The CIA, Wycliffe and Southern Baptist Connection

This is old news but maybe not to all...

"The CIA has publicly admitted to having used Wycliffe/SIL and the Southern Baptists for covert intelligence operations in many parts of the world."

The Wycliffe Bible Translators, John Mott & Rockefeller Connections: UnHoly Alliances

2 Peter 2:1-3 "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not."

In order to understand the interconnectedness of the Rockefellers, Wycliffe and Cam Townsend, and John Mott, one must understand that missions became a pawn to gain global wealth and control. It should be pointed out that many missionaries, while sincere Christians, may not have understood the implications of how their ministry was operated or who provided the funding and desired direction they took. The desire for wealth and power is not restricted to those mentioned in this article, like J. Howard Pew, Nelson Bunker Hunt, but many more in the oil and commodities industry and others who sought the same things Rockefeller did.

Authors Colby and Dennett, in Thy Will Be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon, show how John D. Rockefeller Jr. worked with John Mott and later how Nelson Rockefeller and Wycliffe Bible Translators founder Cameron Townsend, worked with the U.S. and foreign governments to secure the resources and 'pacify' indigenous people in the name of democracy, corporate profit, and religion, resulting in massacre and genocide.

"In the name of God, progress and the struggle of democracy against communism, "Bibleless tribes" were pacified, oil lands and strategic natural resources were secured, and lucrative markets were developed. In the process, hundreds of thousands of tribal people died and many more were uprooted from their homelands....We see Rockefeller gathering political power and building a vast business empire in Latin America, working with the CIA, developing close friendships with famous Latin American politicians and businessmen, and increasingly advocating military dictatorships, while Townsend's missionaries are used to pacify native populations in frontiers rich in oil and rare minerals or subject to guerrilla insurgencies. Seeking to hasten the Second Coming, Townsend pursues a fanatical effort to reach every Bibleless tribe with the Word, even to the point of saving their souls by destroying their cultures and allying with the dictators who oppress them..."

This is really no different than what was discussed in the article "What Happened in Africa?". From Thy Will Be Done Acknowledgments : p.xvi " ...In the Amazon basin countries, the conquest followed the general trend of exploring for oil, rubber [etc.]...and U.S. competition with other big powers...All this was assisted by a foreign aid system which was gradually crafted over thirty years by Nelson Rockefeller, beginning as Roosevelt's Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs during World War II and as Truman's foreign aid architect.

"The missionaries came in on the cultural, social, and political side of the conquest, their leader influenced by Rockefeller philanthropies and a counterinsurgency network shaped by Nelson Rockefeller's development goals. Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) was hired by military dictatorships and civilian governments, often headed by Nelson's allies, to pacify the tribes and integrate them into national economics increasingly being brought into the North American market. SIL used the Bible to teach indigenous people to "obey the government, for all authority comes from God.""

The massacre and genocide of, for example, the Indians of Cintas Largas, Brazil for the land, minerals and wealth of the land was for the most part officially ignored until 1968, although well documented today. According to Colby and Dennett, "the disastrous impact of missionary activity" remained officially ignored. 'in reality those in command of these Indian Protections posts are North American missionaries--they are in all the posts--and they disfigure the original Indian culture and enforce acceptance of Protestantism.' But officials of the American Fundamentalist missionary organization that worked with SPI [Service for the Protection of the Indian] among the tribes---the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), known in the United States by its less scientific alias, the Wycliffe Bible Translators--denied that any genocide took place. The head of SIL's branch in Brazil disclaimed all reports of genocide, and the founder of SIL, William Cameron Townsend, denied any knowledge of the massacres at all." [Colby, p.3-4]

It should be noted that secular evaluation of Christian activities always carries a certain amount of bias against what is done, particularly the sharing of the Gospel, which is the mainstay of Biblical obedience. There is a danger of condemning those who love the Lord when evaluating the very ungodly associations and practices entered into by some claiming to be of the Lord.

Our test of what is true and right must be based on Biblical truth as well as facts. We are to "Prove all things." Far to often people hear the words Christian missionary and feel that they are indeed supporting something of the Lord. Only God knows hearts. However, as will be discussed, if someone becomes Biblically disobedient in their endeavor to serve God, it must be questioned if what they are doing actually is of God.

