Magna Carta: Political reform and civil liberties or an English con trick? – Jay Bhattacharjee

John signs the Great Charter

 Jay Bhattacharjee“Despite all the hoopla about the Magna Carta, it was basically a palace affair that had nothing or very little to do with democracy, people’s rights etc., that were subsequently ascribed to this private coup d’etat. The entire exercise was the first practical demonstration of the basic skills of the English aristocracy—avoiding obliteration through careful strategies of adapting and assimilation. These attributes are also shared by their Indian elite counterparts who have a different composition but are guided by the same motives of self-aggrandisement and survival.” – Jay Bhattacharjee

Magna CartaThe 15th of June marked the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, widely acknowledged in the English-speaking world (including these shores) as one of the most important milestones in human rights and civil liberties. On the 15th June 1215, King John of England, in order to protect his turf, signed a charter (a brainchild of the Archbishop of Canterbury) with a cabal of rebellious barons in the barren fields of Runnymede, near the royal palace of Windsor Castle.

The document, grandly labelled “Magna Carta” (The Great Charter) or sometimes even more inaccurately as “ Magna Carta Libertatum” (The Great Charter of the Liberties) was basically a holding movement, in military parlance. The hugely unpopular John was buying time from his core group of supporters, the barons and the clergy, and he did this by making a number of significant compromises. The Magna Carta assured and committed the following: (a) the barons would not be subjected to illegal imprisonment (b) the rights of the Church, including its huge properties would not be impinged upon (c) the barons would have access to swift justice, (d) there would be limitations, administered by a council of 25 barons, pertaining to their feudal payments.

In this entire soap opera, the people of the country, the ordinary citizens, were noticeably absent. And deliberately so. Despite all the hoopla about the Magna Carta, it was basically a palace affair that had nothing or very little to do with democracy, people’s rights etc., that were subsequently ascribed to this private coup d’etat. The entire exercise was the first practical demonstration of the basic skills of the English aristocracy—avoiding obliteration through careful strategies of adapting and assimilation. These attributes are also shared by their Indian elite counterparts who have a different composition but are guided by the same motives of self-aggrandisement and survival. We will return to this subject later.

M.K. Gandhi & Lord MountbattenOver centuries, the English establishment’s public relations machine carried on one of the most bogus campaigns in intellectual history, conning generations of scholars and politicians throughout the globe that the Magna Carta was one of the bedrocks of democracy, governance, civil rights etc. The Indian Home Rule advocates, including Gandhi for many years, fell for this English card trick, lock, stock and barrel. If the radical group had not acquired a leading role in the freedom struggle, inspired by titans like Bipin Pal, Sri Aurobindo, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Subhash Bose and the other Purna Swaraj advocates, Gandhi, Nehru and their cabal would have been perfectly content with a slightly modified version of Pax Britannica in India.

In fact, when the Congress under Nehru as its President, passed the “Purna Swaraj” resolution in its session in December 1929, declaring that the 26th January 1930 would be observed as “Purna Swaraj” day, it did not anticipate the wave of popular support and enthusiasm that would be displayed by the people of the country. Both Nehru and his mentor Gandhi were taken aback by this upsurge of national sentiment, and thereafter chose to cast their lot with this wave. The fact that Nehru conveniently overlooked the basic spirit underlying Purna Swaraj and opted for India to remain within the British Commonwealth even after becoming a sovereign Republic is an act of perfidy that our country barely realises or comprehends. I call it the Magna Carta syndrome that hovered over the colonised people of the British Empire and still does in Delhi’s Lutyens zone.

Utpal  DuttFast forward to the 1950s when the history textbooks in independent India’s English schools still sold the original Magna Carta fable. This writer vividly remembers the scintillating presentation by Utpal Dutt to eager young schoolchildren about this myth. He dissected and demolished it completely. Sadly, outside Bengal, Utpal Dutt is remembered (albeit vaguely) as an eccentric character-actor in the semi-art films of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and similar directors. However, his pedagogic genius is still imprinted in my mind and those of my contemporaries. For about 7 years or so, this thespian moulded the minds of youngsters in a new-wave Calcutta school, apart from revolutionising Bengali theatre with his Little Theatre Group. Admittedly, Utpal Dutt was a Marxist, but his decolonising mind-set was outstanding. He was almost in the league of his namesake, Michael Madhusudan Dutt many years earlier, or his contemporary Frantz Fanon, though he never got around to writing like the black Frenchman.

Returning to the Magna Carta and the impeccable marketing job done by the British aristocracy and establishment in selling it to a world audience, a few other fundamental facts should be emphasised. Even in Britain, the role of the Magna Carta in bringing about basic democratic rules and norms like universal suffrage etc. was limited. At the beginning of the 20th century, British historians started re-evaluating the entire subject. The iconic position of the document was slowly dismantled. Many historians like Maitland, Jenks and Pollard argued convincingly that the events in 1215 did not relate or pertain to the liberty and freedom of the British people at large but were confined to safeguarding the rights of the barons and the aristocracy.

