In the wake of the tsunami calamity, you would think relief and reconstruction would be uppermost in the minds of all concerned. Considering the overwhelming needs, you would think religious and political leaders from South Asia would accept any and all forms of assistance, no matter from where such aid comes.

You would think wrong.

Reports filtering out of South Asia suggest that the natural disaster has been closely followed by a human disaster—the unseemly efforts of religious radicals to protect their turf and exploit the tragedy to further their theocratic causes.

There have been some noble efforts at interfaith cooperation, and people of all faith groups are responding to this disaster with good works, but consider the following:

  • The government of Indonesia, fighting Islamist rebels, has restricted foreign aid workers in hard-hit Aceh province to two large cities. Aceh province, which is under Islamic law, is controlled by Muslim militants who have persecuted and chased off most Christian inhabitants.
  • Hindu militants torched many Christian homes following a January 8 grenade attack in an area under rebel control. Christians doing relief work are attempting to avoid violence.
  • South Korea's government has warned aid workers, many of them affiliated with Christian groups, not to engage in religious actions that could provoke Muslim radicals in Indonesia. A government spokesman acknowledged to the Associated Press that relief groups in Indonesia and elsewhere are "becoming a possible target of terror attacks."

Doing relief work in the name of one's religion is not wrong. Jesus told his followers that anyone who so much as gives a cup of cold water to a little child in his name would be rewarded. Much of the charity done ...

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Christianity Today
Sighs of Relief
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In the Magazine

March 2005

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