Although many verses remind us to "be patient" and wait for God to work out His perfect plan, often impatience causes a Christian to act in ways that are contrary to Scripture. Impatience and being mindful of earthly things may produce or reveal opportunities which seem to be of God, but are not. Opportunities and open doors do not always mean these are for us. We earnestly need to be heavenly minded, checking that what is happening aligns with the Scriptures that were provided so that we might know what God would have us do. For example, dishonesty to further the Gospel, no matter the desired end result, goes against the Scriptures such as:

Romans 12:17 "Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men."

2 Corinthians 8:21 "Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men."

1 Peter 2:12 "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;"

Unholy Alliances

2 Corinthians 6:15

"And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

SIL was founded in 1934, although Cam Townsend originally encountered difficulties in being allowed to proselytize. The endorsement by Dr. Frank Tannenbaum of Columbia University, gave Townsend the in he needed with the Mexican authorities. Tannenbaum had conducted studies sponsored by the Social Science Research Council and the Brookings Institution-a liberal think-tank--both of which were Rockefeller funded.

See: The Council for National Policy Selected Organization/Media/Project Index >

Luke 6:26

"Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets."

Whether it was misguided zeal, pride, impatience for God to work, or calculated Biblical disobedience, Cam started SIL under pretense and deceit, gaining entrance to Mexico, for example, by having his students claiming to be linguistic investigators rather than missionaries whose goal was to translate the Bible into native tongues.

By joining the liberal Linguistic Society of America, which became the official sponsor of Townsend's group, Cam was able to funnel donations from mission agencies to WBT, so the appearance and knowledge of their being missionaries was kept hidden. [Colby, p. 65-69] Later,

"...the Inter-American Scientific Congress would be described by Townsend's followers as the birthplace of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). It was also the birthplace of SIL's active collaboration with Rockefeller allies." [Colby, p.67-68]

The third 'Camp Wycliffe', precursor of WBT, found the missionaries put on salaries to then Mexican President Cardenas. Two of the original ten missionaries refused, offended that they were to be working for a 'self-declared' "revolutionary" government, with the emphasis on linguistics rather than their missionary goals, which goal was to remain hidden.

"[Cam's] recruits were being told that they were working for the Mexican government, and under an alleged Communist party sympathizer, at that. "[Colby, p. 73-74]

It was through the Linguistic Society of America that Cam entered the "Rockefeller-funded world of indigenismo, an international movement of liberal anthropologists and other social scientists in the Americas." "The penchant for social engineering...peaceful integration, respect for Indian culture, reforms in education..." [Colby, p.67-68]

2 Corinthians 6:14 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"

The collaboration with Rockefeller allies lead to what many later viewed as an attack on Native culture and the forced acceptance of Protestantism, with the World Council of Churches and anthropologists, who were Cam's former allies, providing studies to that effect.

In Thy Will be Done, authors Colby and Dennett wrote, "Nelson [Rockefeller] knew, as did much of the nation, that Barry Goldwater had refused to disavow support for the ultrarightist John Birch Society. He also knew...that Goldwater and the Birch Society were both heavily funded by J. Howard Pew, owner of one of Standard Oils major rivals, the Sun Oil Company." [Colby, p. 453-454] Wycliffe Bible Translators received large funds of money from Nelson Rockefeller, Crowell Trust [Quaker Oats], the Glenmeade Trust [Pew] and the Lilly Foundation, the liberal Ford Foundation and others. [p. 569].

2 Corinthians 6:15 "And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."

Eventually, some countries officially called for the expulsion of SIL missionaries, although, unofficially in many cases, they were allowed to stay. Part of the problem which resulted in SIL's later public denunciation lay with groups such as the CIA using missionaries as informants. Although against policy, some collaborated with the CIA, and in some cases, it's counterinsurgency survey's in such places, for example, as Vietnam. Some documented data about various people groups collected by SIL and other mission groups was given to the CIA database. Documentation reveals a pattern of SIL helping various dictatorships or military governments control the 'natives' in return for furthering Townsend's goal of getting Bibles to all tribes, believing he was ushering in the return of Christ. Sara Diamond wrote in Spiritual Warfare,

