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November 16, 2008

Christian missionaries and Christian NGOs in India Preparing for the harvest

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main.asp?filename=ts013004shashi.asp&id=1#

 

 
Preparing for the harvest …

A new mood of aggressive evangelism has been emanating from America. Well-funded, superbly networked,
backed by the highest of the land, seized of its moral supremacy, it has India as one of its key targets, reveals 
VK Shashikumar
 in a disturbing exposé

This could be the plot of a fevered thriller. A jingoistic president, multi-million dollar corporations, high technology, a grand if furtive mission, networks spanning the globe, and biblical invocations.  

Only it’s real. And its got India in its crosshair.

Religious expansionism has not witnessed this scale, scope, and state resources in a long time. Detailed investigations by Tehelka reveal that American evangelical agencies have established in India an enormous, well-coordinated and strategised religious conversion plan. The operation was launched in the early 1990s but really came into its own after George W Bush Jr, an avowed born-again Christian, became president of the United States in 2001. Since then, aggressive evangelists have found pro-active support from the new administration in their efforts to convert some sections of Indian society to Christianity. At the heart of this complex and sophisticated operation is a simple strategy-convert locals and then give them the know-how and money to plant their own churches and multiply.

Around the time that Bush Jr moved into the Oval office, a worldwide conversion movement, funded and effected by American evangelical groups, was peaking in India. The movement, which began as AD2000 & Beyond and later morphed into Joshua Project I and Joshua Project II, was designed to be a sledgehammer-a breathtaking, decade-long steamroller of a campaign that would set the stage for a systematic, sophisticated and self-sustaining “harvest” of the “unreached people groups” in India in the 21st century. It was just as the operation was taking off that the script changed. Much to the delight of American evangelicals, one of their own, George Bush Jr, became the occupant of the White House.

In a major policy decision taken very early into his presidency, Bush, on January 29, 2001, unveiled a “faith based” social service initiative that included a new White House office to promote government aid to churches and Christian faith-based organisations. This, in effect, threw the massive weight of the federal government behind religious groups and religious conversions. The Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives was set up in the White House in the first week of February 2002 and a man called Jim Towey was appointed director. (A snap introduction to Towey: he was the legal counsel to Mother Teresa in the late 1980s.)
Though Bush’s initiative to fund “salvation and religious conversion” is stalled in the Congress over constitutional and civil rights concerns, he has pushed for its implementation through executive orders.

White House-Christian Coalition nexus

The American press is replete with reports on Bush’s largesse to faith-based organisations. They say it’s his “return gift” to the Christian Right for having loyally supported his presidential campaign. The Christian Coalition, founded by American TV evangelist and head of the multi-billion Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Pat Robertson, played a crucial role in the 2000 election. Recently, in his TV programme, Club 700, broadcast on CBN, Robertson created a stir by announcing that he is confident Bush will win the 2004 election in a “blowout” because God has told him so.

Indeed, Bush is keen to retain what we call the votebank and Americans ‘the base’. After all, the Far Right Christian evangelists have also been the most loyal backers of his hardline militarism in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

But there is another, perhaps more important, reason why Bush is keen on supporting his evangelist friends who run huge transnational missionary organisations (TMOs). In the decade 1990-2000 they ran a global intelligence operation so complex and sophisticated that its scale and implications are no less than staggering. This operation has put in place a system which enables the US government to access any ethnographic information on any location virtually at the click of the mouse. This network in India, established with funding and strategic assistance from US-based TMOs, gives US intelligence agencies virtually real time access to every nook and corner of the country. (See ‘List of TMOs Active in India’)

Since Bush’s ascendancy to the presidency this network of networks has multiplied rapidly in India. Bush supports conversion in India because he supports those American TMOs who fund and strategise conversion activities in this country. Organisations like the International Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention, Christian Aid, World Vision, Seventh Day Adventist Church and multi-billion enterprises run by evangelists like Pat Robertson, Billy Graham and Roger Houtsma, amongst many others, were instrumental in running a coordinated conversion campaign in India under the banner of AD2000. These later became the Joshua Project and when the decade-long movement officially closed down in March 2001, Joshua Project II was launched to sustain conversions and intelligence-gathering. Graham’s TMO, Billy Graham Evangelist Association, supports conversion activities in Gurgaon, Haryana, and Kolkata.

When AD2000 was conceived for India, the plan was based on a military model with the intent to invade, occupy, control, or subjugate its population. It was based on solid intelligence emanating from the ground and well-researched information on various facets of selected people groups. The idea was to send out spying missions to source micro details on religion and culture. The social and economic divisions in the various Indian communities were closely examined. Given the oppressive and institutionalised caste system in the Hindu society, American evangelical strategists chalked out plans for reaching these various “unmixable” caste groups. The many faultlines running through the country-divisions in terms of ethnicity, caste, creed, language and class-were all factored in during the generation of ethnographic data.

North India was designated the core target of American evangelists. It was described as the “core of the core of the core” of a worldwide evangelical movement conceived by fundamentalist American missionaries. This movement that took shape over the 1990s, has now taken off because of a unique collaboration between the American government and US-based evangelical mission agencies. In the 1990s this movement was shaped by the World Evangelical Fellowship (an international alliance of national evangelical alliances), working with the AD2000 movement. It brought together a wide variety of individuals and organisations, under the single goal of achieving “a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000.” Its focus was missionary mobilisation and church planting in India and other regions of the world where the Christian population was negligible. This movement was also a massive intelligence gathering exercise funded and supported by American missionary organisations that were responsible for the election of George W Bush.

Global evangelism plans

AD2000 first attracted attention at a convention of international evangelical missions called Lausanne II in Manila in 1989. The movement then spread rapidly around the globe to help catalyse evangelism. The strategy behind the movement was to establish pioneering global partnerships to eventually provide a church within every “unreached people group”. Ralph Winter, founder of the US Center for World Mission, characterised the movement as “the largest, most pervasive global evangelical network ever to exist.”

This movement, spearheaded by Luis Bush from the movement’s headquarters in Colorado Springs, US, was planned for large conversion of people living within the “10/40 Window”. Incidentally, Billy Graham, a Christian fundamentalist and rabid evangelist, who was responsible for George W’s “born again” Christian status and whom the president considers as his godfather was the honorary co-chairman of the AD 2000 movement.

The 10/40 window is the rectangular area comprising parts of North Africa and large parts of Asia between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude where 95 percent of the world’s “least evangelised poor are found.” AD 2000 movement mobilised and funded evangelical operations in India. Further, they sponsored the May 17-25, 1995, Global Consultation on World Evangelization (GCOWE) in Seoul, South Korea, where nearly 4,000 Christian leaders from 186 countries, including India, gathered to draw up secret and covert evangelical plans. Many American evangelists now describe GCOWE, Seoul, as “the most strategic Christian gathering in history.” That year also saw the transformation of the movement to a higher plane in the name of Joshua Project. 
The first GCOWE consultation was held in Singapore in 1989. The first five years of the decade (1990-2000) were the years of seeding the clouds with the vision of a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000. This involved the building of a new kind of partnering relationships, a grassroots networking structure…a “network of networks.”

While AD2000 spied out the land and its inhabitants to get an accurate picture of opportunities and challenges for conversion activities in India, they also framed subversive strategies to implement their plans. Concepts like PLUG, PREM and NICE were conceived. PLUG refers to the target group-people in every language, urban centre and geographic division. PREM refers to the techniques to use-prayer, research, evangelisation and mobilisation. NICE refers to how the work is to be done-networking, taking initiative, and using an evangelist to spur existing groups and cohorts in their efforts to convert people to Christianity.

Local networks

For Indian evangelical groups, access to American technology meant faster and more secure communication with their patrons. And, of course, the availability of the Bible in local languages, In fact, in today’s India, the Bible is available in almost all languages and dialects. If the translation of the Bible was a symbol of huge transnational exercise, the massive distribution of gospel literature was nothing less than a distribution marvel. In India, a coordinated gospel literature distribution exercise was staged to reach 600,000 villages by the end of 2000. Finally, American evangelical organisations that also run cash-rich television channels pumped in money to buy slots on Indian television networks. In fact, Pat Robertson, who recently stepped down as the chairman of the Christian Coalition and the owner of the CBN set up a studio in Hyderabad to help Indian evangelicals minister through television programmes. These programmes are broadcast on various networks in India where CBN buys time.

The Joshua Project, started by a splinter group of CBN, was also a large-scale intelligence operation that brought together American strategists, theologists, missionary specialists, demographers, technologists, sociologists, anthropologists and researchers to create the most comprehensive people group profiles in the 10/40 Window. In fact, the ethno-linguistic profiling of the people groups in India, probably, cannot even be matched by data with the government of India. The logic behind this massive intelligence gathering operation was to “make a priority of establishing as a minimum, a pioneer church-planting movement within every ethno-linguistic people of over 10,000 individuals by December 31, 2000.”

The launch of the Joshua Project in the mid-1990s resulted in scores of American research teams arriving in India to lay preliminary roadmaps for the church-planting mission. Everyone came on tourist visas and, on their arrival in India, their respective mission partners took them in. This partnership with Indian researchers resulted in the production of enormous field data on various people groups in the country. This, in turn, led to the identification of areas and regions where evangelical activities could be carried out in a focused and methodical manner.

Joshua Project II is a continuation and expansion of the original plan. Its professed aim is to “highlight all the least-reached peoples (non-Christian) of the world and to help build ministry networks and partnerships focusing on these people.” The constant research and updating of ethnographic data from India should ring alarm bells within the intelligence agencies in India. In fact, the project maintains its “peoples lists” in cooperation with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Southern Baptists, as will be seen later, have traditionally worked hand-in-glove with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). India’s ethno-cultural data collected by the project is categorised by them as ‘Security Level 2’ because there is a danger to Indian and foreign missionaries if data relating to their conversion activities is made public. 

The main target: India

As part of AD2000, Christian organisations in most countries, including India, had an embarked on an ambitious National AD2000 Initiative. In India the Evangelical Fellowship of India was central to the fulfillment of the goals set by this initiative. According to the founders of AD2000 (and that includes Bush’s pal Billy Graham) north India is the ‘kairos’, the key. India is where the era of modern missionary effort began nearly 200 years ago with the arrival of William Carey, the father of modern evangelical missions. However, the nine north and central Indian states of Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana were considered areas of immense strategic importance for the following reasons:

The Gangetic belt is one of the most heavily populated regions of the world. Forty percent of the Indian population lives here;
New Delhi is the capital and centre of political power in India;
It is the most socially deprived area of India (the Hindi belt has a literacy rate of 30 percent, infant mortality is double the national average and the government of India officially designates four of these states as BIMARU (sick));
This area of India is known as the heartland of Hinduism, a religion that boasts of some 33 million gods; and It has the smallest Christian presence in all of India. According to the 1991 census, the Christian population of North India is 0.5 percent of the total population.

Clearly, north India was strategically important for the missionaries. What made things easier for them was the new buoyancy in India-US relations. Therefore, it was open to researchers and their research plans. Billy Graham and his ilk openly admit that they dispatched spying missions to India. “Just as Joshua sent out the spies to survey the land and report on its condition before the children of Israel moved out in obedience to God’s command, many more missionaries and Christian workers are finding research information invaluable in laying their plans,” say the AD2000 and Beyond Movement documents. Over the past eight years, tremendous energies and resources have been spent on spying out the land and its inhabitants.

