Reporting only church attacks is half-truth, says RSS Krishna Gopal – Jatin Gandhi

Krishna Gopal

Journalist Icon“‘The media creates a false impression on church attacks. Only four churches were attacked in Delhi. During the same period, 458 temples and 25 masjids were also targets. You cover half the truth and show the other half, it becomes a lie that amounts to cheating the country,’ Dr Krishna Gopal said at a function to honour journalists.” – Jatin Gandhi

Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh leader Krishna Gopal said on Saturday that reporting only attacks on churches in Delhi is a “half-truth” and amounts to lying and cheating the country.

According to him, it also puts national prestige and honour in jeopardy.

This is the first RSS reaction since the U.S. commission on inter-religious freedom released its report last week placing India amid more than 30 countries that meet a “systematic, ongoing, and egregious” standard for failing to protect religious freedoms.

Mr. Gopal is a sahsarkaryavah — the number three position in the Sangh hierarchy — and the RSS official designated to liaise with the Bharatiya Janata Party and, effectively, the government.

Flagging concern over “Hindu nationalist” groups for programmes of forced conversion, ghar wapsi (re-conversion to Hinduism), attacks on churches and “hate campaigns” against Muslim minorities, the U.S. commission retained India’s status as a “Tier 2 Country of Concern” on religious freedom. Ghar wapsi is one of the Sangh’s key, professed goals.

“The media creates a false impression on church attacks. Only four churches were attacked in Delhi. During the same period, 458 temples and 25 masjids were also targets. You cover half the truth and show the other half, it becomes a lie that amounts to cheating the country,” he said at a function to honour journalists.

The reporting on church attacks exposed India to unfair international criticism and hurt it, he charged.

Mr. Gopal in his address earlier said media sensationalised rapes. “You read the papers and it seems no woman is safe, there are rapes on every street. We all know women are targeted, but the percentage of rapes in the U.S. and Europe is much higher,” he said. – The Hindu, 10 May 2015

» Jatin Gandhi is a Deputy Editor at The Hindu. He tweets at https://twitter.com/jatingandhi.

Christian Polytheism

See also

Book Review: Exposing the imperialism of the Church – R. L. Francis

Unteshwari Church, Kadi, Gujarat

R. L. Francis“Everybody who understands the importance of nationalism and sovereignty must read this book. The book gives them a message to return to their own fold. The book also portrays the pathetic condition of converted Christians and the dangerous policies of the Church system. The book also offers a solution to stop this trend. The book tells that every religion has been established to act as a safety valve. However, when it becomes a tool in the hands of the vested interests, it harms the humanity.” – R. L. Francis

P. B. LomeoThe controversy about Mother Teresa had not subsided, and there is yet another book by P. B. Lomeo which has raised a serious question on the functioning of the Church within the Christian society. The book titled Unteshwari Mata ka Mahant is about Father Anthony Fernandes from the Society of Jesus (SJ), who had spent 38 percent of his life to increase the number of sheep. The book exposes layer by layer the bad consequence meted out to priests and nuns who dare to disobey the dictates of the Church.  

The book makes some startling revelations about the Catholic Church system and tells the story about the modus operandi of conversion in the North Gujarat. One can really admire the sharp brain of the foreign missionaries who were quick to point out that the camels were the most important animal in the region. It is the lifeline of the desert area. Therefore, they created a new Goddess, Unteshwari Devi, who protects the camels in the region. She is ‘kuldevi’ of the camel protectors Jesus followers. 

Camel has become an integral tool to meet the Church’s larger objectives. So, with the help of foreign funds, they purchased a 107 acre tract of land in the Budasan village in Mehsana region and constructed a Chaburara. They proclaimed that this is Unteshwari Matachabutara.

When Father Anthony Fernandes came to know that his main task was to convert people of Northern Gujarat into Christianity, he was devastated.  He had never expected such a black face of truth.  

He understood that all welfare related activities, social service, health or education was mere hogwash. They were instruments to lure poor people. Domestic missionaries were even two-step ahead of foreign missionaries. They wanted to have a piece of the foreign funding. Father realized that all development activities run by the Church were a deception and they were directed towards converting more and more tribal people towards the Christianity.

Father Anthony Fernandez is not alive today. He died on May 11 2014 in Varanasi. He was a true priest, true Indian and a true patriot. He was born and brought in Mahatma Gandhi’s Gujarat. He grew up listening to religious songs of Narsingh Mehta: Vaishnav Jan te Tene kahiye ji Peed Paraye Jaane Re. He became priest to serve the people. Northern Gujarat receives a lower amount of rainfall. The area is very poor. He wanted to help the people. However, when he knew the true motive of Church, he started resisting. But, could he do anything? He was a lone fighter in the system.

Christianity has always been passionate to win the world. Anybody who has tried to oppose it has been forced to succumb before these imperialistic forces. They are following the same policy in India. Any nun or priest who dares to oppose the church system met the fate of Father Anthony Fernandes. Church never accepts dissent. This is why many priests and nuns have set up an organization, Catholic Church Reformation Movement, to save from exploitation.

Father Anthony Fernandes was also a victim of the conspiracy to kill through crucifixion like Jesus. He was alone in the battle like Jesus. His disciples left them in the hands of enemies. And, the Society for which he was working was in favour of crucifying him. The same happened with the Father Anthony Fernandes.

