Those Nutty Missionaries: On Campus
You can find them in parks and busy intersections. You can find them at airports and bus stations. You can also see them posting yellow Jesus signs in trees and signposts throughout the whole country. But, one of the places with the highest density of bible nuts, also known as Christian missionaries, is on university campuses.
For those of you who aren't familiar with missionaries, here are a few highlights. Their job (most of them get paid or sponsored) is to change (convert) people's religion to Christianity. They are often dishonest about their intentions, using fronts such as "free English lessons" to teach about their imaginary friend Jesus, who they insist you MUST believe in if you don't want to go to hell.
Most missionaries have extreme, fundamentalist religious views. They believe in the absolute, literal interpretation of the bible, so they insist that every ridiculous story in it is fact; for example, they believe that the earth is only 6,000 years, they don't believe in evolution, and they think that humans lived alongside dinosaurs a few thousand years ago. Aside from those silly beliefs, they have a violent belief that people who don't accept Jesus as their saviour, will go to "hell". Missionaries have come all the way from America and Korea to brainwash people to believe this unreasonable and violent fairy tale.
On social and cultural issues, fundamentalist Christian values can be summed up as this: "I don't like it, so you can't do it." Politically, they are all extremely right wing and all they love George Bush. They aim to transport all of these narrow-minded, fundamentalist values and beliefs into every convert's head. Even converts in small numbers can cause divisions within communities because converts seldom participate in non-church-based activities, and they are on a constant quest to convert their "unsaved" families and friends.
From my observations alone, I'd say that ninety-five percent of white missionaries are American and ninety-nine percent of foreign Asian missionaries are Korean; of course the Koreans were brainwashed by the American missionaries first. In Thailand, some Thai Christian converts have become missionaries too.
After my first experiences with missionaries in 2005-2006, I made three other posts on this site (links below).
1) Christian Missionaries Go Home: 2006
2) Missionaries Go Home 2: From Cambodia: 2006
Missionaries on Campus
Missionary Woman Hired as University Lecturer
This year, an American woman started teaching at my university. I was immediately suspicious about her intentions, since you don't get many young, normal-looking American women moving to Thailand to teach English for shit money unless they have religious motives. Her shiny Christian fish necklace, the ever-present bible on her desk, and the fact that she lives in a "Christian community" and used to teach at a baptist seminary, confirmed my suspicion about why she's really in Thailand.
What people believe is their own business, but unfortunately, people like her can't exist without trying to push their religion on others. She changed computer screen-savers in the office because she found them "offensive". She's also talks to students about Jesus after class and invites them to church.
If I ever see her proselytising, trying to "spread the word" on campus, I'll raise a "Holy stink", as even in Thailand, it's probably not acceptable for a teacher to proselytise in the classroom or on the campus of a government university.
More Phony "Free English lessons"
Last month, glossy flyers advertising the ubiquitous "Free English Lessons" were dispersed throughout all of the campus meeting areas. The teacher, a retired American (what a surprise!) university lecturer has been teaching this crap in Thailand for twenty years already. He uses "bible stories" as a means for teaching English. Odd that one would use an incoherent, poorly written, violence-filled, culturally irrelevant book as an English textbook. I swiped the flyers and dumped them in the bin (I encourage everyone to trash this type of propaganda). Advise students to stay away from "Free English Lessons", as there are always strings attached.
Missionary-Run "Korea Camp", "Global Camp" and the International Youth Fellowship
Read the third essay if you want the full story about the Korean International Youth Fellowship (IYF) and other Korean groups and their camps. http://www.stickmanbangkok.com/Reader2007/reader3655.htm. I can say with certainty that any group of Koreans in Thailand promoting any type of "Camp" or "cultural exchange" are missionaries and liars (synonyms). They are shameless, using their phony camps as a vehicle to proselytise and brainwash students.
The adverts for their camps never disclose what they really are; a religious cult pushing a Christian/Jesus camp. They promote these camps as secular events, with song and dance from Korean boy bands, which are huge amongst Thai teen-agers. Students have no idea that they are signing up for a religious camp, until they've already paid their money and have been bused away into some province upcountry. One of my students who went last year wanted to leave, but they wouldn't let her call home (they confiscated her phone at the beginning of the camp). Ironically, these practices would be condemned in most Christian countries, but here in Buddhist Thailand, missionaries, who don't respect Buddhism at all, can lie, misrepresent themselves, and operate freely.
I asked one of the camp organisers why they weren't honest in the advertising.
She said, "If we advertised it as a religious camp, nobody would come." I was shocked that she would admit that the premise of the camp was a sham and a lie, and that most people don't care about her religion or the bible.
Then she reversed herself, saying, "It isn't really a religious camp anyway."
"You use the bible and try to teach people about Jesus and Christianity. You also encourage them to convert." I said.
She said they use the bible and Jesus' teachings to teach about "leadership" and "truth."
Though they use the bible to teach Christianity, they don't call it religion; they call it "truth and leadership".
