Mass conversions from Islam to Christianity?

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Pajamas Media has a post up, Muslims Leaving Islam in Droves, which seems to be getting a bit of linkage. There’s a lot of weird stuff in this post, so I figured I’d offer a little quick commentary on the assertions and data. I’m not going to do detailed citations at this point of why I believe what I believe in the interests of time, but if you dig deeper into the ethnography I think you’ll see that I’m not making things up.

First, there’s the assertion of mass conversions from Islam to Christianity in Africa. The link provided with an Al-Jazeerah transcript (translated) suggests that either Ahmad al-Qataani, leader of the Companions Lighthouse for the Science of Islamic Law in Libya, is stupid or mendacious. There’s a lot of wacko contentions, but the big picture is this: in 1900 Africa was a predominantly pagan continent. Even regions which had long been historically dominated by Muslim elites, such as Senegal, was only lightly Islamicized at the level of the populace. In other words, institutional Islam has very shallow roots in much of Sub-Saharan Africa where it has historically been the only high religion. One can infer this from the fact that in East Africa the coastal margins were dominated by Muslim entrepots, and yet the majority of the population today is Christian in states such as Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania. Why? Because for whatever reason Muslims did not convert the interior tribes (I suspect that the fact that these peoples were a source of slaves as pagans, but would be forbidden if Muslims, might have played some role). An analogy might be Scandinavia in the late 10th century, when some warlords had converted to Christianity (e.g., Harald Bluetooth) and Christians were a presence as a minority across many regions, but paganism was still the dominant religion.

Since 1900 the proportion of Muslims has increased, but the proportion of Christians has increased far faster. Whereas the ratio of Muslims to Christians was lopsided in favor of Muslims in 1900 (with most Christians resident in Ethiopia), today there are more Christians in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Southern and interior Central and East Africa the dominance of Christianity should be no surprise; Islam never penetrated these regions except in the form of the occasional trader, slave or otherwise. In contrast, in West Africa and in the Horn of Africa Islam arrived as an elite religion of the courts, a vector for high civilization (converting Nubia, almost conquering Ethiopia). But one needs to remember that the presence of Islam in Nigeria or the Guinea coast was never equivalent to that in Algeria or Egypt; Kambiz tells me that Muslim women in Ethiopia go topless on occasion. I think that tells you all you need to know about the penetration of Islamic values into many of these societies. The arrival of European colonialism resulted in a new avenue toward assimilation into a high culture which had nothing to do with Islam, and since 1950 the “forest zone” in much of West Africa has been Christianized. The fact that a long serving president of Benin converted from Christianity to Islam to Christianity again should illustrate the fluidity of religion in Sub-Saharan Africa (I suspect American readers might appreciate the protean & personal nature of religious affiliation in much of Sub-Saharan African better than Europeans or Asians).

The article also has out-of-control fantasies by Christian evangelists:

Although al-Qataani points to Africa, there is another phenomenon based on repulsion from Islamist dictatorship, corruption, and terrorist violence. In Iran as many as 1 million people have surreptitiously converted to Evangelical Christianity in the last five years. Pastor Hormoz Shariat claims to have converted 50,000 of them through his U.S.-based Farsi-language satellite ministry. He contrasts the upswing to the efforts of evangelical missionaries in Iran between 1830 and 1979, whose 149 years of work built a Christian community of only 3,000. One Iranian religious scholar believes youth are abandoning Islam because it is identified with the corrupt Iranian government. Now the Iranian Majlis (parliament) is debating the death penalty for conversion.

It’s not impossible that there might be 1 million crypto-Christians in Iran, but do note this is a nation of 71 million. I’m sure I have enough Iranian readers to get a sense of these sorts of claims because if there really are 1 million crypto-Christians most Iranian Americans should know of them through their extended families, right? The exuberance of Christian evangelists is understandable, but the media tends to be way too credulous. Remember that some evangelical Christians claim there are over 100 million Christians in China, though surveys suggest considerably less (though more than the Chinese government admits). There are also anecdotal accounts of how hostile to Islam some Iraqis are now that Shia clericalism has somewhat of an influence. There’s a problem with this though: a disproportionate number of emigrants from Iraq today are from its ancient Christian communities. It seems rather tasteless to fan flames over likely non-existent potentials to convert Iraqi Muslims to Christianity when the indigenous Christians are being driven out, and it seems that we are seeing the last generation of Christianity in Iraq (I am very skeptical that the Chaldaean Diaspora in Sweden will flock back to Iraq once it is more stable, just as the Church of the East Diaspora in the United States did not return after the expulsions of the early 20th century).

