What Does the New Christian Missionary Code of Conduct Mean?

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  June 29, 2011 — 67 Comments

A coalition that claims to represent around 90% of the world’s Christians, the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID), and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), have released joint recommendations for the conduct of Christian missionaries. This document is the result of five years of consultations among the three bodies, and is being touted as “a major achievement” in building consensus on the issue among Christians.

“In the past five years we have been building a new bridge,” said Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe, chief executive officer and secretary general of the WEA. “The document is a major achievement,” he explained, in that it represents formal agreement on “the essence of Christian mission” while also demonstrating that diverse Christian bodies “are able to work together and to speak together.” In this sense, the release of the text “is a historic moment” in the quest for Christian unity.

In talking about the rationale for this initiative, Geoff Tunnicliffe, Secretary General of the WEA, in what could be fairly described as understatement, admitted that “in some places dynamic public witness to Jesus Christ has been accompanied by misunderstanding and tension.” Reuters religion reporter Robert Evans put it somewhat more bluntly.

“Christian missionaries have long been accused of offering money, food, or other goods to win converts in poor countries, either from other faiths or from rival churches. Tensions have also risen in recent decades as evangelical Protestants have stepped up efforts to convert Muslims, which is a capital offence in some Islamic countries. This also prompts retaliation against local Christians who do not seek converts.”

So what  does this new document solve? What is it meant to do, and what does this mean for the world’s non-Christians? First, while this document may be a historic moment of consensus and agreement, it is toothless in regards to enforcement. As I reported back in 2007, no church or missionary group will be forced to accede to this new code of conduct. The document takes pains to stress that these are “recommendations,” that will “encourage” churches to “reflect” on their “current practices.” It certainly “does not intend to be a theological statement on mission.” In short, these are more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules. That said, for those Christian missionaries who do plan to take this new historical document seriously, and base their conduct on it, what will it change? The core shift in thinking seems to be in fighting “arrogance, condescension and disparagement” among Christian missionaries toward non-Christian faiths and building a new ethos of mutual respect and cooperation between Christians and non-Christians.

“Christians are called to reject all forms of violence, even psychological or social, including the abuse of power in their witness. They also reject violence, unjust discrimination or repression by any religious or secular authority, including the violation or destruction of places of worship, sacred symbols or texts. […]  Any comment or critical approach should be made in a spirit of mutual respect, making sure not to bear false witness concerning other religions. […]  Christians should avoid misrepresenting the beliefs and practices of people of different religions.

In addition, the document endorses providing “sufficient time for adequate reflection and preparation” in regards to conversions.  Frowning on quickie conversions and urging Christians to “refrain from offering all forms of allurements.” All of which is encouraging on its face, though the document also has a political purpose, to help missionaries lobby against anti-conversion laws in places like India.

“WEA Secretary General Geoff Tunnicliffe said the code, entitled “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World,” would be “a great resource” for Christians lobbying against anti-conversion laws passed in countries such as India.”

How a document that is merely a recommendation, not enforced policy or doctrine, will actually sway supporters of anti-conversion laws remains an open question. Is it simply a propaganda tool, or will there be actual “moral and peer pressure” as hinted by the coalition previously? With the revelations of coercive conversion tactics in Haiti, and serious accusations that missionaries have stirred up anti-Vodou violence, not to mention an emerging theory within evangelical circles that Christian missions may have helped trigger the witch-hunts in Africa, it may take far more than encouragements of better behavior to allay the fears of those scarred by this sort of abusive behavior.

With Catholic plans in the works to “re-evangelize” Europe and the United States, one has to wonder if this document will be respected when it comes to interactions with adherents of Pagan, indigenous, and syncretic faiths. If “Christians should avoid misrepresenting the beliefs and practices of people of different religions,” will anti-Pagan tracts and books be changed or will that escape the scope of this new initiative? While I applaud some of the sentiments encased in this document, I fear it raises too many questions to set the minds of those targeted by missions at rest.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://abbadie.livejournal.com/ Luis Abbadie

    Well, it’s a start.

