My grandfather was a Muslim, my mother a Christian, and I am a Hindu – Nalini Rathnam

Seventh Day Adventist Publication

Nalini RathnamShortly after my baptism, on entering my teens I had lots of questions about Christianity which I would pose to my parents, siblings and the pastors in church. Suffice to say I got no answers save the proverbial, “Have faith. Do not question. Just believe.” – Nalini Rathnam

I hail from the most nationally integrated family I know. My maternal grandfather was John Ali Baksh. (John? Ali Baksh? … Yes!) Ali Baksh was a zamindar in Lahore—in pre-partition India. He was 17 when the missionaries gave him refuge in the church when he was being targeted by his uncles and step brothers for his father’s property. Ali Baksh was considered a real “catch” for the missionaries: he was not poor or downtrodden, he was heir to his father’s vast lands and wealth, and above all, a Muslim. My mother was born a Christian, her full name was Margaret Olive Mehrunissa Ali Baksh.

My father hailed from Kolar Gold Fields in Karnataka. His ancestors were weavers. There was a time when a worm got into the cocoons and the crops were lost. Dad’s ancestors were Hindu—but, of course! Dad was poor as a church mouse and studied under the proverbial lamppost to complete his education. He was a bright student and a phenomenal stenographer. The missionaries got to him. He converted and served the mission as an evangelist and the best stenographer the church had ever seen. My father was a Seventh-Day Adventist. Like the Jews, the Adventists consider Saturday the 7th day of the week, hence the Sabbath—following the Gregorian calendar. That is pretty much where the similarity ends. Adventists believe in Jesus being the Savior unlike the Jews.

Dad saw Mom in a church ceremony in Lahore and fell in love with her. They married, had 8 children—the last one being yours truly. We were raised as Seventh Day Adventists.

As a toddler and later when I was well into my teens, my memories are vivid of being taught “you are in the light and all your Hindu friends are in the dark … you must bring them into the light.” I remember how in school, I used to feel sorry for all my Hindu friends (many of them are friends till date)—as they were in the “darkness”. Our banter used to be—me saying, “God and Jesus created the world in 7 days”, and my Hindu friends saying, “How silly … Brahma created the world”. So on and so forth. I remember how much of a “sinner” I felt growing up as I was not able to bring a single friend “into the fold and into the light”. I was very confused, angry and guilty. I could not preach.

At age 11, after attending Sabbath school regularly—I took a decision to get baptised in the Seventh Day Adventist church in Spicer College Pune … then Poona. That was a really holy day. Being baptised by my favorite pastor—Pastor Crump was the most liberating and awe-inspiring experience of my childhood. Our baptisms are carried out in the exact same way as John the Baptist used to, except not in a river, but a huge tank filled with water. We wore long grey robes, stepped into the tank, and the Pastor said, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit I baptise you”. Then he covered our mouths with a clean white handkerchief, dipped us in the water and pulled us back up after a few seconds. Lo and behold! We were now free of our past sins and we were pure. As an 11-year-old, I now wonder what “sins”?

Shortly after my baptism, on entering my teens I had lots of questions about Christianity which I would pose to my parents, siblings and the pastors in church. This is not the time or place to go into them, suffice to say I got no answers … save the proverbial “Have faith. Do not question. Just believe”

Over the years, I was drawn more and more towards the tenets of Hindu philosophy. (Can we stop calling it a religion, please?) I must say here that my mother always had the Bible, Bhagavad Gita and the Quran next to her bedside table. She told us about the good things in all religions and her knowledge of Islam as a religion and as a culture was manifold. Except for the fact that she was a Christian, her upbringing was more along Islamic traditions, and her language was Urdu. She could not read Hindi. She was a Montessori teacher and in her spare time taught Urdu to hundreds of students till the day she died.

She believed though that her saviour was indeed Jesus.

