Lies Missionaries Tell: Paul and Lori Crouch Vernon
I grew up learning that you hope, that you try for the best, that you hope not only for yourself but for others. That if you are to help someone, it should not take a rocket scientist to tell you that you don't destroy them first.
I grew up learning that if you damage something, you try to fix it and learn from it or take more of your life repairing things that maybe you didn't even break, but that other people broke, to repair the breach.
I grew up learning that if you should want the Redemption of Jesus Christ for yourself, then you should be in the Redemption business. That it should be universal, not just for yourself.
I grew up learning that you should not play games with people, with their hopes and dreams or their lives.
I grew up learning that you should help people, as you would want to be helped, to have choices, food, life, clothing, all the good things that I wanted, the opportunities to have good health on a fair playing field, that race should not change the dynamics of who I cared for. Sometimes it was hard, but I did not give up the ideal. I never gave up ideals, I tried only to better achieve them.
I learned later in life that there was more than one way to lie. That you could lie by what information you WITHHELD.
I learned as I grew up that people would conceal truth from you and discussion when it came to uncomfortable questions. Questions that they didn't want to expose their true feelings about when those feelings might be in contradiction to all that they were teaching you, or that the church was teaching you.
I learned that people had a double standard. That they protected this rather than just say, "right, on race, on how I think of people of other race, I don't do as good as I should". Hey, what would be wrong with that, just being truthful?
So as I grew up, I found out that what people taught, wasn't what they really did and maybe it wasn't what they really meant. After all, when people keep giving themselves private forgiveness how can we say its an accident that they just hate brown people?
What I found out was that Christians were really bad about answering these questions truthfully. Especially white Christians who didn't have any black or brown people in their churches. (And you found out that some kinds of black and brown could be 'ok' under the right conditions, more than other kinds)
Well, it wasn't till I started working with the Akha and meeting all these Christian Americans at the battle front that I started to think about some even more troubling things.
I could see what they were doing to the Akha, and I could ask them about it. And that is when I met some really gymnastic people.
But it would be better if I showed you what I mean at this point, to illustrate what I call the "Lies Missionaries Tell"
I am going to use the website of Paul and Lori Crouch Vernon who work with the Akha in north Thailand to illustrate this.
They are from Denver, Colorado where a lot of the Akha related missionaries like Paul W. Lewis were based, and Salem, Oregon where our own project is based.
This is from their prayer page on their website:
"Continue to Pray... for the Akha people. Pray for protection about them as they are attacked from so many fronts. Pray for the Truth to guide them. Pray for their physical protection from the traps of alcoholism, drug addiction, prostitution and violence. Pray that God would raise up leaders, elders from villages, young men and women, mothers and fathers to lead the Akha people into their future. Pray that the peace of Christ and the joy of the Spirit would conquer the fear and oppression that has held them for centuries. Pray for understanding among the Akha leaders that they might see what it is to be an Akha Christian, that they might realize the beauty of the chorus of saints, every tribe, language, people and nation praising the Lord."
Now there are a number of interesting things about their blog/prayer journal. One is the endless use of religious terms and phrases. These are prerequisites for any person in the church to be accepted and sound religious, like one of the mob. Change the website, mission, or missionaries and the terms will all be the same, salted endlessly in the text, about how their push button God blessed them in this and that, they get a fax every day all that God has been doing on their behalf, on and on it goes.
One might think you could actually run your life this way if you wanted to be "successfully" religious.
But what is notable, since I lived in that region 13 years, is WHAT THEY DON'T SAY!
First, Paul and Lori were placed in that village before it was "converted" by Aje, an Akha marred to the American Nancy, who are linked to Paul Lewis and his work with the Akha. They are not there because they got some calling. They are there as a result of the deliberate efforts of these people to pressure the Akha at every village level.
Shortly after Paul and Lori got to this village, it was "converted". This is a process of divide and conquer, pay offs, power struggles, lots of hate to go around, and in the case of the Akha we talked to in this village, threats of being "hit" if they talked about it. So someone was getting some healthy cash to make sure it wasn't a democratic process that was for sure. That is not mentioned in Paul and Lori's Prayer Journal. Lies by omission.
Further, Paul and Lori's Prayer Journal only mentions the problems that they think the Akha have which are their own tough luck, major moral failings, a big list, ones that you can't get into heaven with, won't be allowed to be a member in what ever Bethany church, and for which all your pain and suffering in life, is directly YOUR FAULT.
No where on Paul and Lori's website is ANY mention maid of human rights, land rights, slave conditions on Chinese tea farms, the Chinese taking all the land, paying off government officials, the literature or traditional culture of the Akha, ID cards, extra-judicial killings, the US funded drug war, the removal of Akha children and the wealth that brings missions like Akha Outreach, or ethics, or the Thai Forestry department, or the number of Akhas who are in prostitution because they are not afforded any of these rights and have few alternatives. No mention is made of all the Akha who are profiled and put in prison. Apart from Akha "lack of morality" one would think that the Akha are surrounded by a wonderful world and living conditions, shown up by the cheery smiles of Paul and Lori, camping in their village, blathering about a culture they met only long enough to destroy it, so that they can show up at their home churches where people didn't used to have a clue, and get kudos for Jesus and being good christian warriors out in the world.
So the reality is, that any young people in their church, DON'T know what is really going on there, what is really happening to the Akha, who is to blame, who is taking advantage, what cultural heritage is being destroyed, that UNESCO isn't doing its job, that people are profiteer off the AKha like "Super Pimps" and that they and their whole church are getting played for dupes with a total WAX JOB! And they are PAYING CASH for this big lie, this big withholding of the truth, this travesty imposed on the Akha. No one is telling them, that if they pencil the math, that if the Akha are so bad other than as gutted Akha with the occasional traditional dress photo of, that in the future, there will be no head dresses, no bright clothes, no traditional knowledge, no poetry, no songs, no literature of thousands of lines and centuries and memories, that it will all be gone fro this plastic Jesus that just got shoved down their throat for US Global Fascism.
They won't know who did it, how it got done, who suffered, and the truth that got sacrificed. While the Christians talk about the Akha 'sacrifices' they make no mention of the scores of times they sacrifice the truth.
Other cultures in the world exist which didn't have to sell their souls, which didn't have to play whore for American Christians to get a bowl of rice, or their human rights, which have schools, traditional language, dance, song, thought and education, which don't have the global US military or missions pushing them around. But the people in the church don't know this and the world isn't going to be told about the Akha by these people either. Cause it won't come out until ITS DONE if these smucks can help it.
Merry Christmas Paul and Lori CROUCH Vernon, we hope you wake up some morning and realize that what you did to the Ahka was based on nothing that you believe is good for yourself.