Afghan article angers readers

By Lindsay Driediger

Editor, the Gauntlet,

The concerns of the writer seem sincere, but somewhat ill-founded. The writer states: "While altruistic pursuits are noble and selfless, they don’t seem to be present within the Afghan ranks of SNI." Supposedly, workers are exploiting refugees by forcing their religion upon them. Yet, beneath the quoted mission statement, we read that: "as a Christian Relief and Development Organization we do not discriminate against anyone that needs shelter and we invite people from all denominations, nationalities and faiths to join us in the fight to provide shelter for the poor." Similarly "SNI has a firm policy of providing assistance without regard to race, ethnicity, or religious background and with no expectation that beneficiaries will convert to Christianity."

SNI attends to the needs of all Afghans, regardless of their beliefs. What SNI does not do is conceal its reason for helping them, which is what the writer seems to have misunderstood. The term "exploitation" implies that the mission’s workers receive a reward when someone becomes a Christian. Instead, Christians believe that "by grace you are saved… not through works." The aim of missions is not to exploit for gain but to serve through gratitude. If Afghan refugees are converting to Christianity it is not because the relief workers are taking advantage of them, but because they have seen something in the relief workers that appeals to them.

If organizations of other faiths are carrying out the same work, the government should also support them. I do not know (does the writer?) whether such organizations are operating. In either case, what is truly sad is not imagined exploitation, but the dismissal of those who devote their lives to others simply because of their religious beliefs.

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