Coulter's 'Idiotic' Response to Christian Missions

One of the essential lessons of clear thinking is to avoid specious “either/or” dichotomies.  Ann Coulter violated this basic standard in her intentionally sensational article, “Ebola Doc’s Condition Downgraded to ‘Idiotic.’"  She wondered why missionary doctor Kent Brantly didn’t stay in the U.S. to “serve Christ” instead of going to Liberia, where he “risked making his wife a widow and his children fatherless.”  In other words, in Ann’s opinion, Christian service is limited to one of two options: serve in the U.S., or abandon wife and children to “slink off” to do “heroic” “good works” in “Third World countries” that are “disease-ridden cesspools.”  Obviously to folks with Ann’s infantile perspective, such “idiocy” is merely to “impress” people like the NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. 

It is ironic that someone as so publicity-obsessed as Coulter would have the gall to assert that if missionaries weren’t so “narcissistic” and had courage or weren’t burned out over all the social problems in the U.S., they’d stay in “some deadbeat town” in the U.S. and forego all the “superlatives” they get for serving as foreign missionaries.

It probably is a waste of time to ask the question: did you really mean to reveal how shallow your thinking can be?

Ann Coulter has “made a living” by saying “outrageous, shocking” things, wrote Dr. Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Moore focuses his remarks on the lack of “discernment and wisdom” shown by those who fall for “hucksters and demagogues” like Coulter and Donald Trump, who even earned the ire of Nigerians when he suggested that missionaries had to be willing to “suffer the consequences” when they enter Christian service.

Ann’s “ignorance and prejudice are astounding,” said the Reverend Warren Lathem, president of the Wesleyan Seminary of Venezuela.  Lathem recognized Coulter’s arguments as being in the same category as those he has heard over the years in the church.  He succinctly characterized her remarks as being in the same vein as those that Alcoholic Anonymous calls “stinking thinking.”  “We are not called to reach either our home country OR another land, but both,” he added.  Equally important, Rev. Lathem pointed out that the Christian faith “is not a nationalistic faith.”

Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote that Coulter’s column “flies in the very face of everything Christ taught his disciples.”  He agrees with Lathem: “The logic of the Christian church and of Christian missions has nothing to do with American nationalism.”  Mohler, in fact, thinks that “some parts” of Coulter’s article “come very close to racism” and describes her thoughts as “sad and infuriating” as well as “fundamentally incompatible with evangelical Christianity, with the Scripture, and with the command of Christ.”

A missionary who served in Asia for over 50 years and contracted dengue fever (among other things) expressed gratitude for a missionary doctor from Scotland who knew how to treat him and saved his life.  That missionary, Keith Brown, thought it ironic that Coulter was concerned about the $2 million spent on humanitarian work when that “doesn’t begin to compare with the millions of dollars that the current president of the U.S. has spent on vacations during his terms in office.”  He was also incensed at the idea that the U.S. should ignore the needs of an American abroad in preference to the “litany of needs” here.  He responded, “Ah, but here is the difference: In America there is abundant help available to care for the poor and needy (usually, by the way, at services run by Christians) but not so in third-world countries.”  He asks, “Where is the greatest need?”

As a former member of the Board of Trustees for a mission organization for over a decade and marrying into a family of missionaries, I have learned a lot over the years about the sacrifices that missionaries make to answer God’s call to services overseas.  Several generations have been inspired by Jim Elliott, who responded to the challenge: “There is one Christian worker for every 50,000 people in foreign lands, while there is one to every 500 in the United States.”  In addition, reading church history reveals the enormous contributions that missionaries have made to bring education and health care to nations around the world.  The biographies of many national leaders reveal how missionaries and the education provided by mission-run schools have had profound influence in developing international leaders.

Having worked on international anti-trafficking policy efforts for the past 15 years, I am very aware of the impact of foreign missionaries in the rescue and rehabilitation of those girls and young women who are victims of the networks of criminals who prey on the vulnerable around the world.  I know firsthand of dedicated Christians working to combat human trafficking in Mexico, India, Thailand, Korea, Russia, Ukraine, Amsterdam, Sydney, and other areas were sex-trafficking is prevalent.

The idea of a Christian vocation or calling to service is abhorrent to many in America today, who see things only from a hostile secular perspective instead of a Christian perspective.  Even when people disagree with the Christian perspective, wise ones understand and respect those who “put themselves in danger,” thus demonstrating “the characteristics of the great things Christ has done for humanity.”  Missionaries “willingly and gladly do that so others might hear about Christ.”

Sadly, in our self-centered, narcissistic – in many respects pagan – society, such devotion is often considered, as Ann Coulter (despite presenting herself as holding Christian beliefs) calls it, idiotic.

Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., is an author and columnist who appears often at American Thinker.

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