Famous Gandhi follower, Shree Kumarappa (a Catholic Christian) was of the view that western powers had four pillars: Army, Airforce, Navy and Missionary. They want to win the whole world. There is one more hidden pillar ‘Media’ that helps them when required. Currently, they have a deep knowledge of the resources of the developing and under-developed countries, and it is even more than their own countries.

The book exposes an innovative way to steal a camel. And, it is not just about camels, but also about the culture, social unity and harmony which can be disturbed. These missionaries never oppose a converted Christian girl to marry in her original caste. They are of the view that she will ultimately convert the whole family.

You must have heard about the term ‘parallel government’, but do you know about the face of such a government. Once you read this book, you will start understanding the face of a parallel government. You will know how the Vatican is running its global empire from the 107 acre land. The story of the Father Anthony Fernandes is a great example of that empire.

The parallel empire of Vatican had started in 1945. A Vatican ambassador had been installed in India. It has a great control over bureaucrats in the country, and it keeps them in its pocket. Even they have a great control over Indian media.

Everybody who understands the importance of nationalism and sovereignty must read this book. The book gives them a message to return to their own fold. The book also portrays the pathetic condition of converted Christians and the dangerous policies of the Church system. The book also offers a solution to stop this trend. The book tells that every religion has been established to act as a safety valve. However, when it becomes a tool in the hands of the vested interests, it harms the humanity. Now, the time has come to understand and expose their real intentions so that the humanity can be saved.

» R. L. Francis is the President of the Poor Christian Liberation Movement (PCLM)

Unteshwari Mata ka Mahant Book Cover

Unteshwari Mata ka Mahant
Author Name : P. B. Lomeo
Price :  300/-
ISBN No : 9789384380014
Edition/Year : First/2015
Publisher : Jay Kay Enterprises
Format : Paperback

Phone No: 011-23258802, 43528469, 65285328
E-mail: info@taxshilabooks.in
Website: www.taxshilabooks.in

To Hindu Nepal: Christians send bibles, Muslims send beef – Premji

Bibles for Nepal!

More than 100,000 paperback editions of Gideon Bibles have arrived in Nepal to provide relief for the millions of Nepalese desperate for help following the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that has struck the country. But the jet loaded with skids of boxed Bibles is being called misguided and “dumber-than-dumb-ass” by rescue groups and world governments alike. “Well, isn’t that just a plane-load full of stupid?” said a shocked and annoyed Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala. “It is not a surprise to see the evangelical vultures are playing with the life of the people in distress. This is what they do everywhere when people are suffering.”

“We cannot eat Bibles. We cannot use them as shovels.” “Nepal desperately needs food and medicine and equipment and workers not best-seller books.” “If you are praying for Nepal, we thank you,” said Koirala. “But I humbly ask that you also get up and actually do something, donate, encourage others to donate just please do not send us any more Bibles.”

Wherever disasters happen, the evangelist takes the opportunity to harvest souls. They do not provide food and water or clothes and medicine or shelter to the people who suffer, instead they provide bible and lure and coerce them to convert. Nobody in the world will have this kind of senseless and selfish mentality to exploit the pain and sufferings. The attitude of these evangelists are inhumane and insane.

The senseless, shameless evangelist sees opportunity in every disaster to harvest souls. It is time for the people to spit on the face of these vultures who are mercilessly exploiting the pain and suffering of the people to convert. The senseless evangelists who are preaching for Jesus, provides help and service to the people in distress only if they accept and convert to Christianity. It is shame for the entire humanity. One can find umpteen numbers of hospitals and other service centres run by missionaries, but none of them are accessible to the poor. They mint money in the name of evangelism. These vultures are to be exposed and isolated.

Just for soul harvesting evangelist are ready to go to any extend to exploit the sufferings of the people. They preach miracle healing and the preacher reaches out to medical care when in distress. These kinds of false propaganda by the shameless evangelists are to be stopped. Exploitation in suffering should not be permitted. They should be driven out far away. They do not have the right to be in the midst of a civilized society. – Wishesh, 28 April 2015

Pakistan aid to Nepal April 2015

Beef Masala

Pakistan sends ‘beef masala’ to Nepal’s Hindu earthquake survivors – Premji

Nepal is left with an unsavoury taste in the mouth when it received packets of ‘beef masala’ as part of the relief package from Pakistan. The Hindu majority country treats cows as sacred and there is a blanket ban on slaughtering the animal, the development has the potential of triggering diplomatic acrimony between the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries.

Indian doctors at Kathmandu’s Bir Hospital told that the packets of ‘beef masala’ were sent by Pakistan as part of relief aid to the temblor survivors. These doctors are from Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and are members of a 34-member medical team sent to Nepal for treating the survivors.

“When we reached the airport to collect the food items from Pakistan, we found packets of ready-to-eat meals, includes packets of ‘beef masala’. There were other food items too,” Dr Balwinder Singh told.

“Most of the local people are not aware of the contents. When they understand, they avoid it,” said another doctor on the condition of anonymity. He added: “Pakistan has hurt Nepal’s religious sentiments by supplying this masala. Shockingly, it did not care about the sensitivity of the matter.”

Exclusive photographs of the ‘beef masala’ packets supplied to Nepal clearly show that the place of origin of these packets was Nowshera Cantt in Pakistan. These packets also prominently mention that these are not for sale and the contents include ‘potato bhujia’ and ‘beef masala’.

