Evangelizing remote tribes


I doubt the Sentinelese are aware of potential infectious pathogens.

I don’t agree with what this young man did, and believe he acted unwisely. But it seems like too much of the Internet, (not necessarily you), is cheering on his death.


No, I’m definitely not cheering on his death. I just have a hard time believing that he is a martyr.

They most likely do not know about germs, but the obviously fear contact. Something has to have happened to make them that fearful. Something has made them decide it is better to be alone. That SHOULD be respected.


First off he could have had any number bacteria or viral infections that we have immunity to that the as an isolated tribe don’t.

Secondly the Indian govt says it’s against the law to go there.

Thirdly it’s not murder when you don’t get the message two times before it’s leading canadiate for Darwin Award of the year.


This is an interesting question because the Church as we know it came into existence throughout Europe and the rest of the world by… well…. doing a lot of walking into places where we weren’t necessarily invited or wanted. None of us would be having this conversation because we’d either be pagan, atheist, or dead.

But since we now know better than we ever have before, we have a responsibility to be a lot more careful. That man was brave (braver than over 99% of people) and well-intentioned but could easily have been carrying something that had the potential to exterminate the entire island.

Beyond that, first contact with Neolithic cultures is difficult. It’s so often the case that they are introduced to a new and exciting culture only to find themselves exploited and exposed to the many addictive aspects of society, such as cigarettes, alcohol, and these days, smart devices.

But ultimately, I don’t think keeping them isolated indefinitely is the right thing to do either. The reason this tribe is so hostile to outsiders is because they’ve had reoccurring bad encounters going back to at least the 19th century with a British captain who kidnapped several of the island’s children. It’s a delicate situation, which is why the Indian government has put a restriction on the island.

If we truly believe that the Church is real and legitimate, then we must believe that its message and teachings bring joy to those who hear it and follow it, and joy to the fullest. To say that Neolithic cultures are free and in a state of paradise is very much false. I’ve seen a lot of comments online from people that seem to think this way, and it is naïve. That island without question has problems such as an extremely high child and mother mortality rate, sparse resources, low life expectancy, etc., as well as their own daily domestic problems. Technology, art, medicine, education, and other arts & fields are also all inherently good, but they are dangerous if not introduced carefully.


Yep. And this is backed up by the way they murder outsiders.


You’re saying that devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe was a Spanish success, when credit is due wholly to Mary (not Spanish) and Juan Diego (also not Spanish). The whole reason Mary’s image is on the tilma is because JD wasn’t being believed by the Spanish archbishop.


Non starter.

It’s not for anyone but the North Sentinelese to decide what is in their best interest. They have made it obvious for centuries that they do not think sustained contact with outsiders is in their best interest.


Which also means they have no way to gauge foreign morals either. Also, killing and murder are not the same thing. Murder has a set criteria to face. Does this fit? I don’t really know either way, but I know that these people are terrified of intruders. They have made that perfectly clear for many years. Someone invaded their property. In many places it is legal to shoot or otherwise kill an unauthorized intruder in your home.


Hey, I agree. He had no business going there.

I’ll concede that we don’t really know their motive for killing him. Maybe it’s a religious teaching?


Modern day societies are also slaves to sin, and just a savage as well. Yet, we have been evangelized. Maybe we should focus on freeing ourselves rather than leading others down with us.

And the thing about actual slaves, it is wrong to free someone and leave them with no sort of support. If someone knows no other way of life, they will not be able to survive if just suddenly their source of housing and food is taken from them. That requires time and communication. That is lacking with this group. No one Can communicate with them. How will they be able to truly learn new ways? Evangelizing and education can only come AFTER communication and trust are established.


This discussion reminds me of a story I heard once of another small island, in the midst of a vast sea. The island was inhabited by a bloodthirsty, ignorant, amoral, primitive, group of people. Across the ocean there was powerful and loving King. The King sent spies to the island, and - in spite of the islanders great hostility toward him - loved the people there. The spies tried to teach the islanders about the King - and for the most part, they were all killed or driven away. And so one day, the King sent his only son to the island to teach the people about love and mercy and forgiveness. And the vile islanders tortured and killed the King’s only son, all the while convinced they knew what was best for themselves.

I know this is a hard question for Christians to grapple with - how do we carry out the Great Commission and yet also hold it in tension with loving our neighbor as ourselves (what’s best for our neighbor today?). I don’t have an answer - but I think that Mr. Chau was motivated by love for our great King. God rest his soul.


This description of others and the zeal to “spread the word” are the reason behind so many Christian atrocities.


And how would that be done without even more killed. They will not go peacefully with you to be punished for defending their land.


Are you comparing the North Sentinelese people to the nation of Israel, to whom God revealed himself time and again through the prophets, by using a sub-par version of the parable of the Tenants?


I get the sentiment, but zeal to spread the Gospel and derogatory descriptions are not part of the same message. One can be zealous and respect people at the same time.


My point is that evangelization is not just for others who we deem ignorant.
Mother Teresa’s point of view is that we in the west are the most impoverished culture, precisely because we practice large scale human sacrifice.
Ok, and at the same time we imagine that evangelization is for others who are ignorant, and evangelization will solve the social problems of the ignorant.

Again, a good evangelist always knows who he/she is, and who he is evangelizing. And that the good news is reciprocal.

A good evangelist practice wisdom and prudence in addition to having zeal.


So if a particularly zealous Jehovah Witness kept coming to your house to try to convert you and you didn’t want him to come, you could shoot and perhaps wound him on his first two attempts and then shoot him dead on his third time and it would all be his fault and not murder on your part?


I would say I’m comparing the North Sentinelese people to all of us, to whom God revealed himself time and time again through the prophets, by using a grossly sub-par, sentimental and overly simplified fairly-tale like very short story. Any semblance to any parable is purely accidental :slight_smile:


So the Spanish should just have respected the Aztecs culture of bloody sacrifice on a huge scale? They should have said, “Who are we to tell these people how to live?We ought to respect their culture and leave them to it.”?

And as for wholesale abortion, which I believe Mother Teresa was talking about, I don’t think that was the case with 16th century Spanish culture.

The notion that the Spanish should have left the Aztecs to their own religion and not tried to convert them is crazy and would seem to run contrary to the Gospel.


If the Spanish hadn’t been there to evangelise in the first place, Juan Diego would not have been a Catholic. Without his existing faith how would he have known the significance of Mary? And the flowers (Spanish roses) were the sign for the bishop, the tilma was a sign for the people of that land.

Without the Spanish priests spreading the word of God so that some (including Juan Diego) were converted and that others were at least familiar with the Christian faith. Yes Mary is responsible, but the Spanish prepared the ground.

The notion that the Spanish should have stayed away and let the Aztecs and others just get on with their business doesn’t make sense.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.