Kids starved and beaten for not reciting Bible verses in illegal Christian shelter – Abhishek Anand

Emmanuel Seva Group

Abhishek Anand“The mother, whose complaint with a children’s helpline led to the raids, said she was approached by one Joshua Devraj at a Delhi hospital around three years ago. ‘He said he will raise my children and make them IAS officers. He forced us to circulate pamphlets and copies of the Bible in public places but never paid us,’ she said. … Their ordeal has not ended even after being rescued. The woman said the shelter’s employees came to her house on Tuesday night and threatened to take her three children back. ‘They pelted stones at our house and beat us up with batons. They fled when the neighbours gathered,’ she said.” – Abhishek Anand

Forcibly converted to Christianity, hung by the wrists from a ceiling fan, starved for days and beaten mercilessly for failing to recite Bible passages—this is what a nine-Emmanuel Seva Groupyear-old boy said he had to endure at an illegal shelter.

He was among 30 children, all from poor families, rescued on December 29 after police raided two homes run by the Emmanuel Seva Group [also known as Charity Seva Groupsee more] in Greater Noida and Meerut. The child, who along with his younger sister and brother had been confined to the home for three years, said their stay was like a “jail term” during which his name was also changed.

“I was allowed to meet my parents once a month for only 15 minutes. The only thing I was taught was the Bible. They forced me to memorise its passages,” the boy told HT on Thursday and added that the children were forced to consume buffalo meat and “paraded” before potential donors.

“They gave us good clothes whenever visitors came. They made us stand in line and recite Bible passages. Faltering meant a beating with sticks and belts later,” he said. “Once the guests left, the shelter in-charge snatched away our clothes, sweets and gifts and we were back in rags again.”

His 11-year-old sister said the children were forced to sleep on a dirty floor that was littered with rodent droppings.

“They never allowed us to step outside. We were not given food for three days at a stretch if we forgot a Bible passage.”

“A case was registered at the Bisrakh police station following the raid. The children complained they were tortured and beaten up for not following the orders of the caretakers. We are investigating whether the organisation had permission to run a shelter home. Three persons, including the caretaker of the shelter home, have been detained and are being questioned. We are investigating the claims of the rescued children,” said Ashwani Kumar, in-charge, Bisrakh police station.

Their mother, whose complaint with a children’s helpline led to the raids, said she was approached by one Joshua Devraj at a Delhi hospital around three years ago. “He said he will raise my children and make them IAS officers. He forced us to circulate pamphlets and copies of the Bible in public places but never paid us,” she said.

Their ordeal has not ended even after being rescued. The woman said the shelter’s employees came to her house on Tuesday night and threatened to take her three children back. “They pelted stones at our house and beat us up with batons. They fled when the neighbours gathered,” she said.

“The victim’s mother had approached us on December 28. We contacted the police and conducted a raid at Naya Haibatpur village in Bisrakh area. It was found that a shelter home with the name of Emanuel Sewa Group was operating illegally. Seven children were kept there in squalid and untidy condition. The children were also found to be malnourished. A subsequent raid was conducted at the shelter home of the same organisation in Meerut from where 23 children were rescued,” said Satya Prakash, programme manager, FXB Suraksha NGO.

Satya Prakash further said, “The complainant said she was not allowed to meet her children for months and told us that they might have been shifted to some other place. After we conducted a raid, it was found that her children were lodged at an illegal shelter home of the same trust in Dehradun. Following the raid, the children were brought back to Greater Noida.”

He said the children revealed that they were being served cockroach-infested food and were forced to live in a substandard condition.

“Most of them are malnourished and sick. They need proper medication and care. We are in talks with their family members. They will be sent back to their homes soon,” Satya Prakash said.

When contacted, accused Joshua Devraj accepted that a raid was conducted at his shelter homes but refused to comment on the issue.

“Yes, raids were conducted but I can’t tell you much about it. I will comment on this issue later,” he said. – Hindustan Times, 8 January 2016

Emmanuel Seva Group

Emmanuel Seva Group‘Forced to eat cockroach-infested food:’ Children rescued from Emmanuel Seva Group shelter – Abhishek Anand

The children who were rescued from the alleged illegal shelter home near here recounted that their stay at the place was like a jail term where they were punished with lashings and forced to eat cockroach-infested food.

