After The Earthquake, Then Came The Missionaries


As followers of international news will know, the small island of Haiti recently suffered a devastating earthquake, leaving thousands dead and destroying the homes and lives of many more.

As we’re increasingly seeing in the wake of these natural disasters, the internet has proven to be a great source of aid and fundraising, with appeals instantly springing up on Twitter and Facebook to raise funds for the distraught citizens and destroyed towns.

But aid from charities like Unicef, The Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières and the Disasters Emergency Committee (please donate to any one of those) isn’t the limit of the help offered to those suffering the effects of the disaster – instead, smelling the desperation and sensing a chance to convert, religious organisations and dangerous cults have descended upon the troubled isle to hoover up the hopeless into their organisations.

First up, Christian group ‘Faith Comes By Hearing‘ got involved, declaring on their website:

“Faith Comes By Hearing, the world’s foremost Audio Bible ministry, is responding to this crisis by providing faith, hope and love through God’s Word in audio”

That’s right – they’re going to help fight the rampant poverty, disease and homelessness via spreading the word of God.

“We already have 600 Proclaimers on their way through our ministry partner, Convoy of Hope,” said Jon Wilke, Faith Comes By Hearing’s spokesperson.

At first I was confused – I mean, I remember the Proclaimers, and there was only two of them, and quite how a ginger Scottish pop duo could help an entire nation, I couldn’t fathom. Fortunately, it seems I’d been mistaken, and the real ‘proclaimers’ were only slightly less ludicrous as forms of aid:

“These portable, solar-powered Audio Bibles will be given to local pastors so people can hear God’s Word in their own language—Haitian Creole.”

The group explain on their site how these proclaimer units, digital Bible-verse-spouting units which they describe as ‘a gift from God’ after they came up with the idea following a three-day fast, will be doled out to pastors who can use the devices to ‘minister to groups of hurting and wounded people who need the Word of God in their heart language’.

Wilke continues:

“There is an immediate need for another 3,000 Proclaimers. We want to equip short-term groups, disaster relief teams, church teams and other ministries with the Word of God in a format the people can use. Haitians will need that long-term hope and comfort that comes from knowing God has not forgotten them through this tragedy… Imagine the change in atmosphere if God’s Word is there, playing in their language, reminding them that God is with them.”

Where God was when the earthquake happened is anyone’s guess, but my imagination must be a little off, because I can’t really imagine just how a Bible-verse-filled MP3 player will change the atmosphere in shell-shocked Haiti more than, say, food or clothing or medicine or structural rebuilding.

Still, the Xtians aren’t the only ones smelling opportunity, as news broke that the island of Haiti will also be visited by the Xenutians that are the Scientologists. The cult of Scientology – and I believe, in Haiti, it IS considered a cult not a religion – have form for sniffing out disaster and inserting themselves into the process, having been present in the aftermath of the London bombings in July 2005. This time, they’re going to Haiti, courtesy of John Travolta, who recently told US Weekly:

“I have arranged for a plane to take some some volunteer ministers and some supplies and some medics.”

The completely-not-gay Hollywood actor then added:

“My church has also arranged for 80 medicos and 33 volunteers to go down. I hope that inspires others as well.”

Just to clear up any confusion that may arise from things getting lost in translation, by his ‘church’ he means his scientology group. I thought this worth pointing out to our largely UK-based listeners, given that Scientology is not a religion here in the UK. Or in Haiti. Or in France, for that matter. Fraud in an organised gang’, I believe the French judges ruled

So, what will the cult of Scientology be doing in Port Au Prince? Well, if it’s anything like their showings at recent disasters, we can expect a cavalcade of pseudoscientific healing techniques heavily attached to proselytising their ‘fraud in an organised gang’ organisation. The website ‘gawker.com’ offers a rundown of previous Xenu-aid:

– The “Purification Rundown”: After 9/11, Scientology set up a clinic in downtown Manhattan where firefighters sat in saunas, worked out, and took niacin and other vitamins, a regime that toxicologists have derided as “quackery.”

– “Touch Assists”: Scientologists descended on India in the wake of the Tsunami to save lives with “touch assists,” which, according to this Washington Post story, consisted of a mechanic from Michigan touching people and saying “feel my finger” over and over and over again.

– “Locational Assists”: After traumas, people sometimes forget where they are maybe? To remind earthquake victims that they are still stuck in Haiti, volunteer ministers will be performing this vital medical procedure, quoted here verbatim from the Scientology Handbook:

5. Continue giving the command, directing the person’s attention to different objects in the environment. Be sure to acknowledge the person each time after he has complied. For instance, you say, “Look at that tree.” “Thank you.” “Look at that building.” “Good.” “Look at that street.” “All right.” “Look at that lawn.” “Very good.” You point each time to the object.

6. Keep this up until the person has good indicators and a cognition. You can end the assist at this point. Tell the person, “End of assist.”

– “Nerve Assists”: This is basically a back massage, which if performed properly will dislodge the “standing wave” of trauma that is preventing horribly wounded and completely bereft Haitian earthquake victims from leading normal, satisfactory, psych-free lives.

Talking Bibles or pseudoscientific cult-babble – it’s good to see religion and quasi-religion still has a part to play in the recovery process.

