Evangelism is, according to OUP:

the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness.

Is there a word that means

the spreading of <non-specific political, moral, or religious ideology> by public preaching or personal witness?

Evangelism specifically applies to Christianity. What word could be used to describe the intentional and forceful spreading of a generalized ideology?

  • 34
    For what it's worth, it seems that 'evangelism' is often used for purposes other than spreading Christianity, regardless of the technical definition; for example, I'm often referred to in my office as 'the PowerShell evangelist' because I'm always 'talking up' the utility of that tool... Feb 9, 2023 at 14:04
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    What @JeffZeitlin said. I have no problem with reading that Nathaniel Nazif is a Turkish Evangelist Hindu - and I don't suppose that description means he's into preaching the Christian gospel. Feb 9, 2023 at 15:17
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    Evangelism does not refer to Christianity. It's just borrowed from a Greek word for "good news". Angel simply means "messenger", and the Christian god is far from the only one to use divine messengers. Consider Mercury, for instance. After all, from a human perspective, you can't tell a god from a divine messenger. Or somebody impersonating one. Feb 9, 2023 at 15:42
  • 14
    I dispute the premise of this question. I am a Muslim, and I sometimes engage in evangelism. When I do that, I'm proselytising Islam, not Christianity. (Intentionally, but not forcefully, of course). Feb 10, 2023 at 3:49
  • 6
    Evangelism doesn't have to be religious at all. I've heard of people described as "Linux evangelists" or "Bitcoin evangelists", etc. Feb 10, 2023 at 16:04

10 Answers 10


You can say Proselytism

the policy of attempting to convert people's religious or political beliefs. Carrying out attempts to instill beliefs can be called proselytization

The verb is proselytize

to induce someone to convert to one's faith to recruit someone to join one's party, institution, or cause

Merriam-Webster says:

Proselytize comes from the noun proselyte, meaning “a new convert,” which in turn ultimately comes from the Greek prosēlytos, meaning “stranger” or “newcomer.” When proselytize entered English in the 17th century, it had a distinctly religious connotation and meant simply “to recruit religious converts.” This meaning is still common, but today one can also proselytize in a broader sense—recruiting converts to one’s political party or pet cause, for example.

  • 4
    Proselytism is not very different from evangelism, in that both are primarily used for spreading religious teachings but can be used for spreading other kinds of ideas as well.
    – jsw29
    Feb 10, 2023 at 23:01


Advocacy is an activity by an individual or group that aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social institutions

The noun is Advocate

one who supports or promotes the interests of a cause or group

  • I've never heard this word used for religious persuasion, but I guess it's possible. Thanks for your contribution! Feb 10, 2023 at 15:39
  • No, not for religion.
    – Lambie
    Feb 10, 2023 at 16:20
  • I'll be honest, I misread the question as "non-specific, political, moral, or religious"... oops
    – ljden
    Feb 12, 2023 at 20:02
  • I would probably say "preach" is religious, and moral, might be a stretch for political though
    – ljden
    Feb 12, 2023 at 20:04

The words Evangelist and Evangelism are by this point thoroughly divorced from being Christian only. Jobs are advertised for "evangelists" to promote products major companies like Google, Unreal, and Microsoft talk of salespeople as "tech-evangelists" for their products - and that's their actual official job title.

Therefore you can use evangelist for any religion, you just need to specify what they're evangelising.

  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center. Feb 10, 2023 at 16:26
  • Yes. I commented 'The question is better stated: "Is there a word for 'evangelism' that doesn't connote the Christian religion, as the default definition of this word is 'the spreading of the Christian gospel ...'?" ' (bolding added here) Feb 10, 2023 at 16:57
  • Tech evangelists are not salespeople - their job is to promote a technology in the public realm. They aren't compensated like sales folks at all; instead, they are incented to get the "gospel" of their product out in the public eye. Guy Kawasaki (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Kawasaki, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_community#Apple_evangelist) was, I believe the first well-known tech evangelist (back in the early days of the Apple Macintosh). I worked beside tech evangelists at Microsoft - they had a weird set of annual goals
    – Flydog57
    Feb 10, 2023 at 17:04
  • On the contrary, it's still linked enough to Christians that an article on "Muslim Evangelism" gives instructions on how Christians can become "the medium through whom Christ makes Himself known" to Muslims, in the hopes they will convert to Christianity.
    – Laurel
    Feb 10, 2023 at 20:21
  • 2
    In the second paragraph you say 'you can use evangelist for any religion'. In view of the fact that elsewhere in the answer you give examples of the word being used for nonreligious beliefs, didn't you want to say 'you can use evangelist for any religion as well as for nonreligious beliefs'?
    – jsw29
    Feb 10, 2023 at 23:23


dissemination of information—facts, arguments, rumours, half-truths, or lies—to influence public opinion. Propaganda is the more or less systematic effort to manipulate other people’s beliefs, attitudes, or actions. (Britannica)

Wikipedia says:

Propaganda can be found in news and journalism, government, advertising, entertainment, education, and activism and is often associated with material which is prepared by governments as part of war efforts, political campaigns, health campaigns, revolutionaries, big businesses, ultra-religious organizations, the media, and certain individuals such as soapboxers.