    I once had an hour-and-a-half debate with a missionary who started out by flatly declaring that my chapbook “Pagan Nights” was “a horrible book”. She then went on to try to convince me that a Pagan was by definition an immoral, depraved, libidinous and vicious person. Half the conversation actually went into patiently explaining what we who call ourselves pagans actually do and how we simply would not acknowledge her definition of the word. she also started to try to demonstrate that my beliefs (whatever they were) had to be wrong, then challenged me to tell her why her belief in Christ might be wrong or unfounded; when I refused to do that saying that I would never try to do that or to convince her or anybody else that their religion was wrong, she was genuinely perplexed, so she went back to trying to impose her interpretation of “Paganism”.

    At last she grew tired, we fell silent for a minute, then we started talking about how nice the book fair we were at (signing our own books at the same cabin) was…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7T7JYFPQSTL6RDWCLR2HMKVRXE John Medellin

    I’m not terribly impressed. It reminds me of when the Vatican “apologized” for it’s missionary-driven sins. They basically said that it was a shame they’d behaved so badly, but they would continue with their mission and hopefully they had learned from their mistakes. It wasn’t very much of an apology.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7T7JYFPQSTL6RDWCLR2HMKVRXE John Medellin

    I’m not terribly impressed. It reminds me of when the Vatican “apologized” for it’s missionary-driven sins. They basically said that it was a shame they’d behaved so badly, but they would continue with their mission and hopefully they had learned from their mistakes. It wasn’t very much of an apology.

  • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

    Thanks for covering the whole India thing, because that’s exactly what I was thinking when I was reading the first paragraph – just something to pacify naive politicians but without any enforcement behind it.

  • http://en-pi.facebook.com/steward John Deltuvia

    “Christians should avoid misrepresenting the beliefs and practices of people of different religions.“ And, since both Mt. 12:30 and Lk. 11:23 say “He who is not with me is against me”, and “Satan” is a transliteration of the Hebraic for “adversary”… by definition, any non-Christian religion is satanic in the eyes of Christians. Therefore, anything bad they say about any other religion, from the Christian point of view, is not misrepresentation.

    In other words, another public-relations gimmick covering up what the Bible really says.

    • Fritz Muntean

      Those who cite with enthusiasm the Matthew and Luke quotations above would do well to check out the equivalent verse in Mark 9:40. Borrow a Bible if you have to. Quite a difference, don’t you think? Opens up a whole new notion of “what the Bible really says”, doesn’t it? That particular set of verses is a great favourite with us Pagans who’ve taught university/college Religion courses. But they’re not the only ones! Enjoy!

      • (Robert Mathiesen) Mageprof

        I have quoted Mark 9:40 to Christians before, and a few of them have accused me of making it up. When I show it to these few in a Bible I have in my office, some have said that my copy is obviously a fake Bible. When I have challenged them to check in their own copies, they have refused, saying something like: “I don’t need to check. I know what is in the Bible, and you don’t.”

        What can you do against that . . . ?

        • Fritz Muntean

          First of all, you could make an effort to hang with a better class of Christians, among whom the dillweeds you quote above are a crashing minority. Part of this problem may be the ‘low-church’ public persona many Pagans seem to (automatically?) embrace. Prison missionary work, Bob Jones-style ‘seminaries’, store-front ministries, etc, are putting us in direct competition with the very worst that mainstream religions have to offer. Upgrading our game does wonders for the kind of people we end up interacting with.

        • Fritz Muntean

          On further reflection: Harold Bloom, in The American Religion (S&S, 1992) proposes that the kind of ‘Christian’ you’re dealing with here (who are, in his and my opinion, a noisy but tiny minority of Christendom as a whole) do not actually ever read the Bible, but only ‘brandish it, as a limp leather icon’. Great quote, eh?

