Those Nutty Missionaries

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 [email protected]

108 thoughts on “Those Nutty Missionaries”

  1. Hello Christine,

    Thank you for the post.

    I won’t get involved with the disagreement you are having with “IYF Ex Participant”, but I will comment about some of your other comments.

    I am commenting on the IYF in Thailand only because that is the only branch I’m familiar with.

    Christine wrote:
    “IYF is an organization to bring up leaders of the future”

    Jon wrote:
    You mean Christian leaders, right? Do you think the IYF would accept one of their leaders to NOT be Christian? If they are trying to train leaders, why do they push religion? Why do they invite people to camp without being honest that it’s a religious camp?

    Christine wrote:
    “It is true we rarely talk about the bible or god.”

    Jon wrote:
    If this is true, then the IYF leaders better send some representatives to monitor the IYF activities in Thailand, as the IYF in Thaialnd behaves like a Korean Christian cult. Another student of mine complained about the “Korean camp” held by IYF. She went last year and they talked about the Bible for hours every day. She couldn’t go home because it was in a remote location upcountry. Every camp member was brought into a room with one Korean and a Thai to translate. They were asked to accept Jesus. When my student wasn’t interested, the Korean told her that she had “Demons in her Heart” that didn’t allow her to accept Jesus yet. She was stuck there for several, waiting for the camp to end before she could get out of there. If IYF pulled this where I’m from, they would get sued.

    Whether you realize it or not, there are some nutters working for the IYF.

    This talk about “Korean Camps” and “Leadership” camp is just a facade, as the main goal of the IYF is obviously to spread an evangelical form of Christianity. I don’t understand why they can’t just be honest about it…

    Jon

  2. I understand what you are saying Jon.
    I have also been to the World camp in Korea.
    I understand that she might have felt or that she felt pressured.
    IYF and IYF world camp are different programs IYF is an christain based organization. There are so many people these days that wonder what they have to do with their life. IYF helps these college students and trains them so that they would have a strong and happy mind.
    As for your friend i’m wondering if she asked to stop.
    I also had another friend who didn’t really like the christain bible study things, so she left in the middle of the world camp. she just asked her parents to change her flight and left.
    I am currently working in the IYF office located in Los Angeles, California.
    I aplogize that we weren’t clear that we were a christain based organization.
    At first we thought that many people who deny us and reject us if we told them we were christain. Later on we found out that many people were opened to the whole christain idea.
    Nowdays we actually tell them that we are a christain based non-profit organization.
    We try not to make people feel pressured to think they have to become christain. There are currently 5 non christians working in the IYF office so please inform your female friend that she should not feel pressured anymore.

  3. @christine: I don’t care if you are a Nazi based organization, you should be upfront about it regardless. Religion isn’t something you trick people into. As a fellow Christian (Catholic actually) I find the fact that you would misrepresent your intent to be a bigger sin than not being “saved.”

    Think about it this way, when you get up there to the Pearly Gates and St. Peter says to you: Well, Christine you did help bring us a lot of souls but you did it by deception. You violated one of the principle tenants of the faith to trick people into believing in Christ. Sorry, you cannot enter.

  4. Hi Christine,

    While it’s good that the IYF now admits that they are a Christina organisation, it is obvious in Thailand that they aren’t up front about it. They will only say they are Christian if you ask them. Also, they will insist their camp in NOT a Christian camp, when it clearly is.

    There is definitely a culture in some Christian Organisations not to be up front about who they are. They want people to join the camp or activity first, because they are afraid that if people knew religion was involved they wouldn’t join the activity. Then once everyone is together and already committed to joining the event, they can bring out the Bible and start preaching.

    Most westerners would be outraged and leave immediately once they knew they were being lied to and preached. Unfortunately, Thais don’t know what to think about it. They aren’t familiar enough with radical, pushy Christians to get up and leave, or even express their displeasure. They are too polite.

    About my student, why should she have to tell them to stop preaching to her? She couldn’t just get on a plane and go home. She was in a camp deep in the countryside. Do you think she should call home and tell someone to drive 8 hours to pick her up? What if the family doesn’t have a car? Another student told me her mobile phone didn’t have any signal so couldn’t call home even if she wanted.

    So, my student was in a room with two men preaching, trying to coerce her into converting, and telling her she has “demons in her brain” for not being receptive to the preaching. That is a grotesque and manipulative attempt at brainwashing. Some weak people are actually afraid and agree to what they say just so they stop. Then when they get home, they don’t know what to think. Fortunately, my student at least had the sense to ride out the rest of the camp in her room.

    The IYF does engage in these activities. Perhaps one of your supervisors should explain why it’s okay to do this.

    If the IYF in Los Angeles is more open as you say, it’s probably because they couldn’t get away with this there. They’d be sued and called out. In developing countries, they can get away with it.

    Jon

  5. Hi Mort,

    I wouldn’t go as far as calling them Nazi’s, since a Nazi, would kill someone who didn’t convert. I see many of these groups as more of a deceitful cult. They have to lie to get people to join their events, and then they will use subtle and overt forms of pressure to get members. That’s why, if you’ve ever noticed, often weaker people fall prey to this type of brainwashing.

    As for being Catholic, I’m sure you are aware that many evangelical Christians don’t think Catholics are Christians. There are just as many evangelical Christian missionaries roaming around Catholic countries, mainly in Latin America and the Philipines. The Catholics have to be converted just as much as the heathen Buddhists. These evangelicals think that only people who believe like them are Christians.

    Jon

  6. @Jon, I didn’t mean a literal comparison to Nazis. I was just trying to make the point that now matter how unappealing you might think your message is that it is better to be upfront about it.

    And that in itself says a lot of how these people think about Christianity. They have to deceive others into converting. Conversion is a choice. It’s not something you should have to drive someone out into the middle of nowhere so they can’t escape and then use mind control tricks on them.

    Yes, I know Catholics aren’t considered Christians by some. I really don’t care. I’ve always felt that my faith is what it is and I don’t think any more or less of anyone else for their religion . . . even if that religion doesn’t like mine 🙂

  7. Mort: lol you’re so funny i cannot enter? where is this place you are talking about please tell me i’m very curious. and like i said i apologize for the misunderstandings but we are a christian based organization. and i would appriecate it if you would read everything before you say these kind of things

    Jon: I think there is a misunderstanding about the Christian thing. We weren’t telling the people that we were christian because many people are more opened to the programs more than the whole christian thing and our intentions were to open up there hearts and then trying to preach the word to them.
    Another thing for your student, i don’t think i’m hearing the truth or maybe there was something wrong with those two guys. but i highly doubt it because i just checked the schedule and they didn’t go to any countryside during the Thailand world camp. And i don’t see how this is an issue to get sued because clearly you guys are the ones with false accusations so if anyone should sue i think it should be the IYF. and we also have a lawyer in the office right now next to me and she said there is no way you can sue for that even in thailand (she should know because that’s where she is from) She said because we did not tell them that we weren’t going to preach the word and also because we are sure this student could have just left and we have more proof that she is lying to you. I’m pretty sure you are just telling me what you heard but I highly doubt that what your student said is not the truth. There are many people in the office also that came back from Thailand as Short term missionaries who also attended the thailand world camp so feel free to ask anything.
    P.S. We also have a video that shows them opening the bible while recruiting participants to the IYF Thailand World Camp.

  8. Christine,

    First, I want to point out that the main point of the article is to focus attention on aggressive missionaries in Thailand. This article doesn’t focus on just the IYF, as it is just one of many aggressive missionary groups that want to convert Buddhists. A former IYF member posted about her negative experiences with the IYF, which you took issue with. Two students of mine went to IYF camps said they didn’t like it because they were preached to several times every day, and in an aggressive manner. They wanted to have fun, but instead had to listen to people talk about Jesus and the Bible all day, as well as being asked to convert. Why would these people make up stories? I will continue to warn all of my students not to go to IYF meeting and camps. Aggressive proselytizing might be normal and acceptable to you and other missionaries, but it is a nuisance, annoying, and disrespectful to non-Christians.

    Though misleading people about the nature of a religious camp may not be against the law, it demonstrates aggressive and dishonest attempts at converting people. I said that IF missionary groups misrepresented themselves and pulled these dishonest stunts where I come from (a Western country), someone might try to sue them.

    It is interesting that the IYF needs a lawyer to tell you that it’s not illegal to preach “the word” even though camp organisers don’t tell camp participants that they’re going to preach “the word” beforehand. I never said that being dishonest and sneaky was illegal.

    You are admitting that you have missionaries working for you, so therefore, although you might deny it, the main goal of the IYF appears to be traveling to foreign countries and inviting people to phony “Leadership” and “Korean” camps which are aimed at getting large groups of people together so they can be preached at and pressured to convert.

    I’m sure that there are promotional, propaganda videos that show your group doing all sorts of activities. I’d like to shoot some video of the IYF recruiting table where they invite people to the phony “Korean camp” without telling people that it is a religious camp.

    About preaching “the word”, when will you missionaries realise that Buddhists, don’t need your word? Buddhists already have a rational, practical, and compassionate religion and don’t need to be “saved” by anything you are trying to sell. Maybe you should all follow some Buddhist precepts and practise insight meditation instead of lurking around foreign countries, misrepresenting yourselves, and pushing your religion on others.

    Jon

  9. Just that they are missionaries that doesn’t always mean that that’s our goal.
    Your jsut assuming. and where is this western country? IYF doesn’t need a lawyer to tell the IYF. I am just a member/ volunteer that wanted to make sure it was legal.

    I also don’t mind you telling your “students” or whatever not to come.

    I also have a question are you Christian? I’m assuming you are a Buddhist. Just to let you know once again we have buddhist people in the IYF office as well as Catholics.

    Please record our recruiuting tables if that’s what you want to call it. I would like to see it. :]

  10. Hey Jon,

    Your examples of poor taste and misguided “Christians” and organizations purporting to be “Christian” are mostly sickening. Some of them, I think perhaps you blow out of proportion into something that they are not. In one part you mention that some missionaries were, “pushing booklets Jesus booklets into the hands of all who walk by”. Not to call you a liar because I wasn’t there and couldn’t say, but are you really serious? They were physically forcing the booklets into people’s hands!? Of the seemingly thousands of times that I’ve seen people doing these kinds of activities, I’ve never seen anything like that before! I would think the police would put a stop to that. That is tantamount to assault! If that really did happen, I don’t see the need to bring out the most outrageous instance possible that virtually never happens. I know hyperbole is a tool often used when trying to make a point. But a reasonable representation of activities would be better (in my opinion). Normally people handing out leaflets or booklets just put them in front of people to take or not to take. Actual physically pushing them into people’s hands would be enough to start a fight in many places and is very difficult to imagine. If I saw that, I would probably call the police.