“The matter has been conveyed to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and the intelligence chief. We are also starting an internal inquiry to verify the facts. If the report is correct, we will raise the matter at the diplomatic level with Pakistan. India, being our key partner, will also be informed of the developments,” Nepal government official said.

Pakistan is infamous to be known as the haven of terrorism. They belittle and demean the people of other religions. The ISIS and Taliban has a great influence in the Pakistani Army and ISI which is the main propagators of terrorism and they provide training and shelter to terrorists. Since the Army of Pakistan s incapable to fight from the front, they utilize the services of terrorists against their enemies. In this circumstance Pakistan hurting the sentiments of the people of Nepal who are suffering from the aftermath of a devastating earthquake is not a surprise. Recently a Christian organization also has sent tons of Bibles instead of food, water, medicine or any other aid which is badly needed for the survivors. – Wishesh, 30 April 2015

Soul Vultures

» Images courtesy Struggle for Hindu Existence

The politics of conversion and reconversion – C. I. Issac

Prof C. I. Issac“R.C. Majumdar observes that the purpose of shuddhi was national in character: ‘to realize the ideal of unifying India nationally, socially and religiously’ (An Advanced History of India, p 878). Since the fall of the Rajputs in the Second Battle of Tarain, Muslim dogmatists brutally and ferociously converted Hindus to Islam. The Muslim population of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are the ‘lost sheep’ of Hindu dharma. From the 16th century onwards, Christians have been in action, carving out sizeable numbers to their fold by using fourfold tactics (chatur-upayam). In this situation, a proud Hindu could not remain a silent onlooker.” – Prof I.C. Issac

Prof Arnold ToynbeeArticle 25 of the Indian Constitution guarantees its citizen the right to practice and propagate their religion. It doesn’t mean total destruction of the other man’s religion or non-hierarchical unorganized religions. This right is not conferred only to a particular religion; it is applicable irrespective of all religions and religious practices of India. It is not a constitutional provision for one-way traffic or a non-return valve. 

In no way with this article did the founding fathers think of any sort of conversion. Their intention was the healthy coexistence of all cultures and religious groups. Conversion by brainwashing, coercion, allurement, incentives, etc. is cruel in cultural terms. So it doesn’t come under the purview of Article 25. Such subversive practices seem just under the law of the wild, that is, might is right, or matsya nyaya (law of the fishes). 

The architects of our Constitution were well aware of the fact that the death of a religion is the death of a particular culture or sub-culture or a civilization associated with that religion. As observed by Arnold J Toynbee, every civilization has a universal Church (religion). Hence, religion and human civilization have an umbilical link. Each civilization, whether small or large or extra-large, has its own knowledge system. For instance, today our alleged socialized social orders are pursuing the pharmaceuticals of our tribal social orders. These have a substantial, objective, and observationally demonstrated information framework, obtained through generations. We, as an enlightened society, are bound to secure all societies and their commitments. 

With the death of the Inca, Maya, ancient Greek or Roman civilizations, mankind lost an immense knowledge system. The technology behind the ‘Golden Raft’ of the Mexicans was buried along with their en masse conversion to European religions. The above mentioned lost civilizations had their own religious practices. They were naturally evolved religions, that is, they had no founders. So they never discussed the spread of their religious frontiers. Almost all these civilizations died of the wild and brutal interference of founder-oriented religions. 

 Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar KhiljiThey indiscriminately destroyed whatever they found in their targeted (prey) societies or religions which they found indigestible. In India, Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khilji burned the library of Nalanda University on the ground that the contents of the books there were not in conformity with the message of his religious books and founder of his faith. The destruction of Nalanda is not the loss of Hindus; it is a loss to mankind. 

The above narrative is essential in the context of recent deliberations over ghar vapsi. Certain media and Church circles contend that this movement began only after 26 May 2014. But this is not a new movement begun by the ever-shrinking Hindu society. It was started as the shuddhi movement in the 19th century by Arya Samaj leader, Swami Dayananda Saraswati. 

R.C. MajumdarSwami Dayananda Saraswati observes that the purpose of shuddhi was national in character: “to realize the ideal of unifying India nationally, socially and religiously” (An Advanced History of India, p 878). Since the fall of the Rajputs in the Second Battle of Tarain, Muslim dogmatists brutally and ferociously converted Hindus to Islam. The Muslim population of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are the ‘lost sheep’ of Hindu dharma. From the 16th century onwards, Christians have been in action, carving out sizeable numbers to their fold by using fourfold tactics (chatur-upayam). In this situation, a proud Hindu could not remain a silent onlooker. That is why Swami Dayananda Saraswati took the lead and the tempo continues Swami Shraddhanandunobtrusively. After the 1921 Moplah riot of Malabar, the British Indian Government issued license to Arya Samaj to reconvert those forced to abdicate Hindu Dharma and willing to return to their poorva-dharma. The status of this license is still in force. Since then, thousands have returned to their original faith. Every State’s gazettes since 1947 will prove the tempo of ghar vapsi in the Republic of India. 

Attacks on places of worships are not a new incident in either, and are due to varied reasons, such as local issues, personal vengeance. We may cite some attacks on churches prior to April 2014. The Catholic church at Kuddu, Lohardaga district, Jarkhand, was ransacked and the priest injured in the last week of August 2004. The church complex is hardly a kilometer from Kuddu police station, but no arrests have been made so far. It was the second attack in three months, the previous one being June 9 the same year, when the UPA was in power. 

