A young man was killed last week.
26-year-old John Allen Chau, an American adventurer and Christian Missionary, died in service to his God. In an ill-informed and ill-fated attempt at spreading the Gospel to uncontacted natives of the Sentinel Islands, off the coast of India, Chau was riddled with arrows then buried in the sand.
But Chau isn’t the story. Yes, his death is a tragedy, though one that could have been avoided had he followed the law.
The othee tragedy is the response of some American Christians—the calls for legal retribution against the tribespeople who killed Chau.
While Chau’s own family has begged Indian law enforcement to leave the Sentinelese alone, International Christian Concern—a US-based nonprofit focused on bringing attention to the persecution of Christians “around the world”—has called for bringing the Sentinelese to justice.
Citing what he deems another case of Christian persecution, ICC Regional Manager William Stark said, “We here at International Christian Concern are extremely concerned by the reports of an American missionary being murdered in India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Our thoughts and prayers go out to both John’s family and friends. Every day, new reports of persecution are being documented in India. Many Christians fear this may be the new normal for their community as Hindu radicals and others have been allowed to attack Christians and other minority communities with impunity. India must take steps to counter the growing wave of intolerance and violence.”
Never mind that Chau broke the law and presented a legitimate threat to the Sentinelese. Never mind that Chau violated their borders, an issue most American Christians hold near and dear to their hearts. Never mind that the Sentinelese likely have no idea what a Christian is. Never mind they acted in a manner most gun-loving, Bible-toting and quoting Americans would when a black people in need of quick phone calls knock on their doors. The Sentinelese committed murder, according to ICC, and for that they must be punished.
The larger point is the inherent hypocrisy in this position.
First is the lack of recognition that these Indian laws are in place specifically to prevent harm to both the Sentinelese and those who would contact them. The laws were there for a reason. Even the Bible declares that Christians should obey the law of the land, and yet this one failed to do so, arrogantly believing that he was called by God (thus having divine protection), and that proselytizing to the Sentinelese was the right thing to do.
Second, where are they when black Christians in America are persecuted? In an act of extraordinary myopia, the month Dylan Roof shot up a church in Charleston, South Carolina, the ICC was notably silent about it. And that’s not to say that they were silent about any perceived persecution. Prominent in their headlines for June, 2015, were various instances of so-called persecution, many of which were lawsuits from various atheist groups regarding 1st Amendment issues; a US Marine courts martialed ostensibly for not removing a bible verse from his computer screen; a school forced into apologizing to a teen girl for banning her from reciting bible verses; and a letter written to the Indian government addressing Christian persecution in India. Not one single word about the deaths of 9 Christian’s in the US gunned down by a white supremacist.
Why the discrepancy? Because the clear mission of groups like the ICC is not really to stop Christian persecution. It’s to destroy the power of those who challenge Christian authority. The point us to shore up Christian dominion around the world. One could say the ICC is a Dominionist organization. The goal is to carve out special protections for Christians.
How do I know this?
What other groups are persecuted in India? Atheists. Women. Sikhs. Muslims. LGBTQI persons. While various secular human rights organizations address all of these in India, as well as the persecution of other minority groups in the US and around the world, the ICC and others like them only address Christian persecution, and predominantly in Africa, the Middle East, India, and East Asia. You know, regions whose inhabitants are mostly against the proselytizing of Judeo-Christian “Westerners.”
The calls for the Sentinelese being brought to justice has nothing to with actual justice. Chau is a martyr, now, an excuse to subvert or destroy the natives. It’s in this context we see the slow, but obvious rot of Christianity as a meaningful ideology. Christians—particularly American Christians—don’t care about actual Christianity, the message of Christ, or even persecution. They care about power. This is illustrated clearly in the Christian need to solidify rule in the US. This is why evangelicals support Trump. This is why the Pat Robertsons of the world are okay with the Saudis assassinating journalists (the main impetus being the Saudi/Israeli alliance). This is why the persecution of Palestinians in Israel goes unanswered by American Christians. This is why American Christians will not accept Latinos’ want for asylum in the United States despite Latinos being largely Christian. This is why Americans generally resist calling white nationalist and supremacist Christians terrorists when they commit acts of terrorism.
And this is how Christianity dies, affixed to a crucifix made of the lies they tell themselves and the lip service they give to their own religion. This is why young people can no longer bear the idea of sitting in Church.
It’s all bullshit, and Christian’s know it.