    Apparently you aren’t very aware of the similar kind of tactics in use by various Buddhist groups. I say, apparently because you defend Buddhism in various instances, one quote here, “Buddhists already have a rational, practical, and compassionate religion…”. I would take issue with this as I was at one time greatly inconvenienced by a “friend” who wanted me to meet their friends that were interested in international adoption. I let them know that I have no knowledge at all about adoption and really didn’t think I could be of any help, and on top of that I was on the way to an appointment at the time. My friend begged and pleaded for me to come. After a bunch of stressful attempts to avoid it without being rude, I finally caved in, took a taxi to the place, since it was not in a convenient location… and upon arrival and the door to the house being opened, I saw probably around 20 or more pairs of shoes in the entry and a whole lot of chanting coming from inside! I asked my friend what’s up with this? With a bit of a sheepish look, I was told that I could join the meeting and learn more and then afterward talk about the adoption stuff! You’ve got to be kidding me! I was so irked, it was really difficult not showing how irritated I was. The “friend” that I was supposed to come and talk to about adoption came over and asked me to join the chanting, explaining how good it would be for me… I politely declined and reminded my friend that I was now late for my appointment and had to go. I got out of there, took another taxi and was about 30 minutes late to a fairly important appointment!

    I also was invited to a “fun” gathering of “friends” by another Buddhist group, of which I had no idea at the time was affiliated with any kind of religion. It turned out to be at some Buddhist center/hall with some supposedly well known speaker giving his speech (nonsensical to me, total gibberish, psychological mumbo jumbo)! Feeling yet caught again by an aggressive Buddhist group, I have done my best to avoid these deceitful lying Buddhists as much as possible and keep my antennae turned up on full awareness to sniff the slightest hint of this coming my way again. A few direct questions here and there usually will be enough to avoid these things, but not always, that is for sure! They can be pretty crafty in their lies to get you where they want you to be.

    I guess those things could be considered rational, practical and compassionate by them, since they seemingly think I am headed for some kind of doom or bad fate/luck, similar to what you mention of these Christian groups, although obviously not the same.

    One other thing you mentioned regarding Buddhism – “Thai people are much better sticking to their own non-fundamentalist, non-absolutist religion (Buddhism)”. I almost laughed out loud when I read that. Not at you, but at the idea! I have experienced some very fundamentalist Buddhists pushing their wares on me and have talked with others who experienced the same. I have also known a fair number of friends who have told me of the absolute force that the Buddhist temples push them with in their villages. If you don’t support them, you might as well pack your bags and leave town. Although, good luck selling your home because if they are able, they won’t let you and will force you to just abandon it and then take it over when you leave. In other instances the village headman or other elders will forcefully take your property claiming that you didn’t transfer the ownership properly! Properly? You ask… how can it be done properly since nobody even keeps exacting records in many of these areas!? Properly to them means keeping the wallets of the leaders of the village well padded and the temple supported! You will not be able to buy or sell in the village if you refuse to support the temple and will be ignored by all. I have more than one friend that has experienced this. And I am talking about nationals, not foreigners. All this from a “non-fundamentalist, non-absolutist religion (Buddhism)”! I’ve never heard of this kind of thing being practiced in any kind of regularity at all in areas that are strongly Christian (albeit there have been instances like this in history’s records). To the contrary, I have seen Christians starting schools, virtually the entire American school system was started by Christians as were the hospitals and endless other socially uplifting organizations. They have done this all over the world. Aggressive proselytizing is sickening, that is for sure. And it sure would be nice if they (along with the Buddhist, Hindus and Muslims who also do their own form of aggressive proselytizing) would just knock that crap off and do the good and socially worthy things that they otherwise can do.

    I’m wondering why Christianity irks you so much and not the other religions….? They all aggressively proselytize. Even athiests are aggressively proselytizing in America these days! lol It is rather humorous!

  11. Hey Jack

    You raise some good points. If you look at the history of this thread you will see that I too have tried to help Jon see that his views are very one-sided and somewhat over the top. To no avail though. You hit the nail on the head in your last paragraph when you ask him why Christianity irks hims so. The bottom line is that Jon is fundamentally opposed to Christianity and his anger/hatred/prejudice has so blinded him that he is incapable of dialoging rationally without resorting to the most extreme examples of fundamentalist Christianity (actually Christendom) and falling back on the old tired caricatures of Christianity. His extreme prejudice also precludes him from seeing any wrong in any other religion.

    So good luck to you as you try to get him to see a more balanced view – I doubt you’ll have much success until such time as Jon deals with his own demons.

    Cheers.

  12. Jack and Nick,

    Thank you for your replies, though, of course you misinterpreted nearly all of my points.

    By the way, is Jack and Nick the same person?

    Well, I’m on holiday right now in Chiangrai province so I don’t have the time to refute all of your accusations, but the missionary issue has resurfaced in my consciousness yet again as I pass Jesus signs and Christian slogans posted on trees and concrete polls nearly every kilometer of road, especially the back roads. Just good natured-Christians trying to spread the word, right? (without regard to littering the countryside with yellow eyesores).

    Jack; in brief:

    No, I’m not Buddhist, but I respect Buddhism, and this is a predominantly Budhhist country, so I don’t respect outsiders (mainly American and Koreans) that come here to try to convert people.

    Yes, all religions have some people who proeltytise to a degree, but let’s be real here. The proportion of Buddhist propaganda is minute compared to the Christian propaganda. In Thailand, Christians are about 1% of the population, yet every university is infiltrated with Christian groups and Christian camps looking to get converts. I’ve never seen any Buddhist missionaries in USA, Aus, the UK, have you? There are hundreds if not thousands of American missionaries in Thailand alone, and there are also loads of Korean missionaries. And they are predominatly fundamentalist, evangelical, turn-or-burn variety. Add to that all of the Thai people they converted to these fundamentalist beliefs who use the same agressive practises; then this small minority of Christians is much more “pushy” then the 90%-95% of Buddhists.

    Ok, if you must take that sentence literally, they didn’t force the books in people’s hand, as most Thai people are polite and take whatever people hand them. The people who hand them out are somewhat agressive about, however.

    Buddhists don’t ask people to abandon their religon either. I was invited to a Dhamma talk once, but there was never any words of changing religion, and they certainly didn’t take my mobile number and try to “sheppard” me to temple like missonaries do (to church). One Thai missionary still won’t stop calling my gf asking her to go to church. She only gave him her number so he would stop talking to her about god.

    I only read your post once so I’ll read more in detail later.

    Nick:

    I knew you would get back into the debate.

    I appreciate you trying to “help” me see the error of my views. As this in an opinion thread, I have no duty to be balanced toward missionaries. As I’ve pointed out before, though there are thousands of missionary websites and tens of thousands of American missionaries agressively proselytising their views, but my lone opposition to them irks you so much. I think you must be irked because, in your mind, I reject Jesus, so there must be something wrong with me to reject the “good news”.

    Actually, I can see the “wrong” in all religions, but throughout the world, it’s the Christians and Muslims who are trying to push their religion so agressively on others. Sending missionaries to foreign countries is pushing religion. Asking people to convert is pushing it. The extent that adherents of other religions do this is miniscule compared to the extent it is done in evangelical culture in American Christianity. When I see this Americanised, fundamentalist brand of Christinity agressively marketed, at times in an under-handed nature (see English/Korean/leadership camps/Jesus signs), and with huge financial backing, in Thailand and other Asian countries, I have a right to oppose it.

    And again, if you want to talk about being “one-sided”, have you gone to any of the thousands of missionary sites and objected to anything they are doing? I doubt it, because I know you think proselytising and trying to convert people in foreign countries is Okay. I don’t. We will never agree on that.

    Jon

    On Wed, Feb 3, 2010 at 10:18 AM, Nick wrote:

    New comment on your post #66 “Those Nutty Missionaries”

    Author : Nick (IP: 118.172.105.239 , 118.172.105.239.adsl.dynamic.totbb.net)
    E-mail : [email protected]
    URL :
    Whois : http://ws.arin.net/cgi-bin/whois.pl?queryinput=118.172.105.239
    Comment:
    Hey Jack

    You raise some good points. If you look at the history of this thread you will see that I too have tried to help Jon see that his views are very one-sided and somewhat over the top. To no avail though. You hit the nail on the head in your last paragraph when you ask him why Christianity irks hims so. The bottom line is that Jon is fundamentally opposed to Christianity and his anger/hatred/prejudice has so blinded him that he is incapable of dialoging rationally without resorting to the most extreme examples of fundamentalist Christianity (actually Christendom) and falling back on the old tired caricatures of Christianity. His extreme prejudice also precludes him from seeing any wrong in any other religion.

    So good luck to you as you try to get him to see a more balanced view – I doubt you’ll have much success until such time as Jon deals with his own demons.

    Cheers.

  13. I’m new to this discussion – I’m a Christian missionary yet I hope to love and care for people and allow them to make their own minds up as to what faith they choose to practice. I’m guessing loving someone is more powerful than a yellow sign or whatever it is that gets waved around. I’m hoping I can break the stereotypical view many people seem to have about missionaries. I’m 22 so I have a lot of time to see how far this sttitude will take me.

  14. Hi Rebecca,

    I’m glad to hear you aren’t from the variety of missionaries who post large yellow Jesus signs in the trees throughout the countryside where 95 percent of the people are Buddhist.

    Yes, loving someone is more powerful, but I would take that a step further. Loving someone, without trying to change their religion (by any method) is even more loving.

    Since you come from America to Thailand (or whatever country you are now missionising in), what would it look like if you made an effort to appreciate and embrace the local religion instead of looking for ways to take people away from it? I know that part of the problem is deeply scriptural, as you believe (insist) they will go to to hell unless they come to your religion. That view is a pity.

    I just went to a mediation center with monks and some Buddhists Their were many atheists and non-Buddhists there learning meditation as well. There was not one suggestion or recommendation for anyone to change their religion to Buddhism. In fact the monks said themselves that people of any religion, or atheists can participate and don’t need to change their religion to receive the benefits of meditation.

