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01 February 2007

i depise missionaries

jules and i have argued over this before, and i doubt we'll ever see eye to eye on it, but i hate missionaries. i'm not big on religion as a whole, but imposing one's religion on someone else because you believe yours is better? i don't think so. there are some good things that missionaries do such as improve infrastructure, build schools, teach, etc., and if it were altruistic, i think it would be an amazing, beautiful, and selfless thing to do. i'd have a completely different opinion of them. but when they build the church and preach the word of THEIR god, that's where, to me, altruism is replaced by a selfish desire to spread the word of a belief they feel is more valid than the locals. the gift of infrastructure and schools is tainted by saying, "here, we give you these good things and in return, why don't you check out OUR god".

there were loads of missionaries (mostly mormon) flowing through rajahmundry, INDIA when i was there. little indian kids asking me to visit their mormon church, etc. it pains me to see these self-righteous people converting children of peaceful hindu parents to a christian religion, and they can do it because the church can provide nice clothing and education that there otherwise poor people can't afford. it's taking advantage of the poor by luring them with worldly goods they can't obtain without being bribed by the church. PeaceCorps volunteers deal with infrastructure and education (TheJRod, correct me if i'm wrong) without imposing an ulterior motive on the people. TheJRod and TheJRodsWife went to el salvador with PeaceCorps for 2 years, i believe. while there, they taught english, helped the locals to start a bakery in the village, and how to protect flowers they grew and sold in a nearby city from weather and damage during transport. they were making these people self-sustaining and independent without spreading gospel, building churches, etc (again TheJRod, correct me if i'm wrong). i was going to mention "habitat for humanity" as doing good altruistic work in helping to house families that are in need, but i don't know much about them. i know they build houses which is good, i just looked up the web page and find out there are an "ecumenical christian housing organization". i'm not saying that is bad. i'm not dogging on christians. they can do great things just like any non-christian. i just don't know if there are any strings with habitat houses. i'm guessing not (TheJRod?). if it's free and clear, then, yes, i have a great deal of respect for HFH right up there with the PeaceCorps

i mean, if you are inspired to spread the word, if you feel god filling you up with the desire to teach people his lessons, fine... but do it to do it, don't wrap it in a new road or better irrigation techniques. there needn't be subterfuge to spreading something that brings you so much joy, unless maybe there something not completely right about it. i mean, the crusades and the emergence from the dark ages were all massive violent missionary quests by people who thought there way was better. i'd like to think we are more educated, more civil, more tolerant these days. sure we aren't killing those who oppose converting, but is it any better to bribe them with something they can't obtain otherwise?

anyways, i've thought about writing this in the past and was re-inspired today by this article on CNN.com

you can find more information on missionaries here, and you can find arguments stronger and more researched than my from-the-gut argument further down the page here, and at "the burning cross".

i didn't research this exhaustively, so i appreciate any corrections, and as this is my opinion, those are welcome as well, no matter how wrong you are (just kidding).

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2 Comments:

Blogger Rich | Championable said...

I'm with you, sort of.

I mean, I firmly believe there are many many many paths to God, that are equally valid. But if these folks are helping other people, and also preaching their religion w/o coercive behavior, I'm not sure I can fault them.

Then again, I haven't thought about this a super-lot, either.

8:48 PM, February 05, 2007  
Blogger Steve said...

I was a Mormon missionary in Rajahmundry during 2002 and 2003. Our policy was to separate charitable work from proselyting work by having separate organizations for each so that people would not join the church for any reason other than pure belief. We had a strict policy of not letting anyone join the church until they personally wrote and signed an affidavit which stated, briefly: I know the people from this church won't give me money. I know they won't get me a visa or make it easier for me to get one. I know they won't give me food or medicine. I'm just joining the church because I personally believe that what they're teaching is true.
So our aim was not to impose our beliefs on anyone, but rather to share our beliefs with them, completely disconnected from any promise of material gain. Once we told them what we believed, the matter was in their hands, and they could take it or leave it. That's our church's policy around the world.
I tried to write this comment so that it didn't come across (even unintentionally) as angry or indignant. I wanted to share my experience there in a friendly way, and I hope it didn't sound like I was offended by what you wrote.

12:09 PM, April 28, 2008  

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