Missionary Impossible

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The gunning down of 10  aid workers in Afghanistan reveals that the age-old practice of Christian  missionaries following in the wake of conquering Western forces continues to  this day.

To the casual observer, it’s business-as-usual  in Afghanistan. On August 6, in remote Nuristan province, 260km north of Kabul,  Taliban terrorists gunned down 10 foreigners, all non-combatants, adding to the  steadily climbing body count in the West’s War on Terror.

Only this time, the victims weren’t as innocent  as the media headlines screamed. The dead included six Americans, a German and  a Briton, and were members of the International Assistance Mission (IAM), which  is registered as a non-profit Christian organisation.

The intentions of the 10 workers are clouded in  the fog of war but their ostensible mission was charity. That, however, is  challenged by the Afghans. A Taliban spokesman said they killed the foreigners  because they were "preaching Christianity". The Taliban also said the  team was carrying Dari language bibles and "spying gadgets".

While the Taliban are no angels, Christian  missionaries clearly don’t belong in a war zone, especially in a country that  has such a deep rooted aversion to Western mores. But that doesn’t faze IAM  because according to them, they are simply going by the book – in this case the  Bible.

IAM videos, now available on YouTube, contradict  the group’s claim that they do not proselytize. One video shows a room full of  scruffy, unwashed Muslim kids being taught Christian verses by a  hysterical-sounding woman in the background. It would seem to the viewer these  “aid workers” are more interested in the children’s souls than their hygiene.  Cleanliness doesn’t rank next to godliness any more. How times have changed.

While the Afghans are not being converted at  gunpoint, it can be safely assumed that without the cover provided by Western  armies, there wouldn’t be any Christian missionaries in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Indeed, missionary activity in the Middle East  seeks to transform the West’s War on Terror into a war for souls.

In 2003, John Brady of the International Mission  Board, the missionary arm of the Southern Baptists, the largest Protestant  denomination in America, appealed in his church bulletin Urgent News: “Southern  Baptists have prayed for years that Iraq would somehow be opened to the gospel.  (We) must understand that there is a war for souls under way in Iraq.”

Christian groups are treating the window of  occupation as a god sent opportunity for them to ship in as many copies of the  Bible as they can. Urgent News proudly reports aid workers handing out copies  of the New Testament and praying with Muslim recipients.

Missionary activity is also rampant in the  American armed forces. The United States Military Ministry has chapters at  every major military installation in the country. According to the Ministry,  attempts to inculcate into the ranks of the “saved” start as early as ROTC  training.

Says Aseem Shukla, co-founder and board member  of Hindu American Foundation: “As a project of the supremely well-funded and  powerful Campus Crusade for Christ International, the Military Ministry and  similar organizations have created a network of access to fresh recruits and  military officers that threatens the very fabric of the institution.”

Shukla, who is also associate professor in  urologic surgery at the University of Minnesota medical school, adds: “When  ministering turns to proselytizing and privileging one faith over another, and  when the tens of thousands of Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists proudly  serving their country are rendered the ‘other,’ highly imperative troop  cohesion and morale is compromised.”

Indeed, many American soldiers have stepped off  the plane in Iraq and Afghanistan armed with bagfuls of Bibles provided by  their churches back home. Is it any surprise then that some Western soldiers  have come to see their mission in Iraq and Afghanistan as yet another Crusade?

There seems to be plenty of backing for a crusade  from the very top. According to a report in GQ magazine in May 2009, Donald  Rumsfeld, the former US defence secretary, provided US President George W. Bush  with top secret intelligence briefings on the Iraq war that featured cover  pages adorned with Biblical quotes.

On April 1, 2003, as US troops were heading for  Iraq, Rumsfeld's "World Intelligence Update" featured a line from  Proverbs 16:3: "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will  succeed".

Two days before Saddam Hussein was toppled on  April 9, 2003, the cover sheet showed a picture of the Iraqi leader and a  quotation from Peter 2:15: "It is God's will that by doing good you should  silence the ignorant talk of foolish men."

Evidence of the military-missionary nexus is  found in virtually every country that suffered colonialism and Western  invasion.

South Korea is the perfect example of American  armed intervention preceding a massive missionary influx. Before the Korean War  of the 1950’s, the Christian presence in that country was negligible. Today  they are the majority, and their congregational culture – along with the power  that ensues from it – has pushed South Korea’s Buddhists, Confucians and  non-believers to the ranks of the marginalised.

Indeed, South  Korea is the jewel in the crown of Christian evangelism. Not only  does the wealthy country provide vast funds for conversions worldwide, it also  has a huge supply of eager beaver Korean missionaries willing to do their  Lord’s work in every danger spot in the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta said about British  missionaries who poured in after British forces colonized the east African  country: “When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the  missionaries had the Bible. They taught us how to pray with our eyes closed.  When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.”

India was one of the first countries in the  world to be hit by the pincer movement of western colonial armies and  missionaries. Thomas Babington Macaulay, Head of the Education Department of  British India, was of the firm opinion that British evangelists should be  allowed to convert Hindus to Christianity. In 1834, he said, “No Hindu who has  received an English education ever remains sincerely attached to his religion. Some  continue to profess it as a matter of policy but many profess themselves pure  deists and some embrace Christianity. It is my firm belief if our plan of  education is followed up, there will not be a single idolater among the  respectable class in 30 years hence.”

In 1878, Monier Williams, professor of Sanskrit  at Oxford University, said the enormous territory of India has been committed  to England for a great purpose – that every Indian man, woman and child may be  elevated, enlightened and Christianized. His frustration at the lack of  progress in that mission can be gauged from this statement: “The chief obstacle  to spread Christianity in India is that these people are proud of their  tradition and religion.” Why, thank you Mr Williams!

While the British had to contend with a proud  Indian race, the other colonialists, Spain and Portugal, were more ‘fortunate’  in that they encountered less organised nations, especially in South America,  where they easily conquered, pillaged, enslaved and then converted entire  kingdoms to Christianity.

The arrival of Portuguese missionaries in India  is a story of deceit, perfidy, and unspeakable cruelties. After the local Hindu  ruler gave their chief proselytizer, Francis Xavier, land to build a church,  this is how the saintly Xavier repaid his generosity: “I order that everywhere  the temples of the false gods be pulled down and idols broken. I know not how  to describe in words the joy I feel before the spectacle of pulling down and  destroying the idols by the very people who formerly worshipped them.”

From the tiny Portuguese enclave of Goa on  India’s western coast, Xavier launched the Inquisition, during which over a  million Hindus are reported to have been murdered.

While not condoning the acts of the Taliban, it  is worth wondering if the world would have been better off had local rulers  everywhere given these barbaric missionaries similar treatment.

About the  author: (Rakesh Krishnan Simha is an infidel.)