In Orissa, a Catholic church was attacked by 300 persons, its idols and holy costumes destroyed and altar burned. The Prime Minister then was Dr. Manmohan Singh (Malayala Manorama, Kottayam, August 28, 2004). On 29 August 2004, Fr. Job Chittilappally (71), Vicar of St. Varaprasada Matha Church, Thurithiparambu near Chalakudi in Kerala, was found dead with stab injuries (The Hindu, Kochi). Dr Singh was the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister was A.K. Anthony; he resigned the same day. 

In all these incidents, the Church hierarchies found no fault with the government. Then we have the mysterious deaths within the four walls of convents in India, which meet with mysterious silence…. 

Sarvepalli RadhakrishnanThe psychology of the Church is religious and political. They want a halo of martyrdom because martyrs and saints are fuel for the gargantuan engines of the Church (like jihadis for Islam) without which it cannot sustain. As Dr S. Radhakrishnan observed, “The intolerance of narrow monotheism is written in letters of blood across the history of mankind from the time when first the tribes of Israel burst into the land of Canaan. The worshippers of the one Jealous God are egged on to aggressive wars against people of alien cults.They invoke Divine Sanction for the cruelties inflicted on the conquered. The spirit of old Israel is inherited by Christianity and Islam. Wars of Religion which are the outcome of fanaticism that prompts and justifies the extermination of aliens of different creeds are particularly unknown in Hindu India”. (The Hindu View of Life, 1927, Oxford University, p 55) 

This aspect was visible during the third and last phase of campaigning for the Delhi Assembly poll earlier this year, when a small demonstration of Christians received disproportionate publicity as a signal to all members of the community to vote against the Bharatiya Janata Party. Since then, the religious and secular leaders of various Christian denominations have successfully put the community at the centre of an anti-BJP fledgling movement, the full dimensions and objectives of which are yet to unravel. – Vijayvaani, 9 April 2015

» Prof I. C. Issac is a retired professor of history and vice-president of the Bhartheeya Vichara Kendram, Trivandrum. 

Kanchi Acharya Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal and VHP's Ashok Singhal

Catholic priests are stirring up an epidemic of yogaphobia – Andrea R. Jain

Prof Andrea R. Jain“The more legitimate fear should be that yogaphobia has become so ubiquitous that even otherwise innocuous comments by powerful, high-profile people, such as the Pope, can be co-opted and put in service of a conservative agenda. This can prevent experimentation with widely popularized fitness-oriented yoga, even though there are many evidence-based claims regarding its physical and mental health benefits.” – Prof Andrea R. Jain

Fr. Gabriele AmorthWe see yoga practically everywhere we turn, from strip-mall yoga studios to advertisements for the Gap. So it seems reasonable to assume that yoga is nearly universally accepted, if not practised. But a growing number of individuals and institutions oppose yoga, and actively encourage fear of it. 

Yoga is satanic and “leads to evil,” warned Gabriele Amorth, Italian priest and chief exorcist for the Diocese of Rome, reported Vatican Insider in Nov. 2011. Three years later in July 2014, Father Padraig O’Baoill of County Donegal, Ireland, warned his parishioners against “endangering” their souls by practicing yoga, which he called “unsavoury.” Other high-profile opponents of yoga in the US include Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Pat Robertson, television evangelist and founder of the Christian Coalition of America.

It’s what I call the Christian yogaphobic position.

The danger of yoga, according to yogaphobics, is its Hindu essence, thought to be incompatible with Christianity, as I argue in Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture (Oxford, 2014). 

In one of the most high-profile cases of Christian yogaphobia, in Feb. 2013, some parents in Encinitas, California, complained that yoga classes from their kids’ public schools were  promoting Hinduism. Supported by the National Center for Law & Policy, an evangelical Christian civil liberties organization, the parents sued their school district for introducing religion into the curriculum. Although the judge ruled in favor of the school district, the fight continues. 

Pope FrancisEven Pope Francis, idol of the leftist media, has become part of this yogaphobic maelstrom. 

At one Jan. 9, 2015 morning mass in the Santa Marta residence in Vatican City, the Pope spoke of that day’s gospel reading, and mentioned that only the Holy Spirit could open peoples’ hearts and free them to love, no matter how many catechism courses, spirituality courses, zen courses or yoga courses they took. 

It didn’t seem like an intentional dig. The Pope had, after all, listed yoga alongside catechism classes and so did not set it apart as a practice that Catholics should avoid altogether, or as something incompatible with Catholic identity. Rather, he seemed to simply suggest the unique importance of a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. But one conservative immediately spun the Pope’s words as another contribution to the growing, global yogaphobia movement. 

In a homily on the devil and exorcism delivered on Feb. 8, 2015, in County  Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Father Roland Colhoun warned that yoga leads to the “Kingdom of Darkness” and draws people toward “Satan and the fallen angels.” In a later Feb. 23 interview about his homily with the Derry Journal, Colhoun misquoted the Pope:

Pope Francis said ‘”do not seek spiritual answers in yoga classes.” Yoga is certainly a risk. There’s the spiritual health risk. When you take up those practices from other cultures, which are outside our Christian domain, you don’t know what you are opening yourself up to. 

The “bad spirit,” he added, could be caught in all sorts of ways: 

I’m not saying everyone gets it, or that it happens every time, and people may well be doing yoga harmlessly, but there’s always a risk and that’s why the Pope mentioned it and that’s why we talk about that in terms of the danger of the new age movement and the danger of the occult today. That’s the fear. 

