• A Case Against Missionaries

    Let’s say Tom Cruise sent a “mission” of Scientologists to Uganda to help people. The group brings food, medical supplies, etc. But the poor starving people in Uganda need more than just food and medical supplies, they need hope too. So Cruise and company offer a free personality test and auditing session for everyone. He isn’t forcing Scientology on anyone, merely introducing it to starving people who are physically, emotionally, and mentally vulnerable. Scientology is helping people in need, right?

    One of the big problems I have with Christianity is that it distorts people’s sense of morality. Obviously what Cruise is doing in my imaginary scenario is wrong but when Christians do it, no one has a problem with it. Christian missionaries mean well, but their sense of morality is distorted. They are taking advantage of people when they are vulnerable to advance their religious goals and provide a public relations service at home. What they should be doing is helping people instead of taking advantage of them.

    Sure, it is great that they are bringing food and medical supplies to people who need it, but they should do it without the ulterior motive of trying to win converts. If you believe that food and medicine isn’t enough and you really want to give these people hope, then give them real education; don’t preach to them.

    When people are starving, they are not in a position to care about whether or not some ridiculous ancient story is true or whether some missionary has the correct interpretation of that story to begin with. They just want food. When people have serious problems and are in a highly charged emotional state, they are not in the mindset to make a thoughtful opinion on religious matters. When people are uneducated about modern science and living in huts, they probably don’t have the prerequisite knowledge to make an informed opinion about religious claims that fly in the face of modern science.

    Missionaries are picking on people who are at the moment defenseless against their bullshit. They are using their power to take advantage of people who are in a less powerful position. The ethical thing to do is to provide food, medical supplies, and a real scientific education to these people and when they are no longer in a vulnerable state, then the missionaries can have in intellectual debate about whether or not there is an invisible man in the sky who knows your every thought and will reward you with eternal bliss if you worship him or torture you for all eternity if you don’t. But don’t give them a lump of shit and call it cheese cake when they don’t care or aren’t able to determine the difference.

    It is immoral to use people’s misfortune and/or vulnerabilities as recruitment tools. The problem is that those are really the only tools the religious have. It isn’t like they have any actual evidence or anything. No, all religious believers can do is take advantage of people when they are vulnerable and are not in a position to question the bullshit they are being exposed to and who are more vulnerable than poor, sick, starving people with little to no education.

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    Category: ChristianityMissionariesMoralityReligionSocial Justice


    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.

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    1. This has always bothered me too. Yes, the food and supplies are great. But they always seem to come with strings attached. Like you pointed out, using them as an opportunity to brainwash desperate people cannot be considered moral.

    2. The problem is that the missionaries say that they don’t force people to accept any particular religious belief in order to obtain aid. Travolta did this very thing in
      Haiti in 2010. The scientologists even went so far as to “assist” some of the victims.

      1. Like I said in the post, they are taking advantage of people who are not in a position to think critically about the claims being made. That is a form of force. They hold power over those they are “sharing” their beliefs with.

        Also, if you recall, Travolta got a lot of shit from the mainstream media and the Christian community for using what happened in Haiti to promote Scientology. But Christians still sent solar power Bible kits with no criticism from the mainstream media.

    3. Actually, Scientology did send aid workers to help out after Hurricane Katrina and it operated exactly as you suggest. Not only did they have food and water, they were there with e-meters. Their only purpose in being there was to convert a population who was vulnerable. It’s the same reason religions run soup kitchens and help the homeless. Those people are more vulnerable to their claims, thus those are the people they go after.

      1. I hadn’t heard that they were down there for Katrina, but I know they were definitely in Haiti doing it and they got a lot of flack for it. I would imagine that they probably got a lot of flack from the mainstream media for Katrina too despite the fact that it is no different than what Christian groups do all the time.

    4. It’s not about getting converts. It’s about showing them love. If you are a Christian and truly believe what Christ said, the only thing in the world you would want to do is hate the love he has shown you.

    5. Very good points, I do believe this is true for some missionaries. However, it is a bit of an over generalization. Here are some things to think about.

      “Sure, it is great that they are bringing food and medical supplies to people who need it, but they should do it without the ulterior motive of trying to win converts.”

      1. Missionaries don’t typically have ulterior motives to ‘win converts’. They see people in need and are willing to leave their comfortable life over in the first world to help them out. And not by throwing bibles in their faces. I think a few people get confused between missionaries and evangelism.

      2. It is NOT great that they bring down food and other supplies. by bringing in boxes and boxes of donation’s these people are ruining the economy in these developing countries even more. When food is free, or very cheap it ruins the agriculture market in that community. Local farmers are never able to compete with global resources so eventually they are out of a job. And so are many other people they hired for harvesting the crops. Giving food to someone who is hungry solves the problem short term, but in the long run it actually creates more hunger.

      “When people are starving, they are not in a position to care about whether or not some ridiculous ancient story is true or whether some missionary has the correct interpretation of that story to begin with. They just want food.”

      3. Starving people don’t just want food. They want a way out of the hell they are living in. They aren’t stupid either, they know that one meal isn’t going to help them out with that.

      This statement kind of makes the poor seem like selfish. They aren’t there just to squeeze a meal out of stupid missionaries. They are there because they see people who have so much love and compassion for them, that they came just to give them one insignificant meal. They are compelled by the willingness the missionaries have to do this for them, when they have nothing to give them in return. They are there because all of this has restored there faith in humanity and hope for a better life. They see opportunity.

      “The ethical thing to do is to provide food, medical supplies, and a real scientific education to these people”

      4. Again, providing food is not a good thing and is absolutely not the ethical thing to do. Maybe if you bought the food from a local farmer, and hired people to cook it, and the jobs created were there indefinitely…still not sure if that would even work.

      5. What is a ‘real scientific education’ anyway? and why would they care anymore about that than they do about the ridiculous stories from some ancient book? They already have their own view and interpretation of how they see the world and some may argue a scientific education would be unethical as well. You are going to disprove all they believe by science? That’s not going to give them hope at all, and they are probably just as likely to disregard that as they are to disregard christianity.

      I know some of these thing’s don’t apply to everyone (missionaries and the people in communities they are aiming to help). But I just wanted to kind of give an other side of looking at things. I really don’t know who is right and who is wrong, or if there even is a right or wrong. Maybe it just highlights the fact that there are so many different ways different people choose to view the world.

      1. Wait, did you just say that giving food to starving people is unethical and will cause them to starve even more? I’m calling bullshit! Most of the other stuff you said was bullshit too, but I don’t really have the time to go into that.

    6. I do agree that there are people who force religion on others, but most people believe what they believe in because of their own free will. In the case of people ministering to poor people, or anyone in general, giving people hope is one of the most important things you can do. You’re giving them a future, and saying what they are going through isn’t meaningless but has a purpose, and that they are loved. I do agree that temporarily feeding the people isn’t helpful as it causes dependency, but giving them hope that they can break out of their poverty and situation is something worth giving. I”m not sure what you mean by “religious goals”, but what Christians believe is a message of hope and redemption, and can really help change social issues.

    7. YES! I am constantly thinking about this and randomly looked up “why missionaries are wrong” and your post came up. Thanks for writing! I wish more people could see what is wrong with mission trips!

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