The Missionary Effect

Aggressive missionary campaigns by very fundamentalist and intolerant ideologies have this tragic missionary-effect, often in the same sequence as listed here:

  • creation of a separate intolerant identity by inflaming existing passion or pride for one’s culture (often by faith, language, race, or caste) to highlight they are different from others
  • fueling extreme passion and fanaticism for this newly manufactured intolerant identity (i.e. an identity that believes in only itself, and not in pluralism).
  • polarization of cultures and loyalties
  • fueling feeling of exploitation, suppression, or alienation of that culture by the host country (who is now seen as the “other”)
  • accentuate existing frictions and angst to fuel feelings of disenfranchisement
  • calls for separatism
  • separatist insurgencies and militancy
  • freedom fighters (fighting for their newly manufactured identity)
  • terrorism (freedom fighters have morphed into terrorism)
  • cycles of civil war
  • the non-converted native population (now a minority terrorist population) becomes a subdued after years of war (or they achieve their goal and get their own separate state or nation)
  • the native population resigns themselves to what’s left of their once pluralistic culture
  • Whatever is left of the native population is then stripped of any remaining traces of their culture and are:
    • turned into Christian traditions (Christmas Tree, Easter, Halloween, Valentines Day — all of which were traditions of nature-worshiping “pagans” of Europe and Russia who were all slaughtered by Christianity as they were considered as “savages” that needed to be civilized and saved).
    • once stripped of their culture, their spiritual traditions are mined for their surprisingly great depth and vision in philosophy, sustainable society, spirituality, environmental awareness, etc.
    • their rich history is turned into “myths” and turned into commodities imported by Disney Land, Hollywood, Theme Parks, McDonalds, etc.
    • become museum exhibits and academic specimen for study by Western sociologists, psychologists, historians
    • turned into tourist attractions and living show-case cultures
  • This has happened to Native Americans, Aboriginals of Australia, Fiji, Bali, Hawaii, Pagans, Wiccans, Druids. All long destroyed, and later commoditized into Lion King, Pocahontas, Xena, Harry Potter, Avalon, etc.

This pathology of not tolerating those who are different from you has been uniquely a part of Western history. Now thanks to the missionary effect, the disease is now being exported to Asia. Countries in Asia like India, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, Fiji, Burma, Vietnam, etc. have for centuries been heterogeneous societies, till the advent of brutal Christian missionaries around the 14th to 20th century.

I’m reminded of a Nigerian colleague, paraphrasing, “these people [Christian missionaries] come and mess with our [Nigerian] culture saying we are uncivilized, and yet at the same time you have tourists coming to our country to admire our culture, I mean, what’s up with that??”.  That is, these tourists come to experience the “innocent, beautiful cultures, grounded in love, cooperation, harmony, spirituality, etc.”, that they cannot find in their [Christian] culture because spiritual expression was greatly suppressed, scrubbed, sanitized, controlled by the Church for past 2,000 years.

Cultures change and adapt, and those which don’t die slowly over time, to be replaced by new ones. That is life. But when an aggressive foreign culture comes and eviscerates other cultures, resulting in wholesale genocide of cultures, even resulting in centuries of cyclic conflicts, generating hate, intolerance, etc, that is not life. That is cultural terrorism and the result cultural genocide.

Most religions are unaware or are just apathetic to the fact of fundamentalists among them — until it reaches a critical mass and spills over into their own livelihood (or tarnishes their image). By then it is often too late: by then, the once peaceful cultures that have been displaced by aggressive missionaries, would go on to become terrorists and insurgencies, with anger misdirected against things like modernization (as opposed to the root cause: the missionary-effect described above) or the ruling party as being responsible for their plight, when in fact their situation was carefully manufactured by Christian missionaries, as described in the process above.

One of the largest and successful modern-day cultural terrorism by Western civilization was carried out was on most of the continent of South America through the 70-80’s where the resistance (entire native populations who fought for what has been rightly theirs for centuries) were either killed or displaced — pushed into the mountains turned into freedom-fighters and terrorists engaged in guerrilla warfare. This was carried out by American industries (Dole, Del-Monte, etc), backed by the US Government foreign policy, state department, clandestine affairs, local army, and with heavy  use of Christian missionary  (“join us or be killed”) campaigns. Eventually their original cause became lost, into cycles of senseless terrorism, guerrilla warfare, drug lords, and mafia. The people profiting being the commercial and weapons industry. This theme (and formula used by commercial industry and arms industry in tandem with funding missionaries) has been repeated numerous fold for centuries (read the excellent book, by well known MIT Professor of Political Science, Noam Chomksy: Understanding Power (also has a chapter on how the same formula was used in successfully colonizing India for over 300 years)). Another good read: Profit Over People.

When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the missionaries had the Bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.
— Jomo Kenyatta, in Absurdities in the Name of Religion

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