I am writing in response to Janell Seymours letter, Christ is there - even on vacation (SN 3/22).
Born and raised on the other side of the world (Taiwan), I have looked at religion issues from a neutral standpoint. However, Seymours statement about crosses on the side of the road caught my attention: I dont understand how this could be offensive. Isnt it like any other billboard? It is used as a tool for marketing - more specifically marketing that Jesus died for you. I must admit, I find some religious messages to be offensive, because the missionaries crossed the line that separates products you can buy, and belief that you have faith in.
Religions cannot be treated as products, because they are priceless. What missionaries should be doing is acting as tour guides that lay out the basis of the religion, with no intention of expecting something back (unlike advertisers, who are looking for revenue). The tour guide idea is based on the idea that peoples beliefs should be developed naturally, from exposure of the basics of each religion, but not persuaded by marketing strategies. Of course, this doesnt happen in real life most of the time, therefore many religion issues arise.
Comparing products that are advertised in stores to religions only leads me to believe we have a long way to go. To me, misinterpretation of religions from missionaries that use advertising strategies often result in controversial issues, and sometimes, even warfare.