I married a Hindu and had an Arya Samaj wedding. I consider myself Hindu and have long ago stopped worshipping in a church. I have conversations with Ganesh, Ganapati … and in my heart I am a Hindu. I do not visit temples regularly nor do I want to convert anybody to my way of thinking.

I wish as Hindus, we would stop being apologists.

I thoroughly understand evangelism, and my problems with all missionaries is: Why do I have to change my first name or add a Western name to my birth name to prove I am Christian? Why can I not retain my Hindu or Muslim name and still “be in the fold” as it were? Why do many brides wear gowns to their weddings instead of the sari? Or like many, wear the sari but with a veil? Why does religion interfere with culture? Why interfere with the tribal culture in the North East under the garb of religion?

Why is Mother Teresa considered selfless?

Her bigger agenda like all Christian missionaries was to convert and bring people to the fold. That is the whole purpose of being a missionary for God’s sake! Pardon the pun! It’s almost like a vow you take when being ordained a priest or pastor.

Jesus told his twelve disciples the following and I quote from the Bible:

Mark 16:15 — And he said to them, Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Mathew 28:19-20 — Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Romans 10:10-17 — For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the scripture says, Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

Why is it wrong if Mohan Bhagwat or any other says it like it is? I am not holding a brief for Mohan Bhagwat, so even before you all who are reading this … start to smirk … stop right there! I am Indian first and last! No faith, no religion, no belief, no tenet can alter the fact that I am well and truly Indian. I hold a brief for no one, against no religion—but I have the fundamental right to question.

Hence, I have the right to question critics of Hinduism, or the critics of Hindus, when they argue, “the Christian missionaries are at least looking after the poor and needy. Why do the Hindus not do the same for their own”? I always believed that the basis of Hindu philosophy was the theory of karma. Am I wrong?

No, I don’t think so. So that answers that question.

The Bible also says “as you sow so shall you reap”, but with a difference—that whatever you sow you will reap in this one life only. You only die once is the theory.

The Bible rejects the idea of reincarnation; therefore, it does not support the idea of karma.

All those holding a brief for the good lady Mother Teresa, I admired her too. But I am not into Hindu bashing nor do I have my blinders on. I know her agenda was conversion. She was a Christian missionary—if she did not convert others she would be going against the very tenets of what Jesus said.

I end with her quote at the Scripps Clinic in California below:

Mother Teresa encouraged members of her order to baptise dying patients, without regard to the individual’s religion. In a speech at the Scripps Clinic in California in January 1992, she said: “Something very beautiful … not one has died without receiving the special ticket for St. Peter, as we call it. We call baptism ticket for St. Peter. We ask the person, do you want a blessing by which your sins will be forgiven and you receive God? They have never refused. So 29,000 have died in that one house [in Kalighat] from the time we began in 1952.” 

I rest my case. – Opindia, 26 February 2017

» (Ethel) Nalini Rathnam is a theatre actress, script consultant, and award-winning casting director in Mumbai. This article is her personal story and represents her own views. Images have been added by the editor.

Seventh-Day Adventist Baptism IndiaSeventh-Day Adventist Mass Baptism India


 

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Why Nepal has one of the world’s fastest-growing Christian populations – Danielle Preiss

A Swiss missionary talks to a Nepali woman about the Bible in Kathmandu

Danielle PreissChurches mushroom throughout the Kathmandu Valley and across the terraced hills. Proselytizing remains illegal, but with political instability and weak law enforcement, that doesn’t stop it from happening. – Danielle Preiss

Famous for its high peaks and wind-whipped prayer flags, Hindu-majority Nepal used to be a nation unreached by Christianity.

Now the country has one of the fastest-growing Christian populations in the world, according to the World Christian Database, which tracks global trends in Christianity.

Bishwa Mani Pokharel, news chief at Nepal’s Nagarik newspaper, pulls out copies of the census to show the statistical gallop of Christianity across Nepal. It listed no Christians in 1951 and just 458 in 1961. By 2001, there were nearly 102,000. A decade later that number had more than tripled to more than 375,000. Pokharel and others think the increase is really much higher but inaccurately reported.