The rest of the article alludes to apostasy and conversion to Christianity in Russia, Europe and other parts of the world. I suspect the numbers for Malaysia are a bit exaggerated, especially since the source is a mufti who likely wants to justify a more aggressive role for his office, but secularization has been attested for French citizens whose families are traditionally Muslim, and Russia has a long history of converting and assimilating “Tatars” into its population. A portion of the noble Russian boyar class were derived from the elites of Turkic peoples who were brought into the fold of the expanding Empire. In places like Albania the population is predominantly secular and Christians, Hare Krishnas and Muslims are all attempting to find converts in the population.

In any case, I suspect the article was meant as a propaganda piece. I suppose it is important to rally the troops…but I’m generally not too fond of making stuff up, since that sort of behavior tends to come back and bite you. I also think some people will take it a bit too literally so I wanted to clarify a few issues….

Note: If you are interested a scholarly exposition of data, Philip Jenkins’ books are pretty good. He’s pro-Christian, but he is pretty good about not making stuff up or deceiving readers.

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35 Comments

  1. Whenever Christians or Muslims make the self-serving claim that “people are converting to our religion in droves” or the the fear-mongering opposite “Our co-religionists are abandoning us in droves!” I always want to point out the (to me) obvious question: What does the rapid rise of one religion look like if we advanced the x-axis by several years into the future?  
     
    It’s been my experience that spikes in conversions are short and are a response by people to an event, people who are fervent believers at first and then go back to their own old ways.

  2. Whenever Christians or Muslims make the self-serving claim that “people are converting to our religion in droves” or the the fear-mongering opposite “Our co-religionists are abandoning us in droves!” I always want to point out the (to me) obvious question: What does the rapid rise of one religion look like if we advanced the x-axis by several years into the future?  
     
    btw…it is also often the same people who are making both claims.

  3. The article 
    The baptism of Allam also comes in the midst of papal “dialogue” with Muslims. The dialogue began unpromisingly with the catcalls from Islam and its secularist allies which greeted the now-famous September 20, 2006, papal address at the University of Regensburg. 
     
    According to the hyperlinked FrontPageMag article, these plural secular allies entirely consist of an un-named New York Times editorialist whose religious affiliation, commitment and views is not expanded on at all. 
     
    Who invented this fantasy of godless heathens teaming up with fundamentalist Islamists to beat up on the Christians? Being an occasional reader of non-religious discussion boards, the general impression I get is that the only religion they are more hostile to than Christianity is Islam. They may primarily fixate on Christianity, but that is only the result of most members living within Christian nations and as a result having to interact with Christians on a daily basis.

  4. I plead ignorance; is there any case of a population in which Islam is well-rooted converting to Christianity (or anything else)? Did it happen in Iberia?

  5. I plead ignorance; is there any case of a population in which Islam is well-rooted converting to Christianity (or anything else)? Did it happen in Iberia? 
     
    yeah. and sicily. there was a lot of initial emigration of elites, and in spain the intransigent crypto-muslims, the moriscos, were expelled in the early 17th century. but the historical documentation seems to make it pretty clear that many of the muslims simply became christians. 
     
    also, there’s a third case where well rooted muslim populations are small minorities and so they suffer erosion. this seems to have occurred in south china, but it happens in southeast asia too. aung san suu kyi, who is a buddhist, has muslim ancestry apparently.

  6. Re: topless Muslim women. 
     
    I recall an article in Nat Geo many years back that showed photos of topless Muslim women wearing facial covering and the text commented that these women would be ashamed to be seen without the covering. 
     
    Whatever.

  7. Turning around an earlier question, are there any examples of well-rooted Christian populations converting en masse to Islam, at least in modern times? I can’t think of any, in fact most Christian –> Islam conversions seem to be scattered and involve people at the low end of the socioeconomic scale.

  8. Turning around an earlier question, are there any examples of well-rooted Christian populations converting en masse to Islam, at least in modern times? 
     
    what does “modern” mean? (i.e., time frame)

  9. what does “modern” mean? 
     
    The last hundred years or so.

  10. peter, not that i know of.