Ram (9), whose name was changed to Rohan Masih during his stay there, said, “I was allowed to meet my parents for only 15 minutes once a month. The only thing I was taught during my stay there was the Bible. They forced me to read it and recite hymns from it.”

He said the caretakers at the shelter home would put on a show as if they took good care of the children whenever donors came.

“Whenever visitors came to meet us for donation, they gave us good clothes to wear and asked us to stand in a queue and recite hymns from the Bible, failing which we would be subjected to severe punishment which included beating with sticks and belts,” he told HT.

And once the guest left after donating money, clothes and sweets, the centre in-charge would tell us to wear rags again and none of the gifts would be given to us, Ram said.

As many as 23 children were rescued recently from the shelter home Emanuel Seva Group in Naya Haibatpur village in Bisrakh area of Uttar Pradesh, which functioned like a forced conversion centre.

Ram’s sister Jaya (11), who was also rescued from the shelter home, said the caretakers used to force her to sleep on a dirty floor which was covered in rodent droppings.

“The food they used to give us was infested with cockroaches. There were more cockroaches than food in the kitchen,” she said.

She further added that they were never allowed us to step outside the shelter home.

“Sometimes, when we forgot lines from the Bible, we would not be given food for two-three days as punishment,” she said.

Ram also said he was forced to eat buffalo meat and when he refused, he was suspended from the ceiling and thrashed black and blue with a stick.

Ram’s other sister Preeti (6) was also rescued in the raid and all three children were rescued after three years at the shelter home. The police raided the home following a complaint from Ram’s mother Neetu.

Neetu said she met head of the shelter home Joshua Devraj at a hospital in Delhi where he offered to help the family.

“He asked us to stay at his accommodation. He said he would raise my children and make them IAS officers. He forced us to circulate pamphlets and copies of the Bible in local trains and other public places,” said Neetu. “For three years, he used us to publicise his organisation, but didn’t give us a penny. When he did not allow us to meet our children, we approached the NGO and the police,” she said.

She said that some employees of the shelter home came to her house on Tuesday night to demand her children back. (All names changed) – Hindustan Times, 8 January 2016

» Abhishek Anand is the principal correspondent at Hindustan Times in Noida.

Emmanuel Seva Group

Jesus

Lessons from the Chennai floods for Kerala – C. I. Issac

Chennai Floods 2015

Prof C. I. Issac“Here in Kerala, the numbers and significance of the people who adore nature as ‘Mother’ is shrinking day by day. At the same time, the importance and influence of religions which advocate nature as a resource to alleviate the greed of man is also mounting day by day. The best example of this was the destiny of the Madhav Gadgil Committee Report and the role played by the bishops.” – Prof C. I. Issac

The main reason behind the disaster borne out of the unpredicted outburst of floods in Chennai was the humiliation of ‘Mother Earth’ by the regimes of the Metro City and Fort St. George for last three decades. This is not a topic confined to the Tamil Nadu state alone, but the warning of the times, the writing on the wall for the entire country, and specifically for the state of Kerala.

Kerala is the most densely populated state in India; according to the latest available data, the State’s density of population is 860 per square kilometre. A place with regular and recurring rainfall, it is now in the extra danger zone. Should a Chennai-like situation develop here, the depth and extent of the calamity could be far more disastrous than Tamil Nadu.  

Chennai Floods 2015The main reason for the present havoc caused by floods in Chennai is the creation of the greedy real estate and construction mafia. Related to this is the unscientific road construction along with the encroachment of creeks, backwaters and other traditional water-clogging areas by a highly influential section in the political class of Tamil Nadu.

These areas are vital mechanisms of nature, because while at the time of frantic and violent rain these creaks will drain-out the excess flood water, the rest will be absorbed by the lakes, backwaters and other traditional or natural water-storing areas. All these are now a panorama of bygone days in most of our cities. This write-up is concerned with the situation in Kerala. 

Kerala is the single largest metropolis of India with a population 33.3 million (2011 census), excluding expatriates. The repercussions from any sort of natural calamity in this ‘God’s Own Country’ (the land created by Lord Parasurama) will be far worse than Chennai.