“Before, when the Christians had a party, they slaughtered a chicken. Now, they slaughter a goat,” says Pokharel, who has been reporting on the conversions. That extra meat, he explains, is necessary to feed all of the new people who’ve joined the guest list.

Much of this growth can be attributed to Nepal’s internal changes. Before 1950, Nepal was closed to foreigners. Mountain climbing changed that. And starting with the Maoist Civil War of the 1990s and culminating with the end of the monarchy in 2008, the country has transitioned from a Hindu kingdom to a communist-led secular republic with greater freedom of religion. Encouraging someone to convert to another religion was always illegal, but as Nepal eased away from its official Hindu status, the rules lightened up.

Churches now mushroom throughout the Kathmandu Valley and across the terraced hills. Proselytizing remains illegal, but with political instability and weak law enforcement, that doesn’t stop it from happening.

Meanwhile, the earthquake last year may have strengthened the Christian surge. Where the government—long mired in political instability—has failed to help poor villagers, aid groups have trickled in to fill gaps, some of them carrying a message of salvation.

Climbing for Christ (C4C), an evangelical group based in Rochester, N.Y., is one.

Pledging to bring the Gospel “where others cannot or will not go,” the group began its “Mission: Nepal” in 2008. In 2011, it dedicated the first church in the village of Dapcha, 25 miles east of Kathmandu. Today, Dapcha—with a population of just 1,000 families—is home to three churches.

“They found some sick people and broken families and talked to them and prayed for them, and miraculously these people were convinced and began to follow Christ,” said Tej Rokka, pastor of the C4C partner ministry, Savior Alone Redeems Asians. “They distributed some food for the people, and clothes. Because of that, people began to listen to them.”

After the earthquake, C4C sent relief materials such as tents and money for food and first-aid items to congregants in Dapcha and other affected areas. Gary Fallesen, C4C’s founder and president, and a team were also in Nepal in October helping rebuild the earthquake-damaged house that belongs to the family of Sumitra Pariyar, a young woman who believes she was healed from paralysis and seizures by her acceptance of Christ.

Lauren Leve, a professor in the religious studies department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is researching women who have converted to Christianity in Nepal. She found that as in the case of Pariyar, many of these conversions were related to illness.

Others point to the Hindu caste system as an impetus. Though outlawed in 2001, caste discrimination is still widely practiced, particularly in rural Nepal, where people on the lower rungs suffer systematic abuse passed on between generations. Many converts come from these lower castes, and missionaries point to Christianity as a way to escape. “It’s the only way out,” says Fallesen. “Socially there’s nothing they can do to change that and then we come along and we share about Jesus and the love he has for them.” The system still exists, Fallesen says, but no longer has power over them.

Nepali leaders aren’t happy about the Christianity boom. Before the release of the country’s first constitution this September, debates swelled over whether to scrap secularism and go back to an official Hindu designation. While Christians and other religious minorities feared a clampdown on religious freedom, the Hindu right insisted secularism would allow Christianity to take over. The British ambassador in Nepal ran afoul of this sentiment in 2014 after telling Parliament the right to change religions should be included in the constitution. Pro-Hindu groups accused him of supporting proselytizing and called for his resignation. When lawmakers did ensure secularism in the constitution, police needed water cannons and tear gas to dispel angry Hindu protesters.

Leve thinks laws against proselytizing aren’t the best way for the Nepali government to keep conversions down. “What it needs to do is ramp up the public health and social support infrastructure so that its citizens are getting what they need from the state,” she says. “When public hospitals start to provide effective health services, when there’s a social safety net in place post-earthquake or any other time, you will see fewer people expressing any interest in Christianity.”

For Fallesen, this need for material goods can be a foot in the door to a conversation about Jesus. He said his team starts by building relationships with villagers to find out what their problems are. “Usually the solution to those needs is to share about Jesus,” he says.