  11. About the claim of secularists “teaming up” with Muslims, yes, that is quite an overstatement. Perhaps, though, this stems from the fact that some liberals who might be hostile to religion per se are more guarded when criticizing Islam because they fear being tarred as racist.

  12. Perhaps, though, this stems from the fact that some liberals who might be hostile to religion per se are more guarded when criticizing Islam because they fear being tarred as racist. 
     
    no shit ;-)

  13. Who invented this fantasy of godless heathens teaming up with fundamentalist Islamists to beat up on the Christians? 
     
    In the European media you can find quite a few who like to play the less-racist-than-thou game. The pope’s a fat target for many, who’d doubtless have gone after him if the issue had been abortion, condoms or divorce. 
     
    One aspect that does annoy me is the tendency of many seculars to make false equivalencies between Christian and Muslim groups. Richard Dawkins’ terming the American Christian right as the “American Taliban” is particularly noxious. Their views are often stupid and wrongheaded, but the Christian Coalition is a group working within democratic norms, which is sooo un-Talibanlike.

  14. I guess the “Human Rights commissions” that try to make islamophobic hate speech a punishable offense might count, but the general idea being pushed is quite laughable.

  15.  
    One aspect that does annoy me is the tendency of many seculars to make false equivalencies between Christian and Muslim groups. Richard Dawkins’ terming the American Christian right as the “American Taliban” is particularly noxious. Their views are often stupid and wrongheaded, but the Christian Coalition is a group working within democratic norms, which is sooo un-Talibanlike.
     
     
    right, like comparing someone with an 8th grade education to someone with a masters degree.

  16. Christianity is MUCH MORE effective in converting pagans by evangelism than is Islam. Anyone who denies this really cannot be paying the slightest attention to geopolitical history. 
     
    However as far as I can see when Christian evangelism meets Islam it hits a brick wall. The modern exception seems to be the former soviet union “stans” where conversion from (admittedly nominal) Islam to Christianity is doing quite well.

  17. Christianity is MUCH MORE effective in converting pagans by evangelism than is Islam. Anyone who denies this really cannot be paying the slightest attention to geopolitical history. 
     
    what are your quantitative claims? i think you assertion is defensible for the 20th century, but i would like to see the magnitude of the vector you’re asserting.

  18. About the claim of secularists “teaming up” with Muslims, yes, that is quite an overstatement. Perhaps, though, this stems from the fact that some liberals who might be hostile to religion per se are more guarded when criticizing Islam because they fear being tarred as racist. 
     
    There is that and the fact that some liberals and many business are deeply afraid of violent backlash from Muslims, something to which they have admitted to in some situations.

  19.  
     
    There is that and the fact that some liberals and many business are deeply afraid of violent backlash from Muslims, something to which they have admitted to in some situations.
     
     
    beware the bite of the savage….

  20. To be fair to Islam, sometimes it has been blamed for things for which it is not really responsible. Take female genital mutilation. True, a number of Muslim societies, particularly in Africa, “circumcise” women, but so do many Christian groups living in the same region (ex. Egyptian Muslims and Egyptian Coptic Christians). The reality is that female circumcision predates Islam by at least several centuries – the Greek historian Herodotus mentions it was performed on Egyptian women in the fifth century before Christ. Yet some Western commentators, mainly conservative ones, list female genital mutilation among Islam’s dubious achievements. 
     
    On the other hand, while I find Christian fundamentalists distasteful, there is a militance in Islam that even the most fanatical strains of Christianity seem to have outgrown.

  21. To be fair to Islam, sometimes it has been blamed for things for which it is not really responsible. 
     
    religions are not circumscribed cleanly from the societies in which they are propogated, so attributing something to islam (or christianity), or denying islam said credit, is pretty difficult. i am not one who thinks that islam is fundamentally constrained to a particular form, but, the fact that the most prestigious muslim cultures (arab) tend to exhibit a primitive patrilineal orientation is going to set the tone for what islam is.

  22. I plead ignorance; is there any case of a population in which Islam is well-rooted converting to Christianity (or anything else)? Did it happen in Iberia? 
     
    Two cases I would say: the elites easily moved from one sect to the other according to circumstances. When Islam was powerful many certainly converted to it conveniently, when the tide turned around, many did the opposite.  
     
