Several times I have told people that the worst way to smear someone in the UK is to refer to them as an evanglical Christian. I can't say I was surprised by a write up in The Telegraph about a missionary group based in Florida called Teen Missions. (Ed Note: SMW is an evangelical, and she knows people who have gone to Teen Misssions. In fact about 15 years ago she herself even considered going on one of these trips.) OK, back to the topic at hand.
Personally I agree that short term missions trips do very little in the communities they visit, and are purely for the "missionaries" (and I use that term loosely) going on them. This is despite the fact that they likely provide some moments of comfort or pleasure for locals - in the long run they do nothing, in fact in alot of cases I think they stunt development. That said, the head of TMI is pretty clear himself that these trips are about exposing kids to what is going on in the rest of the world.
Sending a nine year old kid on any kind of mission trip seems inappropriate to me, so I agree with some of those criticisms laid out in the article.
Eighty million Americans identify themselves as Evangelical Christians, making them the largest religious group in the United States, and while some say missionaries have been a force for good, providing much-needed medical care and education as well as championing the rights of indigenous people, others say the spread of Christianity reeks of colonialism and has obliterated native traditions. But that hasn’t stopped the Teenvangelists – this new breed of young, passionate American bent on spreading their old-time religion.
The article begins with a criticism of missionaries in general, fails to follow the most basic principal of evangelical Christians (Salvation - at one point the author wonders how anyone in can have any hope after a camp leader says that all sin is equal no matter what it is, but then fails to point what I am sure the leader also said - something along the lines of 'by grace you have been saved through faith'), and then ends with the image of an unhappy child hanging themselves from the prayer tower (which is compared to a prison tower, where in fact no child hung themself).
The venom and criticisms in the article and the comments beneath it have brought me back to my original statement: The worst way to smear someone in the UK is to refer to them as an evangelical Christian.