          For those without a Bible handy, the complete passage (Mk 9:38-41) refers to the ‘Unknown Exorcist’ — Jesus chides John, who’s come to him complaining that someone else is casting our demons in Jesus’ name. There’s a parallel passage in Num 11:26-29, in which Moses rebukes Joshua for the same jealous attitude.

      • Anonymous

        For those without a Bible at hand, I recommend http://www.oremus.org . Great lookup, by verse or words; easy to skim the responses. King James version and New Revised Standard Version.

        • Fritz Muntean

          The site looks interesting, but I couldn’t find the ‘lookup’ function. Where should I look? Thanks.

        • Anonymous

          “For those without a Bible at hand, I recommend http://www.oremus.org . “

          I personally like cc.com: http://bible.cc/mark/9-40.htm.

          They have a buttload of different translations, plus commentaries, plus cross references, plus interlinear versions, etc.

      • Anonymous

        For those without a Bible at hand, I recommend http://www.oremus.org . Great lookup, by verse or words; easy to skim the responses. King James version and New Revised Standard Version.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bryon-Morrigan/100000104778250 Bryon Morrigan

    Nobody is trying to pass “anti-conversion” laws in India. The phrase itself is catering to the Christians. It’s like referring to Roe v. Wade as “Pro-Death” or being against abortion as “Anti-Choice.” It’s a deliberate, psychological propaganda tactic.

    The laws that have been popular in India recently have only outlawed things like predatory practices by Christian missionaries, like the use of coercion, deception, enticement, and other immoral issues. You know, like offering a hungry person food…IF he will convert…or having Christian Terrorist groups like the NLFT or NSCN point AK-47s at people…or what-not. These are not laws targeting “door knockers.” These laws target people who engage in evil, despicable practices…and then _claim_ to be simply “spreading the good news.”

    In fact, this is the exact phrase used in the laws:

    “No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religion to another by use of force or by inducement or by any fraudulent means, nor shall any person abet any such conversion.”

    No person in favor of Religious Freedom or Pluralism could possibly have a problem with such a law…as they are designed solely to stop the spread of coercive and fraudulent practices used by Christian missionaries. Every country in the world should have such laws, regardless of the majority religion in place.

    • Anonymous

      One of the early supporters of the so-called anti-conversion laws was Mahatma Gandhi. And a prominent modern day supporter is His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

  • Saga M.

    It’s a nice idea but the Christian groups who are perpetrators of the problems are generally against the WCC and any other groups that try to join the different denominations together. Those who believe their beliefs are the only TRUE beliefs will continue on just as they have.

  • Anonymous

    Four major reports by international agencies have found a clear link between Christian missionary work in Africa and increased violence against accused Witches. Worse, this is especially the case for children accused of Witchcraft.

    (1) 2005 Save the Children report: “The Invention of Child Witches in the Democratic Republic of Congo”.
    (2) 2006 Human Rights Watch: “What Future? Street Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo”
    (3) 2009 United Nations High Commission on Refugees: “Witchcraft allegations, refugee protection and human rights: a review of the evidence”
    (4) 2010 UNICEF: “Children Accused of Witchcraft: An anthropological study of contemporary practices in Africa”

    Here is a quote from the 2005 Save the Children report: “Our first research, in 1999, clearly showed the changes that had occurred in the mentality of Kinshasa’s inhabitants. Witchcraft was perceived as fundamentally negative, unlike in the villages where witchcraft could be a positive or a negative thing. Witchcraft as we know it today has little to do with ‘traditional practices’. It is quite clearly a modern invention, largely urban in origin, in which common cultural roots have been distorted from their primary meaning.” The report goes on to specifically name “revivalist church pastors” as largely to blame for this new “mentality”.

  • deannahazzard

    I love this post, but what drove me to actually comment is the amount of respect I have for you including the Pirate Code link. That was awesome!!