Rokka, the Nepali pastor who is also C4C’s country representative, shows off the audio Bibles the team uses to minister to the illiterate in Nepal. People think the local language recordings of the New Testament are cellphones or MP3 players, he explained. He said that even when they find out what the gadget is, they’re still excited to get a new device.

Few avenues exist here for the rural poor to better their situation. For more than a decade, many parents have sent their children to “orphanages” in Kathmandu, where they hope they’ll get better resources and education than what’s available in their villages. The problem of false orphanages has grown so out of control that the U.S. and other countries banned international adoptions from Nepal in 2010. There were simply too many “orphans” with parents.

C4C supports an orphanage, too. Not all the kids are orphans in the western sense, Fallesen explained, but they come from families that don’t have the ability to properly care for them. How do these families feel about their kids getting baptized? “Some are happy, some are not. Some now want to take them out from the home,” said Rokka, whose ministry runs the orphanage. But the parents don’t typically act on their concerns, he added. “They have no way to help them. Anyway [the children] are getting help here, so [the parents] think, OK, let it be.”

Rokka came to the faith as a child after his mother died. He says some people convinced his father to send him and his brother to an orphanage run by an Indian missionary. Rokka estimates that 90 percent of the children he grew up with have since started their own ministries.

Sitting outside their Dapcha house, an elderly couple expresses disdain for the churches popping up around them. “We don’t go there,” the woman says, waving her hand dismissively and mimicking someone in Christian prayer. She then pretends to handle Buddhist prayer beads. “We say ‘om mani padme om,'” she says, using the Buddhist mantra to declare her faith.

To Christian relief workers like Fallesen, the importance of bringing Nepalis to Christianity outweighs the concerns expressed by nonbelievers. “If I have a choice between possibly offending you or saying OK, whatever you believe is fine, but I believe in my heart if you don’t believe in Jesus, you’re going to go to hell, well, then I’m going to take the risk of offending you,” he says.

So C4C has its sights on more remote areas of Nepal. Land was just purchased for its newest church in the hard-to-reach far west district of Humla, where Fallesen says the Nepali population of seven Christian men has grown to 150 men and women. The church will be strategically placed at the point where Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims begin the trek to Mount Kailash, a holy site for both religions. – NPR, 3 February 2016

» Danielle Preiss is an American radio and print journalist in Kathmandu.

 


 

Arunachal Pradesh: Aggressive proselytisation is killing indigenous faiths – Aravindan Neelakandan

Christians in Arunachal Pradesh

Aravindan NeelakandanConversions in Arunachal Pradesh are not mere problems of religion but of utmost strategic importance given the presence of Christian terrorist organisations in the region. … Losing ‘souls’ to aggressive religious bodies is a dangerous threat to the vibrancy and survivability of India’s mutli-religious fabric. – Aravindan Neelakandan

In August 2017 the Pema Khandu led BJP government in Arunachal Pradesh approved the establishment of the “Department of Indigenous Faith & Cultural Affairs” at a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister had stated that the indigenous communities of Arunachal Pradesh need to take “specific steps to preserve and protect them from disappearing into oblivion”.

According to news reports Christian lobbying organisations quickly began opposing the government move. They alleged that “through its move to create a department to protect the indigenous faiths, the state government was taking aim at the Church.”

The secretary of the Arunachal Christian Forum (ACF) was quoted as saying that the government’s aim was “to target the Church by putting pressure on it, but the government should not interfere in religious matters and treat all religious groups equally”.

Demographic data—as pointed out by many—has been largely pointing to an increasing number of conversions in the state.

In 2001 Christians formed 18.7 per cent of the population in Arunachal Pradesh. A decade later, in 2011 this number has been reported as 30 per cent, officially. The actual number is likely to be much higher.

The increase in Christian population is also accompanied by the diminishing of local spiritual traditions like Donyi-Polo, Rangfraa and Buddhist tribal groups. The Christian claim is that the teachings of Jesus Christ attract the tribals who face a lot of problems. Christianity is said to have “reformed” the tribes.

