Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bait and Tackle

The Bait of Christian Fundamentalism in Africa

Very moving story from someone who lived in Africa and was witness to the kind of shady dealings these missionaries are involved in. Food and water and supplies to survive in exchange for your eternal soul. I particularly liked this quote:

When I was in Standard Three (equivalent to third grade in the U.S.), we were studying the biblical story of Cain and Abel. According to the lesson, Cain went to a land called Nod after he killed his brother. He got married and had a son called Enoch. Trying to understand the story better, I asked my C.R.E teacher whether Cain married his sister, because I assumed they were the only family on earth at that time. Instead of an explanation, my teacher caned my bottom and accused me of being an agent of the devil. "Who did you think you are to question biblical facts?" she yelled between thrashes. Reflecting back now, this is probably where I began questioning the veracity of Biblical literalism.

It was something I always wondered as a kid too. Where did those other people come from so the early humans could reproduce? Or was it incest and they didn't bother to mention? Genesis is so confounding sometimes!

The author sums up his impression of the African religious aid situation quite strongly with this:

many right-wing religious organizations deserve credit for prevalent humanitarian initiatives in Africa. But the problem with their altruism is that it usually involves proselytizing. To illustrate how Christian fundamentalists' altruism works in Africa, it's as easy as pointing to the popular Pirates of the Caribbean movies. One of the characters in the film, Davy Jones, finds sinking sea-men who are in despair. He offers them the opportunity to live, but under his brutal, perpetual servitude. Responding to a humanitarian crisis, e.g. famine, by "converting" the victims as you help them, would be no different. It would be predation at its best and it would violate the Kantian Categorical Imperative of treating human beings only as an end and not as a means to an end.

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