THE MISSIONARIES: God Against the Indians by Norman Lewis

THE MISSIONARIES: God Against the Indians

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A shocking indictment of the efforts of certain Christian sects to ""bring the pagan to Christ,"" even if it costs the pagan's life. Over the years, Lewis (Naples '44, The Honored Society) has roamed the world from Indochina to Central and South America and in all these locations has discovered depredations wrought on native populations by missionaries. This autobiography-cum-travel-report opens with a brief recapitulation of the exploitation of the native tribes of the South Pacific by the missionary societies of Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, Lewis points out, the process continues in the ""undeveloped"" areas of the world, where evangelists are now frequently in league with resource-hungry multinational entrepreneurs. Their combined methods include land-grabs, cultural debasement, slavery, and outright murder. Two of the most predatory of the Christian groups, according to Lewis, are the duplicitously named Summer Institute of Linguistics and The New Tribes Mission. Convinced that they alone hold the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, these fundamentalist outfits are unrelenting in seeking converts. Their members can be found around the globe; Lewis interviews many of the missionaries in scenes that are classic confrontations between humanitarianism and close-minded fanaticism. The documentation here is scrupulous, and Lewis makes his points with tellingly understated effectiveness. He also interweaves his exposÉ with lovingly rendered descriptions of the indigenous people he encounters and the places he ventures into--Guatemala, Mexico, French-held Vietnam in the 1950's, Paraguay. Among his most intriguing portraits is that of Ramon Medina, a shaman of Mexico's Huichol tribe who accompanies Lewis into unexplored (and dangerous) back country. A work that will shock and scandalize as it alerts readers to the widespread genocides that exist today.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1988
Publisher: McGraw-Hill