Months late to pick this up but this clip from Current TV still interesting if you haven’t seen it. It’s a piece about a Christian “aid organisation” distributing pills with a cross and “Jesus saves” stamped on them (a sort of medicinal LoveHearts, for those who know the traditional cheap British sweets) to Indonesian Muslim tsunami victims.
Lots of comments claimed that it doesn’t matter what’s on the pills if people in need get medicine. A commenter called danm8r made the excellent point that:
I would love to see a medication distributed in this country (US) with the inscription “Allah Akbar” printed on it. I’m guessing it would be the people posting approvingly of the “Jesus Lives” medication that would be the first to freak out about a Islamic phrase on their medication.
And Skullboy said, in another spot-on comment:
Imagine how pissed a person of the Christian faith would be if they took a pill with an upside down cross or a pentagram on it. It’s Christians taking advantage of a peoples losses and the poor.
On one hand, there are lots of people with strong religious beliefs who are helping people in need. I think there many more people doing it just out of a sense of common humanity. In any case, all our attempts to help people can easily have unintended consequences that are bad.
In this case, the unintended bad consequences seem almost willfully present right from the start. The level of stupidity is awesome.
What were they giving out anyway? An anti-worm medicine seemed to have been taken as a toothache remedy by one man, as far as i could make out.
What sorts of lunatic distribute medicines to try and sneak fresh adherents into their fold?
Did they believe that writing Jesus messages in English on pills would mean anything to non-English speakers.
Did they assume the “Jesus saves” words would have a magical effect and heal the sick at the same time as insidiously converting them?
The most obvious impact this sort of activity does is to breed justified suspicion of medical aid ventures.
This justified suspicion of many forms of Western-originating medical aid is the very thing that is having a disastrous impact on world efforts to deal with diseases that threaten billions. The reaction to proselytizing western government actions and religious NGOs can be seen in a swathe of bad effects: HIV denial. Adoption of local diet and plant-based “AIDs remedies” that cure nothing. Refusal of polio vaccination as somehow “un-Islamic.” The spread of stories that make you want to kick the people responsible – such as the (physically impossible) idea that European condoms are deliberately infected with HIV.