Winston ChurchillFor Indians and the other colonised people of the British Empire, what is of greater significance is that the British rulers did not think it fit to apply the purported benefits of the charter to those foreign people whom they ruled. A cad like Churchill who thundered forth about freedom, liberty and the evils of Hitler’s Nazi ideology (the last issue being just about the only subject where I agree with him) did not think of extending the Magna principle to the Zulus in South Africa or the Indians. And certainly not to the starving Bengalis in the Bengal famine of 1943, an act of barbaric genocide that equalled anything that Eichmann, Himmler and Hitler had done in Europe. The fact that Churchill never bothered to pay his Bangalore Club bill either, merely substantiates my thesis about the English / British aristocracy and establishment—they are unapologetic kleptomaniacs.

On the 15th June, you can bet that the British put up an impressive show to celebrate the confidence trick they played on the world for centuries. Their royalty will turn out in the style that befits the descendants of the mad German king George III who was invited by them to usurp their throne. One of the Guards regiments may march and I admit they do march nearly as well as the Indian regiments.

John Kenneth GalbraithGalbraith, a Canadian-American, in one of his remarks about conservatives said something that is so applicable to the British establishment and aristocracy: “They (the conservatives) are engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy—the search for superior moral justification for selfishness”. Despite all the English hoopla about the Magna Carta, the U.K continues to be one of the most unequal societies in the western hemisphere. It is also a thoroughly class-ridden country, with some families having been at the top of the pecking order for centuries. Britain’s industrialists, financiers, landowning gentry, and politicians have been past masters at mutual back-scratching. Their positions have very rarely been challenged throughout history. Along with Iran, Britain it is the only country I know where clerics (the Bishops of the Church of England who sit in the House of Lords) are automatically elected to the legislature.

Anyone still rooting for the Magna Carta? – Swarajya, 15 June 2015

» Jay Bhattacharjee is a policy and corporate affairs analyst based in Delhi.

Archbishop Justin Welby, Prime Minister David Cameron, Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip attend Magna Carta signing anniversary ceremony at Runnymede on June 15, 2015

Soldiers stand next to the Magna Carta memorial during an event marking the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta signing by King John at Runnymede, near London, England, June 15, 2015.

Native Americans say Junípero Serra enslaved them; Pope Francis says he saved them – Jack Jenkins

Native American demonstrators protest the proposed sainthood of Junípero Serra outside Mission Dolores in San Francisco, California.

Jack Jenkins“‘It is imperative [Pope Francis] is enlightened to understand that Father Serra was responsible for the deception, exploitation, oppression, enslavement and genocide of thousands of Indigenous Californians, ultimately resulting in the largest ethnic cleansing in North America,’ a MoveOn.org petition read.” – Jack Jenkins

Pope FrancisPope Francis has been widely lauded as a champion of the oppressed, advocating for the victims of war and passionately declaring that “to discriminate in the name of God is inhuman.”

But in September, the pontiff is planning to canonize, or declare a saint, a man who some Native Americans say not only discriminated in God’s name, but also subjugated thousands of Indians along the West Coast using missionary tactics that effectively enslaved his Christian converts.

Spanish Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra (1713-1784)On [May 6th], the Vatican formally sanctioned plans to proclaim the saintliness of Junípero Serra, an 18th century Franciscan missionary who converted thousands of Native Americans to Christianity in California before his death in 1784. The Spanish priest is renowned by many Catholics for his devoutness, and Francis is scheduled to make his sainthood official in an elaborate outdoor mass during his papal visit to the United States this fall. The pontiff has expressed deep admiration for Serra, showering him with praise in a recent address to seminarians for exhibiting “generosity and courage” while “usher[ing] in a new springtime of evangelization in those immense territories, extending from Florida to California.” 

“Such zeal excites us,” Francis said.

But many argue the impact of Serra’s “zeal” is more complicated than the pope suggests. Native American activist organizations such as Mexica Movement have staged several protests outside Catholic sites across California since January, when Francis first announced his intention to canonize Serra. On Monday, demonstrators gathered outside of Mission Dolores in San Francisco, making speeches condemning Serra and unfurling banners emblazoned with slogans such as “No Sainthood for Serra” and “Native Lives Matter.”

“My ancestors were directly enslaved at Mission Dolores here, and at Mission San Jose in Fremont, and I want to make sure that the Vatican knows that we, and Native people allies, do not agree with the canonization of Junipero Serra,” said Corrina Gould, a woman who claims Karkin and Chochenyo Ohlone ancestry, according to Indybay.org.

Organizers have also launched Facebook groups and online petitions urging Francis to reconsider.

“It is imperative [Pope Francis] is enlightened to understand that Father Serra was responsible for the deception, exploitation, oppression, enslavement and genocide of thousands of Indigenous Californians, ultimately resulting in the largest ethnic cleansing in North America,” a MoveOn.org petition read.

Protest against Serra's canonizationA saint who beat Native Americans?

