|A Christian Church Service in Vietnam|
In 1977, the CIA was prohibited from the recruitment of journalists, academics, clergy, and missionaries. However, speaking before a Senate intelligence committee, John Deutch, who was the CIA director during that time testified that the spy agency could waive the ban in cases of "unique and special threats to national security."
The NAE has requested that Congress "correct this intolerable situation" of soliciting religious workers for covert activity. "For intelligence agencies to seek any relationship whatsoever with our religious workers must be unequivocally prohibited," says the NAE.
Allowing such a loophole, endangers missionaries as well as church, relief, community development, and refugee workers in politically sensitive areas abroad.
The NAE has also urged missions organizations, not to provide information to any intelligence agency, although many already have such restrictions in place.
"Any foreigner living in a foreign culture already comes under a natural suspicion," says the Southern Baptist Convention Foreign Mission Board. "If this policy is reversed, it would totally erode the ministry of missionaries."
Regardless, however, statements by the Baptists or the NAE , a Christian non-governmental organization funded by the Pentagon was used to smuggle spy equipment into North Korea.
Investigative journalist Matthew Cole of the The Intercept has done lots of work in
And Congress was reportedly fully briefed on North Korea , though that has been denied by at least one member of the Intelligence Oversight Committee, who accuses the Pentagon of never pausing to consider the potential blowback that it might produce.
NGOs are fair game for infiltration and cover by intelligence organizations, but their exploitation in that fashion is extremely uncommon. That is because it is impossible to control all the unwitting players in an NGO and any such operation would be susceptible to eventual exposure, with the damage derived from potential blowback far exceeding any possible gain.
The United States government does in fact impose a ban on recruiting certain categories of individuals as spies. Clergymen are off limits partly for ethical reasons, but more because the exposure of such a relationship would be devastating both to the religious organization itself and to the United States government. Use of the U.S. taxpayer-funded Peace Corps is also banned because exploiting it would potentially turn its volunteers into targets for terrorists.
Recruitment of journalists whose reporting potentially might appear in the U.S. media is also forbidden because the distribution of intelligence agency-produced stories could be construed as an attempt to covertly influence opinion and policies inside the United States. Ironically, the federal government officially opposes spy agency disinformation even though it does the same thing through the judicious leaking of information from the White House and Pentagon.
Bottom-line: whatever way you want to look at it, NGO's, including religious ones, which operate overseas still remain one of the best resources for Government intelligence services as a collection point for intelligence information. From the ground level right up to the top political hierarchy.
In order to avoid this from happening, all Christian NGO's, wherever their global headquarters are, should make sure that they include in the preamble of their statement of purpose the wording "to bring the Gospel without any external , political, or foreign interference.