Other contemporary high-profile Catholics have identified yoga as self-destructive activity, and associated it with Satan. In Selling Yoga, for example, I write about a 1989 letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) of the Roman Catholic Church, titled: Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation.

Pope Benedict XVI: As Cardinal Ratzinger he was the head of the Inquisition.The letter warns of “dangers and errors” in fusing Christian and non-Christian meditative methods. It was written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later to be known as Pope Benedict XVI, and approved for publication by then-Pope John Paul II. 

Understandably, the CDF wants to prevent Catholics from undermining Church doctrine, but the letter does more—it incites fear, by judging eastern body practices as not just incompatible with Catholic doctrine, but dangerous. 

The letter warns that unless a person is an advanced religious adept in the Church, no bodily experiences can be legitimately identified as spiritual. It also asks that Christians who have acknowledged the meditative role of body practices avoid the “exaggerations and partiality” of eastern methods. 

Postures and breathing, according to the letter, can become an “idol and thus an obstacle” to experiencing God. It also warns that such body practices “can degenerate into a cult of the body” with severe consequences, including “mental schizophrenia,” “psychic disturbance,” or “moral deviations.”

Fr Roland ColhounThe Christian yogaphobic position leans on the misconception that yoga is definitively Hindu, an idea that ignores yoga’s actual history and lived reality. Selling Yoga cites many scholars who have shown that yoga has always taken a variety of forms in South Asia as Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and others prescribed them. 

Recent scholarship has also problematized the identification of modern postural yoga, that widely popular physical fitness system, which involves the movement through physical postures and the synchronization of those postures with breathing, as Hindu. In fact, modern postural yoga is a product of a 20th-century response to transnational ideas and movements, including military calisthenics, modern medicine, and the Western European and North American physical culture of gymnasts, bodybuilders, martial experts, and contortionists. 

Nothing like modern postural yoga appeared in the historical record up to that time. 

There is no evidence that yoga will make you convert to Hinduism, self-destruct, have a schizophrenic breakdown, or worship Satan. 

Shiva wearing a yoga bandThe more legitimate fear should be that yogaphobia has become so ubiquitous that even otherwise innocuous comments by powerful, high-profile people, such as the Pope, can be co-opted and put in service of a conservative agenda. This can prevent experimentation with widely popularized fitness-oriented yoga, even though there are many evidence-based claims regarding its physical and mental health benefits. 

And when powerful, charismatic religious leaders are publicly cited insisting upon apparently irreconcilable differences between them (that is, Hindus) and us (that is, Christians), we can also expect real social consequences. – Quartz, 26 March 2015

» Andrea R. Jain is an Assistant Professor, Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana.

See also

Who really oppresses Christians in India? – Rajeev Srinivasan

Rajeev Srinivasan“A case could be made that it is internal issues that haunt Christians in India today. In fact, unlike, say, in Pakistan, Christians have almost never been hurt by Hindus (although the reverse is not true, for instance the assassination of octogenarian monk Swami Lakshmananda in Kandhamal, Odissa). The average Christian enjoys constitutional and other privileges the average Hindu can only dream of.” – Rajeev Srinivasan

Thomas & JesusAt this time of one of the biggest festivals of their mythology, the death and resurrection of their founder-deity, I wish all Christians a happy Easter Sunday. A time of new beginnings, the arrival of Spring, and a Jesus rising from the dead is a metaphor for the revivification of the earth and the beginning of a new cycle. In Kerala, the extraordinary spun gold blooms of the Indian laburnum, kani konna, gladden the heart as we await the Spring festival of Vishu on April 15th.

This year, of course, we have heard a great deal about how Christians are oppressed in India. Famous people including an admired chief of police and a former chief of naval staff have said that they feel uncomfortable in India because of their Christian faith. There was also the case of a 71-year-old nun in West Bengal, who was allegedly raped by some young men (although she has since mysteriously disappeared). There is a meme that implies that the new dispensation at the center, with the Narendra Modi administration, is deliberately hounding Christians.

I admit that there is in fact a lot of oppression of Christians in India, except it’s not coming from the PM or Hindus, but rather from certain Christians themselves, which is a sad fact that’s seldom commented on. Let me present to you three nuns whose stories are startling. All three of them are from Kerala, which has the maximum number of Christians in India. These are Sisters Abhaya, Anita and Jesme.

Sister AbhayaSister Abhaya was found dead in the well of a convent exactly 23 years ago: on 27 March 1992, to be precise. The teenaged girl’s death was ruled a suicide. In a sense, this is not unusual, because young nuns are periodically found dead, some of them in wells, some pregnant: a sad commentary on their lives. But something was not right in Abhaya’s case, it was rumored.

An activist named Jomon Puthenpurackal took up the case; he found certain irregularities in the conduct of the investigation, including what appeared to be the willful destruction of evidence such as Abhaya’s viscera and clothes. Jomon reasoned that someone was trying to sweep things under the carpet, and so he and other activists went to court. The case wound through the courts, and eventually, based on suspicion that the local crime branch’s inquiry had been compromised, the CBI was brought into the picture. There were some irregularities with the forensic lab in Bangalore, too: a sitting judge in Karnataka who had nothing to do with the Kerala case was fully briefed on the lab’s findings, which I find distinctly odd as he had no locus standi.