    But, after centuries of Christian domination (the reconquista was virtually over in the 13th century), there were still many many Muslims in the different Iberian realms, mostly among the peasants in the south and the east. For some reasons (increased relgious zealotry, Ottoman growth, fear of Muslim pirates) the Iberian rulers (except Navarre) decided to force conversion after 1492, among both Muslims and Jews. Many converted and others chose exile. Those converted were often secretly still Muslim or Judaist for generations, what was tackled partly via the Inquisition. 
     
    There was anyhow some resistence to expulsions: Morisco peasants were a most important workforce and many did not want to prescind of them. There was also an important Morisco rebellion that named a couple of Muslim kings but was quelled.  
     
    The very first developement of standard Castilian (Spanish) was part of a policiy to assimilate the people of the just conquered Kingdom of Granada: the first Spanish dictionary was written for that purpose of culturally assimilate the Moriscos. It was more than just a religious issue: it was a cultural genocide (with some ethnic cleansing too) for the sake of the national homogeneity, then largely measured in religious terms. 
     
    So most Andalusians, Extremeños, Valencians and Low Aragonese are actually descendants of Muslim converts – but it was a forced conversion in most cases anyhow. Most had earlier converted to Islam not so forcibly (as far as Medieval documentation can tell). 
     
    Christianity is MUCH MORE effective in converting pagans by evangelism than is Islam. Anyone who denies this really cannot be paying the slightest attention to geopolitical history. 
     
    Not really true: when Islam was powerful many “pagans” converted to it: large chunks of Africa, Central and South Asia, Malaysia and Indonesia. Sometimes the conversion of rulers would precede that of his people, but often it was the opposite: a good fraction of people was already Muslim when the sovereign converted (case of Mali and later Songhay, for instance). This latter case is very rare in historical Christian proselitism, I believe, where top->bottom conversions were the norm nearly everywhere.

  23. It is interesting that Finland and parts of the Baltics states stayed pagan for a loooong time… Even the pope got annoyed to Finns for turning their back on Christianity immediately the missionaries had gone. Christian states (Early Sweden and Novgorod) were strong enough, however, to finish the job with force and stabilizing Christian presence. 
     
    I think Islam is suited quite well to convert Christians (and pagans as well). After all, it is a more recent religion and can explain Christianity out, whereas Christianity cannot do the same. I have had discussions with muslims and they had surprisingly convincing arguments. 
     
    I think the biggest factor is the resources. People will convert, if the religion is coming from a more developed/powerful areas. Christian contries are rich and they have put a lot of effort to missionaries for a long time: the result is not surprising. On the other hand, >=1000 years ago when Europe and surroundings (Christian areas) were weak convertions were going mainly to the other direction (in Iberian peninsula, and later in the Balkans for instance), from Christianity to Islam. And before that whole Southern and Eastern Mediterranean converted to Islam relatively easily.

  24. It is interesting that Finland and parts of the Baltics states stayed pagan for a loooong time… Even the pope got annoyed to Finns for turning their back on Christianity immediately the missionaries had gone. Christian states (Early Sweden and Novgorod) were strong enough, however, to finish the job with force and stabilizing Christian presence. 
     
    sometimes the reasons are prosaic. i.e., geography. the baltic was rather far from the centers of christianity. lithuania stayed pagan for a long time for a contingent reason: its paganism allowed it to stay neutral and play off the orthodox slavic states to the east and catholic poland to the west (the pagan ruling family married into both catholic and orthodoxy nobilities despite the central leaders remaining pagan).  
     
     
    I think Islam is suited quite well to convert Christians (and pagans as well). After all, it is a more recent religion and can explain Christianity out, whereas Christianity cannot do the same. I have had discussions with muslims and they had surprisingly convincing arguments. 
     
     
    that’s really not how conversion generally happened in pre-modern times. you didn’t convince with arguments, your converted the ruler who by fiat converted the populace, or you killed the ruler and took over their slot at the top. or, in the case of christianity in ireland or ethiopia you secure a place among the elite by marketing yourself as a civilizing and cosmopolitan ideology which can bring wealth, power and recognition.

