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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World Vision

Bible vs Quran: Test your knowledge of who deserves death in which religion – Valerie Tarico

Three Holy Books

Dr Valerie Tarico“Is the Quran more violent than the Bible as most Americans believe? The question is hard to answer. A tally at the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible counts 842 violent or cruel passages in the Bible as compared to 333 in the Quran. That said, the Bible is a much thicker tome, and even though the New Testament endorses and adds to the violence in the Old, when percentages are compared, the Quran comes out ahead.” – Dr Valerie Tarico

Abrahamic ReligionsThe world has watched in horror while members of ISIS justify the next mass murder or icy execution with words from the Quran, followed by shouts of Allahu Akbar—God is the greatest! If beliefs have any power whatsoever to drive behaviour—and as a psychologist I think they do—there can be little doubt that the Quran’s many endorsements of violence play a role in how exactly ISIS has chosen to pursue religious and political dominion.

At the same time, it should be equally clear a sacred text filled with violence is insufficient to trigger mass brutality unless other conditions are present as well. Culture, empathy, education and empowerment—and other factors that scholars understand only in part—appear to have a protective influence, safeguarding even most fundamentalists against the worst teachings of their own tradition. We know this in part because the Bible contains commandments and stories that are as horrific as those being used to justify butchery in Iraq and Syria.

The following 30 violent exhortations are a mix, drawn from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptures. The generic word God is used for all deity names, and names of places or people have been replaced with generic terms. How well do you know your Torah, Bible, or Quran and Hadith? Can you tell which is which?

[The source of the quotation has been added after the quote, as Hindu readers will not be knowing “their” Torah, Bible, Quran or Hadith very well. – Ed]

  1. Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the [holy man] who represents God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged. (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)
  2. I decided to order a man to lead the prayer and then take a flame to burn all those, who had not left their houses for the prayer, burning them alive inside their homes. (Bukhari 11:626)
  3. All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:9 NLT)
  4. Fight them until there is no more [disbelief or worshipping of other gods] and worship is for God alone. (Quran 2:193)
  5. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. (Matthew 10:34-35)
  6. Whoso fighteth in the way of God, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward. (Quran 4:74)
  7. Make ready to slaughter [the infidel’s] sons for the guilt of their fathers; Lest they rise and posses the earth, and fill the breadth of the world with tyrants. (Isaiah 14:21 NAB)
  8. [God’s messenger] … was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The [holy man] replied, “They [women and children] are from them [unbelievers].” (Bukhari 52:256)
  9. Then I heard God say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all—old and young, girls and women and little children.” (Ezekiel 9:5 NLT)
  10. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them. (Quran 8:12)
  11. Keep [my holiday], for it is holy. Anyone who desecrates it must die. (Exodus 31:12-15 NLT)
  12. The punishment of those who wage war against God and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement. (Quran 5:33)
  13. If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10 NLT)
  14. It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war until he had made a great slaughter in the land…. (Quran 8:67)
  15. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. (Numbers 31: 17-18 KJV)
  16. I shall terrorize the [heathens]. So wound their bodies and incapacitate them, because they oppose God and his apostle. (Quran 8:12)
  17. A [holy man’s] daughter who loses her honour by committing fornication and thereby dishonours her father also, shall be burned to death. (Leviticus 21:9 NAB)
  18. So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them. (Quran 9:5)
  19. Everyone who would not seek God was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)
  20. And when We wish to destroy a town, We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress therein; thus the word proves true against it, so We destroy it with utter destruction. (Quran 17:16)
  21. But if [a girl wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night] and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her father’s house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against God’s people by her unchasteness in her father’s house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB)
  22. The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say.”O [believer]! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.” (Bukhari 52:177)
  23. If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)
  24. God’s Apostle said, “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but God.’” (Bukhari 8:387)
  25. Cursed be he who does God’s work remissly, cursed he who holds back his sword from blood (Jeremiah 48:10 NAB).
  26. God said, “A prophet must slaughter before collecting captives. A slaughtered enemy is driven from the land. [Prophet], you craved the desires of this world, its goods and the ransom captives would bring. But God desires killing them to manifest the religion.” (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 484)
  27. Anyone who blasphemes God’s name must be stoned to death by the whole community of [believers]. (Leviticus 24:16 NLT)
  28. When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) [your religion]; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them.… If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them [a tax]. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek God’s help and fight them. (Muslim 19:4294)
  29. Anyone else who goes too near the [Holy Place] will be executed. (Numbers 1: 51 NLT)
  30. Killing unbelievers is a small matter to us. (Tabari 9:69)

Is the Quran more violent than the Bible as most Americans believe? The question is hard to answer. A tally at the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible counts 842 violent or cruel passages in the Bible as compared to 333 in the Quran. That said, the Bible is a much thicker tome, and even though the New Testament endorses and adds to the violence in the Old, when percentages are compared, the Quran comes out ahead. In addition, the kinds of cruelty and violence vary as do the perpetrator and victim and the extent to which any verse can be interpreted as divine sanction for the behaviour in question. Either way, endorsements of violence abound in both.

Bible and Quran believers who recognize verses in this list will no doubt protest that they have been taken out of context, as indeed they have. I think the appropriate response to such a complaint is a question: What context, exactly, would make these verses uplifting, inspiring or worthy of praise? In what context are passages like these some of the most important and holy guidance that the creator of the universe might think to impart to humankind? In what context is a book that contains these passages and many, many more like them the apogee of divine goodness and timeless wisdom?

Members of each Abrahamic tradition are quick to point out the rational and moral flaws in the others. I wonder sometimes, what this world might be like if they were as quick to examine the flaws in their own. –, 1 June 2013

» Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel. 

Bible & Koran

Has terror a connection to religion? – Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth“It is important to find out, whether there is something in the doctrine of Christianity and Islam, which is missing in Hinduism and Buddhism, and which allows or even fosters terror against outsiders. How was it possible for a Timur or Babur or Aurangzeb to have hundreds of thousands of civilian Hindu men slaughtered and their women and children taken as slaves only because they were Hindus? What mindset does it require to be able to do this?” – Maria Wirth

For Allah!“Terror has no religion” is often repeated by politicians and media. At the same time, the most dangerous terrorists of our times like the Islamic State and Boko Haram shout triumphantly “Allah ho Akbar” after brutally killing those whom they consider infidels or opponents of the caliphate. Common sense would suggest that at least these groups inflict terror in the name of Islam.

However, so far, the “correct” view is that these groups don’t follow Islam, but “Islamism“. They are misguided and have distorted the good Islam into a bad Islamism. So they are not Muslims, but Islamists or extremists who follow an “extremist ideology”. Islam has nothing to do with it. Terror may have an ideology, like communism or Nazism, but it has no religion. Obviously this explanation is meant to keep Islam away from scrutiny and its image “sacred”.

Chief Rabbi of Israel & Pope John Paul IIIn the same way, Pope John Paul II tried to keep Christianity and the Church above board, when in the year 2000, he finally asked “forgiveness from God for sins committed against Jews, heretics, women, gypsies and native people“. He, too, did not blame the Church but “sons and daughters of the Church” who committed “mistakes”.

These sons and daughters of the Church surely would proclaim, if they were still around, that they only followed the instructions of the Church—whether it was the brutal Christianization of Latin America, where millions were killed, or the “Holy Inquisition” which consciously used horrific torture and murder to make people fall in line with the unintelligible dictates of the Church.

Abu Bakr al-BaghdadiThe Jihadis of ISIS, too, don’t agree with the view that they misinterpret Islam. They are sure that they follow the true Islam and can quote numerous ayats from the Quran to support their view, for example 8.39: “Oh believers, fight them until there is no more mischief and the Deen of Allah (way of life prescribed by Allah) is established completely.”