The India Missions Association (IMA) in partnership with Gospel for Asia, another big American missionary outfit, researched and published very informative and accurate books that unraveled the intricate mosaic that is India. Some of those books are in Tehelka’s possession. One of the big achievements of the Chennai-based IMA was conducting a detailed India-wide PIN code survey. India’s postal service is one of the world’s largest and it is important to understand why American mission agencies picked on India’s postal system to devise their covert conversion strategy. The Indian postal system has a network of 1,52,786 post offices-89 percent of them in villages, which means one post office for 23.12 sq. km of rural land and one for every 3.16 sq. km of urban stretch, or one for a village with 4,612 people or one for 12,924 people in a town or city.

PIN-code theory

The 6-digit PIN code introduced in August 1972, identifies and locates every departmental delivery office. The first digit represents the zone, the second the sub-zone, the third digit shows the postal sorting district, the fourth digit indicates the mail route and the last two digits indicate the specific post office of destination in that zone. For this purpose the country has been divided into eight zones and each region in each zone has been assigned a particular postal circle in the first two digits of a PIN code. The Delhi circle, for instance, is 11. The digits 45 to 49 represent the Madhya Pradesh circle and 60 to 64 are for the Tamil Nadu circle.

This neat division of India through the postal codes is seen as a boon for strategising missionary work, coding the data emerging from the field and flowing it back to missionaries on the job. Given below are a few way in which pincodes have helped evangelical work:

There is no easier way of locating workers than attaching pincodes to them Media contacts can be linked easily with workers Sorting “harvest forces” and mailing lists is easyThe codes make distribution of gospel literature faster and easier Urban areas have more postal codes than rural areas. This helps in planning effectively to plant churches in each area.

To really come to grips with the implications of IMA’s PIN-code theory one has to understand the ‘Joshua Project II Data Background’. The report of the Joshua Project II is self-explanatory: “Joshua Project II provides a “blue-print” of the unfinished task of world evangelisation. It came out of the process of the AD2000 and Beyond Movement focusing on a list of approximately 2000 people groups that most need a church planting movement. The peoples listed here are over 10,000 in population and less than two percent Evangelical and less than five percent Christian adherent. Data has been compiled from many sources including: Southern Baptist Convention, Operation World, Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse, US Center for World Mission and the AD2000 movement.

“The mission of Joshua Project II is to highlight the peoples of the world who have the least exposure to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Joshua Project II seeks to accomplish this through information sharing and networking… the mission of the Joshua Project is threefold.

First, to gather, manage and distribute strategic population, progress indicator and ministry activity information to maximise the visibility of the least-reached peoples to the Church. The goal is a comprehensive, accurate, validated, public ally available list of all the ethno-cultural people groups of the world.

Second, to be a least-reached peoples networking resource to the Christian mission community.

Third, to enhance the flow of information between Great Commission organisations by using standardised data coding.”

In India’s case this “standardised data coding” has been married to IMA’s survey. This has been used to such a degree that even the diverse language groups of India have been divided into PIN codes. The ability to send evangelists that are familiar to language and culture greatly facilitates the speed at which conversion can happen. It is also cost effective since tactics can be formed at home base. This also enables any Christian missionary organisation anywhere in the world to source any ethno-cultural or ethno-linguistic data on India at the click of the mouse. So let’s say if one of Bush’s Christian evangelical cronies wants to check out which missionary organisation is working with the Banjaras in Nalgonda, Khammam and Krishna districts in Andhra Pradesh, all he has to do is plug into this highly guarded database. It will tell him how many Banjaras were converted to Christianity over a specified period, the names of Indian Christian researchers working in community and which evangelical ministry coordinating the exercise of “saving souls”. Just about any detail he wants is available on demand. Obviously, it flows the other way as well. So assuming that somebody at the CIA headquarters wants information on a particular district or region all that needs to be done is to call up Bush’s mentor Rev Billy Graham. Graham will in turn log into databases maintained by a network of American Evangelical Missions. All this can happen in seconds and this is how technology has made evangelical activities so potentially dangerous.

Laptop evangelists

Latest cutting-edge web technologies are used to keep in touch with various “unreached people groups” through key local interlocutors. They also track on a regular basis status indicators like number of evangelists working within a people group, the number of Christian adherents, church growth and mission agency progress indicators. All this information is then used to “promote networking and partnerships focusing on least-reached peoples in order to promote the flow of strategic ministry activity information between individuals, churches, denominations and mission agencies.

Tehelka’s undercover operation managed to set up networking contacts with the Joshua II project. Evidence of the meticulous nature of this data is available with Tehelka. The amazing network that has been established can be illustrated with the following anecdote. B Shreeprakash and B Jayaprakash from Kayamkulam, Kerala, came across the December 1998 issue of the National Missionary Intelligencer published by The National Missionary Society of India, Royappettah, Chennai, while waiting for an appointment with a doctor. That sparked off an amateur investigation exercise, the contents of which were put down in their report titled ‘Conversions in India’. Here’s an extract:

 

“As part of this work, an address namely, ‘Workers Together’ in US was contacted. To my surprise, a pastor of the Brethren Church, contacted me from my own town, his residence was only 1km away from that of mine. He called me over telephone and invited me for a personal meeting. On visiting his house, he handed over to me an oxford Edition of the Bible, printed in New York, and a few booklets and pamphlets. What astonished me was, that the pastor had with him, a copy of letter which I had sent to US. On enquiring about how the nearness of my residence with that of the Pastor was understood by the party at Bangalore, he showed me an official directory of the list of the evangelicals working in India, with their family photographs and complete details arranged in order of PIN codes. Another directory of their worldwide network was also shown to me.”

There cannot, perhaps, be a better example to understand the effects of marrying the IMA’s survey with Joshua Project’s database. The message is this-an American missionary agency will go to any length even if it means converting just one person. A letter written to an agency in the US is re-directed immediately to Bangalore and the agency in Bangalore in turn tracks down the nearest evangelist and directs him to take upon the task of ministering the gospel to the newest seeker. In fact, the mission goal of IMA, according to its general secretary, Ebenezer Sunder Raj, is: “We need a church within cycling distance, then within walking distance and finally within hearing distance.” The Church growth figures that are with Tehelka clearly indicate that this mission mandate is on in full swing.

Data on India: the CIA connection

The “spying out” missions that generated the vast ethnographic data of the Indian people also involved detailed study of Dr KS Singh’s ‘People of India Project’ that was launched in 1985 by the Anthropological Society of India (ASI). Under Singh’s leadership, the ASI undertook an ambitious project to chart one of the most far-reaching ethnographic studies in the 20th century. Five hundred scholars spent over 26,000 field days to compile information for these volumes. This gigantic research work came handy for American and Indian strategists to draft their evangelical plans for India. According to Luis Bush, “Never before has this kind of information on India been so carefully surveyed, prepared, well published and distributed…We do not believe it is accidental. God is allowing us to “spy out the land” that we might go in and claim both it and its inhabitants for Him.”

The data collected by experts from Wycliffe/Summer Institute of Linguistics, World Vision (WV) and the International Mission Board/Southern Baptists to compile the Joshua Project Peoples list included a detailed and comprehensive list of the people groups in India as well. Though this may appear normal international research activity – generating ethnographic profiles of non-Christian people groups in the 10/40 window – there are unseen dangers inherent in the compilation of such accurate people-group profiles.

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 cosy relationship between the Wycliffe and CIA is documented exhaustively in a book Thy Will Be Done written in the 1990s by Gerald Colby and Charlotte Dennett. The book documents joint CIA-Wycliffe missions to source anthropological data from Latin America. Here’s a quote from the book: “SIL had helped gather anthropological information on the Tarascan Indians that ended up in Nelson Rockefeller’s intelligence files. The files contained cross-references to reveal behavioural patterns among Indian peoples in everything from socialisation (including aggressive tendencies) and personality traits, drives, emotions, and language structure, to political intrigue, kinship ties, traditional authority, mineral resources, exploitation, and labor relations. Rockefeller called these data the Strategic Index of Latin America.” The question that will rattle not only the Indian government, but also outrage the Indian citizens is whether the American-funded “spying missions” carried out by Indian and foreign missionary agencies through more than a decade has resulted in the preparation of a ‘Strategic Index of India’ at the CIA headquarters?

Wycliffe, the Southern Baptists and World Vision have all been active in India as well. Could it be mere coincidence that Southern Baptists who are amongst President Bush’s most loyal supporters, played an active role in the “spying out” missions? In fact, Colby and Dennett’s book features a missionary of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, William Carlsen, who admits that he gave an eight-hour briefing to the CIA on Thailand’s tribal areas. In the mid-1970s when the CIA’s penetration of American missionary agencies made international headlines, the agency passed a self-limiting executive order to refrain from using foreign missionaries for intelligence gathering operations. Incidentally, it was George Bush Sr who in his first action as the new CIA director declared on February 11, 1976, that he would ban the practice of enlisting “clergymen and newsmen as intelligence agents.” But this was just public grandstanding, doublespeak to save the CIA not only from embarrassment, but protect its operations in Latin American countries such as Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador. As soon as this announcement was made the CIA granted itself a private waiver. This was confirmed in April 1996 when the then CIA director, John Deutch, testifying before a Senate intelligence committee, said that the agency could waive the ban in cases “unique and special threats to national security.”

Faith-based policies of White House

Surprisingly, Bush’s supporters like the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), made laborious protests then to condemn the collaboration between missionaries and the intelligence agency. “Any foreigner living in a foreign culture already comes under a natural suspicion. If this policy is reversed, it would totally erode the ministry of missionaries,” said Jerry Rankin, the then president of the Southern Baptist Convention Foreign Mission Board. In effect, this amounted to a plea to the CIA to keep their most well publicized (and hardly noticed) secret guarded!! The very fact that CIA has been courting religious missionaries in India and elsewhere is testimony to the fact that US funded evangelical missions have an unparalleled reach to the remotest corners of the country. Christianity Today in its issue of April 29, 1996, carried the following comment by the NAE President Don Argue: “For intelligence agencies to seek any relationship whatsoever with our religious workers must be unequivocally prohibited.”

Yet, as recently as January 15, on a visit to the Union Bethel AME Church in New Orleans (this is a predominantly African-American congregation) Bush touted his faith-based initiatives. These initiatives are designed to break the constitutional sanctity of the separation of the State and the Church. Bush is desperate to entangle and enmesh faith-based organization as providers of various services. The Americans United For Separation of Church and State and some other inter-faith organisations have challenged the Bush plan for religious conversions. Americans United, founded in 1947, is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, DC. But, the Bush administration has relentlessly pushed its religious agenda. It has now become inextricably linked with not only its social services policies domestically, but also with US foreign policy and the disbursal of aid to US-based TMOs. “President Bush shows little appreciation or understanding of the separation of church and state. Bush is closely aligned with ultra-conservative Christian groups that have opposed church-state separation for years. It is obvious they have great influence over his domestic and foreign policy agendas,” Rob Boston, assistant director of communications, Americans United, told Tehelka.

These TMOs, themselves have been instrumental in influencing the faith-based policies of the Bush administration in the first place. Therefore, they in turn, by virtue of being Bush loyalists have carried the ‘Bush Religious Agenda’ to other countries, including India. While within the US this agenda “strikes at the heart of the religious freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment” of the US constitution, in the rest of the world, specially, India, it has vitally subverted its security and integrity. “The Religious Right organisations and fundamentalist Protestants groups have way too much influence over the Bush administration. Sadly, many Americans do not follow foreign policy decisions (with the exception of the war in Iraq) and are either not aware of what is happening or, more often, simply do not care. As a result, we are on the verge of dismantling the wall of separation of church and state in America-a policy that, if enacted, is bound to have negative repercussions around the world as fundamentalist interpretations of Christianity increasingly become the basis for foreign policy,” said Boston.

