From Sri Venkat < >

In 1797, thirty years after the discovery of Tahiti by
Wallis, the first missionaries landed on the island. The missionaries, sent
by the London Missionary Society, tried for seven years to convert the
natives but were unable to make any headway.

It was then that they discovered, as if by miracle, the proper method of
converting the Tahitians. They discovered that the local chief, Pomare,
liked alcohol (distilled by the missionaries) – so much that he became an
alcoholic. Addicted to the distilled spirit (perhaps the holy spirit),

Pomare agreed to back the missionaries in their work of conversion. Pomare,
supplied with western firearms, easily subdued his native opponents. Upon
his victory over his rivals, the whole island was forcibly converted in one

Then the process of inculcating “Christian virtues” began. Persistent
unbelievers, those who refused to be converted, were executed. Singing was
banned (except for hymns) and all forms of adornment, flowers or tattoo were
disallowed. Of course, surfing and dancing were not permitted as well. The
punishment for breaking any of these rules included, among others, being
sentenced to hard labour.

Within thirty years of missionary control, the population of Tahiti fell
from an inital estimate of 20,000 to 6,000.

From Tahiti, the missionaries moved on to the neighbouring islands. They
employed the same tactic that had served them so well in Tahiti: they would
introduce the local chief to alcohol, made him and alcholic, convert him to
Christianity and then leave it to the chief to convert the locals. After
converting the majority the minority that refused to convert were persecuted
and sometimes executed. On the island of Raratonga, men were conscripted
into the missionary police to help eliminate the remaining idolators. On
another island, Raiatea, a man who was able to forecast the weather by
studying the behaviour of fish was executed for witchcraft.

This was how the South Pacific was Christianized. [2]


Africa is widely considered to be a missionary success story. Sub-Saharan
Africa is widely considered to be the most Christianized place on earth.
Kenya, for instance, has 65% of its population claiming to be active
Christians. [active meaning church-going]. In Malawi, 68% of the populace
made the same claim. The Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) has
nearly 200 times as many evangelical Christians as its former colonial
master, Belgium.[3]

Perhaps the most famous missionary to Africa was David Livingstone
(1813-1873). Livingstone spoke of “the white man’s burden” to evangelize and
civilize the peoples of Africa. (Nobody bothered the ask the Africans what
they thought of this!). A rarely know fact about Livingstone is that, as a
missionary, his mission to Africa was a complete failure. Throughout his
many years in Africa he made only one known convert. Even this convert,
Sechele, eventually lapsed from his faith. Yet it was Livingstone, through
his book Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa (1857) and his
lectures in England, who introduced a whole new group of Europeans to the
“romance” of missionary activities.[4]

Yet, in reality missionary activities were anything but romantic. Many of
the missionaries’ attempts to free slaves and teach them Christianity
amounted to no more than changing one form of slavery to another. Given
below is an account of how the Holy Ghost Fathers, a missionary group in the
second half of the ninenteenth century, went about “freeing” and
Christianizing the slaves:

In 1868 the Holy Ghost Fathers chose Bagamoyo as the site of the first
mission station on the East African mainland…Their ambition was to build a
Christian community of freed slaves. Ransoms were paid to slave traders for
the freedom of thousands to slaves. Most of those released were placed in
“Freedom Village” on the mission compound, but they soon discovered that
their freedom was not absolute. The disciplinary codes enforced by the
missionaries were severe, with a rigorous timetable of work, Christian
education and prayers. As the baptised ex-slaves grew up, they were married
off in batches and resettled under the authority of a missionary priest in a
Christian village somewhere inland. [5]

The anthropologist Jaques Maquet had called missionary activities in Africa
a “religious commando attack, aimed at extirpating ‘superstitious and
idolatrous’ practices and converting whole groups.” [6]

The missionaries in general have little respect for African cultures and
regard their peoples as ignorant savages. One early twentieth century
methodist missionary in Umtali, Zimbabwe, wrote of the people he had set out
to evangelize: “Heathen and naked as new born babies, and as ignorant as
beetles.” The solution was simple, educate the children away from their
parents and give them western clothing to wear to cover their naked bodies.

