Turns Out White Saviorism is Deadly (In Other News, Water Is Wet)
Weeeeee need to talk about that young man who got himself killed on North Sentinel Island two weekends ago.
Before I begin my indictment of Christianity (which was really the only way this could go), I must first say of course, this is a tragic story. I feel sorry for the man’s family and friends who now have to face the unimaginable task of grieving a loved one as well as come to terms with the fact that his body most likely will not be recovered. I feel sorry for the fishermen and friends who were arrested and now face charges for helping him get to the island. And I feel sorry for him, because as WILDLY MISGUIDED (and fucked up) this mission was, I do believe he thought he was doing the will of God. The whole thing is sad.
Next sentence: I think we really need to take a good look at the layered, multilevel dynamics that went into this situation. I think we need to reexamine the history of Christianity as propagated through missions, and comprehensively appreciate the DAMAGE the mindset this man traveled with has been and continues to be globally. Not only that, I think we need to call into question modern Christianity and churches that continue to perpetuate this mindset through their own ongoing missions trips.
What is the mindset? White Saviorism. The idea that you, with your Westernized perspective, English-printed bible, and sensible-but-overpriced walking shoes are going to be the one — THE ONE — to “save the nations for Christ”. Giving little if any thought or respect to the cultures, religions, and in some cases ACTUAL LAWS put in place by or for the people you’re attempting to colonize convert.
Let us not forget that missions trips were essentially the first leg of colonizing expeditions. Priests and nuns making landfall before the conquerors, operating under the apparent command given by the Lord Jesus Christ himself: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 15:16). I say “apparent” because as anyone who’s read my writing for any amount of time knows, while I respect the Bible and consider it a holy book, I am HIGHLY SKEPTICAL that we can take almost any of it literally. Even the shit that looks like a coherent sentence — a direct command in fact — is suspect. After so many translations, having been filtered through different individual *and* cultural perspectives throughout MILLENNIA, there is absolutely zero way we have a clear picture of what the physical manifestation of Jesus said. None. So the idea of going to someone else’s land, uninvited, UNDER THREAT OF DEATH, in order to convert them to your version of Christianity because “the bible told me so” feels completely errant of the point.
First of all, assess the situation. It is illegal to make contact with this tribe. You know why? No, it’s not because the devil works hard but you should work harder, it’s because they’ve remained remote for so long that contact with you *could wipe out their entire tribe*. Genocide. Is that what God wants? Is that the mission God called you to?
Second of all, I’m really trippin off the idea that because their tribe is remote, they can’t possibly have had any knowledge of God or the Christ.
Sure, maybe they haven’t heard about YOUR Christ. The white guy with a dirty blonde, just-undone man bun, manicured beard, and blue eyes, who always looks like he’s *this close* to whipping out an acoustic guitar and subjecting anyone in earshot to his cover of “No Diggity” by Blackstreet. But who knows what tools God and the Christ have used to reach them previous to your decision to invade? Reminder: word of mouth is not the only way God reveals Godself to people. Human contact is not the only way God reveals Godself to people. The real tea is, you don’t have to be involved AT all — *ESPECIALLY* when you consider the first point, that you getting involved is illegal and dangerous both to you and the people you’re trying to “save”.
Third of all, do Christians just not understand autonomy? Like a major tenet in the foundation of our religion is that Adam ate the apple because God gave him free will but then somehow we forgot that everyone else has free will too? These people didn’t ask for you. They did not send for you. Whatever religion they got or lack thereof has been working just fine for them since they got to the island, and you’re going to change their minds because what? Because God is on your side?
I’m not trying to beat up on this young man, I promise. I know he thought he was doing the right thing, but his mindset is the problem with Western Christianity made manifest. White Saviorism literally got him killed. We were indoctrinated with the idea that you’re not a good Christian unless you’re constantly sharing your faith with strangers, we were all made afraid of looking “ashamed of the gospel”, we let people preach that it is ON US, that it is OUR RESPONSIBILITY, to save the nations for Christ and it HAS to stop. It’s bullshit. It got this kid killed and *could* have wiped out an entire people. It already DID wipe out NINETY PERCENT of Native Americans throughout the Americas, like have we not learned? No one wanted to give this kid a history book or do even like *one* Google search? When will Christians stop bearing the audacious thinking that we know what God wants? It’s exasperating.
I’m sorry for his family’s loss. We (Christians) gotta do better.