, bearing educational tools and medicines.  A tacit deal is struck. The "benevolent" but uninvited missionaries let the locals attend the schools and use the hospitals.  In exchange, the villagers wind up as card-carrying Christians.  American missionaries were able to penetrate the South Korean market when Korea was still economically undeveloped.  They traded aid to the Korean nationalists against the Japanese for Korean adherence to the Bible and cross.  About half of Koreans today say they subscribe to no religious philosophy.  Of those that do, the largest group, about a third of all Koreans, is Christian, taking a significant market share from the old mainstay of Buddhism in less than fifty years. Now South Koreans comprise the world's second largest source of Christian missionary talent after Americans, more than 12,000 strong in more than 160 countries.  Teach a man to fish and he can eat for a lifetime.  Convert a man to Christianity and he can proselytize for a lifetime.

The Muslims have been successful, just not as successful as Christianity, in the mass conversion market, maybe because it's not quite as straightforward to convert to Islam.  To jump on the Christianity bandwagon, all you need to do is declare you embrace Jesus Cristo as your savior.  Conversion to Islam can be done during a coffee break, too, but a man also needs to have his foreskin removed, say goodbye to pork products, and adopt a Muslim name.  Having the love rod snipped as an adult is reason enough to steer clear , but even if one's previously circumcised, as many Western men already are, legally changing one's name from Steve Jones to Muhammed Yusaf and giving up the sausage and bacon sides with your omelette could put off anyone except circumcised vegetarians with already hard-to-pronounce names.

Christianity's home is in the modern West, in more moderate and egalitarian societies. Islam thrives in the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and South Asia, poorer and less developed societies. Were a Christian and a Muslim missionary to make their pitch to a confused person seeking a belief in something, all things considered it's easier and less painful to just embrace Jesus.  

  Didi The Dancing Penguin lyrics

 High school students shouldn't be hawking Christianity while they're still using acne creams:   Didi The Dancing Penguin

Christianity, as the religious face of the West, is seen as the White man's religion.  In paintings and sculptures Jesus is depicted as a good-looking long haired Caucasian hippie. Islam has had the greatest luck in the West converting those people who feel the White man (i.e. the Establishment) hasn't given them the fairest shake.     An expert estimated in a New York Times article published shortly after the 9-11 attacks that 25,000 people a year in the United States go Islamic.      The lion's share of converts are African Americans.  Addicts and the jailed are also welcomed into the fold with open arms.  

It's thought that there are over 6 million Muslims living in the United States.  That's a huge number, achieved from both immigration and widespread conversion, considering that the Muslim population in America was inconsequential 100 years ago.     Islam has made even greater inroads in Europe over the last hundred years, most of the growth occurring in just the last 50 years.  As of 2007, there were 53 million Muslims resident in Europe, 16 million of those living in the European Union.     Europe's Muslim population has tripled in the last 30 years.    (Cat Stevens' 1978 conversion must've brought a share of his fans with him).     Experts don't agree on exact numbers, but they do concur that Europe's Islamic population will double from its present numbers sometime between 2015 and 2020, that by 2050 twenty percent of Europeans will be Muslim, and by 2100 that share will rise to twenty-five percent.  High reproductive capacity, not conversions, is the Muslim's preferred method of growth.     When conversions are a factor, they usually involve ethnic groups renowned for their own copious reproductive habits.  

Historically, the two religions have always been in competition with each other for new souls to save.  Put a born again Christian and a fundamentalist Muslim in a room together, and they'll either kill each other or bore each other to death trying to convert each other.    Neither group has any abiding respect for each other's belief systems, let alone anyone else's.     Tact doesn't play a part.  Whatever these evangelicals wish to call themselves, they're salesmen, yet they're not observant, like a good salesman would be, what their potential customer-convert needs or if he really needs anything at all.  These religion salesmen will spoonfeed in their hallelujah medicine regardless of appetite.     Growing up in the United States, I admittedly have more experience with Christians shoveling the manure down than Muslims.     In high school, I was the only non-Christian in my graduating class and was regularly informed I was going straight to hell -- by supposed friends no less.  In university I was unlucky enough to be assigned a dorm room next to an evangelizing Japanese-American and he never ceased to try to convert me.     One afternoon, I was    walking past the main student union    where a soul saver was preaching his unsolicited sales pitch at the top of his lungs to anyone walking in the near vicinity.  I was carrying a gettoblaster, and I cranked up the music to full volume to drown him out.  When I got back to my dormitory room, my wealthy Japanese-American born again dorm neighbor wasted not a moment in trying to rip me a new one.  How could I show such a lack of respect?     

It's interesting to observe that no other prominent religion, apart from these two, has histories dotted with so much self initiated violence.  I cannot name you a bloody altercation involving Buddhists.  They're too busy mediating in beautiful temples to bother wasting their time converting you.  If you want in, you join up of your own accord.  Hindus won't have you.     Conversion and evangelizing is completely absent from Hindu literature.  The Jews aren't looking for you either.  Traditionally, it was very, very difficult to convert to Judaism, and an Orthodox-recognized conversion, the only type that once existed, required long study and dedication.  You surely couldn't convert to Judaism during a trip to the toilet, like you could with Christianity and Islam.

In the eighth century, Sufi missionaries in present day Pakistan converted the majority of Buddhists and Hindus to Islam.  Jews, throughout their history, have been persecuted and forced, by both Christians and Muslims, to convert.     And Christians and Muslims have always been trying to poach each other's numbers.  But when have you ever heard of Buddhists, Jews, or Hindus trying to stage a mass conversion?     

If there's anything we should've have learned over the course of modern history, it's tolerance -- a respect of people of different races and different beliefs.  It should be obvious that the world can never hope to achieve lasting peace if a quarter of the world is fighting with another quarter of the world to convert the other half of the world.  


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