Christian Missionizing: Predation
Every day on the Christian "700 Club" from Pat Robertson's US Christian Broadcasting Network one can see a "testimony" in which a person becomes a Christian.
It is very revealing as a major Christian missionary methodology, and has been used in various degrees and versions over the centuries. I won't give the transcript but let me give the setting first.
Les is a typical guy who drank alcohol with the guys in the army, he gets married, wants a good living, nice cars and homes, etc. He's not much of a businessman, makes mistakes, has aches and pains physical and mental. He becomes dependent on alcohol and gets crazy drunk one day and decides to kill his family and himself because he has no hope of ever amounting to anything.
He misses, runs, gets arrested and faces 20 to 25 years in the California state prison. His bail was set for $20,000. He calls a buddy for help. Here's a bit of transcript (emphasis mine):
Jack was a Christian and told him he had to talk to
Jo [Les' Christian wife -SP] then and needed to pray about it. Hours later, Jack
decided to post Les bail. But he would only do it under a
The conditions were: "I had to come down and stay with
him," says Les. "I had to go work for him. And, he said,
were going to church. So he made my bail. But an hour
before I got bailed out, they called me out of the main cell
block and I was served divorce papers."
"I was a wreck," says Jo. "I was torn up inside. I couldnt
believe that he did what he did."
Les remembers the brokenness he felt that day: "Empty
is the word I can use to describe [it]. I was just drained.
No sense of any hope or a future. Id even come to the
point in my life that I hurt those that I loved the most. I
just didnt know how I was going to be able to live with
that. I arrived at Jacks house on Saturday and we talked
and I cried. Id never cried before in front of a man in my
life, and just told him everything."
The next day, Les held up his end of the bargain and
went to church with Jack. But Les didnt believe God
could ever accept him.
"How could God take somebody like
me," says Les, "who had done
something like what I have done? I
just didnt think God could. I didnt
think he would."
Jack introduced Les to his pastor.
Les recalls, "The Pastor said, Well, Les, what brings you
to Southern California? And I lost it. I told him what I
did. And he started sharing some words from the Bible.
And then he began sharing Christ with me."
There is a pattern here. It is used by Chrisitan missionaries over and over again.
There are so many people with pressing or even life-destroying problems, so many needy, lonely, unhappy folk---of every type of religion including Christianity. Do the problems of Christians all completely disppear when they accept Christianity? Of course, not. I have heard Christian ministers say (after you join the fold and still have problems) that 'the devil will really stand in your way' when you become a Christian.
How many people under duress would collapse at the chance to have someone sympathetic to them, to simply show them a little love, a little relief? These obviously are desperate people, and vulnerable to anyone or anything that will deliver them.
Enter the Christian ambulance chaser with a kind word and a temporary eternal cure-all.
I wonder if there are people who have a wonderful life at the peak of their happiness who say, you know, I feel so absolutely great, no problems, and have no earthly need I do not already have that I will go to the preacher and become a Christian! A Christian would find something to distress him. He would say, Oh yeah, what about when you die!?
In the above story there is a twist that is not unfamiliar---coercive predation. Yes, I'll pay your bail and get you out of jail ---if you'll do what I say, if you'll go to church! He paid $20,000 bucks and some compassion for a man's soul! This is predation.
Why do Christians build schools, hospitals, and rescue missions (soup kitchens/homeless shelters)? There are true Christian humanitarians, but there is often a missionary agenda also. Imagine your children starving to death, or freezing to death, and along comes the Christian missionary with food, blankets, and a new god. Would you step into his parlor? Would you if you were not cold and hungry?
If you don't have a fear to be saved from, Christians will invent one. The God of compassion will burn you hell forever and ever if you don't believe ______(apply Christian doctrine here); what is going to happen to you when you die?
There is more to religious belief than fear, predation, bargains, and manipulation, surely.