By The Thylacine
This is really an adjunct to one of Sconner's comments in the Bibles to Bagdahd thread.
As a young (primary school) kid my parents took us off to New Guinea in the early 1960's. Though conservative and practising xtians they were not missionaries, but government employees. I think that their main reason for going was financial as they had been forced to sell the family farm in the 1960 credit squeeze and had worked out that a term or two in PNG would give them enough cash to buy another farm.
Papua New Guinea in the '60's was a place of hope and excitement but it was there that I first learned of the scourge of the missionary. The cash strapped Administration was cornered into a situation where it relied very heavily on missionaries and missionary organisations to provide the absolute basics of education. Outside the major urban centres the vast majority of education was the province of the missionary school. Coupled with the administration's almost complete inability to enforce its desired curriculum you can guess as to where the fanatical loyalties of the missionaries lay and just how much effort they put into complying with the government's plans for their people. It was not uncommon to find a 6th-grade-educated adult who had never read anything but biblical stories. Sunday School bible story books were used as reading primers. No Dr. Seuss or Enid Blyton for those poor students.
Worse still was the reason that these poor people bought all the crap they were dished out. They bought it because it came from the Europeans who obviously had a very much better and easier life. Who wouldn't want the *cargo* that the white man had. The unspoken undersell of the missionaries was that if you take on the white man's religion you'll be rewarded with his lifestyle. One of my native school friends said that his family only went to church because they thought that it was part of the process needed to obtain material wealth. I raised this with him again on the net about 18 months ago and his reply was that he was nearly 40 grand deeply in debt and totally stressed out before he realised that Xtianity is totally separate from economic reality and the whole thing is a fucking great con.
I have just finished reading several very recent reports on the surrender of a number of much vaunted Raskol Gangs (greatly feared and sometimes very violent ethnic and/or urban territorial gangs who usually specialise in "aquisitional crimes"). The Police claim that it is due to good policing (the truth is probably that police attitudes and tactics are a significant part of the problem). The missionaries, who are often important brokers in such surrenders, claim that the gang members have found religion and want to repent. And... the anthropologists who say that most gangs surrender because they are promised better access to community support and small business development funds. These promised funds mostly evaporate and the members of the group revert back to crime more disillusioned with the system than ever. So the con is still being practised.
While we were living in Port Moresby my Father became friendly with a missionary he met at the Golf Club. This guy managed a very large copra plantation for a major Church. The friendship was as rare as it was genuine since according to our conservative Presbyterian views other denominations were not "true Christians" and not cultivated socially.
Dad set off one afternoon for a twilight golf comp (9 holes played in the late afternoon) and returned very soon after he had left with his missionary friend. The man was obviously very distraught; it was one of the very few times I had seen a grown man crying (it was the emotionally repressed 60's after all). Although we kids were rapidly ushered out of the lounge room, the nature of a house virtually walled with louveres meant that we were able to eavesdrop on every word.
The source of this poor man's distress was that he was facing criminal charges for carrying out a head office directive where he was made to pay his native workforce in a scrip which could only be redeemed at the church-operated trade store. Although the face value of the scrip was the legal minimum wage the trade store prices were greatly inflated and the goods often very poor quality, frequently having been donated by Australian congregations collected and intended for free distribution. An Australian court had deemed the practice illegal and said that it was tantamount to slavery. A "concerned" missionary from a competing denomination had lodged the requisite legal complaint. Church Headquarters had completely abandoned this poor man, claiming they were ignorant and that he had acted on his own volition. The letters he had shown the prosecutor were dismissed as forgeries as there were no copies on file back in Australia.
He had been summarily dismissed and evicted from his house. Having carried out their wishes they were quite prepared to let him do time to keep their own noses clean.
I can clearly remember hearing him say that: "I sent over two hundred thousand pounds back to those greedy bastards last year and wasn't allowed to keep a penny to help the staff or fix the drying sheds... we never see a cent of any of the money they collect down South for the heathen... they're just bent businessmen selling salvation."
I learned much later as an adult that the case against him had been dismissed and that the church had been compelled to pay his family's costs to return to Australia. According to my Dad, it was not evidence but religious bias that got him off, apparently the judge that heard the case was also a prominent member of a
missionary Society and he was more interested in seeing the opposition denomination blamed than shooting the servant.
We had been back in Australia less than a month when door knocking proselytisers sought our generous donation for the poor benighted heathen of New Guinea. My Dad called out from the lounge room to ask what denomination the collectors were and we found that they were of the offending denomination.Dad arrived at the front door and asked. "What's the matter, Your plantation gone broke has it"? When he told them that church owned New Guinea businesses were sending very large sums of money to Australia and not seeing a cent (yes decimal currency had arrived in Oz) of church funds they rudely called him a lying nutter and left, without any donation.
Sconner, it's all about collecting money, forget about starving and sick children, god can perform miracles to fix them up (if he wishes). The really important thing is money. Collect it in the name of GOD and it's tax free and unaccountable, you have to do something blatant like flooding a war zone with unneeded bibles to show the donors that you are putting their cash to good works. That is that percentage of the cash you don't appropriate for your own lavish lifestyle. It's a necessary facet of the smoke and mirrors.