Does that headline sound familiar at all?
Last week, we learned of John Allen Chau—a bible-slinging missionary who was killed by an isolated, Indigenous tribe after he illegally invaded their remote island.
And what reasoning did he have for illegally invading their remote island? According to CNN, it was to convert the island’s inhabitants into Christians, of course.
The 27-year-old American, identified as John Allen Chau, came to India on a tourist visa but came to the Andaman and Nicobar islands in October with the express purpose of proselytizing, Dependra Pathak, Director General of Police of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, told CNN.
“We refuse to call him a tourist. Yes, he came on a tourist visa but he came with a specific purpose to preach on a prohibited island,” Pathak said.
Chau did not inform the police of his intentions to travel to the island to attempt to convert its inhabitants.
The island, North Sentinel Island, is inhabited by the Sentinelese people, who are protected under Indian law. Just more than a dozen people are officially thought to live on the remote island in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago.
So to recap, he unlawfully trespassed into a sovereign nation, endangered the island’s inhabitants, was justifiably perceived as a threat, then was killed in self-defense. Which they were well within their rights to do.
So please explain why International Christian Concern, a nonprofit organization that “exists to relieve the suffering of the worldwide persecuted church”, wants the tribe to be charged with murder.
The following is from their official press release:
“We here at International Christian Concern are extremely concerned by the reports of an American missionary being murdered in India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to both John’s family and friends. A full investigation must be launched in this this murder and those responsible must be brought to justice.”
Murder??? Wait, what?!
Since when are any of those villagers bound by American law? Since when in the history of ever can they be tried by our court system? And why the hell isn’t Chau being held accountable for his own reckless and self-serving behavior?
But it gets better. Because in the same press release the International Christian Concern tried to draw a connection between Chau’s death and reports of discrimination against practitioners of Christianity throughout India.
India has a history of attacks on foreign Christian missionaries. In January 1999, Graham Staines, an Australian missionary, was burned alive along with his two sons Philip, age 10, and Timothy, age 6. A mob of Bajrang Dal fundamentalists attacked the missionary and his children while they sleeping in their station wagon in Manoharpur village, located in the Kendujhar District of India’s Odisha State.
Across India, reports of persecution continue to escalate in both number and severity. Much of this escalation in persecution followed the rise of the current BJP-led government in May 2014. Using religiously divisive rhetoric for political gain, BJP officials incite Hindu radicals to take action against religious minorities. In 2014, the year the BJP-led government took power, the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) documented 147 incidents of Christian persecution. In 2017, after three years of the current government, EFI documented 351 incidents of Christian persecution.
SPOILER WARNING: Chau’s death had absolutely nothing to do with any type of “religious persecution” and everything to do with the consequences of sticking his bible where it didn’t belong.
Thankfully, despite their grief, Chau’s family refuses to condemn the remote villagers for protecting their livelihood.
In an Instagram post on Chau’s account, his parents John and Lynda wrote: “We forgive those reportedly responsible for his death. [...] He ventured out on his own free will and his local contacts need not be persecuted for their actions.”
This is a tragic outcome, but I couldn’t agree more.
While local police did in fact open a murder investigation, it appears to be merely a formality considering the severity of the circumstances.
However, local police are unsure if they’ll be able to retrieve Chau’s body. Because that would require illegally invading a sovereign island as well.