This is because the topography and density of population in Kerala is entirely different from that in the rest of India. God created this land with all safety valves to overcome any such adverse situations that occur rhythmically in nature. Kerala has 44 west-flowing rivers and each river has 150 to 250 tributaries and 10 to 50 distributaries that embrace the sea; hitherto the backwaters also functioned as flood water managers.

It is a wonder that nature has provided such a fantastic device to a place with a landmass of 38,863 sq. km., and length is 580 km. This enabled Kerala to survive as a safe haven for human habitation all this time. But in recent decades, the flow of petro-dollars along with hawala money and counterfeits from the 1970s onwards, sabotaged the divine human-nature relations of Kerala.

Today, all the 44 rivers of Kerala have shrunk by 2/3 of their natural width. As many as 50 per cent tributary rivers have vanished. The banks of the backwaters are subject to encroachments in Cochin, Kumarakom (famous for its bird sanctuary), and so on in all the cities and towns of Kerala, all under the benediction of the ruling and opposition parties in the Legislative Assembly. 

One such encroachment of a backwater by a company run by an in-law of the Congress dynasty was unearthed by the visual media of Kerala. (I mention this instance only to show the power and impunity of persons who plunder nature and violate the law in this state). Under the umbrella of these administrative forces, several malls and resorts have mushroomed by acquiring government purambokku (government land belonging to none), river beds, shallow regions of backwaters and violating lease agreements in cities like Cochin.

In cities like Trivandrum and the like, the business communities are occupying roads and streets under the power of collective communal vote banks. All such violations have enjoyed the backing of both the ruling and opposition parties. This nexus has also worked to sabotage the genuine infrastructural projects of the state. What was the destiny of the Gadgil Commission ReportMadhav Gadgil Committee Report to save the Western Ghats? This is a well-known story, so I am not going to dwell upon it.

In the wake of havoc caused by the recent Chennai flood, the Chief Minister of Kerala announced that development means not two-storied buildings but skyscrapers. This response of the Chief Minister was in the light of the decision of the State Fire Department Chief to implement fire norms strictly in the case of flats, apartments, shopping malls and skyscrapers. This decision of the Fire Department opened a ‘wrestling platform’ in which doyens of the builder lobby met the State Fire Chief and the poor Fire Chief was knocked out.

The irony was that the (unfair) umpire on the platform was the Chief Minister of Kerala. The result was that the Chief of the State Fire Department lost his chair. And the State Cabinet decided to apply the 1994 State Municipal Building Rules by evading the existing National Laws and Acts relating to the building of skyscrapers in the state hereafter. A recent non-formal study says that 90 per cent of the big budget constructions since 2000 are going on in blatant violation of the vital norms of the State Building Rules. Yet all these hitherto construction violations were ratified by the authorities!

Here in Kerala, the numbers and significance of the people who adore nature as ‘Mother’ is shrinking day by day. At the same time, the importance and influence of religions which advocate nature as a resource to alleviate the greed of man is also mounting day by day. The best example of this was the destiny of the Madhav Gadgil Committee Report and the role played by the bishops.

One bishop went to the extent of threatening the State Government that “they have no hesitation to create another Kashmir in Kerala if they go with Madhav Gadgil suggestions.” Sadly, the impotent law making and implementing authority of the day in Kerala shut their ears and closed their eyes before this treasonable threat of the bishop, thereby revealing the destiny that lies ahead for ‘God’s own country’ in the days to come. – Vijayvaani, 8 December 2015

Lynn Townsend White Jr

Prof Lynn Townsend White Jr

“Hindus have been facing an unprecedented threat from conversions,” says Dr Subramanian Swamy

Virat Hindustan Sangam“People should vote for a Hindu-friendly party in future, if the world’s most ancient (Hindu) civilization are to withstand the onslaught of external forces. People should vote for a Hindu-friendly party in future, if the world’s most ancient (Hindu) civilization were to withstand the onslaught of external forces.” – Dr Subramanian Swamy

Cross Crossed-OutTerming that “induced religious conversions” as a threat to national integrity, senior BJP leader and Virat Hindustan Sangam (VHS) national president Subramanian Swamy said it was high time that an all-India law banning religious conversions was enacted, but with an exception that “reconversions were not banned”.

