Religious conversion

Conversion of Ghazan. Ghazan was born and raised as a Christian, studied Buddhism, and converted to Islam upon accession to the throne. Illustration from: "World History", Rachid Ad-Din, 14th century.

Religious conversion is the adoption of a set of beliefs identified with one particular religious denomination to the exclusion of others. Thus "religious conversion" would describe the abandoning of adherence to one denomination and affiliating with another. This might be from one to another denomination within the same religion, for example, from Baptist to Catholic Christianity or from Shi’a to Sunni Islam.[1] In some cases, religious conversion "marks a transformation of religious identity and is symbolized by special rituals".[2]

People convert to a different religion for various reasons, including active conversion by free choice due to a change in beliefs,[3] secondary conversion, deathbed conversion, conversion for convenience, marital conversion, and forced conversion.

Proselytism is the act of attempting to convert by persuasion another individual from a different religion or belief system. Apostate is a term used by members of a religion or denomination to refer to someone who has left that religion or denomination.

Abrahamic religions

Bahá'í Faith

In sharing their faith with others, Bahá'ís are cautioned to "obtain a hearing" – meaning to make sure the person they are proposing to teach is open to hearing what they have to say. "Bahá'í pioneers", rather than attempting to supplant the cultural underpinnings of the people in their adopted communities, are encouraged to integrate into the society and apply Bahá'í principles in living and working with their neighbors.

Bahá'ís recognize the divine origins of all revealed religion, and believe that these religions occurred sequentially as part of a divine plan (see Progressive revelation), with each new revelation superseding and fulfilling that of its predecessors. Bahá'ís regard their own faith as the most recent (but not the last), and believe its teachings – which are centered around the principle of the oneness of humanity – are most suited to meeting the needs of a global community.

In most countries conversion is a simple matter of filling out a card stating a declaration of belief. This includes acknowledgement of Bahá'u'llah – the Founder of the Faith – as the Messenger of God for this age, awareness and acceptance of his teachings, and intention to be obedient to the institutions and laws he established.

Conversion to the Bahá'í Faith carries with it an explicit belief in the common foundation of all revealed religion, a commitment to the unity of mankind, and active service to the community at large, especially in areas that will foster unity and concord. Since the Bahá'í Faith has no clergy, converts are encouraged to be active in all aspects of community life. Even a recent convert may be elected to serve on a local Spiritual Assembly – the guiding Bahá'í institution at the community level.[4][5]

Christianity

The Conversion of Saint Paul, a 1600 painting by Italian artist Caravaggio (1571–1610)

Within Christianity conversion refers variously to three different phenomena: a person becoming Christian who was previously not Christian; a Christian moving from one Christian denomination to another; a particular spiritual development, sometimes called the "second conversion", or "the conversion of the baptised".[6]

Conversion to Christianity is the religious conversion of a previously non-Christian person to some form of Christianity. Some Christian sects require full conversion for new members regardless of any history in other Christian sects, or from certain other sects. The exact requirements vary between different churches and denominations. Baptism is traditionally seen as a sacrament of admission to Christianity.[7] Christian baptism has some parallels with Jewish immersion by mikvah.

In the New Testament, Jesus commanded his disciples in the [Mark 16:15]). Evangelization—sharing the Gospel message or "Good News" in deed and word, is an expectation of Christians.[8]

Comparison between Protestants

This table summarizes three Protestant beliefs.

Topic Calvinism Lutheranism Arminianism
Conversion Monergistic,[9] through the inner calling of the Holy Spirit, irresistible. Monergistic,[10] through the means of grace, resistible. Synergistic, resistible due to the common grace of free will.[11]

Latter Day Saint movement

Latter Day Saint baptism ceremony, circa the 1850s

Much of the theology of Latter Day Saint baptism was established during the early Latter Day Saint movement founded by Joseph Smith. According to this theology, baptism must be by immersion, for the remission of sins (meaning that through baptism, past sins are forgiven), and occurs after one has shown faith and repentance. Mormon baptism does not purport to remit any sins other than personal ones, as adherents do not believe in original sin. Latter Day Saints baptisms also occur only after an "age of accountability" which is defined as the age of eight years.[12] The theology thus rejects infant baptism.[13]

In addition, Latter Day Saint theology requires that baptism may only be performed with one who has been called and ordained by God with priesthood authority.[14] Because the churches of the Latter Day Saint movement operate under a lay priesthood, children raised in a Mormon family are usually baptized by a father or close male friend or family member who has achieved the office of priest, which is conferred upon worthy male members at least 16 years old in the LDS Church.[15]

Baptism is seen as symbolic both of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection[16] and is also symbolic of the baptized individual putting off of the natural or sinful man and becoming spiritually reborn as a disciple of Jesus.