Credited with baptizing around 90,000 Indians during his lifetime, there is wide agreement among historians that Serra’s evangelism tactics were harsh by any modern standard. George Tinker, Professor of American Indian Cultures and Religious Traditions at Iliff School of Theology and author of Missionary Conquest: The Gospel and Native American Genocide, described to ThinkProgress what he called the “almost slave-labor conditions” that Native Americans were subjected to under Serra’s leadership. Citing accounts from Serra’s own lieutenant, Tinker said the Franciscan priest prohibited converts from leaving his Christian compounds, often called missions, and forced them to endure grueling labor on Spanish-run farms. Any attempt to flee was met with brutal reprisals.

Protest against the canonization of Junipero Serra at Mission Dolores, California“The army would round the person up, bring him back to the mission compound, and then the person is punished,” he said, “The mission compound was run kind of like a military boot camp.”

The mission compound was run kind of like a military boot camp.

Tinker, himself a Native American of the Osage Nation who practices traditional spirituality, said Indians were often unwillingly compelled to convert, and that Serra housed women and unmarried girls in tight quarters until he chose spouses for them.

“Indian people had little free choice,” he said. “Conversion [was] almost a last desperation in order to stay alive.”

Native Americans and even some Catholics have opposed the Church’s celebration of Serra for several decades. In the lead up to his beatification — a preliminary step on the road to sainthood — in 1988, advocates in California penned op-eds demanding Church officials acknowledge Serra’s role in harming indigenous populations. In response, the Diocese of Monterey issued a 90-page report rejecting the accusation that Serra mistreated Indians, with one contributor saying “there’s no evidence that Serra ever instituted physical punishment or any kind of unusual punishment.” But several Indians pointed out that the document, which was compiled by a public relations specialist, did not interview any Native Americans, and that Franciscan historians had already acknowledged that Serra “upheld the custom of whipping.”

ThinkProgress contacted the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for a response to the recent wave of anti-Serra protests, but did not receive a reply by press time.

Protest against the canonization of Spanish missionary of Junípero Serra in CaliforniaAn agent of colonialism

Some Catholics and scholars have sought to re-examine Serra — who was a member of the Inquisition — as a product of his time, when missionaries all over the globe were encouraged to treat their converts like misguided offspring. Robert M. Senkewicz, history professor at Santa Clara University and co-author of Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary, told ThinkProgress that Serra was actually arguably more benevolent than other missionaries, and tried to protect Native Americans from additional exploitation at the hands of the Spanish military.

“In California, [political leaders] always wanted the Indian labor force available to themselves, a sort of series of personal servants,” he said. “Most of the fights Serra had in California were over trying to restrict the military settlers’ access to Native labor.”

Catholics who support Serra’s canonization, such as controversial San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, say his relative altruism toward Indians justifies his sainthood, and that Native life under missionaries was preferable to battling European armies.

“European powers were going to discover this continent and settle here,” Cordileone told the New York Times in January. “Were the indigenous people better off with the missionaries or without the missionaries? I would say they were better off with the missionaries.”

Pope Francis expressed a similar sentiment in his homily over the weekend, claiming that Serra defended “indigenous people against abuses by the colonizers.”

Protest against canonization of Junipero Serra at Mission DeloresBut Tinker and other Native Americans say Serra couldn’t have protected Indians from colonialism, because he and other missionaries were colonial agents of deeply Catholic Spain. Tinker noted that Serra’s first task after making landfall in San Diego in the 1700s was to celebrate mass on the beach with Native American observers, all while ships offshore fired canons overhead. Tinker also said Serra had at least partial control over the military that accompanied him, and regularly used soldiers to keep Native American converts in line — presumably with whips, which historical records imply he ordered for use on his flock.

Indian people [of the time] would agree that they were better off dead than living under a Franciscan rule.

“Indian people [of the time] would agree that they were better off dead than living under a Franciscan rule,” he said. “How is that better than what the Puritans did? It’s the same results. Invariably, mission work was a component of colonization, either explicitly or implicitly, and in the case of Serra it was inordinately explicit.”

“This [was] an act of pure colonialism, of nailing down territory.”

Senkewicz also acknowledged that Serra, despite representing the “softer side of colonialism,” was undeniably a willing participant in Spanish conquest and the mistreatment it entailed.

“Violence and coercion were an integral part of the colonial system,” Senkewicz said, referring to the use of flogging in Serra’s missions. “This was justified by a frank paternalism, [the idea] that these people are children, and this is what you do with children.”

Pope Francis and Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles Pope Francis’ saint

Pope Francis has been unusually involved in Serra’s soon-to-be sainthood. Normally, a person is vetted for canonization after being approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, a Vatican group which traditionally requires that at least two miracles be attributed to someone before they can be recommended for sainthood. But the congregation actually never approved a second miracle credited to Serra, issuing their endorsement seemingly because Pope Francis had already scheduled the canonization for September. This makes Serra part of a growing list of people deemed saints primarily through the will of Pope Francis, twice without the number of miracles historically needed to do so — including the recent canonization of Pope John XXIII.