If ISIS indeed represents “true” Islam, it is a cause for great concern and needs to be investigated. Why do politicians and community leaders shy away from putting religious texts on the table and under scrutiny? Why the Quran or the Bible is never mentioned when religion is discussed? On 20th July 2015, David Cameron vowed to deal with the poison of extremism. He said: “What we are fighting, in Islamist extremism, is an ideology. It is an extreme doctrine.”

Yet he did not mention the Quran once in his long speech. Why?

It is important to find out, whether there is something in the doctrine of Christianity and Islam, which is missing in Hinduism and Buddhism, and which allows or even fosters terror against outsiders. How was it possible for a Timur or Babur or Aurangzeb to have hundreds of thousands of civilian Hindu men slaughtered and their women and children taken as slaves only because they were Hindus? What mindset does it require to be able to do this?

Yes, there is indeed something in the Christian and Islamic doctrine that condones and even fosters violence, and it is easy to find out: Apart from the true core in all religions, i.e. the acknowledgement and worship of a higher power, Christianity and Islam inject the virus of supremacy into their belief system and contempt for “others” who they claim will be thrown into hell-fire for all eternity. They both claim that the full truth was revealed by the highest authority of the universe only to them and everyone has to believe it. Those who don’t are highly offensive to their God and will suffer for all eternity in hell-fire.

Obviously these two religions—Christianity started the trend—were not content with people worshipping a higher power by whatever name they chose. They wanted to control people and attain world dominion. And what a disaster it turned out to be for humanity! This claim “we have the full truth; God / Allah has chosen us (Christians / Muslims) over them (all others)” is poison for humanity. There is not a shred of Cross & Crescent evidence that this claim is true. In fact, it is clear that it cannot be the absolute truth, yet because it is enshrined in their respective ‘holy book’, nobody questions it.

Reading the Quran it becomes quickly clear that Allah has hatred for unbelievers and also for hypocrites among the believers (which gives Jihadis the justification to kill also Muslims apart from kafirs). He keeps reminding the believers again and again, how they will enjoy paradise and the unbelievers will suffer in hell. He even details the torture in hell in horrific detail. All this is there in the Quran.

Similarly, the Bible also claims that there won’t be any mercy for those who did not accept Christ during their one and only lifetime (the Church forbade the belief in rebirth in 553 AD). The hell for non-Christians is as bad as the hell for non-Muslims. There will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”(Mathew 13.50)—and mind you, for all eternity….

Christianity and Islam never tried to sort out which one of the two is “only true”. They are content to claim “our belief system alone is true and only those, who adopt it, find favour with the Highest”. The reason may be that the top officials in the religious institutions don’t really believe what they tell their flock. If they would believe in eternal hell, several Popes would have lived their lives differently….

Injecting a feeling of supremacy into the faithful pampers to a human weakness—the weakness to feel superior to others, whether as an individual or a group. Belonging to a big group of like-minded people who confirm each other that they are favoured by God and superior, is for many reassuring. Especially in Islam, the brotherhood of the faithful plays a big role in making people stick to their religion.

The claim of both Christianity and Islam that God / Allah has made his will known at a certain point in time to a certain person and wants all to follow their respective religion, and if they don’t, they will be thrown into hell-fire is the poison that needs to be taken out from those ‘religions’.

Incidentally, the term ‘religion’ (Latin to bind or tie) was used from the 11th century on only for the Catholic Church and from the 16th century onwards also for Islam. People were tied into the belief-system, into which they were born, and not allowed to choose how they want to call or imagine the invisible, great Power—a freedom that India traditionally granted. So there is no need to bow one’s head and fold one’s hands in reverence, as soon as someone says ‘this is my religion’. Intelligent reasoning must not be forfeited.

HellNow what can be done? How can the poison be taken out?

This needs to be debated. However I consider one point important: the “others” (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Atheists, etc.) who are said to be thrown into hell-fire, would do well to protest the outrageous, untrue claim that they will suffer in hell for eternity. There is, however, a problem: how can they feel outrage at something, what they don’t believe in. In all likelihood, they consider this hell-claim ridiculous, not worthy of any repudiation. And of course they have a point.

But they overlook a crucial aspect that can become highly dangerous for them: they ignore the mindset which this claim produces in people who believe it. And they should not delude themselves that it is impossible to believe it. It is possible. I know from own experience.

True, nowadays in Europe, the Church (wisely) does not stress “hell” anymore, because many lost faith and even more would leave the Church, but in India it is stressed. The Christian converts, whom I asked, all believed in hell for Hindus, including an IIT professor who converted when he was working in the US. He even convinced his parents to convert. It is clearly a case of making otherwise intelligent persons stupid.

The Quran is full of quotes of hell for unbelievers. Further, Muslim youngsters hear five times daily the azan ending with the words:

“O Allah! Guide us to The Right Way. The Way of those whom You have favored, not of those who have earned Your wrath or of those who have lost The Way” (Quran 1.6,7).

Naturally, they may start to detest their Hindu brothers and sisters who have ‘earned the wrath’ of the Highest, because they don’t heed his words and convert to Islam.

If one day the call for Jihad were given, (Tarek Fatah mentioned in an article that even in Toronto mosques, imams pray for victory over the kafirs) their conscience would be already dysfunctional. They would see nothing wrong in ridding the earth of those who are arrogant enough not to heed the words of the one true God, which according to them are enshrined in the Quran or in the Bible.

Pakistani child terroristsHindus generally don’t realize the power and danger of a mindset, though they need only look to Pakistan. It is the best example of what can become of normal, well-meaning Indians when they are brainwashed into a hateful doctrine. How did Kasab I and II develop the mindset that it’s good to kill Hindus? Who or what is responsible? Or how is it possible for Christian missionaries to cheat simple Hindu folk to get them to sign up for baptism? Even the huge slave trade from Africa and the arrogance of western colonial powers towards the ‘natives’ probably had its root in the brainwashing of being superior and chosen. Rightly, ISIS in a video on the net talk about their brainwashed kids as their greatest asset.

Typically, Islam and Christianity try to avoid scrutiny of their religions for obvious reasons. They are interested to preserve their ‘true and holy’ image that they have enforced over centuries. Attempts are on not only to ban defamation, but even criticism of religions. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has already petitioned the United Nations and Saudi Arabia gave in July 2015 a call to the world to ban all criticism of religion.

Before this hopefully never succeeds, countries like India, China, Japan, Thailand, Myanmar and others should petition the United Nations to ban untrue claims about the afterlife of their non-Muslim and non-Christian citizens, as it breeds contempt and hatred for them.

When children read in their holy book in school how terrible ‘unbelievers’ are, some of them may later be ready to kill those whom they consider rejects by their God. ISIS is taking the Quran literally. They consider it their duty to establish a caliphate and sharia and bring the whole world under it. They are convinced they have made their life meaningful and scoff at those who criticize them as having an ‘extremist ideology’. They ‘know’ they follow the word of Allah.

Can they be blamed? If not them, who or what is to be blamed for their mindset? As long as they don’t doubt certain ayats of the Quran, any de-radicalization program is bound to fail. They will consider clerics who tell them not to follow the Quran to the letter “confused old men”, as a German Turk explained in an interview.

Adi Shankara & MadanmishraOver thousand years ago, Adi Shankara challenged Mandana Mishra for a debate. There is need for a debate today on different aspects of truth, including on whether there is eternal hellfire on the basis of one life or whether there is rebirth on the level of this universe. At least people need to be made aware about this hell claim and how ridiculous it is.