If you don't like missionaries, here are a few things you can do to make their "job" a little more difficult. If you do these things, you might be told that you are "going to hell!" a few times, but that's part of the fun.
1) Confront Them: Interrupt them while they are harassing people with their "Jesus pitch". Don't get angry or raise your voice, just get in their way and warn the people they are intruding upon not to believe a word (speaking Thai will help a lot). Don't worry about being rude to a missionary, because you are doing the same thing they do.
2) Throw Away Their Propaganda: Dump it in the trash when you see it.
3) Waste their time: Ask them to explain why they think it is okay to travel to foreign countries to change people's religion and culture. Of course they will just give a programmed response, but every moment they waste on you is a moment you will spare somebody else from being harassed.
4) Let them know what a terrible job they are doing. With the billions of dollars they've pumped into their activities, 99% of Thailand and 70% of the world isn't Christian (you might also say that a substantial amount of the 30% who call themselves Christian, don't really believe it anyway, which would mean that they are also "unsaved").
Never donate to any Christian charity or group.
It's guaranteed that some of the donations to Christian charities will be used to promote their religion by printing propaganda, building churches, and funding missionaries and all forms of proselytising. There are always many secular and Buddhist organisations that provide aid without proselytising.
Beware of groups that front themselves as secular, but are really Christian missionary groups. This would include just about every Korean organisation; "World Vision" is a perfect example as they don't mention religion in their advertisements, but on their web site it says that their mission is too spread Christianity. Don't give to Santisuk, a Thai Christian organisation with the same goal. They have donation boxes with orange tops all over Thailand.
Don't give a single baht, dollar or Euro to any Christian orphanage. Some people praise these organisations but one of their main objectives is to teach Catholicism and to raise the Buddhist children that enter the orphanages to be Catholic. Orphanages are just easy pickings for missionaries, as every child is a guaranteed convert.
There are always many secular and Buddhist alternatives that provide aid without any brainwashing.
If you have any other suggestions to add to this list, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Missionaries' Own Words: Below are some recent interactions I've had with missionaries. Names and locations have been omitted or changed.
1) This is part of an email I received from a Thai Christian convert who got my email from a personal site.
"Jesus died on the cross for save human being from their sin and gave them eternal life to the believer. The most important thing is he is God and risen from the died he still alive and will be coming to justify all sinner. People who does not believe in him will go to hell instead of heaven. That's the truth! Hope you will know him and have a chance to go the heaven."
Don't you appreciate that loving Christian message?
2) This is from a Cambodian missionary who was unhappy with my essay, "Missionary Go Home 2: From Cambodia"
Your article about missionaries go home is none sense! Cambodia need more good missionaries and Christian organization… Only Christian missionaries and Christian organizations are stepping in to help. They establish community project, helping reduce poverty. The Church also fill in the gap and rebuild the moral and social structure.
Christians like to believe their own myth that they are the only ones that help poor people. Many non-Christian NGO's, local people, and Buddhist groups give aid in Cambodia without pushing religion. I've seen it myself. These groups also provide "moral structure", but to a missionary, all morals are inadequate unless they are "Christian" morals.
3) An American self-proclaimed "religious scholar" read my posts and sent me several emails trying to convince me that the bible is the true word of god. One of his main pieces of evidence is based on books sales.
"The Bible is still the number one seller of all time, outselling all other books and read by more people in more languages than any other work. Why is that? Do you have a good answer?"
It's amazing that a "scholar" would use figures like book sales to prove the truth of a book. The "best-seller" claim isn't true anyway. Most bibles in circulation are distributed for free and given to people that don't even want them. For example, every year, a group of Bible-bashers from The Thailand Bible Society comes to my campus and pushes thousands of bibles on uninterested students. Most of these bibles are discarded in corridors and rubbish bins (along with the rest of their anti-science, anti-evolution propaganda that they tuck inside the bibles).
Of course, even if bibles were flying off the bookshelves, which they're not, selling a lot of books, doesn't make anything inside the book true. The DaVinci Code (a movie Christians tried to ban in Thailand) has sold tens of millions of copies since it was published (much more than the bible during that time). According to this man's logic, the ideas about religion in that book must be the truth. Harry Potter books sold tens of millions of copies each so they must be true too, eh?
4) A group of Thai students were in the middle of Khao Sarn Road playing the guitar and singing very badly. They all had a glazed smile on their face, oblivious to how awful they sounded. I knew exactly what they were doing, but I asked anyway.
"We're raising money to build a church," the lead singer told me. It's funny that they would think that the foreigners walking around Khao Sarn Road would care at all about Christianity or funding a church.
I'll end with a funny thing I saw in Phuket last month. On a cliff overlooking Prungthep Cave, among scores of tourists, a large group of Koreans were posing for a photograph. As the photographer was preparing to take the picture, oblivious to the large Buddha image from the nearby island in the background, they all shouted, "Jesus loves you!". Dozens of Thai people and tourists looked at them like they were nuts, and I could only laugh and shake my head.
Happy New Year,
I am no fan of religion but neither am I fan of those who are as anti-religion as you appear to be. Live and let live.