    How much more peaceful and refreshing would the world be if the fundamentalist of all world religions (especially Christian and Muslim) held that view?

    Cheers,

    J

  15. hi,im new here.
    i joined IYF world camp here in the Philippines..Im a catholic by the way..
    I was barely aware of its Christian thinggy…but its not actually about the religion.i mean they preach,YEs,I wont deny that,but they did not even talked about converting us.they just taught us about the message of God,read passages in the Bible,explained them to us…and i think their explanation are true and everything was alright,nothing was wrong..What is wrong about Accepting God as your SAvior???i was not brainwashed or what,but it makes sense..even im a catholic I Know that GOd saved us from our sins.I have nothing to be ashamed of that i joined this camp.Besides, it has improved me in terms of my views about things..There were lots of college students there,and in fact its like you were really in a camp.more bonding than the preachings.more entertainment than passages from the Bible.Its like you accepted GOd in you heart,You let HIm be as your SAvior,and at the same time you are Enjoying Everything.you look into things in a positive way.
    This might sound crazy or you think i was brainwashed but in fact,its just up to me.as long as i believe in GOd,my religion doesnt matter,even im Born again or Catholic..Whats powerful is your Faith in GOd.I dont have to memorize all the verse or chapters in BIble just to be a servant of GOd,well its just a Good thing that you know the verses BY HEART…Ive met many students like me,who are looking for the right path.you know for a teenager,Im 17, im glad that i have this kind of experiences.Its basically,normal thing,to enjoy learning or studying the WOrds of GOd,than to do anything silly outside the camp..I can prove that the preach from the lecturers are for general, i mean there are no religion boundaries…and i do really enjoy the company of youngsters with hearts like mine.I dont say that we are the GOOD followers of God,but at least we are trying our best to be good in the eyes of God.its not the religion,its your faith and prayers that matter…

    (this is just my comment as ive been a part of world camp)

  16. Dear Marj,

    You were already a Christian when yo went to this camp (though members of groups like this probably don’t consider Catholics to be “real” Christians), so you are already familiar with the Bible. If you enjoy being preached to and discussing the Bible and “god”, then you joined the right camp. But the camp wasn’t advertised as such, and more than a few people are surprised to find out the religious nature of “world camp”.

    In Thailand, 94% are Buddhism and about 5% are Muslim. It is insulting to come here and offer Christian camps, knowing full well that most of the people aren’t Christian. To Buddhists, the Bible doesn’t contain the “words of god.” They have their own religion and holy books, so even trying to pass off the Bible as the “truth” is insulting to Buddhists or any non-christian.

    As you said, you were “barely aware of its Christian thinggy” before you went on the camp, and when you were there they did preach, and they preached a lot.

    As I”ve always asked, why don’t these groups come straight out and be honest and state that their whole programme is based on religion, and that that preaching is the main part of what they do? They aren’t up-front about it because they know people won’t go to their phony camps if they advertise about what they really do.

    And…already, several IYF members are roaming around the canteen again, and the semester only started last week. They were on campus last semester for several weeks too. I guess they have to reach a “target” (quota) for getting people to sign up for their ridiculous camp. As a result, they are aggressive, inviting themselves to sit at people’s lunch tables and interrupting their lunch to talk about their “World Camp” a.k.a. Jesus/Bible Camp.

    I wonder how much their staff get paid to stay on university campuses for weeks at a time, only to get a handful of members per university.

  17. Those Nutty Missionaries.

    Jon’s submission was, I thought, a fairly astute observation of the way in which missionaries, of what I call the new wave Christian Religion’s try and push their ideology on others.
    Before I go on I’d just like to say that I don’t have any issues with people believing in something if it makes them feel better about themselves and their place in this world. Faith, I guess, comes in all forms and, as much as their insular, blinkered perspective on the way things are has them thinking otherwise, new wave Christian Religion Missionaries don’t have a monopoly on it. If someone wants to believe that ten green bottles sitting on the wall is what it takes to get them through, then good luck to them.
    The problem I’ve got with the new wave Christian Religion Missionaries is two-fold. The first, which is completely unrealized by those fervent missionaries, is that they are, essentially, salesman for some very wealthy organizations. The second, and more odious problem I have with them, is that they’re promoting an idea which is, essentially, a blatant lie.
    I’m sure the above statement is going to engender some heated responses. To those that are so steadfastly convinced of the validity of the ‘truth’, that the rest of us unenlightened beings are in such desperate need of, I can offer an olive branch by saying that I don’t have any problems with the premise that the world could, and should be, a more compassionate place. The issue I have, with your blinkered version of things, is that you tie that message to the rather ridiculous notion that salvation can only be had by believing that a certain fellow – who was apparently born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead – died for our sins. I’m sorry but no. This is really complete and utter nonsense and an insult to the intelligence of the rest of us.
    The problem for the front line troops selling the word of god is that they’ve been sold a lemon by the hierarchy of the religious organizations that they’re working for. The hierarchies are well aware of the vast amount of well researched literature that is about that quite clearly lays waste to most of what’s written in the little black book (the bible). Unfortunately, because there’s so much money coming into the coffers, the hierarchies aren’t really willing to come out and say that the historical accuracy and validity, of the little black book, could do with a serious review. So they keep sending out enthusiastic young troopers to continue the frontline business of recruitment. It’s all a numbers game in the end because, even if they only sign up one person in a hundred, they’ll still get ten per cent of that new signee’s income won’t they. You see, that’s what it’s really all about isn’t it – the tithes.

    Even though they’re an anachronism I have respect for the older religious organizations, like the Catholics and Anglicans, because they actually do something to help people in need. Go to any city, in the western world, and you’ll see clothing op shops, soup kitchens and half way houses run by the Salvation Army and St. Vincent’s De Paul. Actions speak louder than words and unfortunately the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the like seem far less generous when the issue of helping those in needs, in a practical way, is at hand. Their M.O., smells of the networking business plan.
    The reality is that it’s a complete waste of time entering into a debate with these ever smiling, rather simple types that are sent out to spread the word. The coaches back at the HQ’s, in Salt Lake City and Brooklyn, know that simple, unwavering minds are what’s needed during the six month coaching period and the two years of missionary work which follows. A training period which includes plenty of pre rehearsed question and answer sessions and, more importantly, sales pitches. Once they go out into the big wide world, to spread the good word, their safety net is their singular, dogmatic point of reference – the bible – which they’re totally convinced is literal truth.
    When the Bible was cobbled together at Nacea, in 325 AD, the cobblers decided that what was important was the message they wanted to convey to the heathen masses. What is interesting is not so much what was deemed as acceptable but what was left out. It seems that the Gospels of Thomas and the Gnostic Gospels weren’t deemed acceptable due the fact that they mentioned something about Jesus actually being a mere mortal. So into the scrap bin with them. The convener of Nacea, Emperor Constantine, was a fairly shrewd operator and knew that he risked alienating large numbers of his citizens if he was to disregard their liking for other god’s of worship. To avoid this he did what all religions have done – since the dawn of time of religions – and integrated bits and pieces of the other’s (such as the local sun worshippers). The most important date, in Christendom, was also decided on. It seems, up until that time, that no one actually knew, or could prove, the exact date of the crucifixion. No problems then, the decision was made to include another pagan ritual, in their cobbling together, and the Sumerian Barley Festival was chosen as the date for the Easter Celebration (This is exactly why Easter moves around from one year to the next). The Sumerian Barley Festival always fell on the first full moon after the vernal equinox (the 21st of March), the date when you have twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness.
    I suppose any debate, or discussion about Christianity, has to include the man – JC. What really astounds me, when I enter into any kind of discussion with one of these card carrying Christians, is how many of them are convinced that JC was a Christian. The fact is he wasn’t, he was a Jew, and fairly devout one at that. Just as an aside, the first Christian was Paul (or Saul) who, it was later suspected, was a Roman mole sent to report on the activities of the religious sect that JC belonged to; the Essenes.
    JC, whose Jewish name was Josephus Ben Joseph (son of Joseph) was part of a reasonably affluent and devout Jewish family; surprise, surprise he also had a number of brothers and sisters. It states clearly in the Bible that JC was a legitimate heir to the Throne of Israel; he was of the Royal blood line of David. Much is made, in Christian fairy tales, of the fact that his birth had to be hidden from the Romans because he was the chosen one (the Messiah). The reality is that his identity, and birth place, was a closely guarded secret simply because the Romans, and Herod, wanted to eliminate any legitimate claim on the Jewish Throne and not, as the brainwashed born again’s are told, because he was the incarnation of God. I think there’s actually a list of lineage in the New Testament somewhere that show’s JC’s blood line back to King David. The spreaders of the message conveniently overlook this though because it doesn’t fit in with their contrived little tale about the poor carpenters’ son.
    Legitimate religious researchers, such as Michael Baigent (Author of the Dead Sea Scrolls Deception and The Jesus Papers) have put forward very sound reasoning as to the true whereabouts of Josephus Ben Joseph (Jesus Christ was his Greek name) during his twelve years, or so, of his absence from Judea. This of course is never mentioned, in the little black book, for it would completely discredit their little fairy story. It seems that Josephus Ben Joseph spent his time in exile at a monastic type temple on Elephantine Island in Egypt. This, according to Mr. Baigent’s extensive research, was a known place of higher learning of the day. It was run by Magi’s, or Seers, and offered the study of medicine, sciences and astrology as part of an esoteric path of higher learning heavily influenced by Egyptology. This is where the original idea of heaven comes from. The Egyptians believed in a fourth dimension, called the ‘The Land of The Dead’, that ran side by side (parallel) to the world of the living. They believed that certain people, under the right conditions of training and ritual, could leave the world of the living, enter the world of the dead, and return. The Greek word that was originally used to describe this fourth dimension translated not into heaven, but into Realm. Of course the cobblers, at Nacea, decided that this just wouldn’t suit their purposes so it was changed to heaven to confuse things – heaven only being obtainable on the point of death to the converted. Knowing this makes Josephus Ben Joseph’s statement “I am not of this world” a far more realistic proposition. It is an authorative statement from someone who had far greater knowledge of the ways of the world, than the average man of the day.
    Eventually Josephus Ben Joseph returned to Judea. It seems that he was dissatisfied with what he saw of the two predominant Jewish religious groups of the day, the Pharisees and Sadducees, and, therefore, decided to throw in his lot with the more pious group; the Essenes. The Essenes, according to Historians of the time, were the most outspoken critics – in religious circles – of the Roman occupiers of Jewish lands. They also had little regard for the Pharisees and Sadducees and viewed both groups as little more than collaborators of the Romans.

