The evils of Missionary work

A recent article on on missionary work left me both angry and disgusted. If you’ve got the time, I highly recommend reading it if you want your blood to boil a little (especially the pictures of these morons on dune buggies and hiking trips).

I never grew up in a particularly religious environment, thanks largely to my anti-theist father, so my interactions with missionaries occurred only in my young adulthood. Until then I never really thought about what it was all about. No doubt if I had met any in my youth, they would have filled my head with romantic images of the struggling humanitarians trying to “save the souls” of the damned to create a better world.

The reality of missionary work, however, differs vastly from the carefully crafted image religions try to portray. The problem can be understood this way: any actions intended to change the mind and culture of another society comes with a number of risks. The first, and most obvious, is the corrupting influence of wealth; for how can an African child, offered a piece of life-saving bread at the edge of starvation, not be unduly influenced by those giving out their aid? At the least sinister (and this is rarely the case), charity alone pressures those receiving food or shelter to play along for their own good. Much more often, the gift is a bargaining chip to entice converts, and a strong deterrent for departure.

The danger lies also in the twisted reason for their pilgrimage. Rather than a result of merely the kindness and goodness of their hearts, the missionary is on an ordained mission from God, told by scripture to spread the word, regardless of its consequences. The influence of which has transformed Africa into a proxy war between Christianity and Islam. Conflict follows religions wherever they go, since their own ideologies require a totalitarian control over the entirety of existence. It isn’t enough they control the actions of millions of people, the externalities of belief demand even family members turn on one another. Like Matthiew 10:21 so clearly opined,

“brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.”

Comments (6)

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    This is why I have started countering theists who blurt out the tired tropes about churches being essentially the only outfits giving money and services to the poor, or that they’re the only ones willing to go into troubled areas and administer aid. First off, these individuals, especially the hardcore missionaries, are there to convert and punch their Heaven ticket, while they are aiding. They may be manning up more than I am, but they’re also looking to get an eternal benefit from it. Fancy that: A human issue boiling down to personal economics. Th

    I also ask anyone telling me how great churches are for social relief to tell me just how much of the money the church collects goes to actual services provided, let alone outcomes. The church collecting the funds still has to pay for their land, their upkeep, their employees, their bills, etc.; so what’s the real percentage going out the door as promised? I can tell you that I have worked directly with one Christian aid group (not a big one, but that was global in scope) for non-aid-related work, and they were the slowest, most disorganized, non-communicative, ill-equipped group I’ve ever dealt with in a professional context. I’ve also heard others who have worked with Christian aid groups say similar things. This of course is just one or two cases, but I guarantee even the 1 group I dealt with pulls in more than your average bake sale if they’re running international operations, and if they are that incompetent, what is being wasted even after the church(es) dole out the funds for the work?

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    One of the main reasons I stopped seeing my therapist is because she wouldn’t shut the fuck up about her daughter going to Australia to do missionary work. Can’t wait to read the article! Oh, joy!

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    That’s always been my issue with organized religion, conversion by sword. It used to be steel, now it’s hunger. The weaker, less equipped are forced to submit, if these great missionaries had a separate tent for eating, and one for preaching that’d be different, but those who are getting helped get preached at while they eat, and once they leave to get away from the preaching, they’re also leaving the help. If the missionaries were so good, they would offer the food independently of the help, and if somebody wanted to listen, they could, but wouldn’t be forced to in order to get the help.

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    that made my skin crawl…

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    I was browsing and recently came across this article. I know its over three years old but it is still relevant, very enlightening, and true. I too attend an evangelical church, mostly because of my wonderful wife who is a born-again Christian, and have a problem with their missionary work. I should mention that my grandfather was a missionary; I however totally disagree with the missionary concept.

    I agree with you that their main goal is to spread the “word of God”, with little concern for alleviating the grinding poverty facing the people they are ministering to. My church sends out missionaries and groups of members who go on mission trips all the time. I refuse to participate. My frustration was evident on their most recent trip to Belize. The group had a “great time” helping to build a church (in one week?). By reinforcing it with re-bar steel rods (a common practice here), they could also call it a “hurricane shelter”, to be used for the occasional hurricane. While they were there, a woman was very sick and needed medical help; no one in the group could help her because no one was trained, in any way, in the medical field. There is a great need for nurses and doctors; we send “Bible-thumpers”. They could use water wells, schools, clinics and hospitals; we build churches. Another scam is that the costs of these trips are covered in the form of a “charitable donation” to the church, which in turn buys the airline tickets and pays for the cost of the entire trip. In their zeal, they have no qualms about defrauding the IRS. As Christians, we need to more introspective before criticizing others.

  • avatar

    Joe Gazali

    I get the issues people have with Christian missionaries, but lumping in Islam because of what Christians do is pretty dishonest itself considering Islam forbids forced conversion per the Quran, and it’s taken very seriously as a forced conversion is invalid, and the issue addressed because of the forced conversions Christians were guilty of.

    It’s actually built in the religion that forced conversion is invalid and the myth of the Muslim spreading Islam by the sword, is just that, a myth. It may have occurred from time to time, I don’t know of any cases though, and I definitely don’t believe anything the media says be I am Muslim so I know Islam better than they do.

    If you want to attack Christians for their history of forced conversion I’m on bored, Muslims and Jews were both forcefully converted in the Reconquista, but don’t assume that your own lack of knowledge and personal bias towards religion makes religion itself bad.

    These evangelicals are corrupt scum, not followers of Jesus, but decent Christians outnumber the bad by far, so I’m going to have to say you people are looking for something to blame but not concerned with facts, just bitching.

    Nobody is going to force you to believe what they do and if you are too much of a wuss to tell an evangelist to screw and get mad because because some dull witted Christian tells you that you are not saved, you are a wuss.

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