Thursday, 29 November 2018

John Chau and religious stupidity

John Chau was an American Christian missionary who was killed on remote island in the Bay of Bengal in mid November. 

The circumstances are tragic. His family and friends must be devastated. But there's a twist here that, if you're unaware of the details, may come as a surprise: John Chau's death was completely his own fault. 

For reason's that will never be fully understood, John decided to travel to the remote North Sentinel Island, in the Bay of Bengal, to spread the word of 'Jesus' to the primitive tribe for whom the island is home. 

North Sentinel Island is protected from outsiders by the Indian government. There is an exclusion zone of 4.8 kms/3 miles (or 5 nautical miles, which is 5.7 miles or 9.1kms according to some sources). The Indian navy patrols the area to prevent unauthorised people from gaining access to the island. 

The Sentinelese people have not advanced past stone age practices. They have little to no metalwork, or agriculture and it's not even confirmed that they can make fire. The scavenge metal to make tools and in 1974 they accepted aluminium cookware delivered by the National Geographic Society. 

Their remoteness and isolation leads to one extremely significant issue regarding intrusion from outsiders...the Sentinelese have no immunity to common diseases. Exposure to something such as influenza or measles would likely wipe out the Sentinelese people. A person from the 'outside' could be carrying an number of pathogens, any of which would be devastating to them, and would probably end with their extinction. 

John Chau knew this, but chose to infiltrate the island anyway. Reports show that he was aware landing on the island was illegal and that he attempted to gain access to the island more than once, before reaching the shore, where he was killed and buried. 

Some are saying that Chau was murdered. That he is a victim and that saying that his actions caused his death is 'victim blaming'. 

John Chau is not the victim here, he was the perpetrator. He was an illegal invader into someone else's home, and they defended their home. He was shot at on his previous attempts to land on the island, and chose to return anyway. John Chau was an invader. An unwelcome, uninvited, intruder who was warned not to go there. 

John's family, via Instagram, released a statement saying they forgive those 'reportedly responsible for his death.' I think John is responsible for his death, but I understand where the family is coming from and I'm glad they understand the reality of the situation. 

The reality here is John died because he was deluded. He believed in religious nonsense, was convinced he needed to spread this nonsense, and ignored all warnings and common sense in his effort to get this nonsense to people who didn't want it. He applied no critical thinking, no scepticism, and no common sense to what he believed and as a result pursed a course of action that cost him is life. 

He wanted to infect the locals with his superstitious beliefs and change the way they live. He had no right to do so, and not only that, it was illegal for him to do so. 

My initial reaction when my friend Courtney (Godless Mom) asked for thoughts was the he got what he deserved. Upon reflection, that's probably a bit harsh. But he got what was expected. It was the only likely outcome. There was almost other possible outcome. Everyone associated knew this was going to happen. 

If John is a victim here, he's not a victim of the Sentinelese people. THEY are the victims of his illegal invasion. They are not murderers. They are not guilty by reason of self-defence. 

No, if John is a victim, he's a victim of religion. Another needless death as a result of religious stupidity. Another person who lost their life because they believed ancient superstitious nonsense was true. John believed Jesus was the answer. He believed Jesus would save the Sentinelese. But Jesus not only didn't save them, Jesus didn't save John either. A little bit of rational thinking would have, though.