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MISSIONARY PROSELYTIZING

RELIGIOUS MISSIONARIES HAVE DESTROYED MORE CULTURES THAN HAS WAR!

A LITTLE STORY FROM "What Is Man?" Chapter 2, by Mark Twain

Old Man: I will tell you a little story:

Once upon a time an Infidel was guest in the house of a Christian widow whose little boy was ill and near to death. The Infidel often watched by the bedside and entertained the boy with talk, and he used these opportunities to satisfy a strong longing in his nature -- that desire which is in us all to better other people's condition by having them think as we think. He was successful. But the dying boy, in his last moments, reproached him and said:

"I believed, and was happy in it; you have taken my belief away, and my comfort. Now I have nothing left, and I die miserable; for the things which you have told me do not take the place of that which I have lost."

And the mother, also, reproached the Infidel, and said:

"My child is forever lost, and my heart is broken. How could you do this cruel thing? We have done you no harm, but only kindness; we made our house your home, you were welcome to all we had, and this is our reward."

The heart of the Infidel was filled with remorse for what he had done, and he said:

"It was wrong -- I see it now; but I was only trying to do him good. In my view he was in error; it seemed my duty to teach him the truth."

Then the mother said:

"I had taught him, all his little life, what I believed to be the truth, and in his believing faith both of us were happy. Now he is dead, -- and lost; and I am miserable. Our faith came down to us through centuries of believing ancestors; what right had you, or any one, to disturb it? Where was your honor, where was your shame?"

Young Man: He was a miscreant, and deserved death!

O.M. He thought so himself, and said so.

Y.M. Ah -- you see, his conscience was awakened!

O.M. Yes, his Self-Disapproval was. It pained him to see the mother suffer. He was sorry he had done a thing which brought him pain. It did not occur to him to think of the mother when he was misteaching the boy, for he was absorbed in providing pleasure for himself, then. Providing it by satisfying what he believed to be a call of duty.

Y.M. Call it what you please, it is to me a case of awakened conscience. That awakened conscience could never get itself into that species of trouble again. A cure like that is a permanent cure.

O.M. Pardon -- I had not finished the story. We are creatures of outside influences -- we originate nothing within. Whenever we take a new line of thought and drift into a new line of belief and action, the impulse is always suggested from the outside. Remorse so preyed upon the Infidel that it dissolved his harshness toward the boy's religion and made him come to regard it with tolerance, next with kindness, for the boy's sake and the mother's. Finally he found himself examining it. From that moment his progress in his new trend was steady and rapid. He became a believing Christian. And now his remorse for having robbed the dying boy of his faith and his salvation was bitterer than ever. It gave him no rest, no peace. He must have rest and peace -- it is the law of nature. There seemed but one way to get it; he must devote himself to saving imperiled souls. He became a missionary. He landed in a pagan country ill and helpless. A native widow took him into her humble home and nursed him back to convalescence. Then her young boy was taken hopelessly ill, and the grateful missionary helped her tend him. Here was his first opportunity to repair a part of the wrong done to the other boy by doing a precious service for this one by undermining his foolish faith in his false gods. He was successful. But the dying boy in his last moments reproached him and said:

"I believed, and was happy in it; you have taken my belief away, and my comfort. Now I have nothing left, and I die miserable; for the things which you have told me do not take the place of that which I have lost."

And the mother, also, reproached the missionary, and said:

"My child is forever lost, and my heart is broken. How could you do this cruel thing? We had done you no harm, but only kindness; we made our house your home, you were welcome to all we had, and this is our reward."

The heart of the missionary was filled with remorse for what he had done, and he said:

"It was wrong -- I see it now; but I was only trying to do him good. In my view he was in error; it seemed my duty to teach him the truth."

Then the mother said:

"I had taught him, all his little life, what I believed to be the truth, and in his believing faith both of us were happy. Now he is dead -- and lost; and I am miserable. Our faith came down to us through centuries of believing ancestors; what right had you, or any one, to disturb it? Where was your honor, where was your shame?"

The missionary's anguish of remorse and sense of treachery were as bitter and persecuting and unappeasable, now, as they had been in the former case. The story is finished. What is your comment?

Y.M. The man's conscience is a fool! It was morbid. It didn't know right from wrong.

O.M. I am not sorry to hear you say that. If you grant that one man's conscience doesn't know right from wrong, it is an admission that there are others like it. This single admission pulls down the whole doctrine of infallibility of judgment in consciences. Meantime there is one thing which I ask you to notice.

Y.M. What is that?

O.M. That in both cases the man's act gave him no spiritual discomfort, and that he was quite satisfied with it and got pleasure out of it. But afterward when it resulted in pain to him, he was sorry. Sorry it had inflicted pain upon the others, but for no reason under the sun except that their pain gave him pain. Our consciences take no notice of pain inflicted upon others until it reaches a point where it gives pain to us. In all cases without exception we are absolutely indifferent to another person's pain until his sufferings make us uncomfortable. Many an infidel would not have been troubled by that Christian mother's distress. Don't you believe that?

Y.M. Yes. You might almost say it of the average infidel, I think.

O.M. And many a missionary, sternly fortified by his sense of duty, would not have been troubled by the pagan mother's distress -- Jesuit missionaries in Canada in the early French times, for instance; see episodes quoted by Parkman.

Y.M. Well, let us adjourn. Where have we arrived?

O.M. At this. That we (mankind) have ticketed ourselves with a number of qualities to which we have given misleading names. Love, Hate, Charity, Compassion, Avarice, Benevolence, and so on. I mean we attach misleading meanings to the names. They are all forms of self-contentment, self-gratification, but the names so disguise them that they distract our attention from the fact. Also we have smuggled a word into the dictionary which ought not to be there at all -- Self-Sacrifice. It describes a thing which does not exist. But worst of all, we ignore and never mention the Sole Impulse which dictates and compels a man's every act: the imperious necessity of securing his own approval, in every emergency and at all costs. To it we owe all that we are. It is our breath, our heart, our blood. It is our only spur, our whip, our goad, our only impelling power; we have no other. Without it we should be mere inert images, corpses; no one would do anything, there would be no progress, the world would stand still. We ought to stand reverently uncovered when the name of that stupendous power is uttered.

Y.M. I am not convinced.

O.M. You will be when you think.

By its very nature missionary activity devalues the religious traditions and practices of the people that the missionaries proslytize.

Since the beginnings of early Christian missionary activity, and later Moslem missionary activity, many indigenous cultures were destroyed by the missionary in the Name of Christ or Allah.

In America, we see this most blatantly in the destruction of the Native American Indian religions and indigenous cultures.

The pattern has always been the same. The missionary seeks, with the support behind him of the militant power of the invading government to devalue the ministers and clergy of the native existing religion so as to replace them with the ministers and clergy of his own religion.

Native religious practices are decried as being "superstitions," while the stories and traditions of the replacing religion are "acts of God."

The Native languages are replaced with the language of the dominant religion, often through penalties imposed upon the Native speaker.

Traditional sacred objects and "books" are destroyed and replaced with the sacred scriptures of the proslytizing religion.

This often leads, as in the case with many Hopi and other Native American Indian religions practitioners, to a taking of the religion underground and practicing it in secret, as did the secret Jewish "conversos."

If there is not a strong enough family and Tribal connection of support for those who wish to keep the traditions of the Tribal Path alive, it dies! and is replaced by a somewhat Native version of the missionizing religion, i. e., Jews for Jesus or the Native American Christian Churches.

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