As another missionary from Umtali wrote in a letter to the US in 1916:
“Heathen mothers do not know much, but many boys and girls go to our schools
now and are begging to read God’s word and write and to take care of their
bodies and be clean and dress like the people of America.” These “heathen”
boys and girls were also given “Christian” names like Kitchen, Tobacco,
Sixpence or Bottle. [7]

The missionaries were, of course, part of the oppressive colonial forces in
Africa. In an effort to set up a successful mission in what is now Zimbabwe,
Catholic Jesuits entered into an alliance with the British South Africa
Company (BSAC). Ran by Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902), the collaboration between
the Jesuits and the BSCA would have made any imperialist proud. BSAC needed
labor for their gold mines but the native South Africans were not
interested. They were self sufficient farmers and thus had no need for the
salaries offered for work in the mines. The imperialists hit upon a
brilliant idea, the “hut tax”, a form of property tax imposed on Africans
that must be paid in cash. [It is important to note that white farmers did
not have to pay these taxes.] Thus to pay for the tax, the Africans were
forced to work. If they failed to pay, they were imprisoned and then sent to
work as prison laborers anyway! In return for donation of land and
protection from Rhodes, the Jesuit took the role of collecting the hated
taxes for the BSAC![8]

Today the number of missionaries from liberal churches are dwindling, their
numbers being taken over by the fundamentalist, pentacostal and evangelical
churches. However much like their ecclesiastical forefathers of the previous
centuries, these missionaries do not believe the Africans, now largely
Christians, are smart enough to keep the faith and churches going. Thus the
rallying cries of the new missionaries involve “making Africa born again” or
“fighting the forces of secularism” or “battling AIDS”. Yet is it obvious
that it is not the social or physical well being of Africans that concerns
these modern day missionaries.

Armed with US$250,000 from the Southern Baptish Convention, Dr. John
Goodgame, an American missionary in Uganda, launched a most unusual campaign
against AIDS. Rather than using the money to provide healthcare or medicine,
the money was used to purchase and distribute 100,000 Bibles with sheets
pasted onto them giving selected Biblical passages to read. Some of these
passages are predictable exhortations against adultery and other such
“carnal” pleasures. [9]

Yet, just as 150 years of Christian missionary activities failed to prevent
poverty, under-development, famine, apartheid and civil wars in Africa, it
is unlikely that these new evangelical missionaries will be a force for any
good there.


With the exception of the Phillipines and South Korea, Asia has been quite
resistant to Christian evangelism. The missionaries found resistance from an
entrenched Islam in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. In
countries with deep cultures such as India, China and Japan, the locals saw
little need to replace their prevailing myths with foreign ones. Yet this
lack of success have not stopped Christian missionaries from the conversion
activities and causing much suffering among native peoples.

Our first story concerns the Mois, a native tribe of Vietnam of
Malayo-Polynesian stock related to many of the native peoples of Southeast
Asia such as the Dayaks of Borneo islands and the Aetas of the Philippines.
From an initial estimate of one million populating the mountainous regions
of South Vietnam, their numbers began to dwindle in the 1950’s. This was
partly due to these people being forced into hard labour by the French
colonialists and partly due to the activities of the missionaries.

As an example of how missionary activities could lead to a dwindling native
population is that of the Bihs, a subtribe of the Mois. In the 1940’s one of
the eleven evangelists who came with the returned French troops after the
defeat of the Japanese, went to Boun Choah, the main village of the Bihs.

Other missionaries had unsuccessfully tried to covert the Bihs before. One
Catholic missionary managed a total of only ten conversions in five years.

However the new missionary, a Mr. Jones, was not to be detered. Upon
studying the Bihs, he found that one of the principle acts of their beliefs
was the custom of burial. Their dead was not buried at first, but left in
open coffins on trees. After a couple of years, the bones were thoroughly
cleaned, and after some ceremonial offerings, they were finally buried.