Crusade in India

India is key to the Bush religious agenda. His government has given grants to Christian charities that are involved in conversion activities in India. On October 3, 2002, the US department of health and human services announced that television evangelist, Pat Robertson’s charity, Operation Blessing, would be given demonstration grants through the so-called Compassion Capital Fund. Robertson’s organisation and the other “intermediaries” were free to distribute this federal grant (essentially American tax payers’ money) to religious groups and community groups of their choice to provide social services. In other words, there was no restriction on how the federal grants were to be used. In an interview to Newsweek three years ago Robertson said, “I’ve got 10 good years left,” and “my heart is on missions, and on getting people into the kingdom of God. That’s the main thrust of my life.” In the same interview, Robertson recalled fondly a recent crusade in India: “I spoke to a crowd of 500,000 people!” he said. “Eighty-two acres of people! The response was overwhelming.” Robertson’s Operation Blessing is very active in India through CBN India headquartered at Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad.

Incidentally, Robertson deftly defrauded the Indian government because Indian laws do not permit issuance of visas to Christian missionaries. In response to an unstirred question (NO. 969) in the Lok Sabha on February 27, 2001 the minister of state for home , Vidyasagar Rao, responded that “no new missionaries are allowed after 1984. However, short term visas are being issued to the foreigners who are coming only in administrative capacity, to review working of their organisations etc.” Certainly, Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition in the US and head of the multi-million Christian Broadcasting Network, might have had “administrative” reasons to travel to India. But he, surely, did not have either the permission or the right to evangelise.

The Indian government has been caught napping. Rev Bush, head of a decade-long global evangelisation programme, visited India in January 2003. He was a guest of the Evangelical Fellowship of India and presumably traveled to India on a tourist visa. In the early years of 2000, many evangelists entered India fraudulently. Amongst them were extremist Christians like Don Noble, president of Maranatha Volunteers International affiliated to a fundamentalist Christian group, the Seventh Day Adventists and Pastor Michael Ryan, director of Global Mission, the Seventh Day Adventist church’s international outreach department which co-ordinates India evangelistic initiative. The US state department website makes no bones about the fact that American evangelists enter India by employing fraudulent means.

In the context of the fact that Robertson is one of America’s most rabid Christian fundamentalists, Bush’s largesse to him certainly has implications for India. In an interview broadcast on his own TV channel this is what Robertson had to say on one of the religions followed in India: “Hinduism and many of the occult activities that come out of the Orient are inspired by demons and demon worship…There’s this concept that all religions are the same and all are good. That is not true. The worship of the Devil is not good.” Robertson’s friend and fellow evangelist, Jerry Falwell, also a TV preacher, ignited anti-American violence across many countries in November 2002 when he called the Prophet Mohammad a “terrorist” on American television. In Jammu and Kashmir, Falwell’s emarks were published in local newspaper. As word spread protestors spilled out into the street pelting stones and shouting anti-American slogans.

The Oval Office centre

According to Americans United, “Robertson’s Operation Blessing, a $66 million-a-year agency, also has a controversial history…The controversy over Operation Blessing stretches back to 1994, when Robertson used his ‘700 Club’ daily cable television programme to raise funds for the charity. Robertson told viewers Operation Blessing was using cargo planes to aid refugees from Rwanda who had fled into the neighbouring nation of Zaire (now known as Congo) to escape a violent civil war…In fact, Robertson was using his planes to haul mining equipment in and out of Zaire for African Development Corporation, his for-profit diamond mining company.”

Incidentally, Robertson sought the Republican nomination for president in 1988 and later founded the Christian Coalition, a political group that has worked tirelessly to elect Republicans to public offices nationwide. Bush’s presidential election victory has been, by far, the coalition’s biggest success till date. After having installed a Christian fundamentalist as the President of America, Robertson stepped down as the president of the Christian Coalition in December 2001. The Washington Post, in a dispatch on December 24, 2001 noted that the religious right had found its “center in Oval office”. The writer of this dispatch, Diana Milbank wrote, “A procession of religious leaders who have met with him testify to his faith, while Websites encourage people to fast and pray for the president.”

For American evangelicals, Bush is “God’s man at this hour”. The Bush administration’s faith based initiatives-‘charitable choice’ as it is often calle-was one of his key campaign planks during the 2000 presidential campaign. In fact, as Texas governor, Bush had become a fervent advocate of this policy that enabled Christian religious organisations to evangelise while providing publicly financed service.

As president, Bush has expanded the ‘charitable choice’ approach to virtually all aspects of government aid-national and foreign. “In every instance when my administration sees a responsibility to help people, we will look first to faith-based institutions, to charities and to community groups that have shown their ability to save and change lives,” Bush told a rally in Indianapolis on July 22, 1999. Evangelists all over the world were and still continue to be happy with the language used by Bush, full of Biblical references and metaphors, as it is. “Saving Souls” is a common and often-used expression by evangelists all over the world to refer to religious conversion.

Exploiting the AIDS victims

On September 21, 2000, Bush wrote in USA Today that he would allocate $80 billion over 10 years in tax incentives to help churches (in America) provide social services. The US government has established an unparalleled partnership with Christian religious organisations. In the last week of September 2003, the US administration announced new rules enabling Christian religious institutions to access $20 billion worth of federal grants. Faith-based organisations can access and use this fund to deliver services from drug/alcohol de-addiction to prison reform to HIV/AIDS related care and support activities. The idea, of course, is to give opportunities to those who suffer to be “reborn”, just as Bush was after years of alcohol addiction.

Even though the Bush administration has denied that its initiatives support evangelical activities, the fact is that faith-based organisation use prayer and proselytising as an integral part of its provision of social services. After all, Bush has often cited his own “reborn” status to justify the interventions of faith based organisation in the social sector. In his autobiography, A Charge To Keep, itself a twist on a well-known hymn, Bush wrote that evangelist Billy Graham had “planted a mustard seed in my heart, and I started to change… It was the beginning of a new walk where I would recommit my heart to Jesus Christ.”

Bush has repeatedly singled out and praised faith-based organisations whose core philosophy is conversion while dispensing social services. During last year’s State of the Union speech his invited guests were Tonja Myles of the ‘Set Free Indeed Program’ at Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Henry Lozano of Teen Challenge, California. Both programmes use religious conversion as treatment. Within the US, Bush’s praise for religious conversion programmes has raised concerns as well. Early into the Bush presidency, the United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the US, made it plain that the president’s faith-based initiatives were essentially about conversion. In a press release on June 14, 2001, a representative of the Methodist Church, Rev. Eliezer Valentin Castanon, said: “No one can honestly believe that a program funded with tax dollars, which requires as a major component of treatment the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, will not advance religion.”

One faith-based programme that Bush goes gaga about is the prison-based InnerChange Freedom Initiative started by Charles Colson. Incidentally, Colson was one of the characters from the Watergate episode; he spent seven months in prison for obstructing justice in a one of the Watergate cases. “InnerChange is an intensive Bible-centered program, ostensibly open to inmates of all religious persuasions, but every month inmates are evaluated on whether they “demonstrate a belief in Jesus Christ,” wrote Robyn E Blumner, perspective columnist of the St Petersburg Times, on September 28, 2003. “Those inmates who fail to show the proper level of piety are removed and lose the special freedoms and privileges dangled before inmates as incentives to participate,” he added. Bush introduced InnerChange into the Texas prison system when he was governor. At present it operates in four states and the Bush government subsidises its conversion activities with the American tax-payers’ money.

What underlies all this is that the Bush administration’s conservative evangelical worldview has proliferated to countries like India. Here the Church and Christian NGOs have been involved for a long time in the provision of voluntary social service. But churches and Christian NGOs in India and the trans-national (read American) faith-based NGOs who have a large presence in India have gleefully responded to the message emanating from the White House. Bush’s support for religious conversion has happened on the persuasive power of the dollar. It is safe to say that almost all evangelical organisations in India and non-Catholic churches and the Christian NGOs get their funding from their American patrons or from USAID. These groups, like CARE or World Vision tend to Christian social workers and consciously infuse Christian religiosity as part of the help they provide to socially and economically marginalised communities.

Holistic development tactics

World Vision, the world’s largest Christian church mission agency, has traditionally been closely linked with successive American governments. The former US Ambassador for International Religious Freedoms, Dr Robert Seiple, was WV chief for 11 years till 1998 when he was picked by former president, Bill Clinton, to head the office of International Religious Freedoms. Around the period when Seiple was the president of WV, its vice-president from 1993 to 1998 was Andrew S. Natsios. He is now the administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). For more than 40 years, USAID has been the leading government agency providing economic and humanitarian assistance to developing countries.

WV’s focus is children and community development. It is involved in more than 162 projects in 25 states. It projects its community development programmes as “holistic development”. This is implemented through Area Development Programmes (ADP). Each ADP works in an area that is contiguous geographically, economically or ethnically. These programmes provide access to clean drinking water, healthcare, education and setting up of income generating projects. But infused with such development works is the spiritual component-Bible classes.

In India, WV projects itself as a “Christian relief and development agency with more than 40 years experience in working with the poorest of the poor in India without respect to race, region, religion, gender or caste.” However, Tehelka has in its possession US-based WV Inc.’s financial statement filed before the Internal Revenue Service, wherein, it is classified as a Church ministry. In any case, its mission statement is self-explanatory: “World Vision is an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in working with the poor and oppressed, to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the Good News of the Kingdom of God.”

Though, WV, has consultative status with UNESCO and partnerships with UN agencies like UNICEF, WHO, UNHCR and ILO, the fact is that its financial records reveal that it has funded evangelical activities all over the world, including India. WV uses its international clout and its close links with the US government through USAID to network with governments and corporate entities in the developing world.

WV has an ongoing channel of interaction with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII); its 2003 financial report it states that “the Rural Development Department of the Government of Assam recognised WV India as a leading development agency in the state and has recommended that WV be the choice for receiving bilateral funds. The government has also sought WV’s assistance in creating a proposal for US$ 80 million for development work in the state.”

The income and expenditure account for the year ended September 30, 2002 shows that its total income was Rs 95.5 crores, which included foreign contribution of Rs 87.8 crores. For an organisation that claims to be only involved in development and relief work, it is quite stealthy about its positioning and exact nature of activities. When approached by Tehelka as part of its undercover operation for an interview, WV India’s national director, Dr Jayakumar Christian, after having agreed to the interview backed out because he wanted copies of the fictitious Christian magazine that Tehelka claimed to be representing.

However, what goes unnoticed by the governments and the corporate world is WV India’s evangelical missions as part of its development agenda. Proselytisation is an integral part of its provision of development services under its much-touted ADP programmes. Though none of the literature published by WV India even mentions its evangelisation missions, foreign publications of WV India proudly proclaim its “spiritual” component.

Take for instance, WV New Zealand’s report (4 September 2002) on the funding of ADP in Dahod, Gujarat. Under the head, ‘spiritual development’ the report states: “Held a vacation Bible school for 150 children from different villages. The children participated in games, Bible quizzes, drama and other activities. Organised a one-day spiritual retreat for 40 young people and a children’s Christmas party. Each of Dahod’s 45 villages chose five needy children to attend the party.” In Dumaria, Banka district, eastern Bihar, “the ADP supports local churches by running leadership-training courses for pastors and church leaders.”

What has an ADP got to do with running leadership-training courses for pastors and church leaders? Incidentally, WV New Zealand funds ADP programmes in the tribal pockets of India. The New Zealand Government’s Voluntary Agencies Support Scheme (VASS) jointly fund the two-year project, the NZ government matching WV contributions on a 2:1 basis. There are many other instances of evangelical programmes run by WV India.