    Their outspokenness made them targets of the Roman rulers and, as such, they were forced to seek refuge in isolated areas.
    Acceptance into the Essenes was by way of a lengthy, and strict, initiation period which involved long periods of celibacy, speech restrictions and fasting. Other strange rituals included bowing to the sun at sunrise.
    To the Essenes, the very pinnacle of the Jewish religion was the Temple on the Mount in Jerusalem. Any activity, taking place on the Temple Holy grounds, which wasn’t in strict observance of the Tenets of their interpretation of the Jewish Holy Law, was considered blasphemy. Knowing this gives a better understanding to Jesus’ assault on the Pharisees hawker’s stalls.
    The Essenes were also an apocalyptic group and actively promoted the idea of the ‘end of days’. The idea of the ‘end of days’ was already being promoted throughout Judea, during the time of Jesus, due to the huge degree of sufferance the Jews were experiencing from their Roman oppressors. Most of the sufferance had a lot to do with the heavy taxation that was being imposed on the local population and, as such, the locals looked for any signs of hope, or a Messiah, which would eventuate and end their days of sufferance.
    The leaders in the fight against the Roman occupiers were the Zealots. The original terrorists, or freedom fighters, the Zealots main strategy for getting at the Romans was the use of guerilla warfare tactics which included hit and run raids and ambushes. To give their cause an air of legitimacy, and engender support among the local Jewish population, they need a legitimate heir to the throne of Israel that they could align themselves with. This is where JC came to their rescue. He was of royal lineage and he was also compatible with some of their stated aims. Some of his followers, or disciples, were, in fact, Zealots and, as such, weren’t averse to a bit of bloodshed. Why was it that Peter was called a Zealot, carried a sword and lost an ear?
    The problem for the Zealots though was that JC wasn’t quite as committed to the cause as they hoped he would be. It all came to a head that fateful day in Judea when he was posed a question by a Sadducee priest regarding the payment of taxes to the Romans. The issue of Roman taxation, to the Zealots, was one of their key reasons for ridding Jewish lands of their oppressors. The Zealots were expecting JC to make some kind of strong stand/statement to show that the Jews shouldn’t be paying taxes but, to their dismay, and complete disappointment he replied in a rather vague and wishy washy way – to Rome go all things that are Roman – and it was from that point that the Zealots decided that he was useless to their cause. It was the Zealots who gave JC up to the Romans. Judas Iscariot (loosely translated as the one who carries a knife) was a Zealot and sent off to report to the Romans that JC was a Political Activist and was engendering insurrection against Rome; JC was crucified for political activism against Rome and nothing else.
    A few observations:
    The root, or baseline, religion for all religions is the Egyptian form of religion. All others – Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam – follow on from that and use vestiges of this oldest religion; Judaism and Christianity more so because those two belief systems originated when Egypt was still pre Islam.
    If you watch the movie Zeitgeist it will say as much. The idea of a Prophet, or Messiah, being born of a Virgin, crucified, entombed for three days and being resurrected pops up in about twenty six, or so, different religions. The original idea for resurrection/reincarnation/being born again, originates from the Egyptian king making ceremony. When the old king died his body was placed in a darkened room with the coma induced body of the new king (a sleeping potion was used). The idea being that both men’s souls travelled to the land of the dead, intermingled and the soul of the old king was resurrected/reincarnated in the body of the new king when roused from his sleep coma. The idea of reincarnation/resurrection also has its roots in the story of Isis/Osiris/Horus.
    When Christians pray they end their prayer with Amen. Most would be more than a little surprised to know that this is Egyptian in origin as well. Amen is simply half of Amen Ra, or Amen Re, and loosely translates to ‘And so it shall be.’
    The hat and scepter that the Pope carries look remarkably similar to that which you see on religious figures in Egyptian hieroglyphics.
    Most Christians are at a loss to explain one of JC’s most famous statements; ‘let the dead bury the dead.’ Here is the explanation. The religious group JC belonged to, the Essenes, believed that anyone outside their group was spiritually dead. Only those belonging to their group were spiritually alive. Knowing that makes sense of his statement – let the spiritually dead bury the dead.
    Knowing this also easily explains one of the most famous miracles – Lazarus rising from the dead. Lazarus was a member of the Essenes who found the going a bit tough meeting the demands of his three year initiation period so he did a runner before his time was up. By the tenets of the Essenes when Lazarus absconded he went from being spiritually alive to being spiritually dead and that’s why JC wasn’t in any hurry to go after him. He just figured that in about three, or four days, Lazarus would get fed up with drinking and shagging and come back to the fold. Lazarus never died in a literal sense; it was just in a figurative sense. When he came back to the group, after his four day vacation, he was arisen from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive.

    To all Christians:
    To have faith, or a belief, is all well and good but please don’t try and convince intelligent people that what you believe in is based on historical truth, or accuracy, because it’s not. Most of it is pure nonsense and superstition. Religion is human kind’s way of dealing with fear of the unknown. Fear that after this there’s nothing, that we become fertilizer. It’s the ego refusing to accept it.

  18. Megalithic – your views are more unbelievable and incredible than all the Christian claims put together! I have read some serious fundamentalist stuff in my time and I must say, your views are right up there with the most fundamental, just on the other side of the spectrum. The difference is that Christians have time and numbers on their side.

    What I find amazing is that you have this incredible insight that billions of people for thousands of years have missed. Everyone has been duped – except you. You must be a prophet or something. Why don’t you start a movement? Your perceptive insight and incredible wisdom should be apparent to all serious seekers of truth.

    Good luck!

  19. IYf is also known as Good News COrps —
    you can take a look what its all about.
    yeah,we have our own beliefs and RESPECt is a basic knowledge we should apply in our daily living.
    and Whoever those members of IYF that are being AGGRESSIVE to others.you can report that even to police 🙂 you can also report IYF members who force someone to join in their Group.

    thank you,

  20. Reply to Nick

    What I’ve written is just a colection of information that I’ve retained from various books I’ve read over the years. As an avowed atheist I made it my business to be able to argue with christians from an informed view point. Nothing more, nothing less. I am not fundamentalist. My views are not incredible or, as you say, unbelievable they are based on information from these well researched sources:

    Michael Baigent:

    The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception
    The Jesus Papers

    Robert Stone and Cristopher Knight:

    The Hiram Key
    The Second Messiah
    Civilisation One

    Zeitgeist: The Movie Documentary

    The evidence is there for all to see if they take the time to search it out and read it. Ignorance keeps people in the dark. Much the same as religions do.

    Richard Dawkins and Charles Darwin people to be greatly admired.

    My Bible is called “The Origin of Species”

  21. Marj,

    It is interesting that the IYF doesn’t reveal itself as a Christian organisation when it is recruiting members. When they aggressively approach students to join their “world” and “leadership” camps they never tell them that they will be listening to Christian Bible sermons and asked to sing Christian songs.

    Marj wrote: “you can also report IYF members who force someone to join in their Group”

    Jon:
    No, they don’t physically force people to attend their events, and, of course, I never said that they did.

    What I have said, over and over, is that IYF and other groups like it are dishonest about what they do and what their intentions are. I only have experience with these groups in Thailand so I can’t comment about their methods in other countries, but I would highly doubt that they are much different. In Thailand, they never tell people who sign up for their camp that they will be listening to preaching about the Christian version of God. Most Thai people who sign up for the camp don’t have any idea what they are getting involved in.

    And nobody who defends the IYF or similar groups has ever given me a reasonable response as to why they think it is acceptable to invite people to a camp without telling them up-front that it a religious-based group and religious-based camp. Nobody has given a reasonable defense because there isn’t one.

    Three of my students canceled joining this camp this week after I asked them if they knew that there would be Christian preaching and that people would try to teach them about the Bible. Of course they had no idea, and after I told these students, with the help of a senior Thai teacher, they got their money refunded, and more importantly, they didn’t waste a weekend of their time listening to some religious nutters bang on about God and the Bible…

  22. @ Megalithic

    I am touched by the faith you place in 3 authors and a movie as the basis for your anti-Christian views. You do realise don’t you, that there are literally thousands of authors, historians, archeologists and theologians who have spent years and years researching the Bible and the claims of Christianity and largely agree on the main issues? I don’t know of any serious intellectuals who would endorse, or lend any weight to, Baigent’s fairy tale thesis about an Essene called Josephus Ben Joseph aka Jesus Christ. (btw “Christ was not Jesus’s surname, or second name, it was a title or description).

    As for “Origin of the Species”, its a great read and Darwin was a sharp guy. But his work, and the evolutionary theory that flowed from it, doesn’t even try to answer the question of where life came from. “The Origin of the Species” refers to the successive origins of each new species as it gradually grew out of other previous, more primitive, ones. The theory entails that all species would eventually trace back to one original ancestor – to the trunk, in his classic tree illustration – but how that being first came to life was beyond the scope of Darwin’s focus. Its existence was obviously implied, but never really explained. There are at least 3 major building blocks that Darwin’s theory relies on – but which it cannot account for: (1) the formation of the universe in which all organic life would reside, along with the “ingredients” of the primordial soup where life apparently came from; (2) the origin of the first life itself; and (3) the encoding of information that makes all organic life possible.

    As such having Origin of the Species as your Bible leaves you fairly short-changed and in need of a lot more faith than your average Bible-believing Christian.

    In 1915, Albert Einstein developed the general theory of relativity. It is universally accepted, and has certain implications. One is that the universe – defined as time, space, matter and physical energy – had a starting point in history. If the universe had a starting point in history, then it obviously began to exist. Its a scientific given that things don’t exist without a cause. If the universe had a cause for its coming into being, then that cause must be beyond the universe. So the cause for the universe must be something beyond time and space and matter and physical energy. This, to my mind, ties in perfectly with the opening lines of Genesis; “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

    You also mentioned Richard Dawkins. He admitted in an article in Time magazine that “there could be something incredibly grand and incomprehensible and beyond present understanding.” When challenged with “That’s God!” he replied, “Yes. But it could be any of a billion Gods. It could be God of the Martians or of the inhabitants of Alpha Centauri. The chance of it being a particular God, Yahweh, the God of Jesus, is vanishingly small.”
    Agains that I can say, “You can call him what you want, but the evidence from the origin of the universe tells us a lot about what he is like – and the description sounds amazingly similar to what the Bible tells us about one particular God, who actually is called Yahweh, the God of Jesus, the Creator of the world.”