Mr. Jones used his political influence to force the French acting resident
to suppress this custom. When the police arrived to protect him , Mr. Jones
went personally to the trees, pulled down all the coffins on the trees and
threw the contents, be they bones or decomposing corpses, into a common
grave. The Bihs were then converted. Convinced that their ancestors have
deserted them due to the desecration of their burial customs, the Bihs
stopped producing offsprings. One local Bih explained that his people had
resigned themselves to extinction. [10]

Next on our list is Thailand. The success of the Christian mission there has
been abysmal. 170 years after the arrival of the first Protestant
missionaries , there are today no more than 300,000 Christians there in a
population of 55 million. Buddhism here (as in Japan) have proven to be a
bulwark against Christianity. The missionaries have thus turned to the hill
tribes who are neither Buddhist nor ethnic Thai. One such tribe is the

There are nearly 70,000 Akha tribes people in Thailand, with many more in
the neighboring countries of Myanma, Loas, Vietnam and China. The Akhas are
the poorest of the nine hill tribes of Thailand. They live in conditions of
poverty and are generally ignorant of the outside world. Some Akhas had
taken to growing opium while some women have turned to prostitution. That
the Akhas need help is not doubted, that they need missionaries is highly

Matthew McDaniel of the Akha Heritage Foundation had chronicled the abuse
missionaries had inflicted in the Akhas and their culture. Given below is a
summary of his findings. [11]

Many of these Christian missionaries to the Akhas come from the US with some
coming from other Asian countries. The missions have been at work with the
Akha for more than eighty years. Obviously their objective is not to
alleviate the social conditions of the Akha but rather to use the Akhas’
poverty and lack of political clout as a wedge to force Christianity upon
them. The methods are brutal. Honing in on the “weakest point” in a village,
such as a family with problems with the elders, the missionaries would
increase their converts. Upon reaching a “critical mass” of converts, the
missionaries would claim the village as “Christian” and forbid all practice
of the Akha religion. The net effect is clear, even Akhas who have not
converted can no longer practice what has been an important part of their
culture. Some churches have gone even further. They forbid the Akhas to
practice any aspect of their culture. This includes songs, dances and
traditional ceremonies associated with the harvest. In doing this the
missionaries are depriving the Akhas of a basic right of indigenous people
as defined by the United Nations. [12]

The missionaries have little respect for the Akhas, their cultures and even
their well being. One Baptist Mission, run by an American Chinese lady,
resorted to broadcasting it’s religious message over the public announcement
system (loudspeakers) to the entire village, no consideration was given to
whether the villagers like it or not! [To get an idea of how unpalatable
this would be to the Akhas, imagine being bombarded by Osama bin Laden’s
preaching over the loudspeaker condemning the “crusaders” and proclaiming
Allah’s will]. This mission, well funded, had added another building on its
location as well as two satellite dishes on its roof. Yet they are unwilling
to provide economic help to the Akhas. Unable to provide for his children,
one Akha man drank herbicide and committed suicide. He lived no more than 20
meters away from the mission compound. When asked why they didn’t help in
cases of such desperation, the mission replied simply that they “cannot help
everybody, we are here to teach the Bible.”

Like many cases throughout history, Christianity looks set to play a
prominent role in the cultural extinction of the Akhas.

Papua New Guinea is an island situated at the edge of the Southeast Asian
archipelago, just north of Australia. It has a modest population of 3.3
million. With 2,300 missionaries, or roughly 1 missionary for every 1430
Papua New Guineans, the country has the highest proportion of missionaries
in the world. Has this proliferation of Christian proselytization lead to
any spiritual revival? No, only more cultural genocide.

One example of the missionary attitude is that of Reverend Paul Freyburg, an
American Lutheran, who said “I rejoice in the memories of what I have done
and pray that it will continue. I don’t believe that our mission destroyed
much of any value.” Rev. Freyburg came to New Guinea in the 1930’s and,
except for a brief interval during world war II, have remained there ever
since. What did Rev. Freyburg destroy in his long missionary carreer? He
held “renunciation festivals” at which he was called in to destroy “things
of darkness”. This of course includes, “magical objects” and also what he
ignorantly described as “vegetable items”. The former are irreplaceble works
of arts and crafts by the natives. The latter are priceless herbal remedies
and are important heritage of folk medicine. The natives were forbidden to
perform any cultural dances and to observe their native festivals. [13]

Fundamentalists missionaries are today at the forefront of such activities.