"Over the years, WBT/SIL's close relationship with U.S. government officials and allied foreign leaders has earned the missionaries a reputation as "assets" of the CIA. In the Philippines in the early 1950's, for example, WBT/SIL representative Richard Pittman befriended Ramon Magsaysay, the politician the CIA promoted after it's defeat of the Huk guerrillas. Once Magsaysay was installed as Philippine president, he awarded WBT/SIL a contract to work on the islands. [It should be noted that the Rockefellers fund a Magsaysay Scholarship]

In Vietnam during the early 1960's, when the CIA trained the indigenous Montagnards to fight the Vietnamese National Liberation Front, it was the Summer Institute of Linguistics, with a grant form the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), [a CIA funded front] that supplied ethnographic information to U.S. forces and trained the Montagnards to read and write. To practice their reading skills, the CIA gave the new literates booklets on how to use M-16 rifles and blow up bridges.

"...Wycliffe serves an ideological function that is decidedly conservative and pro-capitalist. In Mexico...the translators in 1978 prepared a dictionary for the Tzotzil people of Mayan Indian ancestry...WBT/SIL's Tzotzil-Spanish dictionary eliminated the Spanish and indigenous words for ideological concepts that threaten the status quo: class, community, conquer, exploitation, bossy, oppression, repression, revolution, revolutionary, rebellion..." [Diamond, p. 218-219]

Cam Townsend had been won over to the modernist thought long before WBT emerged. Townsend, although apparently accepting God's Word in the Bible without question, owed his beliefs to his father. Pursuit of the Promised Land, and belief of his Bible, "and a stubborn belief that honesty, temperance and a prairie-born populist justice would somehow, someday, prevail." were instilled in Cam. However, the Promised Land is not of this world and the concept that "populist justice" would prevail, echoes the concept of Dominionist theology, as is the idea of "ushering in the Second Coming of Christ.".

2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,"

Thy Will Be Done, reveals that the real source of Cam Townsend's inspiration and beliefs was John Mott.

But in spite of Cam's lifelong reverence for the Word, his work had come under growing scrutiny by his mission elders over the past five years. Locked in battle with modernists abroad as well as at home, Cam's fundamentalist superiors were doubtful about his doctrinal purity. [p. 42]

And they had reason to be.... Even his inspiration for becoming a missionary had been John Mott. Mott had delivered a passionate speech before Cam and other students at Occidental College on "evangelizing the world in this generation." [pp. 42-43]

In 1930, The Laymen's Foreign Missions Inquiry, convened by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and John Mott, surveyed Asia and issued a report in 1932 entitled, Rethinking Missions. Rethinking Missions provided the beginnings of "contextualizing" the Gospel, and the concept that the focus of missions should be on day to day living and through secular education, health improvement to make good workers and so on.

"Rethinking Missions recommended reforms that few Fundamentalists could accept: an end to segregation from Asian cultures and appreciation of elements in Asian faiths that were kindred to Christ's message; more quiet lessons of examples and programs in education, medicine, and agriculture and less evangelical proselytizing; more cooperation and efficiency to reduce the wasteful overlap of programs; and most important, a gradual transfer of power to indigenous churches.

'....another young Fundamentalist missionary could understand Mott's call for indigenous control over institutions founded by foreign missionaries. And he had learned the values of the Rockefeller philanthropies for his own mission. In the years ahead, he would ally himself with Bell, his funder, J. Howard Pew of Sun Oil Company (SUNOCO) and Billy Graham to build America's largest and most politically controversial missionary organization, the Summer Institute of Linguistics...[He was] inadvertently serving the interests of Nelson Rockefeller as "the Apostle of the Lost Tribes." [Colby p.40]

The man was William Cameron Townsend, founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT), which was known internationally as the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). Townsend's associations did not end with the Rockefellers and John Mott, nor did SIL's, as we've seen they are officially Partnered with UNESCO.

In 1967, CNP's Nelson Bunker Hunt provided Cameron Townsend, property in Dallas for a new international translation center for Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and the Wycliffe Bible Translators. Hunt also funded CNP's Ed McAteer, who sat on Wycliffes' board..