The true core of all religions needs to be strengthened. This core is common to all and beneficial. It is the claim that there is a great invisible power behind this visible universe. This true core was known since ages and is explained in the Indian tradition in its purest form. It is not an invention by Christianity and Islam. In fact, these two religions can learn from Hindu Dharma how many different ways of expressing one’s faith can live peacefully side by side. Hindu Dharma doesn’t tie its followers into a rigid belief system, but helps them to become free by realizing the truth in oneself.

Harmful, untrue dogmas like “this invisible power is jealous and wants this or that …  and if you don’t do it, it will throw you into hellfire” need to be weeded out.

Only then humanity can be one family.

» Maria Wirth is a German author and psychologist who lives in Uttarkhand.


Marriage in the Bible: Captive virgins, polygamy and sex slaves – Valerie Tarico

Dr Valerie Tarico“The God of the Bible explicitly endorses polygamy and sexual slavery and coerced marriage of young virgins along with monogamy. In fact, he endorses all three to the point of providing detailed regulations. Based on stories of sex and marriage that God rewards and appears to approve one might add incest to the mix of sexual contact that receives divine sanction. … Furthermore, none of the norms that are endorsed and regulated in the Old Testament law – polygamy, sexual slavery, coerced marriage of young girls—are revised, reversed, or condemned by Jesus.” – Dr Valerie Tarico

David & JonathanBible believers are beside themselves about the prospect that marriage norms and laws are changing, but let me tell you a secret about Bible believers that I know because I was one. Most don’t actually read their Bibles.

If they did, they would know that the biblical model of sex and marriage has little to do with the one they so loudly defend. Sex in the Bible includes rape, incest, master-slave sexual relations, captive virgins, and more. Of course, just because a story is told in the Bible doesn’t mean it is intended as a model for moral behaviour. Does God forbid or command the behaviour? Is it punished or rewarded? In the New Testament stories, does Jesus change the rules or leave them alone? By these criteria, the Bible not only describes many forms of sexual relationships (including sexually coercive relationships), it gives them the divine thumbs up.

Not one man, one woman

The God of the Bible explicitly endorses polygamy and sexual slavery and coerced marriage of young virgins along with monogamy. In fact, he endorses all three to the point of providing detailed regulations. Based on stories of sex and marriage that God rewards and appears to approve one might add incest to the mix of sexual contact that receives divine sanction.

Prophet and ConcubinesNew Testament endorses Old Testament

Nowhere does the Bible say, “Don’t have sex with someone who doesn’t want to have sex with you.” Consent, in the Bible, is not a thing. Furthermore, none of the norms that are endorsed and regulated in the Old Testament law—polygamy, sexual slavery, coerced marriage of young girls—are revised, reversed, or condemned by Jesus. In fact, the writer of Matthew puts these words in the mouth of Jesus:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke or a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law [the Old Testament] until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18)

The Law of which Jesus speaks is the Law of Moses, or the Torah, and anyone who claims the Bible as the perfect word of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God should have the decency to read the Torah carefully—and then keep going.

• Sex Slaves. Concubines are sex slaves, and the Bible gives instructions on acquisition of several types of sex slaves, although the line between biblical marriage and sexual slavery is blurry. A Hebrew man might, for example, sell his daughter to another Hebrew, who then has certain obligations to her once she is used. For example, he can’t then sell her to a foreigner. Alternately a man might see a virgin war captive that he wants for himself.

• Polygamy. Polygamy is a norm in the Old Testament and accepted in the New Testament. has pages dedicated to 40 biblical figures, each of whom had multiple wives. The list includes patriarchs like Abraham and Isaac. King David, the first king of Israel may have limited himself to eight wives, but his son Solomon, reputed to be the wisest man who ever lived had 700 wives and 300 concubines! (1 Kings 11)

• War Booty. In the book of Numbers (31:18) God’s servant commands the Israelites to kill all of the used Midianite women who have been captured in war, and all of the boy children, but to keep all of the virgin girls for themselves. The Law of Moses spells out a purification ritual to prepare a captive virgin for life as a concubine. It requires her Tamar &  Judahowner to shave her head and trim her nails and give her a month to mourn her parents before the first sex act (Deuteronomy 21:10-14). A Hebrew girl who is raped can be sold to her rapist for 50 shekels, or about $580 (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). He must then keep her as one of his wives for as long as she lives.

• Brother’s Wife. A man might acquire multiple wives whether he wanted them or not if his brother died. In fact, if a brother dies with no children, it becomes a duty to impregnate his wife. In the book of Genesis, Onan is struck dead by God because he fails to fulfill this duty—preferring to spill his seed on the ground rather than providing offspring for his brother (Genesis 38:8-10). A New Testament story shows that the tradition has survived. Jesus is a rabbi, and a group of scholars called Sadducees try to test his knowledge of Hebrew Law by asking him this question:

“Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” (Matthew 22:24-28).

Jesus is too clever for them and points out that in Heaven, that place of perfect bliss, there is no marriage.

Having a brother act as a sperm donor isn’t the only biblical solution to lack of offspring. The patriarch Abraham is married to his half-sister Sarah, but the two are childless for the first 75 years or so of their marriage. Frustrated, Sarah finally says, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Her slave, Hagar, becomes pregnant, and then later Sarah does too and the story gets complicated (Genesis 16). But that doesn’t stop Abraham’s grandson Jacob from participating in a competition, in which his two wives repeatedly send in their slaves to get pregnant by him, each trying to get more sons than the other (Genesis 30:1-22).

Abraham, Sarah and HagarBible believers or simply change-averse?

These stories might be irrelevant to the question of biblical marriage were it not that Bible believers keep telling us that God punishes people when he dislikes their sexual behaviour. He disliked the behaviour of New Orleans gays so much, according to Pat Robertson, that he sent a hurricane to drown the whole city—kind of like Noah’s flood. And yet, according to the Bible story, both Abraham and Jacob were particularly beloved and blessed by God.

The point is that marriage has changed tremendously since the Iron Age when the Bible was written. For centuries, concubines and polygamy were debated by Christian leaders—accepted by some and rejected by others. The nuclear family model so prized by America’s fundamentalist Christians emerged from the interplay between Christianity and European cultures including the monogamous tradition of the Roman Empire. As humanity’s moral consciousness has evolved, coerced sex has become less acceptable even within marriage while intertribal and interracial marriage has grown in acceptance. Today even devout Bible believers oppose sexual slavery. Marriage, increasingly, is a commitment of love, freely given. Gay marriage is simply a part of this broader conversation, and opposition on the part of Bible believers has little to do with biblical monogamy.

Since many Christians haven’t read the whole Bible, most “Bible believers” are not, as they like to claim, actually Bible believers. Biblical literalists, even those who think themselves “nondenominational,” almost all follow some theological tradition that tells them which parts of the Bible to follow and how. Granted, sometimes even decent people do get sucked into a sort of text worship that I call bibliolatry, and Bible worship can make a person’s moral priorities as archaic and cruel as those of the Iron Age tribesmen who wrote the texts. (I once listened, horrified, while a sweet, elderly pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses rationalized the Old Testament slaughter of children with the same words Nazis used to justify the slaughter of Jewish babies.)