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      Thank you!

  • Kilmrnock

    i’m hoping this will change things , but i’m not holding my breath . this whole thing sounds like political nonsence, otherwise known as bs, w/o any real teeth in it . maybe eventualy these recomendtions will be followed . in a perfect world pressure from these so called leading xtian groups will force change . unfortunatly many , if not all evangelicals are for the most part independant churches w/ loose affiliations w/ the national organisations , they will do as they please . these are after all only non binding recomendations , not hard and fast rules . hopefully someday these nutballs will have hard and fast rules to follow , if not easily enforcable laws to protect those of us not of the xtian faiths . Kilmrnock

  • kenneth

    It’s a nice statement probably drafted by progressive Christians which will only be accepted and followed by like-minded people. It would be better if we could somehow define an international norm of religious freedom and freedom from aggressive proselytizing and then use something like the Alien Tort Claims Act to expose the violators to ruinous lawsuits in U.S. courts for their actions overseas…

    • Charles Cosimano

      The Alien Tort Act could never be used because everything the missionaries do is protected by the First Amendment and no foreign court ruling would be enforceable. What would happen if something like that occurred would be a religious equivalent of last years SPEECH act which would forbid US courts from recognizing any foreign judgement.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

        I concede I’m a rotten legal theorist, but the idea still gave me the warm and fuzzies!

    • Dianus

      “Progressive” Christians? Is there a way to be progressive while secretly or not so secretly plotting to change everyone elses’ mind to be just like yours, and undermining other cultures and even families in underhanded ways in less-educated foreign countries?

      • Fritz Muntean

        Yes. Progressive Christians (what some of us scholars like to think of, maybe a bit tongue-in-cheek, as ‘post-Nag Hammadi’ Christians) are real, and here in N America they’re in the majority. These are the Christians who we are most likely to meet on Interfaith Councils, and whose works — especially in regard to the healing of social ills, the protection of the environment, even the veneration of the divine feminine — are so closely paralleled by our own. Maybe you need to get out more.

        • Anonymous

          Is there really any evidence that Progressive Christians are in the majority in N America, or are you jacking up the gain on your own subjective impressions combined with anecdotal reports from others? If the former, please provide some source(s).

          • Fritz Muntean

            To some extent it’s a subjective impression — but based on the number of people who self-identify as members of ‘high church’ vs ‘low church’ Christian denominations. Both numbers are falling, but right now the lowest of the low (those ‘secretly or not so secretly plotting’, see above) are in freefall.

            And, once again, who you meet (or read about) has a lot to do with where you’re hanging out. I’ve received so very much sincere and heart-felt help and support in academia — as a thoroughly ‘out’ Pagan scholar — from Christian (and even the occasional Muslim) faculty members, that it pains me to hear even a few of my own fellow religionists going on about how horrible all those ‘Christians’ are.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

            cER

  • Anonymous

    Cluelessly, I imagined that Christianity already had in hand and in heart a moral compass and ethical bearing that guided their missionary efforts. Cluelessly, I imagined that it had something to do with the words and inspiration of Jesus influencing lives and awareness of Christian adherents.

    But, No!

    They gotta have these guidelines.

    Now I’m mulling over the concept of gunpoint conversions to Christianity and whether God says that they really count…And does it make a difference if the conversion takes place at the barrel of a Russian gun, A European gun, an American gun, or a gun of other origin (Omicron Perseii 8 for instance)…

    • Maggie

      Does the historical word ‘Crusades’ mean anything to you? How about ‘Inquisition’? Seems to me the Christian hierarchies have done this swordpoint conversion thing before.

      • Anonymous

        I come from California, where the Franciscans and the Spanish missionized the native peoples. Probably how I got the gist of the famous Viet Nam era notion of “destroying X in order to save X.”