"Ed McAteer, was the...real organizing force behind the politicized Fundamentalist movement. McAteer had the glib tongue of his profession, substituting Christ for soap in his market analysis. He was more than a friend of Cam Townsend; he was a major figure on the board of Wycliffe Associates, which was now a powerhouse of resources for SIL, providing it and JAARS [Jungle Aviation & Radio Service founded by Townsend in 1963] with construction skills, money, promotion and overnight stays for furloughed translators on fund-raising tours. In return, testimonies from returned translators, films, books, and slide shows parlayed surrogate travels around the world for suburban believers. Special trips to the jungle bases allowed the more affluent faithful actually to partake in adventure for God. The sheer human energy amassed by wealthy SIL backers like North Carolina's James A. Jones, one of the largest contractors for military bases in Vietnam, and oilman Nelson Bunker Hunt of Texas. "Bunker Hunt had helped me considerably," McAteer freely offered.

"Wycliffe Associates' "500 Club" was designed to offer the richer members a way out of service through cash; $500 or more each year was all it took to get a special certificate of membership. Some gave much more. Texas's corporate leaders were prominent in helping Cam build SIL's International Linguistics Center near Dallas; the Linguistics Center's board meeting was one of those special occasions where a Rockefeller business partner like Trammel Crow could rub shoulders with an ultrarightist like Nelson Bunker Hunt. But they were the old core of supporters. The real power in the Wycliffe Associates was its thousands of newer members, spreading the influence of SIL across the country, and the influence of Wycliffe Associates in Cam's organization.

"Promoting and leading this base of support into politics was McAteer's forte. During the Carter administration, his name began to appear among New Right circles in Washington, D.C., connected with North Carolina's Senator Jesse Helms. It was McAteer who brought Jerry Falwell into this crowd, helping Falwell build the Moral Majority. Then, in 1979, McAteer organized the Religious Roundtable. Well-funded, McAteer pulled together many of the Fundamentalist leaders of the nation to back the candidacy of Ronald Reagan. Cam was on of those who followed McAteer into the founding meeting of the Religious Roundtable...Cam's base of support in the homeland and his top financial backers left him little choice. He was, at the end of his career, trapped by the Far Right Fundamentalist base on which he had built Wycliffe's success at home...." [Colby & Dennett, pp 570, 804-5]

See: Major Donors to SIL/WBT to see some of the many corporate donors who had a financial stake in SIL's opening the door for their ventures. The Apostle Peter wrote:

2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

Next Section: John Mott

Previous Section: Skeletons in the Closet ~ Rockefeller History


Colby, Gerard & Charlotte Dennett, Thy Will be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil, Harper Collins, 1995.

Diamond, Sara. Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right, MA: South End Press, 1988.

42. Cairns, Earle E., Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church, p. 490, Zondervan Publishing House, Revised Edition, 1970, orig. 1954

43. Eugene A. Nida; Bible Translations: An Analysis of Principles and Procedures, with Special Reference to Aboriginal Languages; p.50-51; N.Y. Publisher, American Bible Society. 1947

45. The Greek New Testament, The Fourth revised edition. Editors: Barbara Aland & Kurt Aland; Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Ruth M. Metger; Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, United Bible Societies, Stuttgart, Germany, 1994.

Patrick, James R., Research Manual: America 2000/Goals 2000, Citizens for Academic Education, 1994

Brzezinski , Zbigniew, Power & Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Advisor, 1977-1981, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1983, p. 289

Brzezinski , Zbigniew, BETWEEN TWO AGES: AMERICA'S ROLE IN THE TECHNETRONIC ERA, Viking Press, 1971; reprinted edition, Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 1982

Spenner, Joe, Rockefeller-- Regionalism The Shadow Behind Oregon's LCDC, 1992

Copyright . All articles are the sole property of and Vicky Dillen

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NELSON ROCKEFELLER and Evangelism in the Age of Oil

"Thy Will Be Done", The Conquest of the Amazon:

by Gerard Colby with Charlotte Dennett
Harper Collins, 1995. 960 pages

reviewed by Carmelo Ruiz

Carmelo Ruiz is a Puerto Rican journalist and research associate at the institute for Social Ecology, email ise@ at Goddard College, Vermont. Connect: ernail: carrneloruiz@hotmailcom

In 1976, reporters Gerard Colby and Charlotte Dennett traveled to Brazil as part of a journalistic team to write stories about the work of Christian missionaries in the Amazon basin. High on Colby and Dennett's list of priorities was to learn about a mysterious missionary organization called the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). This outfit, also known as the Wycliffe Bible Translators, had gotten kudos from both conservatives and liberals for translating the Bible into hundreds of indigenous languages in Central and South America and helping native peoples cope with the intrusion of Western civilization into their lives.

