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
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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

Christian missionaries will not succeed in India – Mohan Bhagwat

Mohan Bhagwat

DNA“We have forgotten ourselves. We are all Hindus. Let our castes, languages we speak, regions we come from, gods we worship be different. Those who are sons of Bharat Mata, are Hindus. Hence, India is called Hindustan,” – Mohan Bhagwat

Raking up the issue of conversions, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said such attempts are unlikely to be successful in the country as the missionaries “do not have the strength”.

Bhagwat pitched for Hindu unity and asked members of the community to come together irrespective of caste and language.

“… After converting people to Christianity in the US, Europe, they (missionaries) are eyeing Asia. China calls itself secular, but will it allow itself to come under Christianity? No. Will Middle-East countries let it happen? No. They now think India is the place.

“But they should keep it in mind, notwithstanding their strong push over 300 years, only six per cent of Indian population could be converted to Christianity. Because they do not have strength,” he said.

The chief made the remarks while delivering valedictory address at Virat Hindu Sammelan, organised by Bharat Sevashram Sangh in Vansda in the district.

Bhagwat sought to buttress his point by saying how two churches, one in the US and another in Birmingham in the UK, were converted into Ganesh temple and offices of Vishwa Hindu Parishad respectively, by a Hindu businessman in America.

Bharat Mata“This is the condition (of missionaries) in their own countries and they want to convert us. They cannot do it, they do not have that strength,” he added.

Bhagwat asked Hindus to remember “who they are” and that their culture is “superior”.

“Hindu community is in trouble. Which country are we living in? Our own country. This is our land, from the Himalayas (in the north) to the sea (in south). This is the land of our ancestors. Bharat Mata is mother of us all.

“We have forgotten ourselves. We are all Hindus. Let our castes, languages we speak, regions we come from, gods we worship be different. Those who are sons of Bharat Mata, are Hindus. Hence, India is called Hindustan,” he said.

Terming Hindu religion as one based on truth, Bhagwat said Hindus never tried to convert people pursuing other religions as they believe in co-existence.

He urged people of all religions to “walk together” to make the world a better place and India a world leader.

He reaffirmed the RSS stand that Hindus and non-Hindus living in “integrated India” have common ancestors who share the same DNA.

Bhagwat urged the attendees to reach out to their “brothers”, to whom they have not gone for ages, keeping aside differences of caste, religion and language.

“We should go to our brothers whom we have not gone to for ages. We did not go to them and hence these things (spread of other religions) are happening. We should go to them to share their pain, cooperate with them and perform our long-forgotten duty to make them aware of who they are, that we have common ancestors,” he added. – DNA, 31 December 2017

Missionary Visa

Though well-intentioned in his remarks, Mohan Bhagwat is somewhat naive about Christians and their missionary agenda. Conversions continue till today and Modi Sarkar continues to issue special visas to Christian missionaries. Christians being only 6% of the population is an out-of-date figure and very misleading. The true figure is closer to 15%—though nobody really knows as new converts are now hiding their Christian identity in order to grab government handouts meant for the Hindu poor. – Editor

 

India must stand firm against predatory proselytisation by American missionaries – Suhag Shukla

Compassion International

Suhag ShuklaCompassion International is only one player in an industry of humanitarian aid created by American missionaries where the only accepted currency is poor souls. Its marketplace is the 10-40 Window—home to the majority of the world’s Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. Its marketing strategy is predatory and not at all concerned with the aid recipients’ religious freedom. – Suhag Shukla

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) placed US-based Church, Compassion International, on its prior permission list earlier this year. The Church came under investigation for allegedly transferring funds to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) not registered under the Foreign Contribution Registration Act (FCRA) as required by law. In an unusual show of support from the highest levels of the US government, a special request first came from US Secretary of State John Kerry to the Ministry of External Affairs on the Church’s behalf. On Tuesday, 6 June, the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing admonishing India for singling out Compassion International. Compassion International is one amongst several American NGOs currently under scrutiny by the MHA’s FCRA division.

Compassion International’s president and chief executive officer, Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado, shared in an Op Ed on The Hill, a heart-wrenching story about a 16-year-old Indian girl named Rinki. As an American of Indian descent, who frequently visits India, I have sadly met many such Rinkis—children and families who are suffering under the crushing weight of poverty, hunger and illiteracy. I’ve also seen, first hand, and supported, many humanitarian NGOs that work in India to alleviate suffering through transformative assistance and empowerment programmes.

