“We would give food to the needy in the short term but if they refused to give up Voodoo, I’m not sure we would continue to support them in the long term because we wouldn’t want to perpetuate that practice. We equate it with witchcraft, which is contrary to the Gospel.”Hemant, via Friendly Atheist, had this to say about the situation: "Those who give aid to victims of a tragedy with no expectations in return are far more generous than Christians like Amedia who want something in exchange for it. People like him are despicable."
This is all backgrounded by the article that had that original quote, entitled, "Voodooists attacked at ceremony for Haiti victims", in which the author states that,
"Voodooists gathered in Cite Soleil where thousands of quake survivors live in tents and depend on food aid. Praying and singing, the group was trying to conjure spirits to guide lost souls when a crowd of Evangelicals started shouting. Some threw rocks while others urinated on Voodoo symbols. When police left, the crowd destroyed the altars and Voodoo offerings of food and rum."Then, the next sentence states, "We were here preparing for prayer when these others came and took over," said Sante Joseph, an Evangelical worshipper in Cite Soleil".
It seems to me that this story has more to it than we're seeing, on both levels; the "attack" on the voodooists, and the quotes given by Frank Amedia, the pastor in question.
Let's start with the attacks: Sante Joseph claimed that the evangelicals were already there for prayer when the others came and "took over"? Do we really think that that means the voodooists just politely asked the evangelicals to stop praying? Frank also says in his response, "It is interesting to note that the incident reported in this AP article was instigated when voodooists interrupted a resident Haitian Christian prayer meeting."
We don't really have any way of knowing what exactly happened there. And regardless of who started what, becoming violent and "urinating" on voodoo symbols is abhorrent, and definitely not what most Christians would claim is "appropriate Christian behavior". But it is important to try to look at these as objectively as possible.
It is also important to look at all of the Pastor's comments, not just the one that makes it look like he'll only help those in need if they eventually convert, which was a response to an extremely hypothetical question that, for all we know, might never occur. . Let's take a look at this quote, for example (emphasis is mine):
"Let there be no doubt that the love of God is our driving force, and He loves everyone. Jesus taught that if we say that we have love, but do not love our neighbor, then we really do not have the love of God in us. That is why we have indiscriminately worked so hard, day and night, to help out urgently during this crisis mode for Haiti. Our mission is born and driven out of our love for God, which is the source of our compassion for those in need, and which is further fueled by our zeal for the Gospel. The Great Commission of Christ is to “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” (Mark 16:15). We do not apologize for that nor do we minimize our determination."Of course, they are missing the point that, in the original 10 commandments, the "Love your neighbor" was assuming that your neighbor was only if they were an Israelite. But let's not mention that :)
Anyways, there is definitely a lot of evangelical crap going on in there, but we can't really just forget all the help they ARE doing for people down there. If you read the response article in full, you'll see that the Christian group has done a lot to help the people of Haiti, regardless of the people's faiths. We atheists sometimes like to focus so much on the "conditional help" that the religious groups give that we forget that, despite all that, religious groups are probably one of the biggest groups that help during these crises.
Would it be better if there was no proselytizing? Of course. Would it be better if they were not down there at all? I doubt it. Does the proselytizing change the fact that they are helping tens of thousands of people in a time of need? Not in the slightest. And the fact of the matter is that they are doing a lot more helping out than proselytizing. I think, in a time like this, we have to appreciate all the help everyone is giving, and that helping people for the sake of helping people is something all people do.
I think it would be inhuman to think that the Christians are helping solely to convert and spread the gospel, don't you? I feel very strange saying this, but Christians are human too! Whether they realize it or not, they do help people because they feel it important to help others, regardless of what their faith has to say on the matter. It's something that makes us human.