However, Colby and Dennett had heard of a darker side to SIL. Numerous critics had alleged that SIL was the vanguard of the destruction of both the rainforests and their native inhabitants. They had heard from Latin American acquaintances that SIL was, in military fashion, a scouting party that surveyed the Amazonian hinterlands for potential sources of opposition to natural resource exploitation (read cattle ranching, clearcutting and strip mining) among native peoples and that it employed a virulent brand of Christian fundamentalism that relied on linguistics to undermine the social cohesion of aboriginal communities and accelerate their assimilation into Western culture. In addition to all this, numerous articles in the Latin American press accused 511. of being funded by the American intelligence community.

That last charge sounded particularly believable, since the authors' trip took place in the wake of recent revelations by the Church Committee of the US Senate, which investigated the activities of US intelligence agencies. It bears mentioning that Colby was by then no stranger to corporate and political intrigue. In 19 74, writing as Gerard Colby Zilg, he published Dupont: Behind the Nylon Curtain, a 600+ page tome that narrated the Dupont family's corrupt history, from its profiteering on gunpowder sales to its manufacture of ozone-depleting gases. However, don't expect to see it in bookstores. When a Dupont PR representative said the book was scurrilous and actionable, publisher Prentice Hall was intimidated into letting Dupont go out of print. (In 1984, an expanded and updated 900 page-long edition of the book was published, which included, among other things, the Dupont's little-known connection to the Nicaraguan contras. Unfortunately, it met the same fate as the previous edition.)

Dennett was also a veteran journalist, having recently been stationed in Beirut, where she covered the civil war then raging in Lebanon. The authors found SIL a veritable empire whose missionary activities spanned every country in the Amazon basin, with a network of bases that look more like picket-fenced American suburbia than the frontier outposts for the global economy that they actually are. SIL even has its own air force and communications system, the Jungle Aviation and Radio Service (JAARS), which permits it to act virtually independently from the governments of the countries where it operates. After years of research, Colby and Dennett found a number of irrefutable links between SIL and US counterinsurgency operations. Among these, SIL agressively denied that the native peoples of Brazil and Guatemala were being slaughtered by the military regimes of their countries; it allowed its base in the Ecuadoran Amazon to be used by Green Berets who were combing the Western Amazon for signs of armed insurgency; and it assisted the Peruvian air force, which had napalmed the Mayoruna and Campa Indians.

If Colby and Dennett had limited themselves to just exposing SIL, Thy Will be Done would still have been a formidable journalistic achievement. But the authors went on to research the American institutions, private and governmental, that provided support for SIL's mission. These included Standard Oil of New Jersey; the Pew family, creators of the Sun Oil Company (Sunoco) and the Pew Charitable Trusts, the US Agency for International Development, and the US military through its donations of surplus military equipment. Although they could find no smoking gun directly linking the CIA to SIL, they did find several circumstantial and indirect links, such as financial support from a foundation that was later exposed as a CIA front and the fact that JAARS's top pilot, Lawrence Montgomery, was on the Agency's payroll.

In the course of their investigation, the authors learned that SIL had a big debt to institutions and individuals associated with the Rockefeller family. SIL founder William Cameron (Cam) Townsend was inspired by the antihookworm and antimalaria campaigns of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission, and his linguistics methods owed much to the work of linguist Edward Sapir of the University of Chicago, an institution that was also supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. Another influence on Townsend was Mexican anthropologist Manuel Gameo, whose interdisciplinary studies on native peoples were sponsored by the University of Chicago, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Fund and the Social Science Research Council.

