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Sep 07 2013

Mission Congo

I don’t like missionaries. I don’t like the idea of missionaries. The idea is simple. Go enlighten the blighted heathen and wow them with technology so that we can replace their unenlightened dark gods with our rape excusing, slavery begetting, incestuous, murderous god who is more civilised simply because we wear pants and they do not.

I understand that’s the older version of the missionary but the modern mission’s purpose is similar. Sure there may be more oversight and the emphasis has increased on helping people but the oversight is not there. And very often the miissionary doesn’t help so much as sweep into and out of their lives in a whirlwind of iPhones and temporary technology. Or worse, are so unfit for field work that they actually end up doing harm.

And no where is this seen as badly as in Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing International which is the subject of a documentary called Mission Congo.

The Congo holds a special place in my heart. I have never been. But I lost a friend there.

A young lady I knew loved to help people. She travelled the world and no matter what faced her be it pain or suffering or even death she faced it head on. She died in the DRC while trying to feed refugees. A fight broke out and then a riot and during that fateful day someone cut her throat. No one knows the details. Ed died that day and died alone. I like to think that Ed died with no regrets and would always have wanted to go to help.

She influenced me a lot and while I will probably never go to the DRC, a lot of who I am is to try and emulate her love and her compassion. Her courage touched the lives of everyone she met and even some she did not.

To hear the stories about Operation Blessing is just tragic.

During the 1994 Rwandan Crisis there was a rather comical sight if you like your humour like I like my coffee (Dark and Bitter). The stretcher bearers at the refugee camps would be rushing the dying and wounded to medical tents accompanied by men who ran alongside reading Bible verses.

Never mind the fact that the genocide was perpetrated under the blessings of priests who probably justified their actions from the same book. It is estimated that in the aftermath roughly 40,000 people died from cholera. And the bulk of the volunteers there were from Medicin Sans Frontieres (MSF).

The Bible Readers were from Operation Blessing International. Remember when I said some people aren’t suited for charity and go to third world nations and end up costing resources? I was talking about these guys.

But the main problem seems to be that Pat Robertson forgot his own book. Thou Shalt Not Lie Mr. Robertson! Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network helped raise millions of dollars from loyal followers by claiming that Operation Blessing International (OBI) was actively part of the international response even. And to this day he still makes the claim that he was in charge of helping the biggest refugee crisis of the 1990s despite official investigations declaring his operation to be fraudulent and deceptive and that there was an almost non-existent aid operation.

“We brought the largest contingent of medicine into Goma in Zaire, at least the first and the largest,” Robertson 

His own operations manager Jessie Potts, at Goma in 1994, said that the medicines that did arrive were pretty useless in fighting a Cholera Epidemic.

“We got a lot of Tylenol. Too much. I never did understand that. We got enough Tylenol to supply all of Zaire. God, I never saw as much in my life,” he said. The strangest thing is, had Pat Robertson shipped Water, Sugar and Salt it would have done more to save the lives of the people he claimed to have helped.

And a lot of former aid workers are coming out and criticising him. Throughout the Rwandan Crisis, refugees fled into Zaire where they had a mass outbreak of Cholera. Pat Robertson made the claim that OBI was out there saving lives.

“It was the most important first medical shipment on the scene out of everything,” he said of one aid delivery as he appealed for donations. 

In another broadcast, Robertson said Operation Blessing was saving thousands of lives.

“The death toll in this particular camp went down to almost zero because of our people being there,” 

Robertson claimed that Operation Blessing sent plane-loads of doctors.

“These are tents set up with our doctors and our medical teams that came from here to work as hard as they could to save lives,” Robertson said over pictures of a large tent of children on drips being tended by nurses and doctors.

These were utter lies. The photos were of Medicin Sans Frontier staff as was the video footage.

In fact when asked, MSF staff didn’t remember the charity nor anyone working with it. None of the charity organisations there did. And remember this was a multi-million dollar charity operation.

And it’s only natural. MSF had hundreds of staff and utilised hundreds more local workers. OBI sent doctors to help. But not in the numbers claimed or implied. No major charity was willing to agree to the claim that OBI was one of the major charities in the region. Nor was it the first on scene.

OBI sent JUST 7 Doctors and 1 Medical Tent. I am pretty sure that MSF was able to raise more than 7 doctors from the Rwandan Refugees to help out.

You think this is bad?

“The soil is unbelievable. You stick anything in the ground and it grows. You put a shovel in and it starts sprouting,” he said in appealing for donations for a 100,000 Acre farm at Dumi.

The televangelist was also raising donations for Operation Blessing’s other activities in Congo during this time as part of the crisis. Such as a 100,000-acre farm near the town of Dumi, which Robertson claimed had produced a large harvest of corn and was a “tremendous feeding station” for the poor and refugees.

The farm had already failed. The soil was of poor quality and Operation Blessing brought unsuitable seeds that failed. Remember what I said about Pol Pot and the Cultural Revolution of Mao? They failed because farming is a science and ideology does not grow crops. American Seeds + Poor Soil = Failed Harvest.