Whatever the reasoning for Serra’s sainthood, however, the controversy largely centers around one question: should the pope elevate a man who played a key role in a colonial campaign that harmed Native Americans?

“It legitimizes the conquest,” Tinker said. He predicted the looming canonization will only worsen a longstanding chasm of mistrust between the Catholic Church and Native Americans in California — a rift that largely began under Serra’s ministry.

“Part of me wants to say, ‘Oh yeah, we would like the church to come to its senses,’” he said, audibly sighing. “But as far as I can tell that’s a lost cause.” – ThinkProgress, 7 May 2015

» Jack Jenkins is the Senior Religion Reporter for ThinkProgress.

Jose Gomez

Protest statement against Junipero Serro's canonization

Anti Serra Poster

Anti-Colonialism Poster

Church-run residential schools committed ‘cultural genocide’ against Native Canadians – Nick Robins-Early

Drummers pass Parliament Hill as they lead the Walk for Reconciliation, part of the closing events of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Sunday, May 31, 2015 in Ottawa. Beginning in the 1870s, over 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were required to attend government-funded, church-run residential schools in an attempt to assimilate them into Canadian society; the last school closed in 1996. Students were prohibited from speaking their own languages, practicing their culture and often experienced physical and sexual abuse. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Nick Robins-Early“Canada’s residential school system began in the late 19th century as a means of assimilating aboriginal youth into white colonial society through education and removing them of their cultural, spiritual and linguistic heritage. … Authorities forcibly took children from their homes and put them into boarding schools, which were operated by Christian churches — the majority of which were Catholic. “This was done not to educate them, but primarily to break their link to their culture and identity,” the commission’s report states.” – Nick Robins-Early

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chair Justice Murray SinclairCanada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a landmark report on Tuesday that extensively details accounts of aboriginal children undergoing forced assimilation and physical and sexual abuse in state-funded, church-run boarding schools.

After conducting six years of research and over 6,000 survivor  Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) and National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine (2R) pause before walking into the House of Commons on Parliament Hill June 11, 2008 in Ottawa, Canada. Harper delivered a formal statement of apology on behalf of the Federal Government and all Canadians to former students of Indian Residential Schools, who for decades were forcibly removed from their communities and sent to state-funded schools to be assimilated. (Photo by Mike Carroccetto/Getty Images)interviews, the commission’s report found that what happened at the schools, and the broader aboriginal policy that they were a part of, “can best be described as ‘cultural genocide.'”

A total of 139 of these residential schools, as they are known, existed across the country between 1883 and the late 1990s, with a sharp decline in operations after the 1970s. Many indigenous former students spoke with the TRC about their time at these institutions, detailing traumatic stories of being stripped of their cultural identity and, often, subjected to horrific assaults.

Canada’s residential schools have been the target of numerous legal challenges, as former students and rights groups have sought to redress the wrongs committed against the nation’s aboriginal people as a result of government policies.

Survivors settled a massive class-action lawsuit against churches and the government in 2007. Among other things, the settlement required the founding of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission began its work in 2009 and collected over 6,750 witness accounts over six years.

Canada’s residential school system began in the late 19th century as a means of assimilating aboriginal youth into white colonial society through education and removing them of their cultural, spiritual and linguistic heritage.

The report notes that while addressing Parliament in 1883, Canada’s first prime minister, John A. MacDonald, said assimilation could only be accomplished by removing aboriginal children from their families and community — otherwise, he said, an aboriginal child would simply be “a savage who can read and write.”

Authorities forcibly took children from their homes and put them into boarding schools, which were operated by Christian churches — the majority of which were Catholic. “This was done not to educate them, but primarily to break their link to their culture and identity,” the commission’s report states.

Canadian Residential School SurvivorsSome of these abuses have previously been documented by rights groups and in legal cases. For example, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported in 2013 that some schools conducted nutritional experiments on malnourished students in the 1940s and 1950s, in which children were withheld nutrients or kept on “starvation-level diets.” The TRC report, however, is the likely most comprehensive, detailed and up-to-date account. The summary report released Tuesday contains hundreds of pages detailing decades of trauma, and survivors’ stories were compiled into a lengthy additional document. A full six-volume document on the schools is set to be released later this year.

Female students and a nun at Cross Lake Indian Residential School in Cross Lake, Manitoba.Among other findings, the TRC documented survivors being punished and beaten if they failed to remember the Euro-Canadian names they were ordered to take on in place of their aboriginal names. Many said they had their hair, which can contain spiritual significance for aboriginals, cut off.

The commission also heard numerous reports of horrific physical and sexual abuse at the hands of school administrators, including sexual assaults on children as young as five.

Over 31,000 legal claims of sexual assault in residential schools have been resolved, totaling almost 2.8 billion Canadian dollars in compensation. Criminal charges have also been brought against some perpetrators, including an 11-year sentence for former dormitory supervisor Arthur Plint and two non-consecutive convictions for supervisor Paul Leroux.