One such mission, the Pioneers, works among the Ningram people. Sal Lo Foso,
a missionary there, has no qualms about his activities. These include
destroying the “haus tamburan”, a “spirit house” which is the normal focal
point of village life for the Ningram, and building in its place, a church.
All forms of traditional songs and dancing were forbidden. Such destruction
of the Ningram culture has no meaning to Lo Foso, for he believed that for
the Ningrams to be “born again”, they must make a clean break with their

The missionaries lack of understanding and unwillingness to try and
understand native cultures have left much suffering in their trail.
Australian administrators reported a case in which missionaries refused to
baptised men because they were polygamous. The men started divorcing their
“excess” wives, leaving the women and their children without much visible
support in their society. Another man, with three wives, on being told that
he can only have one, simply killed two of them, so that he could then-being
a monogamous Christian-“go to heaven”![15]

This rush by the natives to get converted has little to do with the

Christian message but everything to do with the “cargo” they carry.
[I]t was the possessions, the cargo, which the missionaries had in
abundance that mainly impressed the tribal people. Inevitable they assumed
that since the Christian God blessed his followers with cargo, they they too
would be rewarded for following the “Gutnuis Bilong Jisas Kraist.” (New
Guinean pidgin for the gospel) [16]

Papua New Guinea is now 94% Christian. Yet missionaries still arrive in
droves. Why? For the simple reason that they are now importing their
denominational bickering into the country. Thus an Anglican missionary
reported finding leaflets circulated among his congregation by missionaries
from the Seventh-Day Adventist church telling them that worshipping of
Sunday is a sure fire step to Hell! In a similar manner, the New Tribes
Mission (or NTM-for more info on this group see the section on South America
below), tells the confused Papua New Guinean that the papacy is the
antichrist. In fact some fundamentalists have taken to distributing the
tracts by Christian publisher Jack T Chick, with cartoons showing, among
other things, Catholic monks going through a secret passage way for an orgy
with nuns![17]

Pettifer and Bradley summarised the situation in Papua New Guinea thus:

The future alone will reveal the cultural cost and the political
consequences of importing the theological bickering of Western Christianity
into an already divided society.[18]

Mother Teresa

In India too, the success of Christian missions have been limited to the
marginal groups: the untouchables, the hill tribes and the “Anglo-Indians”
(Indians with mixed parentage).[19] Some missions in India had tended to
concentrate on proselytizing through the provision of social services to the
poor and needy. While this is certainly a better method than the ethnocidal
methods of the fundamentalists, it should not be forgotten that these social
services in general play a subserviant role to theology. The mission once
headed by Mother Teresa (1910-1997) is a case in point.

Born in Albania in 1910, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, became a nun and a
missionary to India. She subsequently changed her name to Teresa. Her work
among the poor in Calcutta attracted the world wide attention culminating
with a Nobel Peace Price in 1979. [20] Yet her work has been criticised as
not one based on the alleviation of suffering but on the morbid theological
celebration of pain and suffering. Christopher Hitchens outlined these
rather disturbing facts in his book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa
in Theory and Practice (1995):

Dr. Robin Fox, editor of the medical journal The Lancet, visited Mother
Teresa’s operation in Calcutta in 1994. He reported that he was very
“disturbed” by what he saw. There was little anesthesia to be seen and a
near total neglect of medically sound diagnosis. Why were not the sisters
given proper training in simple diagnosis as well as in managing pain?
Because according to Dr. Fox, Mother Teresa “preferred providence to
planning; her rules are designed to prevent any drift towards

Mary Loudon, a volunteer in Calcutta, had even worse things to say about
Mother Teresa’s operation. She reported seeing in the Home for the Dying
more than a hundred men and women all dying and not been given much medical
care. Pain killers used do not go beyond aspirins. The nuns were rinsing the
needles used for drips with plain tap water. When Loudon asked them why they
were not sterilizing the needles, the reply was simply they had no time and
that there was “no point”. She also recounted the case of a fifteen year old
boy who was dying because of a treatable kidney complaint. All that was
needed was a cab fare to take the boy to a proper hospital. But Mother
Teresa’s peons refused to do so, for “if they do it for one, they had to do
it for everybody.”[22]

