Church behind the Sterlite protests – Lalita Nijhawan

Bro. Mohan C. Lazarus

Lalita NijhawanBrother Mohan C. Lazarus said, without any scientific backing, that Sterlite is a toxic factory. He said that the Church is praying to shut down the factory. He further stated that a protest will be held in Tuticorin, where all Catholics, Pentecostals, Church of South India (CSI) would unite to participate against Sterlite. – Lalita Nijhawan

The coverage by the national media of the protests in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, against Vedanta’s copper smelting plant has been injudicious, based on hearsay and without application of mind. A narrative has been parroted without critical examination.

It is true that protestors were killed in Tuticorin. But unfortunate and tragic as that is, did anyone bother to ask why police had to open fire? These protestors outnumbered the police force by a huge number at the collectorate; they assaulted police personnel physically, pelted them with stones, tore the clothes of female law enforcers and molested them, indulged in wanton acts of arson including setting fire to public property and indulged in an orgy of violence that threatened the safety of innocent people. Should it not be asked what forces were behind this extremely violent protest which is against every democratic norm? Was the protest sponsored or did it occur spontaneously? Who allowed the assault on police personnel and the burning of vehicles, buildings, ambulances and even setting the collectorate ablaze? Who made Tuticorin a battleground? Is death the only indicator of violence? Have we stopped condemning violence unless it results in deaths? Since when have we started celebrating protests indulge in acts of violence and destruction?

It is the absence of these questions being asked that the Opposition, led by the Congress and Communists, were quick to blame without any basis whatsoever the Narendra Modi-led Central Government rather than lay the responsibility for both the protests and the deaths of protestors in police firing at the door of the Tamil Nadu State Government which is in charge of law and order. But facts are of no consequence for those Opposition leaders who took to make wild, defamatory charges against Modi calling him a “murderer”. But then that is par for the course for the conspirators who pushed the Tuticorin protests into violence as it helped them in their goal of slinging mud at the Modi regime. Another motive could well have been to ensure the closure of the Sterlite copper smelting plant. But has anyone rationally thought about the negative effects of closing the plant? Is anyone worried about how this will affect our country’s economy and the thousands of employees who will be laid off?

The most provocative statement on the situation came from Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. Apropos of nothing in particular, he blamed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for the Tuticorin row, keeping in tune with his politics which begins and ends with RSS-baiting. When journalist Gauri Lankesh was murdered, Gandhi accused the Sangh of being behind the killing within half-an-hour of the shooting. When B.S. Yeddyurappa resigned as the Chief Minister of Karnataka because he couldn’t prove his majority on the floor of the House, Gandhi proclaimed he was supporting the rump JDS to “save the people from the RSS”. Rahul’s anti-Hindu bias is understandable but accusing the Sangh of being a terrorist organization is beyond the pale. In fact, the Congress-Communist cabal by baseless charges against the RSS instead of engaging in an ideological debate has ensured that the Sangh has come to represent Hindu sentiment nationwide. As a corollary, opposition to the RSS is considered ‘opposition to communalism’ and support of Islamic and Christian communalism and is termed ‘secularism’ by this cabal.

In the Tuticorin case, however, there seems to be more to it than just the reflexive blame-the-Sangh approach; a concerted attempt by the Church in those parts, supported by Gandhi and the so-called secular media, to drag the Sangh into the row is evident. The districts of Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu have the highest number of Christians and the Church has great influence on the public. It is not a coincidence that in the last two decades these districts have faced the greatest opposition to national development projects.

The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project in Tirunelveli, which was developed in collaboration with Russia, also saw a lot of protests. America’s disdain for this project was quite evident. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh publicly blamed US-funded institutions for the protests against Kudankulam. The then Union Minister V. Narayanasamy alleged that Bishop Yavon Ambrose of Tuticorin received Rs 54 crore and was the key figure behind the protests. Many Christian institutions such as People’s Education for Action and Liberation, and Good Vision were on the Union Home Ministry’s radar as instigators. The Home Secretary had announced that bank accounts of four such NGOs were sealed, as money was transferred from overseas to fund national protests and incite disruption.

The Christian population in Tuticorin is close to 30 per cent and the Church has a deep impact on residents’ everyday life. The plan to expand the Sterlite copper plant was brought forward as a new addition to the scope of already ongoing disputes. Before the Sterlite plant was closed, it was producing four lakh tons of copper annually. Under the proposed expansion, which would have happened if not for the violent protests and subsequent deaths in police firing, Sterlite would have produced eight lakh tons of copper annually. If this project had gone through, almost all of India’s copper needs would have been met domestically.

According to official police reports, the Tuticorin protest has a clear foreign influence. Samarendra Das of the Foil Vedanta Group flew in from London and secretly met Sterlite protesters and assured them that he would fully support the continuation of the protests, according to police. Is it a coincidence that after the Tuticorin violence John McDonnell, a prominent leader of the Opposition Labour Party in the UK, declared that Vedanta is a rogue company and demanded it be removed from the London Stock Exchange? The discussions regarding Sterlite were used to instigate the locals of Tuticorin. Brother Mohan C. Lazarus on a YouTube video said, without any scientific backing, that Sterlite is a toxic factory. He said that the Church is praying to shut down the factory. He further stated that a protest will be held on 24 March, 2018, at Rajaji Park in Tuticorin, where all Catholics, Pentecostals, Church of South India (CSI) would unite to participate against Sterlite. Scientists of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had visited Sterlite and certified that emissions were within prescribed limits. Then what have these Churches achieved by provoking people against Sterlite, claiming that pollution levels are extremely hazardous? The Kundankulam protests saw the participation of Bishop Yvon Ambroise and S.P. Udayakumar, while the Sterlite protest had Brother Mohan C. Lazarus and other churches in the surrounding area as prime movers. Is the anti-development attitude of the Church not to be questioned? If the Manmohan Singh Government could take action against such disruptive elements then why can’t the Modi Government?

