Jul 16, 2007

Christian Missionaries

There is much discussion on the blogs and other sites I frequent, as well as Main Stream media, that focuses on the effects of religion on society. The usual discourse centers on morality with the more vocal proponents of Christianity (read fundies, neo-con wingnuts, and the like!) asserting that without religion dogma to teach right from wrong, society would be basically amoral.
On the other hand, some of us atheists point out the cruelties and wars perpetrated in the name of God, and sometimes we note a correlation between faith and lack of critical reasoning skills.
Something very important I think we often overlook is the damage to and eradication of cultures caused by missionary work. I remember reading, in the '70s, that anthropologists hate Christian missionaries because they wipe out cultures before they have a chance to observe them, and more importantly, often leave 'primitive' peoples unable to integrate into western society and therefore spiritually and financially destitute.
So I Googled:

In the past, the damage done by missionaries were shared equally between the Protestant and Catholic churches. Today, most of the damage is done by fundamentalist, pentacostal and evangelical protestant sects, mostly from the US, Canada and Europe. Numbering about 80,000 strong [1] these fundamentalist missionaries spread like locusts throughout the world. Their destruction of native cultures, and in some cases actually causing the deaths of these natives, can only be described as a modern cultural and genocidal holocaust. more

Kona Kava Blog:

Even though the Christian Missionaries tried to eradicate the use of this ancient and sacred plant,...

The horses mouth:

For the Church of this period the purpose of evangelisation was clear. The purpose was to bring people into the Church, to get conversions to the faith. Outside the Church, it was seen that there was no, or at least little chance of salvation. The alternative was to leave people in their sins, and eventually, to torment in hell. Given this situation, evangelisation was not merely a nice thing to do, it was an overwhelming moral imperative. (Hill, 1992) Perhaps this helps one understand the zeal of the early missionaries and their “convert at all costs” attitude. It might also resonate with some when reflecting on dominant themes and motives in their own experience of school religious education or parish missions.

Shorter fundamentalists: "I don't care that you have existed for hundreds of perhaps thousands or tens of thousands of years in harmony and contentment, that your way of life gives you meaning, you are a sinner and I will save you, no matter how devastating it is to your way of life."

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