· Susan Sheilds, who worked for almost ten years as a member of Mother
Teresa’s order, subsequently left the movement because of the atrocious
negligence she witnessed there. The order’s obsession with poverty means
that the nuns and volunteers works under conditions of austerity, rigidity
and harshness. Due to Mother Teresa’s fame, Ms. Sheilds reported that the
charity had around US$50 million in their bank account in the US. The
donations kept pouring in, yet little of these were used to procure medicine
or to provide better health care for the suffering. The nuns were rarely
allowed to spend money on the poor they are trying to help. [23]

· To Mother Teresa, like all other missionaries, spiritual well being
over-rides everything else. As Ms. Sheilds reported, “Mother Teresa taught
her nuns how to secretly baptised those who were dying. Sisters were to ask
each person in danger of death if he wanted a ‘ticket to heaven’. An
affirmative reply was to mean consent to baptism. The sister was then to
pretend she was just cooling the person’s forehead with a wet cloth, while
in fact she was baptizing him, saying quietly the necessary words. Secrecy
was important so that it would not come to be known that Mother Teresa’s
sisters were baptising Hindus and Muslims.”[24]

Perhaps a poignant summary of Mother Teresa’s mission can be seen in a story
recounted by herself. A dying man was in terrible pain. She told him “You
are suffering like Christ on the cross. So Jesus must be kissing you.” To
which the man replied: “Then please tell Jesus to stop kissing me.” [25]

South America

It is in South America that the missionaries are at their most destructive.
During the conquest of the “New World”, beginning in the 15th century,
Catholic priests and friars, accompanied the invading armies of Spain and
Portugal. All kinds of coercive methods were used to subjugate and
evangelize the Indians. The Indians were exploited, enslaved and made to
work for the settlers in return for protection and religious instructions. A
total of up to 15 million Indians were reported to have died due to such
brutality. [26]

The major damage done in modern times are by fundamentalists evangelical
groups. The two main sects that have major activities in South America are
the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and the New Tribes Mission (NTM).
The very name, Summer Institute of Linguistics, suggests an attempt at
deception, of concealing their missionary activities. To the South American
governments, the SIL presents itself as lingusitic investigators of the many
languages of the native tribes of the continent. Under this cover, its 3,500
missionaries conduct their goal of converting the natives. It’s founder
William Townsend defends this patently dishonest method by asking the
rhetorical question: “Was it honest for the Son of God to come down to earth
without revealing who he was?” [27]

Founded by Paul Fleming, the NTM today boasts of 2,500 missionaries in 24
countries worldwide. More conservative and ardently fundamentalist than the
SIL, the NTM has a pronounced policy of recruiting young evangelists of
limited education. Their lack of sensitivity for these native tribes can be
seen in some of their descriptions of them. The natives are referred to as
“naked savages” by Jean Johnson, the widow of a young NTM missionary, in her
book God Planted Five Seeds . In one instance, Les Pederson, the NTM Field
Co-ordinator for Latin America was reported to have said “those Indians all
look pretty much the same”. [28]

How do these sects, and others, spread the word of God? Do they learn the
language and then preach? Do the natives then, by virtue of hearing the
“Truth” with a capital “T”, automatically become Christians? No. The methods
employed are devious.

One method, as explained by Victor Halterman, of the SIL, involves cutting
off the natives from their source of livelihood. This involve a few distinct
steps; in the words of Halterman himself:

When we learn of the presence of an uncontacted group, we move into the
area, build a strong shelter-say of logs-and cut paths radiating from it
into the forest. We leave gifts along these paths-knives, axes, mirrors, the
kind of things the Indians can’t resist-and sometimes they leave gifts in
exchange. After a while the relationship develops. Maybe they are
mistrustful at first but in the end they stop running when we show, and we
get together and make friends.

