The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Victims don't need religion

January 31, 2005, 8:19 pm

The Daily Orange
By Jean Stevens
Published: 1/31/2005

In the days after the Dec. 26 tsunami in Southeast Asia, millions of dollars poured in from aid groups around the world. In addition to food and other supplies, some American volunteers are attempting to bring another form of "aid" to the area - Jesus. Members of the Antioch Community Church, an evangelical church based in Waco, Texas, have reportedly been working in a Sri Lankaan relief camp not only to help the sick, take care of orphaned children and donate food, but also to "bring" them to Christianity.

The church's Web site, www.antiochcc.com, includes a report from its relief efforts. The author writes, "As we build relationships, we are sharing God's love for them and praying for them as they have need." In response to a devastated fisherman, "I shared with him that the God who created him and the sea, loves him so much."

Some in the West, in the tradition of its hundreds of years of domination of the Rest, could hardly stop themselves from clapping their hands in glee at the opportunity to "help the poor tsunami victims." Translation: enlighten them to the inferiority of their culture and rescue them through religious conversion.

It is sick that in this huge time of need, in which the West could use its wealth and privilege in complete selflessness, these aid givers cannot resist playing missionary, using the Sri Lankaans' weakened state to their advantage.

The population of Sri Lanka is about 70 percent Buddhist,10 percent Hindu and 8 percent Christian, and most are most likely content with their faith. These people are capable of choosing their own religion, and could seek out Christianity if they should so desire. To use two of our dear president's favorite concepts, they should have the liberty and freedom to practice whatever faith they want.

But they are told by these western Christians-from Texas of all places-who know little of Sri Lankaan culture, history or lifestyle, "oh, by the way, your way of life and your faith aren't quite as great as Christianity, and you should give it all up to find Jesus."

Jesus is not what this group should be providing right now. The Antiochs should focus their attentions on what the victims need to recover, not what they THINK these people need. These groups should be coming with food, clean water, medicine and blankets, not a Western ideology. Enough with the cultural imperialism.

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