The last two were run by Beardsley Ruml, a member of the inner circle of the Rockefeller family. One thinker who had a great influence on Townsend's approach to native cultures was John Mott, one of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.'s most trusted envoys. Mott was a millenarian who hoped to evangelize the world in his generation, but rather than embracing fundamentalism, he rejected it in favor of a broad-minded science-based approach. In a report he co-authored in 1932 called Rethinking Missions, Mott called for more cultural tolerance and social concern on the part of missionaries working abroad and less reliance on vociferous evangelical proselytizing. Such an approach, he argued, would win more converts in the long run and neutralize the nationalistic and communist revolts then brewing in what years later would come to be called the Third World.

Colby and Dennett found the Rockefeller connection particularly intriguing, and went on to investigate the Rockefeller family's financial interests in the commercial and industrial development of the Brazilian Amazon. In 1941, Nelson Rockefeller was named by president Roosevelt to the post of coordinator of the Office of Interamerican Affairs (CIAA), which ran intelligence and propaganda operations against the Nazis in Latin America. In one of its many flagrant violations of the separation between church and state, SIL assisted the CIAA in its Intensive Language Program for American and Latin American military officers and gathered intelligence on native peoples. As coordinator of the CIAA, Nelson acquired invaluable information about Latin America's untapped natural resources, especially mineral reserves, information that ended up in his files and which he used after the war, when he formed the International Basic Economy Corporation (IBEC). This company became a key component in the post-World War Two opening of the Amazon rainforest to commercial exploitation, a process that eventually led to military dictatorships, genocide of native peoples, loss of biological diversity and unprecedented misery for the majority of Brazilians.

The Rockefeller-led effort to conquer the Amazon and exploit its natural riches had been made possible in no small measure by SIL's missionary activities. Colby and Dennett found a historic parallel in John D. Rockefeller, Sr.'s support for Christian missionaries in the American west, who were compiling extremely useful information on Native American communities, which were potential sources of opposition to the entrance of Standard Oil into their lands.' As a bonus, the evangelization process weakened the American Indians' social structure and so undermined their resolve to fight for their rights. The authors quote Baptist reverend Frederick Gates, who for many years was John D. Sr.'s right-hand man, as saying that "We are only in the very dawn of commerce, and we owe that dawn to the channels opened up by Christian missionaries.... The effect of the missionary enterprise of the English speaking peoples will be to bring them the peaceful conquest of the world."

On the other hand, it is also true that SIL's mission was greatly helped by the Rockefellers and the industrial development process that they were such an important part of. SIL's missionaries believe that when the last tribe in the jungles is evangelized, the Second Coming of the Lord will take place; so for them the race to develop the Amazon basin's natural resources is only a means to an end. In practice, this symbiotic relationship between commercial exploitation and Christian fundamentalism was a match made in hell that spelled doom for native peoples and the rainforests they inhabited.

The authors follow Nelson Rockefeller's consuming interest in Latin America: his days in Venezuela working for Standard Oil subsidiary Creole Petroleum, where he developed his concepts of corporate social responsibility; his tenure as coordinator of the CIAA; his brief stint as Assistant Secretary of State, in which he was a key behind-the-scenes player in the international negotiations that led to the founding of the United Nations and the Organization of American States; his formation of IBEC, his service to the Eisenhower administration as special assistant for cold war strategy, a position in which he was briefed on top secret CIA operations, including coup d'etats and the infamous MKULTRA mind control experiments, his membership in president Nixon's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board at a time when the CIA was destabilizing Salvador Allende's democratic socialist government in Chile, and much more.

Of special interest to Colby and Dennett were a series of by-invitation-only seminars hosted by Nelson under the sponsorship of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) in Quantico naval base during the Eisenhower administration. The Quantico seminars, known officially as the RBF Special Studies Project, advocated increased military spending and a more confrontational policy towards the Soviet Union. The participants included men who would later become instrumental in developing the Kennedy administration's counterinsurgency doctrine, such as Eugene Rostow, Edward Lansdale, Paul Nitze, Adolf Berle, McGeorge Bundy, Walt Rostow, Henry Kissinger and Dean Rusk (who was then president of the Rockefeller Foundation and would become Kennedy's Secretary of State).