A look into the incidents of past one decade shows another picture which is not just different but much scarier than the benign picture provided by lobbyist groups.

In August 2004, months after the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had come to power at the centre, four tribal villages in Tirap—Changlang district in Arunachal Pradesh had some visitors. The visitors carried assault automatic weapons and told the villagers that they should either convert to Christianity or face execution. The visitors were secessionists belonging to the two rival factions of NSCN—appropriately named National Socialist Council of Nagaland, a terror group fighting for a Christian socialist theocracy. The villagers had to flee fearing torture and death. They belonged to the indigenous religious streams of Arunachal and a syncretic tradition of Buddhism. (The Assam Tribune, 23 August, 2004)

Such gun-point conversions were condemned by the joint Buddhist session of the Purvanchal Buddhist Bhikkhu Sangha and Purvanchal Buddhist Association of both the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. They strongly condemned “the heinous atrocities committed by the militants on the peace-loving Buddhists and tribes” and issued a press release saying that aggressive proselytism in Arunachal Pradesh was a violation of human rights guaranteed in the Constitution.

What followed was a deafening silence from both the mainstream media and the government. Throughout the UPA government’s decade-long stint, aggressive proselytising continued in Arunachal Pradesh, so much so that in 2010 when Tikhak Buddhists of Changlang district in the state celebrated Buddha Purnima, security forces had to provide them protection. The NSCN had issued a threat to Buddhist villagers to convert to Christianity. They were also warned not to celebrate Buddhist functions and if they did, they would face dire consequences.

An agonised Venerable Aggadhamma, the highest Buddhist leader of the province, told reporters that the NSCN terrorists were setting seven day deadlines for villagers to convert to Christianity. Ven Aggadhamma even sent a memorandum to then prime minister Manmohan Singh, the Union Home Ministry, the President as well as the Minority Commission (The Indian Express, 28 May, 2010).

It is a telling comment on the nature of mainstream media that nothing except minimal reportage happened. No outrages, no op-eds and no cartoons were published against such aggressive attempts to convert people of indigenous faith. That the hyper-proselytisation drive in Arunachal Pradesh correlates with the UPA regime period may not be accidental at all. The rate of conversions has been high despite there being legal restrictions against aggressive conversions in the state.

The current Khandu government, meanwhile, has been made to bow to the pressures of international lobbying groups and bodies such as the ACF. It is apparently toying with the idea of using a different name for the body being set up for protesting indigenous culture and faiths.

That a strategically important border state of India has to go through such issues is a cause of deep worry. Conversions in this state are not mere problems of religion but of utmost strategic importance given the presence of Christian terrorist organisations in the region.

When we lose territory there is a possibility that we can regain it. But losing ‘souls’ to aggressive religious bodies is a far more dangerous threat to the vibrancy and survivability of India’s multicultural, mutli-religious fabric. – Swarajya, 27 October 2017

» Aravindan Neelakandan is an author, economist and psychologist. He is a post-socialist thinker of cultural evolutionism and Indian ethnogenesis. He is known for the book Breaking India, which he co-authored with Rajiv Malhotra.

St Joseph's Cathedral, Itanagar, Arunachal PradeshCatholic priest Itanagar Arunachal PradeshTribal Christian converts in Arunachal Pradesh

See also


 

Video: Interview with Brooke Boon, founder of Holy (Christian) Yoga – Rajiv Malhotra

Holy (Christian) Yoga

Holy (Christian) Yoga

Holy Yoga exists to carry the (Christian) gospel to the ends of the earth through the modality of yoga. – Brooke Boon

See full essay by Joe Suozzo (analysed by Rajiv Malhotra in the video above).

 

For Compassion International: We have had enough of ‘service’ – Balbir Punj

Balbir PunjDear US Lawmakers,

Recently, 107 of you (members of the US Congress, both Republicans and Democrats) wrote to the Indian Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, to allow the American charity, Compassion International (CI) to continue its work in India.

