Proselytizing religion

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A missionary religion (Latin: missio : '(Aus) Sendung', transferred 'order') or proclamation religion is a religion that actively spreads its message. Followers believe that they are called to convince and win over non-believers and non-believers. This vocation is often based on the claim to the sole representation of an asserted or argued universal truth (see also: universal religion ) . Mission occurs today primarily as advertising through sermons, lectures, dissemination of scriptures, home visits and through modern mass media.

According to the most comprehensive definition, mission means promoting a belief. This means that Christianity and Islam ( Daʿwa ) are among the missionary religions, but movements from the area of Hinduism and Buddhism (both of which were actively spread early on) are now missionary worldwide. Very often, however, mission is related exclusively to the spread of the Christian faith.

Some forms of monotheism , such as the religion of the Druze and the Yazidis , as well as polytheistic , pantheistic and animistic local religions are not missionary based on their traditional self-image and also do not know any possibility of conversion . In the case of Druze and Yazidis, it plays a role that no mission is tolerated in the area of ​​Islam. The Judaism plays a special role in so far as the proselytizing also not provided here, a conversion ( Gijur ), however, is possible.

The 20th century brought with it a general increase in missionary activities in many religions. One trigger was the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 , where Hinduism ( Vivekananda ) also appeared with new missionary claims.

Ethnic religions have no missionary mandate.

History and Development


The oldest missionary religion is Zoroastrianism , which developed under the influence of Zarathustra at the end of the 2nd millennium BC. Began to spread from Iran from time to time. It was he who, for the first time in religious history, even described the other religions as wrong. Zarathustra is said to have prayed that his faith might expand, that houses, villages, districts and countries might think, speak and act according to the righteousness that he preaches (Ys xlii 6). It is reported of traveling priests who worked side by side with those who performed their priestly duties at home (Visp. Lii 3, ix 2).


According to rabbinical interpretation, Abraham was described as the first missionary who was able to persuade the people of Haran ( Gen 12.5  EU ) to convert to Judaism . The prophet Isaiah also called on the people of Israel to be "a light for the peoples" ( Isa 49.6  EU ). Under the rule of the Hasmoneans , various groups were forcibly converted, including the Idumeans . Because at times up to ten percent of the population of the Roman Empire belonged to the Jewish faith, Emperor Hadrian tried to ban the Jewish mission. Some Jews saw the point of the Jewish diaspora in recruiting proselytes .

The Jewish mission was extinguished under the pressure of Christianity and Islam. In the 10th century, however, the Khazars (southern Russia) did not join the Christians or Muslims, but adopted the Jewish faith. The form of the mission was neither organized nor emanated from rulers, but rather a cautious solicitation from person to person.


In the Gospel according to Mark (around AD 70), which is used by the Gospel of Matthew , it says: Then he said to them: Go out into the whole world and preach the Gospel to all creatures! (Mk.16.15). The time of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth are his 2 to 3 years as a traveling charismatic before his death, about which the early Christian scriptures tell. Jesus' messianic work in the Jewish environment, before his Jewish disciples, was still entirely in the tradition of Judaism. After his death, his Jewish Christian community held fast to his memory in the “ Lord's Supper ”, taken from the messianic commemoration of the Passover Haggadah , and awaited his second return in an environment of many Jewish communities in Asia Minor , Greece and Italy and the short period of Jewish propaganda and proselytes advertising. The example of King Izates I (approx. 36–59 / 60) and his mother Helena in Adiabene convert to Judaism can serve as an example of this Jewish response to Hellenism .

The detachment from Judaism and the old community of Jesus began with Pauline theology and mission (around 50 AD) - the decisive new phase of Christianity. Paul of Tarsus , who did not meet Jesus in person, his comrades-in-arms and his followers partly moved away from the early Jewish communities and their followers who had still known Jesus, and founded new Gentile Christian communities with a changed understanding of mission. The ancient Jewish communities that clung to Jesus' teaching and remained in Judaism were persecuted by those who followed the new Pauline theology and eventually disappeared. The great Jewish war against the Romans (66-70 AD) reminded people more of the end times and of praying; King Izates I sent soldiers on the Jewish side, and the second temple was destroyed.

The Christian mission refers to Jesus' so-called missionary command : Therefore go to all peoples and make all people my disciples; baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey all that I have commanded you ( Mt 28 : 19-20a  EU , similar to Mk 16:15  EU ). In the early Middle Ages, the Irish wandering monks in particular promoted the growing Christian church .

The crusades were seen less as proselytizing, but rather as a repression of Islamic expansion or pagan spheres of influence.