    In conclusion I must honestly disagree with you that your sources are “well researched”.

  23. Monolith,

    I must admit that I didn’t get through all of your extremely long email. I recommend breaking it up into shorter posts.

    I agree that their zealotry, numbers, and money has been the main reason for the spread of Christianity.

    Nick Wrote: “The difference is that Christians have time and numbers on their side.”

    Jon wrote:
    Most religion has spread due to money and power. That’s the way it is and the way it has always been.

    Imperialistic empires, such as the Roman and Spanish empires were responsible for forcing Christianity through much of Europe and the Americas, among other places. In modern times, (perhaps the last 150 years) wealth (mainly American) has funded missionaries and their organisations for the sole purpose of spreading Chirstianity into developed countries.

    Recruit several thousand zealots, give them millions of dollars, and send them to any developing country and you could get converts for any religion. In fact, one could make up their own religion and convert impoverished and or uneducated indigenous people to it if he or she had the resources and man-power to execute it. Just offer the usual unsubstantiated claims and enticements of “heaven”, eternity, some type of saviour, etc., and give the people some material goods, and people will convert to any religion.

    Do you think there are 7 million Jehovah’s Witnesses because it is a sensible religion?

    Do you think there are 8 million Mormon’s because Mormonism is a sensible religion?

    Do you think there are 500,000 Scientologists because Scientology is a sensible religion?

    I only single out these religions, because evangelical Christians don’t take them seriously and often castigate them. However, are they really anymore implausible than Christianity or other religions? Not really.

    So the main point is this, Christianity (and Islam) expanded from being minor religions to being the two largest religions by force, and have propagated further due to the hundreds of millions of dollars that has financed their conquest.

    Lastly Nick, you took Richard Dawkins entirely out of context. His statement that it isn’t impossible that there is a god doesn’t mean he thinks it is a 50-50 proposition. Rather he says that the possibility of there being god is about as likely as a hurricane “sweeping through a scrapyard” and miraculously assembling a Boeing 747. It isn’t 100% impossible, however implausible it may seem. Moreover, he states that if there was a god, it would be just as possible for it to be Thor, Apollo, Zues, Krishna, Ganesh, or any of the thousands of gods humans have conjured up. This isn’t a ringing endorsement for Christianity, or Thor for that matter.

  24. @ Jon

    Actually, it was Fred Hoyle, who in the early 80’s, in an attempt to refute the evolution theory, who came up with the “747 in a junkyard” analogy. He compared the probability of the spontaneous origin of 2000 proteins of 200 amino acids each (10 to the power of 40000) with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard could assemble a Boeing-747.

    Maybe you and Megalithic could do some research together?

  25. Yes, I know that Dawkins was citing Hoyle, but didn’t mention it. So your snarky comment about my research is out of place, particularly since quite a bit of your research comes from religious books, which are based on a concoction of fairy tales, superstition and hearsay.

  26. So you are intolerant of Christians and you are anti-Christian and its not merely about the techniques some use to dupe others?

  27. You keep coming back to this mistaken idea that I’m “anti-Christian”.

    To clarify again, I’m anti-missionary, as these hardline, evangelical, fundamentalists are trying to push their religion on the rest of the world.

    If these Christians kept their beliefs to themselves and inside their churches, without coming to Thailand to try to convert Buddhists, I never would’ve made this post or criticised them at all.

  28. But Jon, in your previous comment you state that the Bible (the only “religious” book that my research comes from) is “based on a concoction of fairy tales, superstition and hearsay”. That is the foundation of Christianity. To ridicule that, is the epitome of “anti-Christian”. I cannot understand how on the one hand you can write off what Christians believe as being fairy tales, superstition and hearsay and on the other hand call me “mistaken” for thinking that you are intolerant of Christians. Can you not see the contradiction in what you’re saying?

  29. I might have similar opinions about the validity of any “holy book”. The fact that I have those opinions doesn’t make me anti-Christian, anti-Hindu, or any other religion. I’ve called out Christians here, because, I will repeat once again, it is followers of Christianity who are all over the world with their missionaries, trying to convert people. They are all over Thailand, trying to brainwash Thais to believe that they can only go to heaven if they believe in Jesus, and therefore, will go to hell if they remain Buddhist.

    Moreover, these missionaries are all American-style fundamentalist Christians. Even the Mormon and Jehovah’s witnesses, they were are spawned in the US. These Korean groups all copy American style evangelism too.

    I don’t see any Muslim or Hindu missionaries in Thailand. I did see one small group of Hari Krishnas, but that is it in terms of non-Christian missionaries.

  30. Hi, i was reading the part about the “crazy statements” that the Christians make, but if you’re honest with yourself, those comments aren’t any worse than the comments you make about Christians in this blog. Think about it – they were expressing their beliefs, and so are you. I smell hate.

  31. I’ve been critical of missionary activity, not hateful of anyone. The fact that I criticise missionaries and some of their beliefs is not hateful. I suppose you are another missionary apologist (and born-again Christian) who believes any interference with spreading of “the word” to be hateful. And you are another American evangelical too, right? Of course…

    I (or Thai Buddhists) don’t go to American Christian communities and tell them that their religion is wrong and that they should convert, as Christian missionaries do (of course Christians wouldn’t tolerate Buddhist or Muslim missionaries in their own communities). I posted my views here and you have seeked them out, probably tipped off by some of your other evangelical friends who were shocked that someone would dare to criticise them. I haven’t told or expressed a view that Christians will go to hell either. I’ve just called them out on their activities and what they teach. Once again, this is not at all hateful.

    The fact is, missionaries are ignorant, or don’t care about how they split communities. When a hill tribe person in Thailand doesn’t convert, to Christianity and retains their traditional beliefs or becomes a Buddhist, they aren’t accepted by their Christian family members. They are all expected to go to church.

    Most Christian converts don’t interact with their family and friends in a healthy way, as they often try to convert everybody else and don’t understand people who don’t buy into their religion.

    You are obviously one who thinks it is reasonably for Christians to travel around the world to tell people to replace their beliefs with your beliefs.

    By the way, hate, love, indifference, foolishness or any emotion doesn’t have a “smell”.

    Happy winter soltice day.

  32. Am new to this discussion and am quite puzzled with the views of people. I agree that it is important to respect everyone’s ideas whichever religion they belong to or even atheists. i want to categorically state that am a member of the IYF in Kenya and so far am impressed by what we do. yes it is a foundation based on Christianity, but besides that, dont you realize the good work they are doing all over the world. The movement is all about volunteering and was started by a group of Christians where membership is not limited to Christians only. I’d give an example of Kenya where he conference was open to anyone but people from other religions opted not to come, by will. I am a Catholic and I attended. the talks about the bible are more often than not related to volunteering which I believe should not be offensive to anyone, after all, what is wrong with giving. look at it this way, most of us trust authors who write about certain aspects of life that are based on their personal opinions. Why then wouldn’t you trust the Bible which preaches nothing but love and good towards self and other people? About trying to share their belief, if you believe something is good, why not share the goodness with other all over the world, aint that what Christians and Muslims are doing? No one is stopping other religions from doing the same? They just chose to not exercise their right to expression, do not crucify those who exercise theirs. I will not argue against what the missionaries are doing because there is nothing wrong with it. The people who feel targeted are also free to choose whether to listen, follow or not to. It is not by force. I would urge that the movement and its ideology be respected and any contradictions should not be personalized since no one is forced to join the group neither are people forced to listen. I will repeat that I am a Catholic, Christian and a proud member of IYF in Kenya where volunteering is the main objective of the non profit making organization founded on Christian grounds

  33. Phoebe:
    “The people who feel targeted are also free to choose whether to listen, follow or not to. It is not by force.”

    Jon:
    Missionaries often give this “we don’t force them argument”. But you are missing the main point of my complaint about Christian groups who operate in Thailand and specifically at my university (the IYF being a main offender). What I have rallied against is the deceitful recruitment practices of the IYF and similar missionary groups at my universities. I understand that the IYF staff has quotas and need to recruit a certain number of people to their camps, or else they will come back every day until they reach their quota. But when they invite themselves to sit down, intruding on people’s lunches and give their pitch about the “Global Camp” (last year it was called “Leadership Camp”) they don’t tell the students that praying, preaching, and reading of the bible are a large part, if not a primary focus of this camp, which members must be a part of, whether they like it or not. They don’t come out and advertises themselves as coming from a Christian group that is sponsoring a Christian based camp. There are loads of non-religious charity based groups and orgaisations. Most of them advertise themselves properly without holding back a key intention, such as converting people.

    Phoebe:
    “About trying to share their belief, if you believe something is good, why not share the goodness with other all over the world, aint that what Christians and Muslims are doing? No one is stopping other religions from doing the same? They just chose to not exercise their right to expression, do not crucify those who exercise theirs. I will not argue against what the missionaries are doing because there is nothing wrong with it.”

    Jon:
    Of course you won’t argue against what missionaries are doing because you are a missionary. Because many Muslims and other Christian sects do what you do doesn’t make it right. Members in your group may believe that all people who don’t believe like you are going to hell, but this is a faulty belief which only leads to evangelical extremism. Perhaps you are aware that many missionaries don’t even think Catholics are Christians, and are all over South America and Philipines aggressively trying to convert Catholics.

    Phoebe:
    “I am a Catholic and I attended. the talks about the bible are more often than not related to volunteering which I believe should not be offensive to anyone, after all, what is wrong with giving.”

    Jon:
    People don’t need to listen to the bible to be involved with or care about charity. Though it is fortunate that they didn’t read the passages about non-believers going to hell, stoning of adulterers, etc.

    You claim that proselytising is part of the DNA of your beliefs. That doesn’t make it right or acceptable, particularly when Christians try to lure people in by offering things such as English lessons, camps, blankets, etc. Buddhism is a peaceful religion that should be respected, not aggressively proselytised against.

  34. Well, thank you Mr stereotype. You just severed to strengthen my point. I am a Christian yes, but i am NOT a white, american or even on an evangelical trip anywhere, and i never have been. I am a black, African, man. I came upon your blog when investigating IYF (believe it or not, some of us “crazy” Christians do look before we leap). I do tell people about my faith, but if the interfere, i let them be and i always close with the words “it’s your choice”.

