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Recently I watched a video on YouTube where a girl was talking about how she was involved in a “service” project aimed at helping missionaries give food, water, and medical supplies to a third world country. I have to say that this type of thing makes me sick to my stomach. While I am all for sending food, water, and medical supplies to third world countries, I think they need to leave Jesus at home.

It isn’t a “service” to use people’s hunger and poverty as a tool to convert more followers. A real service would be if one gave them those things without the missionaries. To me, this type of “service” does harm in two main ways. First, if uses people’s hunger and poverty as a recruiting tool and second, Churches use this type of thing as a public relations stunt to get more recruits here in America.

While I don’t think most missionaries are as diabolical as Saint Teresa who would literally bribe people with food. She wanted people to denounce their native religion and pray to Jesus in order to get food and if they don’t, than they can starve until they do. Still, even if most missionaries aren’t in that category and are being much less in-your-face about their proselytizing, the fact is that is their “mission,” hence the term “missionary.” Saint Teresa was just more honest about it.

Some people will tell me that these poor people are getting what they need and does it really matter that they are being taken advantage of by these predators as long as they are getting fed and aren’t starving to death? I think it does matter. For one thing, the ends don’t justify the means. So while I am happy that starving people are getting food and that these people are getting the medical supplies that they need, that still doesn’t justify the intentions of the missionary groups.

Once again, I can pull out the old Staks Test of Church/State Separation and see what is really going on. Let’s say that Tom Cruise decided to lead a team of Scientologists to Ethiopia. They brought with them lots of food, water, and medical supplies for thousands of people. Plus, out of the kindness of their hearts, they decided to give everyone a free personality test and discounted auditing session. What do you think most Americans would think about Tom Cruise’s generosity? What would most Christians think? “Well, at least the Scientologists are feeding all those starving people.” Or would they think, “Those despicable Scientologists are taking advantage of those poor people.”

The only difference here is that instead of free personality tests with every meal, these people get free Bibles with every meal. I hardly call this a service. It is despicable and those who attempt to take advantage of these poor people by using their poverty and hunger against them should be ashamed of themselves. I am all for feeding the hungry and sending medical supplies to those in need, but keep your Jesus out of it.

There are many secular organizations people can support which go into third world countries with food, water, and medical supplies. These organizations are not there to win converts. They are there to help people: DoctorsWithoutBorders.org, UNICEF.org, S.H.A.R.E, The Fred Hollows Foundation, and The Foundation for AIDS Research.

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