Evangelizing remote tribes


Much as I admire this guy’s zeal, I wouldn’t call his death martyrdom so much as natural selection.


Umm… this was always the case for people encountering previously unencountered people. You communicate by gesture and eventually learn the language (if you survive).


Not necessarily. Sometimes you’d have neighboring tribes that would act as mediators, or members of the tribes themselves who’d help build bridges between their people and outsiders. There is no such precedent with the Sentinelese. You definitely don’t let rando Americans snoop around and just hope they survive, especially when they have the potential to wipe out the island population by giving them the sniffles.


I said “previously unencountered people”. You don’t need a translator to learn another language. It’s certainly easier that way, but you don’t need it.


Sure, if they are willing to try to communicate. These guys kill (or, at best, violently drive off) strangers on sight. If you bring security, they hide and take potshots until you decide to leave. For whatever reason, they really, really don’t want to deal with anyone from the outside world.

Plus, as mentioned, they are under the legal protection of India, because they are both biologically and culturally fragile. They are basically a present-day example of Star Trek’s Prime Directive.

I understand the evangelical impulse, and I suppose Mr. Chau is technically a martyr for the Faith, but North Sentinel Island is not an ordinary missionary situation. I don’t think we have a “Dumbass and Martyr” category, but we may need one now.


But if they’re NOT going to hear it, it’s pointless bloodshed. It’s like walking off a cliff hoping that - just this once - you’ll be able to fly.

Murder may be an obvious and inevitable consequence, but it is wrong. So I can’t condone their decision to slay a guy “to protect their borders” just because he came to their island.

We could build a case for resorting to killing to protect borders if there’s an armed invasion. But not for killing a lone, unarmed missionary.


He was walking in with the intent of totally transforming their way of life (for the better, but still) its natural for people to seek to preserve their society and culture against foreign influence. They reacted in accordance with their custom and values.


So is murder OK in that situation? It’s OK if a culture believe it so?

Are you a moral relativist? Or do you thing that murder is OK for any culture who feels psychologically threatened by an unarmed outsider?


I think the missionary did what missionaries are inclined to do. And the indigenous tribe did what indigenous tribes sometimes do. I don’t think it’s right or wrong.

All the best!


Matthew 24:14
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.


I wouldn’t consider what occurred murder.

No I’m not a moral relativists


Can you cite the part of our Catechism that condones killing an unarmed individual person “to protect borders” and/or “to preserve [a] society and culture against foreign influence?”


Unless they can keep the island totally secure, I see no reason to continue this foolish game. The Sentinelese will need inoculated otherwise the next missionary will unwittingly expose them to disease.


No such passage exists.


Exactly. 10 char


Where I live remote tribes are pretty common, though they’re probably not as “wild” as the people of Sentinel Island where Mr. Chau lost his life. You ask about the morality of evangelizing remote peoples: well, it is not very moral. You ask if it is in their best interests. Well, it isn’t. Missionary work breaks up families, confuses communities, and mostly yields lukewarm converts whose motives for conversion are often “circumstantial”.

If there is one thing characterizing missionaries in exotic countries, it is hubris. I’ve known a lot of missionaries, and they all overestimate their understanding of the local culture – yes, even the ones that go through the trouble of learning a local language passably well and make an effort to prepare themselves for their missionary work with study and research. The mistake that just about every missionary nevertheless makes is that he (or she) does not understand how he (or she) is really perceived. The missionary thinks he is dealing with “simple” people, and that he is accomodating their “ancient ways”. What he does not realize is that the “savages” see him as the simple, and indeed the clueless one, and that it is he (the missionary) who is being humored and accommodated – and only as long as the tribesmen are willing to humor and accommodate him. This severe misjudgment by the missionary of the situation into which he inserts himself, is the reason why things can go wrong, as they did in this instance.

Therefore, though I would not have wished for Mr. Chau to lose his life, I object to calling him a martyr. A martyr is someone who is persecuted for his faith. Mr. Chau was not persecuted for his faith. If we can call what happened “persecution” at all, it happened because he intentionally and stubbornly inserted himself into an environment where he obviously wasn’t welcome, and insisted on conducting himself in a way that was certain to aggravate the locals. Presumably he was hoping or expecting that things would turn out alright. Well, they didn’t. There’s noone to blame but him.


So it’s not in the best interest of every person to hear the word of God and be told of eternal salvation? It’s not in our best interest to follow the command of Christ to go forth and make believers all nations?


Really? Because other media sources say that, though, he was a missionary, that’s not why he was there. That said, I have already asked this question. I even used the Sentinelese as an example. Look at the percentage of Christians in Papua New Guinea, so we know it’s possible. I guess, the difference is, missionaries actually bothered to learn about their language and culture. Well, how can you do that when you don’t know the people’s language or culture? Calling the Sentinelese uncontacted (as some have done) is only partially true. A few were taken as slaves, but died a few days after. My family became Christian, we lived in pretty inaccessible mountains and swamps (well, my mom’s family did). They were able to get to us. But, then after we were made Christian, they told us we had to leave. They told us they had to make room for “real” Americans. But I digress. My point is, so long as you can communicate with the people, and can respect the culture, you can bring the gospel to them. Again, the language and culture barrier presents a bit of a problem. And that’s not even getting into disease.


But they didn’t kill him BECAUSE they didn’t want to hear the gospel. They didn’t know his intent. Your point is refuted.


Their knowledge is irrelevant.

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