Andrew Biggs posed a pertinent question in last Sunday's Brunch when he asked exactly why Christian missionaries are in Thailand. I used to be a teacher at an allegedly Christian school where lots of students were the children of missionaries.
There was, unfortunately, much hypocrisy, especially in the actions of the Christian principal. Some missionaries were wonderful, while others were fanatical and boring. Most of them were working with hilltribe people. However, many ofthese missionary teachers would actually teach these innocent people nonsense, such as that the world is only 6,000 years old and that dancing is a sin. They also preached that the world would end soon and taught this bizarre Armageddon theology to all they could reach.
On the other hand, they built schools and churches and sometimes fed the tribe. They gave them hope in a rather hopeless environment of unemployment, drugs, superstition and exploitation. In fact, they occasionally did more for the hilltribe people than the government ever does.