Participating in the national convention of the VHS here on Sunday, he said: “People should vote for a Hindu-friendly party in future, if the world’s most ancient (Hindu) civilization is to withstand the onslaught of external forces.”

The majority community (Hindus) must destroy the caste system and revive Sanskrit language to successfully thwart the expansionist agenda of other religions, he observed. On the occasion, Mr. Swamy recalled that the Hindu civilization was among the 46 ancient civilizations listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Kashmir: The forgotten conflict.“The Hindus have never discriminated against other religions, but it has of late been facing an unprecedented threat from conversions which are highly detrimental to democracy. The whole world raises a hue and cry when something happens to Muslims and Christians, but there is no one to espouse the cause of over five lakh Kashmiri Pandits who are living in exile in their own country,” he said.

Members of the Hindu community in Malappuram district of Kerala have complained that they could not hold a public meeting for 20 years. Such was the persecution of Hindus in India. This is not acceptable, he said.

“We should ensure that the Hindu population does not fall below the 80 per cent mark but that does not mean they should produce more children,” he observed, warning that “a danger was lurking in the form of the new caliphate named as the Islamic State.” – The Hindu, 7 December 2015

M. K. Gandhi

♦ Aggressive evangelism makes ‘ghar wapsi’ pale in comparison

“The Christian percentage of the Indian populace has grown by a staggering 150 per cent. In other words, India now has more Christians than any First World country aside from the United States and Russia according to Pew Research’s Religion & Public Life Project.” – Pawan Deshpande  

Christian evangelical groups are like start-ups with targets and incentives – T.V. Mohandas Pai

T.V. Mohandas Pai“The new phenomenon over the last 5 years has been the huge increase in evangelical conversions in Chennai and Tamil Nadu, clearly visible via the vehement advertising on particular channels on TV. Andhra Pradesh, particularly the interiors, Hyderabad and the coastal regions, has been specifically targeted due to the red carpet laid by a now deceased chief minister whose son-in-law is a pastor with his own outfit. The visible impact across this region … shows clearly that a huge amount of money has come in and that there is targeted conversion going on. Some evangelical groups have claimed that 9-12% of undivided AP has been converted, and have sought special benefits from the State” – T.V. Mohandas Pai

India Tricolour & Parliament HouseThe Rajya Sabha has been paralysed by the Opposition on the Ghar Vapasi program of a few organisations from the right. However, if you follow the debate, it is clear that this is a political battle by the left and the left of centre parties to embarrass and discredit the right of centre party in power. Maybe even with the intent to show up the government as incapable of bringing in reforms and development. The so-called conversion debate was an excuse to paralyse the Rajya Sabha, and a great opportunity was missed to debate the issue of large-scale surreptitious conversions across India (which is the real problem).

There is no doubt that large-scale conversions have been taking place across India, accelerating over the last 5 years led by evangelical groups from the West. The North East has been converted with Arunachal and Tripura being now targeted. Tribal belts across Odisha, Jharkhand, Gujarat and MP have seen large-scale conversions for several years now.

Anil Kumar with father-in-law YSR Reddy, mother-in-law Vijayalakshmi and wife Sharmila at a Christian meeting.The new phenomenon over the last 5 years has been the huge increase in evangelical conversions in Chennai and Tamil Nadu, clearly visible via the vehement advertising on particular channels on TV. Andhra Pradesh, particularly the interiors, Hyderabad and the coastal regions, has been specifically targeted due to the red carpet laid by a now deceased chief minister whose son-in-law is a pastor with his own outfit. The visible impact across this region to any observer shows clearly that a huge amount of money has come in and that there is targeted conversion going on. Some evangelical groups have claimed that 9-12% of undivided AP has been converted, and have sought special benefits from the State (which has been reported in the media).