As the author and journalist, Norman Lewis, explained in his book The
Missionaries: God against the Indians (1988), the gifts are placed in such a
way that at the end the Indians become far removed from their sources of
food and game. It is then that the gifts are stopped. Halterman continues:
We have to break their dependency on us next. Naturally they want to go on
receiving all these desirable things we’ve been giving them, and sometimes
it comes as a surprise when we explain that from now on if they want to
possess them they must work for money. We don’t employ them but we usually
fix them up with something to do on the local farms. They settle down at it
when they realise there’s no going back.

That work at the “local farm” oftentimes amounts to slavery was
(indirectly)admitted by Halterman when he mentioned that “abuses” sometimes
occur. [29]

Another method, aptly called “manhunt” by Lewis, involves the missionaries
going out, sometimes in motorized vehicles, hunting for natives to integrate
them into reservtions set up for missionary work. The NTM, for instance,
went on such a manhunt in Paraguay. Five missionized natives were killed in
one such manhunt. Those unconverted natives were taken to the NTM camp in

Campo Loro. Within a short while, according to Survival International, all
had died of new diseases they had no immunity to. Stung by criticism, the
best reply the NTM ‘s Director in Paraguay could muster was: “We don’t go
after people anymore. We just provide transport.” [30]

A final element needs to be added. As Lewis wrote:
The unimportance of a comfortable earthly life, weighed in the balance
against the threat of eternal punishment in the next, inspires many
missionaries to gather the souls at all costs, often with disregards for the
welfare of the converts’ in this world.[31]

These elements make for a militant fundamentalist missionary campaign. One
that we would expect to cause harm to the natives. And we would be right.
Below are some examples of the evil committed in the name of Christian

The contact work, done in conjunction with the “manhunt” are sometimes done
by Christianized natives who are trained by the missionaries to carry guns.
The “newly contacted” natives are then rounded off to the mission camp. One
American organization, Cultural Survival, reported in 1986 that natives in
the NTM camp in Paraguay were held there against will. In short, they had
been kidnapped.

In another such “manhunt” in 1979, also in Paraguay, one of the freightened
natives fell down from a tree and broke her leg. (Her right breast had
already been shot off by a previous encounter with the missionaries.) She
was compelled, with her broken leg, to walk back to the mission camp. She
subsequently died. [32]

If the process of rounding up the natives to be converted were bad, their
lives within the mission camp were even worse. Some examples.

Once in the mission camp, many of the natives either die from starvation or
from diseases transmitted by the missionaries with which the former had no
immunity against. In one such mission camp in Paraguay, the German
anthropologist, Dr. Mark Munzel, reported that food and medicine were
deliberately withheld by the missionaries. From a total of 277 natives in

April 1972 only 202 survivors were left three months later. A US
congressional report confirmed that 49% of the camp population had vanished!

Surely the (uninformed) believer may assert: these natives would be allowed
to leave if they do not accept the preachings of the missionaries. Surely
that would be the Christian thing to do. But that is not the case. Take the
following eye witness account by Norman Lewis in a missionary camp in

I followed him [Donald McCullin-the photographer from The Sunday Times]
into the hut and saw two old ladies lying on some rags on the ground in the
last stages of emaciation and clearly on the verge of death. One was
unconscious, the second in what was evidently a state of catalepsy…In the
second hut lay another woman, also in a desperate condition and with
untreated wounds on her legs. A small, naked, tearful boy, sat at her
side…The three women and the boy had been taken in a recent forest
roundup, the third woman having being shot in the side while attempting to
escape.[emphasis mine][34]

Of course Paraguay is not the only place where the defenceless natives were
subjected to Christian genocide. In Bolivia, William Pencille, of the South
American Missionary Society, was called in to help when white ranchers
moving into the tribal areas came upon the Ayoreos. Pencille persuaded these
natives to stop resisting the encroachment of the cattlemen and to settle on
a patch of barren land beside a railroad tract. The natives, having no
resistance to common diseases of the “modern” man, began to die. Throughout
all this Pencille had the means to save the lives of these people. He had
access to many modes of transport, including an aeroplane, and to funds
which could easily have been used to buy medicines for them. Yet this is
what he said: “It’s better they should die. Then I baptize them (on the
point of death) and they go straight to heaven.” [Extract from a
conversation between William Pencille and Father Elmar Klinger, OFM , quoted
by Luis A. Pereira in The Bolivian Instance] A total of three hundred
natives died in his “care” within a matter of weeks.[35] [a]