Police were portrayed as villains in Tuticorin. The media narrative was overwhelmingly of trigger-happy cops going berserk; did anyone try to figure out why the police was compelled to take last-resort action? Local journalist N. Rajesh’s report says the Deputy Inspector General of Police Kapil Kumar Saratkar made elaborate arrangements at the protest venue so that activists would not reach the collectorate. Even when senior police officers were talking to protest leaders and asking them to ensure a peaceful demonstration, radical activists broke the barricades and used iron pieces from them to assault police personnel. Police responded with a lathi charge. Rajesh’s report says he and some other journalists climbed to the rooftop of a hotel opposite the collectorate to get a better sense of what was going down. At 11:30 am some protesters, who had forced their way into the collectorate, began burning vehicles. When the protestors saw that their photographs were being clicked and videos being recorded, they pelted journalists with stones. When journalists came down from the roof of the hotel some were assaulted and many had their cameras snatched.

The testimony of the collectorate employees supports Rajesh’s reportage. A female employee said that at 11.10 a.m., she was having tea in the canteen with her colleagues; about 20 minutes later they witnessed bruised and battered police personnel being chased by stone-pelting protesters. The employees were scared and didn’t know what to do, so they went back to their office for safety. Then there was a second wave of protesters when an estimated 15,000-20,000 activists entered the collectorate office. They had weapons fashioned from iron rods, glass bottles, petrol bombs and lathis. They set about destroying the office and setting fire to government vehicles. There were about 100 policemen deployed for security who tried to control the protesters and prevent them from entering the collectorate. But the protesters outnumbered the policemen by thousands. They ruthlessly attacked the policemen who ran away in fear of their lives. They then set fire to all collectorate vehicles. The entire office was filled with smoke, suffocating the employees. The protesters didn’t even spare female police personnel. They tore their clothes and molested them. There are hundreds of eye-witnesses to what transpired and they all say the same thing.

Opportunistic politicians and parties who blame police for opening fire need to be more circumspect. Any loss of life is tragic and unfortunate, but what would they have done if faced with a life-threatening situation had they had been stationed at the Sterlite plant and tasked with ensuring its safety? Should violent mobs have been allowed to create havoc and decimate Tuticorin and the copper plant? Should physical assaults on cops and government officials have been allowed? Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad compared those who died in the police firing to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh. Azad should be asked if the martyrs of Jallianwala were armed with stones, iron rods, lathis, petrol bombs and glass bottles and whether they chased, assaulted and attempted to kill police officers and commit arson.

The public may have a short memory but they cannot be fooled. Prior to Rahul Gandhi blaming the Sangh, and Ghulam Nabi’s comparison to Jallianwala Bagh, back in 2007 the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh had allowed the extension of the Sterlite plant. The Congress party’s blue-eyed boy and former Home and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was a Director in Sterlite’s parent company Vedanta before becoming a minister in the UPA government. Blinded by his intense hatred for the Sangh, Rahul Gandhi has also forgotten that law and order is a state subject. There is no BJP government in Tamil Nadu, so why indirectly or directly accuse the RSS?

It is about time that the BJP, the Central Government, and especially the Union Home Ministry learn from this incident. Asking for a report on the incident is not enough. The Home Ministry has failed to investigate the conspiracy, for which it needs to work in collaboration with State Government officials, to bring out the truth. During Manmohan Singh’s regime, there were some attempts to stop radical elements in the Church harming the national interest. What is stopping the Modi Government from following suit? – The Pioneer, 1 June 2018

» Lalita Nijhawan is Director of the Nijhawan group of companies.

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Schwarz Church obstructs Brihadeeshwara Temple ritual – Aravindan Neelakandan

Brihadeshwara Temple Tanjavur

Aravindan NeelakandanAggression against temples is starting to become visible and violent in Tamil Nadu, and unless Hindus reinvent and reorganise themselves as a political majority, their survival decreases with every passing day. – Aravindan Neelakandan

On 29 April 2018, the ceremonial procession that takes the ruling deity of Thanjavur’s Brahadeeshwarar Temple for a ritual bath in the adjoining Sivaganga temple tank, was stopped. The procession, complete with the playing of the nadaswaram (a classical wind instrument), was stopped by the authorities of CSI Schwarz Memorial Church—an eighteenth century church built by Danish Lutheran missionary, Christian Friedrich Schwarz.

