Transforming the thinking and action of a person or group in relation to any given person, place or thing. Conversion presupposes a prior attitude of opposition and hostility, or at least of indifference. In a theological context, conversion implies causing a spiritual and moral turning towards the divine and divine law, often referred to as a "change of heart". In an even more restricted sense, conversion refers to bringing about the acceptance of a particular tradition, doctrine, creed, revelation and practise.
Various forms of conversion are recognized in historical writing. Moral conversion: the turning away from a life of sin to a life of moral goodness and integrity. Religious conversion: the change from an attitude of ignorance, indifference and opposition toward a creed or way of life to an attitude of total acceptance of that belief or way. Confessional conversion: which requires the joining or allying of one self to a particular tradition, community, or group embodying the belief or way of life. The related strategy of revivalism is employed to renew and reinforce the original conversion experience and commitment. Recent concern with the rise of cults and quasi-spiritualist movements have focused renewed attention to the use and abuse of conversion tactics. Very little study has been made of the corresponding activity of initiation and indoctrination into other contemporary world views.
In its most straightforward form, conversion is practised by the activity of convincing, conveyed in preachings, writings, arguments, counselling, and even training and education programmes. At times, conversion has been practised through the conversion of a key group or leader, a king or head of household, with the result that the rest of the group assumed allegiance to the new belief or way. Conversion is almost always accompanied by the formation of communities (cells, cadres, congregations) and the instillation of new rites (liturgies, festivals, ceremonies) to rehearse and support the conversion and the resulting new attitudes and behaviour.
Insofar as religions and other human belief and meaning systems imply a real reorientation of the human will, as well as an external claim to acceptance and practice, the strategy of conversion is regarded as essential to the integrity and continuation of these systems in human society and history. To produce a lasting and self-renewing change in the moral behaviour of a group or a society, at some point the images, attitudes and values shared by these people which shape and direct their present behaviour must also undergo a re-orientation.
Counter Claim:
Conversion which stresses the emotional experience of "salvation" and release, tends to prey on the psychological insecurities and dependencies of the target group, producing an emotional experience without intellectual or moral foundations and resulting in either short-term and non-lasting change or in the addiction to continual re-enactments of the original psychological catharsis.
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies