Jesuit father: Like Pope Francis said, proselytizing to atheists is ‘pious nonsense’

By Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 11:03 EDT
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Father James Martin (Screenshot)
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Father James Martin said Tuesday night that he has no interest in beating nonbelievers over the head with his Christian faith.

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” Martin was asked to attempt to convert atheist Penn Jillette, who was sitting beside him.

“I have a lot of friends who are atheists and agnostics so it is not some new thing to me,” he replied. “I think it is hard to convert people, other than to invite them to have an experience of God. I think the thing that I would probably do — not here — would be to talk to you about possible spiritual experiences that you’ve had and just listen to where you are. But I think conversion… Pope Francis himself called conversion ‘pious nonsense,’ proselytism is ‘pious nonsense.’”

Martin, who like Pope Francis is a Jesuit, said Jesus simply invited others to follow him. He did not try to force them to become believers.

“Atheism is, to many respects, a reasonable thing to sort of posit from looking around at the world,” he added later in the segment. “I don’t posit that and I don’t believe in that but, yeah, it is perfectly reasonable for people to think that, and I think it is important to accompany them and not hit them over the head with something because, really, that does no good.”

“That is not the way Jesus acted and that is not the way Christians should act.”

Watch video, courtesy of MSNBC, below:

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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