The federal government estimates that a total of 150,000 aboriginal children went through the school system, according to the TRC report. More than 3,200 children are documented by the report to have died in the schools, but TRC chair Justice Murray Sinclair stated that the true number of deaths may be closer to 6,000.

If the 6,000 figure is accurate, the odds of a child dying in a residential school were higher that the odds of Canadians dying while serving in World War II, notes the CBC.

In 37 separate instances, students attempted to burn down their schools to escape the abuse, with two of those attempts resulting in the deaths of staff and students, according to the report. Other students died from exposure while attempting to run away.

Starting in 1969, Canada’s government began a long and drawn-out process of closing down the schools, the report states, taking control from the churches and changing policies. The last federally supported schools shuttered in the late 1990s, as the decade saw more survivors speaking out and aboriginal rights groups demanding reparation. The government issued a formal apology to former students in 2008.

In addition to documenting the abuse suffered in the schools, the long-awaited TRC report issues 94 proposals for achieving reconciliation. These range from changes in public health policy to language laws that protect indigenous languages. The report also suggests that memorial monuments be built in the capital of every province and territory, and that Canada adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It also calls on the pope to issue a formal apology for the Catholic Church’s role in the abuse.

Richard GagnonThe Anglican and Presbyterian churches have issued apologies in previous years, and Pope Benedict expressed sorrow and sympathy for the abuses in 2009, but did not apologize. Canada’s Archbishop Gagnon balked at calls for an apology on Wednesday, saying “that ground has been covered already.”

The Canadian government hasn’t committed to implementing any of the proposals, and it has previously opposed signing the UN declaration out of concerns that this would give aboriginal groups the ability to veto national laws in their territories.

Both of Canada’s largest opposition groups have said that they would implement all 94 proposals if they come to power. The next election is to be held in October.

The full summary report can be read here. — HuffPost, 4 June 2015

» Nick Robins-Early is the Associate World Editor at the Huffington Post, New York.

Around the Web

Catholics demand resignation of Mumbai’s profiteering prelates – Jyoti Shelar

Parishioners of the Our Lady of Mercy Church, Thane

Cardinal Oswald Gracias is the de facto head of the Catholic Church in India.The Church is one of the largest land-holders in Mumbai after the Mumbai Port Trust and the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, and the Catholics are demanding a Parsi Punchayet-like structure wherein residential colonies are developed for the community. – Jyoti Shelar

Twenty-six Catholics, including a priest, have said that they will sit on fast unto death from May 29 at the archdiocese in Colaba, demanding the resignation of the cardinal. The protesters allege that Oswald Cardinal Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay, has been “blatantly consenting church land deals to benefit private developers”.

The Church is one of the largest land-holders in Mumbai after the Mumbai Port Trust and the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, and the Catholics are demanding a Parsi Punchayet-like structure wherein residential colonies are developed for the community.

“Huge plots of land are being sold to the private builders. The cardinal’s consent is needed in all land deals and he is allowing these deals for personal gains. We have managed to get a stay on two such deals, but the legal recourse requires a lot of money,” Church real estate in Mumbaisaid Melwyn Fernandes, secretary of the Association of Concerned Catholics, who is one of the 26 people to sit on the fast.

According to Fernandes, in 2013, the group managed to get a stay on development rights of a 21,000 sq mt of Our Lady of Mercy Church land in Thane, which was sold to a builder. Another stay was obtained after the Church sold development rights of the Marinagar plot to a developer.

In 2013, a first information report was registered against a priest at Santacruz Police Station for allegedly forging documents of a chawl belonging to the Our Lady of Egypt Church, and selling it to private parties.

“The cardinal and the bishop are allowing mismanagement of the Church properties worth crores of rupees,” said Joseph Sodder, a Mahim resident and a St Michael’s Church parishioner, adding that till date the archdiocese has constructed only one Catholics-only colony consisting of eight buildings in Mahim.

Bombay BishopsWhile the cardinal was not available for comment, Fr Nigel Barrett, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Bombay, said that they were aware that a fast is planned by “a few individuals”.

He said, “This sudden demand for the cardinal’s resignation by a miniscule number of people is indeed a surprise. The Archdiocese of Bombay comprises over five lakh Catholics, out of which nearly all hold the cardinal in high regard. All our schools, colleges and other educational/technical institutions are built on the Church land. We have a number of housing colonies in various parts of the Archdiocese that are built on the Church land. In fact, some of the protesters are staying in housing societies built on such land.” – Mumbai Mirror, 21 May 2015

Corruption in the Indian Church is evident in her clerics.

See also

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

Unteshwari Church, Kadi, Gujarat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unteshwari Mata ka Mahant Book Cover

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

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

The charade of the church attacks – Abhijit Majumder

“The meltdown of the great church attack story was reported in trickles — a single-column story here and there, a passing byte. No channel had a debate on it or stood corrected. Nobody asked who jumped the gun, who tarred the nation’s image, or who created the communal discourse in the first place. International media, too, seemed to be a part of this collusion of silence. Apart from creating baseless fear among minorities, what the media and intelligentsia have achieved is to further erode their own credibility. Social media has time and again shown the mirror to the mainstream in the last couple of years on matters of biased reportage and poor fact-checking.” – Abhijit Majumder

St Sebastian's Church, DelhiThe fire that started at the St Sebastian Church in Delhi’s Dilshad Garden on December 1, 2014, had caught on to national media by January and was raging internationally by February. 