Schwarz was an interesting character, who often projected himself as gentle and suave. He was a part of the political missions of the East Indian Company, being often sent as an emissary. While most of his hagiographers praise him as a selfless missionary, it is easy to see him as a manipulator who prevailed over the “native rulers”, by influencing them positively towards the colonial forces and keeping them away from any rebel influence. In fact, the British East India Company made Schwarz a member of the council of administration for Thanjavur. He, on his part, tried his best to convert the king, who, while gently refusing his religious advances, used him more as a trustworthy intermediary in dealing with the British. (Of course, the usual Evangelist propaganda that the king was convinced of Christian superiority, but did not convert because he feared the Brahmins, has always been part of the mission hagiographies).

Thuljaji II and little Serfoji II with Lutheran missionary Schwarz

More relevant to this point is that this colonial missionary took pleasure in going to the places of “heathen feasts” where thousands of “Hindoos” would gather for worship and preach Christianity, condemning what he understood through his Christian hatred as “idolatry”. So, when Schwarz Church authorities stopped the procession of 1,000-year-old Brahadeeswarar temple, it was colonial evangelism once again.

To understand this, one should realise that evangelical Christianity is always at war with Hinduism. To them, Hinduism is a religion to be destroyed when the opportunity comes and tolerated not even respectfully. but only tactfully till then. During the period of tolerance, preparations are made for the period of war—the war that can be declared when it is advantage Evangelists.

So the war against Hinduism waged by Evangelists in India can be divided into three periods. Between the late 17th to mid 19th century, when the colonial Evangelists attacked Hinduism, while simultaneously using colonial enterprise to politically, militarily and financially support the mission.

Then came the period between 1857 and 2004 when Evangelists moved from direct war to covert war. The covert war takes the form of many mini-wars in isolated areas throughout India where Evangelists have power through demographic change and political influences. For example, in Tripura, Christianity made Jamatiyas refugees in their own land for refusing to accept the Jesus cult. In Mizoram, Hindu Reangs were driven away as refugees and made to face ethnic extinction. In Odisha, the Maoist-Evangelical axis has been established to combat Hindu tribals.

The national movement between 1857 and 1947 definitely acted as a great emotional and intellectual barrier to the evangelical war. Gandhi and Veer Savarkar, otherwise poles apart, held very similar views on conversion—as political aggression on souls. Veer Savarkar considered this loss as more dangerous than territorial loss. Dr B. R. Ambedkar, despite being a strong critic of Hinduism, did not mince words when he said that conversion to Christianity denationalised the scheduled communities and compromised national security.

Evangelists waited for a time of their choice to declare war on Hinduism, and in the meanwhile, cultivated forces that would hasten the blowing of the war trumpets. In this process, different evangelical organisations wielded a thousand cuts on the Indic body through seemingly secular anti-Hindu pro-evangelical forces. Riots happened throughout India and any counter attack by Hindus alone got sensationalised as persecution.

For example, when Christian terrorists gunned down an entire family of 16, including seven-year-old girl in a cold-blooded massacre for celebrating harvest festival, it was seldom condemned. Nor did it create an outrage. One should contrast this with the outrage generated nationally and internationally over the accidental, but definitely inhuman and unjustifiable, killing of Australian Hindu-phobic missionary Graham Staines and his son, when angry tribals, whose families were torn by conversion torched his vehicle. Some of the canards spread by Evangelists against Hindus in this conflict are time-tested hate propaganda like, for instance, the charge of poisoning a well – originally a Christian anti-semitic tactic which was effectively employed in instigating violence against the Jews in pre-holocaust Christendom.

In Tamil Nadu, Evangelists been waging the war on different fronts, and all their efforts converge at one point or the other in the physical curtailment of Hindu human rights. As early as 1980s, the converted Indian Christians of the coastal region were used by Christianity to block all the ceremonial sea rights of Hindu goddesses. In 1982, Christian fanatics planned and molested Hindu women during a Hindu festival, and the Hindu retaliation was swift and equally violent. This mellowed down the Evangelist assault on Hindus, but it never ceased.

At another level, Evangelists were waging the war by proxy through Dravidian forces. Swami Chidbhavananda, the great spirtual acharya, educationist, and social reformer pointed out how the Catholic Church openly declared the Dravidian movement as a “time bomb” set to destroy Hinduism in their book, titled Dravidian Movement and Catholic Church (Tamil). The war against Hinduism in Tamil Nadu took the form of a concerted strategy involving some well-placed academics, politicians, activists and Evangelists coming together. The aim is to reduce Hinduism to ancestral worship and project all its spiritual dimensions as Brahminical distortions to exploit people. Through this, even a fanatical Christian could claim that he or she can enter a Hindu temple as it is nothing more than a glorified mausoleum of ancestral worship.

This blatantly false theory is coupled with racist Tamil pride and peddled in a hysterical way by the political parties like Naam Tamilar. Further, hymns like Thiruvasagam are misinterpreted by the Christian clergy straitjacketing them into Christian monotheism. Hindu sacred spaces—in literature and liturgy, in ceremonial processions, and in physical area – are all encroached upon by Evangelists or proto-Christian Dravidianists. So when ultimately the physical violence descends, the local Hindus are left to defend themselves—often becoming homeless orphans in their own country.

After the Janata Party (BJP) lost power in the Centre in 2004, Kanyakumari district saw a spate of attacks on Hindu temples—mostly village temples.