Yes, twenty-three years later, Sister Abhaya has not gotten justice.

The CBI conducted a detailed investigation, and the results were sensational: under truth serum or sodium pentathol, three people confessed to the crime. Father Puthrakkayil and Father Kottoor and Sister Seffi confessed that they were engaged in three-way sexual activity in the kitchen of the convent at 2 am. Abhaya chanced upon them when she came for a drink of water. Seffi beat Abhaya over the head with the blunt end of an axe and apparently killed her, and the trio threw her into the convent well.

Unfortunately, and very conveniently for the accused trio, the Supreme Court ruled that narco-analysis or truth serum would no longer be accepted as evidence, with the result that it was mistrial, and the trio walked free. Yes, twenty-three years later, Sister Abhaya has not gotten justice.

Sister AnitaAnother story that broke on 27 March 2015 was that of Sister Anita. The 40-year old nun had embarked on a hunger strike, alleging that she had been sexually harassed by a priest in her Madhya Pradesh convent. When she protested, she was packed off to Europe. Then she was sent back to Kerala, and when she appeared determined to seek justice for herself, she was physically thrown out of the convent. She threatened to sit in hunger strike, supported by local activists. The latest news was that the church had settled out of court with Sister Anita, offering her twelve lakh rupees and defrocking her. It was not immediately known what happened to her alleged assailant.

Sister JesmeThen there is the story of Sister Jesme, who published a sensational autobiography titled ‘Amen’ in 2009 in Malayalam, about rampant abuses in convents, including non-consensual sex with senior priests, and forced lesbian experiences with another nun as well as “humiliation, sexual abuse and mental torture”. Jesme was also expelled from the order after serving it, including as a college principal, for 33 years.

There have been serious allegations of sexual predation by priests in an official document published by an investigating Vatican official some time ago. It appears that many nuns find themselves as captive sex objects for predatory priests. In fact, there was the case of a nun in Europe just a few months ago who claimed when she delivered a baby that it was an “immaculate conception”.

Beyond this level of exploitation of vulnerable women (which is not unusual: there is the story of the Magdalene laundries in Ireland where generations of unwed mothers and other ‘fallen women’ were brutally abused and used as slave labor in nunneries) there is also the allegation about ‘nun-running’ of Indian nuns to Europe to do the cooking, cleaning and other menial tasks there, as the supply of natives there dries up.

Swami Lakshmanananda SaraswatiThus a case could be made that it is internal issues that haunt Christians in India today. In fact, unlike, say, in Pakistan, Christians have almost never been hurt by Hindus (although the reverse is not true, for instance the assassination of octogenarian monk Swami Lakshmananda in Kandhamal, Odissa). The average Christian enjoys constitutional and other privileges the average Hindu can only dream of.

As an example, consider two cases, both from Kerala. One is a small boy, seeking admission in 5th grade in a Christian school. Despite good grades from his prior school, he ‘flunks’ the entrance test. His professor parents get a recommendation from a Christian friend of theirs, and the boy is admitted. Thereafter, he stands first in his class, and the school, and upon graduation, he is a topper in the state.

The other is a teenager, an average student. His parents try to get him into the most prestigious and exclusive college in the country. The parents are confident that he will St. Stephen's College, Delhiget in because he is a Christian and the college is run by Christians (it is St Stephen’s, Delhi). In fact the boy manages to get admitted.

I have intimate knowledge of both situations, as I was the boy in the first case. I remember some of my teachers from that school fondly, and my best friends there were Paul, Mathew and Tony, but the injustice of the shabby treatment I got – the blatant discrimination in admission – I have never forgotten. I have not been back to that school even once after I graduated decades ago.

The average Christian enjoys constitutional and other privileges the average Hindu can only dream of.

The second case is that of a neighbor of mine; his father and he consulted me on how to conduct himself in the interview. The kid is a decent sort, and I was happy to advise him. But I was appalled at how the father said, at least four times in the hour we spent together: “We Christians have preference in admissions at St Stephens”, as though it was an entitlement. And of course it is. That is astonishing in a secular nation where I imagine a good bit of the funding for the college comes from the public purse.

The same discrimination holds good in many other educational institutions, for instance at a famous medical college in the south, which discriminates blatantly in favor of Christians. In Kerala, more than 70 per cent of the educational institutions are run by Christians, including those ‘aided’ schools and colleges where the management chooses teachers, and their salaries are paid by the taxpayer.

Bishop of Tuticorin Roman Catholic Diocese Rt. Rev. Yvon Ambroise offering juice to a protester at Idinthakarai The preference for Christians runs deep in Kerala where they are nominally about 25 per cent of the population, but given the massive conversion drives and the very large number of churches there, it is likely they are already in a plurality there, as in southern Tamil Nadu. Many converted Christians still retain their Hindu names, often to continue to enjoy government affirmation action programs to lowest-caste Hindus.