In Guatemala, the leadership of the Summer Institute of Linguistics had a
close relationship with the former military dictator Efrain Rios-Montt, a
fellow evangelical Christian and an ordained minister of the Gospel
Outreach/Verbo Evangelical Church. Rios-Montt has been implicated in the
genocide of the indigenous Mayans and political opponents in Guatemala
during his rule in the early 1980’s-with more than 70,000 people reportedly
murdered by his army. His scorched earth policy (or in his own words
“scorched communist policy”) against guerilla insurgents was implemented
indescriminately. More than 400 Mayan villages were burned to the
ground-their properties, crops and lifestock, destroyed. Mayans suspected of
supporting the insurgents were tortured and murdered, their women and girls
raped. In the midst of all these atrocities, Rios-Montt was regularly giving
broadcast sermons on morality! Of course, the fact that Rios-Montt was a
Christian was more important to our missionary friends that the fact that he
was a mass murderer. The relationship between the general and SIL was so
cosy that he once had his henchmen serve as escorts for the SIL. [36]

But the worst of the mission linked atrocities happenned in Brazil. Granted
that the main culprits of the genocide were functionaries of the grossly
misnamed Indian Protection Service, the missionaries were at least partly
responsible for these. In the 1980’s the Brazilian attorney general’s office
began an investigation into the atrocities committed by the agency over a
period of thirty years. It’s findings were shocking.

Many native tribes were hunted, murdered and some to the point of
extinction. Some of these include:
· Munducurus tribe: reduced from 19,000 strong in the 1930’s to 1,200
· Guaranis tribe: reduced from 5,000 to 200
· Cajaras tribe: from 4,000 to 400
· Cintas Largas: from 10,000 to possibly 500
· Tapaiunas: completely extirpated
· Other tribes were reduced to only a few (one or two!)individuals and some
by only a single family.

These peoples were culled by various means by greedy landrobbers who wanted
to developed the untapped natural wealth of the Brazilian rainforest. Some
of the methods include:
· The Cintas Largas were attacked by dropping dynamites from aeroplanes.
· The Maxacalis were given alcohol and then shot down when they became
· The Nhambiquera were killed in huge numbers by machine gun fire.
· Two Patachos tribes were exterminated by giving the unsuspecting Idnians
smallpox injections.
· Some of the Indians were murdered by presenting them with food laced with
arsenic and formicides.
The above does not exhaust the creativity of the murderers but should
suffice to show the almost unparalleled cruelty that were visited on the
Indian tribes.
What have all these got to do with the missionaries? The Brazilian newpaper,
O Jornal do Brazil had this to say:
In reality those in control of these Indian Protection Service posts [where
the majority of the atrocities had taken place] are North American

This was confirmed by the Brazilian ministry of Indians. Thus, in essence,
the missionaries allowed the atrocities to happen. As Lewis remarked:
Despite the law of every civilized country…that those who witness…a
crime without denouncing it to the authorities are held to be accessories to
the crime, there is no record to be found of any such denunciation [by the

As the newspaper O Globo reported: “it was missionary policy to ignore what
was going on.”

Of course the missionaries were not only passively supporting the genocide
of the Brazilian natives. They played active roles in many of the
atrocities. One missionary persuaded 600 Ticuna indians that the end of the
world is taking place and they will only be safe on a ranch. On that ranch
the Indians were made slaves and tortured.

The Bororos, a tribe studied by the reknowned anthropologist Claude
Levi-Strauss, fell prey to the missionaries as well. They were banned by the
missionaries, who were aided by the local police, from performing their
customary burial rites on their dead. That left the Bororos without a
cultural identity and, one by one, they committed suicide. As the O Jornal
do Brazil explained:

It is sad to see the plight in which these people have been left. The
missionaries have deprived them of their power to resist. That is why they
have been so easily plundered. A great emptiness and aimlessness had been
left in their eyes.

Thus was the power of Christian love in the Brazilian jungles. [37]

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