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Baptists, Scientologists Accused of Trying to Buy Souls in Haiti

By Carol Forsloff     Feb 3, 2010 in World
Are religious groups going to Haiti to help feed, clothe and bring medical care or is their primary purpose to "buy souls." Some accuse Baptists and Scientologists of interfering with real aid efforts in their efforts to get converts.
Well-meaning folks are coming to Haiti in droves, according to reports. But some have come to save souls as opposed to provide real aid, Max Beauvoir believes. He is a chemist who was educated in New York and who presently leads Haiti's national federation of voodoo priests. Like other Haitians he has expressed concern that some well-meaning folks are coming to Haiiti to help without knowing the culture or laws. USA Today reports Port-au-Prince is full of these people who don't know the culture well enough to do the right things and that by moving abruptly, and without that understanding, they are slowing down aid efforts.
A woman by the name of Cathy Grossman has caused quite a debate on this subject, Cathy Lynn Grossman, blogs about religion for USA Today, according to a selection in the New York Times online. What she notes is that the Baptists have declared as their mission to help "each child find healing, hope, joy and new life in Christ." Grossman is particularly concerned with the efforts to convert children and families where their primary religion is often Catholic, and that some people are very offended by this.
It's a big enough issue for some writers like Robert Mackey who blogs for the New York Times to be worried about the ethics in all of this activity to help and at the same time save souls. But even as folks like Cathy Grossman and Max Beavoir worry about both the motives of both Baptists and Scientologists, the Today Show, as noted by the New York Times, has praised the rescue efforts of the Scientologists in their show on NBC entitled, “Scientologists Make a Difference in Haiti.” This comes on the heels of John Travolta bringing a plane of medical personnel to directly help relief efforts. Still some people question the motives, as Beavoir has done in Haiti.
The USA today article raises the question about the ethical practices in trying to save souls and interfering with religious practice while not knowing Haitian culture with this final statement to help folks understand:
Let's flip this around. Imagine your nephew were suddenly orphaned, that strangers took him to another country without looking for you, and arranged for him to be adopted by a family that didn't accept your faith. Would the Idaho Baptist mission group, the folks who got in hot water for their Haitian rescue run, been OK with their extended family being whisked away and reared in a nice, safe house by smart, kind people who never mention Christ?
More about Scientology, Baptists haiti, John travolta
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