    Now that i’v cleared up what you ever so clearly “knew” about me, let me take this opportunity to draw your attention to your own post above:

    “…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?…” Not hateful? OK, perhaps just scathing.

    “…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”….” I personally warn people about things like fire, high voltage and other things that are bad for you health. Against people with different beliefs and ideas?… not so much.

    But, i will give you this, i think it is wrong for anyone to misrepresent themselves. But then again, someone like you who knows everything about someone from one post on his blog clearly doesn’t care much for the opinion of this “nutty white american evangelist in china converting all the little Asians”.

  35. To Nick (and other Christians):

    The problem with you, and so many others’ who base their existence on this planet solely on that singular, dogmatic point of reference; the bible, is that you’re just a wee bit sensitive to any kind of criticism that calls into question the historical accuracy of that little black book. Why is that? Is it because you lot don’t particularly like looking at specifics?

    Your rebuttal of my earlier post smacks of the standard defensive approach of most creationists when the validity of their beliefs is called into question. You don’t offer any substantive, or quantifiable, evidence for the existence of a god, or gods, you just resort to that rather tiresome fallback argument; the discrediting of evolutionist theory.

    As Jon has recently pointed out, you’ve misrepresented what Dawkins actually said. Dawkins was simply saying why is that only one God can exist? If one, why not others? As for Darwin, well he was pretty much correct in what he says; if you go back far enough in time – four and half billion years ago – everything was algal slurry washing around in a toxic soup. But something occurred which changed all that; the addition of oxygen into our planetary environment. Without oxygen nothing, which lives on this planet, would exist. Oxygen created the possibility for greater cell formation and reproduction. Please tell me where in your bible it tells us about oxygen?

    Most Atheists, or people who don’t subscribe to the idea of creative intelligence, aren’t intolerant of Christians. As I’ve already stated, I have no issues with people believing in something, or having a faith, if those beliefs help make them feel better about themselves and their place on this planet. What I’m intolerant of is the superstitious nonsense that the Christian religious hierarchy try and convince us is unquestionable truth; that the only way for us to avoid eternal damnation is to repent and seek salvation in a man who, supposedly, was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. That my friend is the biggest fairy tale ever conceived; the greatest hoax ever perpetuated on mankind.

    I remember watching a documentary on the BBC a few years ago when Dawkins’ God Delusion first arrived on the scene. Condemnation raged from within the Catholic and Protestant hierarchies in the U.K. A priest was interviewed and he was asked how he knew god was real. His answer was pitiful to say the least. He said he knew ‘it was true because he believed it.’ No offerings of quantifiable or solid evidence. We were all supposed to be convinced because that was what he believed. His rationale is the same that existed back in the Dark Ages. What people choose to believe is entirely up to them but unless one can provide real proof then it can only remain an opinion based personal feelings, or emotion, and that isn’t enough to prove the existence of god. I mean it’s not like he’s dropped out of the heavens and presented himself recently is it?

    The problem with the Bible is that most of it is figurative, not literal. Yes, one could say that man evolved from the dust of the earth but one has got to go back a lot further than six thousand years ago for there to be a genuinely believable timeline for that to occur. In that, Dawkins is correct; life has evolved through incremental adaptations over a massive span of time (four and a half billion years). When looked at in that context it’s easily explained how man could evolve from algal soup to what he is today.

    Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked here because the main thrust of my original argument was not predominantly an evolution versus creationism debate but more about all the superstitious nonsense that religions, including Christianity, try so hard to convince us is unquestionable truth. I offered up a number of discussion points; the formation of the Bible, the Council of Nicaea, the Crucifixion of Christ, Jesus’ affiliation with the Essenes, the reason for his crucification, and the miracle attributed to Lazarus. As expected, you didn’t bother to comment on any of that. Why was that? Are you not certain of your faith? Also, as expected, you conveniently sidetracked any discussion about the above mentioned subjects with a glossy look at the big picture; the discrediting of evolutionists’ to avert peoples’ attention from specifics.

    So, for all that are reading this I’ll put the challenge out to Nick (or any other Christian) again.

    1. Easter: Why is it that the celebration for the crucifixion/Resurrection – arguably the most important date in Christendom – moves around from one year to the next? One would think that if the event occurred on a particular date in history (eg; April 15th) then it would remain on that date? So why does it move between the end of March until the end of April? I’ll tell you why: prior to the Council of Nicaea, in 325, no Christian religious authorities had a clue about the date the actual event took place. So they borrowed a couple of old Pagan festivals (Eostre and the Sumerian Barley festival aka Akitu) and used them to create the Easter celebration. The Sumerian Barley festival coincides with the Vernal Equinox – March 21st; the day when the length of darkness equaled the length of daylight (essentially 12 hours each) and was the seasonal beginning of spring, and the planting season, for the Sumerians. Akitu was an agrarian based festival celebrating the life-death-rebirth deity cycle of the Marduk ordeal.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akitu

    And in particular the section under Comparative Mythology:

    Marduk in the myth enacted in the festival is preserved in the so-called Marduk Ordeal Text (KAR 143). In this myth, Marduk appears as a life-death-rebirth deity, reflecting the festival’s agrarian origin based on the cycle of sowing and harvesting. He is imprisoned in the underworld and rises again on the third day. The obvious parallel to the death and resurrection of Christ celebrated at Christian Easter has been noted at an early time, and elaborated in detail by Zimmern in his 1918 editio princeps. Pallis (1926) rejected some of the Christological parallels noted by Zimmern, but continued to stress that the death of Marduk, the lamentation over him, his subsequent restoration and the rejoicing over his resurrection is among the Near Eastern templates for the Christ myth.[2] This theme of a dying young (harvest/vegetable) God (common throughout the Middle east)is also reflected in the legends of Tammuz, and is referenced in the Bible as “women weeping for Tammuz” even in the temple of the Hebrew God.

    You might also be interested in this:

    http://www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs/laupuslibrary/diversity/april.cfm

    Pope Gregory the Great ordered his missionaries to use old religious sites and festivals and absorb them into Christian rituals where possible. The Christian celebration of the Resurrection of Christ was ideally suited to be merged with the Pagan feast of Eostre and many of the traditions were adopted into the Christian festivities.

    As I mentioned in my earlier post, more than twenty six religions use the Life – Death – Rebirth Deity cycle which originates from Egyptians.

    2. Jesus was Jewish: Yes, that’s right and if one reads through the gospels it pretty much says as much. There are a number of verses where he refers to the ‘Law’ and how he is not going to change it ‘one iota’ but is here to ensure people ‘follow the law.’ Well, for all you Christians out there, would you care to discuss what law he’s talking about? No, of course not, because he’s talking about Judaic religious law isn’t he? And why is it that we don’t see more priests on their pulpits, during Sunday service, telling the faithful that Jesus was a Jew and that he’s talking about Judaic law? Well you see, as I mentioned before, that just wouldn’t fit in about the contrived little tale about the poor carpenters son being a Christian, would it?

    As I mentioned before, Jesus was a devout Jew and a member of an ascetic Jewish religious group called the Essenes. I’ve provided some links to sites which provide more information about this:

    http://www.essenespirit.com/jesus.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essenes

    The Essenes were attributed to having written a number of chapters of the Bible. The original texts, of which, were first located in 1947 at the cave site, known as Qumran, next to the Dead Sea.

    The Bible is not the word of God. It is just the thoughts of men who thought they were talking to God. Most of the First Testament was written by the Jews while they were being held captive in Babylon. It was written by men under duress, or in trauma, who longed to return to their homeland. Much of what Ezekiel wrote says as much. Paul wrote most of his elucidations while imprisoned. This obviates the idea that people, during times of great sufferance, are in a state of sorrow and are emotionally receptive to anything either real, or imagined, which gives them hope. And that, essentially, is what religions do; give people hope. Most people who turn to God, or are born again, normally do soon during some kind of trauma, or suffering, in their lives. It is a way out from their suffering; it gives them hope.

    I don’t have any issues with people believing what they want to believe if that’s what it takes to help them feel better about themselves and their place on this planet but please don’t try and convince the rest of us that all that nonsense in the Bible is historically accurate, or even true, because it’s not.

    To all Christians, I offer this challenge to you. Do you have the Gonads to question the information that is in the Bible? Would you like to know where all religious thought originates from? If so, then you would do well to read the following:

    Authors: Robert Lomas and Christopher Knight

    The Hiram Key
    The Second messiah
    Uriels Machine
    The Book of Hiram

    A final word. Nick, if you want to defend your faith, please do so without discrediting evolutionist theory. Please provide substantive evidence why all the rest of us should believe what’s written in the Bible.

  36. Jon, dude! This is somewhat off the topic of your original piece but I figured I’d help you out with a bit of English. You are, after all, an English teacher at a University. But seeing as its your second language, maybe things are a bit fuzzy.
    In your reply to “T.M’s” statement “I smell hate”, you said;
    “By the way, hate, love, indifference, foolishness or any emotion doesn’t have a “smell”.”

    T.M didn’t really, actually, physically smell anything Jon. He was reading your stuff on his computer. Only really new computers have any smell. But that wasn’t what T.M was referring to. In English Jon, we call this an idiom. It has a meaning other than the literal meaning – its called figurative speech. So, for example, if someone says, “I smell a rat,” it doesn’t mean that he really smells a rat Jon. It means there is something else going on, something suspicious. “The sweet smell of success”, Jon is similar. Of course success doesn’t have a smell. That would be silly! So too when someone “smells victory” – it means that they sense victory is at hand (there’s another idiom for you right there Jon – “at hand” means near or imminent, not really at your hand physically).

    So, Jon, when T.M said that he smelled hate, he meant that the tone of your writing and the statements you make are intolerant and hateful (what I’ve been saying to you too for the past 18 months) and no Jon, T.M and I are not the same person.

    There you go Jon! A little free lesson on idiomatic speech. Might come in useful next time you’re teaching your poor hapless students about the dangers of those nutty American evangelical fundamentalist, brianwashed, lobotomy-worthy missionaries who are trying so hard to destroy the very lives of countless happy Thai Buddhist people.