To this day, Robertson continues to solicit donations on the back of the project, on the grounds that although the farm failed, it left a legacy with a school that established a “foundation of education” in the town.

2011 posting on the Operation Blessing website described the school as “thriving”.

Apparently visitors from non-Robertsonian sources describe the school as “abandoned”, “bereft of furniture” and “falling down”.

Similarly, local leaders in Kamonia said that they were promised schools, roads and a hospital by Robertson’s mining company – but none of it materialised.

Wait What?

And people ask why I distrust missionaries. Because people who think blind faith and a single way hold the answers to all of life’s questions are gullible and can do great evil under the guise of good.

Some of the most damaging criticism comes from former workers. Such as Robert Hinkle who describes how he signed on in order to fly mercy flights to save refugees. Instead he was diverted to haul equipment to a genuine bonafide Central African Diamond Mine owned by Pat.

Jesus Christ Pat! You have just crossed the line from arsehole to Batwing Villain.

“They began asking me: can we haul a thousand-pound dredge over? I didn’t know what the dredging deal was about,” Robert Hinkle

“Mission after mission was always just getting eight-inch dredgers, six-inch dredgers … and food supplies, quads, jeeps, out to the diamond dredging operation outside of Kamonia,” Robert Hinkle

Robert regrets his decision to this day. He says that he joined OBI to help. Of the 40 flights he flew into Congo, just two delivered aid. The others were associated with the diamond mining. He was so embarrassed he stripped the OBI logo from his plane as he made deliveries to an airstrip that Robertson claimed was part of his aid operations to the region.

But surely this means he would get his just desserts?

Robertson’s activities in the Congo region are well known. He was investigated by the Attorney General and Consumer Affairs of Virginia where the charity iss registered. It was reported that Pat was “fraudulent and deceptive” with claims of ferrying doctors and medical equipment when in reality he was ferrying mining equipment. In addition OBI misrepresented it’s flights and it’s facilities on the ground when in fact most of said facilities did not belong to it and/or were part of a mining operation.

In addition the Dumi Farm Project was portrayed as a success when it was a failure in order to raise more money.

“Pat Robertson made material claims, via television appeals, regarding the relief efforts. These statements are refuted by the evidence in this case,” Consumer Affairs of Virginia

So why is Pat still on TV making such claims?

Leading state politicians were sponsored by Mr. Robertson after all. And this isn’t his only such act of absolute monstrosity.

Robertson was a major supporter of Charles Taylor. In fact OBI pilots in 1994 reported that funds and supplies were diverted from Rwanda and the Congo to Liberia. Charles Taylor’s brutal actions killed thousands of people and caused a variety of humanitarian crisis from destruction of farmland, starvation, genocide, enforced cannibalism, human sacrifice and child soldiers. Charles Taylor is currently in prison for Crimes against Humanity.

And Robertson was a part of it.

So how does one walk free from all this?

The Virginian authorities declined to prosecute Pat Robertson claiming his misrepresentation as a “blemish”. After all relief supplies were sent. Pat never said how much of the money was earmarked for it.

Mission Congo, by David Turner and Lara Zizic, opens at the Toronto film festival on Friday. It describes how claims about the scale of aid to Rwandan refugees were among a number of exaggerated or false assertions about the activities of Operation Blessing which pulls in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in donations, much of it through Robertson’s televangelism. They include characterising a failed large-scale farming project as a huge success, and claims about providing schools and other infrastructure.

If you can, watch it. And tell your friends. And then realise the value of supporting a secular charity. It doesn’t mean that MSF don’t hire Christians, it just means that their priorities are screwed on right.

As for Pat?

If his god exists, then there is a special place in hell for the sort of people who take advantage of the kindness of human nature by portraying incredible suffering in order to make a profit.

8 comments

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  1. 1
    American Punjaban PI

    I get really upset about the tactics used by missionaries myself. As a former Christian, it saddens me to know what the church has become and what they pay for and sanction. It goes against their own teachings. I feel sad for humanity every time they do that. I feel like we were taught (as Christians) some very snooty views of the non-Christian population in the world. I’ve been in three different denominations and it was the same in all 3. You’re Christian, you’re untouchable, it’s okay if you do it because you’re forgiven. It’s as if it’s a means to not make amends or not learn from your behavior. That’s what the people teach, not God. The whole system is grossly perverted. :( It’s no wonder many are leaving it.

  2. 2
    left0ver1under

    They failed because farming is a science and ideology does not grow crops. American Seeds + Poor Soil = Failed Harvest.

    It could be Lysenkoism, it could be ignorance, or it could easily be PR. Why make a serious effort to grow food when planting doomed seeds will attact donations, and no one will be around to check on the failed crops or starving people in a year?