There is a very sophisticated operation in place by the evangelical groups, with a clear target for souls, marketing campaigns, mass prayer and fraudulent healing meetings. Evidence is available in plenty on videos on YouTube, social media, press reports, and on the ground. Pastors have been openly tweeting about souls converted, and saving people from idol worshippers. Some pastors have tweeted with glee about converts reaching 60 million, declaring a target of 100 million, and have also requested for financial support for this openly. Violence in some areas due to this has vitiated the atmosphere. The traditional institutions of both denominations are losing out to the new age evangelicals with their sophisticated marketing, money and legion of supporters from the West. One can almost classify these groups as hyper-growth startups – with a cost per acquisition, a roadmap for acquiring followers, a fund-raising machine, and a gamified approach (with rewards and incentives) to “conquering” new markets.

Evangelist targeting childrenOur Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion, which includes the right of the individual to choose her religion. This is not in question, and is a very important concept for a nation like ours. But this right is terribly constrained by religions, which severely punish apostasy. Our laws prohibit conversion due to inducement, allurement, undue influence, coercion, or use of supernatural threats. Every debate on TV misses this point—people argue on grounds of constitutional rights and abuse right wings groups who protest such conversion forgetting that these new age evangelicals are clearly breaking the law! They go to the desperate, and prey on their insecurities by offering education for their children, medical services for the sick, and abuse existing religious practices and traditions.

People also point to the approximate 2.3% share of this minority in the last 3 censuses to deny such conversions. Of course, the 2011 census figures on religion has strangely not been released and we need this data. However, the reason why in the conversion numbers do not show up in the census is that conversions are happening in communities entitled to reservation benefits. It appears that they are clearly told not to reveal their conversion in the census or officially to prevent loss of benefits. Most conversions happen amongst the tribals and rural and urban poor, who are soft targets to inducements.

I have a personal experience of evangelical groups trying to convert members of my family. Two house maids who converted said that the school where their children went raised fees and due to their inability to pay, they were told they would waive it if they converted (which they were forced to do). Of course, the school was rabid in their evangelism with these children. I use a taxi company for travel over the last ten years. I have noticed over 30% of drivers have converted over the last 5 years.

Chennai evangelist Jayakumar baptising a new convert.When asked, inevitably they spoke about evangelicals groups that gave them free education for children and paid their medical bills, provided they converted.

It is obvious that large-scale conversion by illegal means is happening in many places and the impact is clearly visible to anybody who would choose to see openly. Some apologists ask – where are the complaints about inducement or coercion? The law needs enforcement by the police independent of complaints, as is happening when rightist groups proudly announce conversions. These rightist groups lack sophistication, but they have squarely focused attention on this large-scale conversion activity. Law enforcers need to act before this becomes a bigger flash point. – Economic Times, 27 December 2014

» T.V. Mohandas Pai is an award-winning chartered account and former Infosys director. He is now chairman of Manipal Global Education in Bengaluru.

World Vision

Native Americans aggrieved after Pope Francis makes Junipero Serra a saint – Tara Houska

Junipero Serra

Tara Houska“Today, mass graves filled with Native peoples dot the California missionary system. Tens of thousands died while the missions were in operation. Within 100 years of Serra’s arrival, the indigenous population had been decimated to 16,000. And the man at the helm was made a saint.” – Tara Houska 

Pope FrancisThe history of the Catholic Church with indigenous peoples is a long and brutal one. Forced eradication of culture, religion, and language resulted in the destruction of first nations throughout the world. The introduction of disease wiped out entire populations; spreading the word of God was often tied to violent methods of conversion.

Pope Francis made history this year when he sought forgiveness for the atrocities enacted by the Church on indigenous peoples. He has raised eyebrows as an advocate for the sick and weary, the less fortunate, and addressing climate change head-on. He has been the progressive sorely needed, a figurehead seeking forgiveness for past transgressions and carrying the Church into the modern era.

So it was with great sadness that many throughout Indian country watched last Wednesday’s canonization of Junípero Serra in Washington, D.C. Billed as a historic moment in which the pope elevated the first Hispanic priest to sainthood on U.S. soil; Serra’s controversial background was largely overlooked. A slew of last minute coverage was too little, too late.