      • Fritz Muntean

        Just curious here, Maggie — what aspects of the Crusades or the Inquisition do you suppose were devoted to ‘conversion’?

        • Anonymous

          Fritz Muntean: “what aspects of the Crusades or the Inquisition do you suppose were devoted to ‘conversion’? “

          Seriously? Have you ever heard of the Albigensian Crusade? Or the Northern Crusades?

          Here is a quote from Pope Urban’s famous speech in 1095 (this speech is often cited as the very origin of the concept of “Crusade”):

          “Let the deeds of your ancestors encourage you and incite your minds to manly achievements:-the greatness of King Charlemagne, and of his son Louis, and of your other monarchs, who have destroyed the kingdoms of the Turks and have extended the sway of Church over lands previously possessed by the pagan.

          • Fritz Muntean

            But the Albigensians were Christians, not Pagans. And the Goths of those days were also Christians, albeit of the Arian persuasion. These were wars of conquest, not of conversion. And the most (in)famous of the Inquisitions was the Spanish Inquisition (which nobody ever expects). It persecuted (mainly) former Jews, who already HAD converted.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bryon-Morrigan/100000104778250 Bryon Morrigan

            Google “Goa Inquisition.”

            And frankly, Christian “conversion by the sword” has been a time-honored tradition ever since Theodosius codified it into law 16 centuries ago.

        • Maggie

          Crusades I should admit I know little about. But the Spanish Inquisition was responsible for an entire branch of Jewish-to-Christian conversions which had significant numbers of families observing the Mosaic Code in secret, lighting Shabbot and Pesach candles in hiding, while attending church and professing Christianity in public. Sure looks like forced conversion to me, though presumeably it was done in expectation of an inquisitor visit rather than as its direct result.

          • Ananta Androscoggin

            From what I’ve read, Isabella and Ferdie posed an ultimatum : Either the Jews and Muslims living in Spain converted to Catholicism, or they would be forcibly ejected. Many left, but some remained and converted. No one will ever know how may of these conversions were real, and how many were mere façades.

            But it was a growing suspicion that there were false Catholics among the converted which (apparently) was the impetus for the launching of the Spanish Inquisition. After all, if successful the Royals would obviously get a throne in heaven much closer to the right hand of Jesus than other rulers.

  • Anonymous

    Recommendations do nothing without the threat of punishment for disobedience behind them.

    But that would make them hard rules, then, wouldn’t it.

    • Ananta Androscoggin

      Yeah, it seems that to this type of “Christian” culture warrior, hard rules are for their victims to obey, not themselves.

      • Anonymous

        Tis as all authoritarian outfits behave:

        “Do as I say, not as I do.”

  • Elnigma

    It’s nice of those who want to put a conversion price-tag on their assistance to be able to point to a “code of conduct” should they be accused of being jerks.

  • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

    Until the communities of Christianity and Islam push forward doctrinal change on this front, until they say in writing and in force for their own followers’ practices that they “…reject all forms of violence, even psychological or social, including the abuse of power in their witness…” and so on, there will be no rest for people not in their communities. This is especially true for vulnerable, minority, and/or indigenous communities. This is a toothless piece of propaganda; it solves nothing, and gives ‘recommendations’.

    It’s a ‘recommendation’ to have respect for other faiths, or to not hold peoples’ conversions at the point of food distribution. It is a ‘recommendation’ to not to spread heinous lies and disinformation about other faiths. It is a ‘recommendation’ to not destroy communities, uproot families, or destroy lives in their quest for conversions. Until this has teeth, until this means something beyond ‘recommendation’, it is an insult. They need a razor-toothed rule across the board so they are required to treat others with dignity and respect.

    This whole thing brought to mind this verse from their Bible:
    “1 John 3:18
    Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

    Until they can do that, what good will all the words they write or speak do us?

  • Anonymous

    The statement is actually quite revealing, especially in points 4 & 6 of the the “basis for Christian Witness”:

    4. “Christian witness in a pluralistic world includes engaging in dialogue with people of different religions and cultures (cf. Acts 17:22-28).”

