Southern Baptist Church Distributes Prayer Guides to Help Convert Hindus

November 29, 1999

Source: The New York Times

On November 29, 1999, The New York Times reported that the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago sent a letter to SBC president Rev. Paige Patterson to reconsider sending thousands of missionaries to Chicago for the summer of 2000 because it could incite violence against Jews, Hindus, and Muslims. The letter stated: "While we are confidant that your volunteers would come with entirely peaceful intentions, a campaign of the nature and scope you envision could contribute to a climate conducive to hate crimes." The letter cited two incidents from 1999 in the Chicago area - a mosque being vandalized and the murder of 6 Orthodox Jews outside their synagogue - which give the religious leaders cause for worry. Herb Hollinger, an SBC spokesman, stated that the goal of the church is to spread the Christian gospel to urban areas, maybe in the form of "...door-to-door knocking, maybe neighborhood block parties." Hollinger also said the missionaries would not single out Hindus, Jews, or Muslims. Chicago is the first stop next summer in the Southern Baptists' Strategic Cities Initiative, which is a plan to expand the Southern Baptist church. Other cities on the tour include Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Boston.