Originally posted by flyingwoody
Think about it, missionaries have been one of the biggest causes of loss of culture throughout history. Native Americans, Easter Island, etc etc.
They show up and spread disease and then try and demolish the native's belief structures and implant their own "acceptable" religion.
Also, they go and try to shove American culture into the lands. Unfortunately it isn't just missionaries who do this. Just because Americans think
something is a necessity and people need to live a certain way doesn't mean other parts of the world do.
To be fair, it is not entirely on the shoulders of Americans. Most of the missionaries I see in the field are from Catholic organizations operating
under the auspices of the Vatican. These and others are very often European or South American, and the goal isn't to spread "American ideals", but
rather the current cultural ideals fostered by the Abrahamic faiths. We had a discussion about this very subject earlier in the week, and this was my
post at that time. The beginning is a response to someone's question of "But don't they have the choice of accepting the missionaries'
"I suppose this would depend upon your understanding of true choice. I work in developing regions as an aid worker under the auspices of secular
governmental or nonprofit organizations (depending upon the directive). Our subjects are those who are living in poverty, often in areas affected by
war and always affected by disease. The church presence is usually found in these areas, and the common result of their interference is increased
cultural instability due to the introduction of new religious competition. The purpose of their invasion into these areas is not merely humanitarian
aid but rather, as you would guess, religious conversion. These populations are very often married to sundry ethnic customs and have rarely been
introduced to the Christian god. When strange foreigners invade these lands and begin to teach that the ethnic customs (these beliefs that the
population has followed for so long) will doom the believers to torture for all of eternity, lest they follow the one true god, a god whom the
missionaries can lead them to, what do you think these "lost souls" will do? These are fragile populations--they are quite malleable and susceptible
to conversion. The Christian missionaries often bring the promise of new schools, medicine, and food, and all for the low price of your soul. You,
living in a hovel with who knows how many children of your own, would be foolish not to accept. It would be a mistake to call this a "choice". It is
not a simple decision between believing and not believing. There is great coercion involved here.
People engaging in Christian missions do not understand the harm they are bringing upon these regions--for them, only the good is apparent, only the
benefits that they believe will be incurred upon a society graced by Christianity. I believe those in the upper arms of Christianity understand how
insidious the mission work can be, but the followers are very rarely enlightened to this fact. When those of us in the field of secular aid,
particular those involved in peace negotiations, enter the regions where Christianity has taken hold, we are often presented with the task of cleaning
up after the propaganda spill that these missionaries leave in their wake. The progress takes several steps back; there are severe consequences upon
the physical health and the societal stability. In regions where people are already warring over gods, what rationale could compel you to introduce
yet another god into the mix? It is either foolishness or a machiavellian cruelty, and it leads to yet more death in areas that already have more than
their fair share. Those few who act to propagate the faith while fully understanding the harm they may cause cannot be considered anything less than
of malevolent intent--they are despicable creatures indeed.
As for the apparent surprise among some of you at the idea of aggressive conversion, it is well within the doctrine of Christianity. As Christ said,
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to
obey everything I have commanded you." A good Christian would not ignore this directive."
For centuries, missionaries have been an essential tool in the conquering of lands by European forces. Without them, it is questionable what level of
success would have been had in many regions. There are mountains of customs, beliefs, folk tales and the like that have been all but erased by the
ideas introduced by mission work--this is the goal, however.
[edit on 14/11/08 by paperplanes]