Here is one such incident that took place in 2007 in Kanyakumari district and that would resonate in Thanjavur in 2018. However, unlike in Thanjavur, where the police forces were not yet inclined to stop the Hindus, in the Kanyakumari village, coincidentally or strategically placed police officials who happened to be Christians, violently stopped the Hindus. The procession of a goddess belonging to a centuries old temple was stopped by a handful of Christians claiming the road the procession was to pass through belonged to the church. Despite the village panchayat having constructed the road, despite Hindus being the majority in both the villages, especially in the area in question, and despite the panchayat well on that very road having been built by a local Hindu, the Hindus along with their deity were stopped by the police and in the ensuing violence, a woman was killed in police lathi charge.

Christian police against Hindu religious procession in Kanyakumari

All political leaders except the Hindu organisations and BJP deserted the Hindus. The tragic irony is that Hindus have been stopped from using a road which they themselves built. It could be only said that such an incident is only waiting to happen in Thanjavur.

Even in places where Hindus are a majority, Evangelist warfare strategically first weakens them—even preventing the development of a sense of national unity that may loosen the hold the church exerts on the flock. A case in point is the very recent diatribe that the church has indulged in against the patriotic salutation Jai Hind, incidentally coined by a Tamilian—Dr Chenbagaraman Pillai. While many Hindus are aware of the anti-Vande Mataram mindset of Islamists, not many are aware of the anti-Indian mindset that is deeply integral to even mainstream churches including the Catholic Church leave alone the innumerable ground-warrior Christian evangelist cults.

For example, the Catholic Bishops Council of Madhya Pradesh has come out strongly against the raising of Jai Hind slogan in the government schools. Father Babu Joseph, former spokesperson of the national bishops’ conference now based in Madhya Pradesh, criticised the government for asking government schools to raise the slogan. Mumbai based Catholic Secular Forum in its website claims the following about Jai Hind:

The commonly used slogan Jai Hind emerged during India’s independence struggle and continues to be raised at the end of national anthem. However, Hind is a shortened form of Hindustan (land of Hindus) that excludes India’s religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims.

So, while in Tamil Nadu, the deity is stopped physically, in North India, where Evangelical Christianity is yet to achieve the muscle power and political clout, it uses ideological aggression to stop nation-building through very simple methodologies.

That such aggression is starting to become visible and violent in Tamil Nadu is not coincidental. Already, various Christian denominations including the mainstream churches have started preparing for the 2019 elections. Away from the willingly closed eyes of the media, Catholic Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi sent a pastoral letter which was read out on 13 May in all the parishes of the national capital. The letter called on Catholics to start a campaign ahead of elections due in April 2019. This year-long vigil and campaign though couched in secular language is a call for an Evangelist war on Hinduism.

So, after 2019 in case of a BJP defeat, Hindus in Tamil Nadu can expect a concerted attack on all their temples—small or big, in all their sacred spaces—in villages or town, in all their ceremonies. Hence, in the context of 2019, Hindus need to realise two factors:

  1. They are still only a communal majority and not a political majority in India. Unless Hindus reinvent and reorganise themselves as political majority, the probability of Hindu survival decreases with every passing day.
  2. Whether it is aggression in Thanjavur, physical violence in Kanyakumari district or resistance to Jai Hind in Madhya Pradesh, there is a common line connecting them all across the denominational Evangelist Christian divide—the hatred towards pagan Hinduism which animates the war that Evangelists wage in India. So any attack on Hindus anywhere in India is a threat to every Hindu throughout India. – Swarajya, 21 May 2018

» Aravindan Neelakandan is an economist, psychologist, author and contributing editor at Swarajya magazine. He is best known for the book Breaking India which he co-authored with Rajiv Malhotra.

CSI Schwartz Memorial Church, Tanjore


 

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

Christians in Arunachal Pradesh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Islam and Christianity share ‘idea of conquest’, says Pope Francis – Stephanie Kirchgaessner

Pope Francis

Stephanie Kirchgaessner“It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest,” Francis said. – Stephanie Kirchgaessner

Islam and Christianity share an inherent “idea of conquest”, and those who refer to Europe’s roots as Christian often veer into colonialism, Pope Francis said in a wide-ranging interview about the the migration crisis and the ability of Christians and Muslims to live together harmoniously.

Speaking to the French Catholic newspaper La Croix, the Argentinian pope also hailed the election of Sadiq Khan in London, saying that a Muslim mayor personified the idea of integration within Europe.

The pope said it was “fair and responsible” to ask whether Europe had the capacity to accept millions of refugees from the Middle East and Africa. But he said it was more important to ask why there were so many, pointing to war, the unfettered free market, unemployment, the arms trade, underinvestment in Africa and income inequality.

He appeared to reject any link between Islamic extremism within Europe and Islam itself. Instead, he condemned the way in which migrants were “ghettoised” rather than integrated into society.

“In Brussels, the terrorists were Belgians, children of migrants, but they grew up in a ghetto. In London, the new mayor took his oath of office in a cathedral and will undoubtedly meet the Queen. This illustrates the need for Europe to rediscover its capacity to integrate.”

He said integration was even more necessary today than in the past because of the “grave problem” of Europe’s declining birth rate, saying a “demographic emptiness is developing”.

When he was asked why he never referred to Europe’s roots as Christian—he has often spoken of Europe having a multicultural identity—Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, said he spoke of roots in the plural because there were so many.