US Supreme Court 2015But many who call themselves Bible believers are simply, congenitally conservative—meaning change-resistant. What really concerns them is protecting the status quo, an ancient hierarchy with privileged majority-culture straight males at the top, which they justify by invoking ancient texts. Gay marriage will come, as will other reproductive rights, and these Bible believers will adapt to the change as they have others: reluctantly, slowly and with angry protests, but in the end accepting it, and perhaps even insisting that it was God’s will all along. – Raw Story, 29 June 2015

Westboro Baptist Church

Judgement Day Prediction

Where the Bible really stands on slavery – Valerie Tarico

Japheth, Ham & Shem

Dr Valerie Tarico“It is easy to look back on slavery from the vantage of our modern moral consensus—that treating people as property is wrong, regardless of what our ancestors believed. But the very same Bible that provided Furman and Jefferson Davis with a defense of slavery also teaches that non-believers are evildoers, women are for breeding, children need beating, and marriage can take almost any form but queer.” – Dr Valerie Tarico

New TestamentShould a person be able to own another person? Today Christians uniformly say no, and many would like to believe that has always been the case. But history tells a different story, one in which Christians have struggled to give a clear answer when confronted with questions about human trafficking and human rights. Had the Bible been edited differently, Christendom might have achieved moral clarity on this issue sooner. As is, the Bible contains very mixed messages, which means that biblical authority could be invoked on either side of the question, leaving Christian beliefs about slavery vulnerable for centuries to prevailing cultural, political, and economic currents.

Old TestamentOld Testament endorses, describes, and regulates slavery

The Bible first endorses slavery in the book of Genesis, in the story of Noah the ark builder. After the flood, Noah’s son Ham sees his father drunk and naked, and for reasons that have long been debated, is cursed. One recurring theme in Genesis is that guilt can be transferred from a guilty person to an innocent person (think of Adam and Eve’s fruit consumption, which taints us all), and in this case the curse is put on Ham’s son, Canaan.

When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers.” He also said, “Blessed by the Lord my God be Shem; and let Canaan be his slave. May God make space for Japheth, and let him live in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his slave.” (Genesis 9:24-27 NRSV)

Most likely, this story was intended originally to justify the Israelite subjugation of Canaanite peoples, who, in other stories about the conquest of the Promised Land are slaughtered or enslaved. Later though, Christians and Muslims would use the story to explain why some people have dark skin, and “Ham’s curse” became a justification for enslaving Native Americans and Africans.

Throughout the Hebrew Old Testament, slavery is endorsed in a variety of ways. Patriarchs Abraham and Jacob both have sex with female slaves, and the unions are blessed with male offspring. Captives are counted among the booties of war, with explicit instructions given for purifying virgin war captives before “knowing them.” The wisest man of all time, Solomon, keeps hundreds of concubines, meaning sexual slaves, along with his many wives.

The books of the Law provide explicit rules for the treatment of Hebrew and non-Hebrew slaves.

  • You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46)

When punishing slaves, owners are given latitude that falls just short of on-the-spot murder:

  • When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21)

That said, the book of Deuteronomy explicitly forbids returning an escaped slave to his master, in a passage that was a favourite of abolitionists:

  • Slaves who have escaped to you from their owners shall not be given back to them. They shall reside with you, in your midst, in any place they choose in any one of your towns, wherever they please; you shall not oppress them. (Deuteronomy 23:15-16)

Most Christians believe that Mosaic Law is no longer binding, and that the life of Jesus ushered in a new period of grace and forgiveness, but that hasn’t stopped Old Testament endorsements of slavery from shaping the course of Christian history. They are, after all, still in the Bible. Fourth century Catholic councils endorsed the Hebrew Scriptures as a package, permanently binding them together with the Christian writings that became the New Testament.

Paul & OnesimusNew Testament encourages kindness from master, obedience from slave

Equally regrettable, from the standpoint of moral clarity, is the fact that New Testament writers fail to condemn Old Testament slavery. In fact, the Jesus of Matthew says that he has come not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it: “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18)

Slavery comes up regularly in New Testament texts; but rather than repudiating the practice, the writers simply encourage good behaviour on the part of both slaves and masters. Slaves are clearly property of the owners, as are their families. In one parable Jesus compares God to a king who has slaves. When one slave refuses to forgive the debt of a peer, the righteous king treats him in kind, “and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.” (Matthew 18:25)

While in prison, the Apostle Paul encounters an escaped slave, Onesimus, and sends a letter to his Christian owner, Philemon, tacitly endorsing Philemon’s authority in the matter. The messages are mixed. Paul sends Onesimus back to Philemon “not as a slave but as a brother”—but he does send him back.

Several letters attributed to Paul express the sentiment that in Christ all people are one:

  • For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13)
  • There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

Then again, he tells slaves to submit to their masters, even as he exhorts masters to treat slaves well.

  • Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free. And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality. (Ephesians 6:5-9)
  • Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church; rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. (1 Timothy 6:1-3)

The mixed messages of the New Testament provided the basis for later Christian arguments on both sides of the slavery question.

Gregory of NyssaChurch Fathers disagree but pro-slavery faction dominates for 1300 years

For some early Christians, the message of equality trumped endorsements of slavery. John Fletcher (Lessons on Slavery, 1852) wrote that early sects in Asia Minor “decried the lawfulness of it, denounced slave-holding as a sin, a violation of the law of nature and religion. They gave fugitive slaves asylum, and openly offered them protection.” We are told that the Emperor Constantine gave bishops permission to manumit slaves, which would have offered a powerful incentive for conversion to Christianity. St. Gregory, the 4th-century bishop of Nyssa in what is now Turkey, made impassioned arguments against slavery.

“Do sheep and oxen beget men for you? Irrational beasts have only one kind of servitude. Do these form a paltry sum for you? ‘He makes grass grow for the cattle and green herbs for the service of men’ [Psalms 103.14]. But once you have freed yourself from servitude and bondage, you desire to have others serve you. ‘I have obtained servants and maidens.’ What value is this, I ask? What merit do you see in their nature? What small worth have you bestowed upon them?”

Regrettably, as the Church and Roman state became more tightly allied, politics trumped idealism. In the mid-4th century, Manichaean Christians, who were considered heretics by the Church of Rome, were encouraging slaves to take their freedom into their own hands. The Church convened the Council of Gangra, and issued a formal proclamation aligning with the Roman authorities against the Manichaean slave rebels. “If anyone, on the pretext of religion, teaches another man’s slave to despise his master and to withdraw from his service, and not serve his master with good will and all respect, let him be anathema.”

This became the official Church position for the next 1300 years. Although some writers, including Augustine, voiced opposition, the Vatican repeatedly endorsed slavery from the 5th through 17th centuries. To help enforce priestly celibacy, the Ninth Council of Toledo even declared that all children of clergy would be slaves.

Gregory XV Colonial powers invoke the Bible; Mennonites and Quakers raise opposition

As the countries of Europe colonized the world during the 17th century, the moral authority of Bible and Church offered little protection for subject people in the Americas and Africa. The Dominican Fray Bartolome de las Casas, argued against enslavement of Native Americans, but was ignored. The Catholic Church required only that slaves be non-Christians and captured in a “just war.” Near the close of the 17th century, Catholic theologian Leander invoked both common sense and the Bible in support of Church doctrine:

“It is certainly a matter of faith that this sort of slavery in which a man serves his master as his slave, is altogether lawful. This is proved from Holy Scripture…. It is also proved from reason for it is not unreasonable that just as things which are captured in a just war pass into the power and ownership of the victors, so persons captured in war pass into the ownership of the captors…. All theologians are unanimous on this.”

Catholic defenders of slavery were not alone. In England, the Anglican Church spent half a century debating whether slaves should be taught the core tenets of Christian belief. Opposition came from owners who feared that if slaves became Christians they might be entitled to liberty. In North America Protestants first passed laws requiring that slaves be sold with spouse and/or children to protect the family unit, and then decided that these laws infringed the rights of slave-holders. Many sincere Christians believed that primitive heathens were better off as slaves, which allowed them a chance to replace their demonic tribal lifestyle with civilization and possibly salvation.

