To misrepresent another religion for fear of people converting is one thing, but to do so to one's own in the hope of gaining converts is another. Christian missionaries, unable to convince the Panare Indians of the Colorado valley to accept faith in Jesus Christ took to compiling books for the natives to read in their mother tongue, this was accomplished during 1975 and 1976. It was soon realised, however, that before the Indians could be made to accept repentance and salvation one had to give them something to feel guilty about. The missionaries came up with an ingenious, yet underhand, solution - translate the New Testament in such a way so as to implicate the Panare Indians in Jesus' death! Gone from the Bible were Judas's betrayal, the Romans, the trial, and Pontius Pilate. The text now read at the appropriate places: "The Panare killed Jesus Christ, because they were wicked. Let's kill Jesus Christ, said the Panare... They laid a cross on the ground..." etc. The New Testament continued: "God will burn you all... God will exterminate the Panare by throwing them on the fire... 'Do you want to be roasted in the fire?' asks God. 'Do you have something to pay me with so that I won't roast you in the fire? What is it you're going to pay me?'" One does not have to think hard in order to realise what payment was being demanded; namely, unquestioning submission to the missionaries' demands, the abandonment of their traditional lives and their customs, and the acceptance of Christianity. The Indians were terrified. The first Indian woman came forward and said: "I don't want to burn in the big fire. I love Jesus." (Adapted from Norman Lewis, The Missionaries, Arena 1989, pp.188-192)
The end had justified the means and, as far as the missionaries were concerned, the Indians had attained salvation in Jesus. The fact that they had to distort their own Bible to achieve their goal was of no consequence. Interestingly, we are not told whether they continued to use the very same distorted Bible when further teaching the Indians - if so, the Panare Indians would certainly have had a very unique and warped understanding of the life of Jesus. Paul's motto springs to mind!