In the 20th century, the English term propaganda was often associated with a manipulative approach, but historically, propaganda has been a neutral descriptive term of any material that promotes certain opinions or ideologies.

However, do note that some dictionaries include in the definitions of evangelism usages that are not limited to religion. Collins for example gives this definition:

any zealous effort in propagandizing for a cause.

In Propaganda and Persuasion, the authors Garth Jowett and ‎Victoria O'Donnell explain:

Besides being associated with unethical, harmful, and unfair tactics, propaganda is also commonly defined as “organized persuasion” (DeVito, 1986, p. 239). Persuasion differs from propaganda... but the term is often used as a catch-all for suspicious rhetoric. Sproule (1994) references propaganda as organized mass persuasion with covert intent and poor or nonexistent reasoning:

Propaganda represents the work of large organizations or groups to win over the public for special interests through a massive orchestration of attractive conclusions packaged to conceal both their persuasive purpose and lack of sound supporting reasons (p. 8).

  • This has some historical Christian connotations with Congregatio de Propaganda Fide being a 17th century papal invention
    – Henry
    Feb 9, 2023 at 14:05
  • 7
    Propaganda is very often used in politics, without any reference to religion.
    – fev
    Feb 9, 2023 at 14:08
  • 2
    Propaganda is intended to manipulate, and people typically wouldn't say they're spreading propaganda themselves, but rather this tends to be an accusation from others. It may still be an appropriate description for what's asked about, but it's worth noting that it's far more biased than "evangelism".
    – NotThatGuy
    Feb 10, 2023 at 13:50
  • 2
    @NotThatGuy I do agree with you, but do note that the OP asks for the intentional and forceful spreading of a generalized ideology.
    – fev
    Feb 10, 2023 at 13:52
  • It is unfortunate that the OP has never clarified the extent to which the term sought needs to be analogous to evangelism, and in particular whether it is essential that it carry the implication of sincerity that evangelism carries. This unclarity in the question makes it difficult to judge how adequate this answer is.
    – jsw29
    Feb 10, 2023 at 23:18

Promulgating / Promulgation

As per the dictionary:

promulgate | ˈpräməlˌɡāt |
verb [with object]
• promote or make widely known (an idea or cause): these objectives have to be promulgated within the organization.
• put (a law or decree) into effect by official proclamation: in January 1852 the new Constitution was promulgated.

promulgation | ˌpräm(ə)lˈɡāSH(ə)n | noun
promulgator | ˈpräməlˌɡādər | noun

This word is less common today than it once was, but it certainly applies where religious overtones would be inappropriate.


Maybe Brainwashing it’s not exactly the same but almost meant to convince or teach people a way of thinking and it can apply to secular topics

  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center. Feb 10, 2023 at 15:45

Use evangelicalism (meaning 5 from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/evangelical). No need to go looking for a different word, when the one you’ve already got is just fine.

Evangelicalism is not totally divorced from religion, but they are at least separated. Given context, most people will understand that you aren’t trying to, for instance, get people to become Christian in order to own an Apple phone, but are instead, just recommending an Apple phone.

  • 1
    "Evangelicanism" is a specifically Protestant Christian movement, and has a much stronger Christian connotation than "evangelism."
    – erickson
    Feb 13, 2023 at 16:41

To answer the "forceful" part of your request, perhaps "conversion by force" or "conversion by the sword" would suit your case?

It has been used to describe the forced conversion of people to Islam, as well the actions of other violent religious sects, but could as easily be used for a non-religious ideology.

It is the sort of term I think of when I consider remote workers being forced to return to the office full-time, often with very little rationale. Saying that they were converted by force or coercion from remote work is close enough to its traditional usage that you would be understood.

  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Feb 10, 2023 at 22:07

Two different questions here:

  1. What is an another word for evangelization that doesn't specify the religion? Answer: It's contained within your question: preaching.

  2. What is a word for the forceful conversion of people to a specific religion: That would be described as forced conversion or forced religious conversion. More succinctly, it is coercion.

Your title doesn't match your question so I would change it to "What word could be used to describe the intentional and forceful spreading of a generalized ideology?"


How about broadcasting a message (to the public)?

"the transmission of programs or information by radio or television."

  • 2
    I don't think that's what's happening here. But in any case, you could improve this answer by citing references that support your suggestion as suitable for the context. Feb 10, 2023 at 15:36
  • 2
    To me, "broadcasting" doesn't convey the sense of persuasion and effort to influence people that's in evangelising. That said, I do live in a place where the radio and television are relatively non-partisan - perhaps that's significant? Feb 10, 2023 at 15:49
  • 3
    The question asks for a word that describes the intentional and forceful spreading of ideology, but "broadcast" doesn't quite manage that, in my opinion. Feb 10, 2023 at 15:53

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