New York, NY, July 27, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed a new document issued by the Vatican, the World Council of Churches, and the World Evangelical Association, which calls for Christian missionaries to renounce “all deceptive and coercive means’ in seeking converts.
In a letter to the three organizations, the League said the new document, called “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World,” was an important step towards the goal of eliminating deception, aggression and violence among those seeking to convert others to their religion.
"For the Jewish people, this document is a welcome development. The history of the Jewish people is filled with tragic incidents of forced conversions, resulting in the death of untold numbers of Jews throughout the centuries," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "More recently, there has been an increase in the use of deceptive tactics by so-called 'Messianic Jews' targeting Jews for conversion. This new document makes clear that Christians using deception and aggression to missionize non-Christians is not only inappropriate, but a betrayal of Christian values."
"It is important to note that these three Christian communities represent over 90 percent of the world’s total Christian population," added Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs. "We hope these guidelines will be widely disseminated around the world. As Jews we believe we are partners in an irrevocable covenant with a saving God and this document moves us in the direction of greater mutual understanding and respect."
The new Christian ethical guidelines also denounce proselytizing through the means of "financial incentives and rewards and exploiting situations of poverty and need." They call on Christians to "reject all forms of violence, even psychological or social, including the abuse of power in their witness." And they reject unjust discrimination or repression by a religious or secular authority, including the violation of places of worship, sacred symbols or texts.
The document denounces bearing false witness against other religions, and acknowledging and appreciating what is true in them. ADL particularly welcomed the document’s insistence that prophetic witness includes denouncing religious persecution, and its affirmation of the goal of interreligious cooperation with all people.