In the Gajapati ADP, situated in Gumma Block of Orissa’s Gajapati district, a WV report admits that “Canadian missionaries have worked in the area for just over 50 years and today 85-90 percent of the community is Christian. However, local church leaders had little understanding of the importance of their role in community development. ADP staff build relationships with these leaders to improve church co-operation and participation in development initiatives.” Here WV organised two training camps for local church leaders in holistic development.

Targeting the tribals

In Mayurbhanj, again in Orissa, WV regularly organises spiritual development programmes as part of its ADP package. The WV report says: “Opposition to Christian workers and organisations flares up occasionally in this area, generally from those with vested interests in tribal people remaining illiterate and powerless. WV supports local churches by organising leadership courses for pastors and church leaders.” 

WV India is active in Bhil tribal areas and openly admits its evangelical intentions: “The Bhil people worship ancestral spirits but also celebrate all the Hindu festivals. Their superstitions about evil spirits make them suspicious of change, which hinders community development. ADP staff live among the Bhil people they work with, gaining the villagers’ trust and showing their Christian love for the people by their actions and commitment.”

This being the case it is not suprising that WV India was honoured with the 2003 Mahatma Gandhi Award for Social Justice. This award is hosted by the All India Christian Council. Incidentally, Joseph D’Souza who was AICC’s President during that year also heads an evangelical network, Operation Mobilisation, in India. OM, again, is an American TMO. It was founded by Georg Verwer and today is a global ministry “committed to working in partnership with churches and other Christian organisations for the purpose of World mission.”

Essentially, Bush has sparked off a theological fight between those Christian organisations who believe that their expression of faith is serving the marginalised, dispossessed and hungry in a non-sectarian way and the others who believe that the only way to bring change and reform is by Bible thumping. Unfortunately, the Bible thumpers are winning and they are being underwritten by the American tax payers.

What they are probably not aware is that missionaries in India’s back of the beyond villages, like Karala, (see box) have been pulled into Bush’s missionary zeal. Sadly, while Pastor Prabhat Nayak is deeply committed to bring the villagers of Karala to Christ, he is unaware that Christian evangelical theology and money doled out by the White House threatens to rip apart the social fabric of India.

The US administration headed by Bush is the most overtly religious in memory. Numerous press reports in America and Europe have highlighted instances where “cabinet meetings start with prayers and where no presidential speech is complete without some statement of Christian faith.” His foreign policy often seems rooted in biblical theology. The world has already seen Christianity vs Islam being played out in the war debate over Iraq. The Christian Right is solidly behind Bush’s Christianity First policy. Richard Land, a key leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, has strongly supported Bush’s faith-based foreign policy. By the way, Land, is a key member of US government’s Committee on International Religious Freedoms.

The Southern Baptists fiercely believe in conversion. Not many would know that people like Land oversee the US International Religious Freedoms report. The 2003 report is a no-nonsense document that conveys the official US policy supporting evangelisation. It openly admits that “US officials have continued to engage state officials on the implementation and reversal of anti-conversion laws.” Here’s an excerpt from the report:

“This act (Foreigners Act) strictly prohibits visitors who are in the country on tourist visas from engaging in religious preaching without first obtaining permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs. Given this context, the Government discourages foreign missionaries from entering the country and has a policy of expelling foreigners who perform missionary work without the correct visa…New missionaries currently enter as tourists on short-term visas. U.S. citizens accused of religious preaching while visiting India as tourists have faced difficulties obtaining permission to return to the country for up to a decade after the event.”

Christian NGOs in India

The Bush administration’s prescription of religiosity as social policy has gratified the religious Right in the US. The proponents of faith-based initiatives want US government funds to go to those churches and Christian NGOs that consider conversion as part of rehabilitation activities. Since the USAID funds Christian NGOs in India and also since US trans-national Chrisitian NGOs like World Vision and CARE are heavily involved in development initiatives in India, their role in evangelical activities is not a matter of conjecture.

It is, of course, another matter that USAID plays a vital role in intelligence gathering operations for the CIA. President John F Kennedy had established USAID, along with the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress, “all three designed in part to stem the spread of communism.” The link between the CIA and Christian missionary groups is USAID. This is written in great detail in Thy Will Be Done. Here’s a quote again: “…That June, President Nixon’s director of (US) AID, John Hannah, had admitted publicly that AID had funded CIA operations in Laos, and subsequent revelations pointed to CIA-AID collaboration in Ecuador, Uruguay, Thailand and the Phillippines.” In fact, CIA-supported missionaries were embroiled in counter-insurgency operations, civil wars and were more often than not conduits for arms and armaments for Christian insurgent groups all over the world.

Under President Bush’s fundamentalist Christian government, the era of CIA-USAID-Evangelicals partnership has come back with a roar. And a world caught up in “War on Terror” and the search for elusive weapons of mass destruction, has had no time to notice.

In any case, aid dispensed by USAID was hardly meant to spur development. During the Cold War, it was meant to keep the former Soviet Union at bay and to keep afloat, bloated, venal and corrupt regimes all over the world. 
Including Saddam’s.

In a research paper titled ‘Bush and Foreign Aid’, for the journal Foreign Affairs (September/October 2003), Steven Radelet, who was Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury from January 2000 to June 2002 and is now a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, wrote: “One of the greatest surprises of George W Bush’s presidency so far has been his call to dramatically increase U.S. foreign aid…(in September 2002) Bush released his National Security Strategy, which gave prominence to development and aid alongside defense and diplomacy. Then came his State of the Union address, in which he called for $10 billion in new funding ($ 15 billion total) over the next five years to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean.”

Radelet went on to reveal that US foreign aid increase from $11 billion in 2002 to $18 billion in 2006 is the largest increase in decades. This from a Republican president whose party has traditionally demonstrated antagonism toward foreign aid. USAID’s change of fortune is nothing short of miraculous. In the 1990s it almost disappeared into oblivion because US assistance to poor countries declined by 25 percent. September 11 brought the issue of foreign aid back into limelight.

Nothing can illustrate this better than the example of Sudan. This oil rich country has for years been caught in a debilitating and destructive civil war that has pitted a Muslim government centred in the north against the southern Christians. But the recent discovery of oil in Sudan has changed the dynamics of the conflict and, as luck would have it, the oil was struck in the Islamic, northern Sudan. So human rights groups and Christian missionary organisations have been crying themselves hoarse over the “brutal anti-Christian campaign of the Muslim government” and the “persecution of the non-Muslims.” In the same breath Christian fundamentalists like Rev Franklin Graham and Senator Sam Brownback have pressured Bush to assist the rebels. Pressure is also suddenly being mounted internationally and within the US for “diplomatic intervention” to “end the conflict and prevent a disastrous famine” in the country.

And guess who is making the loudest noises about Sudan? Christian Solidarity International. It is working overtime to influence the US Congress and British parliament. Over the last decade, USAID has spent $1.2 billion, most of it to support the SPLA, the Christian rebel group in Southern Sudan. The CIA-USAID-Missionary partnership story in Sudan is completed when the last block of the jigsaw puzzle is put in place-Andrew S Natsios.

Natsios was appointed administrator of USAID on May 1, 2001. But President Bush gave him two other hats to wear as well-special coordinator for international disaster assistance and special humanitarian coordinator for Sudan. Ostensibly, Bush wants to ensure that aid reaches the people of Sudan as opposed to being stolen and misappropriated by the Sudanese government.

The fact that aid deliveries have for so long been stolen by the Christian rebel groups, of course, did not even merit a mention.

Natsios has earlier served in USAID from 1989 to 1993 heading two of its vital departments. It’s a strange co-incidence that during the time when CIA backed American missionary agencies were receiving ethnographic data from “spying missions” set up by American evangelical organisations in India, Natsios was associated with World Vision, which, in turn, was involved in analysing the ethnographic data along with Wycliffe and the Southern Baptists.

Post-9/11 strategy

Under the Bush Presidency, the post-9/11 period has been marked by two key initiatives: support to “frontline countries” that are helping US in its “war on terror” and appear committed to development and humanitarian issues like HIV/AIDS, poverty, and economic inequality. What is striking, however, is that the Bush administration, in its efforts to project US as a “soft power” as opposed to a marauding military superpower, has relied and been influenced disproportionately by faith-based groups and 
institutions.

And given the fact that Bush administration officials regularly hold consultations with Church groups and leaders, it is not surprising that American evangelical missions have found a deep reservoir of support with the US government for their activities in India and elsewhere. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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October 9, 2008

The Ethics of Religious Conversion by christian missionaries

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — truecongresspolitics @ 2:39 am

The Ethics of Religious Conversion

 
PRAJNA JOURNAL
APRIL – JUNE 1999
VOLUME 3 NUMBER 2
 
The Ethics of Religious Conversions – Dr. David Frawley
 
Conversion has always been a topic that arouses, if not
inflames our human emotions. After all, the missionary is
trying to persuade a person to change his religious belief
which concerns the ultimate issues of life and death, the very
meaning of our existence. And the missionary is usually
denigrating the person’s current belief, which may represent a
strong personal commitment or a long family or cultural
tradition, calling it inferior, wrong, sinful or even
perverse.
 
Such statements are hardly polite or courteous and are often
insulting and derogatory. The missionary is not coming with an
open mind for sincere discussion and give and take dialogue,
but already has his mind made up and is seeking to impose his
opinion on others, often even before he knows what they
actually believe or do. It is difficult to imagine a more
stressful human encounter short of actual physical violence.
Missionary activity always holds an implicit psychological
violence, however discreetly it is conducted. It is aimed at
turning the minds and hearts of people away from their native
religion to one that is generally unsympathetic and hostile to
it.
 
In this article I will address conversion and missionary
activity mainly with regard to Christianity, which has so
commonly employed and insisted upon the practice. Indeed it is
difficult to imagine the Christian religion apart from
missionary activity, which has been the backbone of the faith
for most of its history. Christianity has mainly been an
outward looking religion seeking to convert the world. In this
process it has seldom been open to real dialogue with other
religions. It has rarely examined its own motives or the harm
that such missionary activity has caused, even though the
history of its missionary activity has been tainted with
intolerance, genocide and the destruction not only of
individuals but of entire cultures.
 
But much of this discussion applies to Islam as well, which
shares an agenda with Christianity to convert the world to its
particular belief. As an American raised as a Catholic and who
attended Catholic school and then later adapted Hindu-based
spiritual teachings, I can perhaps provide another angle on
this topic that hopefully will give ground for new thinking. I
had to break through much religious intolerance and prejudice
to make the changes that I did.
 
Conversion and the Missionary Business
 
First let us define what we mean by conversion. Let us
immediately clearly discriminate between conversion or change
of beliefs that happens in free human interchange in open
discussion as opposed to organized conversion efforts that
employ financial, media or even armed persuasion. That certain
individuals may influence other individuals to adapt one
religious belief or another has seldom been a problem. There
should be open and friendly discussion and debate about
religion just as there is about science. But when one religion
creates an agenda of conversion and mobilizes massive
resources to that end, targeting unsuspecting, poor or
disorganized groups, it is no longer a free discussion. It is
an ideological assault. It is a form of religious violence and
intolerance.
 
Organized conversion efforts are quite another matter than the
common dialogue and interchange between members of different
religious communities in daily life, or even than organized
discussions in forums or academic settings. Organized
conversion activity is like a trained army invading a country
from the outside. This missionary army often goes into
communities where there is little organized resistance to it,
or which may not even be aware of its power or its motives. It
will even take advantage of communities that are tolerant and
open- minded about religion and use that to promote a
missionary agenda that destroys this tolerance.
 