Mr Mellado’s article was a continuation of a theme-of-the-week of sorts. The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a full committee hearing on 6 December entitled, American Compassion in India: Government Obstacles, during which several members of Congress admonished the Government of India for placing restrictions on Compassion International’s ability to carry out its work there.

Mr Mellado presents Compassion International as primarily a humanitarian organisation, which just happens to be founded on “Christian values”. However, its stated mission attests to it being a response to the Great Commission and existing “as an advocate for children, to release them from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.” As a Hindu American, a lawyer, and a civil and human rights advocate, and proponent of religious pluralism, I have several concerns both about Compassion International’s methods and our government’s endorsement of them.

First, there is no doubt that there is economic poverty in India. But, I am at a loss as to what Compassion International means by “spiritual poverty” in a deeply religious and tremendously diverse and pluralistic India—an India, which has not just inspired and spoken profoundly to the millions born into the Indic traditions, but scores of seekers and prolific thinkers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, David Thoreau, Walt Whitman and Aldous Huxley, to name only a few. What I do know is that there are millions of Christians who wouldn’t find Compassion International’s message or methods very Christ-like.

Second, I am stunned that the House Foreign Affairs Committee would expend resources and diplomatic capital to hold a hearing that unequivocally endorsed Compassion International, an American Church operating in India. The thought of the American government body privileging a particular faith, even as it impinges on the faiths of the majority of a strategic partner country of a billion, is inconceivable, but it did happen.

Caruna Bal VikasThird, why should the US government interfere in the sovereignty of a strategic, democratic ally on behalf of a single non-governmental entity? According to Indian media reports in 2015, investigators found that Compassion International, through its Indian affiliate Caruna Bal Vikas, was distributing funds to NGOs not registered under the Foreign Contribution Act of 2010 (FCRA). This act governs the ability of Indian NGOs to accept foreign contributions and how they are distributed, requiring any NGOs receiving foreign funds to be registered. Caruna Bal Vikas was also found to be distributing funds to many religious NGOs—as opposed to social service NGOs—contradicting their own FCRA application. Mr Mellado’s suggestion that Compassion International is being targeted because it is Christian betrays the fact that consistently the top FCRA approved donors and FCRA recipients of foreign funds are Christian—evangelical and Mormon—as are a good portion of the tens of thousands of FCRA registered NGOs.

Rinki’s parents, like scores of other poor Indian parents, enrolled her in one of Compassion International’s child development centres, where she “enjoys nutritious meals, tutoring and counseling that counters poverty’s debilitating message that ‘you don’t matter’.” Dr Dan Brewster heads the academic programming administered in those centres. He also happens to be a renowned expert in missiology and proponent of the 4/14 Child Ministries and Mission Strategy. 4/14 targets children age four to 14 for evangelising and conversion because of their impressionability and receptiveness, as well as the unique mission opportunities that arise as a result of the vulnerabilities caused by their poverty. Mellado claims that his organisation is being singled out because they demonstrate Christian values—that they serve children and families in India of all religions. But donors are assured that the most important impact of their $38 sponsorship is that their “sponsored child will hear about Jesus Christ and be encouraged to develop a lifelong relationship with God.” Outcomes are monitored in part by the assistance recipients’ “…demonstrated commitment to the Lordship of Christ.”

World Council of ChurchesBy Compassion International’s own methods and measures, desperately needed humanitarian assistance is conditioned on religious conversion—something that both the Vatican and World Council of Churches have called un-Christian and unethical. Where the American government has partnered with faith-based organisations to provide social services both here and abroad, it’s deemed such conditioning illegal. That the government of India should want to curb the exploitation of its poor by foreigners or its own people then, is not only its right, but duty.

It is not my intention to single out Compassion International—its alleged violation of Indian law and our government’s unmerited defence has simply placed it in the spotlight. In reality, Compassion International is only one player in an industry of humanitarian aid created by American missionaries where the only accepted currency is poor souls. Its marketplace is the 10-40 Window—home to the majority of the world’s Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. Its marketing strategy is predatory and not at all concerned with the aid recipients’ religious freedom.

India Crossed-OutThe fruit of conversion to a brand of exclusivist Christianity is a cycle of inner, familial, communal and inter-religious strife, and even violence. I’ve heard firsthand accounts of converts, who are often asked to repudiate their community and family, reject traditions and customs that have been passed down for generations, and instructed to avoid attending religious ceremonies and celebrations that are the very basis of daily life. In some instances, converts are paid visits from Church volunteers to ensure that the convert, who may have received a seat for their child in a Church-run school, or much needed medical treatment at a faith-based clinic for their sick spouse, isn’t reverting to the practice of their original faith.