“When I hear talk of the Christian roots of Europe, I sometimes dread the tone, which can seem triumphalist or even vengeful. It then takes on colonialist overtones,” he said. Christianity’s contribution to the culture was of service—of “Christ in the washing of the feet”—and not a “colonial enterprise”, he Constantine the Greatsaid.

When Francis was asked by La Croix whether fear of Islam was justified in Europe, he said people’s real fear was of Islamic State. He then drew parallels between perceptions some non-Muslims may have of the Islamic faith, and of Christianity.

“It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest,” he said.

He said it was important for Christians to ask themselves whether an “overly western model of democracy” has been exported to countries such as Iraq, where a strong government existed before military intervention led to the ousting of Saddam Hussein. Francis also pointed to Libya, where he quoted someone as saying recently: “We used to have one Gaddafi, now we have 50”.

He said the co-existence between Christians and Muslims was still possible, pointing to his native Argentina, pre-war Central Africa, and Lebanon as models.

When asked about the role religion ought to play in society and government, Francis strongly backed the separation between church and state, saying states must be secular, although they also needed strong laws guaranteeing religious freedom and needed to ensure individuals, including government officials, had a right to conscientious objection.

“If a Muslim woman wishes to wear a veil, she must be able to do so. Similarly, if a Catholic wishes to wear a cross,” Francis said. “People must be free to profess their faith at the heart of their own culture not merely at its margins.” He then expressed a “modest critique” of France, saying the country’s laws exaggerate laïcité—the separation between church and state.

“This arises from a way of considering religions as subcultures rather than as fully fledged cultures in their own right. I fear that this approach, which is understandable as part of the heritage of the Enlightenment, continues to exist. France needs to take a step forward on this issue in order “to accept that openness to transcendence is a right for everyone,” he said. – The Guardian, 17 May 2016

Goa Inqusition

OLD GOA : Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and backsliding Christian victims of the Goa Inquisition stand with their hands nailed to posts as a Portuguese padre reads out their alleged crimes and a Portuguese nobleman on a horse watches. They will be burned at the stake later in Old Goa’s central square and their confiscated lands will be shared between the Portuguese nobles and Roman Catholic Church. The Inquisition was called to Goa by St. Francis Xavier, a Portuguese-employed Spanish missionary whose hatred of Hindus and Hinduism amounted to an obsession. He was known to Tamil Hindus as the  Scourge of the Coromandel Coast.

India’s first anti-colonialist uprising predates Mangal Pandey’s by 274 years? – Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

Festival of Sontreo (Procession of Umbrellas) at Cuncolim

Mayabhushan Nagvenkar“Congress Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik, who has been a part of the campaign to put the Cuncolim revolt as the first landmark on the map of India’s nationalist history, said he was confident eventually the central government would formally acknowledge the event as India’s first recorded revolt against a European power.” – Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangal_PandeyConventional wisdom has it that lowly-ranked sepoy Mangal Pandey became the catalyst for India’s first uprising against Western rule in 1857 after he revolted against the alleged use of cattle and pig lard smeared on bullet cartridges used in Enfield rifles issued by the East India Company.

But here’s what you perhaps do not know. 

Jesuits at Akbar's courtA sustained campaign is on to haul back the date of India’s first rebellion against Western colonialism by a good 274 years—from Barrackpore in eastern India to what is now Goa.

The campaign, which is endorsed by historians, freedom fighters, elected representatives and local residents, wants the central government to officially endorse as the first real rebellion the prolonged, defiant struggle of five south Goa villages—Cuncolim, Ambelim, Assolna, Veroda and Velim—against the Portuguese colonists which saw bloodshed and non-payment of taxes.

“The residents of the five villages, led by Cuncolim, had, beginning from 1583, defied Portuguese taxes after Christian missionaries destroyed five temples in the area to bring the villagers into submission and also killed over a dozen of our chieftains,” Oscar Martins, who traces his lineage to one of the slain chieftains, told IANS.

Many of the claims made by Martins find echo in Church records and historical accounts of the time.

The struggle, in which several lives were lost, dates back to 16th century when early Christian missionaries along with their Portuguese armed escorts tried to convert the residents of these five villages to Christianity.

Jesuit priests killed at CuncolimWhen the attempts largely failed, the missionaries destroyed nearby temples, which enraged the villagers, resulting in the massacre of some priests including Fr. Rodolfo Acquaviva—an Italian Jesuit who had also held position at Emperor Akbar’s court and has since been beatified—and their colleagues on July 15, 1583.

In retaliation, the colonists proposed a parley, which ended in yet another bloodbath.

“Sixteen chieftains from Cuncolim were called for a truce to (nearby) Assolna fort. They were ambushed and shot to death by the Portuguese soldiers as retaliation. One of the chieftains managed to escape and tell the story,” said Martins, who now heads the Cuncolim Chieftain Memorial Trust.

After the bloody feud, the five villages stopped paying taxes to the Portuguese rulers for eight years from 1583—centuries before Mahatma Gandhi started his “no tax” campaign against British colonists.

Congress Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik, who has been a part of the campaign to put the Cuncolim revolt as the first landmark on the map of India’s nationalist history, said he was confident eventually the central government would formally acknowledge the event as India’s first recorded revolt against a European power.

