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Quote of the Day: Did Christian Arrogance Get John Allen Chau Killed?

john allen chau

There’s a story that’s been in the news about a Christian missionary named John Allen Chau who was killed by an indigenous tribe while attempting to evangelize them into Christianity. Apparently the tribe who live on the North Sentinel Island only number between 50 – 150 people and have refused contact with the outside world. Because they’ve had virtually no contact with the outside world, the Sentinelese people also haven’t been exposed to most contagious diseases. Their immune systems aren’t strong enough to handle even the common cold. Therefore it’s actually illegal to make contact with them – partly for their protection. Despite of this, John Allen Chau – an Oral Roberts University graduate – took it upon himself to go and tell them about Jesus. Apparently he had been there before, shouting “My name is John, and I love you and Jesus loves you” to the bow and arrow wielding tribesmen at which point they started shooting at him. One of their arrows even pieced his Bible, but that didn’t stop him. He went back a second time and this time he didn’t make it out alive.

My first thought is, why? Why would you do that? Why risk your life to go and tell a hostile tribe about Jesus when they clearly don’t want to hear about Jesus? The answer, of course, is arrogance. Here you have a tribe that does their own thing and doesn’t bother anybody and they just want to be left alone. They’re a small community of people; they probably eat healthy as they don’t have access to the processed stuff that we eat. Apparently, they don’t even understand what money is or how to use it. So, they don’t have all the stress that we have that goes along with having money. Maybe they’re backwards, maybe they’re savages and they shoot people with arrows, but are we really so certain that our way of life is better than theirs? Are we so certain that they are lost and in need of saving? And that’s the Christian arrogance that I’m talking about. Because then you have a guy who grew up in a Christian culture, went to a Christian university where he was given a particular worldview and he just assumes that this worldview is the correct one.


My second thought involves the sheer preposterousness (is that a word?) of it. Apparently God created this tribe of people, but then he decided that they must go to hell. But at the same time, he loves them, so he’s kind of in two minds about it. He comes up with a solution – he butchers Jesus on a cross, which is supposed to solve the problem, except it doesn’t. Unless someone goes to this island and tells them that God butchered his son on a cross and they believe it, they’re still going to hell. Perhaps the reason why the Sentinelese refused contact with the outside world is because they didn’t want to be corrupted by crazy ideas such as this.

What really got to me is that – when I read some of the comments on the articles covering this story – a lot of people said things like, “This guy is a hero… he has earned a great reward”, “He fulfilled his mandate” and “What a mighty welcome home he received from our Savior Christ the King”. And the Sentinelese people are the backwards ones? Do we still believe in a God who will reward us with stuff if we get ourselves killed against our better judgement? Christians are making out like he died for a worthy cause when the only reason he went there was so that he could feel better about himself and his own relationship with God. That probably sounds very judgmental of me, but I know this because admittedly I did similar things when I still called myself a Christian. I used to do talks at rehabs and my talks involved Bible verses. I don’t think my intention was to convert anyone to Christianity, but a part of me did do it for my own ego.

— Erik Stoop, Voices From the Wild, Did Arrogance get John Allen Chau Killed?, November 22, 2018

Please see my post on Chau’s Death, Who’s to Blame for the Brutal Death of Evangelical Missionary John Allen Chau?


  1. Avatar
    Melissa Montana

    Our nation tear gasses and beats protesters, invades countries for no good reason, and has the death penalty. But indigenous people are the savages.

    And many Christians support all of the above. What else can it be but arrogance when you embrace the violence of your own while condemning others?

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      Yes Indeed, Melissa Montana: Many Christians do very much preach that any other way is worthy of eternal punishment. Let us be sure to include most world religions in this category and most nationalism as well. When one spouts the lie, Home of the brave and land of the free, what is being implied about other countries, what psychological walls are being built from childhood in the evil recitation of creeds?
      When one confronts a Christian about these matters one gets equivocation and accusations of ‘not seeing with eyes opened by faith’ but the truth is obvious and opened up already. How much more open could Exodus be about slavery? What is offered as ultimate Love, more surely represents its ultimate lack. Ask a Christian to support their book’s teachings of slavery and the God way to do it and you will see what I mean.

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    What an excellent summary of the situation. Decades of hearing missionaries on deputation in churches, always made me wonder that if god disappeoved so strongly of these ‘naked savages’, why did he create them and their unique cultures? Fundy history is littered with missionaries asking for donations of clothes for their naked converts, especially bras for the women of course, and white wedding dresses – and once I saw suits and ties too – for proper x-tian weddings just as jesus requires! I go strongly with the personal arrogance theory, Chau was a trophy hunter, much like, as has been said before, x-tian trolls who get high on the fantasy they’ll be the one to bring Bruce back to the fold. Captain Cassidy refers to it as fundies believing they are ‘the designated adult in the room for the rest of humanity.’

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    Arrogance and ignorance: Chau possessed a dangerous combination of both.

    I admit that I am obsessed with this story. It really shows the ridiculousness of the fundy gospel belief combined with Western arrogance and privilege. When I heard the story, it reminded me of a movie I saw at a kid about a missionary family that went to Hawaii or some other tropical place in the late 1800s or early 1900s. The Westerners were wearing long sleeves, pants, or dresses. October 1 came around and preacher dad made his entire family wear woolen long underwear – because it was October 1 and that’s what one does. Never mind that it was 80 degrees and they were all miserable. As I child, I stated how anyone could see that woolen long underwear in that climate was inappropriate and that the father was rigid for enforcing that silly rule. I got in trouble with my grandma for saying that. As happens in movies, eventually the preacher dad softened and many were won to Jesus and Almighty Western Culture, but even then I thought that was wrong. (As a kid, I doubted all bible stories, didn’t even believe in Santa, didn’t agree that Western white culture was infinitely superior, etc, so my family sent me to fundy Christian school to be correctly indoctrinated. It took a long time for me to return to my no-nonsense skepticism)

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    I’m so grateful that I was not raised in a religious atmosphere and never knew any evangelicals or fundamentalists until the past few years. These people are crazy…just no other word for it!

    Love your blog and agree with you totally.
    But our country is awash in this far right stuff and it’s very destructive.

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    That Other Jean

    Apparently, John Chau failed to read his own sacred text: Matthew 10:14 (KJV) gives an explanation of how to behave when the people you’re trying to convert don’t want to be converted:

    “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.”

    If Mr. Chau had heeded that advice, he’d still be alive, to go and try to convert somebody else. Instead, he went back, and died for his arrogance.

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    Simple answer – yah. His note asking why are they so angry says it all. Either ignorant of the history of the area and/or too arrogant to understand and learn from it.

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    mary g

    great summary. he was arrogant and ignorant. saw so many kids brought up to believe their destiny was to be in missions. the more far out the better. their parents almost seemed to make any other ambition seem less worthy or sinful. some homeschool curriculums promote these ideas via literature that centers around the themes of missionaries in danger telling the sad savages about jesus. so sad about a young man who chose to waste his life and die way too soon for something false.

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    John committed suicide. I would say sacrifiiced himself but I doubt very much that he was at all aware that he was killing himself because he was taken hook, line and sinker and reeled in by his preacher/church. He doing what God commanded. It fit his needs perfectly and off he went to die, to willingly die. John committed suicide.

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Bruce Gerencser