Such organized conversion efforts often go by the name of
evangelization. The Catholic Church uses this term for its
long-standing conversion efforts. Fundamentalist Protestant
Christians call their movement the evangelical movement.
Evangelization sounds nicer and more ennobling than
conversion. But let us be clear about the matter. The
Evangelist aim is to convert the entire world to the Christian
faith, which naturally implies the rejection of other
religions. Such evangelical movements have world conversion
strategies and programs to target India and Hindus state by
state, tribe by tribe, even village by village. They keep
track of the numbers of converts and mark them in the win
column as gains for Christ. Organized conversion and
evangelical efforts are not interested in dialogue or in
learning from other religious groups. Such organizations have
their mind made up that theirs is the true faith and they are
unwilling to grant equality to any other belief. Real dialogue
is only possible when there is equality and open-mindedness.
This cannot occur between a missionary faith and the faith
that it is targeting anymore than it can happen between a
hunter and his prey. If missionaries initiate dialogue it is
either to promote conversion or to protect their converts. The
missionary is not about to change his mind, believe that he
might be wrong about something or accept any other point of
view that might compromise his conversion agenda.
 
The missionary business remains one of the largest in the
world and has enormous funding on many levels. It is like
several multinational corporations with the different
Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical groups involved. There
are full-time staffs and organizations allocating money,
creating media hype, plotting strategies and seeking new ways
to promote conversion. The local native religion has about as
much chance against such multinational incursions as a local
food seller has if McDonald’s moves into his neighborhood with
a slick, well-funded advertising campaign targeting his
customers. Yet while many Third World countries have
government policies to protect local businesses, they usually
do not have any safety mechanism to protect local religions.
 
In fact, missionary activity is like an ideological war. It is
quite systematic, motivated and directed. It can even resemble
a blitzkrieg using media, money, people and public shows to
appeal to the masses in an emotional way. Therefore, with
missionary activity we are not talking about unplanned,
spontaneous or isolated events. We are talking about a
religious effort towards world conquest that is quite happy to
put an end to other religious traditions, that looks to
establish one particular religion for all human beings in
which the diversity of human religions is discredited and
forgotten.
 
Regions where missionary activity has been successful have
seen their older traditions demoted or destroyed, whether it
is those of the pagan Europeans, the native Americans, or the
pre-Islamic Arabs. Hinduism would likely fall along the same
wayside should it lose the battle against missionary
religions, just as Hinduism in Islamic Pakistan has all but
disappeared.
 
Missionary activity and conversion, therefore, is not about
freedom of religion. It is about the attempt of one religion
to exterminate all others. Such an exclusive attitude cannot
promote tolerance or understanding or resolve communal
tensions. The missionary wants to put an end to pluralism,
choice and freedom of religion. He wants one religion, his
own, for everyone and will sacrifice his life to that cause.
 
True freedom of religion should involve freedom from
conversion. The missionary is like a salesman targeting people
in their homes or like an invader seeking to conquer. Such
disruptive activity is not a right and it cannot promote
social harmony. In fact, people should have the right not to
be bothered by missionaries unless they seek them out. Those
of us in the West are irritated by local missionaries like the
Jehovah’s Witnesses that often come soliciting at our doors.
Can one imagine the distress or confusion they could cause to
some poor person in Asia? Once let into the door, it is hard
to get them out.
 
Religious freedom should not be a license for one country or
one community to wage religious war against another. Even if
this conversion battle is softened by charities it is still
hostile in its intent and destructive in its action.
 
History of Conversion
 
Let us look at the history of conversion, how it arose and
what it has become through time. Organized conversion on a
mass scale hardly existed anywhere in the world before the
advent of Christianity some two thousand years ago. It became
particularly strong after the Roman Empire became Christian in
the fourth century. This resulted in a Roman or Imperial
Church that used the resources of the Empire, including the
army, to promote the religion, which was a state institution.
Church and state became closely tied and one was used to
uphold the other. This alliance of church and state occurred
well into the Middle Ages and into the nineteenth century
throughout much of Europe.
 
In the seventh century, Islam brought about a religion in
which church and state, or religion and politics were not
simply allied but became the same, with the Caliph functioning
as both the religious and secular head of the Empire. This
non-division between religion and politics continues in most
Islamic countries today, including Pakistan, which has gone so
far recently to proclaim the Koran as the supreme law of the
land, though it is not a secular law book or any kind of law
book. Can one imagine a Western country proclaiming the Bible
as the law of the land? Yet the church dominated the laws of
Europe for centuries.
 
Prior to adapting Christianity, Rome had its state religion
but this existed largely as a show for political purposes –
the worship of the Emperor. Rome tolerated all other religions
as long as they gave a nominal and political support to the
state religion. The Romans persecuted Christians not because
they were intolerant of religious differences but because they
expected all religious groups to at least afford this nominal
recognition for the state religion, which the Christians
refused to do.
 
When Christianity became the state religion, because of the
belief that it alone was the true religion, this tolerance of
other religions came to an end in the Roman Empire. Pagan
temples and schools were closed, if not replaced by churches
or even destroyed, including the closing of the great Platonic
Academy in Athens in the sixth century. Paganism in all of its
forms was eventually banned as not only false, but also as
immoral and illegal. Pagan, or even unorthodox groups,
continued to be oppressed in Europe up to the witches of the
Middle Ages, which resulted in the deaths of millions in the
name of religion and protecting the church.
 
In the colonial period, Christian missionary activity spread
throughout the world and brought with it a great violence and
intolerance that continued the anti-pagan crusades as part of
colonialism. Missionary efforts in the colonial period, with
some exceptions, contributed to, or even brought about, the
tremendous genocide of native populations not only in America
but also in Africa and Asia. Native peoples had their
religions banned, their holy places destroyed or taken over by
the Christians. The history of the Spanish in Mexico and Peru
in the sixteenth century is comparable to the Nazis of this
century, if not worse, pillaging and plundering a continent in
the name of and with the blessings of the church. This process
of missionary colonialism reached its zenith in the nineteenth
century, in which Native Africans were the main group subject
to genocide, and it is only now slowly declining. However,
missionary groups have done little to apologize much less to
atone for the violence and hatred this five hundred years of
colonialism created, and which destroyed many traditional
religions and cultures.
 
In fact colonialism has not truly ended but has recently taken
a more economic rather than military, form along with the
Westernization along economic lines. As Christianity is the
dominant Western religion, it continues to use the current
economic expansion of Western culture to promote its
conversion agendas. The greater financial resources and media
dominance of the West affords Christianity a great edge in
religious and social encounters throughout the world. Even
when it is a question of a Christian minority in a land
dominated by a non-Christian religion, the non-Christians are
often at a disadvantage in terms of money and media through
the Western support that the Christian community has,
particularly in regard to its conversion activities.
 
Though most countries in the world today are secular, this
still has not created a level playing field in the area of
religion. Western religions are still taking an aggressive,
intolerant, if not predatory role toward non-Western beliefs.
They are using financial and media advantages, including mass
marketing, to promote their agenda of conversion. Though
missionary activity became less overt after the end of the
colonial era, it still goes on. And we cannot forget the
bloody history of missionary activity or its potential for
disruption, violence and destruction should the circumstance
again arise.
 
The main reason that there is secularism and religious freedom
in the West is not because of Christianity but owing to an
older secular Greco-Roman tradition that was pagan in nature
and managed to reassert itself against Christian intolerance
after the Renaissance. Unfortunately, Western countries are
far less discriminating of Christianity for export and its
missionary aggression than they are of its actions in the
West. While Christianity is largely subdued in the West, where
few people are pious or take religion seriously, its old
medieval aggression and intolerance easily comes out in
missionary circles overseas.
 
The Motivation Behind Conversion
 
What is the motivation behind conversion activities? Why
should one person want to convert another to his or her
religious belief? In a pluralistic world, such as we live,
there are many different types of culture, art, language,
business and religion that contribute much to the richness of
society. Why should we demand that everyone be like us in
terms of anything, including religion? Isn’t this diversity
the very beauty of culture and our greater human heritage?
 
Clearly the missionary seeking converts must believe that
other people cannot find their goal of life by any other
religion than the one that he is propagating. Otherwise there
would be no need to convert anyone. And generally, the
missionary is not simply announcing that he has something good
or better, like someone who has invented a better light bulb.
He is usually claiming that his religion is the one true faith
and that the others are either inferior, out of date, or
simply false.
 
One could argue therefore that the conversion mentality is
inherently intolerant. If I recognize that many religions are
good and religious belief should be arrived at freely and
without interference, then I will not create a massive
organization to convert other people to my belief and get them
to renounce what they already have. Only an intolerant and
exclusive religious ideology requires conversion or funds it
on a massive scale.
 
In short conversion activity is anti-secular. It does not
tolerate the religious differences that must exist in a truly
secular society but aims at eliminating them. The irony is
that secular law provides the religious freedom that allows
conversion activity to go on. The very missionaries that once
used colonial armies to promote their conversion agendas are
now maintaining them in the post-colonial era under the guise
of freedom of religion. The very groups that denied or limited
religious freedom when they were in power in the colonial era,
now use freedom of religion to keep those same missionary
activities going! This is both ironical and hypocritical!
 
Generally, missionary efforts are stronger to the degree that
the missionary is opposed to the religions that people already
follow. The old dominant Christian strategy, which many
Protestant groups still promote, is to denigrate non-Biblical
beliefs as heathen, or the work of the devil. Evangelical
missionaries still identify Hinduism with devil worship. Pat
Robertson and Jerry Falwell, two of the most influential
American evangelical leaders say this repeatedly, as do their
followers, and they are sponsoring missionary activity in
India as well. Naturally this gives a missionary much zeal and
intensity, saving souls from the clutches of evil and driving
out demons.
 
Such a zealous missionary inevitably spreads misunderstanding,
venom and hatred in society. If I am promoting the idea that
your religion is a work of the devil, can I be regarded as a
friend or well-wisher to your community? Can such views help
your community to understand itself or reconcile community
differences?
 
Today it is illegal in most countries to promote racial
hatred, to call a person of any race inferior or the product
of the devil (which white Christians used to call the blacks
until recently). But Hindus can still be denigrated as
polytheists, idolaters and devil-worshippers. This is
tolerated under freedom of religion, though it obviously
breeds distrust, if not hatred and itself is prejudicial.
Prejudicial statements that are not allowed about race are
allowed about religion, and missionaries commonly employ these
derogatory remarks.
 
In fact most Christians view Hinduism like the pagan religions
that the early Christians had to overcome, the Roman, Greek,
Celtic, Egyptians and Babylonian religions, which do have much
in common with Hinduism. Equating Hindus with Biblical
idolaters promotes the history of missionary aggression and
religious conflict. Most such Christians have never seriously
or open-mindedly studied Hinduism or other pagan beliefs. They
know little of Yoga and Vedanta or the great traditions of
Hindu and Buddhist spirituality. They prefer to highlight the
Hindu worship of God even in animal images like Hanuman as a
form of superstition or evil.
 
The Catholic Church is a bit more diplomatic these days. It is
now telling Hindus that their religion may have some value but
that Christianity is even better! Such a view is a bit more
tolerant but cannot be called sincere either. If Catholics no
longer believe that Hinduism is a religion of the Devil, as
they were promoting until only recently, they ought to
apologize to Hindus for their mistaken notions and the
problems that these must have caused.
 
Discriminating Hindus can only look upon this more tolerant
Catholicism of the post-colonial era as an attempt to maintain
the edge of the Church in a less politically favorable era.
The Catholics say they respect the spiritual philosophies of
India, which they for centuries failed to note, but still feel
it necessary to convert Hindus to their religion. What kind of
respect is that?
 