    In the passage cited, Paul “engages in dialogue” with the Pagans of Athens by telling them, “you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.” And if one reads a little further on (verse 30), Paul says, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”

    6. “If Christians engage in inappropriate methods of exercising mission by resorting to deception and coercive means, they betray the gospel and may cause suffering to others. Such departures call for repentance and remind us of our need for God’s continuing grace (cf. Romans 3:23).”

    The scripture cited here merely states: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” In other words, there is no actual prohibition anywhere in the Bible against “resorting to deception and coercive means”!!

    • Anonymous

      Mark 6.11:

      If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’

      A tad unfriendly, but nowhere near the nasty things being done in Yeshua’s name today. Personally, I blame Saul the Pharisee as the instigator.

  • Rombald

    In my experience, the people who shriek most loudly against Christian proselythism are Muslims, yet they also go on all the time about all the people who’ve converted to Islam.

    Apart from the most egregious practices, which are mainly covered by laws against violence, kidnapping, extortion, etc., anyway, there should be no laws against proselytism. If someone is offered material benefits (food, education, etc.) in return for conversion, my advice would be to take the benefits and then apostatise as soon as the benefits cease.

    If Western Pagans are so much against Christian missionaries, why don’t they set up counter-proselytism teams, going to poor places, with some material benefits, showing respect for the native religions, and encouraging people to follow them?

    • Anonymous

      First of all, if people in India (or anywhere else) want to regulate foreign organizations and foreign agents (ie, missionaries) they have every right to do so. In fact, every sovereign nation has a responsibility to do that, or else they are in essence abandoning their own sovereignty. That these foreigners are obnoxious Christian fanatics in no way immunizes them against such regulation.

      Second of all, these missionaries are subsidized by US tax dollars. A significant portion of the US Foreign Aid budget goes directly into the pockets of World Vision, Catholic Charities and other missionary outfits.

      Third of all, there is overwhelming evidence directly linking the spread of American based Pentecostalist Christianity in Africa with widespread horrific violence against children.

      Fourth of all, Christian missionaries have a variety of problematic connections with American corporations, the CIA, and other groups (such as Blackwater International) that pose their own threats against the sovereignty of other nations.

      There’s more, but that should get you started.

      • Rombald

        Well, obviously, I agree with your point 2 (although I’m not a US tax-payer myself). I don’t think any religion should get public subsidies.

        I also agree with your points 3 and 4, assuming them to be numerically important (I genuinely don’t know about this – perhaps I should do my homework).

        Point 1 is more dubious. Most Muslim countries prohibit or restrict Christian (or other) proselytism, yet Saudi Arabia provides massive funding for worldwide Wahabi proselytism. In British cities, Muslims complain about Christian proselytisers (and occasionally murder them), yet, almost in the same breath, boast about how many people have converted to Islam. This ties in with the extent to which one accepts universal human rights vs. moral relativism.

        Personally, I would like to see Pagan “missionaries” – not proselytisers, but sort of friendship agents, as I suggested in my first comment.

        • Anonymous

          Hi Rombald, in my first point I was exclusively talking about restrictions on the activities of foreigners or people acting as foreign agents. Christian missionaries, even indigenous ones in any given country, are heavily subsidized by $$$ from the US and Europe.

          For example, in the specific case of India, any citizen should have the right to proselytize, but only so long as in doing so they are not violated other laws. As soon as that citizen is in the employ of some American or European based missionary outfit, they become a “foreign agent”, literally. Such people have to be treated differently, and are automatically treated so in nearly all cases. However, Christian groups demand that their missionaries be immune to whatever scrutiny and regulations apply to all other foreign agents.

