Debate: Is it possible to voluntarily convert one's religion?

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I absolutely agree that it is possible to convert or find religion. Not only atheists, but people from many religions suddenly have a reawakening and convert, for example, to Christianity. However, there are many circumstances in which a person does not simply have such a reawakening. People often convert to another religion for reasons such as being able to marry someone. Is is possible for someone to force himself or herself to change one's religion or to believe in a religion if one is formerly an atheist? Also, is it possible for someone to force himself to become an atheist? --RoyS 23:15, 17 August 2008 (EDT)


An interesting topic. I think the OP somewhat answers his own question. Of course it is possible to convert to a different religion. Legality wise it varies from country to country. In Malaysia, for example, it's problematic, although technically legal, with the difficulties varying depending on the religions, and which "way" the person in question is going. Going from Islam to Hinduism or Christianity is harder than doing either in reverse, for example.

It's true marriage and divorce can both be factors. In Egypt, for example, Copts cannot divorce. A logical solution is to convert to Islam, then apply for a divorce, then just "lapse" or convert back. Similarly, marriage between religions is difficult so one partner or the other generally will have to convert. No faith involved, it's just socially and legally convenient. It is also a lot more common worldwide the most people admit. Within my own family there has been more "religions of convenience" than I care to count.

I don't think the degrades anyone, or their ability to have faith. Most of us live in a world dominated by powerful state backed religions that seek power over people. Thus, to get on in the world, it is necessary to go along with these religions regardless of our own beliefs, because we need it to be left in peace by the government (I.e. the "witch hunts" of the 1970's and 80's in Britain by social services, or being in the wrong sect in the wrong part of Baghdad today) or by seeking to enter a different faction in society (I.e. a Christian marrying into a Muslim family or vice versa). If we do not go with it, our lives would be hell. Therefore, being willing and abe to adopt the clothes of a given religion is an important a social skill as being able to pass job interviews or hold you own at any formal occasion.

Heartfelt or "faith" conversions do also happen however, and I can personally attest to it's sincerity. Having gone through conversion often gives someone a much more intense and personal faith, for they have had to find it rather than it simply being there in the family. Such people also find assuming a "religion of convenience" more problematic emotionally if required to assume the veneer of their own former religion. It is quite common for a convert to have as much or even greater knowledge of the religion than some who are born into it. --Krysg 18:55, 1 April 2009 (EDT)