Membership into a Latter Day Saint church is granted only by baptism whether or not a person has been raised in the church. Latter Day Saint churches do not recognize baptisms of other faiths as valid because they believe baptisms must be performed under the church's unique authority. Thus, all who come into one of the Latter Day Saint faiths as converts are baptized, even if they have previously received baptism in another faith.

When performing a Baptism, Latter Day Saints say the following prayer before performing the ordinance:

Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.[17]

Baptisms inside and outside the temples are usually done in a baptistry, although they can be performed in any body of water in which the person may be completely immersed. The person administering the baptism must recite the prayer exactly, and immerse every part, limb, hair and clothing of the person being baptized. If there are any mistakes, or if any part of the person being baptized is not fully immersed, the baptism must be redone. In addition to the baptizer, two members of the church witness the baptism to ensure that it is performed properly.[18]

Following baptism, Latter Day Saints receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands of a Melchizedek Priesthood holder.[18]

Latter Day Saints hold that one may be baptized after death through the vicarious act of a living individual, and holders of the Melchezidek Priesthood practice baptism for the dead as a missionary ritual. This doctrine answers the question of the righteous non-believer and the unevangelized by providing a post-mortem means of repentance and salvation.

Islam

There are five pillars, or foundations, of Islam but the primary, and most important is to believe that there is only one God and creator, referred to as Allah (the word for God in Arabic) and that the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, is God's final messenger. The time of a person's conversion is counted from the moment they sincerely make this declaration of faith, called the shahadah in front of witnesses.[19]

Islam teaches that everyone is Muslim at birth[20][21] but the parents or society can cause them to deviate from the straight path. When someone accepts Islam, they are considered to revert to the original condition. In Islam, circumcision is a Sunnah custom not mentioned in the Qur'an. The majority clerical opinion holds that circumcision is not a condition for entering Islam. The Shafi`i and Hanbali schools regard it as obligatory, while the Maliki and Hanafi schools regard it as only recommended. However, it is not a precondition for the acceptance of a person's Islamic practices,[clarification needed] nor is choosing to forgo circumcision considered a sin. It is not one of the Five Pillars of Islam.[22][23][24]

Judaism

The traditional normative conversion process to Judaism (gijur) of one, two or more years is finalized with ritual immersion in a natural collection of water, e.g. a river, a lake, or a mikveh, down to the present day (Beth-El reform-synagogue, Birmingham, Alabama, 2006).

Conversion to Judaism is the religious conversion of non-Jews to become members of the Jewish religion and Jewish ethnoreligious community.[25] The procedure and requirements for conversion depend on the sponsoring denomination. A conversion in accordance with the process of a denomination is not a guarantee of recognition by another denomination.[25] A formal conversion is also sometimes undertaken by individuals whose Jewish ancestry is questioned, even if they were raised Jewish, but may not actually be considered Jews according to traditional Jewish law.[26]

As late as the 6th century the Eastern Roman empire and Caliph Umar ibn Khattab were issuing decrees against conversion to Judaism, implying that this was still occurring.[27]

In some cases, a person may forgo a formal conversion to Judaism and adopt some or all beliefs and practices of Judaism. However, without a formal conversion, many highly observant Jews will reject a convert's Jewish status.[28]

Spiritism

There are no rituals or dogmas, nor any sort of procedures in conversion to Spiritism. The doctrine is first considered as science, then philosophy and lastly as a religion. Allan Kardec's codification of Spiritism occurred between the years 1857 and 1868. Currently there are 25 to 60 million people[specify][citation needed] studying Spiritism in various countries, mainly in Brazil, through its essential books, which include The Spirits Book, The Book on Mediums, The Gospel According to Spiritism, Heaven and Hell and The Genesis According to Spiritism.

Chico Xavier wrote over 490 additional books, which expand on the spiritualist doctrine.

As explained in the first of the 1,019 questions and answers in The Spirits Book:

1. What is God? Answer: "God is the Supreme Intelligence-First Cause of all things."[29]

The consensus in Spiritism is that God, the Great Creator, is above everything, including all human things such as rituals, dogmas, denominations or any other thing.