The narrative was the same: Minorities are under siege in India, churches are being attacked, nuns raped. 

Narendra Modi’s critics asserted on social media that their dark clairvoyance had come true: With him heading the government, the violent Hindu right wing fringe had become the mainstream. 

“Church leaders have speculated that the Hindu far right might also be behind the church attacks,” the New York Times wrote. 

US President Barack Obama too swiftly took to the pulpit: “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith.” 

Ex-cop Julio Ribeiro to boxer Mary Kom to former Navy chief Sushil Kumar spoke about growing fear and insecurity among Indian Christians. 

And then, it all started unraveling. 

Sushil Kumar IsaacWhile a special investigative team is looking into the Dilshad garden church fire, pesky children were found behind the Jasola church stone-throwing, short circuit behind Rohini crib burning, a drunken dare behind Vikaspuri vandalising, and a burglary at Vasant Kunj church. 

A church which was attacked in Hisar was an illegal construction. However, it was perhaps the only communal one among recent church attacks, with the accused planting a Lord Hanuman idol inside it and blaming the priest of dodgy conversion attempts. 

The Navi Mumbai church attack grabbed headlines till it was found to be the handiwork of gamblers exacting revenge for church authorities setting the police after them. 

In West Bengal, mainstream and social media suspected Hindu fundamentalists behind the rape of a 72-year-old nun till the accused, Bangladeshi Muslims, were tracked down and arrested. 

Former IPS officer Julio Francis RibeiroAnd now, a jilted Muslim lover has been arrested for the attack on an Agra church, belying earlier claims that it was a communal incident. 

Disbelievingly, almost disappointedly, those who strung together a neat narrative of intolerant India watched each bead of untruth explode. Ribeiro even admitted to exaggerating the threat to Christians. 

But the mainstream media, which so enthusiastically spotted and reported a trend, did not report a fraction as comprehensively how it was never a trend in the first place. 

The meltdown of the great church attack story was reported in trickles — a single-column story here and there, a passing byte. No channel had a debate on it or stood corrected. 

Nobody asked who jumped the gun, who tarred the nation’s image, or who created the communal discourse in the first place

Mary KomInternational media, too, seemed to be a part of this collusion of silence. Apart from creating baseless fear among minorities, what the media and intelligentsia have achieved is to further erode their own credibility. 

Social media has time and again shown the mirror to the mainstream in the last couple of years on matters of biased reportage and poor fact-checking

One can’t shrug it all off as trolling. But here is the real danger: If a communal attack actually takes place (we know what happened to Graham Staines or Arul Das), mainstream media reports could be taken with extreme scepticism. 

The truth could get buried in the ashes of past lies. The bigger danger to the minorities is not from their perceived enemies but their irresponsible champions. 

Bias and lies breed anger, and often harden the stance of otherwise liberal, tolerant people. And it is never wise to keep announcing the arrival of the wolf. – Daily Mail, 25 April 2015

» Abhijit Majumder is a journalist and the Managing editor of Mail Today.

Fr. Dominic Emmanuel SVDCardinal Archbishop  Baselios Cleemis

Blame it on the Kellys – Bharavi

Julian the Apostate presiding at a conference of Christians

George Alencherry, Kuriakose Bharanikulangara & Narendra ModiRecently, there have been several well-publicized incidences of violence against Christians and/or their institutions in India.  A cry went up to the heavens: “persecution of Christians by the Pagan Hindus!” it proclaimed, and we heard much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Modi’s buddy ‘Barack’ tut-tutted, and invoked Gandhi, no less, much as one might dust off a three-piece suit for a memorable occasion, and wagged his disapproving finger at Modi’s naughty and hell-bound Pagan brethren.  So much so that Modi had to signal contrition by converting his first shIvaratri after assuming office to a shAvaratri.

In unvarying accordance with hoary church tradition going back to the pre-Nicene ‘father’ Tertullian, the Christian establishment in India and their equivalents abroad rubbed their hands in glee, for here was a heaven-sent opportunity to cry persecution, claim martyrdom, and generally indulge in assorted passion plays pillorying the Hindu Pagans.

Such claims, going back centuries to the imaginary Apostle Thomas who never visited India but was slain by imaginary Brahmins anyway, are par for the course.  More recent history has church bombings by the Islamic Deendar Anjuman attributed to Hindus, as was the rape of Christian nuns in Jhabua by tribal converts, not to mention other incidents noted on this website.