The book only skims through Nelson's deeds as governor of New York, although it does mention his ignominious performance during the Attica prison uprising. Colby and Dennett focus instead on his presidential ambitions, which came to a climax with his botched attempt to beat Barry Goldwater to the 1964 Republican presidential nomination, and his international activities, such as his disastrous 1969 tour of the Americas. Nelson's crowning political achievement was getting appointed to the vice presidency of the United States in 1974. Unelected Vice President Rockefeller was then called on by unelected President Ford to chair a commission to investigate CIA abuses. As the authors point out, no one could have been less qualified for that last job.

Those who may feel tempted to dismiss Thy Will be Done's conclusions as conspiracy theory will have a hell of a time trying to refute the book's arguments and conclusions. The 830 pages of text, 92 pages of footnotes and bibliography and dozens of charts, graphs, photographs and maps eloquently document and support every single charge made by the authors. It is precisely in order to placate the skeptics that Colby and Dennett adopted this mindbogglingly exhaustive approach. In spite of this, the book is amazingly readable and does not come across as stuffy and academic.

Those who read books on American foreign policy in search of titillating revelations of sensational CIA covert operations while neglecting to study the social, political and historical context in which they are embedded will find this book a difficult, even annoying, read. Conspiracy buffs may have an encyclopedic knowledge of CIA intrigues and scandals, but they're not interested at all in doing the hard intellectual work of learning about the nature of the system of corporate profit and exploitation which intelligence agencies were created to serve. They will undoubtedly be frustrated by the book's scholarly dose of anthropology, linguistics and history, and will probably skim through the pages in search of startling revelations of covert intrigue and secret wars. The authors' implicit message to the self-proclaimed conspiracy researchers is clear: that all the muckraking investigative journalism in the world will not bring about social change if it is not accompanied by a critical analysis of the economic, political and historical context of the times we're living.

Upon a superficial examination, one would tend to think that the book will appeal to the Bible-thumping, right-wing populists of the John Birch fringe who despise the Rockefellers. This band of the American political spectrum, which has been known to publicize bizarre allegations of a Rockefeller--orchestrated plot to create a socialist world government, will be baffled and perplexed by one of Thy Will be Done's chief conclusions: that they've been had. According to Colby and Dennett, far from being a threat to the Machiavellian power of the Rockefellers, the Christian fundamentalists were extremely useful in furthering the global designs of the heirs of the Standard Oil fortune.

On the other hand, left-leaning liberals will find the book's conclusions even harder to swallow, since the Rockefeller philanthropies (which include the Rockefeller Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Rockefeller Family Fund) are among the main funding sources of liberal political activism in the US, including civil liberties, feminism and the environmental movement. Beneficiaries of Rockefeller charitable giving in recent years have included groups like Essential Information, the ACLU, the Ms. Foundation, the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, Environmental Action, the Student Environmental Action Coalition, the Center for Responsive Politics, the NAACP who are much more likely to say, "Wait, you're being a little unbalanced. Sure, they've done terrible things in the past, but they're funding some really terrific stuff nowadays." As much as one may try to rationalize the embarassing predicament of taking money from the ultra-rich to finance social change, the question remains: What are the prospects for an American progressive agenda when it is heavily dependent on funding from a philanthropic system that owes its forhine to commercial activities that destroy ecosystems worldwide, erode biological diversity and create a holocaust for indigenous peoples? Colby and Dennett do not pose that question to readers, but it will certainly hover ominously over the mind of any American reader whose political beliefs are at least five degrees to the left of National Public Radio or The New Republic.

Thy Will be Done is a very challenging and deeply disturbing book. Although much lip service has been paid to the concept of holistic thinking, Colby and Dennett do actually put together the pieces of the macabre puzzle of the destruction of the Amazon rain-forest and the genocide of its indigenous dwellers and reach conclusions that are unsettling for conservatives and liberals alike. All or most environmentalists agree that the destruction of the Amazon rainforest can't be seen as separate from a host of social, political and economic factors in South America as well as in industrialized countries like the US, but it takes nothing less than a book like Thy Will be Done to show what this actually means.
Louis Proyect (


  1. Excellent post!

    - Aangirfan

  2. Look for the truth always. Freedom will follow. Best wishes to all and to all, a good night.


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