I recently received an email from a person in Europe mournful over my position on missionaries outlined in my post on End of the Spear. Two comments struck me. First, his experience seemed to have been much more positive and it reminded me that I did not adequately draw the distinction between long-time European missionaries and American ones. Europe of course has a historically long presence in Africa, and those missionaries I did have respect for inevitably came from Europe, had been there often for generations, knew local customs and language, and were there almost exclusively to help people. American missionaries, on the other hand, were only there to get "soldiers" for Christ, had no respect for local culture, would not even bother speaking the local language, and generally ran rough-shod over local people (any "success" they had, they bought by throwing money around). I wouldn't consider the distinction hard and fast, but in general that's been my experience. Nonetheless, I still do not consider "missions", be they European, American or otherwise, to be positive institutions over all - again, the whole idea is to destroy native culture and replace it with something else.
Secondly, he suggested that by lying to missionaries on a regular basis I was also engaged in dishonorable behavior. First, I only lied about the fact that I was working with directly with local people - it was none of their business anyway, and I certainly didn't want a truckload of missionaries descending upon the groups I was working with - for their sake, more than mine. I would consider this no more a dishonorable act than I would a native Iraqi lying to American military personnel (or an American lying to Al Qeada personnel). If you think lying to missionaries is bad, I knew researchers (very few, by the way) who absolutely refused to help them under any circumstances - "If God's on their side, let God help them" was the attitude.
Finally, a Christian commenting on my own moral behavior is the pot calling the kettle black. Christianity as a whole is not functioning as a good role model for behavior - this community has some serious house-cleaning to do before they can claim any sort of higher moral ground.