The Ideology of Conversion
 
Conversion reflects a certain ideology. In fact it mainly
involves getting people to change beliefs, ideas or ideology.
Conversion demands that we follow a certain ideology and
reject others. The dominant ideology behind organized
conversion efforts is that of an exclusive monotheistic
religion. There is only one God, one book, one saviour, one
final prophet and so on. Most Christian missionaries try to
get people to accept Christ as their personal saviour and
Christianity in one form or another as the true faith for all
humanity.
 
A religion that is pluralistic in nature like the Hindu cannot
have such a conversion-based ideology. Hindus accept that
there are many paths, so naturally they will not feel
compelled to get everyone to abandon their own path and follow
the Hindu path instead. In fact there is no one Hindu path but
rather a variety of paths, with new paths coming into being
every day.
 
It has long been the dominant belief of Christians and Muslims
that only members of their religion go to heaven, while
members of other religions go to hell, particularly
idol-worshipping Hindus and other pagans. This promise of
heaven and threat of hell has long been used for conversion
purposes and is a prime part of the ideology and its
propaganda. Christians have often been motivated by this
medieval heaven-hell idea in their conversion efforts. The old
nineteenth century idea was a Christian missionary going to
Asia to save the pagan babies from the clutches of hell.
 
This eternal heaven-hell idea does arouse a certain passion as
well as intolerance, but one can hardly call it enlightened.
In fact, it causes emotional imbalance in people, which many
Christians, particularly Catholics, have sought psychological
help to overcome.
 
A God who has created heaven for his believers and hell for
those who follow other religious beliefs is a recipe not only
for missionary activity but also for emotional turbulence and
violence. In fact, this promise of great rewards and threats
of great punishment is the basis of most forms of
conditioning, brain-washing and hypnosis. It is the dominant
strategy of all mind-control cults.
 
Conversion, Charity and Social Upliftment
 
Many missionaries claim today that they are not seeking
converts but merely doing charity, trying to help the
downtrodden in life. Given the mentality behind conversion
efforts and its history, one can only greet that statement
with skepticism, though in a few isolated instances it may be
true. The very missionaries that only recently used colonial
governments and armies to their advantage cannot be regarded
as suddenly without any overt conversion motivations.
 
However, if missionaries simply want to bring about social
upliftment, then why don’t they just open up a hospital or
school and give up all the religious trappings about it. As
long as the religious ornaments are there in these charitable
institutions they are still seeking converts. Once you give
your charity or social work a religious guise, the conversion
motivation must be there and communal disharmony is likely to
be promoted even by your charities.
 
If missionaries want to uplift society they can do that
through education or economic help on a secular level. There
is no need to bring religion into it. That is how societies
have uplifted themselves throughout the world, whether it is
the United States or Japan. It was not religious charity that
raised up these countries economically. In fact bringing
religion into social upliftment confuses the issue. Converting
people to an exclusive creed does not eradicate poverty or
disease, much less promote the cause of religious harmony.
 
The Philippines, the most predominant and oldest Christian
country in Asia, is one of the poorest countries in the
region. Conversion to Christianity did not raise the country
economically. Central and South America, which are much more
staunchly Catholic and religious than North America, are also
much poorer and have a lower level of education. In fact, the
more evangelic and orthodox forms of Christianity are more
popular in poorer and less educated groups in the West.
Fundamentalist Christianity is more common in America with
farmers and those who did not go to college. Educated people
in the West are less likely to be staunch Christians, and many
of them look to Eastern religions for spiritual guidance.
 
In India, Christians claim that by eradicating the caste
system they are helping people and raising them up socially.
They could do this easier by helping reform Hindu society
rather than by trying to destroy or change the religion.
Clearly they are using, if not promoting, caste differences as
a conversion strategy. Christian cultures still have their
class and other social inequalities, particularly in Central
and South America, but Christians do not see that the religion
has to be changed in order to get rid of these.
 
The desire to help people in terms of social upliftment and
the desire to change their religion are clearly not the same
and can be contradictory. Changing a person’s religion may not
help them in terms of health, education, or economics.
 
A similar argument is that the conversion effort is part of
service to humanity, that the missionary is motivated by love
of humanity. This is also questionable. If you are motivated
by love of humanity you will help people regardless of their
religious background. You will try to help people in a
practical way rather than aim at getting them to embrace your
religious belief. You will also love their religion, even if
it is an aborigine worshipping a stone. You will give
unconditional love to people, which is not the love of Jesus
or the Church, but universal love. You will not condemn any
person to hell for not following your particular belief. You
will not interfere with that person’s religious motivation and
seek to convert him to your belief. You will honor the Divine
in that person and in his belief.
 
Such social work born of love is hardly to be found in
missionary Christianity, though it likes to pretend that this
is the motivation. If one were truly motivated by love of
humanity and the need to serve humanity, one would not promote
massive conversion agendas. In fact, one would regard such
practices as inhumane, which they are.
 
Conversion and Cults: Religious Freedom in the West
 
In the West there is a cry against cults, which any religious
movement out of mainstream Christianity can be called. There
is a tendency to regard Hindu-based religious movements in the
West as cults. Under the guise of being a cult, a religious
organization can be sued for millions of dollars if even one
disgruntled or disappointed former disciple can be found who
feels that they were taken advantage of. Many Hindu-based and
yoga movements in the West have been sued as cults.
 
The criticism against cults is that they are outside the
cultural religious norm, that they are intolerant of majority
religions, that they divide families and turn individuals
against their upbringing. Precisely the same charges can be
levelled against missionaries all over the world. The early
Romans, for the same reasons, regarded Christianity as a cult.
 
People in India may believe that, in America, all religions
are treated equally. Certainly the law requires that, but this
is not the fact of life. For example, it is still very
difficult for Hindus to build temples in the United States,
particularly in areas in which fundamentalist Christians are
strong, like the Bible belt of the South. To put it in
perspective, one would say that it is over ten times harder in
America to build a temple than it is to build a church. In
many areas, temples must not outwardly look like a temple, but
should look like a school or church, or the local governments
would not approve of them. While there are a few Hindu-style
temples in America these are exceptional and took special
efforts to be allowed.
 
Most Americans believe that Hinduism is a religion of cults.
Organized Christian cult-busting legal groups, with dozens of
lawyers and budgets in the many millions, go around
systematically encouraging suits against Hindu or Indian
religious groups. Such groups as the Hare Krishnas (ISKCON),
TM, Ananda (a Yogananda group), the Himalayan Institute,
Rajneesh and the Sikhs under Yogi Bhajan, to mention a few,
have had to face such suits and sometimes settlements in the
millions against them. These actions are religious bullying by
Christian groups, not a form of justice.
 
What Christians in America cannot do overtly because of
religious freedom in the country, they are still managing to
do covertly through the legal system. Any prominent
Hindu-based teacher in America, particularly one who is
working with the general American public or bringing people
from Christianity to Hindu-based teachings, remains under a
severe legal threat. Should any Hindu-based group, like the
Hare Krishnas, actively seek converts in the West, they are
likely to face severe litigation on many fronts. On the other
hand, Christian missionaries in India do not have to endure
those types of legal threats or legal suits that can put them
out of business, even if their proselytizing efforts are much
more aggressive.
 
Meanwhile Western textbooks and the Western media routinely
portray Hinduism as cults, idolatry, or even as eroticism.
Such negative portrayals of Christianity would not be allowed
in the Indian press. These views contribute to anti-Hindu and
pro-missionary attitudes. Even in the universities,
discussions of world religions often leave Hinduism out,
precisely because it is not a conversion-seeking religion,
even though it is the third largest religion in the world!
 
So let us not pretend that the West is enlightened or tolerant
about religion. The legal secularism of the West still hides
much religious prejudice. We also note that the West
politically will defend Christian interests overseas and
criticize alleged discrimination against Christians. However,
it will ignore discrimination against non-Christians,
particularly if done by Christians. Recently the Russians
criticized the Mormons, an evangelical American Christian
group, as a cult. The American government lodged a protest to
protect the Mormons and their missionary activity in Russia.
No Indian government so far has made any such protest to
protect Hindu groups in the West.
 
And let us not forget the religious intolerance of communists
and Marxists historically, though in India these days it is
fashionable for Marxists to portray themselves as defenders of
religious freedom. Stalin was perhaps the world’s greatest
destroyer of both churches and mosques but his pictures adorn
the government buildings of Kerala and Bengal.
 
The Destructive Effect of Missionary Activities in Tribal
Cultures
 
The history of missionary activity is one of intolerance and
violence, with only rare episodes of love and charity. This
comes out particularly when the missionaries come into a
primitive or tribal culture.
 
There is a beauty in tribal cultures, like the beauty of the
wilderness itself. You know that wherever the developers go,
the wilderness is destroyed and many species perish. So too,
wherever missionaries go, tribal cultures are destroyed and
much of human heritage goes with it. What missionary honors
the non-Christian cultures of the world or seeks to protect
them? On the other hand, Hinduism does not interfere with
native and tribal beliefs but seeks to share with them and
learn from them.
 
There is a beauty in non-Biblical beliefs like Hinduism,
Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Shinto and the many native
beliefs. The old pagan religions of Europe had their beauty
and profundity. This is lost on the missionary mind that only
sees potential converts held in the clutches of false beliefs.
 
Followers of missionary religions must recognize that their
religion is hostile to other religions like Hinduism, even if
it has good feelings for the people following that religion.
Yet other religions also represent people and their sincere
beliefs. To target religions is to attack people as well. To
attack Hinduism as a religion is to insult and attack Hindus
as human beings.
 
The Ethics of Conversion
 
Conversion efforts do have their ethics, which are the ethics
of conversion. The ethics of conversion is not secularism. It
is not religious freedom, religious tolerance or honoring
religious pluralism. The ethics of conversion is saving souls,
generally saving souls from damnation. The ethics of
conversion follows an exclusive belief system, a one true
faith. After all, if people are really likely to suffer
eternal damnation for their wrong beliefs, the sincere
missionary must do whatever he can to stop it. The missionary
views the non-Christian as a person who is deluded or even
under the influence of a demoniac force, not simply someone
who has a valid but different opinion about life than he does.
 
This ethics of conversion can override other human ethics in
missionary activity. In order to save souls, which is the
highest missionary ethic, missionaries historically have
resorted to various forms of enticement or even force to
arrive at the desired result of new converts. While these
practices appear intolerant or dishonest in a secular society,
in a religious or colonial society they appear moral. To the
sincere missionary these can appear as necessary indiscretions
to save unwilling souls.
 
Please note that I do not doubt the sincerity of the
missionary in all this. No doubt the missionaries who allowed
the massacre of Native Americans were also sincere in their
beliefs, just as were the white slave-holders in nineteenth
century America. The problem is that they are sincere about a
belief that easily promotes intolerance and harms those of
other beliefs.
 
Therefore, one could argue that conversion is inherently an
unethical practice and inevitably breeds unethical results.
The missionary ethics of saving souls is so compelling to the
missionary that it can easily cause him to compromise the
human rights or integrity of his potential converts. Certainly
the long history of conversion is a history of every sort of
crime, whatever good may have been done along the side.
 
On a spiritual level, one could argue that conversion efforts,
particularly for an exclusive belief, are unspiritual and
unethical. Conversion is a sin against the Divine in man. It
refuses to recognize the religion of another as valid. Above
all, the organized conversion business is one of the meanest
and most underhanded activities of the human being, on par
with war. It seeks to undermine and discredit the natural
faith of people. As we move into a global age, let us set this
messy business of conversion behind, along with the other
superstitions of the Dark Ages.
 
We are all God. There is only one Self in all creatures. Who
is there to convert and what could anyone be converted from?
The soul is Divine. It is not Christian, Islamic or Hindu or
anything else. The soul cannot be saved. It is beyond gain and
loss. We can only understand ourselves. The real goal of
religion is to discover the light of the soul that is not
bound by time, place, person or belief. True religion is to be
true to one’s nature and to respect the nature of others. What
missionary has this attitude or has discovered this truth?
 
