CIA Use of Missionaries Revisited

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The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) adopted a resolution at its convention last month condemning collaboration between missionaries and intelligence agency employees.

In 1977, the CIA was prohibited from the recruitment of journalists, academics, clergy, and missionaries. However, speaking before a Senate intelligence committee, CIA director John Deutch testified recently that the spy agency could waive the ban in cases of "unique and special threats to national security."

The NAE has requested that President Clinton and Congress "correct this intolerable situation" of soliciting religious workers for covert activity. "For intelligence agencies to seek any relationship whatsoever with our religious workers must be unequivocally prohibited," says NAE president Don Argue. Allowing such a loophole, Argue says, endangers missionaries as well as church, relief, community development, and refugee workers in politically sensitive areas.

The NAE resolution urges missions organizations not to provide information to any intelligence agency, although many already have such restrictions in place.

"Any foreigner living in a foreign culture already comes under a natural suspicion," says Jerry Rankin, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Foreign Mission Board. "If this policy is reversed, it would totally erode the ministry of missionaries."

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