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Missionary work-short sighted?

Do you think the work of missionaries can have lasting effects on a community OUTSIDE of introduction to the christian god?

If so, do you think churchs' that support these "works" should take these into consideration, and alter how they effect these communities?

For example, there are findings that missionary work is effecting animal life in the Amazon.

"Religious and cultural norms often dictate which animals should be protected, eaten or avoided at all costs. Islam prohibits consuming pork; cows are considered sacred by Hindus; and most Americans squirm at the idea of eating a horse. These varying taboos and customs can change the faunal landscape around certain groups of people. Researchers from Stanford University investigated how three Christian influences - evangelical, Sabbatarian and Roman Catholic/Anglican - may have altered animal treatment among converted indigenous communities in the Amazon. It turns out that missionaries might not only be changing hearts and minds in the region, but also biodiversity, the researchers say. Though people of the Makushi and Wapishana tribes have traditionally believed that consuming lowland tapir meat can make them sick, many of them eat the animal anyway, trusting that their shamans will cure the potential illness. But people in the tribes who converted to one of the Sabbatarian faiths, such as such as Seventh-Day Adventism, and strongly rejected shamanism were much less likely to eat tapir, because their new religion made doing so taboo, the researchers found in their survey of 9,900 individuals in the Amazon. [The Awá: Faces of a Threatened Tribe] While the new religions might mean fewer tapirs are killed, getting rid of shamanism, especially among evangelical and Sabbatarian groups, seems to have hit animals that once enjoyed protection under the indigenous leaders, the researchers say. Shamans often guarded and discouraged hunting in areas of land thought to be swarming with powerful spiritual entities. "Based on field observations, I think that the removal of shamans has translated into more killing of animals," José Fragoso, a scientist at Stanford University, said in a statement. "Our perception is that they are killing more animals that are not taboo, such as pigs, and also that they are making kills in the holy areas, which were previously off-limits." Fragoso and his colleagues, whose research is funded by the National Science Foundation, plan to investigate whether some animals are being killed in greater numbers, according to Stanford University. Their most recent findings were published last year in the journal Human Ecology."

So at what point do the perpetrators of such "work" need to step back and re-evaluate what exactly it is they are doing?

Answer Question

Asked by sahmamax2 at 2:21 PM on Feb. 22, 2013 in Religious Debate

Level 37 (88,208 Credits)
Answers (36)
  • They don't care what damage they do as long as they get 'souls for god'.

    Answer by IhartU at 2:54 PM on Feb. 22, 2013

  • Why would 7 day adventists prohibit eating tapir?

    Answer by Dardenella at 2:57 PM on Feb. 22, 2013

  • It does seem that way doesn't it Ihart.

    It is so very short sighted, and well, selfish.

    Comment by sahmamax2 (original poster) at 2:58 PM on Feb. 22, 2013

  • Definitely. But the missionaries I support do practical work other than directly spreading the Gospel. My stepdaughter went on a mission trip to help start a pharmacy in Chiapas, Mexico. My pastor went on one to dig a well in a village in northern Mexico. The missionary I now support with a monthly check stays right in downtown Denver, helping teen moms get a good start with their new babies, operating a neighborhood foo bank, clothing closet, and school supply co-op, and running a safe "coffeehouse" where homeless teens and those living in the nearby dive motels can go at night to hang out. Her job isn't to preach to anyone, although she will talk about God if asked. I've seen her work change lives. She believes in the young people, helps connect them with the resources they need to get on their feet, and remains friends with some of them. I believe just handing out tracts on street corners is rather pointless.

    Answer by Ballad at 3:01 PM on Feb. 22, 2013

  • I am seriously wondering about the "facts" in this article.

    Absolutely Missionaries change the way people live. They drill wells and teach the people how to irrigate land, they bring medicine and teach about ways to help them keep themselves healthier. This means that more people live (horrors) It also would mean that quality of life would improve at leat to some small extent (How selfish) The teach basic education. Religious teaching is not the primary thing that missionaries do though that is there as well.
    I certainly will not say that "damage" is not done. More people more space and food required.
    By this article I see the author thinks that the environment (note not the people) would be better off not advancing educationally, healthily and possibly economically.
    Sounds pretty selfish to me.

    Answer by Dardenella at 3:12 PM on Feb. 22, 2013

  • im no fan of mission work that aims only at conversion, but this seems nit-picky. of course missionaries affect the area around them...thats usually the point. but if the ppl decide to convert and then decide to stop eating one animal and eating another that is their choice. these new converts no longer see a land as holy and suddenly they can eat the animals that live there. why is it the missionaries job to make sure a former holy lands animals are still "protected"? are these "once protected" animals endangered? or is it just an ecological shift made by those who are from the area?

    so no missionaries dont think about the choices the indigenous ppl make to their own environment...if they did they wouldnt be there in the first place. they are there to change the indigenous ppl and usually their way of life (for better or for worse).

    Answer by okmanders at 3:34 PM on Feb. 22, 2013

  • I am not one that is much on missionary work either for that matter. But if we are going to go I am glad that clean water is one of the first things that the missionaries try to bring in.

    Answer by Dardenella at 3:55 PM on Feb. 22, 2013

  • Oh I dont know... there were missionaries trying to convert those "red savages", and were helping to settle (and change) the land most of us call home right now...

    More land is changing due to business (demolishing natural resources for profit), than a missionary could ever instigate...

    Answer by Nimue930 at 4:16 PM on Feb. 22, 2013

  • Oh I dont know... there were missionaries trying to convert those "red savages", and were helping to settle (and change) the land most of us call home right now.
    it was wrong and selfish then, and it still is.

    Comment by sahmamax2 (original poster) at 4:32 PM on Feb. 22, 2013

  • More land is changing due to business (demolishing natural resources for profit), than a missionary could ever instigate...

    Viewing them as unrelated phenomenon is naive. The industrialization is part and parcel with the "civilization of savages" - you can't have one without the other.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 4:37 PM on Feb. 22, 2013

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