What is it with Christians (particularly the extreme evangelical right-wing conservative ones) and their ulterior motives? Why can't they be generous and kind without the reason being conversion or because the end times are coming?
My mother (yes, her again) believes that we should help refugees not because they are the huddled masses that desperately need help, but because we are in the end times and them coming to America could be their only chance to become Christians. Yes, we should help refugees because they need to be converted and soon.
I have seen a similar attitude in regards to friendships. When I was younger, friendships with unbelievers were discouraged. It was popular opinion that until you were strong in your faith, you should not be "friends" with unbelievers because their unbelief could sway you. However, once you are a strong Christian, you should seek out these outsiders and befriend them, but only with the idea that you will be trying to convert them. In my church we called it "backdoor Christianity". You know, instead of announcing yourself as a Christian at the front door, you go through the back, pretend to be their friend, and then wham...convert them.
Refugees are seen as other, especially the Syrian ones as they are mostly Muslim and as we know, those Muslims need to be converted fast. The first reason is obvious, we are in the end times so we are on an invisible countdown. The second is just as asinine in that Christians think the only viable way to defeat terrorism is to convert the would-be terrorists. After all, violence would just end if everyone was Christian, right? Ignore history, modern Christianity would never do any of that. They are peaceful, well...unless they are right-wing and conservative then they are gun-toting proselytizers who will shoot anyone they deem a threat even if those people were to wind up in hell. That's what they deserve anyway.
My mother works with another woman I know doing outreach for the homeless. I love that they serve food to the homeless as well as provide tents, winter coats, gloves, sleeping bags, and even substance abuse support. They have built relationships with these people, helping some of them end their homelessness and providing them with things for their new apartments. What I don't like is that their reasons for doing are because 1) The Bible says to and 2) To share the love of Jesus. This is the reason they will give you for doing it and I always wonder, if there was no Bible, if you didn't believe this was a command from God and no fear of hell, would you do it? I believe humans are capable of great feats in love and compassion. Are these people just those kind of generous people or is their religion their only driving factor? What happens when you are doing the right thing, but for the wrong reasons?
Of course, there are those who never "preach", they just live lives that are worthy of God and by showing God's love, expect people to ask them why they are so joyful or kind or caring. Even then the motive behind the kindness is conversion. For some Christians I have known, it is a complete facade. That joy on display for the "world" disappears when they arrive home. I had an employee once who had a miserable home life, we will call her Zaria for the purpose of this post. Zaria was basically raising her younger brother and her mom was doing drugs, sleeping around, and neglecting her family. Zaria was creative, clever, and talented, but had no hopes for the future since all her money went to supporting her family and college was an impossibility. Yet she walked into work every day with this huge fake smile plastered on her face. Even on the days where he mother showed up, clearly wasted, and demanded money. Even on the days when Zaria was forced to bring her little brother into work during her entire shift because she didn't trust her mom's newest boyfriend. Even on the days where her car broke down. If I didn't work closely with her, I may have even been fooled by that smile, but it was obvious that it was just painted on. She told me once that the reason she smiles all the time is because God said that they [Christians] were to be joyful. "Are you joyful?" I asked. "I find joy in everything." Zaria gleefully replied in that fake happy way that only Disney channel actors can get away with. But she didn't. Finally, on one particularly bad day for Zaria one of my other employees, Meg, just looked at Zaria and said, "Wipe that damn grin off your face. We all know you have had a bad day. It's okay. We aren't going to think any less of you if you act like a normal person." For the first time ever, we got to meet the real Zaria. It was beautiful and real and refreshing. It didn't last, but how I wanted to tell her how much better it is for people to be true and honest than fakely happy just because God says Christians should be joyful. She wasn't winning souls to Christ by being fake.
I think I was about twenty-one when I rejected the idea of overt or covert evangelizing. It was a decision made during a mission trip no less. The group I was with had too many people on the trip so instead of doing work with schools or with suicide prevention programs like I was promised, my group was dropped off at local malls and shopping centers and instructed to walk around, strike up conversations, and then tell people about Jesus. I refused. Out and outright refused to do it. How fucking rude is that? These people are just shopping around and then some obnoxious American walks up, starts talking to them for no reason, and then drops the Jesus-bomb on them. Are you kidding? I got into some trouble with my leaders for refusing, but I managed to weasel my way out of it by telling them I would do the intercessory prayer while they walked around. By the way, in the month that I was there only one person was ever led to the Lord and that person was what Christians typically refer to as a backslider.
I see these types of charity work as not only disengenous, but also fake and cruel. How terrible would it be to become friends with someone only to find out that their only reason for being your friend is in hopes of winning you to Christ? I don't see how "Love your neighbor as yourself" can have an additional caveat of, "...in order to convert them."
Check out this link for someone who says basically the same thing, but a bit more eloquently than I.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.