TertullianTertullian sets the boilerplate

This millennial tradition of bearing false witness against the Pagan is evidence of the incorrigible and unregenerate ways of the insufferably self-righteous Christian establishment that has assiduously busied itself with motes in its neighbours’ eyes, but has studiously refrained from dealing with beams in its own, such as the Christian terrorism raging for decades in northeastern India with the stated goal of establishing ‘Nagalim for Christ.’  But lest we get ahead of ourselves, we must defer to Tertullian, who was rebutting charges of impiety and sedition leveled against Christians by the Romans:

“But go zealously on, good presidents, you will stand higher with the people if you sacrifice the Christians at their wish, kill us, torture us, condemn us, grind us to dust; your injustice is the proof that we are innocent. Therefore God suffers that we thus suffer; for but very lately, in condemning a Christian woman to the leno (prostitution) rather than to the leo (lion) you made confession that a taint on our purity is considered among us something more terrible than any punishment and any death.  Nor does your cruelty, however exquisite, avail you; it is rather a temptation to us. The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.”[1]

Now, such was the situation that the early Christians found themselves in.  The Romans who treated fights to the death as a matter of light entertainment did not think much of killing those whom they thought were either deviant Jews or a seditious burial society that routinely blasphemed all the Gods but their own, profaned sanctuaries and were prone to rioting on the slightest pretext.

But to the Pagan Hindus, used as they are to countenancing, even encouraging extremely idiosyncratic personalization of religion, and not even requiring a token sacrifice to the king’s genius as a mark of fidelity, Christianity is just not worth persecuting.  After all, those who worship shIva can hardly object to the worship of a shAva on a shUla, certainly not with the Aghoris still at large. Did not the God-child Tirugnanasambandar’s very first lisping verses describe His beloved shIva as the one who “besmeared with the ashes of the cremation ground, hath stolen my heart away?”  So, if the votaries of a Middle Eastern tribal godman’s corpse and its associated belief of a second coming in the same flesh after two thousand years want to celebrate or mourn, indulge in ritual cannibalism or insist that the end of the world is nigh, it’s generally their own business, and absolutely no skin off the collective Hindu Pagan nose.

Former IPS officer Julio Francis RibeiroNow, strictly from the vantage point of law and order, this would be a really admirable state of affairs (Mr. Julio Ribeiro, please note), but from the Christian viewpoint it is highly unsatisfactory for it does not furnish the required numbers of martyrs to ‘seed the faith’ by claiming the higher moral ground in good conscience. The Pagan Hindus are anyway doomed to be ‘eternally barbecued’ (pace Vivekananda) as per doctrine, but it would be even better if this could be more conveniently attributed to the persecution of some ‘martyrs’ by the accursed Hindus. Otherwise, they might have to be apologetically and sheepishly placed in Dante’s Limbo, already bursting at the seams with other virtuous Pagans of Greco-Roman provenance.

The Hindu reader, clueless as a rule, might protest that even if some sections of Hindu society were to furnish such martyrs, he heartily abominates and abhors the offending sections. Surely that would still not justify condemning all of Hindu society?  But then, the Christian god was never exactly sugar and spice (symbolizing the female aspect of humanity, be it noted) and, to his eternal credit, never claimed to be so. In fact, he’s downright careless when he is not being callous, something Mark Twain astutely pointed out in extenso:

“…They had offended the Deity in some way. We know what the offense was, without looking; that is to say, we know it was a trifle; some small thing that no one but a god would attach any importance to.  It is more than likely that a Midianite had been duplicating the conduct of one Onan, who was commanded to ‘go into his brother’s wife’—which he did; but instead of finishing, ‘he spilled it on the ground.’ The Lord slew Onan for that, for the lord could never abide indelicacy.  The Lord slew Onan, and to this day the Christian world cannot understand why he stopped with Onan, instead of slaying all the inhabitants for three hundred miles around—they being innocent of offense, and therefore the very ones he would usually slay.  For that had always been his idea of fair dealing. If he had had a motto, it would have read, ‘Let no innocent person escape.'”[2]

So, it should not come as a surprise that, after the initial excitement and salivation over the prospect of a fresh crop of martyrs, potentially more ‘saints,’ those who spat venom at Hindu society (see for comparison Matt. 22.33)[3] have implemented the second half of their famous time-tested strategy once the truth came out—and ran.

Pope FrancisFishing for men and the heretics

It is not for nothing that Jesus claimed that he would make of his first apostles ‘fishers of men’ (Matt. 4.18-19).[4] It presents the kernel of the ‘great commission’ that the generic Christian Church, ranging from that of the snake handlers of the Appalachia to that of the self-crucifying Filipinos, and including the overdressed and pretentious pontiff of Rome en route, sincerely believes. Hindus may find this surprising, but the great commission includes making good Protestant evangelicals of idolatrous Catholics, and good Catholics of renegade Protestants as well.[5]  As an instructive old joke goes:

The Heretic

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, “Stop! Don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!” He said, “Like what?” I said, “Well, are you religious or atheist?” He said, “Religious.” I said, “Me too! Are your Christian or Buddhist?” He said, “Christian.” I said, “Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, Me too! Are your Episcopalian or Baptist? He said, “Baptist!” I said, “Wow! Me too! Are your Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord? He said, Baptist Church of God!” I said, “Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?” He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God!” I said, “Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic scum!” and pushed him off.[6]