Where in the corpus of human rights law and widely shared notions of dignity, mutual respect, and pluralism should a person ever have to choose between remaining faithful or being full? The Foreign Affairs Committee made the wrong choice this week, but I hope that the Government of India does not relent in protecting its poor against predatory proselytisation. – Swarajya, 10 December 2016

Suhag Shukla, Esq., Executive Director and Legal Counsel, is a co-founder of HAF. She holds a BA in Religion and JD from the University of Florida. As Legal Counsel, Ms. Shukla has helped launch the Foundation as a leading voice for religious freedom.

Nepalese Children

10/40 Window Religions

10/40 Window Map

Christianity’s rise tests Nepal’s new secularism – Peter Janssen

Nepalese Christians

Peter A. JanssenSince the advent of secular democracy in 2008, when the decade-long communist insurgency ended with the resignation of the last king and a pledge to draft a new constitution, Christianity has enjoyed a growing appeal among Nepal’s hill tribe minority groups, such as the Kirats and the Dalits. – Peter Janssen

Saturday is the one day off in Nepal’s working week and therefore has become the holy day for Nepal’s growing Christian community. At the Nepal Isai Mandali-Gyaneshwor Church in Kathmandu about 300 Christians gather every Saturday to pray, sing hymns, listen to Bible sermons and praise the Lord, many of them reverently raising their hands to the ceiling and shouting out “Hallelujah,” “Trust in Jesus” and “Amen.” The Nepali congregation provides a glimpse of what early Christians communities might have been like — simple, friendly and egalitarian—before Rome took over.

“One thing I like about Christians is they believe all Christians belong to one family,” said M. J. Shah, whose own family are descendants of the Shah monarchs who ruled Nepal for more than two centuries. When the country’s absolute monarchy ended in 2008, so did the reign of its last king, Gyanendra Bir Bokram Shah Dev, and the former Hindu kingdom was set on the path to a secular democracy.

“When I was growing up I was told Christianity was not for us. It was only for lower caste people,” said M. J. Shah, who “found Christ” in 2005. His family initially disowned him but have since reunited with him, in acknowledgement of his much-improved personal conduct since his conversion and marriage to another Christian. “Before, I was a gambler, a fighter, a drinker and a drug user. I used to beat people up. I was terrible,” he admitted.

M. J. Shah remains somewhat unique among Nepali Christians. Most significantly, he is related to the royal family and is therefore of a higher caste than most. Christianity has been on the rise since Nepal went secular, at least in name, in 2008. Previously Christian missionaries were banned from the kingdom. Now there are over 8,000 Christian churches in the country and more than one million converts, although exact estimates are difficult to find.

Nepalese Christian ChurchNeed for acceptance

A more typical convert is Dil Maya, a 70-year-old woman from the Dalit, or “untouchable” caste. “My husband Dhan Bahadur fell very sick once and no doctor could cure him,” she said as she attended the Nepal Isai Mandali-Gyaneshwor Church in Kathmandu. “Someone told me to go to a church and pray and that was how I first came here. It healed my husband, and I felt healed, too because for the first time in my life, I felt accepted by a community. No one accepted me before. I feel accepted here.”

Since the advent of secular democracy in 2008, when the decade-long communist insurgency ended with the resignation of the last king and a pledge to draft a new constitution, Christianity has enjoyed a growing appeal among Nepal’s hill tribe minority groups, such as the Kirats and the Dalits. The Federation of National Christians in Nepal (FNCN) estimates that 60% of all Nepali Christians are Dalits, as is their chairman, C.B. Gahatraj.

Dalits account for an estimated 12% of Nepal’s 30 million-strong population, with most of them living in the southern regions neighboring India. Although caste prejudices are arguably on the decline in the new Federalist Nepal, they are still there, especially in rural areas. Dalits are still barred from Hindu temples and from sharing drinking or eating utensils with upper caste Nepalis. “They are converting because they are treated like animals,” M. J. Shah said. “We have to change the structure of our society … then no one would convert.”

The earthquake and aftershocks of April 2015 provided another fillip for the country’s “Christian soldiers.” The quakes, which destroyed more than 800,000 homes and left thousands dead, offered an opportunity for Nepal’s growing Christian community to do what Christians do best—provide charity to the poor and neglected in the name of “brotherly love.” Christian charities managed to distribute relief packages in some of the country’s most remote areas, which the government’s operations failed to reach due to lack of funding or manpower.