Backlash Against Missionaries
 
In recent times there have been some violent backlashes
against missionaries or their religions, which is regrettable.
This has occurred not only in India but also in many other
parts of the world, like Africa or Central America. But given
the intolerance of the missionaries, it is understandable and
cannot be looked at in isolation. You cannot century after
century trash or even destroy the culture and religions of
people in the name of your God and expect that they will just
politely let you go on with it. Particularly if they are poor
or backward people without the financial, legal or government
resources to protect themselves, they may resort to a more
primitive response.
 
Yet the violence of this backlash is minuscule compared to the
physical and psychological violence that the missionaries have
brought about and continue to perpetrate. The anti-Christian
activities in India recently must be viewed in this light.
 
Recently Sonia Gandhi, the head of the Congress Party in
India, though still a member of the Catholic Church which has
yet to renounce its claims as the only true faith or to stop
its missionary efforts against Hindus, quoted Swami
Vivekananda as a spokesperson for true religion. Let us
remember what Vivekananda said to the Americans and in many
other instances about missionary activity:
 
“Whenever your missionaries criticize us please remember this.
If all of India stands up and takes all the mud that is at the
bottom of the Indian Ocean and throws it up against the
Western countries, it will not be doing an infinitesimal part
of that which you are doing to us.”
 
Mahatma Gandhi was also a fierce critic of the missionaries.
Yet, strangely, today it is the Congress Party of India and
various leftists that are defending Christian missionary
activity and painting a picture of Hindu intolerance, ignoring
the whole history and motivation of these massive conversion
efforts against Hindus.
 
Let us also remember the latest word from the Pope in the
“Coming of the Third Millennium”:
 
“The Asia Synod will deal with the challenge for
evangelisation posed by the encounter with ancient religions
such as Buddhism and Hinduism. While expressing esteem for the
elements of truth in these religions, the Church must make it
clear that Christ is the one mediator between God and man and
the sole Redeemer of the world.”
 
In other words all the greatness of Buddhism and Hinduism does
not alter the basic view of Christianity that Christ alone is
the supreme religious figure. No Buddha, Krishna, Ramana
Maharshi or Sri Aurobindo can compare with him. What are the
elements of truth that the Pope is speaking about? If he does
not credit either Buddhism or Hinduism with anything equal to
Jesus, he probably does not give them much credit for their
ideas of karma, dharma or rebirth, their practices of yoga and
meditation, or their entire seeking of enlightenment and
Self-realization that is not defined in terms of Jesus.
Clearly such a statement is condescending. It has abandoned
the old heathen-pagan-idolatry charge but the goal is still
conversion, not respect.
 
Religious Dialogue
 
As a final note, being opposed to organized conversion does
not mean that one should be opposed to discussion and even
debate on religious matters.
 
Missionaries usually target the uneducated and work behind the
scenes. They do not try to create a fair exchange of ideas or
even a debate. They are afraid of being exposed. In fact such
a debate on religious issues is necessary to deal with the
problems caused by missionary activity. The missionaries
usually avoid facing a fair debate on religion and target
those who are not well versed in their own beliefs.
 
More than anything today we need a real religious dialogue, so
that religious conflicts, which have such a potential for
violence, do not occur. This dialogue should be a quest for
truth. It should not aim at proving one religion to be supreme
but at examining the ultimate issues of life. What is the goal
of life? What is the nature of immortality? Is there a
permanent heaven or hell? Is there Self-realization or
Nirvana? What is enlightenment? What is karma? Does the soul
have one or many lives? What is the highest state of
consciousness and how can we achieve it? What practices are
necessary to change human nature from the egoistic to the
Divine? Can mere belief transform us or is knowledge and work
also necessary? Are special psycho-physical techniques
helpful? How do the different religions view such issues?
These are the real issues of religious dialogue.
 
Merely getting a person to change their belief does not
address these complex and profound issues. True religion
requires profound work and examination, particularly of our
own minds and hearts. It is not a matter of mere names,
slogans or labels.
 
In one way, Hindus do lose a lot by converting to a religion
like Christianity or Islam. Hinduism has a much broader scope
of spiritual and yogic practices, philosophies and mystical
teachings than does Christianity. Should a Hindu become a
Christian they lose these and enter into a much more limited
and outward form of religious belief? Hindu teachings of
higher consciousness, self-realization, karma, rebirth,
chakras, and kundalini are almost unknown in Christianity or
rejected as the work of the devil. That is why so many
Americans seeking a spiritual path are attracted to
Hindu-based teachings and leave orthodox and mainstream
Christianity behind.
 
In fact Christianity continues to decline in the West. Very
few new people are taking up the roles of priests and nuns in
the Catholic Church, for example. Partly to replenish their
ranks, the Catholic Church has targeted Asia and, particularly
India, for conversion because Hindus are quite devotional and
easily take up priestly or monastic roles. Meanwhile the
Evangelical Christians are targeting India to counter the
influence of Hindu-based teachings in America, which they find
so threatening as to frequently denounce Hinduism and Hindu
gurus as the religion of the devil.
 
So let us not be naïve about conversion. It is not about
freedom of religion or about social upliftment. The main
conversion activities in the world are part of organized and
well-funded strategies to conquer the world for a single
religious belief that would end religious freedom and
diversity. In this situation it is easy to identify the
predators and the victims. Which are you likely to be and
which are you likely to give your sympathy to?

October 15, 2007

How Xians and muslims attacking Hinduism

http://www.hinduwisdom.info/European_Imperialism.htm
http://www.stephen-knapp.com
http://www.hinduwisdom.info
http://www.salagram.net
http://www.dishq.org
http://www.asitis.com
http://www.vedabase.net
http://www.mcremo.com
http://www.forbiddenarcheology.com
http://www.srivaishnavan.com
http://www.truthontradion.com

October 10, 2007

How Christian Schools / missionaries forcing conversions

Filed under: India, Indian congress, Muslims, Sonia gandhi — Tags: , , , , , , , — truecongresspolitics @ 5:39 pm

Conversion Tactics
Educational Indoctrination


Innocent Indian children being brainwashed and
forced to read the Bible in a Christian School.

Missionaries have set up thousands of Christian schools, colleges and other education institutions in India, through funding from foreign churches. These schools are simply established for subtle proselytization of the masses. Because many of these schools were set up in India under British rule, there is a common misconception that these schools have a higher standard of education and discipline.

It is very important that all children be raised in their respective religious traditions. The first impressions are the most lasting, and they are what the children have to deal with throughout their lives. This is because early impressions are locked in the memory pattern of their subconscious minds. And Missionaries make use of this fact, to attempt to subtle convert children at a young age.

Though these institutions are open to people of any religion, they discriminate against non-Christian faiths and attempt to convert students by the following means:

1. Curriculum Control – The entire education system in Guyana is controlled by that dominant class that promotes Westernized and Christian orientation. Having appropriated the power to define and delimit what is legitimate and not, this social bloc has monopolized the curriculum constructing it in a way that deliberately emphasizes western and Christian mores while at the same time deliberately excluding and de-emphasizing anything Hindu and Islamic in particular and Indian in general. By just going through the textbooks produced in Guyana one can hardly imagine that this is a country with a population that is half Hindu and Muslim

.2. Dominance of Missionary Schools – Over the years there have been successful attempts through the instrument of the state to de-emphasize Hindu and Muslim contributions to the development of education in Guyana while at the same time reinforcing and glorifying the Christian contribution. In 1976 all denominational schools (and other institutions) were required by the government of the day to change their names in order to de-link them from their religious and ethnic background.

While the government made sure that schools with Indian, Hindu and Muslim names complied with the requirement, Christian schools were never really affected. Thus Indian Educational Trust College became Richard Ishmael Secondary, Muslim Trust College became Brickdams Secondary school, Hindu college became Cove and John Secondary and Maha Sabha Secondary became Leonora Secondary. On the other hand, officially and otherwise, St. Stanislaus, St. Joseph’s, St. Rose’s, St, Agnes, St. John’s, Sacred Heart, Stella Maris, Christ Church and others have retained their former names and their distinctive histories.

3. Defamation – Under the guise of moral education in schools when a Hindu or Muslim child is forced to listen to a Christian functionary who by force of habit and dogmatic indoctrination must invariably, subtly and otherwise, denigrate the Hindu and Muslim traditions, this is in violation of the fundamental right and the civil liberty of the child.

Priests, nuns and teachers in Christian schools often defame and blasphemize Hinduism and other religions in their regular lessons. Hindu students who graduate from such institutions usually do not convert to Christianity, but through the influence of their Christian mentors, they end up mocking temples/mosques, scriptures and their own religious leaders for the rest of their lives.

4. On Campus Prayers – Most Christian institutions have mandatory daily prayers. In many schools, non-Christian students are unjustly forced to attend Christian masses and recite Christian prayers.

In other schools, non-Christians have their respective prayer sessions at the same time. However, the Christian prayers are held in air-conditioned chapels, while non-Christians wishing to pray must hold their services outside in the hot Indian sun. Naturally, many non-Christian students will decide to seek shelter in the chapel and are essentially forced to attend Christian services.

5. Christian Only Teachers – Some Christian schools only employ Christian teachers and lecturers for all subjects. These Christian teachers often defame other religions and preach about Jesus Christ in the middle of physics, chemistry, etc. lectures to students who have come to learn their academic material and not about Chrstianity.

6. Beatings – In Assam, India, at the English medium Ashapalli High School it is mandatory for all students to attend church every day before classes begin. Even after following the bigoted ways of this missionary school, the Hindu and Buddhist children are ill-treated and physically abused by the Christian staff of the school.

Kalindi Rani Chakma was a class VIII Buddhist student of the school; therefore she was abused mentally and physically on a daily basis by her Christian teachers. One such revolting incident has put her future academic career in jeopardy.

One evening Kalindi Rani was called to the Principal, H. Lamare’s residence due to alleged non-compliance of her daily routines. Once there Kalindi Rani was incessantly caned by Lamare. She begged for him to stop, but he continued to beat her because of his blind hatred for all Hindus and Buddhists. While he beat her he asked her, “Why don’t you believe in Christ? What is the use of worshipping Buddha and Kali?

As a result Kalidi Rani went into shock and suffered several painful bruises throughout her whole body. She did not attend school until the day after the incident. When she went back to school, once again, Lamare abused her-both verbally and physically. She is now terrified of attending school.

Lamare did not punish Kalindi Rani because she did not complete her daily tasks. He beat her like a mad man because she was a heathen pagan who did not worship Christ. He has been given the divine sanction to do so by the Church establishment in India. Like other Christian Fundamentalists, he too was brainwashed to believe that followers of Christ are superior to the “heathen pagans”!

7. Scaldings – In another display of Christian Missionary barbarism, a nun belonging to the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, scalded four little Hindu girls with a hot knife.

Sister Francesca is the nun in charge of Missionaries of Charity’s Mahatma Gandhi Welfare Center. A young Hindu girl named Kavery was playing inside the center with three other girls when the nun approached them and accused them of stealing money. The nun then heated a knife on an electric heater and pressed in on the hands of the four children.

When Kavery’s father, Kabiram, heard about the incident he went to the Bowbazar police station to file a complaint, but the police refused to register a case until the local residents forced them to do so. The head of Missionaries of Charity, Sister Nirmala, said that as a disciplinary action she has asked the guilty nun to discontinue her duties and take rest for the time being! Is this a punishment or a reward for following the torture of non-Christians?

