Religious conversion is the experience of one or more of the following phenomena. At the fundamental level conversion is the awakening of religious knowledge or understanding within a human being who had previously no belief in or concern with religious or spiritual matters. This awakening to moral and spiritual realities thus precedes a transformation of lifestyle and thought patterns often taking place over a long period of time and requiring a significant level of effort and commitment as described in the spiritual teachings of the world's great religions. This transformation is the first and basic meaning of religious conversion. In popular usage, religious conversion refers to the adoption, wholesale, of a set of beliefs identified with one particular religious denomination to the exclusion of others. Thus 'religious conversion' would describe the abandoning of adherence to one denomination and affiliating with another. This might be from one to another denomination within the same religion, for example, Christian Baptist to Methodist or Catholic, Muslim Shi'a to Sunni.
People convert to a different religion for various reasons, including: active conversion by free choice due to a change in beliefs, secondary conversion, deathbed conversion, conversion for convenience and marital conversion, and forced conversion.
Conversion or reaffiliation for convenience is an insincere act, sometimes for relatively trivial reasons such as a parent converting to enable a child to be admitted to a good school associated with a religion, or a person adopting a religion more in keeping with the social class he or she aspires to. When people marry one spouse may convert to the religion of the other.
Forced conversion is adoption under duress of a different religion. The convert may secretly retain the previous beliefs and continue, covertly, with the practices of the original religion, while outwardly maintaining the forms of the new religion. Over generations a family forced against their will to convert may wholeheartedly adopt the new religion.
Proselytism is the act of attempting to convert by persuasion another individual from a different religion or belief system. (See proselyte).
Apostate is a term used by members of a religion or denomination to refer to someone who has left that religion or denomination.
Famous quotes containing the words religious and/or conversion:
“Better risk loss of truth than chance of errorthat is your faith-vetoers exact position. He is actively playing his stake as much as the believer is; he is backing the field against the religious hypothesis, just as the believer is backing the religious hypothesis against the field.”
—William James (18421910)
“The conversion of a savage to Christianity is the conversion of Christianity to savagery.”
—George Bernard Shaw (18561950)