“I think the earthquake was one of the reasons for the growing popularity of Christianity,” said Chandra Man Nepali, FNCN’s vice general secretary. “Where the government was not able to reach, there were the Christians. We went to the hard-to-reach districts with food, water and medical supplies. We had funding from the churches outside. In this way, Christians were more helpful to society.”

The earthquake also gave rise to fears that Nepal’s fledgling Christian community was using the natural disaster to help proselytize their faith. Nepalese media reported several cases of Christian charities, notably South Korean ones, passing out Bibles with the relief provisions. Local Hindu politicians were quick to jump on the Christian charities for exploiting vulnerable populations.

New Constitution of NepalBan on proselytizing

Under Nepal’s new constitution, pushed through in September 2015, people have the right to practice their religion but are barred from proselytizing. In fact, the charter implies that the country’s original religions—Hinduism, Buddhism and the animistic beliefs and practices of the Kirat minority (the indigenous race) should be protected. “Secularism means protection of religions and cultures being practiced since ancient times, and religious and cultural freedom,” reads the constitution. Christianity clearly does not qualify as an “ancient” sect in the former Hindu kingdom.

Legal experts argue that the constitution has good reason for banning Christians from advocating their beliefs. “The basic difference between Hinduism and Christianity is that in Hinduism you don’t have the concept of the church, and secondly you don’t have the concept of proselytizing,” said Bipin Adhikari, dean of the school of law at Kathmandu University. “The Hindus, Buddhists and Kirats don’t have the institutional apparatus to convert others so obviously they would like to see some reciprocity.”

Nepali Christians, however, see the anti-proselytizing clause as a form of discrimination. Another source of complaint is that Christian churches are not permitted to register as religious institutions but must do so as non-governmental organizations. Christian-run schools and medical clinics are often visited by local authorities to ensure they are not secretly converting students and patients.

Trying to keep a lid on proselytizing among newly-converted Christians goes against the tenets of the religion, which has from ancient times been about going out and “saving the world.” In modern Nepal, Christianity inspires the same evangelistic fervour it does elsewhere.

“When someone becomes a Christian they can’t shut their mouths from speaking about Christ. That is fundamental,” said Padam Parajali, a FNCN board member.

To date, Nepal’s Christian community has been spared the outright persecution and violent communal outbursts faced by other religious minorities such as Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims. Even so, some Nepali Christians claim they face discrimination, for example in the jobs market or in general social attitudes. The overall sense of religious coexistence however may be due to the national character of tolerance that the Nepali people are renowned for. Nepali Christians might be wise to partake of that tolerance, at least in the short term.

“There is a sea-change going on in Nepal,” Adhikari said. “First, the monarchy is no longer there, second, the country is no longer a Hindu state, and third, the political system is being adapted as a federal system. So people are getting more educated and they are given more opportunities. The problem is that things move very slowly in Nepal.” – Nikkei Asian Review, 4 December 2016

» Peter A. Janssen is a prize-winning editor and record-setting publisher of US magazines and media.

Christian baptism in Nepal

Pope wants to visit India next year – PTI

Pope Francic

Joseph Kalathiparambil“What I understood is that the Pope wishes to visit India next year. An indication in this regard was given to me when I visited him at his residence at Santa Marta in Vatican,”  – Archbishop-designate Joseph Kalathiparambil

Pope Francis, Head of the Roman Catholic Church, is likely to visit India next year, a senior Catholic priest here said today.

Archbishop-designate Joseph Kalathiparambil, who returned from Vatican today, said an indication in this regard was conveyed to him when he visited the Pope at his residence.

“What I understood is that the Pope wishes to visit India next year. An indication in this regard was given to me when I visited him at his residence at Santa Marta in Vatican,” he said.

Kalathiparambil is set to take over as the Archbishop of Latin Archdiocese of Verapoly in Kerala on December 18.

Earlier, there were reports that Pope Francis would “almost certainly” visit India but no dates were specified.

Kalathiparambil said he requested the Pope to visit Kerala and Verapoly Archdiocese, and his response was positive.

Pope John Paul II is the only Pope to have visited Kerala, where the Catholic community has a strong presence. He had visited India for the first time for 10 days in 1986, and again in November 1999, his 89th Apostolic visit outside Italy, for the occasion of solemnly promulgating in the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, in New Delhi.

During his India visit in 1986, Pope John Paul II had visited the state to beatify Sister Alphonsa and Kuriakose Elias Chavara popularly known as Chavara Achen.

