NGO Expulsion Highlights "Teaching English as a Missionary Language"
Richard Bartholomew printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 03:35:37 AM EST
Did US State Department-funded NGO evangelise in Uzbekistan?
Last week saw the expulsion of a US NGO from Uzbekistan, for alleged missionary activities. The Boston Globe reports:
A Massachusetts-based organization involved in social and economic development programs in the central Asian country of Uzbekistan has been ordered by an Uzbek court to close for allegedly trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, according to reports from the region.

...The Partnership in Academics and Development , which lists a Woburn address on its website, was founded in 1999 by Erick Schenkel , an Arlington resident who subsequently moved to Tashkent, the Uzbek capital.

The organization ran US State Department-funded programs to provide small loans to farmers and to train journalists. It also sponsored business education, mental health consultations, and a variety of student services, according to the website. There is no reference to religious orientation or religious programming on the site...

Of course, a court under the control of Islam Karimov cannot be taken as evidence of anything much, and the report notes that the dictator has been desperate to squeeze out US NGOs since his massacre of protestors last year. It also cites Nicholas Daniloff, an academic who has worked with Schenkel and who believes the charge of proselytism is "bull".

However, this is not the first time that Partnership in Academics and Development has been accused; as I noted on my blog back in May, a blogger recently based in Afghanistan wrote in 2005 that

In Mazar there is a strange organisation deviously called Partnership in Academic Development [sic] (PAD) which I had suspected for a while after having gone there to check out their library and English language programme...I spoke to an Afghan friend recently who confirmed my suspicions. They go for students and offer them free English and computer lessons, and then start talking about Jesus and love. I was told recently that the mullahs rumbled them, and they had to move to a different part of the city, near the UN office, and keeping a low profile.

Whether or not this is accurate, the phenomenon of "Teaching English as a Missionary Language" certainly goes on, and is the subject of a paper by Alastair Pennycock and Sophie Coutand-Marin, two Sydney-based academics. Their work is available to read online here, and contains the following information:
Our own searches have revealed a vast interconnected network of missionary organizations using English language teaching as a key tool. The Mission site offers `Christian Missionary Opportunities to Teach English as a Second Language' and provides connections to a wide range of other organizations. A brief sample includes the following:...
Educational Services International (ESI) urges people to; "Teach English overseas in Muslim Asia, China, Russia, & Central Europe. Current opportunities in Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgzstan, Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine.' (

Clearly, the clandestine activities of groups like "Educational Services International" is going to create problems for other NGOs.

I have looked at various cases of missionary activity over the past couple of years. Conservative evangelical missionaries often seem blithely unreflective about the ways they make use of power relations between the West and the Third World in order to propagate their message, and they also sometimes fail to consider how their actions may have adverse consequences for others. Yet we have to remember that while groups like Samaritan's Purse or SIL may have agendas or strategies that are sometimes objectionable, their humanitarian work is often commendable and greatly appreciated. And where missionaries appear devious, this is often due to the woeful lack of religious freedom in the countries where they operate. Evangelical missionaries are changing the world; but understanding their motivations or their effects requires an appreciation for many shades of grey.

It's also worth noting the current situation for religious groups in the country:
Uzbekistan is clamping down on religious groups, with congregations closed, harsh penalties for unregistered religious activity and activists deported, Forum 18, a religious freedom watchdog, says...

"...we've got very severe raids on religious communities, detentions of religious believers, beatings and the deportation of foreigners who have been involved in religious activities in Uzbekistan," [Felix] Corley said. "This is something new that has been stepped up in the last couple of months."

...Corley said the country's Muslim community was "more tightly controlled" than any faith, with the government telling imams what they could preach and, in reality, appointing them as well.

Some conservatives have already spoken out against Bush's ties to Karimov, and it'll be interesting to see the extent to which this might lead to further pressure from conservative Christians.

by Richard Bartholomew on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 03:50:57 AM EST

Considering the sorts of stories I've heard from other Native Americans, as well as the things I've read, most missionaries are more of a curse to the local people than a blessing.  They go in to convert people instead of lifting them up.  They insult people, are totally ethnocentric and blind to cultural mores and norms (for the most part).  Among many indiginous groups they have a VERY bad name and are strongly disliked, if not hated- for the very reasons I've mentioned.

If these people would go in to HELP, and keep their mouths shut, they would be doing the world (and Christianity) a major service.  Why do you think that most of the Muslim world is hostile to Christianity?  It is because of abuse in the name of Christ!!!

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 10:37:43 AM EST

I agree that missionaries often display the unfortunate attitudes you have described, but I don't think that anti-Christian hostility in Muslim countries can be explained solely in terms of "abuse in the name of Christ". As we all know, many of those countries have distinctly theocratic elements in their governing structures, any ideological challenge to which (whether Christian, secular, rival Muslim or whatever) is likely to be met with repression.

And while of course Christians should not take unethical advantage, why should they have to "keep their mouths shut"? It seems to me that there's trap here: there is much to complain about in the conduct of some missionary organisations, but at the same time I for one want to support religious freedom. That freedom has to include the right to be annoying.

by Richard Bartholomew on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 11:40:31 AM EST

I agree that we have freedom of religion- but I am saying that these people should OF THEIR OWN VOLATION keep their mouths shut and let their actions speak.

Sometimes they are more than annoying- like when they encourage the destruction of cultural artifacts, claiming that they were part of devil worship and so on.  That is happening right now in areas of the world, where significant cultural sites are being destroyed for religion's sake- almost invariably Christian fundamentalists, but I would admit that muslim fundamentalists have been to blame for this as well.

It is also more than irritating when they insist that you are worshiping false gods or devils, when the names you use are your people's names for Jesus and God.  I've experienced that a few times.

It gets downright offensive when they belittle important cultural institutions and want them replaced with questionable American ideas.

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 06:34:42 PM EST

There are a lot of people involved in the making of VPLegacies custom elearning development and they need to be catered to for all sorts of responses in terms of need.

by LayneMarvin on Sun Apr 05, 2020 at 03:24:11 PM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (374 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (195 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (110 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (101 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (113 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (144 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (126 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (118 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (250 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (64 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (161 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (176 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (59 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (65 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (218 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (253 comments)
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (107 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (211 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (164 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (163 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (169 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (156 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (130 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (327 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (148 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (90 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (213 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.