          On the issue of the US government directly funding missionaries, a good starting point is a 2006 Boston Globe four-part series on “Changing the Rules: Exporting Faith”, which, unfortunately, is now behind a pay wall. According to Part One of that series, the portion of US Foreign Aid going to missionary groups doubled from 2001 to 2005, going from 10% to 20%. The Globe article specifically names World Vision and Catholic Relief Services and Samaritan’s Purse as the “primary beneficiaries”. During most of Bush’s two terms the head of the agency primarily responsible for foreign aid, USAID, was headed by a former World Vision vice-president, Andrew S. Natsios.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          “I would like to see Pagan “missionaries” – not proselytisers, but sort of friendship agents”

          Unitarian Universalists do this through the UU Service Committee. They do things like set up a birth control clinic and eventually turn it over to local women. AFAIK the American Friends Service Committee is a comparable outfit. Models of action, and possible allies, are out there.

          • Ananta Androscoggin

            Perhaps this should best be done through a as-yet-to-be-created Pagan Interfaith Organization, which would really show that the effort isn’t being done from a denominational profit-motive.

        • Misslissalove

          It would be so beneficial for pagans to get out there and do “missionary” work to support the religions of the country in which they are “missioning” and to give supplies and food to those in need. However…. You forget one very important detail: All of us pagans are poor! :P Laughs

          • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

            Gotta love that grand myth of “Pagans are poor” – A survey earlier this year (I forget if it was the Pagan Health Survey or the Pagan Marriage Survey) inadvertently disproved that.

      • Rombald

        Well, obviously, I agree with your point 2 (although I’m not a US tax-payer myself). I don’t think any religion should get public subsidies.

        I also agree with your points 3 and 4, assuming them to be numerically important (I genuinely don’t know about this – perhaps I should do my homework).

        Point 1 is more dubious. Most Muslim countries prohibit or restrict Christian (or other) proselytism, yet Saudi Arabia provides massive funding for worldwide Wahabi proselytism. In British cities, Muslims complain about Christian proselytisers (and occasionally murder them), yet, almost in the same breath, boast about how many people have converted to Islam. This ties in with the extent to which one accepts universal human rights vs. moral relativism.

        Personally, I would like to see Pagan “missionaries” – not proselytisers, but sort of friendship agents, as I suggested in my first comment.

      • Anonymous

        And fielding counter-proselytizing teams would add to the strife — and paybacks are Hell. Better to just be helpful and not try recruiting.

      • Fritz Muntean

        Is there really ‘overwhelming’ evidence ‘directly’ linking the spread of ABPCIA with ‘widespread’ ‘horrific’ violence against children? Or are you jacking up the gain on the reports I’ve been reading — of possible connections between the ABPCIAs and some attacks on children? If the former, please cite your source(s) . . .

        • Anonymous

          The following reports all agree on the direct connection between the murder and torture of thousands (at least) of children since the late 90s and American based Pentecostalist missionaries in Africa:

          Save the Children 2005 report: “The Invention of Child Witches in the Democratic Republic of Congo”.

          Human Rights Watch 2006 report “”What Future? Street Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo”

          United Nations High Commission on Refugees 2009 report: “Witchcraft allegations, refugee protection and human rights: a review of the evidence”

          UNICEF 2010 report: “Children Accused of Witchcraft: An anthropological study of contemporary practices in Africa”

          For links to these reports and much more information, here’s a link: Pentecostalism, Spiritual Warfare & The “Witch Children” of Africa.

          • Fritz Muntean

            But Curt, that link is to your own blogsite.

            And the evidence seems to point to thousands of children ‘at risk’ of murder & torture. Likewise, the UN report point to the enormous societal stress of genocidal military action as the primary cause of witchcraft accusations — a surprising parallel to the current historical observation that during the Great European Witchhunt of 1550-1700, simply occupying a disputed territory in the ongoing warfare between Catholic and Protestant principates was far more likely to lead to accusations of witchcraft than any other factor, including gender.