    After the December 2004 tsunami around the Indian Ocean, many christian cultists went around under the false auspices of “charity” when in fact they were simply proselytizing. In cases where they “gave out food”, it was often with the condition of religious conversion. Many in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka refused to become christians, and were refused food and water. As well, orphaned children who had hindu, buddhist or muslim parents were kidnapped and placed in christian orphanages – very much the same as Haiti in 2009, when fundamentalist christians tried the same with orphans who had catholic parents. Similar stories appeared months later in New Orleans, after hurricane Katrina.

    http://buddhism.about.com/b/2008/05/30/buddhists-v-christians-in-sri-lanka.htm

    http://www.inminds.co.uk/tsunami.html

    http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/content/news_syndication/article_05095aid.shtml

    Robertson isn’t interested in charity, he’s promoting hate and extortion. His cult is taking advantage of people at their most vulnerable, when they are most desperate and in need of help.

    The only conditions that a real charity places on people is need, as with MSF mentioned above. Taking advantage of others’ desperation is not an act of love.

  3. 3
    Avicenna

    The term you are specifically looking for is called “rice conversion”. Where charity is used to insert Jesus.

  4. 4
    Aliasalpha

    Could we report him to the international criminal court & ask them to do something?

  5. 5
    left0ver1under

    Avicenna (#3) –

    The term you are specifically looking for is called “rice conversion”. Where charity is used to insert Jesus.

    I’ve not heard that term, though I’ll agree it is accurate. But I still think extortion is more à propos.

    Hypothetical: A woman’s car breaks down in the desert, dozens of miles from help and she’ll die if no one helps her. Along comes an MRA who says, “Have sex with me and I’ll take you to the next town,” and leaves her there to die when she refuses. That’s pretty much what the proselytizers are doing, bordering on rape – extorting the desperate and either violating them or abandoning them.

    Aliasalpha (#4) -

    Could we report him to the international criminal court & ask them to do something?

    The ICC knows all about him and hasn’t made any effort to have him extradited and tried. His friend Charles Taylor (former Liberian president) has been on trial for war crimes, including Taylor’s dealings in blood diamonds. Robertson was a willing partner in those deals, knowingly profiting from war crimes.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/pat-robertsons-gold-deal-african-dictator/story?id=9749341

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/05/pat-robertson-diamond-fraud-documentary_n_3875345.html

  6. 6
    Marcus Ranum

    I always suspected that loathesome people like Robertson are attracted to religion (free money and power!) rather than that they are corrupted by their faith. I mean, unless you assume their faith is “easy money”

  7. 7
    Ani J. Sharmin

    Pat Robertson has gotten this reputation of being an elderly guy who says some weird/ridiculous stuff on his show, and then gets made fun of by bloggers. Like having a bigoted relative who says discriminatory things at a family party, but on tv. His reprehensible actions (and the fact that even the weird/ridiculous stuff he says actually affects people) gets forgotten. My guess is this is because of his fame/connections, and also because he’s Christian (so people in the USA give him more benefit of the doubt, an unacceptable level of it, compared to the benefit of the doubt they’d give to someone of a different religion doing the same thing).

    The questionable tactics used by missionaries disturbs me. Of course, a lot of people try to convince others of their beliefs, but to do so under the guise of charity, to link conversion to humanitarian aid is just manipulative.

  8. 8
    Larry Silverstein

    YO ALL,

    THIS WAS THE ORIGINAL SCRIPT:

    THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

    Matthew ch 5 to Matthew ch 7

    The Beatitudes

    1And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

    3″Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    4Blessed are those who mourn,
    For they shall be comforted.
    5Blessed are the meek,
    For they shall inherit the earth.

    6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    For they shall be filled.
    7Blessed are the merciful,
    For they shall obtain mercy.
    8Blessed are the pure in heart,
    For they shall see God.
    9Blessed are the peacemakers,
    For they shall be called sons of God.
    10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    11″Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

    Believers Are Salt and Light
    13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
    14″You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

    Christ Fulfills the Law
    17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

    Murder Begins in the Heart
    21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.
    26Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

    Adultery in the Heart
    27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.’
    28But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

    Marriage Is Sacred and Binding
    31 “Furthermore it has been said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

    Jesus Forbids Oaths
    33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37But let your “Yes’ be “Yes,’ and your “No,’ “No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

    Go the Second Mile
    38 “You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

    Love Your Enemies
    43 “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
    44But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

    Matthew 6

    Do Good to Please God
    1″Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

    The Model Prayer
    5″And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
    8″Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9In this manner, therefore, pray:

    Our Father in heaven,
    Hallowed be Your name.
    10Your kingdom come.
    Your will be done
    On earth as it is in heaven.
    11Give us this day our daily bread.
    12And forgive us our debts,
    As we forgive our debtors.
    13And do not lead us into temptation,
    But deliver us from the evil one.
    For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

    14″For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

    Fasting to Be Seen Only by God
    16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

    Lay Up Treasures in Heaven
    19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    The Lamp of the Body
    22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

    You Cannot Serve God and Riches
    24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

    Do Not Worry
    25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
    27Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
    28″So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
    31″Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’ 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

    Matthew 7

    Do Not Judge
    1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
    4Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
    6″Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

    Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking
    7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 12Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

    The Narrow Way
    13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

    You Will Know Them by Their Fruits
    15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
    19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

    I Never Knew You
    21 “Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

    Build on the Rock
    24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
    26″But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
    28And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

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