Villagers furious with Christian Missionaries

zimv20

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Samanthapettai, Jan 16 (ANI): Rage and fury has gripped this tsunami-hit tiny Hindu village in India's southern Tamil Nadu after a group of Christian missionaries allegedly refused them aid for not agreeing to follow their religion.

Samanthapettai, near the temple town of Madurai, faced near devastation on the December 26 when massive tidal waves wiped it clean of homes and lives.

Most of the 200 people here are homeless or displaced , battling to rebuild lives and locating lost family members besides facing risks of epidemic,disease and trauma.

Jubilant at seeing the relief trucks loaded with food, clothes and the much-needed medicines the villagers, many of who have not had a square meal in days, were shocked when the nuns asked them to convert before distributing biscuits and water.

Heated arguments broke out as the locals forcibly tried to stop the relief trucks from leaving. The missionaries, who rushed into their cars on seeing television reporters and the cameras refusing to comment on the incident and managed to leave the village.

Disappointed and shocked into disbelief the hapless villagers still await aid.

"Many NGOs (volunteer groups) are extending help to us but there in our village the NGO, which was till now helping us is now asking us to follow the Christian religion. We are staunch followers of Hindu religion and refused their request. And after that these people with their aid materials are leaving the village without distributing that to us," Rajni Kumar, a villager said.
 

Zaid

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zimv20 said:
This is just sick on so many levels! :eek: :mad:

What happened to the compassion for their fellow man/woman and child that christians are supposed to adhere to?

This is an old trick of some missionaries though. Offerring aid to the really poor and destitute with the price tag being conversion. Normally, as distateful as the practice is, I'd say fine, if people of other faiths are so worried about it why don't they also offer help

But this ... Its sick :mad:
 

mkrishnan

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It's so strange...the western Christian church in the city in Tamil Nadu has a long history of getting along with people. In fact everyone in Chennai pretty much gets along. But in the countryside, things seem to always turn out like this. :( *sighs*
 

Lyle

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Has anyone seen this reported by any other news source (that is, a different story, not just a copy of the same story on another site)? I searched for it on Google news but only found reprints of the original story. It may just be too soon for other news outlets to have started picking up the story, though.

This sounds fishy to me, and the story curiously fails to identify the group of "Christian missionaries". I agree with the other posters, though, that if this is true, it is despicable.
 

Zaid

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jsw said:
I agree - it sounds dubious and inflammatory. However, if true, it's despicable.
Why do you say it sounds dubious?

Some (*) missionaries in Africa have been doing this kind of thing for years in townships and impoverished rural areas. It certainly doesn’t stretch my credulity at all.

I helped out at a free medical clinic in Mocambique for a while where patients used to talk about missionaries forcing them to attend church before they would get any food or medicine. Not the same thing, and anecdotal, but it wasn't the first or last time that I’d heard about things like that.

* Note when i say some I do mean some, not all. The majority of Christian aid organisations do sterling work asking for nothing in return, often at not insignificant risk to themselves.

The missionaries who do this kind of thing often belong to the charismatic and evangelical churches.
 

jsw

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Zaid said:
Why do you say it sounds dubious?
I was mainly referring to the lack of substantiation by any alternate sources for this particular story, given the massive amount of media in the region. However, I'm sure stuff like this happens, and it turns my stomach. This story could very well be true, and, if it isn't, certainly a similar one might be. Anyone who decides whether or not to aid someone in need based upon that needy person's religious beliefs brings shame to themselves and their religion.
 

IJ Reilly

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Stories like this have been circulating for some time. Here is one from Reuters:

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/DEL229672.htm

The issue of Christian missionaries working in predominantly non-Christian nations has been controversial, as many will use aid opportunities as a proselytizing opportunity, which tends to be deeply offensive to people of other faiths. From what I've heard, Catholic Relief Services has an explicit policy against this, but at least some Christian evangelical organizations do not.
 

mactastic

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Remember, reading Bible plus accepting Jesus equals food...
:p

Some people will use this to tar many Christians with just as I've seen atheists tarred with the Weinberg brush here recently.
 

Xtremehkr

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Just more evidence that parts of christianity are being run by people who have no respect for what it is they claim to represent.

What confuses me though is that a lot of christians fail to see the inherent moral dilemna.

The reaction was just as underwhelming when the child abuse scandal came out.

It's scarey to think what could be done if religion was under the control of the wrong people, I wonder where a situation like that may exist?
 

Lyle

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I wish they'd name names...

IJ Reilly said:
Stories like this have been circulating for some time. Here is one from Reuters...
And as with the previous story, there's no identification of the "group led by Christian aid agencies" involved in this dispute, unless it's somehow associated with the "New Delhi-based Christian group, the Discipleship Centre" mentioned towards the end of the story. The connection (if any) was unclear to me.

