If you’ve spent a lot of time in Thailand you’ve probably seen Christian missionaries and some of their converts. If you stay in Thailand long enough and learn to speak and read the Thai language, missionary activity will become much more obvious. There are thousands of Christian missionaries in Thailand (most of which are American), and that isn’t including the many Thai’s that have been converted (brainwashed) and who also try to convert other Thais.
Just to clear the air, I’m not Buddhist. Most religion (especially fundamentalism) prevents progress and saps people of the ability to think for themselves. That said, Thai people are much better sticking to their own non-fundamentalist, non-absolutist religion (Buddhism), instead of converting to be born-again Christians who believe only Christians will be saved. Missionaries aren’t “bad” people but their belief in foolish ideology, and their need to aggressively spread it, often leads to trouble. Missionaries and their belief that all non-Christians will go to hell, and other similar dogma, ought to be exposed and challenged at every opportunity because a Thailand full of militant Christians would not be a positive development, to say the least.
I posted two essays about missionaries (titled “Missionaries Go Home”) on Stickman Bangkok, but I can’t provide the links because I don’t know where they are on the Stickman site. They were posted about nine months ago and one a year ago.
In this submission I’ve provided more recent and ongoing examples of what missionaries and their converts have been up to. I’m not going to refute Christianity here. If you want to read a really good book that does that, read “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins, or “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris (both are available at Kunokinaya Books).
If you don’t have the time or interest to read the rest of this, skip to the end to read some of the bizarre quotes sent to me by born-again Christians. If nothing else, you might find them humorous (or alarming).
1) Pamphlet Pushers
If you spend much time at any of Bangkok parks, inevitably you will see foreign and/or Thai missionaries approaching complete strangers to preach to them about Jesus. They approach Thai people, without invitation, and give their sales pitch about Jesus and “salvation”. Thai people will politely listen, smile, and nod even though they usually have no interest in being lectured about Christianity and Jesus (though someone told about a Thai man who chewed out a missionary for speaking badly about his “heathen” amulet. Good riddance!).
Recently, in Benchasiri Park next to the Emporium, I watched two Mormons (I come across Mormons regularly in this park) preaching to two Thai women, who listened politely and smiled. Thirty minutes later, when the Mormons finally left, the Thai woman started laughing and referred to the Mormons as “baa” (crazy) and “lang samoong” (brainwashed) as they tossed the glossy pamphlets they were given into the rubbish bin. Nonetheless, any aggressive and well-funded religious marketing campaign is bound to pick up some new customers (converts), and these converts often become aggressive missionaries themselves. I’ve come across missionaries in parks, on streets, on university campuses, in Thai language classes, and in markets (such as Jatuchak).
2) Jesus Signs
Throughout Thailand, missionaries have posted thousands of yellow, metal signs in Thai script that read “Pray Jesus to erase your sins” or a similar slogan (see pictures below). These signs are bolted high up into trees all throughout the countryside, particularly in the northern provinces, but I’ve also seen them in Bangkok and Chonburi.
Sometimes these signs are posted directly across from Buddhist temples, which shows that these people have no respect or boundaries. I doubt they’ll get any converts by posting these silly signs, but it shows how fanatic they must be to spend all of that time, money and effort to climb trees and post thousands of these signs throughout the country.
Perhaps you’ve seen a large hotel on the Chonburi Expressway just outside of Bangkok with a big red crucifix and “Jesus Loves You” plastered on the side of the building. What kind of nut defaces the whole side of his hotel with Christian slogans?
3) The “Turn or Burn” Missionaries
Every year around Christmas, a group of mainly Thai missionaries converge at Silom Road and Petchaburi Road (next to Panthip Plaza) in Bangkok with a full set of gear including a sound system, big Jesus signs in Thai script and many boxes full of Christian pamphlets (see picture above). One guy stands like a mannequin under the BTS station at Silom Road standing next to a Jesus sign and a sound system that booms out loud doomsday messages in Thai. The rest of the missionaries stand on nearby street corners pushing Jesus booklets into the hands of all who walk by. These books warn about the end of the world and have illustrations of sinners and non-Christians burning in hell. How is that for a loving and forgiving God?
4) Sneaky Missionaries on Campus
Another front the missionaries are entrenched is on university campuses where they put a lot of effort into converting young, impressionable university students. Last semester, I saw three separate missionaries groups at my university in the northeast of Bangkok.