Prior to appointment as the archbishop, Kalathiparambil was serving as the Secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People after being called for the assignment by Pope Benedict XVI in February 2011.

The 64-year-old bishop replaces Archbishop Francis Kallarakal, who has retired. – Business Standard, 24 November 2016

Evangelism abetted by Christian principal in a Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam college – IndiaFacts Staff

Dr M. D. Christopher

SVU College of Arts, Tirupati“Until Hindus take back their temples, it is advisable not to donate to Government-controlled temples. If Hindus really wish to donate, then they will be better served by donating it to a Hindu organization which really cares for Hindu causes and the Hindu community.” – IndiaFacts Staff

The Principal of the Sri Venkateshwara Arts College who goes by the name of Dr M. D. Christopher has been accused by the students of college and various student organizations that he is aiding Christian proselytization. If one looks at the happenings at the SV Arts College in the recent months, there is a strong possibility that this allegation is indeed true.

Evangelist literature is being distributed to students in the college campus. The manner in which the evangelist books are distributed is quite alarming and would not have been possible without the helping hand of the college administration. The students of the hostel are specially targeted for this soul harvest. Evangelical books and other literature arrived in a postal package and were addressed to each student by his name and they were in fact delivered to his room in the hostel. The students say that such distribution of books has happened many times over.

Students allege that complaints about this missionary activity to the Principal  and TTD officials have fallen on deaf ears. The students of the college directly point fingers at the Principal. The Principal has appointed to his staff a person named Rajkumar. Rajkumar is alleged to have given out the names and addresses of the students to the missionary organization distributing the literature. In spite of repeated complaints, no action was taken by the Principal. The Principal is also accused of appointing non-Hindu staff. A complete report (from TV9 Telugu) on this incident can be found here.

SVU College of Arts, TirupatiVandalism at Sri Venkateshwara Arts College

The walls of SV Arts College were painted with portraits of freedom fighters, poets and kings a couple of years back for the World Telugu Conference. The students and the local community over there were maintaining it well and keeping a watch to ensure that there were no posters/bills pasted on them.

However, a couple of days ago, miscreants disfigured these portraits by placing a Christian cross mark on the faces of the luminaries. Even the much celebrated Sri Krishnadeva Raya of the Vijayanagar empire was not spared from this crude expression of superiority of faith.

The College already facing the brunt of missionaries boiled again with student and religious organizations taking up protests. Whether this was done by mischief mongers or by Christians will perhaps be revealed in an investigation but the blame again has to be placed primarily on the shoulders of the college Principal and TTD for not keeping such vandalism in check especially when this very College with same Principal has been in the eye of storm for the past few months for missionary activities. The complete report (from NTV) on the vandalism at SV Arts College can be viewed here.

YSR taking communion from a Christian priest.TTD: Trojan Horse and a symbol of secular Government tyranny

During the YSR and Kiran Kumar Reddy-led Congress rule in Andhra, the state witnessed evangelism on a massive scale. The TTD too was not spared. There were reports in the Telugu media about the employment of Christians in TTD. Due to public outrage, a Government order was also issued directing the TTD to have only Hindus on its payroll. Swami Paripoornananda of Sri Peetam, Kakinanda had to protest again as the order was never implemented.

A Christian pastor was recently apprehended by the police after making a video of him along with his comrades visiting Tirumala and calling the Hindus as devil worshippers. The TTD staff have repeatedly failed miserably to stop such incidents. On many occasions, missionaries used to distribute evangelist material openly but the TTD was utterly inefficient in stopping this vulturesque preying on Hindus.

First, the TTD should not have hired a Christian principal or any staff it a college run by it. After reports and strong evidence of support for evangelism by this Principal, it should have dismissed the Principal. On the contrary it asked the police to lathi-charge the protesting students.

The reason for this incapacity of the TTD is because it is subject to political influence and appointment of people to positions including the Endowment / Executive Officer are appointed by the ruling party. How can the Hindu community be served if the administration is not seen as a service of the Divine but as a career option?

Many Hindus are not aware of the fact that several prominent temples including TTD which gets thousands of crores as revenue are taken over by various state governments and the most of the revenue goes to the state treasurer. This is the reason one sees many hundis placed all over precincts of Government controlled temples. Many mindless rituals are done just to extract money from the devotees worldwide. The TTD has become a master at selling tickets to various redundant rituals and utsavams.