Shantaram Naik“For that, the state government will first have to include this incident in our history books to convey Goa’s formal recognition of the event. We also need to give the central government rigorously researched material to back our claim. We are confident that the  will get its place in history that it richly deserves,” Naik told IANS.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led ruling coalition had promised three years ago to appoint a committee to study the matter for the Cuncolim revolt to be included in school books, but Martins claimed it would need persistent lobbying and reminding because history “cannot be hidden for a long time even if the government neglects it”.

The Trust has engaged a documentary maker to produce a historical film on the subject. “We did not want to wait for the government to take a decision. We do not want to lose time in giving the Cuncolim revolt its rightful place in history,” Martins said. – The News Minute, 19 July 2015

» Mayabhushan Nagvenkar is a journalist in the Panaji area of Goa who writes for various media. He can be contacted at mayabhushan.n@ians.in

Our Lady of Health Church in Cuncolim

Hindus don’t need lectures on religious tolerance – Ambaa

Ambaa“Hindus want to welcome everyone to practice whatever makes him happy. That is what is natural in our religion. But how can we continue to happily allow anyone to practice whatever he likes when most often what he likes to practice is forcing Hindus to convert to Abrahamic faiths? Telling them that they’ll go to hell? That their Gods are demons?” – Ambaa

Swami Lakshmanananda SaraswatiWhile we were traveling one day in our van the topic of intolerance among religions came up. When I said that this was a problem with Abrahamic faiths because they require exclusivity, a friend said “No, all religions do this.”

But I say that Hinduism is naturally tolerant to other religions. When it isn’t, that’s a defensive reaction to Abrahamic faiths forcing themselves on us.

This article is going around on Facebook now saying that Indian media has cut part of Obama’s speech out of its reports about his visit, a speech about religious tolerance. 

“India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith — so long as it’s not splintered along any lines — and is unified as one nation.” – Politico, 29 January 2015

And that may be true enough but why are these warnings directed at Hindus?

All these warnings are meant to tell Hindus to stay tolerant of other religious views. But when Hindus turn intolerant it is for DEFENSIVE reasons. Tell Christians and Muslims in India to stop tricking and coercing people into converting and you’ll see any aggression that might be present in right-wing Hinduism immediately deflate.

Hindu pilgrim train burning at Godhra Junction in 2002We all want to get along.

Hindus want to welcome everyone to practice whatever makes him happy. That is what is natural in our religion. But how can we continue to happily allow anyone to practice whatever he likes when most often what he likes to practice is forcing Hindus to convert to Abrahamic faiths? Telling them that they’ll go to hell? That their Gods are demons?

Religious tolerance starts with those who say “Ours is the only valid path to God.” Until those people can learn to accept other points of view, Hindus are going to feel threatened and some will respond defensively. – Patheos, 2 February 2015

» Ambaa is an American woman who is also a practising Hindu. She contributes to the Patheos blog at The White Hindu.

Missionaries at work in rural India

Atrocity literature as a tool to silence Hindus and Christianize India – Sandeep Balakrishna

Sandeep Balakrishna“Christian atrocity literature is one-sided without exception in all cases. … It ignores missionary conversion attempts which lead to conflict when they are met with resistance from the local Hindu population. Only acts of Hindu resistance—which sometimes lead to violence—are reported across international media and other forums as acts of Hindu fascism and state-sponsored violence against hapless Christians.” – Sandeep Balakrishna

Gun CrossThat the Christian Church has been one of the foreign policy arms of Western powers since the colonial era is a given. As we witness geopolitical developments around the world today, we notice that this selfsame policy has remained unchanged. From denying the US visa to the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to triggering protests against developmental and nuclear energy projects in India, the global Christian network continues to wreak havoc across the world from Africa to Asia.

Including India.

With unlimited funds at its disposal and both covert and overt support of powerful Western Governments, the global Evangelical industry uses every trick in the book to subvert regimes and cause irreparable damage to societies. And it is this last point that needs urgent attention as far as India is concerned.

As we see over the last six decades, perfectly harmonious social equations have been violently disrupted the moment missionaries have succeeded in weaning away enough numbers into the Christian fold. The Rwandan genocide is the best example of this in recent times. The present condition of almost the entire North East is another classic case. Odisha continues to boil under Church-sponsored and engineered social disruptions. Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu seem all set to follow Odisha’s lead.

Devasahayam PillaiIntroduction to Atrocity or Outrage Literature

One of the more effective techniques that the global Evangelical nexus adopts to push its agenda both on the global and local stages is to generate what is known as atrocity or outrage literature.

Atrocity or outrage literature can be defined as material—including written, audio and video—produced by the global Christian network that highlights and exaggerates historical, social, political, ideological and other fault lines in non-Christian societies with the deliberate aims to show how:

  • These societies are backward, regressive and in a state of perpetual internal conflict.
  • Only Christianity has the means and equipment to end such conflict and rescue these societies.
  • There is a need for political intervention from powerful White Christian Western countries to aid the work of these Evangelicals.

The first and only aim of atrocity or outrage literature is to completely Christianize non-Christian nations. Both missionary activities on the ground and the generation of atrocity literature go hand in hand. In a way, atrocity literature is both a subset of and a companion to hard-core evangelical literature.