Your missive opens on a warm note: ”As the largest and oldest democracies in the world, India and the US share bonds rooted in political pluralism and respect for the rule of law.” The subsequent sentences, reveal your real intent. “It is with this in mind that we write to express our deep concern over the lack of transparency and consistency in your government’s enforcement of the Foreign Contribution (Regulations) Act.”

“The ongoing case of US-based Compassion International, which will have harmful consequences for many Indian children, has caused serious concern within the US Congress.”

Dear US lawmakers, on the face, your letter is touching, full of concern for the unfortunate destitute children of a faraway developing country. But are you sure that CI’s activities are motivated purely by compassion for the underprivileged children of India? Is there no hidden agenda? What has been the record of CI since it started its operations in India in 1968?

If compassion for the destitute kids was the core of the organisation’s operations in India, it has a lot of work cut out for it in the US itself. In 2011, child poverty in the US reached record-high levels with 16.7 million children living in insecure households, about 35 per cent over the 2007 levels, the second highest relative child poverty rates in the developed world. According to a 2016 study by the Urban Institute, teenagers in low-income communities are often forced to save school lunches, sell drugs or offer sexual favours because they couldn’t afford food. A 2014 report by the National Center on Family Homelessness states the number of homeless children in the US has reached a record high.

Along with poverty, children in your country suffer in broken families as well. There is a divorce every 36 seconds. That is nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week and 8,76,000 divorces a year. As a result, only 46 per cent of the children are living with two parents who are both in their first marriage. While in the early 1960s, babies typically arrived after a wedding, today four in ten births in your country occur to women who are either single or live in with a partner.

Honourable US lawmakers, you will agree that a secure home and strong family help a child cope up with poverty better. In your country, a large number of children suffer double disadvantage. They need enormous emotional support from the society to make up for broken homes, apart from monetary assistance. But CI’s heart does not bleed for these hapless American children. It spends around $50 million annually in India as “humanitarian aid”. Why? Because, CI has souls to save for the Christ in India and the US does not offer any such opportunity, since the destitute there are already Christians.

Dear US lawmakers, CI has been duly investigated by Indian officials, within the framework of our legal system, accountable to our Parliament and Judiciary. Is it fair on your part to interfere in our affairs? CI operated through Caruna Bal Vikas Trust in India. Its child “welfare” activities included holding Christian prayers on a daily basis, celebrating only Christian festivals, offering prizes for recitation of Bible verses and holding “Compassion Young Adult Meet”, where a person gives Christian inputs. Are the CI’s objectives not clear? – The New Indian Express, 1 April 2017

Compassion International

  1. Foreign Funding to Indian NGOs (Compassion International) Part I & Part II
  2. Behind the charade of charity, Compassion International was conducting religious conversions – Aravindan Neelakandan

Behind the charade of charity, Compassion International was conducting religious conversions – Aravindan Neelakandan

Compassion International

Aravindan NeelakandanGiven … the multi-religious environment of India, it would be foolish for any secular government to allow a US-based evangelical organisation to take advantage of the poverty in a country to recruit children or foot soldiers for the religious right in the West. – Aravindan Neelakandan

The year was 1901. There was a missionary school in Tindivanam, a small town in Tamil Nadu. A boy declared as the most brilliant in his class was ordered to vacate the boarding school premises and pay all the money that he owed them for boarding and food. The reason for the expulsion was that he would not consent to convert to Christianity. The boy would soon become a child labourer and work with his parents to pay the missionaries. He would also later join a Hindu monastic order.

Swami Sahajananada, both a spiritual seer and a social reformer, could never forget this incident. As a member of the Legislative Assembly of Madras and a social reformer from the scheduled communities, he would later warn the government of the dangers of evangelism of children among the marginalised sections of the population.