  25.  
    So most Andalusians, Extremeños, Valencians and Low Aragonese are actually descendants of Muslim converts – but it was a forced conversion in most cases anyhow. Most had earlier converted to Islam not so forcibly (as far as Medieval documentation can tell).
     
     
    if you read brian catlos’ The Victors and the Vanquished: Christians and Muslims of Catalonia and Aragon, 1050-1300 you do note though that there was a lot of conversion of muslims to christianity before 1492 without force. i am not confident on comparing the areas under the distribution as a function of time when considering the ancestors of today’s spaniards who were muslims but at some point became christians. i would be willing to agree more moriscos were forced after 1492 then converted of their own will & interest before, but i don’t think the difference was multiplicative. 
     
    note: also, “force vs. free will” is too stark a dichotomy. consider muslim villages in aragon who accepted mass baptism because they were subject to depredation and harrassment by christian nobles who felt that there were few consequences to despoiling muslims. in this case the conversion was one driven by self-interest and no one forced them to convert directly, but it isn’t as if their hearts were miraculously opened to christ.

  26. if you read brian catlos’ The Victors and the Vanquished: Christians and Muslims of Catalonia and Aragon, 1050-1300 you do note though that there was a lot of conversion of muslims to christianity before 1492 without force. 
     
    Didn’t know that but it’s interesting. There were also many people in Muslim Spain that were old Christians (Mozarabic), so maybe I exaggerated using the adjective “most” (“many” would be better maybe). 
     
    i would be willing to agree more moriscos were forced after 1492 then converted of their own will & interest before, but i don’t think the difference was multiplicative. 
     
    Not sure: the sources are not very precise nor I am so well informed either. But the fact that Moriscos were still a very important fraction of the workforce in 1492 is pretty clear, because many local authorities were very very reluctant to apply the “conversion or expulsion” decree out of fear of losing too many workers. 
     
    note: also, “force vs. free will” is too stark a dichotomy. consider muslim villages in aragon who accepted mass baptism because they were subject to depredation and harrassment by christian nobles who felt that there were few consequences to despoiling muslims. in this case the conversion was one driven by self-interest and no one forced them to convert directly, but it isn’t as if their hearts were miraculously opened to christ. 
     
    Agree here. Though guess that, if you were a serf, it didn’t matter that much to which temple you went. Conversion did not erase servile status, that was widespread until the 19th century in the southern half of Spain. Even today much of that area is basically made up of aristocratic latifunds.  
     
    Anyhow, Islam allows to hide one’s faith in case of persecution, this caused many converts not to be really so – and there is where the Inquisition and the “blood purity” laws (discriminating between “old Christians” and converts) intervened.

  27. Regarding southern Spain and Sicily: I think I read somewhere that foreign “Arab” (or “north African”?) genetic contribution to the two regions was very marginal following the islamic conquest. The result for Sicily was about 1% (I wonder if that amounts to background noise). 
    Assuming these studies are correct one could argue that most muslims (if they were more than a few percentage points of the population) in these areas were Christians converted to Islam and then back to Chrisitanity. 
    Any other estimates?

  28. Assuming these studies are correct one could argue that most muslims (if they were more than a few percentage points of the population) in these areas were Christians converted to Islam and then back to Chrisitanity. 
    Any other estimates?
     
     
    yes. this is about right. additionally, numerically there were probably many more berbers and arabicized berbers who emigrated to the north shore of the mediterranean as opposed to arabs as such (conversion was surely much of it, but also intermarriage and dilution of a non-native genetic signal but persistence of the non-native religion).

  29. “that’s really not how conversion generally happened in pre-modern times. you didn’t convince with arguments, your converted the ruler who by fiat converted the populace” 
     
    Well, the structure of religion is not insignificant either. For instance, hinduism didn’t spread in a similar way than islam or christianity did. You born to be a hindu, don’t convert. 
     
    Islam spred mostly to already civilized, christian/zarahustran lands. (In Egypt only a small fraction of christians still remain, for instance.) On the other hand, the majority in India were never converted. It appears that some religious factors are at work as well. (Also climate had an effect to the ethnic movements because most of arab migrasion was targeted into a relatively climatically similar area: North Africa, Bablylonia etc. Arabs didn’t replace people in Anatolia or Persia.)

  30. Well, the structure of religion is not insignificant either. For instance, hinduism didn’t spread in a similar way than islam or christianity did. You born to be a hindu, don’t convert. 
     
    this is false. you know that southeast asia was hindu before it became buddhist and muslim don’t you? (there are small saivist hindu minorities of chams in vietnam and the hindus of bali &east java). you also don’t know that hinduism was spreading into afghanistan (kabul, etc.) to some extent as islam was rising (and swept it, buddhism and zoroastrianism aside), right? 
     
    the hindus-are-born is the dominant view of south asian hindus today, but it isn’t the only one, and it has never been the only one. one the early martyrs of gaudia vaishnavism was a muslim convert. i recently finished a history of burma and i can tell you that after the conversion of the kingdom of manipur in the 18th century hindu gurus went to the court of ava in myanmar to conver the therevada buddhist king.

