The blog post details:
An outreach technique that some Baptist missionaries use with Muslims. It involves stressing commonalities between the Koran and the Bible and affirming that the Allah of the Koran and the God of the Bible are one and the same. . . . The “overture” — the missionary’s initial bonding with Muslims via discussion of the Koran — is precision-engineered to undermine their allegiance to Islam.
This approach is quite similar to what I learned in the Missionary Training Center: Find common ground. Build relationships of trust. A great way to reach out to people. Or is it?
What are the ethics of this approach? Is this two step approach a legitimate way to reach out to other faith communities? Is there something problematic about finding common ground as an opening step in undermining the rest of a person’s belief system?
(On the other hand, as the NYT blog also mentions, it seems at least as bad to take the opposite tack that there is no common ground between religions. )
If the open-with-common-ground approach is acceptable, then is it equally legitimate if outsiders approach one’s own community in the same way? The NYT article wonders what Evangelical missionaries would think if Muslims put the shoe on the other foot. My own observation suggests that Evangelicals are not at all pleased when LDS missionaries use this approach. But then, I can’t blame them. I don’t think that mainstream LDS folks would be pleased if, say, FLDS missionaries took this approach — find common ground, build on relationships of trust — to convert mainstream Mormons to the FLDS faith. What seems like a great idea if framed as a way to reach outsiders can be perceived as much more insidious if it’s being used to undermine one’s own community.
What are the ethics of proselytizing?