The Christian hold on Kerala was demonstrated when the current state government was formed: it was negotiated by two Christians and a Muslim. No Hindu leader was involved. Similarly, during the UPA days, with Sonia Gandhi, a devout Christian in charge, it was clear that all the plum positions in the center would go to Christians – an example is Leela Samson, who became culture czarina. Indeed, quite unlike the US, where any Indian who wants to seek electoral office has had to convert to Christianity, Christian politicians are in senior positions not only in Kerala, but also in Karnataka. During the UPA regime, a remarkable number of Christian IAS officers were deputed to Delhi. If you look at the media, there are disproportionately more Christians in positions of power.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral, PuducherryA remarkable factor about Christians in India is their real-estate ownership. In particular, large grants under British rule have ensured that Churches have enormous land holdings, worth billions of rupees and generally untaxed, in every city center. The Church is said to be the largest landowner in the country after the central government. A particularly telling example is in Trivandrum. There is a large cathedral in the city center, a prominent mosque, and next to them, a tiny postage-stamp sized Hindu temple. Behind the temple, there is another large church. It is a vivid demonstration of the status of Hindus in the state: dominated by Christians and Muslims.

Prof C. I. IssacAcademician C. I. Issac has pointed out, with voluminous data to support him, that in Kerala, Christians own twice as much land on average, have 50 per cent more in bank deposits, and run the vast majority of trade and education. A telling statistic: 92 per cent of those committing suicide in Kerala, mostly due to financial problems, are Hindus.

There is a fair case to be made that there is an elite group of privileged Christians, and that includes the priests in the church hierarchy as well as politicians. They are the ones oppressing or exploiting poor Christians, as well as Hindus. It is not at all the case that Hindus are oppressing Christians, although that fits well with the (fake) martyr meme. The biggest martyr story in India, that of Apostle Thomas being killed by Hindus in Chennai, is a complete fabrication, as Thomas never even arrived in India, as certified by the Vatican. From that myth to the current myth of Hindu oppression of Christians is but a small leap, a lie that is highly damaging for India, nonetheless. – IndiaFacts, 6 April 2015

» Rajeev Srinivasan is an author, columnist, and consultant in sales in the software industry. He lives in Thiruvannanthapuram and blogs at Shadow Warrier.

Sister Mary Chandy

Ex-Priest K.P. Shibu

Ivan Cardinal Dias

Uncle Sam is indirectly funding religious conversion in India – Rupa Subramanya

Rupa Subramanya“If the US government doesn’t act to change its policy stance, there may well be a policy reaction by the current Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The government has already put under the scanner foreign funds flowing into environmental NGOs which it believes are detrimental to the country’s economic development. If dissatisfaction with large foreign funds supporting large-scale Christian proselytisation continues to grow, it’s conceivable that the Indian government may restrict or at least scrutinise such inflows as well.” – Rupa Subramanya

Barack ObamaAre church and state really separate in the United States? And how does that affect US foreign relations with countries such as India?

An unsettled and ongoing debate in the area of foreign development assistance concerns the extensive role played by faith-based organisations (FBO). In the US context, in particular, FBOs have been heavily involved in the delivery of both domestic social and foreign development assistance activities funded by the US government. On the foreign front in particular, the involvement of FBOs is seen by its proponents as a projection of US soft power in the area of foreign policy.

Despite uncertainty about whether it is even constitutional, given the US First Amendment’s “establishment clause” separating church and state, FBOs have played an important role, starting during the administration of President Bill Clinton, carrying through that of George W Bush in a significant way and continuing into that of Barack Obama.

USAIDOne of the principal avenues through which FBOs receive taxpayer support is the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Indeed, several major US-based FBOs, which receive USAID funds, are active in India in a big way.

An obvious concern is that when explicitly religious organisations are funded by tax dollars, what happens if those organisations are tempted to use the funds for proselytising activity rather than just the intended humanitarian or charitable purpose?

In theory, this is not supposed to be an issue. USAID has strict rules which prohibit FBOs from using government funds to engage in proselytising or other explicit religious activities. But this is problematic for at least two reasons. First, nothing prevents an FBO from quickly transitioning from a humanitarian activity such as disaster relief to evangelising to the same group of people — and such activity is widely reported. Second, as monies are fungible, the fact that FBOs receive government support means that they can transfer money away from humanitarian activity toward proselytising, and still come out ahead financially.

Human Life InternationalIn Africa, American evangelical Christian groups (some funded by the US government, others not) have brought not just humanitarian assistance and a proselytising mission, but have an explicit agenda to promote socially conservative values, such as opposition to abortion and homosexuality. Here in India, Human Life International, a far right Catholic group that is against a woman’s right to choose and is widely seen as anti-Semitic and homophobic has established a centre in Goa, which was inaugurated in 2011 and praised to the hilt by former Congress minister Eduardo Faleiro.

Samaritan's PurseOne of the most important and controversial American evangelical organisations active in Africa and India and which receives substantial US government support is Samaritan’s Purse. Headed by the influential evangelical leader Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, the organisation has received support from both Republican and Democratic presidents — despite their support for anti-homosexual and anti-abortion rights around the world. Franklin Graham also said made no secret of his disdain for other religions. After visiting India as a young person, he spoke of “hundreds of millions of people locked in the darkness of Hinduism… bound by Satan’s power”.

Operation Christmas ChildSamaritan’s Purse has also encountered controversy with “Operation Christmas Child“, which is active in India and elsewhere. The program gives shoebox gifts, packaged in the US and other western countries by donors and distributed to needy children in the developing world. These boxes contain toys, clothes and other accessories and are accompanied by bibles and invitation to learn the Gospel and the Christian faith. Samaritan’s Purse’s own promotional video shows young children in India being presented with gifts, starting to attend church as a result, and then converting to Christianity.