Summary
Though the reputation of Christian educational institutions in India claims to be of high standards in academics, we can see that these institutions in fact have the lowest standards when it comes to morality. Children who attend these schools are subjected to physical abuse, verbal defamation of their respective religions and daily brainwashing of Christian fundamentalism. In the end, there is no reason to send children to such cruel and criminal institutions, as it is not one’s academic background but one’s morality that makes a person.

 

October 8, 2007

How congress is cheating indians

Sonia chose to not accept Indian citizenship for 16 years till Rajiv became PM. She chose to take Rajiv with her when India needed all it’s pilots in the last India-Pak war. How can a foreign born person feel for a country she was not born into and understand it’s problems? Italy does not let foreign born citizens take the highest office nor does UK or USA or any other democratic country so why should we? Doesn’t shameless Congress have one Indian born blood to run the country as a head? Tomorrow would you let a Pakistani born be head of India if he or she became a citizen by marriage? I doubt it. So why lick Sonia? Talking about so caleld muslim upliftment is fine but then the very same Sonia kicked out a great Indian citizen and a Muslim President because he dared to be honest.

I don’t want too many Bangladeshis becoming indians till all this muslim appeasement finally makes me a third class citizen and pushes us Hindus in minority and turns India into another Pakistan. Does Sonia’s party have the balls to file affidavits questioning the existance of Allah or Jesus or Prophet the way they casually did about Ram just to keep DMK Gundas happy? I doubt it. We have a foreigner out to destroy India and Hindus. Sonia’s Govt. has made it a habit of passing controversial laws and questioning the Supreme Court over everything.

Every decision they amde has tuned people against one another or religion and caste lines. Thanks but no thanks!!!So we should elect Manmohan for more caste based reservations, more muslim appeassement, more Bangladeshi illegals being legalized for votebanks, for another 10 years without any terror mechanisms in place for daily Bomb blasts in every Indian city, for keeping Afzal alive for more than 5 years and for more Hindu bashing so that Congress can file more blasphemous affidavits to hurt and abuse the entire culture of thousands of years old just to make Gundas like DMK ministers happy, so that the current builder Raj under UPA makes homes for impossible a virtual impossibility with constant realty market rigging, for more farmer suicides so that Sharad Pawar can have more cricket parties, for more Pak-Bangla buses to bring in more jehadis, for more unwarranted ceasefires with naxals so they can cointinue killing cops by hundreds in Cong ruled states since CPM and Maoists are their ruling partners and for all the corruption and divide and rule policies right?

BJP did more for economy in 5 years than Cong in 50. The IT and BPO revolution happened because of that. People needed to give BJP 5 mroe years but Cong fooled farmers and rural people to win, and now they are being thrown out of their homes to make way for SEZs. Thanks but no thanks.So replace the NDA ills with Oil for Food scam, the selling of Waqf properties and graveyards outside Delhi scams, The delhi Masterplan fiascos, the Delhi blueline buses tragedies, The constant subversion of constitution by illegal reservations and using Governors and Speakers to carry out constitutional crimes to dismiss rival Govts. like in Bihar, Jharkhand, Goa etc.

Going by your logic all things consdiered Congress had 55/60 years and things have only got that much worse so why shouldn’t BJP be given 5 more years? Apni Sonia malkin ke gungaan kahi aur gaa.By the way why was Congress supporting bans for films like Da Vinci code and Jo Bole So Nihaal when Christian and Sikh hardliners took exception? Jo Bole So Nihaal was taken off theatres just because some people objected to the film title? How is it BJP or Gujarats fault? Or when Muslim hardliners forced a song lyrics to be changed from the movie Aatish from Mustafa, Mustafa to Dilruba Dilruba with rubbish religious psuedo bubble? The Congress did not let the acclaimed Micheal Moore documentary 9/11 be viewed in India, and now they are banning James Camerons documentary on Jesus to please the muslim and jewish communities, but have no hang ups in going hammer and tongs in Gujarat for not screening Parzania and Fanaa even if it was the theatre owners and distributors decision?

Isnt it the Congress Information minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi banning channels like AXN all on his own, from a Govt. the so called Champions of Freedom of speech and Secularism?
How Secular is it forcing TV Channels who have paid exclusive money for Indian Cricket TV rights to force them to share live feeds with DD and let DD earn ad revenue free illegally? How democratic is this process?
Just last month the Congress Govt. in Andhra Pradesh placed media under state gag by ordering litigations against all among the press that exposed malpractices that were aimed at maligning the state government. So much for reporting the truth? How Secular? Of course it was the BJPs fault. Even if it was not in power, in the above cases.

Of course when BJP and RSS introduced Yoga in schools in Madhya Pradesh a few months back, The Congress and Left were crying communal indoctrination and accusing BJP of being Communal over teaching Yoga, Pranayam and Surya Namaskars at school and now the same Government has recommended teaching Yoga at schools to make children fitter. How ironic and how Secular? If BJP proposes Toga at schools it is Hindutva and when the hypocrites in UPA propose the same it is Education?

Wasnt it the Congress Arjun Singh ministry that passed orders for compulsory singing of Vande Mataram and then turned it into a minority beating issue for vilification of the BJP?
Oh, Gujarat Riots are a shameful chapter eh? Nothing is said about 50 people being burnt to death including women and children by islamic fanatics fanned by Pakistani ISI that has spread its dragnet in more than 70% mosques and mullah community in Gujarat? Was the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi Secular?

Was Operation Blue Star and the Sikh murders by Congress state Secular?
Congress winning elections in Naxal affected states with indirect naxal support and their soft attitude to hundreds of policemen getting killed all to hold ship with their Communist Left comrades in power is also very Secular. If BJPs anti-conversion bills in Gujarat and Rajasthan Communal and vote bank gimmicks as accused by the Congress, then why has it passed the same bill now in Himachal Pradesh? What about its minority appeasing and reservation policies?
Is Muslim appeasement like special bank loans and Haj subsidy secular? When Indias 60% population lives in abject poverty and backwardness, how can backwardness programmes be given to certain religious communities with communal/caste discrimination, be they Dalits or Muslims. I dont see Christians getting subsidies and Government funding for visiting Churches in Rome or Portugal or Hindus getting the same for visiting Tibet, Nepal, Mansarovar or Buddhists getting the same for visiting Tibet, Lanka etc.

Why is a Sachar Report not done on the entire Indian population at large in terms of backwardness including all castes and sects who also live in abject poverty and backwardness. Why is the Congress Government only committed to uplifting only certain castes or selective backward classes. Why are their upliftment schemes caste and community specific? Who ruled for 55 years and kept so many people backwards? Why was Sachar report done only in 13 states on election radar, and not in progressive muslim states like Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kashmir? Why does such a report always show up every time a major election like UP is on the cards? Is Reservation for Dalits and Muslims Secular in Govt. Jobs and Education? A Brahmin who may be poor or unemployed may not get this benefit for his childen, but a millionaire like Laloo Yadav, Arjun Singh or Mulayam Singhs children can get all the benefits for being backward.

What would you say if you found out ISI sponsored modules of mass conversion in Gujarat in which wayward Muslim youth were encouraged to mislead Hindu teenaged under 18 girls and eloped with them to be illegally married and hidden till they became legally adults. What would you say if most Hindu parents were having this problem of losing their impressionable daughters in a Pak sponsored racket of upsetting the social balance and harmony for increasing certain religious population to overwhelm not only the hindu numbers but also causing sufferings to them?

In 1993 after Babri Masjid demolition, Mumbai was allowed to be burned and bombed by the then in power Congress Govt. both in Maharashtra, Mumbai and in Center. Was it a BJP failure in Mumbai and Maharashtra? The then defence minister of Congress Sharad Pawar deliberately kept the army out of Mumbai till too late to settle political points against his Congress rival CM Sudhakar Naik who was a threat to Pawars strong Maharashtra position. Why arent they doing anything about rehabilitating the displaced Kashmiri Hindus and the Panun Pandits? Hasnt all the Naxalism and Maoism that we suffer in the middle and northern India Congress gifts in their 55 years of misrule?

What about Laloos 15 years of Bihar plundering that saw the most administered efficient state in India being degenerated to the most corrupt and lawless where caste wars took maximum toll of poor dalit lives plundered by private armies of caste superior land lords? The Ranvir senas and dalit wars and all that feudalism was fed by Congress and Laloo. Wasnt this jungle-raj abetted and promoted by Congress who supported Laloo Raj all this time as power partners in the state? Or is this too a BJP illness?

How Secular is it to not hang up a terrorist who attacked our Parliament despite Supreme Court ruling just for vote bank politics ahead of UP elections? Which true muslim and patriot would not want a terrorist being punished for attacking the country? So in effect the Congress is dragging its feet to actually please traitors, jehadis and zealots among the muslim populace.

How come anti-terror mechanisms like TADA and POTA were scrapped when more and more muslim jehadis got arrested for terrorist acts just to please a few hard line muslim leaders? How Secular is it to compromise national security by appeasing a few hardliners? Was Malegaon bombings in Muslim areas last year a BJP propoganda?

Was Akshardham messacre in Gujarat a BJP tactic? Was the special legislation moved by the Congress and the Left to absolve the accused of Coimbatore blasts accused for political reasons in Kerala a Secular thing?

Is the ground situation in Assam and Kashmir in the last 50 years a BJP mishandling?
Who is responsible for passing a legislation against Supreme court orders and by enacting special legislation in the infamous Shah Bano case that has forever taken away the rights of a helpless Muslim woman dumped and divorced by her husband just to please a few mad regressive mullahs? Was it again the BJP? Unless Rajiv Gandhi was a BJP man.

Who is responsible for the slaughter if 1,500 Indian soldiers at the hands of the LTTE, in the Indian Peacekeeping Force fiasco that was forced on the Sri Lankans by an Indian Government?
How come illegal Bangladeshis have taken over Mumbai and Assam and who gave them legal credibility for winning and rigging elections? The BJP? Lets not forget it was Congress that started defection and horse trading politics that is now a bane of our democracy in Aayaram – Gayaram kind coalition governments.

Instead of promoting universal compulsory education for all children where are educated funds diverted by Secular Congress? In reservations [benefit for the few, especially the rich political class]. Congress ruled atrocities should be excused and forgotten and if something happens in a BJP ruled state it should be harped on forever, now shouldnt we? How can in light of above facts, Congress be Secular and BJP Facist/Communal?

Congress is the biggest facist and communal force and as long as they rule we will always remain a state at war among ourselves due to their divide and rule policies. They have ruled 55 years by keeping rural people uneducated and illiterate, dividing Hindus and Muslims on communal lines and now by dividing Hindus with their ridiculous political reservation policies thereby deepening further communal biases and divide among people while they laugh in power through more and more corruption.

Mr. Sharad Pawar is Agriculture minister who is busy playing political games in BCCI office against Jagmohan Dalmiya evena s thousands of farmers are committing suicides everywhere. And what is the Congress and NCP and Left doing to help them? Snatch their land to fill pockets of billionaire industrialists in the name of SEZs and economy. Is this the same Congress that said last elections that Congress ke haath AAM AADMI ke saath?

Just how can Brahmins, RSS, BJP and the so called upper caste Hindus be blamed for the above mentioned atrocities that is the true face of the Congress. Fact is Congress is using minorities and OBC causes to keep people divided on caste lines and keep them backwards to make them feel insecure and exploit them for votes. Oh, I get it. Everything that is wrong with India since independence is because of the BJP. Now I get it! So after 55 years this is what Congress gave us. Compare my posts above with 5 years of BJP rule and anyone will see what a criminal and Communal party Congress really is. BJP is any day more secular ironically than any Congress Govt. we have ever seen.

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