Cut to 2010. More than 70 malnourished children from an evangelical house are rescued after complaints of abuse surfaced in Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu. They were tribal children from Manipur.

The same year, 19 more children were rescued from an evangelical children’s home in Chennai. Some of them had been sexually abused.

Earlier, between 2005 and 2006, two children from the North East had died in a New Life Centre, another evangelical children’s house, mysteriously. The subsequent investigation met with a dead end.

In 2005, some Manipuri girls in a children’s home in Chennai spoke up about acts of sexual abuse. “Police questioned the director, but there has been no follow-up,” read a matter-of-fact report in a leading English daily.

It is in this context that the work of Compassion International in India has to be seen. With the amount of money that the Christian organisation pours into the foot-soldier Christian outfits they acquire, that kind of clout can be very dangerous.

For instance, New Life Centre, Delhi, is one of the recipients of Compassion International during the 2009-2014 period. It was, after all, in the Tirunelveli branch of New Life Centre that the two North-East children had died and probe hit a dead end. The money that comes from Compassion International can fuel child abuse in mission houses and be used for predatory proselytising, particularly in multi-religious countries like India.

In 2015, Income Tax officials disclosed that Caruna Bal Vikas (CBV), one of the chief recipients of Compassion International funding of Rs 10 million every year, used only 10 percent of its funding for child development and diverted the rest to 300 other organisations. The officials discovered the discrepancies as early as 2013, one year before the present government took over.

At the time, Compassion International had moved ahead with an astonishing money-routing strategy. The CBV centre was closed, and another body, Adhane Management Consultants Private Limited, was opened immediately and registered as a non-governmental organisation (NGO). Adhane featured the same team as that in CBV, and Compassion International began directing money to all its organisations through this new NGO. This was in May 2014. It’s evident from this series of events that Compassion International is more occupied with strategic operations rather than a group motivated by pure compassion.

The Christian charity says that local churches are so well-respected in multi-religious communities that they do not consider “forced conversion” of children an issue at all. Even as they say this, they add that they ‘do not force conversions’. However, the officials also concede that “yet honestly seek to present the Christian message of hope and the opportunities that it presents”. It is unclear how much of “honestly seeking to present” Christianity to non-Christian children would be considered as “forced”.

Compassion International’s hidden agenda is even a problem in the United States for other religionists and humanists. Joshua Lewis Berg, the director of community programming at Jewish Educational Alliance in Savannah, Georgia, points out that though the aid organisation’s website says they do not require people to believe or convert, there was no doubt that that was their goal. He also points out that their advertisements hid their Christian agenda well. So, then, what kind of child development does Compassion International aim at?

Luis Bush, the fundamentalist evangelist who devised the “10/40 window” in pursuit of an aggressive evangelical crusade in North Africa, South Asia and the Middle East, came up with a “4/14 window” in 2009. This targets “children between the age of four and fourteen”. This idea itself was a derivative of Dr Dan Brewster’s idea. Brewster wrote as early as 1996 about “The 4/14 Window: Child Ministries and Mission Strategy”. It was based on his conception that Bush came out with a book titled, The 4-14 Window: Raising Up a New Generation to Transform the World, in 2009.

Dr Wess Stafford, who was then president of Compassion International, wrote in his introduction how the Nazis and Communists had “trained legions of children of carrying their agenda”. He went on to point out that “even the Taliban places great emphasis on recruiting the children”.

Dr Brewster is director for child advocacy for Compassion International in Asia. In a 2011 document, Brewster, while discussing the child ministry in Asian countries including India, quoted another evangelist Peter Hohmann, associated with Boys and Girls Missionary Crusade. The child should be given “a missionary worldview”, he said, adding,

We can give children no greater purpose … to  make His name known in all the world. This is the purpose stated in Bible. This is the purpose we need to impart to our children.

In other words, the aim of Compassion International is to make use of poverty in India to create foot soldiers for evangelism, which the white right-wing evangelists in the US plan in their drawing rooms.