This Government control of temples is a throwback to the colonial past where the Christian British and Muslims Kingdoms used to take over the revenue generated from temples as tax. It was also a mechanism to hurt the Hindus in terms of demography. Donations made by devotees which would have gone to the development of the poorest of the community went to a foreign colonizer. At the same time, the British government planted several Christian missions across the country which targeted the same poorer section of the Hindu demographic that would have gained benefits from the donations made to temples.

State Institute of Temple AdministrationNearly seven decades after Independence, the pattern has not changed. Secular state governments have taken over several Hindu temples, the Community’s money is looted by the government—money, which is supposed to protect the right to practice and propagate the Hinduism, one of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. Hindus live in an independent and secular country but their fundamental right to freedom is severely curtailed. How is the Hindu community supposed to take care of its poorest when the community’s hard earned money is taken away from it?

The Christian community which has a huge proselytizing mission with massive funds backing it, has extensively benefited in Andhra and elsewhere as they have targeted the poor amongst the Hindus for conversions. They have gained massively in demographics due to this tyranny perpetrated on the Hindus. A foreign religion is being given such massive advantage over a native religion which swears by nationalism and deep-rooted philosophical and spiritual traditions spanning thousands of years. How long will it be before India becomes another Philippines or a South Korea, nothing more than a Christian outpost of the West.

Imagine the number of schools, colleges, hospitals and other institutions Hindus could have built and sustained and how it would have changed the lives of poor Hindus. The secular state governments and the central government have become the biggest roadblocks to the prosperity and safety of Hindus.

Swami Dayananda SaraswatiThe long-term goal for Hindus should be to free Hindu Temples from Government control. There are several organizations working across the country towards this goal.

The Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha already has filed a case in the Supreme Court. In a seminar on temples, I had once heard from Swami Dayananda Saraswati that none of the state governments from the south had answered the questions put forth by HDAS in the honorable Supreme Court. Given the rate at which the judiciary functions, one should expect that Hindus are in a for a long grind and by that time, severe damage would have been done.

It would be better to lobby with a supposedly pro-Hindu central government to remove the Hindu Endowments Act completely from the Constitution. Please contact the various BJP Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly and ask them to remove this draconian act that is killing the Hindu community.

Narendra Modi & Rajnath SinghThe silence of the Narendra Modi Government in this regard is disheartening. The Government is aware of the problem, it is also aware of the fact that it is the Hindus that voted them to power. It’s been nine months since the NDA came into power and yet it has not taken any concrete steps to provide equality to Hindus. Hindus need to make their collective voices heard and bring pressure on the Modi Government. If it fails to act despite this, the BJP should be shown its place in the sun.

Many times, Hindus complain that Hindu organisations could have better spokespersons to represent them in the media. However, the travesty is that people donate to a government controlled temple like the TTD in crores but not to a Hindu organization that could protect our Dharma. That should tell us something.

In the end, until Hindus take back their temples, it is advisable not to donate to Government-controlled temples. If Hindus really wish to donate, then they will be better served by donating it to a Hindu organization which really cares for Hindu causes and the community.

Tirumala Tirupathi DevasthanamsThe road ahead

The TTD has taken a token action of ordering an investigation and a criminal case has been registered. But that by itself does not guarantee that such incidents will not recur in the future. Readers are requested to call up the official TTD numbers or email them to immediately dismiss the college principal on the grounds that he happens to be a Christian. Please ask the TTD to remove any non-Hindus from its payroll be it from colleges or from temple administration and all institutions run by it. To get a swift response from the TTD, readers should contact the Executive Officer(EO).

E-mail Ids:

Executive Officer: eo@tirumala.org

Joint Executive Officer, Tirumala: jeotml@tirumala.org

Joint Executive Officer, Tirupati: jeotpt@tirumala.org

Chief Vigilance & Security Officer: cvso@tirumala.org

Public Relations Officer: pro@tirumala.org

Phone Numbers of TTD Officials:

Executive Officer: 0877-2264160(c), 4977(o), 4393(o)

JEO Tirupati: 0877-2264877(c), 4231(o)

PA to the Executive Officer: 0877-2264545

Public Relations Officer: 0877-2264392

Central Reception Officer: 0877-2263922

Chief Accounts Officer: 0877-2264752,4213

Chief Vigilance & Security: 0877-2264390

Devasthanam Law officer: 0877-2264317

Dev. Educational Officer: 0877-2264396

Dharma Prachara Parishad: 0877-2264490,92,93,94

Overseas Temple: 0877-2277718

Complaints/Suggestions: 18004254141

Article Source: IndiaFacts, 22 February 2015