But as the 17th century came to a close with broad Protestant and Catholic support for slavery, two minority sects, Mennonites and Quakers began formally converging around an anti-slavery stance. Their opposition to injustice, rooted in their own understanding of the Christian faith, would become the kernel of an abolitionist movement that ultimately leveraged the organizing power and moral authority of Christianity to help end both church and state sanction for human trafficking.

John Wesley, anti-slaver and founder of Methodism.Protestant support for slavery fractures and turns

The 18th century marked a pivot point in Christian thinking about slavery, much as the 4th century had, but in the opposite direction. At the start of the century, British Quakers forbade slave-holding among their members, and American Quakers even relocated communities from the South to Ohio and Indiana to distance from the practice. But then as now, Quakers were a small sect, the leading edge in their ethical thinking perhaps, but only the leading edge.

It took John Wesley, founder of the Methodist denomination, to bring abolitionism into the Christian main current. A son of the Enlightenment as well as the Christian tradition Wesley drew on both secular and religious tools to make his case. His writings lay out in careful detail the history of the Atlantic slave trade as it was known to him. He cites laws that prescribe mutilation and worse for slaves who offend. He makes the argument in clear secular ethical terms for abolition. He also plumbs the language and passions of faith:

“If therefore you have any regard to justice, (to say nothing of mercy, nor of the revealed law of GOD) render unto all their due. Give liberty to whom liberty is due, that is to every child of man, to every partaker of human nature. Let none serve you but by his own act and deed, by his own voluntary choice. Away with all whips, all chains, all compulsion! Be gentle towards men. And see that you invariably do unto every one, as you would he should do unto you.” 

Wesley is keenly aware that the book of Genesis has long been invoked in defense of slavery, and rather than deny the Bible’s dark legacy he invokes it, calling on God himself to free the oppressed from both slavery and sin:

The servile progeny of Ham
Seize as the purchase of thy blood!
Let all the heathen know thy name:
From idols to the living God
The dark Americans convert,
And shine in every pagan heart! 

I cite Wesley not because he gets sole or even majority credit for the sea change in Christian thinking during the 18th century, but because he embodies the many currents that came together to create that change. The European Enlightenment prompted lines of ethical philosophy and political analysis that are fundamentally at odds with slave trafficking and forced labour. America’s deist founding fathers documented their own conflicted feelings on the topic. Christians including Puritans, Quakers, Methodists, Anglicans and Baptists wrestled publicly with the issue.

The first and second Great Awakenings spawned revival meetings across the country that drew slaves and former slaves into Christianity. And emancipation began making political inroads, though not without opponents. Vermont outlawed slavery in 1777, and by the end of the century, Upper Canada—now Ontario—had implemented a law that would phase out the practice. By contrast, the Catholic Church placed anti-slavery tracts on a list of forbidden books, and Virginia forbade Blacks from gathering after dark, even for worship services.

Jefferson DavisChristians in the American South hold out

By the start of the 19th century, the fight was far from over, but without Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793, legal slavery in Christian-dominant countries might well have ended with a whimper instead of a war. The economic value of slavery was in decline throughout Europe’s empires, and in the American North a transition to grain production had made slavery all but obsolete in some regions. Where slaves cost more to feed than they could produce, owners set them free.

But as cotton production soared in the South, thanks to Whitney’s invention, so did the demand for slave labour. By the start of the Civil War, the South was producing over 4 million bales of cotton annually, up from a few thousand in 1790. Between 1790 and 1808, when an act of Congress banned the Atlantic slave trade, cotton-producing states imported 80,000 additional slaves from Africa to meet growing demand.

Northerners could think about slavery in abstract humanitarian terms but for Southerners, slavery was prosperity, and many Southern Christians behaved like owners of oil wells might today: they hunkered down and defended their revenue stream by engaging in the kind of “motivated reasoning” that allows us to find virtue in what benefits us. Under pressure, prominent Christian leaders turn to the Bible to defend the South’s way of life:

  • [Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God…. It is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation…. It has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts. — Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.
  • There is not one verse in the Bible inhibiting slavery, but many regulating it. It is not then, we conclude, immoral. — Rev. Alexander Campbell
  • The right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example. — Rev. Richard Furman, prominent Baptist and namesake of Furman University
  • The doom of Ham has been branded on the form and features of his African descendants. The hand of fate has united his color and destiny. Man cannot separate what God hath joined. — U.S. Senator James Henry Hammond.

The doom of Ham. Whether Ham’s curse is “branded on the form and features of his African descendants,” as Hammond believed, the story of that curse has been branded on the form and features of Christian history, down to the present.

Brigham Young: Self-styled prophet, polygamist and slaver. Kind of a 19th century Muhammad.Modern Christians struggle to disentangle biblical authority from bigotry

On Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, the LDS Mormon Church officially renounced the doctrine that brown skin is a punishment from God. The announcement acknowledged that racism was a part of LDS teaching for generations, as indeed it was, officially, until external pressures including the American civil rights movement and the desire to proselytize in Brazil made segregation impossible. LDS leaders have come a long ways from the thinking of Brigham Young, who wrote, “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10).

“This will always be so,” said Young, but modern Mormons believe he was wrong. Similarly, most modern Protestants and Catholics believe their spiritual forefathers were wrong to endorse slavery—or practice it—or preach it from the pulpit. But thanks in part to words penciled by our Iron Age ancestors and decisions made by 4th-century councils, this moral clarity has been painfully difficult to achieve. How much sooner might Christians have come to this understanding if the Church had not treated those ancient words from Genesis and Leviticus and Ephesians as if they were God-breathed?

It is easy to look back on slavery from the vantage of our modern moral consensus—that treating people as property is wrong, regardless of what our ancestors believed. But the very same Bible that provided Furman and Jefferson Davis with a defense of slavery also teaches that non-believers are evildoers, women are for breeding, children need beating, and marriage can take almost any form but queer.

This month, aspiring presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was asked to comment on marriage equality and said, “This is not just a political issue. It is a biblical issue. And as a biblical issue, unless I get a new version of the scriptures, it’s really not my place to say, ‘Okay, I’m just going to evolve.’” I’m guessing that the generations of Christians who fought slavery, biblical texts and Church tradition notwithstanding, would beg to differ. – Alternet, 12 February 2015

» Dr Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. As a writer she tackles the intersection between religious belief, psychology and politics, with a growing focus on women’s issues, and is actively engaged in dialogue that aims to find common ground between theists and freethinkers, in particular by focusing on humanity’s shared moral core.