A Spanish missionary that was considered fanatical even for his time, Serra set out in California to convert the 300,000 Native Americans that had lived there since immemorial time. He viewed Native Americans as children, infants that would only know a better life through the adoption of agriculture, Westernized societal castes, and of course, Catholicism.

Though conversion was optional, the pressure to do so was great. The landscape was transformed into farmland, while families were torn asunder by Church intervention. The answer was simple: convert or leave. And once converted, Church was no longer optional.

Attempts to escape were dealt with severely—shackles, confinement, and flogging were ubiquitous, to the point that other Franciscans working in the missions were horrified by the cruelty they witnessed and asked to be sent back to Spain.

Today, mass graves filled with Native peoples dot the California missionary system. Tens of thousands died while the missions were in operation. Within 100 years of Serra’s arrival, the indigenous population had been decimated to 16,000. And the man at the helm was made a saint.

Outrage made its rounds in the final week before Pope Francis arrived—I spoke with numerous reporters that had no knowledge of the issue, who were entirely unaware of the large-scale protests, petitions, and numerous letters from tribal nations condemning Serra.

Several hundred Native Americans in California held a day of mourning when Pope Francis elected to continue with the canonization. Within days of Serra’s elevation, his final resting place at the Carmel Mission was vandalized and his statue toppled. Splattered paint read “Saint of Genocide.”

Local tribal leaders have condemned the vandalism, but maintain their opposition to the selection made by the Church.

But really, was Serra’s sainthood so shocking?

This is America, remember. Andrew Jackson, that great killer of Indians who orchestrated the Indian Removal Act that would kill thousands on the Trail of Tears, resides on the twenty-dollar bill.

Women on 20s held a nationwide contest to present a petition to President Obama encouraging him to replace Jackson. Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of Cherokee Nation, was one of four finalists. But once the contest concluded, the Department of Treasury inexplicably announced Jackson would stay and Alexander Hamilton would be the one to go. Hamilton was the first treasury secretary, while Jackson vehemently opposed centralized banking.

When Native American leaders, staffers, attorneys, and lobbyists walk out of Union Station to visit and work in the halls of Congress, they are greeted by a giant fountain commemorating Christopher Columbus, one of the few individuals America honors with a federal holiday. Columbus committed such heinous acts against the indigenous peoples he encountered in the so-called “new” world he was sent back to Spain to answer for his crimes.

Even now, national disregard for Native American religion and culture continues. Take, for instance, the San Carlos Apache people. Last December, Congress passed a rider giving sacred land for performing Apache coming-of-age ceremonies to a foreign mining operation. Their irreplaceable, immovable holy site will be destroyed for copper.

Lest we forget, all of this is set with the backdrop of the Washington football team, a racial slur that has been condemned and fought against for decades by Native Americans throughout the United States. Native Americans are people, not mascots or costumes, yet they are denied that respect.

It is long overdue for America and other world leaders to recognize that indigenous peoples have endured generations of theft, violence, and dehumanization that continue today. Representations matter. Who we choose to elevate as the best of society matters. Apologizing is progress, but actions mean far more than kind words. – HuffPost, 2 Octover 2015

» Tara Houska is Ojibwe from Couchiching First Nation. She is a tribal rights attorney in Washington, D.C. and a founding member of NotYourMascots.org,

Junipero Serra monument in Havana

See also

Junipero Serra: Native Americans decry sainthood for Spanish missionary priest – Julian Brave NoiseCat

Junípero Serra

Julian Brave NoiseCat“Historians estimate that 60,000 indigenous Californians had died in the missions by the time the Mexican government sold them to private landowners in the 1830s. Over the Spanish mission era, the system contributed to the direct and indirect deaths of half of the California Indian population, which is estimated at 300,000 to 1 million people before contact with the Catholic missionaries. … They were decimated by disease, war and the conditions in the missions, where Native people were worked and starved to death. By 1910, after a century and a half of missions, gold rushes and reservations, there were only 15,850 California Indians left. ” –  Julian Brave NoiseCat

Junipero SerraOn Wednesday, Junípero Serra, the architect of the California mission system that converted 81,000 Native Americans to Christianity in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, will be canonized as a saint in Washington during Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States.

