betraying God/and betray God

ordinarydaniel

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello everyone,

"In an attempt to force them to sign a confession betraying God, the CCP officials trotted out atheism, materialism, science, and all sorts of rumors and lies to brainwash these Christians."

This is a sentence written by my American friend. Is the bold part correct here? It's intended meaning is "In an attempt to force them to sign a confession and betray God...."
 
  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The confession is about betraying God. If you change it, they could sign a confession about a bank robbery and then betray God later.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    There appears to be a misunderstanding here. "Betray" has two main meanings:
    1. To reveal a secret concerning someone or something
    2. To be unfaithful to someone
    Here, it is undoubtedly the second meaning that is meant, therefore the subject of "betray" must be the individual(s). In the original sentence, it appears to be the confession that betrays God, which is a nonsense (though it would be fine if meaning #1 was intended). @ordinarydaniel's amendment "In an attempt to force them to sign a confession and betray God...." is fine, as the subject of "betray" is now "them".

    @ordinarydaniel's post #5 is fine, but I prefer the post#1 version.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    @ordinarydaniel's amendment "In an attempt to force them to sign a confession and betray God...." is fine, as the subject of "betray" is now "them".
    I would prefer "In an attempt to force them to betray God by signing a confession..." so that the two verbs are clearly linked as a single action as I mentioned above.
     

    ordinarydaniel

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you all!
    Can I change it this way: "In an attempt to force them to sign a confession to betray God...."?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I take Myridon's point in post #4, but I am not convinced by his post #7 nor your post #8, but it hinges on the motives of the CCP officials, and I admit I could be mistaken here.

    Looking at it from the Christians' perspective, I think we are all agreed that by signing the confession, the Christians betray God.

    The CCP officials want the Christians to sign the confession. I don't know what is in the confession, presumably it is some sort of renunciation of faith. I don't know why the CCP officials want the Christians to sign the confession, but I would guess it is to neutralise any threat they might pose or to bring them into conformity with the secular society.

    What would seem very odd to me would be for the CCP officials to want the Christians to sign the confession because they wanted the Christians to betray God. To an atheist, such a concept has no meaning — God does not exist so he cannot be betrayed — but both posts #7 and #8 appear to suggest this is the reason why the CCP officials want the Christians to sign the confession.

    This is why I like ordinarydaniel's suggestion in post #1, separating the clauses with a conjunction to show that the two related ideas are viewed from different perspectives. For the CCP officials, it is signing a confession. For the Christians, it is betraying God.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    For the CCP officials, it is signing a confession. For the Christians, it is betraying God.
    The CCP officials want the Christians to denounce their religion. They really don't care how they do it. "Signing a confession" is not the main idea on either side and it's not two separable actions but one action that results in the other. It's not doing A and doing B. It's doing B by doing A.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    "In an attempt to force them to sign a confession and betray God...."
    This version looks reasonable to me, ordinarydaniel, if you believe that signing this confession means that the Christians somehow betrayed their god by signing it. I'll leave the religious subtleties to others, but I can tell you that both versions of this sentence seem misleading if you are not sure that the officials were really interested in breaking up some relationship between the Christians and their personal deity.

    "In an attempt to force them to sign a confession betraying God, the CCP officials trotted out atheism, materialism, science, and all sorts of rumors and lies to brainwash these Christians."
    This is not unbiased, objective language. That doesn't concern me, but I do hope that you are aware of your personal biases, how they affect your writing and thinking, and how your sentence is likely to be perceived by people who read what you have written.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I have no problem seeing 'betraying god' as a reduced relative clause, an extremely common construction.

    " ... a confession betraying God ... ."
    =
    " ... a confession which betrayed God ... ."
     
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