So, regardless of all the genuflecting and crawling Hindus indulge in before Christian godmen in ‘interfaith conventions,’ hoping to get a modicum of approval or sympathy from them, nothing is going to materialize. Rather, it is high time Hindus realized that they are regarded with polite amusement at best, or held in outright contempt at worst, when making such abject spectacles of themselves. Rather, Hindus should merely adhere to the principle of ensuring a thorough investigation of every crime and breach of public order in any form, and demand that the offender(s) be brought to to justice in a timely manner. Along the course, they should not neglect to ‘cut, paste Ned Kellyand preserve’ the calumny of the Church against Hindu society whenever it is in evidence. Perhaps IndiaFacts could initiate a ‘Catalogue of Ecclesiastical Calumniation,’ but not without first taking the precaution of allocating sufficient digital memory to the project.

Blame it on the Kellys

The time-tested policy of Christianity is to blame the Pagans for everything that goes wrong.  The song “Blame it on the Kellys” written by Shel Silverstein and first performed by Waylon Jennings, admirably summarizes the Christian strategy, though it has nothing to do with Christianity per se.  The song itself is about the Australian outlaw (‘bushranger’) Ned Kelly, who is something of a folk hero in Australia, so much so that every crime is humorously laid at his gang’s door.

(You can listen to the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtSKntQ0ir4)

Someone stole old Banyon’s pig. Blame it on the Kellys!
Pinched my cart and horse and rig. Blame it on the Kellys!
Someone robbed the Sydney mail, sacked the jailer and put him in jail,
and if the potato crop should fail—they’ll blame it on the Kellys.
Blame it on the Kelly boys, blame it on the Kellys,
shame, shame upon the name, blame it on—the Kellys.

If anybody steals a horse, blame it on the Kellys!
Anybody breaks the law, blame it on the Kellys!
If anyone does something new, or does what you would like to do,
and if the troopers don’t know who—they’ll blame it on the Kellys.
Blame it on the Kelly boys, blame it on the Kellys,
shame, shame upon the name, blame it on—the Kellys.

They’re posted up on every wall. Blame it on the Kellys!
There’s no crime too great or small, to blame it on the Kellys!
They killed a thousand so they tell,
you know they’re bound to burn in hell,
I think I’ll steal a horse myself—and blame it on the Kellys.
Blame it on the Kelly boys, blame it on the Kellys,
shame, shame upon the name, blame it on—the Kellys.

Someone killed old Jim Divine. Blame it on the Kellys!
Was a dark and deadly crime.  Blame it on the Kellys!
Someone killed old Jim Divine, we don’t know the place or time,
but the poor old boy was a hundred and nine—
Oh, blame it on the Kellys !

Blame it on the Kelly boys, blame it on the Kellys,
shame, shame upon the name, blame it on—the Kellys.

Blaming the Pagan Hindu, be it noted, is in deadly earnest, not in jest. As the chief Catholic godman the late John Paul II proclaimed in 1957:

“…just as in the first millennium the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the Third Christian Millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent”

JesusIn other words, the Pagan Hindus are destined for the same fate as their European and American Pagan brethren in earlier millennia.  Thus, bearing false witness against the hated Polytheists, Idolators, Pagans, Heathens et al is merely one of the means of bearing ‘witness to the truth’ as Christian doctrine would have it.  The only unforgivable sin, as per Christian doctrine, is the ‘original sin’ of Adam, transmitted down generations much as a debilitating parasite might.  It is ‘cured’ only by an acceptance of Jesus’ crucifixion as a blood sacrifice to atone for this ‘sin’ for all time to come.  For all else, like child-abuse for instance, there are always the expedients of absolution and indulgence devised by the ingenious and inventive Church.

After all, when the end of the world is at hand and the second coming of the godman Jesus is practically around the corner, a few well-placed lies cloaked with crafty dissimulation and obfuscated with egregious half-truths are indispensable to the success of the ‘Great Commission.’

Notes and references

  1. Tertullian, The Apology, Chapter 50.
  2. Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth, Letter X.
  3. Jesus abuses the Pharisees – “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”  No sign of showing either cheek there, what to speak of the other one!
  4. “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.”
  5. “Pope warns against ‘wolves’ of Protestants Evangelicals’ rise in Latin America viewed as divisive.”  The Pope’s (John Paul II) pronouncements deserve to be read in full by all Hindus who have a weakness for anything in flowing robes.  They should note especially the allusion to ‘shepherd’ and ‘flock’ which is an accurate enough description of matters as they stand. (http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1992-10-13/news/1992287130_1_new-evangelism-evangelical-churches-roman-catholic-church)
  6. See http://www.nobeliefs.com/jokes.htm
  7. John Paul II, Address to the Sixth Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), Manila (15 January 1995). [Insegnamenti XVIII, 1 (1995), 159].
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