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  1. #1 by Philip Norton on January 22, 2010 - 15:45

    I have to say that when I saw that people were going to send solar powered audio bibles instead of food, water, medicine or search and rescue teams I was utterly shocked. I find it very hard to imagine a mentality that would think that basic requirements to living outweigh the need to hear the bible read out.
    The fact that Scientology are involved simply disgusts me, I wonder how much they will charge someone who has lost everything to join their criminal organisation?

  2. #2 by Bonobo on January 22, 2010 - 21:05

    “Where God was when the earthquake happened is anyone’s guess”

    Recording the latest podcast, for his next audio gift?

    This is disgraceful, I can’t fathom the pure ignorance…speechless.

  3. #3 by Polyfemus on January 23, 2010 - 01:30

    Obviously God was in the recording studio monitoring his important work, see what happens when he’s distracted! However solar powered mp3 players that will save the day. What goes through the minds of these people?
    The Scientologists will leave once their self promotional video has been filmed, no point in recruiting the Haitians they have no money.

  4. #4 by M on January 24, 2010 - 00:09

    Did anyone else notice on the news that the first people leaving Haiti after the quake were the Christian missionaries already there? So much for being there in the Haitians greatest time of need! What they need is supplies and medical help- not false hope in the unknowable!

  5. #5 by Pasjoesja on January 24, 2010 - 11:03

    Haiti is not an island.

  6. #6 by Marsh on January 24, 2010 - 15:03

    Good point – it makes up the Western side of Hispaniola. Happy to admit my confusion, I guess it’s like calling Ireland and island, when there’s two countries to it…

  7. #7 by London Lulz on January 30, 2010 - 14:18

    This is silly:

    Don’t get me wrong, a lot of religious organisations have been doing outstanding work out there (CAFOD and Christian Aid to name but two). Also, if I imagine that the christians out there want as many pastors on hand as possible.

    But this is ridiculous. Let’s get the injuries, homelessness, and disease sorted first. Anything else is to put the people of haiti’s needs second before our own society’s wants.

  8. #8 by Jemima Boucher on January 30, 2010 - 16:16

    These stupid ignorant Haitians; if only they were enlightened Europeans and had stocked their shelves with copies of Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens, life would be so much better. Good to remind ourselves how superior we are, though.

  9. #9 by Monica Matos on January 31, 2010 - 00:39

    This web site is great, but I’m sorry you won’t be able to change things.
    Humans are bacterias destroying the Earth and there is no antibioc to cure it…
    Imagine in the future the human conquering and living on other planets…
    People taking homepathy, going to the church and using burkas on Mars, where the dictator is communist, with billions of slaves producing cheap goods…. please… there are already 7 billion and no hope to change. They’ve won and I hope it finishes soon. We deserve it.

  10. #10 by Jonathan B on January 31, 2010 - 18:32

    ‘…. it’s good to see religion and quasi-religion still has a part to play in the recovery process.’

    The Red Cross and most of the charities that form the Disasters Emergency Committee were founded by religious organisations.

    If it wasn’t for the religious organisations and national governments (whose actions are rarely disinterested) there probably wouldn’t be a recovery process.

    Is the fact that some religious organisations are distributing bibles along with aid really the most important issue to arise from the Haitian disaster?

    Shouldn’t we be asking why a country that could conceivably be reasonably secure and prosperous, is so vulnerable to disaster?

  11. #11 by Stu on February 1, 2010 - 17:05

    “Is the fact that some religious organisations are distributing bibles along with aid really the most important issue to arise from the Haitian disaster?”

    No it isn’t. However, reasonable people baulk at the fact that these organisations are spending time and money – which could be used to alleviate suffering – to spead their ‘word’ whilst Haitians are dying! Also, they’re not distributing aid at the same time. Faith comes by hearing are not spending any money on helping people – just making sure they have plenty of bibles.

    The thing that sickens me the most is that wherever I look I see the religious rushing in to any disaster zone to exploit the vulnerable and convert those who are at their lowest ebb.

    So, no this isn’t the most important issue but it is one that reasonable people should be very wary of.

  12. #12 by Jonathan B on February 2, 2010 - 22:14

    Stu :“No it isn’t. However, reasonable people baulk at the fact that these organisations are spending time and money – which could be used to alleviate suffering – to spead their ‘word’ whilst Haitians are dying! Also, they’re not distributing aid at the same time. .
    The thing that sickens me the most is that wherever I look I see the religious rushing in to any disaster zone to exploit the vulnerable and convert those who are at their lowest ebb.
    So, no this isn’t the most important issue but it is one that reasonable people should be very wary of.

    Actually, there is a reference in the ‘Faith comes by hearing’ website to practical aid.

    And I think the assumption that the ‘vulnerability’ of the Haitians is being exploited suggests a fairly patronising view that they are incapable of making their own judgements (and I’d say exactly the same if Cuba or China or the USA were sending political propaganda).

  13. #13 by Stu on February 3, 2010 - 10:32

    A reference to practical aid in the website? Can’t find it myself. All I can find is Faith comes by hearing piggy-backing on other organisations’ efforts to spread their ‘word.’ This makes their actions even more despicable – these other groups should surely be concentrating on saving lives and alleviating suffering rather than making sure someone has a ‘proclaimer.’

    I also don’t think that it is patronising to suggest that people who have just suffered a major natural disaster are vulnerable. Of course they are capable of making their own judgements. All I’m saying is that these judgements needn’t be influenced by someone else’s prejudices. I stand by the third paragraph in the last comment.

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