Father Of Missionary John Chau Blames ‘Extreme’ Evangelical Christianity For His Death Trying To Convert Tribe

A remote island in the Indian Ocean
Vibrant Image Studio / Shutterstock

The father of an American missionary killed after trying to convert a previously uncontacted Sentinelese tribe said that “extreme Christianity” is really the one to blame for his death.

John Chau was killed by members of the tribe last year when he landed on the remote North Sentinel Island in the Indian Ocean, in an effort to convert the locals to Christianity. Dr. Patrick Chau is now speaking out about his son’s death, saying his mind was poisoned by an extreme version of Evangelical Christianity, which led him to try converting the hunter-gatherer tribe that has famously spurred contact with the outside world. In the past, the tribe has attacked people who traveled to the island.

Speaking to the Guardian, Patrick Chau said that his once kind and loving son was pushed by an Evangelical idea called the Great Commission, which claims that Christians have a mandate from Jesus to spread the gospel to all the people of earth.

“John is gone because the Western ideology overpowered my [Confucian] influence,” Patrick Chau said, saying that Evangelical’s “extreme Christianity” pushed his son to his “unexpected end.”

“If you have [anything] positive to say about religion, I wish not to see or hear [it],” Patrick Chau added.

John Chau was killed by members of the tribe after he paid fishermen to take him to the island in the Indian Ocean. The Indian government had made it illegal for people to attempt contacting the island’s inhabitants, who have no immunity to modern diseases and are very vulnerable to contact from outsiders.

The witnesses who brought Chau to the island said he was attacked by the members of the tribe, who were seen dragging away his body.

John Chau’s death also prompted some international controversy, with Indian officials making repeated attempts to retrieve his body while trying not to disturb members of the tribe. As the Guardian reported, authorities ultimately decided that it would be impossible to reach North Sentinel Island safely without putting the members of the tribe at risk or coming under attack from them.

“We have decided not to disturb the Sentinelese,” authorities announced. “We have not tried to contact them for the past many days, and have decided not to continue trying… We should not hamper their sentiments. They shoot arrows on any invader. That is their message, saying don’t come on the island, and we respect this.”

Before his death, John Chau left his diary with the fishermen who took him to the island.

“You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people. God, I don’t want to die,” read a passage from his diary.