Given the historical context, and the multi-religious environment, of India, it would be foolish for any secular government to allow a US-based evangelical organisation to take advantage of the poverty in a country to recruit children or foot soldiers for the religious right in the West.

That even the supposedly left-liberal New York Times is supporting such a blatant right-wing Christian organisation in India says something.

References

  • Child traffickers from North-East set up base in Tamil Nadu, Times of India, 26 January 2010
  • Chennai-based NGO under IT scanner, The Hindu, 22 June 2015
  • Katherine Stewart, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children, Hachette UK, 2012
  • B. Watson, M Clarke, Child Sponsorship: Exploring Pathways to a Brighter Future, Springer, 2014
  • Dan Brewster, Child, Church and Mission (Revised Edition), Compassion International, 2011
  • Joshua Lewis Berg, “‘The Compassion Experience’ and the Marketing of Religion“, 20 April 2016 – Swarajya, 8 March 2017

Compassion International (Caruna Bal Vikas)

10/40 Window Map

See also

NGOs received a whopping Rs 17,208 crore from foreign donors in 2015-16 – Vijaita Singh

Debit Card & Cross

Vijaita SinghThere are 33,000 NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) that are required to file their annual returns with the Home Ministry. … Of the 16 major donors, at least 14 are Christian organisations, most of them based in the U.S. – Vijaita Singh

Foreign donations to Indian NGOs have surged since the NDA government came to power.

As per figures available with the Home Ministry, which regulates the flow of foreign funds to NGOs and associations in India, the 2015-16 fiscal saw a flow of Rs 17,208 crore from foreign donors, the highest in five years. There were donations of Rs 14,525 crore in 2014-15 and Rs 13,092 crore in 2013-14. In 2012-13, the foreign donations received totalled Rs 9,423 crore, and in 2011-12, Rs 10,334 crore.

There are 33,000 NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) that are required to file their annual returns with the Home Ministry, but only 19,000 received funds last year.

Of the 16 major donors, at least 14 are Christian organisations, most of them based in the U.S.

Last year, the Home Ministry put Colorado-based Christian NGO Compassion International on its watch-list as it was accused of funding Indian NGOs involved in religious conversions.

The crackdown against the Compassion International, which also figures in the list of the largest foreign donors, led to a diplomatic standoff with the United States. The U.S. Embassy wrote to the Centre, asking it to share evidence to support the allegations.

World Vision International, which is also based in the U.S., sent Rs 300 crore to Indian NGOs last year. Another U.S.-based donor, Give2Asia, sent Rs 105 crore while Canada-based Gospel For Asia sent Rs 830 crore.

Before it was put on the watch-list, the Compassion International had donated Rs 292 crore.

Clean-up exercise

Soon after the NDA government came to power in 2014, a massive clean-up exercise was taken up against NGOs registered under the FCRA. In 2015, the Home Ministry notified new rules, which required NGOs to give an undertaking that the acceptance of foreign funds is not likely to prejudicially affect the “sovereignty and integrity of India or impact friendly relations with foreign states and does not disrupt communal harmony.”

Under the annual returns category, the NGOs were asked to give an undertaking that the foreign funds were utilised in such a way that it did not affect the “security, strategic, scientific or economic interest, public interest, freedom or fairness of election to any legislature or harmony between religious, social, racial, linguistic group, caste or communities.”

The Home Ministry has cancelled the registration of over 10,000 NGOs in 2015 for not complying with the norms.

The registration of Greenpeace International was cancelled on the premise that it compromised the country’s “economic security”.

The MHA also cancelled the registration of Sabrang Trust, an NGO run by Gujarat-based social activist Teesta Setalvad’s and that of noted lawyer Indira Jaising’s Lawyers Collective. Ms. Setalvad and Ms. Jaising are known for their critical stand against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. – The Hindu, 20 February 2017

» Vijaita Singh is a senior assistant editor at The Hindu in New Delhi.

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