North Sentinel Island is one of the Andaman Islands, which includes South Sentinel Island, in the Bay of Bengal. It is home to the Sentinelese who, often violently, reject any contact with the outside world, and are among the last uncontacted peoples to remain virtually untouched by modern civilization. – Wikipedia
In early November of 2018 John Allen Chau, a self-described Christian missionary, made an illegal visit to North Sentinel Island. His stated goal was to “declare Jesus” to the natives.
Despite one of the natives shooting an arrow at him he persisted. The natives eventually killed him and buried his remains on a beach.
There is so much wrong here that I don’t know if I can cover it all. But I’ll give it a shot.
1. The Sentinelese are thought to be direct descendants from the first humans who emerged from Africa, and have lived on the island for more than 60,000 years. They are isolated from the outside world and obviously wish to remain so. Obviously, because they have a habit of killing anyone who wanders too close to their home. So it’s equally obvious that it’s dangerous for outsiders to approach the island (this would certainly be enough to keep me away).
2. Due to their isolation they are highly vulnerable to diseases for which they have no immunity.
“The Great Andamanese tribes of India’s Andaman Islands were decimated by disease when the British colonized the islands in the 1800s. The most recent to be pushed into extinction was the Bo tribe, whose last member died only four years ago. The only way the Andamanese authorities can prevent the annihilation of another tribe is to ensure North Sentinel Island is protected from outsiders.“– Survival International Director Stephen Corry (2014)
3. In the case of John Allen Chau, this was a man who believed he had some sort of Divine mandate to intrude upon the culture of the Sentinelese tribe. He broke a number of Indian laws to facilitate his ill-fated journey, and apparently believed that the danger his visit presented to the Sentinelese and to himself was outweighed by the supposed need to save the souls of the tribe.
I believe Chau was sincere in his belief that the tribe “needed” his presence. Chau had the strength of his convictions and made this hazardous journey with nothing but the best intentions. He saw himself as spreading the Gospel for the good of the tribe. Pardon me for saying so, but what a load of sanctimonious horseshit.
Chau attended a Christian high school and was a graduate of Oral Roberts University. As such it’s safe to say he was brainwashed beyond repair. This was a guy who firmly believed he answered to a Higher Authority. To him, nothing was as important as inflicting his beliefs upon an innocent people so they could be just like him. He was no better than the Christian colonists who inflicted their beliefs and diseases upon Native Americans a few centuries ago. Chau was an educated man. He must have known the dangers he presented just by his presence on the island. And yet he still illegally entered Sentinelese territory.
“God sheltered me and camouflaged me against the coast guard and the navy,” John Allen Chau wrote before he was killed last week on North Sentinel Island. –
Perhaps he thought that God would protect the tribe from the deadly (to them) diseases he was bringing along. Perhaps he thought that God would protect him from the tribe’s anger at the intrusion. Perhaps he believed that the physical dangers were outweighed by the “danger” of the tribe not knowing Jesus. His
delusion faith accompanied by his lack of respect for human life got him killed.
This whole affair causes me to think back to an incident in the spring of 2011. I was in a truck stop in Tuscaloosa, AL doing some repairs on the truck. Another truck driver came along and helped me finish up. I thanked him and was getting ready to leave when he started with, “Well you know, sometimes God slows us down for a reason.” I politely told him that I did not share his beliefs and thanked him again for his help. The guy went into full-blown panic mode. He was genuinely frightened for my well-being and started shouting about “what if you die without knowing Jesus?!” He actually put himself between me and the truck. I finally lost my cool and physically threatened the guy to make him butt out and leave me alone. Then I spent an hour feeling crappy for letting some gibbering fool get under my skin. It should have been enough that I asked him to stop. But no. My wishes had no value compared to the importance of his mission to declare Jesus to my poor, lost, hell-bound self.
Chau died because he lived in a delusional world of myth and fantasy. He died for a set of beliefs for which there is no evidence. He placed his faith in a non-existent deity and expected to be protected. He self-righteously placed himself and the Sentinelese people in harm’s way and paid the price for his naivety with his life.
Farewell Mr. Chau. I would never wish death upon you because your intentions were good, if terribly misguided. But you asked for what happened to you, and the Sentinelese people are better off without you.
Henry G. Bohn’s A Hand-book of Proverbs, 1855
Sources and Related Reading
- The Worlds Last Isolated Humans…
- Why Visitors Are Banned From…
- Illegal Fishermen Encroach on Isolated Tribe
- John Allen Chau: “God Sheltered Me”
- Info on North Sentinel Island