Infanticide in the Ganga according to Christian missionaries!History of Atrocity Literature

To be sure, atrocity or outrage literature isn’t a new phenomenon. It has a history of nearly four hundred years in India and elsewhere as we shall see.

The first Evangelists who set foot in India undertook a painstaking process of studying every single aspect of the Hindu society and identified practices, traditions, heritage, heroes, languages, grammar, laws, epics, prose, poetry, puppetry, sculpture, art, painting, dance, and drama that glued it together. And then they developed elaborate strategies to unglue the Hindu society. These strategies were multi-pronged, ranging from outright abuse of Hindu gods and goddesses, modes of worship, practices etc, to showing that their “roots” actually lay in Christianity. As we see today, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

Today, the average Hindu is woefully ill-informed and/or ignorant about almost every aspect of his/her own religion and there is no dearth of well-meaning Hindus who subscribe to the “all religions are equal” screed.

Jawaharlal Nehru was the archetypical Indian brown sahib.Nehruvianism as a destructive force

Even worse, the post-Independence political and economic policies of India has opened up the entire Hindu society as a vast and fertile field for Christian conversions. The blame for this singularly lies at the doorstep of the double-blow that Jawaharlal Nehru dealt to Hindu society: his state policy was designed to place Hindus at a disadvantage in religious, legal and social domains given his advertised disdain for Hinduism. His economic policies impoverished millions of Hindus who, faced with a hunger crisis, converted to Christianity which was open about bribing destitute Hindus with money, education and healthcare in exchange. Thus, Swami Vivekananda’s words that “you cannot preach philosophy to an empty stomach” strikes us as extraordinarily clairvoyant when we recall them now. The same clairvoyance was also reflected in his brutally honest as well shall see at the end of this essay:

[Hindus] shall otherwise decrease in numbers. When the Mohammedans first came, we are said—I think on the authority of Ferishta, the oldest Mohammedan historian—to have been six hundred millions of Hindus. Now we are about two hundred millions. And then every man going out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less, but an enemy the more. – Prabhuddha Bharata, April 1899

John Dayal: Professional Christian agent provocateur and mischief-maker.Colonial discourse on India as an enduring success

One of the earliest and enduring successes of atrocity literature remains in the domain of caste. It has now become an article of faith to blame almost every negative aspect and/or problems of Hindu society on caste, specifically Brahmins.

For example, the All India Christian Council (AICC), which often allies itself with Dalit Freedom Network (DFN)—an organization run by White Evangelical Christians—produces a distorted version of India’s so-called caste system and exaggerates caste atrocities. The recent “success” of the DFN is the successful passage of the anti-caste legislation in the British Parliament. And this legislation is derived directly from the same colonial narrative on caste. And a key member of the AICC is John Dayal who has a history of working against India.

The other domain that the Evangelical machinery has successfully exploited happens to be the status of Hindu women. The early days of colonialism witnessed narratives of how the socio-religious practices of the natives like idol worship and nature worship were identified with Satanism which victimised women and children. Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy’s powerful rebuttals—most notably, in his Status of Indian women and Indian Images with Many Arms—highlight the mischiefs in this Church-inspired narrative. Equally, Veena Oldenberg’s book Dowry Murder gives detailed instances of British officials encouraging Indians to narrate dowry cases in an exaggerated fashion in order to pin the blame on the native culture. Today’s aggressive feminist literature and laws unjustly favouring women are direct holdovers of this narrative.

Common characteristics

More fundamentally, the Church-inspired atrocity literature against non-Christian cultures in the world from the early days of colonialism share a few common characteristics:

  • In the early days of colonialism, around the 17th and 18th century, the European settlers portrayed the natives of the Americas, Africa and Asia as primitive savages who needed to be civilised by God-fearing Christians.
  • All conflicts between colonisers and natives were presented as clashes between native barbarism and civilised Christians. This narrative justified the brutalities inflicted upon the colonised natives.
  • These narratives eventually went mainstream and justified racist theories like the Aryan Invasion Theory and the White Man’s Burden. These theories were therefore taken as the justification for their own colonialism because they were “saving” the oppressed Dravidians from the Aryans.
  • While the oppressed natives were shown as barbaric, the Western colonisers saw their own ills like racism, misogyny, and slavery as incongruities that can be corrected.

Much later, when the mirror was shown to the justifiers of colonialism, they mounted their defence in the form of whitewashing colonial brutalities—racism, misogyny and slavery—as mere “incongruities that can be corrected” while continuing to uphold the Church-inspired discourse on Dalits and tribals.

Fake dalit Kancha Ilaiah is one of India leading cultural traitors. He enjoyed the beef biryani at the recent Osmania Beef Festival but has not had the courage to demand a pork festival for his Christian students from the universtity administration.Dalit discourse Christianized

The selfsame DFN and AICC in many instances, use the Aryan-Dravidian clash to paint a gruesome picture of Dalits being brutalised in India by the descendants of the Aryans. One of the leading proponents of this variety is Kancha Ilaiah who believes that India is a fascist state which tortures its Dalit constituents. Other proponents include Angana Chatterji, Gail Omvedt, V.T. Rajshekar and Vijay Prashad. Such is the pervasive influence of this poisonous discourse that based on the DFN’s propaganda, US Congressman Edolphus Towns identified India as a theocratic tyranny.