  31. Well, I have not read any books about the topic. 
     
    Hinduism is not converting today, at least, that is my impression. I haven’t heard of convert hindus in western countries. There are some convert buddhists and Hare Krishna (which is actually almost the same as being a hindu but the name is different). 
     
    I think it was pretty easy to spread Islam to formerly Christian areas however. If people and their leaders were told that “it is not a completely different thing, it is the same but there is now also the biggest and last prophet, you should update your religion”, I think the conversion is much easier. The same tactics is used to some extent by modern Catholics, who allow the locals to keep their religious traditions alive in some form. Protestants and muslims, on the other hand, would say to the people: “you have to leave that superstitious crap completely!!! There are no saints and there is only one Book and one God”.

  32. There are some convert buddhists and Hare Krishna (which is actually almost the same as being a hindu but the name is different). 
     
    hare krishna are vaishnava hindus (at least traditionally, some try to emphasize a pan-religious & post-hindu identity, but that’s as plausible as evangelical christians asserting they aren’t religious, that they just believe in christ).

  33. Regarding southern Spain and Sicily: I think I read somewhere that foreign “Arab” (or “north African”?) genetic contribution to the two regions was very marginal following the islamic conquest. The result for Sicily was about 1% (I wonder if that amounts to background noise). 
     
    Sicily was only like one century under Muslim control, what is quite anecdotic. In Iberia (where Muslim domination lasted like 5 centuries, 8 in Granada) there’s more confusion because there is a secondary, yet important, North African genetic element (E3b clades) in the south. Most of it is probably Neolithic or Chalcolithic but it’s maybe hard to tell what came in one period or the other. Berbers were certainly the main immigrant element in any case. 
     
    Assuming these studies are correct one could argue that most muslims (if they were more than a few percentage points of the population) in these areas were Christians converted to Islam and then back to Chrisitanity. 
    Any other estimates?
     
     
    Probably. Berbers were strong in would-be Kingdom of Granada tough and ruled several emirates there in the Taifa period. Another element were the “Slavs” (descendant of Eastern European slaves, not necessarily slavic though) who ruled also several taifas in the East. But being important among the elites does not necesarily ammount to be important among the masses.

  34. I think it was pretty easy to spread Islam to formerly Christian areas however. If people and their leaders were told that “it is not a completely different thing, it is the same but there is now also the biggest and last prophet, you should update your religion”, I think the conversion is much easier.  
     
    Actually Islam benefitted of the Greek Orthodox (trinitarian) attempts to homogenize Byzantine Christianity under the Patriarch of Constantinople. Many monophysitic Christians of Syria and Egypt basically just prefered Islamic tolerance and monophisitic creed than Byzantine persecutions. Also the Arabian marches of Byzantium were under control of Christian Arabic tribes that eventually betrayd them 
     
    Conversion happened later for the most part. The early Caliphate was not too keen in converting submitted peoples, as taxation of Muslims was still a taboo issue, so they lived on dhimmis’ taxes.  
     
    More complex may be the case of Zoroastrian Persia. Zoroastrians were not “people of the book” so at times were tolerated but in other cases fiercely persecuted. Nevertheless, Persian culture had a major impact in Islamic one (though one should not disdain Byzantine influence either). 
     
    The same tactics is used to some extent by modern Catholics, who allow the locals to keep their religious traditions alive in some form.  
     
    Indeed, one of the keys of early Christian (Caholic and Orthodox) success among Pagans was their ability to incorporate their traditional beliefs in form of saints. They carried that tactic to America and other places too. But the result is sometimes more like Voodoo with a Christian cover than anything else anyhow.

  35. The majority of Iranians who are converting to christianity are likely to be the types who were never religious in the first place. 
     
    I recall one incident where one of my cousins pointed out she wanted to be a christian during some conversation about Islam.  
     
    However, it was quite clear her intent was mainly to get a rise out of the rest of the family. 
     
    In general, antipathy towards Islam is only prevalent among the rich who are bitter at the cosmetic restrictions put in place. 
     
    The poor in Iran (i.e., the majority) are still devoutly religious. Although there’s certainly a rise in cynicism towards some ayatollahs, but that’s declining as people are rallying around the nuclear issue.

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