  37. @ Megalithic

    I’m not going to rise to your challenge and deal with every point you make that I disagree with – there are just far too many. I will say the following:

    Much of Christendom and what happens in churches across the world every Sunday has its roots in pagan practices. In fact, a really awesome book for Christians to read is Pagan Christianity, by Frank Viola. Even Sunday, as the traditional “day of rest”, was instituted by Constantine, who though he called himself a Christian, actually was a sun worshipper. All the pagan practices, however, have been reinvested with Christian meaning and they are just that, practices. They are external forms that have become accepted traditions – I in no way endorse them, but there is no harm in them and they no longer hold any pagan meaning. It would be similar to a Buddhist who becomes a follower of Christ and continues with the practice of Loy Khratong but with a new, reinvested meaning – worshipping Christ instead of the river goddess. It doesn’t for one minute change who Jesus is, or what he did. It in no way negates what is written in the Bible. The fact that Easter is linked to the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox, doesn’t change the fact that Jesus was crucified. Of that there is ample evidence. It certainly does not change the significance of that event and it makes no difference on what day of the year it is celebrated. I personally, rejoice every single day that Jesus was crucified.

    You seem to announce with somewhat of a flourish that Jesus was Jewish. I honestly doubt that thats news to any Christian. He was a Jewish Rabbi and as such he would have kept the law. That’s why he could say that he had come to fulfill the law. And he kept the law without the legalism that the “regular” rabbis did – that’s why he was accused of breaking the law when he picked wheat on the sabbath and performed healings on the sabbath. Once again, I don’t see how this little gem of wisdom on your part in any way changes anything that Christians believe (it certainly hasn’t rocked my world).

    You state that “Paul wrote most of his elucidations while imprisoned.” That’s not entirely true. 4 of his 13 writings were written in prison. In fact, his first 6 letters, were written as a free man. His teachings were well established by the time he started writing from prison and there is no change in his style or his message in and out of prison. Also, bear in mind, that the “prison” he wrote from was in fact house arrest. He wasn’t literally bound in chains when he wrote his 4 prison letters. So your theory about people in “great sufferance, are in a state of sorrow and are emotionally receptive to anything either real, or imagined, which gives them hope”, doesn’t really hold water. The Gospels and the rest of the New Testament (except Revelation, written by John on Patmos island where he was in exile) were written by free men. No hint of trauma, suffering etc.

    As for the Old Testament (or “First Testament” as you call it), it consists of 39 books written by at least 29 different authors over the course of 1,000 years. During that time Israel was in captivity (actually, exile) in Babylon for only 70 years and it wasn’t actually the whole population who were taken into exile. The prophetic books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Zechariah were written during the exile and some scholars argue that Ezekiel was not written exclusively during the exile. Part of it is post-exilic. For those in exile, it also wasn’t really imprisonment per se. They lived pretty well and mostly thrived. Daniel, for instance, had a very high position in the government. I doubt very much that it was “written by men under duress, or in trauma”. In fact, when released by the Babylonians, very few Israelites chose to return (the Bible says 42 360 men – a fraction of the number taken into captivity). Other writings during the exilic period were merely codifications of the oral tradition and editing of existing writings.

    Finally, with regards to the whole evolution debate. The very things you accuse me of are applicable to you viz. “you’re just a wee bit sensitive to any kind of criticism”, and “your rebuttal of my earlier post smacks of the standard defensive approach”, and “you don’t offer any substantive, or quantifiable, evidence for the existence of a god, or gods, [your evolutionary theories] you just resort to that rather tiresome fallback argument; the discrediting of evolutionist theory [the Bible],” and “you’ve misrepresented what Dawkins actually said” – well, you and Jon and others of his ilk, consistently misrepresent the Bible.

    My point in my original reply to you, was that for you to believe that everything that exists came about by sheer chance, requires way more faith than it does for me to believe in a loving God with whom I am able to have a deep and meaningful relationship. A relationship that is as real and tangible to me as the shirt on your back is to you. And I by the way, am not in prison. I am not experiencing “great sufferance”. I am not in a state of sorrow. I am not in need of hope ( I have that in abundance) and have not experienced any trauma. In fact, I am a very happy, healthy, well adjusted person, thank you very much.

  38. As I’m sure some readers might like to make a connection, it is entirely a coincidence that I am posting this on Christmas (actually the 26th in Thailand already) as I just returned from a short secular holiday and read these last several posts.

    TM wrote:
    “Well, thank you Mr stereotype. You just severed to strengthen my point. I am a Christian yes, but i am NOT a white, american or even on an evangelical trip anywhere, and i never have been. I am a black, African, man. I came upon your blog when investigating IYF”

    Jon Wrote:
    Okay, I never said all missionaries are American, but I’d estimate 90% of foreign ones are American. And the fact that you are Christian can likely be traced back to some white, American missionaries in Africa. By the way, are you African American or just African? It seems like word of mouth about this blog at IYF has led to several of it’s members posting here, though only one small section of the original post mentioned them.

    TM wrote:
    “I do tell people about my faith, but if the interfere, i let them be and i always close with the words ‘it’s your choice’.”

    Jon Wrote:
    How thoughtful of you to actually tell them that they have a right to decline your proselytising. I suppose some people feel so much pressure from missionaries and other Christians to convert (buy the product) that they may need that reminder.

    “What kind of nut defaces the whole side of his hotel with Christian slogans?…” TM wrote: ” Not hateful? OK, perhaps just scathing.”

    Jon Wrote:
    Yes, you are correct; it is not hateful. Ridicule or criticism isn’t hatred. Be careful about being too loose with the concept of hatred. When I saw this hotel and it’s giant cross, I was smirking and shaking my head with bemusement. Pointing out that something is foolish or ridiculous is not hateful. Though I’ll admit some of my language was strong at times (I wrote this 5 years ago), it was never hateful. I will concede, that if I wrote this article now, I would change a few of the words such as “nutter”, so people wouldn’t misrepresent my criticisms as being “hateful”.

    Now, I’ll point out some things that are hateful:

    In Uganda, the Christian government is pushing for the death penalty for homosexuals, while so-called moderate Ugandan voices merely support life imprisonment for homosexual acts. Homosexual rights is not really an issue of concern for me, but this is a rather severe Mideveal punishment, is it not? Would you call that Christian love? Right-wing American evangelicals have been supporting the Christian church in that country (and much of Africa) for decades. Hence, this type of religious extremism exists in many places.

    Moreover, the tenet of Christianity which fundamentalists hold to, that non-believers of Jesus cannot go to heaven (will go to hell), is indeed hateful. Is God hateful? Would an omniscient, loving god allow people to go to hell just because they didn’t believe in “Him”, particularly when there are so many other religions and ideologies to choose from? Punishing people (with “eternal damnation”) for being indoctrinated in another religion is a horrendous concept. This is one belief that evangelicals who consider the Bible to be infallible can never justify. God is not loving if only members of his in-group are “saved” and “outsiders” are relegated to suffer eternal damnation. Spreading that message is more hateful than condemning missionaries. Of course, if there is a god(s), it would be highly unlikely that he, she, it, or they would have ludicrous man-made rules such as this determining “salvation”.

    TM wrote:
    But then again, someone like you who knows everything about someone from one post on his blog clearly doesn’t care much for the opinion of this “nutty white american evangelist in china converting all the little Asians”.

    Jon wrote:
    I didn’t mention anything about China. What are you talking about? Are you confusing Thailand and China?

    TM wrote:
    “But, i will give you this, i think it is wrong for anyone to misrepresent themselves.

    Jon Wrote:
    Well, I’m glad we agree that it is wrong for missionaries to misrepresent themselves. Missionaries misrepresenting who they are and what they are doing is the main issue I raised in the original article. Quite a few missionaries in Thailand aren’t clear about who they are. Of course I don’t support any proselytising, but my harshest criticisms are aimed at the many missionaries and charity groups that aren’t clear about their activities. For instance, often people who donate to Christian charities have no idea that their money is often used to support proselytising and building churches in Buddhist areas. And of course, some of these groups don’t advertise themselves as Christian groups; you’d have to do research to find this out. And as I’ve stated many times already, some of my students joined different camps and had no idea beforehand that bible teaching and proselytising was a central part of the camp or activity. The organisers likely knew if they adveritsed the truth, most people wouldn’t be interested; therefore, some of them deceive the students into attending. There is no way to justify that as acceptable.

  39. Nick Wrote:
    Jon, dude! This is somewhat off the topic of your original piece but I figured I’d help you out with a bit of English. You are, after all, an English teacher at a University. But seeing as its your second language, maybe things are a bit fuzzy.
”

    Jon wrote:
    I’m impressed that you spent all of that time to try to show the anti-missionary guy up. Unfortunately, you are off the mark in your smug critique of my English ability.

    “Smells of hate” is not a strong metaphor, but I didn’t say it was incorrect.
    English can be flexible, so, even if technically he isn’t “wrong”, it is a poor metaphor because he didn’t compare my post (which he was criticising as hateful) with something that actually has a foul odour.

    Likewise, “dude” I’ll overlook your American frat boy language, man.

    Regarding your off the mark view that my messages are hateful, see my previous post from a few minutes ago. Criticism and ridicule are not hateful and the language I used never elicited hatred. Hated is much to strong a term to ascribe to harsh criticism.

  40. Summer Richards

    This post may be so way passed in time but anyway I just wanna share some thoughts with you guys; thoughts based on a recent personal experience…

    I am not siding with anyone of you in particular although my statements may be favored to one of you guys. I just want to share my experience regarding this controversial IYF, Leadership Training, and World Camp. The truth is I experienced all those three first hand in South Korea just last June 2011 and I have to be honest – it was torture in so many ways. I am a Catholic but I am way different from other believers for unlike them I do not believe in going to church. I simply prefer staying home and reading the bible or even just praying to God. The reason for this is that I am certain that I am able to manifest my faith far more in the solemn presence of only myself.

    Anyway, IYF’s really enticing program got me victimized recently, with all the misleading advertisements and claims from the organization regarding their Leadership Training and World Camp in Korea. Even before I signed up for the camp I asked the IYF members if the so called program was made for the purpose of introducing and eventually forcing participants to a conversion in religion/belief; and for all those times I was answered so convincingly by the members that “IYF is a non-sectarian and non-profitable Christian institution that solely seeks the betterment of the youth through their leadership and world camp.” So I signed up for it, and well surprise surprise it was indeed a trap for a conversion!