As a Christian, I wouldn't want to be affiliated with a "Christian" group that was withholding aid from people in need unless those people agreed to convert first. If this is a legitimate story, I really wish Reuters would "out" the names of the organization(s) involved.
 

IJ Reilly

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What about doling out some proselytizing along with the food, water and medicine? As I said, I think the religious organizations that allow this don't make any secret of it, or offer any apologies for it. Others, like Catholic Relief Services, simply don't permit it. Who's right?
 

Lyle

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IJ Reilly said:
What about doling out some proselytizing along with the food, water and medicine? As I said, I think the religious organizations that allow this don't make any secret of it, or offer any apologies for it. Others, like Catholic Relief Services, simply don't permit it. Who's right?
OK, I didn't understand the distinction you were making in the previous post. I definitely have a problem with the (alleged) situation described in zimv20's original post: that the nuns asked (demanded?) the villagers to convert before they'd assist them.

Do I have a problem with Christian missionaries (or missionaries of any other faith) "proselytizing" as they deliver their assistance? It depends on what you specifically mean when using that word (and I know that we are fond of definitions here in the Political Forum).

I don't have a problem with Christian missionaries saying "God Bless You" as they hand out food. If one of the villagers were to ask, "Why are you doing this?", I wouldn't have a problem with a missionary replying that it's because of Jesus' example of feeding the poor and healing the sick. In contrast, a situation where the person in need feels pressured to make some statement of faith in order to receive aid is over the line.

There should probably be some policy in place to address where that line lies, but I don't pretend to know how to define it. I mean, in recent days we've seen Michael Newdow's latest crusade to block the prayer at tomorrow's inauguration because it's offensive to him. His objections seem over the top to me (and to a number of non-Christians, I suspect), but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he's sincere. So I'll contend that "proselytization" is in the eye of the beholder.
 

mkrishnan

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Oddly, this story hasn't been covered in tomorrow's (since it's already tomorrow there :D) edition of the Hindu, a major label print newspaper.... Ther are stories about the Madurai area, and even about the relief effort there, but not this topic. I guess it would be worth waiting for verification from a bigger newspaper....
 

zimv20

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mkrishnan said:
Oddly, this story hasn't been covered in tomorrow's (since it's already tomorrow there :D) edition of the Hindu
fwiw, the date of the original article is the 16th.
 

mactastic

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Prosyletizing is...

... six people in an SUV driving all the way out to my house and knocking on the door on Saturday about 10am wanting to know if they could talk to me about Jesus.

Basically proselytizing, to me, is when you give your religious views to someone who did not solicit them from you.
 

mkrishnan

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zimv20 said:
fwiw, the date of the original article is the 16th.
Yeah, the way the website for the Hindu is set up, they show articles that far back when you look by topic, still nothing... There was another article floating around about that village, but it was mostly unrelated. Something about a district commissioner visiting and distributing items to children.
 

Lyle

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mactastic said:
Basically proselytizing, to me, is when you give your religious views to someone who did not solicit them from you.
... which reinforces my point about definitions, to some degree. For example, Sherlock informs me that proselytize is a verb meaning "[to] convert to another faith or religion." Obviously, the people who showed up on your doorstep didn't convert you (although that was presumably their intent). Without having looked up the "real" definition of the word, I would have guessed a meaning closer to what you described (an educational or informative action, perhaps unsolicited).

More to the point, I think it's a loaded word that has negative connotations for a lot of people -- regardless of what its dictionary definition is. So, in an attempt to stay on topic, I think it would be important for Christian aid organizations to have in place some well-defined policy about what's acceptable and what isn't.
 

pseudobrit

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Lyle said:
... which reinforces my point about definitions, to some degree. For example, Sherlock informs me that proselytize is a verb meaning "[to] convert to another faith or religion." Obviously, the people who showed up on your doorstep didn't convert you (although that was presumably their intent). Without having looked up the "real" definition of the word, I would have guessed a meaning closer to what you described (an educational or informative action, perhaps unsolicited).
The problem is with the definition you found; it's incomplete. You only saw the transitive application of the word.

pros·e·ly·tize
v. pros·e·ly·tized, pros·e·ly·tiz·ing, pros·e·ly·tiz·es
v. intr.
To induce someone to convert to one's own religious faith.

To induce someone to join one's own political party or to espouse one's doctrine.


v. tr.
To convert (a person) from one belief, doctrine, cause, or faith to another.
Mactastic's definition is correct for the way we're using the word.
 

IJ Reilly

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mactastic said:
Basically proselytizing, to me, is when you give your religious views to someone who did not solicit them from you.
This is a good working definition. This is the act which tends to cause offense, because of the clear implication that their faith is more correct than your faith.
 

mactastic

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I'm sure I've been guilty of evangelizing for Apple on more than one occasion. In fact I have a couple conversions to my credit as well. :p But at least I laid out all the pros and cons and let them decide.