          • Anonymous

            Yes the link is to my blog. And the post linked to has over 40 links to other sources that are not by me, from such places as the New York Times, The Guardian, the London Times, the BBC, the Boston Globe, and many other non-me sources. Check it out. You might learn something.

  • Anonymous

    There’s nothing remotely laudable in any of these sentiments. Why? Because the entire effort, document, and force behind all of this exists to change everyone here into a christian. This is just the second coming of the same cavalry (or third coming or fourth coming).

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

      That is largely true. If you look at the most recent crop of “anti-witch” books, you find that the authors take a much softer tone. They don’t call us satanists and counsel a loving and understanding approach to us, but when it gets right down to it, they still circle back to the idea that what we do can’t possibly be legitimate and mark us as spiritually lost people who didn’t get Jesus because we weren’t “properly evangelized.” The number of Christians who take their faith seriously and who accord us true respect is very small, and they are considered heterodox, if not heretic, by most forms of institutional Christianity.

      • Fritz Muntean

        Sorry, Kenneth, but that’s not true at all. It’s the solid hard-liners — the ones who believe we’re Pagans because we haven’t been properly evangelized — and who have (alas) some very similar ideas on the subject of GLBTs — who are considered heterodox, even heretic, by the major ‘forms of institutional Christianity’.

        Read Paul Tillich. Read Bishop Spong.

        Haven’t you seen the TV ads the Methodist Church is running in the US?

        If you live in the US, and if you’re less than perfectly healthy, and if you wish you lived in Canada instead, consider this: the Canadian single-payer universal health care insurance was almost single-handedly wrestled into being by Tommy Douglas. Or should I say the Reverend Tommy Douglas, a Baptist minister. Meditate on that!

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

          If those Christians of better nature really were in the majority, they would be the public face of Christianity in this country. They are not. If they are a majority, they’re a hopelessly inept or unmotivated one.

  • Ananta Androscoggin

    It is the typical use by many of the heavily proselytizing churches here in the U.S. sending their door-to-door religion salesmen, with their lies and promises of how wonderful their product is, and all the other products of the same kind don’t really exist (except as some sort of ‘Christian Satanism’ or other idiotic delusion), that has gotten me to the point where my typical responses are planned in the following general ways:

    “Our Church is The Only Way™ to (fill in the blank)”
    • Be sure and get back to me with that after you convince all of the other Christian churches that you’re right about that.

    “… For He Brought Your People Out of Egypt …”
    • My people are from Finland, we were never IN Egypt, do we look Jewish to you?

    “As a Christian and new member of our church, you …”
    • Get Ye Behind Me, minions of Satan — You will not gain my soul for your master in Hell by your temptations. Be Gone! And go with all the curses of the Gods upon your heads.

    “Please donate so we can fight against Roe v. Wade.”
    • Is that because you guys really prefer to enact Psalm 137? You know, verse 9 which says ‘Happy shall be he who dashes thy little ones against the rocks.’

    “We must rid America of foreign religions.”
    • Excuse, me, but Christianity IS A FOREIGN RELIGION. It started out in the Middle East and moved to Italy. Neither of those places is inside the U.S.

    Thinking up responses to some of their typical sales pitches makes me feel like a writer for “Mad Magazine’s Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” strips.

  • Ekshatriya

    Well, it’s a start. Quite frankly the article reminds me of a time, not too long ago, when there was an outcry in the Pagan community that the “Ethic” was unenforceable and should be done away with. The only group that can bring actual Christian values back to Christianity is the Christians.

    Personally, I feel that Christianity, as it stands now, is a dying religion, and two thousand years of corruption has taken it’s toll. It will take a major new reformation to save it as a religious path for reasoning contemporary people.

    • Mia

      Dying won’t be enough to get rid of Christianity. Their savior was a zombie after all.

  • Anonymous

    Wouldn’t mandatory summary execution of all proselytizing Christian missionaries just be easier?