    I was originally scheduled to spend 3 weeks with the program, but after a week and some days I just re-booked my flight and escaped cause it was intolerable and so out of line. Everyday was composed of 4 to 7 bible scripture readings and mind lectures as they call it which didn’t have even an iota of connection to the claimed purpose of the training which was to hone leaders. So the claim made by one person participating in this thread saying “the scripture readings and lectures were related to leadership” is so not true. Well you might be wondering why I even put up with the intolerance for more than a week, see I didn’t have a choice but to put up with it for that week since IYF took all the participant’s passports just before we exited the airport, and yes it is true that we are brought and almost locked up at a “center” uphill, away from any other house or establishment; and stretched to our limits everyday with the repetitious lectures, activities, and schedule which gave us only 3 hours of sleep in a day, 4 hours if we are lucky.

    So IYF definitely misrepresented themselves to all participants on purpose, that’s something I am sure of. For not one member spoke of what the camp was truly about, their members purposely lied to conceal their unacceptable agenda, they worked hand in hand to fool people into signing up to their programs with the hopes of eventually converting them to members of their church. Being able to observe how they work during my stay, I figured out that the organization overfeeds the participants with information forcefully so as to either make them surrender just for the sake of ending their misery or get through their hearts and minds and make them admit that they are weak, useless, and doomed; both cases will then lead to the participant turning to the organization for comfort, guidance, strength – and that’s how the conversion to their religion begins.

    It may be possible that some recruits just solely believed in the teachings of the church that’s why they switched perspectives; but hearing the life stories of both old and new members I find it hard to believe that there’s a chance for one to just voluntarily, and out of his/her own will submit to IYF. The stories I heard were usually dramatic; a girl whose brother died, a boy whose dream to do professional sports was ended by a terrible accident, children whose families fell apart. The common denominator was that, it was at the time of trouble and weakness when the people concerned were converted to IYF believers.

    It’s up to all of you to decide, but what I tell you is that I can testify to all that I just said, I have enough proof to justify my claims. I was actually being forced to accept their beliefs and to turn to their side while I was in the camp, I was just lucky that I know how to stand up for what I believe in for there were others who went to the same camp with me who were coaxed to let go of their faith. Some actually converted to be IYF members now blind and deaf.

    Isn’t this organization’s way of gathering believers just contradictory to what God blessed mankind with which is freedom? God is a good and very intelligent God, had he wanted people to just submit to anything he would have mad all people alike without brains and hearts. But God created all of us with hearts, minds, and freedom of our own. So I just want to ask to the IYF believers who goes on every single day preaching about the Bible, Faith, and God. Why do you people want to take God’s unique gift to mankind; with what you are doing have you noticed that you’re making one great sin which is playing God; or worse trying to bypass God’s creation, appearing to be more superior than the one who made you? IYF members love asking “are you saved”, well with what you are doing; do you think you people are actually “saved”?

  41. I am currently a member of the IYF in the American branch. Yes we are an organization that believes in God. I don’t see how it is wrong for a christain to speak about God we clearly state that we are christians and we have bible lectures. If you are actually christains don’t you feel the need to preach the gospel? And the reason we call the bible lectures leadership symposiums is because just as we say we believe that in order to become a leader you must have a leader. abraham lincoln and martin luther all had leaders who helped them out and the greatest one was God. We believe that God is the one who gives us wisdom, faith, love, grace, and many more.

    “So I just want to ask to the IYF believers who goes on every single day preaching about the Bible, Faith, and God. Why do you people want to take God’s unique gift to mankind; with what you are doing have you noticed that you’re making one great sin which is playing God; or worse trying to bypass God’s creation, appearing to be more superior than the one who made you? IYF members love asking “are you saved”, well with what you are doing; do you think you people are actually “saved”?”

    This was a quote from Summer Richards
    I just want to ask how are we “playing God”? I don’t see anything wrong with preaching the gospel. and if God wasn’t happy with our works why is he helping us? and I know for sure that he is helping us because I’ve seen many of his works while working for the IYF. And yes i do believe i am actually saved. and what we are “doing with that” is we are making sure that the people who come would actually recieve salvation. We want to share the hearts we recieved from God. and our experiences we had believing in God. So that it would be easier for them to recieve salvation. We know for sure that what we say does not make people recieve salvation. It’s only by god’s faith and i am aware of that. but as Christains we cannot simply just close our mouths with the knowledge of God that we have. I didn’t read everyone elses comment but for Summer this is what i wanted to tell you.

  42. There was a huge scandal regarding the Moony religious group. The wife of the leader’s son escaped and told reporters about the violence and drug usage she witnessed.

  43. Well, I’ve stayed out of this discussion for the last few months, but after reading these recent posts, it is still clear that the so called “leadership camps” and “global camps” are misrepresentative and false advertising.

    One wouldn’t expext a “leadership camp to have anything to do with Jesus or christianity. Couldn’t a leadership camp involve Buddhism, or any other system of thought? Perhaps you don’t consider the Buddha’s teachings worthy of leadership, or anyone elses teachings for that matter.

    Bottom line is, if you want legitimacy to what you do, stop the false advertising. Tell all entrants and people invited to go that there is mandatory bible readngs and sermons every day, and there will be pressure to change religion for people who are not christians. Then at least you are advertising what you really are, a pushy, moony-style religious cult.

    And I’ll be warning my students again when the IYF comes to my campus and uses false advertising to get members to their camps.

  44. @Christine. Just out of curiosity, can’t you preach your religion in your own country? Why do you have to come to another country and do it? Whats wrong with leaving Buddism alone? Considering it has killed less people over the years than the Christians and Muslims of the world.

    I live in Chiang Mai and was horrified to see a bunch of missionaries standing around some poor Thai handicapped guy selling lottery tickets, touching his head (like he was some weird statue) and asking if they could pray for him. WTF. Leave the guy alone….leave the students alone, etc. Thailand has a longer history and culture than most of our Western countries and certainly doesn’t need converting.

    And another thing…why is it always the “born again” Christians? You don’t see the Catholic nuns and monks out trying to convert and preach to the Thais – and if you do, they are upfront and you know its a Catholic Church sponsored event, not a “leadership” camp.

    Okay. End Rant.

  45. I’m a pretty accepting guy, but I disagree with aggressively pushing your religion upon someone else. It is one thing to inform someone about a different point of view, but to actually say that what you believe, what you family and your culture has believe in for centuries is wrong and satanic is just plain wrong.

    @Nick, you talk about intolerance but the number of times that you put down Buddhism is quite numerous, especially in saying where Christianity is superior. That is more along the lines of an aggressive missionary, not someone spreading knowledge.

    @Jon, I agree with your points concerning the aggressiveness of missionaries in Thailand. I have seen it myself and I find it rather unpleasant.

    Omitting critical, but known to be vital, information is the same as lying. Hence, lying by omission. I very much despise how the groups are not up front about what they do, what they try to teach. They preach leadership, however the leadership is not in the general context that most of the world accepts it, but rather “leadership” from a religious point of view. They should admit that they are teaching religious materials, instead of misrepresenting their concepts as general pedestrian concepts.

    As for the people who say that non-Christians are not forced to convert or “witness” at these events, I very much disagree. Having experienced it myself, I can say the peer pressure is immense, especially considering how almost everyone declares that accepting God is the only way. If someone would like to argue that peer pressure does not amount to being forced into action, then I encourage them to study up on the Stanford Prisoner and Guard study. I am not against Christianity or anyone who believes in it, but I do feel that the peer pressure is rather effective enforcer. I would encourage someone who disagrees to attend a ceremony of a different religion, you a language you understand very well of course, and feel what it is like to have people say that your beliefs and values are entirely false and is bad for the world.

    If anyone is curious as to what my religion is or what my beliefs are, then here it is. I come from a Buddhist family, got sent to Catholic school, and had a girlfriend who was a strong protestant who tried to convert me. I’m from the United States. When I moved to Thailand, I witnessed the actions of missionaries firsthand at the Universities. As for my current beliefs, I would say they are along the lines of “do unto others as you would have them do” , pay it forward, and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”.

    Cheers.

  46. Ex IYF girl camper

    Wow… I went to this iyf camp this past week. I feel really manipulated to the point where I started believing what they were saying in their brainwashing lectures. My mind is weak and I am physically tired. I took off on my own from the camp after enduring Three days. They tried to watch me shower. They secretly put bibles in our back packs and were often told we had Satan inside our heads giving us bad thoughts. This camp is bad news and needs to stop pushing their beliefs and falsely advertising!!!

  47. Thanks for posting your experience about your experiences at this “camp”. Glad you didn’t give in to the “Satan inside your head” comments and didn’t fall to their agressive brainwashing techniques.

    And, of course, they’re back again this term at my university, like clockwork.

    The name of their camp this year is…get ready for this: “Potential Challenge Camp”. Advertised as part of the camp is a “Potential Test”, and a “Potential Challenge”. The camps should be called “Potential Convert Camp”

    As usual, religion, church, or Jesus aren’t mentioned anywhere in the camp advertisement fliers. I wonder how long it took them to decide on these names. They will be running out of non-religious names for their camps, as the names change every year, yet of course there is always religious proselytising.

  48. The question one needs to ask is: why do people convert other people ? The answer is : They don’t believe/respect/tolerate your religion/way of life/cultural practices and mythology. Fundamentalists like the Missionaries or Islamists fall in the above category of people.
    An indian-american scholar named Rajiv Malhotra has written 2 books recently, Being Different is one of them , that explains the mindset of Asian/ non christian looking at a christian West. It has helped me understand the non-negotiable differences in religion.

  49. If only I had read this post weeks ago.. IYF posted Camp English flyers all over my campus at hunter college, ny. To college kids looking for volunteer opportunities, $300 dollars to teach a short English workshop in Mexico sounded great. I checked the website and most sources are positive about the organization. I called for information and they were so nice and welcoming on the phone and via email. It wasn’t until after the busride to Dallas, Tx that they gave us paperwork to sign absilving the organization of legal responsibility for us. And then told us we couldn’t leave the hotel premises, told the hotel the shuttles were off limits to our group, fed us small portions of non-nutritious food (providing no veggie alternative) forcing me to eat pickled cabbage and rice for nearly every meal for three days before my father bought a plane ticket home for me. The Mind Lectures were hogwash. ” man’s thoughts, desires and heart are evil and will lead him to stray from God.” ” one needs to drop one’s ego, humble oneself to god, open your heart and accept pastor park’s interpretation to the bible because you cannot trust yourself, satan is corrupting your heart and mind” if that is not brain washing wth is?

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