The Conquista was expressly linked to the order to Christianize . In Africa and Latin America, European missionaries tried to "save souls". There were humane attempts like the Jesuit reductions , but also brutal imposition of foreign cultures. Mission was later pursued in conjunction with colonialism .


According to the classical teachings of Sunni Islam , Muslims are called upon to spread Islam worldwide through Da durchwa . Classically, the population is asked to accept Islam via a message to the ruler. If this does not happen, this is seen as a justification for "opening up" (Arabic futuhat ), that is, for conquering the relevant countries through military effort ( jihad ). Missionary activities in the field of Islam are seen as an attack on Islam and are therefore prohibited according to classical teaching. Even today, an open mission is impossible in almost all Islamic countries. This also applies to other Islamic currents, such as the Shia or the Ahmadiyya .


The Manichaeism was also missio alternately; it spread to Africa , Gaul , Syria and became the state religion in Turkestan in the 8th century .

Hinduism, Buddhism, and other South and East Asian religious movements

In dealing with socio-cultural and religious influences from Europe and the USA, reform approaches emerged in Hinduism and Buddhism that supported a dogmatic fixation of teaching content and sacred texts, a general claim to validity and thus active missionary efforts. Often it was mainly about the recovery of former converts from their own religion, but this claim was sometimes very broad. For example, the Arya Samaj in India at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century regarded almost all residents as former Hindus and thus as legitimate mission groups. However, since the missionary efforts of the Arya Samaj were also directed against the traditional Brahmin elites and the caste system , which had been gaining in importance since the end of the 19th century , they often met with very determined resistance from large sections of the population and thus declined from the mid-1920s .

Consultations failed the agitators of the early 20th century in the Hindu-majority society still largely the influence of Brahmin elites and traditional value systems, so have the missionary movements Hindu nationalist forces among the "tribal peoples" of India ( adivasi ) since the late 1980s, a profound effect on the cultural heritage of the affected groups. Established cultural traditions (especially gender images) are being reinterpreted towards a unified Hindu culture with foreign gods ( Rama , Krishna , Hanuman ) and androcentric (emphasizing men and masculinity) ideas of society and worldviews. This type of ideological influence, although it is strongly politically motivated (as recruitment of potential voters for the Hindu nationalist party of the BJP ), is nevertheless to be viewed in a broader sense as proselytizing, since a permanent bond with a (strongly religiously based) worldview is sought , which is explicitly contrasted with other religious affiliations. Again and again there are riots instigated by Hindu nationalist agitators against religious minorities (especially Muslims and Christians).

Some Hindu and Buddhist groups, as well as other South and East Asian groups, have been active in missionary activities in western countries and increasingly worldwide (Eastern Europe, Japan), especially since the late 1960s. For example, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), better known in the West as the Hare Krishna movement, which aims to spread Krishna consciousness , has achieved great fame .

Ananda Marga , Brahma Kumaris Ōmoto , Ōmu Shinrikyō , Sahaja Yoga , Sant Mat , Shinnyo-En , Sōka Gakkai , Tenrikyō and others, as well as various spiritual teachers and gurus are or were internationally active in missionary activities from the dogoo-Buddhist or other East Asian area this area.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Missionary  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Theo Sundermeier : The Mission of Non-Christian Religions ( Memento of September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), p. 4.
  2. Pierre Grimal (ed.): The Hellenism and the rise of Rome. (= Fischer Weltgeschichte vol. 6.) Frankfurt 1965, p. 266.
  3. Rabbi Eleaser : Talmud: Pesahim online (English) 87b paragraph 5 (with reference to Hos 2.25  EU )
  4. on the other hand Rabbi Chelbo : Talmud: Jebamoth online (English) 47b (including reference to Book of Ruth )
  5. ^ Theo Sundermeier: The Mission of Non-Christian Religions ( Memento of September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), p. 6.
  6. Walter Homolka , Walter Jacob , Tovia Ben-Chorin (ed.): The teachings of Judaism according to the sources . Volume III. Knesebeck, Munich 1999, p. 339ff.
  7. Walter Homolka, Walter Jacob, Tovia Ben-Chorin (ed.): The teachings of Judaism according to the sources . Volume III. Knesebeck, Munich 1999, p. 57ff.
  8. Walter Homolka, Walter Jacob, Tovia Ben-Chorin (ed.): The teachings of Judaism according to the sources . Volume III. Knesebeck, Munich 1999, p. 440ff.
  9. Marwan Abou-Taam: German security in the area of ​​tension between international terrorism and global governance. LIT Verlag, Münster 2007, ISBN 9783825806620 , p. 133 ( limited preview in the Google book search).