Indeed, over at least four hundred years, atrocity literature has found its way even to fiction, plays and films. The theme of academic theories such as the White Man’s Burden have been portrayed in these genres as showing that colonized countries were grateful to the colonisers for civilizing them.

Swami Lakshmanananda SaraswatiAtrocity literature is one-sided

Atrocity literature is one-sided without exception in all cases. In every single case, it ignores missionary conversion attempts which lead to conflict when they are met with resistance from the local Hindu population but only acts of Hindu resistance—which sometimes lead to violence—are reported across international media and other forums as acts of Hindu fascism, and state-sponsored violence against hapless Christians.

Perhaps the best (or worst) representative example of this sub-genre of atrocity literature which was disseminated widely across the globe is in the aftermath of the 80-year old Swami Lakshmananda’s brutal murder in Kandhamal, Odisha. He was gunned down by Maoists at the behest of Evangelicals but Hindus were blamed both in the Indian and international media as committing atrocities against Christians in Odisha.

Today, a mini-sub-genre of the same atrocity literature is emerging in the form of denunciations against ghar wapsi (homecoming) initiated by many Hindu groups engaged in reconversion attempts of their Hindu brethren who were converted to Christianity or Islam by force or fraud or both.

The Vice President, Shri Mohd. Hamid Ansari releasing the book entitled “Muslims in Indian Cities”, edited by Laurent Gayer and Christophe Jaffrelot, in New Delhi on September 10, 2012.Gujarat riots cottage industry as national security threat

If the Kandhamal discourse is representative of one type of atrocity literature, there’s yet another and bigger representative: the discourse on the 2002 Gujarat riots.

This discourse gave birth to a phenomenon for which the noted columnist Rajeev Srinivasan coined a new term: the Gujarat Riots Cottage Industry. Indeed, there was no columnist, academician, analyst, author, media outlet, filmmaker, playwright, psychoanalyst, poet, activist, NGO, Mullah, and Evangelist who was not a member of this cottage industry—or who did not profit from it.

To be sure, this industry was centred exclusively on demonising exactly one man: the current Prime Minister of India. The international seminar and lecture circuit was deluged by precisely these Indian suppliers of atrocity literature to the West. Among other things, such concerted efforts resulted in getting the US to deny a visa to Narendra Modi, then the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

During that period, the French scholar Christophe Jafferlot was instrumental in providing significant amounts of atrocity literature about the 2002 Gujarat riots, which then flooded the Western media. Even worse, some prominent members from the Indian Christian lobby and its affiliates—Indian citizens to be sure—testified against a constitutionally elected Chief Minister on foreign soil, before the USCIRF. Members of this lobby include—but are not limited to—John Dayal, Father Cedric Prakash, Teesta Setalvad, Kamal Mitra Chenoy, and John Prabhudoss. If this was not enough, in 2013, 65 Members of the Indian Parliament wrote to Barack Obama to maintain status quo on Narendra Modi’s visa to the US. Indeed, the 2002 Gujarat riots discourse demonstrated with frightening aplomb the casual disregard for Indian sovereignty, the scary power of and the threat the Christian lobby poses for national security.

Sonia Gandhi with Major Archbishop George Alencherry, head of the Syro Malabar Church in Kerala.Indian vendors of Atrocity Literature

This then brings us to yet another dangerous aspect of atrocity literature in the present day—Indian Christian (and other) groups who regularly supply material for atrocity literature to their sponsors in the West.

Again, the AICC acts as the Indian arm of the said global Evangelical network. Even more worrying is the fact that US-based mainstream think-tanks with enormous political clout use these inputs from India to fashion the US government’s India policy. Among others, these are the notable right-wing think-tanks: The Policy Institute for Religion and State (PIFRAS), Federation of Indian Christians of North America (FIACONA), Freedom House, Asia Society New York, RAND Corporation (which characterizes the RSS as the Hindu equivalent of Al Qaeda), and the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC).

Conclusion

And so the deadly and tragic history of atrocity literature which when it began, was produced exclusively by the missionaries (and used effectively by the colonial British administration), stands transformed thus today:

  • It is produced in copious amounts by foreigners directly and indirectly working for or on behalf of the worldwide Evangelical machinery.
  • It is produced equally in copious amounts by Indian Christians—both neo-converts and otherwise—who are Indian citizens living in India and abroad, some even working in Government and government-funded institutions, and some working actively in the pay of Evangelical organizations/NGOs of various hues.
  • It is produced by Hindus—even by well-meaning Hindus—who are working in NGOs, educational institutions and other charitable/service organizations which are fronts for Evangelical work.
  • It is also disseminated by Hindu organizations and media outlets which make apologies for and whitewash even genuine instances of Church brutalities and the widespread phenomenon of child abuse in the Church—all for the sake of career prospects, money, fame, influence and similar considerations.

In the end, we need to call out atrocity literature for what it really is: a determined, focussed and premeditated atrocity against India’s civilizational ethos, which is Hindu first and last. As history is witness, attempts to paint it otherwise or to fail to clearly discern sophisticated attempts at deception have only resulted in greater erosion of this civilizational ethos.

As I mentioned earlier, Swami Vivekananda was extraordinarily clairvoyant. – IndiaFacts, 12 January 2015