Evangelizing remote tribes


It’s derogatory. What else do you call a group of people who live in the Stone Age and kill people without a clearly recognizable threat?


That’s not really what was being said; however, the way the Spanish treated (and in some cases continue to treat) the indigenous of Latin America was horribly wrong. The indigenous groups are still discriminated against, called derogatory names, treated as stupid, made fun of, and marginalized by the mostly European societies.emphasized text


There are much better ways to “spread the gospel” than it was done in the past. We can see where God brings blessings from curses in many parts of life. That is one of them.


I am sorry you see things that way.


You are taking my point in a distorted context.


How am I doing this?


Never said it was rosy. It wasn’t in Europe either. It’s called human nature.


I think your view of history is a tad skewed…


You’re contradicting yourself.


All cultures do things that are nasty. Rounding up complete strangers from other parts of the world to enslave. Killing in order to gain territory. Aborting or abandoning unwanted children. Leaving the elderly to die. It’s not unique to any one area, even if the way it looks is different.


Question: which culture in human history has murdered more people than any other?
Do we consider that culture to be as ignorant as the tribal people in question?

If not, how is it the we have lost good Christian perspective on evangelization.


I don’t believe so. I can say what they did was wrong while respecting their motivations.


The old way spread the gospel to 6 continents and now the Catholic Church alone has about 1.5 billion adherents.

What’s the number of converts post 1900?


How many live the gospel now that they are evangelized and converted?


Only God knows that answer.


Yeah, that’s gonna work. Again, no language in common; no experience with (or consent to) outside legal systems. I understand the principle you’re trying to defend, but some things just aren’t workable.

Further, while “don’t murder” is likely a universal precept, it takes a lot of experience and thinking for a culture to expand the idea of murder from “don’t kill other innocent members of our group” to “don’t kill any innocent person.” Even we, allegedly advanced and sophisticated and with the advantage of knowing God’s Word, don’t always manage it.

And, of course, even if the people in question do have universal concepts of humanity and the wrongness of murder, cultures differ in what they consider an innocent person. “Trespassers will be shot; survivors will be shot again” is a half-joking sign you can find in rural areas of the United States. If these people consider their island to be theirs, and off-limits to outsiders, then killing an interloper (especially a multiple offender like Chau) is no more murder than a homeowner killing an intruder. An American can hardly call other people savages for having an equivalent of the castle doctrine.

Further, they are a sovereign state. Literally, they are defined as such in Indian law — and surely, even if they weren’t, the very universal principles of justice you cite would require treating them as such. You don’t go snatching the citizens of a sovereign state to try them under foreign laws.

They know about us. They like some of our goods. They don’t let people visit for more than a very limited time, and not always even that. Sure, they don’t know the full extent of what the rest of the world has achieved in terms of medicine and other technologies, but there are limits to how many people we are willing to assault or have assaulted in order to explain that.

In case you missed it before, the Sentinelese have no immunity to foreign diseases. Europeans killed 90% of the population of North America just by bringing germs here, before they even started killing people on purpose. If you value these people’s health, we shouldn’t go near them.

However good our intentions, you can’t just integrate Stone Age people into the modern world by fiat. Even if they were more amenable to discussion, they have no context for understanding the outside world. I don’t think they’re intellectually incapable or anything, but at least at first it would be like aliens abducting them or sticking them with needles or whatever. I understand that you’re okay with forcing ourselves on them, but I am not, and neither is the government of India.


Here’s a fuller version of the history of outside contact with North Sentinel Island. It seems there’s been a bit more inadvertent technology transfer than I knew, as well as brief instances of peaceful contact and gift exchange (though always ended by armed dudes strongly hinting that it was time for the strangers to leave now).

It’s possible that further slow contact like that, conducted at the locals’ pace (and with precautions for not making them sick) could allow everyone to learn about each other safely and eventually pave the way for more regular peaceful interaction. But “one idiot insisting on going there repeatedly when he’s clearly not wanted” is not how we will accomplish that.


Yes, reinforces that evangelization is carried out in a virtuous way, with prudence and wisdom, patience, etc…Not with force and disregard for one’s self or others.


It is always in people’s best interests to work for the salvation of their souls. The proper way to go about this would be to surround the island with military force and subdue the population, so that missionaries can actually establish a presence on the island without being killed. The argument that we’ll infect them with our diseases, and therefore should not convert them, is untenable. There are ways to prevent the spread of diseases, and for the remote peoples to develop immunity to foreign pathogens, but there is one disease worse than those caused by pathogens, and it is called sin. The supernatural life is more important than the merely natural. Any Catholic in his right mind, remembering that the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls, should support such missionary work.


Agreed, this is just an occupational hazard of being a missionary: you may be mistaken for a threat by people who don’t know that you come in peace, or even actually pose a threat without realizing it.

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