Comment on the Gospel As Taught in Washington State

Although the media reported that John Chau as being from Alabama, Mr.  Chau grew up in Salmon Creek Washington and  attended Vancouver Christian High School.  According to the Vancouver Columbian,  Chau received the Royal Rangers Gold Medal of Achievement at Mountain View Christian Center, the Assemblies of God equivalent to being an Eagle Scout.  This rank required John to do a Christian service project. His project was the design of the (website) for the Assemblies of God outreach program at Washington State University Vancouver.  From there Chau went on to Oral Roberts University where he described himself as a missionary and wrote that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were his “must-do adventure.”

In the aftermath of the death of John Chau, a Christian missionary who tried to invade the Andaman Islands, two things have struck me.

The first is the number of Black friends on Facebook who insist that Chau, despite his slanted eyes and Chinese last name was “white.”  From the stories on the web it appears that he was an American of Vietnamese or possibly Filipino origin. I suppose that qualifies him as a white in some cultural sense.  To me the term “white” is not a matter of pride, it evokes people in hoods.  I suggest that it makes more sense to call Mr. Chau a Christian.

The second is the effort to ascribe good intent to Mr. Chau because he was trying to bring the gospels to primitives.  If his intent was good, then the same should apply to all missionaries, including those who worked the Taino people to death growing yucca for the Spanish or those who still inspire the murders of gay people and witches in Uganda or the enslavement of indigneous Brazilians.

This harsh opinion hurts people I respect.  It is hackneyed and self serving to say this but I do know many good Christians. Sadly the gospel, in the way they see it, is not the norm. Since Nicea, their bible had been used to demonize, demean and destroy everyone who did not accept Christian dogma.

There is a miracle here and it is not anything good about Mr. Chau. He was taught to do evil things … if he was not evil his teachers were and are evil. The miracle is not that the gospel he read exists. and has good words. Other good messages exist from Confucius and Socrates, Zarathustra and the Epicureans, Hillel and St Francis, Muhamud, Maimonides ….. The miracle for Christians is the rare good person who discovers the message of love.  John needed to listen to Martin Luther King and Pope Francis, not to the faculty at Mountain View Christian Center.

I am a Jew and my ethics and worldview come from that origin as well as very good education in  a system dominated by the Christian point of view. I see the “good” Christianity as one that rejects all exclusivity, accepts responsibility for the harm done in Jesus’ name, and seeks to do good for its own sake, for Jesus, and to restore the damage done in that name.

The best of these Christians see a wonderful message of love and charity in the concept of a God who dies under torture not for His ego but for the good of all humans.

Did John Chau get that message? 


2 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Roger Rabbit #

    Chau thought only about what he wanted, which was to Christianize the North Sentinelese people, something he had no right to do. They are entitled to their way of life; he was not entitled to disrupt it. Moreover, by invading their island, he would expose them to diseases for which they have no immunity. By killing him, they were defending themselves and their way of life. Sadly, he could not see this, because arrogant people filled his head with wrong ideas. I’m not saying Christianity is a bad religion, only that the idea that Christianity must colonize every corner of the earth is wrong. That idea was discredited over a century ago, but some people who ought to know better will not give it up. Maybe Oral Roberts University should just name a building for Chau and let it go at that.

  2. Mark Adams #

    This is not a question of religion. These islanders are this way toward all who come to their island If you are an unlucky fisherman and land on the island you are likely dead. These islanders may have a higher level of immunities than other tribes in other parts of the world. They do live in the Bay of Bengal. And they seem to know when to go to high ground to avoid tsunamis. They just do not do pen pals.

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