As we were leaving the 4th of July fireworks last night our ears were assaulted by a Christian street preacher with a bull horn. He was from the hell fire and brimstone camp that believes that we must all become convinced of our utter worthlessness and debased nature so that we can come to Jesus and be saved. He had a minion with a large, well-done sign outlining our need to be saved and how to be saved. However, along with being irritating, I wondered in what world his approach works. Here we have a park full of people spending the day together celebrating. I had all my family and had spent the afternoon canoeing, swimming, playing with the dogs, picnicing, and enjoying each other's company. From what I could see, the park was full of families spending peaceful time together. From what I could tell, the environment was friendly, peaceful, and loving. All of this was interrupted by this man screaming over a bull horn, "You are all MONSTERS of INIQUITY. I can tell you that if you continue to reject the Savior you are going to burn in an endless hell." And on and on along the same vein. I'm sure he was very successful.
Given that his recipe for salvation merely requires believing in Christ and accepting him, I'm not sure how that is going to substantially change those people for the better. I'm not sure how it would help me. Especially since my whole family, at some point in time, has met his requirements and I doubt that we are unique. Honestly, I think his whole point is to reinforce his believe that the world is an evil, dangerous place. Our lack of interest in his message merely reinforced that for him. In his mind we are wicked, unrepentant people. Our rejection of him merely confirmed that. It never occurs to him that we aren't the monsters that he believes we are. Given his world view, all the evidence confirms his beliefs.
I'm not sure that it is much different for most people, no matter their beliefs. Our beliefs and prejudices strongly influence our perceptions in a way to reinforce those beliefs. The difference is that his beliefs, like many fundamentalist religious people, are very negative of other people and promote hatred and intolerance.