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How Do You Know Your Missionaries Aren’t Lying?

By Carl S ~

Every month, my wife and another lady from her church work on the church collections and expenditures report from the past month. And every month I hear my wife's end of the conversations over the phone, and they always mention the missionary allowance. Every time, I want to ask a question. This time I gave in to temptation and, after taking a psychological deep breath, asked, "Just what are those missionaries telling people?" My wife replied, "I assume, the teachings of the church." So, by way of giving a reason for my question, I offered an example for it.

I mentioned something that happened just last week: We took our car to a local repair shop, where my wife described "the sounds" (she could hear them, not me), coming from the rear brake area. Later on, we were presented with a rundown of problems and expenses to fix them. Their report didn't sound right to me, so I told them we'd wait. We made an appointment for another shop, one we'd found reliable. There, we ended up paying slightly more than 50% of what the first place asked. I told her we didn't take the word of the first place in assuming they were honest. Why assume the missionaries are honest? I mentioned a couple we know who were missionaries, and they taught birth control. She asked how I knew this. I said the husband told me that he taught men how to use condoms. I asked, "What if other missionaries don't believe in birth control, and are teaching against it? What if missionaries you support are teaching things you and your friend at church don't agree with?" No answer. I recall asking her earlier about what was being taught to children at Sunday school while the parents were upstairs at church service. It was assumed they were taught whatever the church (allegedly) believes.

Consumer Reports has hundreds of thousands of subscribers. People go to the internet for info at its site and other sites for more information. They go to check out products they consider purchasing, for quality and reliability. Nobody who cares, who doesn't want to lose money and/or end up with a problematic product, takes the statements of manufacturers and their salespeople on faith before buying their products. Except for religious claims. When it comes to them, their salespeople are trusted to take one's time and money, and sell... what it's assumed they're selling. They are being trusted to not sell beliefs of their own choosing - beliefs and attitudes one totally disagrees with.

Every month I am made aware of how believers are indifferent to these matters. People who claim to care so very much about truth are extremely indifferent to investigating whether the products they're buying are true. I keep asking myself why they keep supporting those missionaries, without not only investigations, but questions.

If you or I claim to be the official spokespersons of the Democratic or Republican Party, making public statements of policy in their name, why, the parties would be all over us, denying we speak for them! The entire news media would be attacking us with all the weapons they have. On the other hand, if we "speak for God," in our own congregations, well then, it's a different story. We would each have our own brand of "God," and every brand is the true one, and nobody would investigate whether we are telling them the truth, or just making things up. And that's the way it is, isn't it so?

Now, my lovely and loving spouse asked me a question years ago, and I think she hasn't changed her slant on this. Others ask the same question: "Why do you care about what others say about God? You don't believe in God." True, but I am concerned about what's tied up in believing in this "God," that whatever "he" says or demands is taken to be more valuable than human lives, to begin with. I'm concerned whenever people are icily indifferent to evidence contrary to what they insist on believing, because by doing so they refuse to learn. According to Francis Bacon: "Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true." (These words should be on every church foundation stone.) That's worrisome. Obedient religious faith is poisonous. How can one be indifferent to poison? As per an anonymous quote: "Bigotry is being certain of something you know nothing about." This same "certainty" is the definition of "religious faith." Just as we must confront and criticize the one, we must challenge and criticize the other. If we are atheist or agnostic, what difference does it make?