As Samaritan’s Purse’s shoebox gifts makes clear, proselytisation takes many forms and is an increasingly sophisticated and savvy enterprise. It’s much more than the traditional modus operandi of a missionary going to a backward community with a loaf of bread in one hand and a bible in the other.

Business SevaTake Partners Worldwide, another recipient of US government money which is active in India through an Indian NGO, Business Seva. They’re a Christian network devoted to a “business as mission” (BAM) model, which sees business activity not just as profit-making but as an avenue for evangelising. One of their success stories in India is Olive Technology, an IT company based in the southern city of Hyderabad.

Olive TechnologyThe company offers bible lessons and other support services for their Christian employees and provides IT support to other Christian missionary organisations. The company’s founder suggests that Christians ought to be “overt and zealous” in the public expression of their faith, with the BAM model being one avenue for doing this.

While the opacity of funding arrangements would make it difficult or impossible to prove that US taxpayer money has directly supported evangelical activity, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that US-funded FBOs such as Samaritan’s Purse and Partners Worldwide are heavily proselytising in India, quite apart from whatever humanitarian or charitable work they may be doing. And this is leaving aside all of the non-government funded US-based evangelical organisations active in India, which don’t even have to maintain the pretence of separating humanitarian from evangelical work.

Rajnath SinghThis sort of activity, blending charity and Christian evangelism, has aroused the concern of the Indian government. “Can social service not be performed without resorting to conversion and will any country allow changes to its demographic character?” asked India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh recently while addressing a government commission charged with protecting the rights of minorities in India.

As it happens, such concerns are not new. Because of India’s history of almost two centuries of British colonial rule, Christian missionaries have been extremely active in the sub-continent long before independence in 1947. Indeed, Mahatma Gandhi himself expressed a similar sentiment before India’s independence, when he said, “I hold that proselytising under the cloak of humanitarian work, is to say the least, unhealthy. It is most certainly resented by the people here.”

Quite apart from the distaste that people may feel for proselytisation piggybacking on top of humanitarian work is the very India-specific issue that the country’s majority religion, Hinduism, is along with Judaism, the world’s only major non-proselytising religion, which creates an unlevel playing field when confronted with aggressively proselytising faiths such as Christianity and Islam. That, in turn, has fuelled a debate on whether the central government ought to pass legislation to restrict conversion (some Indian states already do).

Nepalese ChildrenIndeed, concerns about Christian proselytisation have recently flared up in neighbouring Nepal, which until recently was a Hindu kingdom in which conversion was not allowed. After a secular constitution came in 2007, there was an influx of Christian missionaries and apparently a sharp rise in the Christian population, provoking a backlash from the majority Hindu, Buddhist and Kiranta (a blend of animism, Hinduism and Buddhism) communities.

At present, the backlash against widespread Christian proselytisation in places like Nepal and India is largely localised, but one cannot rule out the prospect of a serious blowback on the United States.

Advocates of the use of FBOs as soft power tools of US foreign policy, such as President Obama and various scholars, have stressed that FBOs with ties to local religious organisations may be less intrusive than official US government intervention as administered directly by USAID. But this misses the fact that US FBOs active in India and elsewhere carry considerable baggage, namely the evangelical mission itself, which in reality is their self-proclaimed raison d’être.

The Indian experience with FBOs such as Samaritan’s Purse and Partners Worldwide, to name just two discussed here, suggests strongly that the next US president, whichever party he or she may belong to, ought to seriously reconsider the way that the US government supports FBOs working overseas.

Prof Lee MarsdenDespite being couched as support for FBOs broadly, the reality is that under Presidents Bush and Obama, this has really meant supporting Christian organisations to the exclusion of almost all others. According to Lee Marsden, a professor of international relations at the University of East Anglia in the UK, and a critic of the role of FBOs in US foreign policy, the first five years of the Bush presidency saw only two out of 159 major grants to FBOs being awarded to Muslim organisations, despite the large number of projects being undertaken during this period in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

Marsden documents that this trend has continued into the Obama administration, with very few US-based Muslim organisations receiving any USAID funding. Marsden’s research corroborates a year-long Boston Globe investigation which found that USAID grants heavily favoured evangelical groups engaged in proselytisation overseas.

This is to say nothing of Hindu, Buddhist or other non-Christian FBOs which simply aren’t in the picture.

If the US government doesn’t act to change its policy stance, there may well be a policy reaction by the current Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The government has already put under the scanner foreign funds flowing into environmental NGOs which it believes are detrimental to the country’s economic development. If dissatisfaction with large foreign funds supporting large-scale Christian proselytisation continues to grow, it’s conceivable that the Indian government may restrict or at least scrutinise such inflows as well.

Chiristian Aid MissionIt’s noteworthy that the principal concern of one US-based Christian charity, Christian Mission Aid, which funnels money into India for proselytisation, is not the alleged persecution of the Christian minority in India but rather the concern that the flow of foreign funds into India might stop and therefore jeopardise their evangelical mission.

Either way, it seems unlikely that the status quo is sustainable, and irrespective of what countries such as India do, it’s in the US national interest to revisit the use of FBOs as a tool of foreign and development policy.

Going forward, either grants to FBOs should be genuinely inclusive, and widely engage non-Christian FBOs, or the next administration should seriously consider turning the clock back to the days in which the makers of US foreign policy and development assistance took seriously the First Amendment. – FirstPost, 27 March 2015

» Rupa Subramanya is an author and economist based in Mumbai. Follow her on Twitter @rupasubramanya

World Vision India

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