My Issue With Missionaries & Forced Religion

Ever since I was a little girl, something that has always made me uncomfortable is the idea of missionaries. I grew up in church and had extremely religious and strict parents. My parents are still extremely religious, a bit less strict, however, I no longer go to church myself. As an adult, I have finally realized that what is being taught in church does not align with my own personal beliefs so therefore have chosen not to attend any more.

As a little girl, I could never put into words why missionaries made me so uncomfortable. I could never articulate what it was I didn’t like about them. All I knew was that I didn’t understand why they felt the need to travel all over the world to poor countries or communities in need just to tell people about Jesus and their religion. Especially when there were so many people in their own country who actually were looking for religion, and wanting to attend church and grow in their religious faith. Why fly all over the globe to such remote places to “preach the gospel”? It never made any sense to me.

As an adult, I see it for what it is now: Predatory behavior; preying on the weak. Missionaries will twist reality in any kind of way just so they can say they are doing a good thing. But there is absolutely nothing good about holding food or medicine over the heads of people who need those things greatly. To only offer medicine, food, clothing, and housing only if the people in need accept the Christian faith is predatory. That is preying on vulnerable people to benefit the self and the religion. These are nothing but recruitment tactics. And the fact that people either can’t see that or refuse to believe it is nothing but being blinded by one’s own beliefs.

The world has a multitude of beliefs, a multitude of religions. Why on earth would Christianity be “the one true religion”? Why in all the cosmos would Christianity be the only way to reach God? It’s come to a point now where I don’t even like saying the word ‘God’ because the word is so tightly bonded to the Christian faith and all its many denominations. If you say ‘God’, people automatically think you are religious. I find myself saying “The Creator” more and I feel less heavy when I say it.

I guess I am growing in my own spirituality more apart from organized religion. Religion feels like a straight jacket, preventing me from truly being myself and expressing myself the way I’ve always wanted to. And since my own parents are so deep in the Christian religion, I’ve always felt like I could never be who I wanted to be around them either, for fear of their judgement, disapproval, and scolding. And these fears were not unfounded; they were experienced.

In my opinion, a lot of Christianity is rooted in nothing but fear. Fear and deprivation of what is considered “worldly”, which would be any and everything that isn’t perfect Christianity. Anything “bad” and you’re going to Hell. Any mistakes and you’re going to Hell. Heck, even Adam and Eve and the rest of humanity were punished for the rest of eternity for the very first mistake they ever made in their lives. And to me, this is why so many Christians fear death. They fear they weren’t Christian enough, weren’t holy enough, didn’t repent enough, that they simply couldn’t be perfect enough. And for that, they think they are going to burn in Hell. Christianity is an ultimatum. Believe and accept Christ or burn for eternity in Hell. And to that I say, no! No more!

It’s still very hard for me because this realization is something that has only just come to me within the past year and a half. I stopped attending church regularly in college simply because I was so far from home however, I still joined my school’s gospel choir while I was attending because it was the closest thing to church and church was almost all I knew.

When I graduated, I stopped attending church all together because I did not like the church my family attended and I was tired of being dragged to every service at every church my mother wanted to be a part of. Then some dark and scandalous things started happening within the church and with leaders of the church that made me step away completely. However, I was still calling myself a Christian and telling myself that one day I will go back to church even though I honestly had no desire to.

Then my realization hit that, wow, I actually don’t even believe this stuff…what the heck am I doing? Why am I forcing myself? But even saying that I didn’t believe it automatically sent my mind reeling into thoughts of fear of what if I go to Hell now? Even now, I often catch myself thinking about what if I’m going to Hell, what if I’m making a mistake by admitting that I don’t believe the teachings of the church and that I don’t agree with a lot that is in the bible?

And that, my friends, is what is called programming. I’m still in the process of learning how to stop. It’s hard because I was born into Christianity so it’s been a part of my life from birth until only a year ago which is when I finally moved out on my own. I am no longer under the roof of religious parents. I no longer have the invisible weight of Christianity being thrown in my face every five seconds by family members. I’m no longer constantly being preached at. And now that I have my own space and can explore my own beliefs and spirituality, I now feel the most myself than I have ever felt before.

I think what happened to me is what happens when these missionaries go to these countries, visit these remote communities and feed them their faith mixed with lies while dangling help over the heads of the communities that need it most. Stripping people of the beliefs of their culture, their language, their practices, and telling them that what they do is bad and wrong is just modern-day colonialism. Colonize the mind and you can get whatever you want from people because people will do anything in the name of God and for organized religion. I just can’t help but feel that missionary work is sinister and the people involved are so far gone, in so deep that they can’t see that what they are doing is wrong.

If the bible preaches goodness and giving a helping hand to people in need, why not just offer help with no strings attached? Why must there be an ultimatum? Why go to communities who feel they have no choice but to say yes so they can get necessary medicine to save the life of a child or family member? It’s like dangling a carrot in the face of a horse and it’s disgusting behavior.

I know that this entire post has been nothing but a rant, but what started my rant in the first place are the videos linked below. Faith and spirituality and my departure from organized religion has been weighing on me fairly heavily for the past few months. After seeing this video, it brought a lot of my feelings to the forefront and this rant is the result of it all.

I am glad that the indigenous communities are starting to push back against religious invaders. I’m glad that they are seeing just how wrong and predatory it all really is. Just as Christians would not want anyone else to come to them and tell them that their faith and beliefs are wrong, why do they do this to others? Just as they would not want anyone to march into their churches and tell them that the God they worship is not “the true God”, why do they march into other people’s communities and do it to others? I just don’t get it, and a part of me despises them for it.

I was born into the indoctrination of Christianity and this past year has been mentally difficult trying to deprogram my mind from it. Being a Christian was never a choice for me. My own father has said that “as a child, my religion is your religion. You’re not going to tell me what you do and don’t believe. My God is your God as long as you live under my roof. If you try and tell me that you don’t believe it, then you can get out. When you become an adult and out from under my roof, then you can go do whatever you want and believe whatever you want.” These were actual words that left my father’s lips and I while I didn’t like them when I first heard them, actually typing them out and reading them makes me realize just how harsh and terrible those words were. But I sat and listened, and said nothing.

Well guess what, dad. That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m doing what I want, and that’s moving away from Christian indoctrination.

Behaving that way and saying those things to your own daughter is really baffling to me. Threatening to take away a home to live in, food to eat, and financial stability if I don’t believe in the same god as you is no different than the work of the missionaries who only offer food, medicine, and clean water to indigenous communities if they agree to believe and abide by the Christian faith. It’s honestly just…evil. I didn’t want to use that word, but I can think of no other.

It’s hard for me because it’s been a part of my life for so long that I feel like I’m engaging in slander, or that I’ll get struck down or something. I’m glad that some of these indigenous communities have each other to lean on in their own process of refusing to accept Christianity. And it’s not just in the Amazon where this is taking place. Even countries in Africa, more and more communities are refusing the Christian faith and returning to the spirituality and beliefs of their ancestors and the videos are making waves online. And to that I say, good for them. Stay strong, and don’t let the colonizers have your mind.