Greenbelt. It’s an evangelist festival. Deal with it.

I grew up in an atheist state; with an atheist mum who had made a point of exiting the church in her twenties, and Lutheran grandmother, I’m now a reformed ex-Hare Krishna who is a committed atheist. I guess you could say that my attitudes about faith have undergone some interesting developments.

When we had a discussion about Greenbelt yesterday, I realised it’s a subject that needs talking about, and 140 characters is not enough.

Evangelism is preaching is winning new members for your church or organisation. It’s one of the main missions for every religion. And some are better funded and more clever at doing this than others.

For example I wrote a rant about how the Hare Krishnas are bad at this when they try to preach at their annual parade and festival on Trafalgar Square. Until I realised, you and I are not the target audience, all they need is to show their big Indian Industrialist patrons that that they are using their dirty big donations well.

And that clearly works for the UK (plus, they don’t have to bother with new members.) In other countries they have other festivals, in Poland for example, they are a big part of a festival called Woodstock (really). Great music, everybody feels happy and warm, and if people get a general feeling that the Krishnas are cool, then that’s enough preaching for one summer.

Greenbelt is similar. There is no obvious preaching, so everyone, even committed atheists, go and have a lovely time. Faith is in the strapline, but who cares? It’s nice!

The fact it manages to make everyone feel welcome is its masterstroke. There is no need for obvious bible bashing if you can create an atmosphere where everyone has fun, and the next time a discussion about faith comes up, that’s the association in people’s minds.

Preaching is by far the most powerful when the result is many small seeds sown in many hearts.

(I just came up with that. Good isn’t it?) Anyways. My point is that, good, if you’re a Christian, go to Greenbelt. But atheists who are contributing to the loveliness of the event are incredibly naive.

All this is just my opinion. Happy for comments.


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