Slavery in Brazil

See also

How does the Jesus proto-image for pseudo-theology impact Hinduism? – Shiva Das

Brahmin“From a Hindu and Vedic view, Christianity would be viewed as adharmic teachings or asuric dharmas.  Due to the lack of any compelling evidence of the existence of Jesus, aside from a requirement of blind faith that this is true, one must wonder if there was really a Jesus and if so to what extend did he really involve himself in teaching.  In reality, modern Christianity is more akin to the teachings of Paul than Jesus; ironically, Paul did not personally know Jesus or receive the teachings directly from him.   For Christianity to expand through conversion of Hindus, it has also embraced and was an originator of the proto-image.” – Shiva Das

Jesus the YogiWith the globalization of an obscure sect that existed within Judaism, the Christian Bible has become one of the most studied and research texts in modern history.  Yet, despite numerous generations of scholars pouring over the compendium of Biblical writings, there remains numerous questions about the life of Jesus.  Most notable his life from age 12-33, but there are numerous other apparent conflicts including a remarkable similarity with elements of “Wars of the Jews”[1] as well as a marriage between a person, image or concept of Jesus with various qualities procured the world’s older religions.  As an example, it is commonly known amongst scholars that Jesus was not born on December 25; in reality this was a common day amongst ancient civilizations for celebrating the culmination of the Winter Solstice celebration.  This celebration had a primary focus on the deity of one’s choice. A careful examination of religious teachings reveals that little is really known about Jesus or his teachings, and scholars do acknowledge that Christianity borrowed some concepts from other ancient religions, as an example Easter which was a pagan holiday and is the reason rabbits are still a part of the celebration.  Additionally, ancient Christianity “borrowed qualities or attributes” from the Vedic deity Mitra which was the concept of the “Divine Friend” that permeates Christianity to this day, but in the modern age this acquisition of attributes has been expanded to include Krishna and even Prajapati.  It is most interesting that this parallel is at times propagated by a small number of Hindu teachers, and the association of the Vedic Prajapati is commonly used as an attempt to portray Christianity as sort of a creator of Hinduism and pre-date Christianity to an earlier era which is simply false. Additionally, another rational may be the purpose of creating a spiritual typology aligning Christian and Hindu theologies, which simply does not exist.  We have seen this appear with absurd suggestions that the Vedas are a Christian text and more recently in Southern India, the equally absurd suggestion that Jesus created the Surya Namaskar.

Christ Pantocrator, Sinai, 6th centuryOne of the most pressing issues facing biblical scholars is actual evidence of the life of Jesus.  One criticism is pertaining to the name of Jesus which ironically cannot be found in any significant writings of the time, which would make sense as Jesus is not a Jewish name, therefore, there would be an absence of the name; as the name for Jesus was Yeshua.  While the actual name for Jesus (Yeshua) is a common name for that age and geographic region, it has proven to be no easy task to find actual documentation of Yeshua from the period Yeshua (Jesus) was believed to live.  Strangely, there is a surprising lack of references within Greek, Roman or Jewish records referencing Jesus.  In fact, there is considerable debate as to any location being identified as Nazareth i.e. Jesus of Nazareth, with the latest theory being that Nazareth must have been a small village of 2-4 families.  In fact, references to Jesus as a physical person appear in only one ancient writing to any degree and that is still somewhat limited: The Wars of the Jews by Josephus.  Scholars throughout history have noted similarities between The Wars of the Jews and the story of Jesus to some degree, a modern debate has emerged centering upon the question if this was an effort by the Romans to control the apoplectic Jewish sicarii,[2]  who were quite violent and rebellious from a Roman perspective.  Other views have suggested that the information about Jesus was added later to create a historical record.  Likewise, there have been attempts by scholars to “fill in the gaps” that have been fiercely debated, these attempts to whitewash and change records are often attributed to bad science with a nefarious religious agenda.  As an example, several scholars historically have attempted to resolve some of these issues by changing only a few key words in texts to secretly resolve issues regarding a historical Jesus.

This has led to my theory of Jesus being a proto-image for the formation of religion with numerous agendas such as promoting a Roman[3] agenda while vilifying the followers of Judaism. Even a casual read of the teachings of Jesus will reveal an occasional pro-Roman position and an almost anti-Judaic view.  This conflict between Christianity and Judaism has been reflected historically in the relationship between the Catholic Church and Judaism.  It appears clear that the Romans developed an interest in the formation of Christianity to meet a political as well as social agenda.  My suspicion is that the Flavian era discovered that the masses can be more easily controlled through religion than through military means, this management of the masses through religion is not only more easy to do but is rather cost effective, as military campaigns require considerable financial resources.  The proto-image has been a powerful image throughout history, but a more correct definition for the modern age would be the Proto-image psychological disposition.

Dancing Jesus in The New Indian BibleThe proto-image is an image that is designed to appear psychologically to the masses.  This has appeared frequently within Christianity, commonly manifesting simplistically in various visual cues such as a white Jesus, a black Jesus, blue-eyed Jesus to various ethnic variables included in the imagery of Jesus.  I have even witnessed an image of Jesus dressed as a Hindu on the cross with Hindu women dressed in sari’s standing around. This establishes the first basic psychological requirement, namely to establish a connection by way of the visual cultural identification. The second psychological requirement is to identify an obligation to the image, for the world the proto-image creates a psychological feeling of debt, as the image that someone died for you can easily create a feeling of a psychological debt and moves one further from the proto-image psychological disposition and more towards dogma, but we will explore that shortly.

While the world is currently witnessing a mass exodus from the Church amongst western peoples, evidenced by churches closing and numerous church properties being sold globally, especially in Europe, there is also prolific loss of churches occurring in the United States, as well.  While the current exodus from the Church is quite obvious, ironically, it is due the proto-image psychological disposition that is most responsible and likely the driving force for the exodus in modern western society.

JesusThe proto-image psychological disposition group is a rejection of the other Christian groups, the formal Church or dogma of the Church.  This group ignores all contrary statements relative to their particular view, emotional need and attachment to the proto-image of Jesus, in essence allowing Jesus to be whatever they wish with disregard for any conflicting message that violates their individual proto-image concept. This group will ignore violent actions of the Church littered throughout history, and psychologically believe that the action of the institution of the Church is somehow separate from the man (Jesus), while ignoring the violent message found in the Bible and associated with Jesus.  Some examples would include:

“Violence is mine…” (Deut. 32.35)

“Think not that I come to send peace on earth; I come not to send peace but a sword.” (Matthew 10.34)

“For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” (Matthew 10.35)

“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth…” (Exodus 21:24)

“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” (Luke 12:51)

“I have come to bring fire on the earth…” (Luke 12.49)

Paul burning books at EphesusTo compensate for these violent messages, the proto-image psychological disposition devotee must project their own interpretation upon the Biblical teaching based upon their own proto-image view, again often based in little to no study of the language, languages of translation (such as Greek), people, era, translation or other quality used to justify a rational. To state it in blatant terms, they simply make up their own meanings to conflicting passages. These groups typically focus on such statements as love, turn the other cheek and various examples of forgiveness, while ignoring comments attributed such as, and I paraphrase, I am the only way to the father[4].  Some might argue that this is in reality a division between fundamentalist and more secular views, certainly there would be some degree of truth to this, and certainly there is nothing wrong with embracing love or turn the other cheek, it becomes more of a conflict between following dharma and the desires of the ego.  This has ultimately resulted in a hybrid or pseudo Christianity which is commonly reflected in the New Age movement.  Ironically, the New Age movement is largely based on snippets of Hinduism and to some degree Buddhism combined with the Jesus proto-image.

The proto-image psychological group is powerfully influenced by samskaras[5], often the by-product of being raised within a Christian tradition or having joined a tradition and creating numerous latent impressions within the mind.  These impressions are repeated and reinforced to such a degree that often one loses discrimination between impressions and desire for factual realization of the latent impressions. In other words, a false belief must be made believable. It is the samskaras that in essence demand reconciliation within the mind of the student of spirituality, but the latent impressions are so strong within the field of the mind that the only easy reconciliation is a proto-image that is heavily modified to ones comfort zone.

From a Hindu and Vedic view, Christianity would be viewed as adharmic teachings or asuric dharmas.  Due to the lack of any compelling evidence of the existence of Jesus, aside from a requirement of blind faith that this is true, one must wonder if there was really a Jesus and if so to what extend did he really involve himself in teaching.  In reality, modern Christianity is more akin to the teachings of Paul than Jesus; ironically, Paul did not personally know Jesus or receive the teachings directly from him. For Christianity to expand through conversion of Hindus, it has also embraced and was an originator of the proto-image.

Jesus & KrishnaWhat does this mean for Hinduism?

Of all the forces supporting the proto-image in India, it is through teachers within Hinduism that the proto-image is becoming most prolific. An example is a conversation I had with a swami residing in India. He was trained by a well-known and established sampradaya within India. He publicly stated that “the teachings of Jesus were 100% compatible with Hinduism.”  I found this strange, and questioned how he reconciled Jesus’ statement that he was the only way to the father, which is contradictory to most Hindu beliefs. After considerable debate, in private the swami confessed he had never read the Bible and knew little to nothing of the teachings of Jesus. I was shocked by such a confession, and it beckons the question “why would such a statement have been made?” if one had never read the teachings of Jesus. While I cannot speak of what was truly within the heart of the swami, one must wonder if financial motivations and the prospect of western dollars was a temptation to strong to resist. Or possibly there were some other motivations, but clearly making such a statement would clearly be adharmic and appealing to the proto-image psychological group.

The Jesus proto-image is problematic for Hinduism. As questions as to if Jesus really existed are becoming more common and evidence to support his physical presence is lacking in the current archeological and historical records. If the image of Jesus is not real, not correct and the reality is that Jesus is only a psychological proto-image, the ramifications for Hinduism are rather severe. It appears that a large number of teachers have seemed to need to align themselves with Jesus in order to come to the west and teach, some have even proclaimed to reveal “secret teachings of Jesus” or special insight into the teachings of Jesus.  In reality, this is a rather sad commentary for Hinduism, as it seems to imply that the teachings of Hinduism cannot stand upon their own without help from Christianity.  This is certainly not the case, as Hinduism is the last remaining teachings of the great Dharmic traditions!  Likewise, this action does a disservice to western students as it strengthens samskaras within their own minds, further trapping them in the world samsara[6].

M.K. Gandhi in 1929While the proto-image is a method of exodus in the western church, it has the exact opposite effect in India as it is a tool for conversion.  But for the Hindu, the proto-image is an appealing image that makes the process of conversion easier and much more simplified, as the nature of the proto-image is to appeal psychologically to people by design. Likewise, Hinduism has been accommodating to the image of Jesus, but if the image is merely a proto-image and nothing else, it would question the levels of realization of some teachers as they would have demonstrated an inability to not see through the illusionary proto-image. A compelling recognition of this proto-image was actually made by Gandhi, who said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”[7] But something more insidious is hiding in such statements, a potential assumption of Jesus that is more akin to a psychological proto-image. So the Hindu begins the journey into Christianity through the proto-image, then a further conversion takes place, one that moves past the proto-image. After indoctrination into Christianity with the proto-image, the convert is slowly manipulated away from the proto-image and more into the dogmatic teachings of church, masterfully moving the Indian convert away from proto-image psychological disposition and more toward the dogmatic position of the church.

For the Hindu, this has opened a floodgate of missionary activity and has begun a process of implanting Christian samskaras within the Hindu mind. It is the purposeful application of samskaras that is most insidious.  In the west, they have a saying, “once a Catholic, always a Catholic” which recognizes the powerful force that samskaras have within each mind. Once the samskaras are planted within the mind, these samskaras prove difficult to remove; as a number of Hindu’s that studied in Christian schools appear almost as Christian apologists. It requires tremendous iccha shakti (will power) to free oneself from these powerful samskaras, yet, certainly there are Hindu’s that are able to stand against these impressions.  Therefore, this process of implantation of the proto-image begins in the Christian-based schools in India. 

Jesus as Shiva?Conclusion

Hinduism faces a difficult path in the long-term, if it does not recognize the hidden adharmic nature of the proto-image theory and begins to deepen the honouring of its own teachings regarding samskaras. Likewise, Hinduism must tap into its own teachings to explain the appeal of the proto-image, as it is understood that we are in the Kali Yuga, in this yuga the dharmic teachings become largely ignored, and spiritual belief is given to false concepts and ideas.

As westerners that have embraced the proto-image psychological disposition leave the Church, relatively few actually identify themselves as Hindu.  Despite the fact that many are practising some form of Hinduism or at a minimum a hybrid Hinduism.  In reality, they are practising more what is known as “eclectism”, which is disorganized mixture of various religious views and beliefs. The fact is that this group is taking Hindu teachings and concepts or dharmic concepts preserved by Hinduism and are repackaging them as something separate from dharma and not part of Hinduism.  Some have even been so bold to state they are “improving them”, yet one must ask how can one “improve” dharma?  This mentality of “improving” is prolific within yoga, but is spreading to other areas of Hinduism and even to the relationship with the deities.  As I have encountered numerous westerners that profess to worship Ganesh, as an example, yet have no concept or understanding of Hinduism.  It is common to see icons in yoga studios now, but few appear to know what a murthi is.  This will ultimately result in a pseudo-theology that is based upon the whims of the ego and samskaras rather than the realization of the Rishis. But the greater threat to Hinduism is far more reaching, as the greater threat to the religion is re-importation of a westernized Hinduism or pseudo-theology back into India.  In fact, this may ultimately prove to be a greater concern to India than Christianity, but the two combined are a powerful force facing modern Hinduism.

Adhi Guru DakshinamurthyThe solution is quite simple. We need the leaders of Hinduism, the Brahmins, the Swamis, Paramahansas, the Yogis and Babas to come out and embrace the masses with knowledge and tools to understand the illusions of the proto-image. This needs to not just be taught to wealthy Hindu’s, or the growing middle class within India, it needs to be taken to villages and the poor as well.  Just as Krishna instructs Arjuna to perform his duty within the Bhagavad Gita, the dharmic leaders must begin to perform their duty on deeper levels. We have entered a time where each of us is standing in Dharmakshetre, Kurukshetre or in the field of dharma and in the field of the kurus[8].  As it is the duty of all dharmic teachers to preserve and protect dharma. It is important for each and every Hindu man, woman and child to remember—“Dharmo rakshati rakshitah” (One who protects Dharma is protected by Dharma). – The Chakra, 21 June 2015


  1. Atwill, Joseph, Caesar’s Messiah
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. King James Bible, John 14.6
  5. Samskaras are a Hindu teaching that each thought leaves an impression within the mind and body.  We are powerfully influenced by the sum total of these thoughts.
  6. Reincarnation.
  7. Good Reads Quotes
  8. Bhagavad Gita 1.1

» The author Shiva Das was trained in the traditional dharmic systems of India. 

Nine reasons why everything you know about Jesus is a myth – Valerie Tarico

Dr Valerie Tarico“The person of Jesus, if indeed there was such a person, is shrouded in the fog of history leaving us only with a set of hunches and traditions that far too often are treated as knowledge. The “facts” I have listed here are largely trivial; it doesn’t really matter whether Jesus was tall or short, or how he cut his hair. But it does matter, tremendously, that “facts” people claim to know about how Jesus saw himself, and God and humanity are equally tenuous.” – Dr Valerie Tarico

Jesus with wife Mary Magdalene and KidsJesus has been described as the best known figure in history, and also the least known. If you mentioned the name “Jesus” and someone asked Jesus who, you might blink. Or laugh. Even people who don’t think Jesus was God mostly believe they know a fair bit about him. You might be surprised that some of your most basic assumptions about Jesus are probably wrong. 

We have no record of anything that was written about Jesus by eyewitnesses or other contemporaries during the time he would have lived, or for decades thereafter. Nonetheless, based on archeological digs and artifacts, ancient texts and art, and even forensic science, we know a good deal about the time and culture in which the New Testament is set. This evidence points to some startling conclusions about who Jesus likely was—and wasn’t.

1. Married, not single. When an ancient papyrus scrap was found in 2014 referring to the wife of Jesus, some Catholics and Evangelicals were scandalized. But unlike the Catholic Church, Jews have no tradition of celibacy among religious leaders. Jesus and his disciples would have been practising Jews, and all great rabbis we know of were married. A rabbi being celibate would have been so unusual that some modern writers have argued Jesus must have been gay. But a number of ancient texts, including the canonical New Testament, point to a special relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. The Gospel of Phillip says, “[Jesus] loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth.”

2. Cropped hair, not long. Jewish men at the time of Christ did not wear their hair long. A Roman triumphal arch of the time period depicts Jewish slaves with short hair. In the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he addresses male hair length. “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him?” (1 Corinthians 11:14 NRSV). During the 1960s, conservative Christians quoted this verse to express their disgust against the hippy movement and to label it anti-Christian.

3. Hung on a pole, not necessarily a cross. For centuries scholars have known that the Greek New Testament word “stauros,” which is translated into English as cross, can refer to a device of several shapes, commonly a single upright pole, “torture stake” or even tree. The Romans did not have a standard way of crucifying prisoners, and Josephus tells us that during the siege of Jerusalem, soldiers nailed or tied their victims in a variety of positions. Early Christians may have centered on the vertical pole with a crossbeam because it echoed the Egyptian ankh, a symbol of life, or the Sumerian symbol for Tammuz, or because it simply was more artistically and symbolically distinctive than the alternatives. Imagine millions of people wearing a golden pole on a chain around their necks.

4. Short, not tall. The typical Jewish man at the time of the Roman Empire would have been just over five feet tall, which makes this a best guess for the height of Jesus. That he is typically depicted taller derives from the mental challenge people have distinguishing physical stature from other kinds of stature. Great men are called “big men” and “larger than life.” In ancient times they often were assigned divine parentage and miraculous births, and the idea that Jesus was uniquely divine has created a strong pull over time to depict him as taller than is likely. A good illustration of this is the Shroud of Turin, which is just one of many such Jesus-shrouds that circulated during medieval times and which bears the image of a man closer to six feet in height.

5. Born in a house, not a stable. The miraculous birth story of Jesus is a late, maybe second-century addition to the Bible, and it contains many fascinating mythic elements and peculiarities. But the idea that Jesus was born in a stable was added to the Christmas story even later. In the original narrative, Joseph and Mary probably would have stayed with relatives, and the phrase “no room for them in the inn (gr: kataluma)” is better translated “no room for them in the upper room.” Later storytellers did not understand that people of the time might bring animals into their ground floor, as in Swiss housebarns, and they assumed that the presence of a manger implied a stable.

6. Named Joshua, not Jesus. The name Joshua (in Hebrew Y’hoshuʿa meaning “deliverance” or “salvation”), was common among Jews in the Ancient Near East as it is today. Joshua and Jesus are the same name, and are translated differently in our modern Bible to distinguish Jesus from the Joshua of the Old Testament, who leads the Hebrew people to the Promised Land. In actuality, the relationship between the two figures is fascinating and important. Some scholars believe that the New Testament gospels are mostly historicised and updated retellings of the more ancient Joshua story, with episodes interwoven from stories of Elisha and Elijah and Moses. A modern parallel can be found in the way Hollywood writers have reworked Shakespearean tropes and plot elements into dozens of modern movies (though for a very different purpose).

7. Number of apostles (12) from astrology, not history. Whether Jesus had 12 disciples who ranked above his other devotees is an open question, as their names vary from list to list. Since the Gospels echo the story of Joshua, the “12” apostles most immediately mirror the 12 tribes of Israel. But the number 12 was considered auspicious by many ancient people, including the Israelites, and the 189 repetitions of the number 12 in the Bible ultimately may derive from the same pre-historical roots as the 12 signs of the zodiac and 12 months of the year. Astrotheology or star worship preceded the Hebrew religion, and shaped both the Bible and world religions more broadly. One might point to the 12 Olympian gods or 12 sons of Odin, or 12 days of Christmas or 12 “legitimate” successors to the prophet Mohammed.

8. Prophecies recalled, not foretold. Even people who aren’t too sure about the divinity of Jesus sometimes think that the way he fulfilled prophecies was a bit spooky, like the writings of Nostradamus. In reality, Scooby Doo could solve this one in a single episode with three pieces of information: First, Old Testament prophecies were well-known to first-century Jews, and a messianic figure who wanted to fulfill some of these prophecies could simply do so. For example, in the book of Matthew, Jesus seeks a donkey to ride into Jerusalem “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet” (Matthew 21:4). Second, “gospels” are a genre of devotional literature rather than objective histories, which means that the authors had every reason to shape their stories around earlier predictions. Third, scholars now believe that some Bible texts once thought to be prophecies (for example in the Book of Revelation) actually relate to events that were current or past at the time of writing.

9. Some Jesus quotes not from Jesus; others uncertain. Lists of favorite Jesus sayings abound online. Some of the most popular are the Beatitudes (blessed are the meek, etc.) or the story of the woman caught in adultery (let he who is without sin cast the first stone) or the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you, which, we are told, sums up the Law and the Prophets).

Thomas JeffersonWhich words are actually from Jesus? This question has been debated fiercely by everyone from third-century Catholic Councils to the 20th-century Jesus Seminar. Even Thomas Jefferson weighed in, but much remains unclear. The New Testament Gospels were written long after Jesus would have died, and no technology existed with which to record his teachings in real-time, unless he wrote them down himself, which he didn’t.

We can be confident that at least some of the wise and timeless words and catchy proverbs attributed to Jesus are actually from earlier or later thinkers. For example, the Golden Rule was articulated before the time of Christ by the Rabbi Hillel the Elder, who similarly said it was the “whole Torah.” By contrast, the much-loved story of the woman caught in adultery doesn’t appear in manuscripts until the fourth century. Attributing words (or whole texts) to a famous person was common in the Ancient Near East, because it gave those words extra weight. Small wonder then that so many genuinely valuable insights ended up, in one way or another, paired with the name of Jesus.

JesusThe person of Jesus, if indeed there was such a person, is shrouded in the fog of history leaving us only with a set of hunches and traditions that far too often are treated as knowledge. The “facts” I have listed here are largely trivial; it doesn’t really matter whether Jesus was tall or short, or how he cut his hair. But it does matter, tremendously, that “facts” people claim to know about how Jesus saw himself, and God and humanity are equally tenuous.

The teachings attributed to Jesus mix enduring spiritual and moral insights with irrelevancies and Judaica and bits of Iron Age culture, some of which are truly awful. That leaves each of us, from the privileged vantage of the 21st century, with both a right and a responsibility to consider the evidence and make our own best guesses about what is real and how we should then live. A good starting place might be a little more recognition that we don’t know nearly as much as we’d like to think, and a lot of what we know for sure is probably wrong. – Salon, 14 May 2015

» Dr Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. As a writer she tackles the intersection between religious belief, psychology and politics, with a growing focus on women’s issues, and is actively engaged in dialogue that aims to find common ground between theists and freethinkers, in particular by focusing on humanity’s shared moral core. She is a founder of, an interactive site that allows users to find and discuss information about virtues that emerge repeatedly across secular and religious wisdom traditions.

Workers lift the head of a giant idol of Jesus the King onto its body in Swiebodzin, Poland

See also


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