Within my first month of working at this university, I saw adverts, in English and Thai, posted in several lecture halls offering “Free English Lessons” with a group of “American University Students”. Right away, I knew they had to be missionaries. Missionaries aren’t always up-front and honest about their objectives, as in this case there was no mention of Jesus, church or religion in their advertisement.
I confronted this group of Americans, and sure enough, they admitted that they were part of a “church group” in Thailand, but they insisted they weren’t missionaries.
“If you aren’t missionaries, then why are you here,” I asked, “What qualifications do you have to teach English to university students?” They said that they just wanted to help them with their English. They admitted that they do “invite” them to church and then they invite them to travel upcountry with their “church group”.
One of the missionaries (who insisted he wasn’t a missionary) said, “We don’t force anyone to convert.” But they obviously have no problem being dishonest, luring people to church by offering free English lessons.
I warned my class about these American University students and I suggested that they be watchful about any groups of foreigners that offer things for free and try to become friends. They should ask them straight away if they are from some “church group”.
5) Korean Camp or Moony Cult?
One of my students told me about a Korean group that was doing something similar, though on a much larger scale. These well-funded Korean missionaries, from the “International Youth Fellowship” are especially dishonest. This is what they do.
- They go to the university canteen, set up a table and a sound system and then have good-looking Koreans sing songs from famous Korean pop stars (Korean pop stars and soap operas are enormously popular amongst Thai teen-agers).
- Then they invite students to go on a three-day camping trip in the countryside, where they can learn the Korean language, sing Korean pop songs, and play games with these good-looking Koreans. Religion isn’t mentioned as part of the festivities.
- Once they get to the camp, they are all given Bibles and lectured about Christianity (once again, the students aren’t told beforehand that the camp has anything to do with religion). Several times throughout the day they have to read the Bible and listen to sermons. In-between the sermons, they spend only about an hour learning the Korean language.
- Later, the organizers encourage Thai students to go on a stage with a microphone and “witness” (verbally accept Jesus as their savior and commit their life to “Him”). This is a common method with born-again Christians. They try to get a few brainwashed converts to “witness” in front of the group in the hope that others will follow (like sheep).
Why did these missionaries lie about the religious aspect of the camp? It is quite clear. If they are honest and advertise that it’s a religious camp with the intention of converting Buddhists, nobody will go. By advertising the festivities as a fun-filled “Korean Camp” (without mentioning religion), they can get hundreds of people to attend.
6) Quotes From Missionaries
Since the first two essays were posted, I’ve received many emails from readers. Most emails were positive, however I did receive a few emails from missionaries and other born-again Christians (I’m very surprised that missionaries visit the Stickman site). Below are some of the more memorable quotes sent to me (names have been omitted). My email address is posted at the end, so please contact me with any questions and comments.
“…I must share the gospel to non-believers anywhere I come across them. If that is considered disrespectful to other people, I’d rather offend those other people then offend God…”
“…there can only be one truth, either you are wrong or I’m wrong…if you are wrong, which you are, and if you don’t accept Jesus…than eternal damnation will sadly be the outcome…the choice is yours.”
“…Buddhism is just another branch of Satanism…the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ.”
The next quotes are from a street preacher that can often be seen preaching (shouting) very loudly in English and Thai at different tourist locations and places full of “sin” around Bangkok. Notice how he uses lower-case letters when referring to other religions.
“…This is a fact: there is no salvation in Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, or any other religion in the world as salvation is found only Christ Jesus the Lord. For only Jesus Christ died for our sins, and only Jesus Christ rose from the dead…”
“…The Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God gave himself for us to pay the price for our sins so that we could be saved. But if you reject this gift, then you will have to pay for your sins in hell. God is just: sin must be punished…”
The remarks below about Buddhism are slanderous and quite bitter.
“…I practiced magick which is allowed in Theravada sect Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism practices witchcraft and black magick… the “Rama-Yana” is full of magick…”
“…Buddhism teaches that Buddha was birthed by a white elephant going inside his mother…”
“… my mother, she is completely healed and is no longer a Buddhist.”
This last quote is unintentionally hilarious.
“…Before I was a Christian, I had many Thai girlfriends; and they all used magick to help them get an edge on life…”
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org