Serra, the “apostle of California,” is a familiar figure to residents of that state. Every year, thousands of fourth-graders in California’s public schools learn about Serra, who founded the first nine of what were ultimately 21 missions stretching from San Diego to San Francisco on behalf of Spain and the Catholic Church. The history unit culminates with the “mission project,” in which students play Serra by building a scale model of one of his missions.

I went to public school in Oakland, California, so I had to do the mission project in fourth grade, too. I was assigned the Mission Santa Clara de Asis, the eighth one in California, founded in 1777 to proselytize the local Ohlone Indians and blessed by Serra in 1779. But when I built my mission, I departed from the rubric slightly and constructed tall wooden crosses in the graveyard to overshadow my model church. I was only 10, but this was a political statement.

Protest against Serra's canonizationHistorians estimate that 60,000 indigenous Californians had died in the missions by the time the Mexican government sold them to private landowners in the 1830s. Over the Spanish mission era, the system contributed to the direct and indirect deaths of half of the California Indian population, which is estimated at 300,000 to 1 million people before contact with the Catholic missionaries. The California Indians subjugated in these missions spoke 64 to 80 distinct languages and were part of the most diverse and densely populated region of indigenous peoples in North America before colonization. They were decimated by disease, war and the conditions in the missions, where Native people were worked and starved to death. By 1910, after a century and a half of missions, gold rushes and reservations, there were only 15,850 California Indians left. 

Serra and the California missions represent the brutal history and bloody legacy of colonization to many Native people, including fourth-grade me.

“I believe that Junípero Serra actually created and brought genocide to the California Indian people,” Corrina Gould, co-founder of Indian People Organizing for Change and an Ohlone tribal member, told The Huffington Post. “In less than 100 years, our way of life, our language, our foods — everything — was destroyed.”

So I built oversized crosses for Gould’s Ohlone ancestors, who met slavery and the destruction of their bodies and their way of life in Bay Area missions such as Santa Clara de Asis.

Native American demonstrators protest the proposed sainthood of Junípero Serra outside Mission Dolores in San Francisco, California.In July, Pope Francis apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in the global history of colonization during his visit to Ecuador. The apology was notable, even for a papacy characterized by support for progressive politics and social justice.

In the wake of that apology, the pope’s decision to canonize Serra — and to fast-track that process by bypassing the usual requirement of two miracles attributed to the sainthood candidate — has left Gould and many other Native people disappointed. “I believe that the Catholic Church is making a horrendous mistake,” Gould said.

Indeed, the real miracle, she said, is that the descendants of “any of the California Indians that were pushed into those California missions, those slave encampments, are alive today.”

Against California Indians’ condemnation of Serra’s record and legacy, Vatican officials have argued that Serra was actually a champion of Native rights during his lifetime, defending indigenous peoples against worse treatment by the military and government of colonial Spain.

In the midst of a wave of anti-Mexican xenophobia on the American political right, the church is also hopeful that Serra’s canonization will promote greater acceptance of Hispanic Americans and recognition of Catholic contributions to U.S. history.

Francis in the US Sept 2015“[I]t will allow many millions of Hispanics who live in the United States to free themselves of a mentality that says they are barely tolerated and frequently discriminated-against foreigners on the margins of society,” Guzman Carriquiry, Vatican official from Uruguay, told the Catholic News Service at a press conference in April. Carriquiry said that Hispanic Americans should see themselves “in continuation with a line of Hispanics who for centuries have inhabited large areas of what is now the southwestern, central and eastern United States. They can rightly affirm, ‘We are Americans,’ without having to abandon their best cultural and religious traditions.”

But the Vatican’s effort to recognize Hispanic Americans seems to come at the expense of the truth about Native peoples, and Gould and many other California Indians aren’t buying it. They will be protesting Serra’s canonization with demonstrations at missions across the state on Wednesday.

Although they cannot stop him from being canonized, Gould said that the work of educating people about his barbarous legacy must continue. Modern injustice against Native Americans rests on ignorance of how the U.S. was built.

