A Christian mission is an organized effort to spread Christianity to new converts. Missions involve sending individuals and groups, called missionaries, across boundaries, most commonly geographical boundaries, to carry on evangelism or other activities, such as educational or hospital work. Sometimes individuals are sent and are called missionaries. When groups are sent, they are often called mission teams and they do mission trips. There are a few different kinds of mission trips: short-term, long-term, relational and those that simply help people in need. Some people choose to dedicate their whole lives to mission. Missionaries have the authority to preach the Christian faith (and sometimes to administer sacraments), and provide humanitarian aid. Christian doctrines (such as the "Doctrine of Love" professed by many missions) permit the provision of aid without requiring religious conversion.
The Christian Science Monitor echoes these concerns... "'I think evangelists do this out of the best intentions, but there is a responsibility to try to understand other faith groups and their culture,' says Vince Isner, director of FaithfulAmerica.org, a program of the National Council of Churches USA."
The The Bush administration has made it easier for U.S. faith-based groups and missionary societies to tie aid and church together.
"For decades, US policy has sought to avoid intermingling government programs and religious proselytizing. The aim is both to abide by the Constitution's prohibition against a state religion and to ensure that aid recipients don't forgo assistance because they don't share the religion of the provider.... But many of those restrictions were removed by Bush in a little-noticed series of executive orders – a policy change that cleared the way for religious groups to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in additional government funding. It also helped change the message American aid workers bring to many corners of the world, from emphasizing religious neutrality to touting the healing powers of the Christian God."
Missionaries say that the government in India has passed anti-conversion laws in several states that are supposedly meant to prevent conversions from "force or allurement," but are primarily used, they say, to persecute and criminalize voluntary conversion due to the government's broad definition of "force and allurement." Any gift received from a Christian in exchange for, or with the intention of, conversion is considered allurement. Voice of the Martyrs reports that aid-workers claim that they are being hindered from reaching people with much needed services as a result of this persecution. Alan de Lastic, Roman Catholic archbishop of New Delhi states that claims of forced conversion are false.
"'There are attacks practically every week, maybe not resulting in death, but still, violent attacks,' Richard Howell, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India tells The Christian Science Monitor today. 'They [India's controlling BJP party] have created an atmosphere where minorities do feel insecure.'""'There are attacks practically every week, maybe not resulting in death, but still, violent attacks,' Richard Howell, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India tells The Christian Science Monitor today. 'They [India's controlling BJP party] have created an atmosphere where minorities do feel insecure.'" According to Prakash Louis, director of the secular Indian Social Institute in New Delhi, "We are seeing a broad attempt to stifle religious minorities and their constitutional rights...Today, they say you have no right to convert, Tomorrow you have no right to worship in certain places." Existing congregations, often during times of worship, are being persecuted. Properties are sometimes destroyed and burnt to the ground, while native pastors are sometimes beaten and left for dead.
Political scientist Robert Woodberry uses statistics to argue that conversionary Protestants were a crucial catalyst in spreading religious liberty, education, and democracy. He argues that statistically the prevalence of such missionaries account for half of the variance in democracy in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania, although he also notes that "The Dutch Reformed Church generally supported Apartheid in South Africa, many German Protestants supported Nazism, White settlers throughout the world typically fought extending democratic rights to nonwhites, and Africa, Asia, and Latin America have had their share of Protestant dictators (e.g., Frederick Chiluba in Zambia, Syngman Rhee in Korea, and Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala)". In a 2014 Christianity Today article, he remarks, "Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations."