The press is full of stories about the recent shooting of the 'charity worker' Gayle Williams in Afghanistan by Taliban gunmen who said she was trying to convert natives to Christianity. Even humanist websites picked it up without asking questions about the source.
Everyone took the word of her 'Serve Afghanistan' colleagues as true, when they said she was only helping locals, not proselytising, and that is the problem.
Now it's a shame if anyone gets murdered by religious nutters; but unfortunately what the Taliban said is probably true, and it's just as likely Serve Afghanistan are as careless with the truth as any other bunch of evangelical Christians.
Just take a look on the England and Wales charity register at the Serve Afghanistan entry - charity number 1105086.
Their objectives are:(A) THE RELIEF OF POVERTY, SUFFERING AND DISTRESS AMONG THE NEEDY, THE SICK, THE AGED, THE HANDICAPPED, THE HOMELESS AND DISPLACED PERSONS IN AFGHANISTAN AND ANY OTHER PLACE IN THE WORLD; (B) THE PROMOTION OF AND PROVISION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING BY WHATEVER MEANS MAY BE APPROPRIATE IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES IN AFGHANISTAN AND THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AND IN PARTICULAR, BY; (I) ACQUIRING, FOUNDING AND DEVELOPING SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES FOR THE EDUCATION OF EITHER SEX; (II) PROVIDING, ASSISTING AND FACILITATING THE PROVISION OF SUCH EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS CARRIED ON BY OTHERS; AND (III) PROVIDING, ASSISTING AND FACILITATING TRAINING AND INSTRUCTION IN ALL BRANCHES OF LEARNING AND KNOWLEDGE, CITIZENSHIP, HYGIENE, ARTS AND CRAFTS OF ALL KINDS, INCLUDING MENTAL AND PHYSICAL TRAINING; (C) THE PROMOTION AND UPHOLDING OF THE PRINCIPLES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION IN GENERAL.'
Then look at the Trustees.
Look in particular at the other charities for which Mike Lyth is also a Trustee.
Firstly the Firm Foundation Trust - charity number 277298, whose objectives are:
THE ADVANCEMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH THROUGHOUT THE WORLD BY THE INSTRUCTION AND EDIFICATION OF CHRISTIANS THE CARE AND CHRISTIAN INSTRUCTION OF YOUNG PEOPLE AND CHILDREN AND THE EVANGELISATION OF NON-CHRISTIANS'.
and then The Kerygma Trust - charity number 1098784, whose objectives are:
'TO PROMOTE THE CHRISTIAN FAITH FOR THE PUBLIC BENEFIT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOLLOWING DOCTRINES :- 1. THE FULL INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES; THEIR AUTHORITY AND SUFFICIENTLY AS NOT ONLY CONTAINING BUT BEING IN THEMSELVES THE WORD OF GOD; THE RELIABILITY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT IN ITS TESTIMONY TO THE CHARACTER AND AUTHORSHIP OF THE OLD TESTAMENT; AND THE NEED OF THE TEACHING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO A TRUE AND SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE WHOLE. 2. THE UNITY OF THE GODHEAD AND THE DIVINE CO-EQUALITY OF THE FATHER THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN HIS CREATION PROVIDENCE AND REDEMPTION. 3. THE UTTER DEPRAVITY OF HUMAN NATURE IN CONSEQUENCE OF THE FALL AND THE NECESSITY FOR THE REGENERATION. 4. THE TRUE AND PROPER DEITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST , HIS VIRGIN BIRTH HIS REAL AND PERFECT MANHOOD; THE AUTHORITY OF HIS TEACHING AND THE INFALLIBILITY OF ALL HIS UTTERANCES HIS WORK OF ATONEMENT FOR SINNERS OF MANKIND BY HIS VICARIOUS SUFFERINGS AND DEATH; HIS BODILY RESURRECTION AND HIS ASCENSION INTO HEAVEN; HIS PRESENT PRIESTLY INTERCESSION FOR HIS PEOPLE; AND HIS FUNCTION AS THE BAPTISE WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. 5. THE JUSTIFICATION OF THE SINNER SOLELY BY FAITH THROUGH THE ATONING MERITS OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST. 6. THE NECESSITY OF THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN REGENERATION CONVERSION AND SANCTIFICATION; ALSO IN MINISTRY AND WORSHIP AND IN THE EXERCISING OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS THROUGH THE BODY OF BELIEVERS. 7. THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY; THE JUDGEMENT OF THE WORLD BY THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WITH THE ETERNAL BLESSEDNESS OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE ETERNAL PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED. 8. THE OBSERVANCE OF BAPTISM BY IMMERSION OF BELIEVERS AS AN ORDINANCE OF DIVINE INSTITUTION; THE LORD'S SUPPER AS A COMMEMORATION OF OUR LORD'S DEATH BUT NOT AS BEING A SACRIFICE FOR SIN OR INVOLVING ANY CHANGE IN THE SUBSTANCE OF BREAD AND WINE. 9. THE PERSONAL RETURN OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST FOR HIS CHURCH.'
Now that's bad enough, but at least Mike Lyth admits his interests to the Charity Commissioners.
Another trustee, Andy Dipper, doesn't. But a few moments later and I established that he worked for Tearfund, then in 2006 became Chief Executive of Release International, which is a working name only.
The charity is actually called Christian Mission To The Communist World - charity number 280577, which tells the Charity Commissioners that it exists 'FOR THE PROMOTION OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION AMONGST COMMUNISTS ALL OVER THE WORLD AND THE RELIEF OF NEED, HARDSHIP AND DISTRESS OF PERSONS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD WHO ARE BEING OR HAVE BEEN PERSECUTED AS A RESULT OF THEIR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND THEIR RELATIVES, DEPENDANTS AND FRIENDS.'
I have friends and relatives in East Europe, and good contacts amongst groups who trace the resurgence of neo-nazi activity there, so can say without fear of being proved wrong that evangelicals have stirred up ethnic and sectarian conflicts, destroyed local communities and traditions, provided foot soldiers for attacks on Gay Pride festivals and, in the particular case of Latvia, even exported rampant homophobia back to parts of the US where it was otherwise dying out (see the excellent 'Intelligence Report' magazine produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center for more on this).
This particular little bunch of patronising, interfering godbotherers may turn out not to be part of the general US-led rabble which charges around past and present disaster areas destroying communities, hobnobbing with corrupt politicians and hoovering up foreign aid money, but they are not innocent either.
If you need an analogy for this sad, stupid death, don't think 'nice lady helping poor kids shot by nasty Taliban', think of the way established drug gangs wipe out the women and kids of new rivals first to scare them off. The Taliban absolutely, absolutely suck, but they do not pretend to be anything they are not.
2 years ago