“The truth of this history needs to be told, especially in California,” Gould said. “They are still building those little missions in schools today, and in doing so they continue to perpetuate genocide against California Indians.” – HuffPost, 22 September 2015

» Julian Brave NoiseCat is an enrolled member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq’escen in British Columbia, where he was nominated to run for Chief in 2014. Julian is a graduate of Columbia University, and received a Clarendon Scholarship to study global and imperial history at the University of Oxford. He can be reached at julian.noisecat@huffingtonpost.com.

Junípero Serra protest on Twitter

Anti Serra Poster

Protest statement against Junipero Serro's canonization

See also

India has 31 lakh NGOs, more than double the number of schools – Utkarsh Anand

World Vision bibles for slum children.

Utkarsh Anand“According to the affidavit filed by the CBI in the Supreme Court Friday, there are a total of around 31 lakh NGOs in 26 states. Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana are still to adduce information about the number of NGOs, so the total number of NGOs will be more than 31 lakh. Besides, more than 82,000 NGOs are registered in seven Union Territories.” – Utkarsh Anand

NGOThese statistics have come to light after the CBI collated information from all states and Union Territories to list NGOs registered under the Societies Registration Act.

The first-ever exercise by the CBI to map registered NGOs has disclosed that India has at least 31 lakh NGOs—more than double the number of schools in the country, 250 times the number of government hospitals, one NGO for 400 people as against one policeman for 709 people.

These statistics, indicating the relative status of education and healthcare infrastructure apart from policing, have come to light after the CBI collated information from all states and Union Territories to list NGOs registered under the Registrar of Societies Delhi.

The CBI has been directed by the Supreme Court to collect information about NGOs and inform whether these NGOs have filed balance sheets, including income-expenditure statements, to ascertain compliance with accountability norms.

According to the affidavit filed by the CBI in the Supreme Court Friday, there are a total of around 31 lakh NGOs in 26 states. Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana are still to adduce information about the number of NGOs, so the total number of NGOs will be more than 31 lakh. Besides, more than 82,000 NGOs are registered in seven Union Territories.

Niti Aayog The total number of schools in the country is around 15 lakh, as per the data compiled by the Planning Commission of India in 2011. The commission had calculated the number of schools, classifying them as primary, upper primary, secondary, lower secondary and higher secondary. The number inheres the peril of duplication since one school building may have primary as well as upper primary schooling — more than one level of education in the same building.

In March 2011, total number of government hospitals in the country was 11,993, with 7.84 lakh beds. Of these, 7,347 hospitals were in rural areas with 1.60 lakh beds and 4,146 hospitals in urban areas with 6.18 lakh beds. The number of NGOs also exceed the number of policemen in the country.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau data in 2014, there were 17.3 lakh policemen across the country, as against a sanctioned India has 31 lakh NGOs, twice the number of schools, 250 times number of govt hospitals strength of 22 lakh. This accounts for one policeman for 709 people. Add 13 lakh armed forces personnel to the number of policemen, and the total number of NGOs will be equal to the combined strength of both.

Among the states, Uttar Pradesh tops the list with more than 5.48 lakh NGOs, followed by Maharashtra which has 5.18 lakh NGOs. Kerala comes third with 3.7 lakh NGOs, followed by West Bengal with 2.34 lakh NGOs. Of the 82,250 NGOs in the Union Territories, Delhi alone has more than 76,000 NGOs.

Registrar of Societies DelhiLess than 10 per cent of the NGOs have complied with the requirement of submitting balance sheets and income-expenditure statements with the Registrar of Societies. Of around 30 lakh NGOs, 2.9 lakh have submitted financial statements.

In Kerala, none of the 3.7 lakh NGOs have filed details since the state law does not mandate it. In Maharashtra and West Bengal, only around 7 per cent of NGOs have been filing such details. Other states also had poor records.

The CBI has told the court it will complete its exercise in the next two months after Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana also furnish the requisite data. Next week, the court will take up the PIL filed by advocate M. L. Sharma who has sought a CBI inquiry into affairs of all the NGOs lacking accountability. – The Indian Express, 1 August 2015

» Utkarsh Anand is the Assistant Editor (Legal) at Indian Express Newspaper, New Delhi.

Ford Foundation Logo

Evangelical Press Association Logo
South India Church Mission Logo

USAID

See also

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,309 other followers

%d bloggers like this: