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

Debit Card & Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clean-up exercise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Christian missionaries will not succeed in India – Mohan Bhagwat

Mohan Bhagwat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missionary Visa

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

 

The politics of religious conversions in Jharkhand – Raksha Kumar

Conversion to Hinduism

Raksha Kumar“The worst thing that conversion does is takes away our identity,” said Mr. Kujur. “We are Christian one day and Hindu the next. There is an erosion of self in all this.” – Raksha Kumar  

Ara, Jharkhand—Early on an idle Sunday morning in late August, Ram Singh Kujur perched on the solitary broken wooden chair outside his mud hut, sipping tea from a disfigured steel tumbler. Sundays never used to be such in the Kujur residence. Seven years ago, the Kujurs would have excitedly woken up early, put on their best clothes and head toward the village church. Now, the family of seven bathes and duly assembles in front of Lord Ram’s idol, positioned in the corner of their single-room house.

“We used to pray once in a week; now we pray every day. I am not sure the God is listening to us though,” said Mr. Kujur, 38, a farmer who owns two acres of land in Ara, 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state.

Mr. Kujur and his family converted to Hinduism seven years ago. As a member of the Oraon tribe, his grandfather had converted into Christianity. But in 2006, the late Bharatiya Janata Party leader Dilip Singh Judeo arrived in Ara with the sole agenda of converting 300 Christian families to Hinduism. Mr. Kujur’s was one of them.

Most of the 450 families in this village are adivasis, or tribals, who had converted into Christianity a generation or two ago. The Kujurs decided to convert as they were “fed up” with what they called the Christian double standards.

Mr. Kujur vividly remembered the day he was baptized. “I was 8 years old. The priest sprinkled holy water on my head and named me Gerald Kujur,” he said. From then on, he spent days of the week waiting for Sunday and the months of the year waiting for Christmas. “There used to be beef served in the church on Sundays, and several sweets distributed during Christmas,” he said.

Mr. Kujur was educated in a convent. “They call it missionary school here,” Shashikala, his 32-year-old wife, said. There, Mr. Kujur learned mathematics, science, English and Christianity.

Just as Mr. Kujur began to enjoy the school, the principal of the school, who was also the chief priest of the village, wrote a letter to Mr. Kujur’s father asking him to pay a few hundred rupees as fees. The Kujurs realized that the promise of “free education” expired six months after baptism.

Mr. Kujur remembered bowing in front of a statue of Jesus Christ that day, inhaling the sweet smell of the incense, angry at the injustice. “Is it fair to ask a poor farmer to pay for education when he has nothing to eat?” he had asked.

Two months after Mr. Judeo of the Bharatiya Janata Party converted 300 families in Ara by washing their feet with holy water from the Ganges River and declaring them Hindu, at least 600 tribal people were converted to Christianity in the Vishnupur locality of Gumla district, about 140 kilometers southwest of Ara. The local parish claimed this to be a counter to the Ara conversions by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Jharkhand has been the center of a religious tug-of-war since the 18th century, when a predominantly tribal state saw a flurry of Christian missionaries set up base there. The first Christian missionaries to arrive in the Chotanagpur plateau, which is most of Jharkhand today, were not the Catholics but German Protestants who traveled through Chakradharpur and Khunti to Ranchi. The Anglicans and the Catholics followed.

In the late 19th century, Christian missionaries converted a large number of people, especially tribals. Despite several years of close coexistence, the tribals had maintained their identity separate from the Hindus. The tribals were mostly hunter-gatherers, worshipped their ancestors and nature, ate simple food and celebrated festivals of their own.

According to several scholars, Hindu right-wing organizations like the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh came to Jharkhand in the 19th  century to counter the conversion drives of the Christian missionaries.

“We used to have a unique identity,” said Dilip Oraon, a tribal whose family refused to be converted to Christianity or endorse Hinduism. “Today, we are forced to choose between Christianity or Hinduism. We are Sarnas—those with a distinctive identity, independent of both.”

In 2006-2007, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, asked the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Jharkhand to bring a law to ban conversions to religions other than Hinduism in the state. Their allies in the Janata Dal (United) Party were opposed to the bill, and so it was stalled. There are still calls by members of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the RSS to consider such a bill and to deny government benefits to tribal converts to Christianity.

As per the 2001 census, the latest available, 68.5 percent people of Jharkhand’s 32.96 million people follow Hinduism. Islam is followed by 13.8 percent and there are 13 percent animistic Sarnas. Only 4.1 percent of the population is said to follow Christianity.

These figures are hotly debated by all sections of the population. “The adivasis are Hindus,” claims Lallan Sharma of Vikas Bharti, a nonprofit organization that believes in what it calls the preservation of Hindu values and culture.

Mother Mary RanchiThe Christian organizations counter the claim. “We are Christians by religion and adivasis by race,” said Naman Topno, whose family converted five generations ago.

The debate over religion was revived four weeks ago when a statue of Mother Mary wearing a red-border sari and holding Jesus Christ in a way tribal women of Jharkhand hold their babies was erected by the local church in Singpur village in Dhurwa.

Bandhan Tigga, the dharmguru, or the priest of the Sarna society, said to local media, “The red border means a lot in the Sarna culture. Our women wear white sari with red border during auspicious times. If the idol of Mother Mary is shown in the get-up of a tribal woman, then 100 years from now people will think that Mother Mary was a tribal from Jharkhand,” he said.

Cardinal Telesphor P. Toppo retorted in the local media that the tribal Christians have an equal claim to the sari with red border.

Telesphore ToppoMr. Kujur and his family were familiar with the recent controversy, but they said that in the end, no matter what god they worship, their economic state is the same. “We realize conversion is political,” said Mr. Kujur, “but sometimes we are left with no option.”

When conversions happen, entire villages convert. If only one family dares to convert to another religion, they are outcast by the rest of the families. Therefore, in Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh, villagers convert by the hundreds.

Gladson Dungdung, author of Whose Country is it Anyway?, about the adivasi community in Jharkhand, said it doesn’t make financial sense for either the Hindu Right or the Christian missionaries to convert just a few families in a village, he said. A huge investment goes into staging a conversion ritual and the political parties would want to make the most of it. “The promised free food, free education and free medicines that lure the tribals also require money,” he said.

When Mr. Kujur was a boy, the church offered incentives to convert, which included rice and milk. However, these faded after about seven to eight months after baptism.

When Mr. Kujur was 22, a neighboring Christian family approached him with a marriage proposal. Mr. Kujur’s father was against the proposal, as marrying an adivasi girl would have entitled them to more benefits from the church.

“You got nothing by marrying a fellow Christian, but if you married an adivasi and converted them, you’d get rice and milk from the church,” he said, smiling. However, he married Shashikala Rajini Minz, the neighbor’s daughter.

It has been seven years since the Kujur family became Hindu, established Lord Ram’s idols in their home, began going to temples and reciting Hindu hymns. But their condition has changed little. They still depend on odd jobs to substitute their income from paddy farming six months out of the year. They still struggle to fortify their rice stew with lentils and carrots, and they still struggle to pay their children’s school fees.

Mr. Kujur’s family sat in a circle on the muddy floor to have their afternoon meal. It took them some months to remember to stop praying to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit before the meal, and switch to prayers for Lord Ram.

Mr. Kujur’s son, Dharma, 16, still remembered the Christian prayers and recited it without any prompting. “I used to be David, you see,” he said, winking, “but we have been told not to recite these prayers anymore before we eat. I don’t know why.”

When Mr. Kujur goes to his fields, he prays to the soil, the trees that surround his fields and the sun god. It is a very adivasi thing to pray to nature that protects your crops, he said. He said his becoming Hindu hasn’t prevented him from doing so.

However, there are several things that still confuse him and his family about what they can do and cannot. “When some RSS activists came home, they instructed us to remove our footwear outside the house,” he said. “They said it is what a good Hindu would do.” But their house has no flooring, so they have to walk barefoot on rough mud.

Members of Mr. Kujur’s family were promised jobs in various government bodies, by both Hindu and Christian authorities. “When my grandfather converted, he was told his son would be educated in a Christian school and then land a job in the government and enjoy pensions for a lifetime. But my father ended up farming and when he died, he owned only a few pieces of cloth,” said Mr. Kujur, with tears in his eyes.

In 2006, when Mr. Kujur converted to Hinduism, RSS officials had promised that his son would be educated in one of the best schools in Ranchi and would then land a job in a government body. Mr. Kujur was doubtful, but said he has few options now.

“The worst thing that conversion does is takes away our identity,” said Mr. Kujur. “We are Christian one day and Hindu the next. There is an erosion of self in all this.”

His wife added that they are so poor that the only thing they have left to sell is their pehchaan, identity. She was grateful that there are still buyers for that. – India Ink, 1 October 2013

» Raksha Kumar is a freelance journalist based in Bangalore.

Sarna tribals protesting against Mary statue, dressed as a tribal woman, at Singhpur in Ranchi, Jharkhand

Kolkata will take a century to recover from Mother Teresa – Aroup Chatterjee

'Saint' Mother Teresa

Aroup ChatterjeeMy own wish would be to reclaim Kolkata from Teresa—to sever the automatic connection of the two names as the whole wide world sees it. Kolkata’s image under the yoke of Mother Teresa will take a century to recover. In the last 50 years, the city has lost an unimaginable amount from the loss of international business and tourism and will continue to do so. But let us at least loudly, proudly proclaim that we have nothing to do with a medieval creature of darkness—not any more. – Dr Aroup Chatterjee

If Mother Teresa, to be canonised at the Vatican on September 4, is to be named a patron saint of anything it should be for “misinformation”. In the last 20 years of her life, truth became an unknown entity to her. The media aided and abetted her lack of integrity and in a way she cannot be blamed for believing in her own lies.

Intellect was not her strong point and, for someone like her, to be surrounded by hordes of sycophants who were telling her if she said black was white then that had to be true, it became intoxicating. The media did spread the mega-myth about her, but she herself was the source. She repeatedly told the world she went around the city 24×7 “picking up” destitute from its squalid “gutters” (she did not), that she fed up to 9,000 in her soup kitchens (she did not), she never refused a helpless child (she did as a rule), that the dying destitute in her so-called home for the dying Nirmal Hriday died a “beautiful death” (they were treated harshly and often died a miserable, painful death).

Mother Teresa was an ultimate politician who worked on behalf of the Vatican. No, she was not an “agent” as that would be conspiratorial. She did not have to do much subterfuge or skulduggery in India itself, as Indians, particularly the media, were in awe of her and connived with her.

When she said in her Nobel speech that she created 61,237 fewer children from (slum) couples abstaining from sex, no one challenged her on her bogus and fantastic figure; neither did they ask her how at the height of the Cold War abortion could be the “greatest destroyer of peace” (said a thousand times, including in her Nobel speech).

I do not blame world media as much as I blame Indian and particularly Kolkata media. Here she was, a jet-setting celebrity—although appended with the epithet “of Calcutta”—spending six to nine months in a year in Europe and the US, making strange claims about her work and about the disgusting state of the city, but never to be seen in the city’s disasters—major or minor.

Why was she not asked why she re-used needles on her residents in Nirmal Hriday (it was official policy) when she herself received the finest care in the world’s best hospitals?

Even after her death, the Indian fear of blue-bordered saris continues. On August 1, 2005, UK TV showed a child tied to a cot overnight in her orphanage—one Kolkata newspaper grudgingly reported the matter with lots of “alleged”. During her lifetime, even that would be unthinkable. She was white, she hobnobbed with President Ronald Reagan (they were closest of buddies), and oh yes, she had the Nobel—so she had to be divine.

IOR (Vatican Bank) inside Vatican CityDid no one know that she hobnobbed with the Duvaliers of Haiti whose brutality was unsurpassed (whose opponents were often cut up and fed to dogs)? No one in India wanted to know. For the Western media, she was a metaphor, a set-piece, a stratospheric certainty of image in an uncertain and changing world. Conversely, Kolkata was the opposite metaphor of absolute degradation where “foetuses are given to dogs to eat” (as remarked by her “other self” Francis Goree).

It was beyond the West’s interest, energy or remit to robustly challenge these wrong stereotypes. But did Indian journalists not know that her main bank was the Vatican Bank, a dark cavern of corruption, intrigue and murder? Before she died, it was well known that she had accepted millions from Charles Keating, the notorious American swindler, but no one in India cared.

Mother Teresa MedalBengalis showed some rare guts when she was beatified through a “miracle” in 2003. Doctors, and even the then Health Minister, made statements that Monica Besra was cured by prolonged treatment, and not by an aluminium medal. Even Besra herself periodically said her cure was not a miracle. But the Vatican treated Indian opinion with the contempt it always has and proceeded with canonisation.

But what is so great about Catholic saints? People should realise a Catholic saint does not have to be saintly or nice in the secular sense, but has to be pure to Catholic dogma, especially on contraception and abortion. Jose Maria Escriva, a Fascist, is a Catholic saint; another Fascist, Cardinal Stepinac, is a “blessed”. “Saint” John Paul II actively shielded the prolific paedophile and criminal Marcial Maciel over many years. Mother Teresa also wrote a letter of support for a convicted priest Donald McGuire, asking people to overlook his “imprudence”.

If one looks around Mother Teresa’s homes in Kolkata today, one would find many of them acceptable. But one must not forget that this comes after 25 years of campaigning by me, and also persistent global criticism from Hemley Gonzalez, the American former volunteer who in 2008 was so utterly disgusted by what he saw that he founded the Stop the Missionaries of Charity movement and founded his own Responsible Charity. Moreover, in the last six months the order has spruced up a great deal, preparing for the canonisation on Sunday.

And yet, like obliging picaninnies, the Indian government is dutifully sending a delegation to the black-magic ceremony in Rome. (Hindus please note: the Pope is not allowed to wish Hindus personally even on Diwali.)

Be that as it may, my own wish would be to reclaim Kolkata/Calcutta from Teresa—to sever the automatic connection of the two names as the whole wide world sees it. Kolkata’s image under the yoke of Mother Teresa will take a century to recover. In the last 50 years, the city has lost an unimaginable amount from the loss of international business and tourism and will continue to do so. But let us at least loudly, proudly proclaim that we have nothing to do with a medieval creature of darkness—not any more. – The Economic Times, 3 September 2016

» Dr Aroup Chatterjee was born and brought up in Calcutta. He now lives and works as a physician in London. He was, if anything, positively inclined towards Mother Teresa while he was living in Calcutta, though he knew little about her. Upon coming to the West he was appalled at the Teresan mythology and at the gruesome image that his home city had in the world. He has done research on Mother Teresa for over twenty-five years and can be called the world’s foremost authority on the late nun. He is the author of the famous book Mother Teresa—The Untold Story.

Sushma Swaraj & Pope Francis (Sept. 2016)

Hindus protest Mother Teresa's criminal activities in New York City

How religion can lead to violence – Gary Gutting

Saint Etienne Church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, France

Prof Gary GuttingThe path of modern tolerance has proved more difficult for Islam than for Christianity, and many Muslims still do not accept the ethical constraints that require religious tolerance, and a significant minority see violence against unbelievers as a divinely ordained duty. – Prof Gary Gutting

The latest victim is a French priest, murdered in his church by killers shouting “Allahu akbar! ”Following such attacks, Muslim leaders assure us that, as Tariq Ramadan said after the Paris massacre, the murders are “a pure betrayal of our religion.” After the shootings in Brussels, the leading Sunni university, Al-Azhar, issued a statement saying,

“These heinous crimes violate the tolerant teachings of Islam.” Similar responses followed recent attacks in Orlando and Nice. We are told that the fanatical fringe groups who do these terrible things are at odds with the essential Muslim commitment to peace and love. I understand the reasons for such responses, but they oversimplify the relation of religion to intolerance and the violence it can lead to.

Both Islam and Christianity claim to be revealed religions, holding that their teachings are truths that God himself has conveyed to us and wants everyone to accept. They were, from the start, missionary religions. A religion charged with bringing God’s truth to the world faces the question of how to deal with people who refuse to accept it. To what extent should it tolerate religious error? At certain points in their histories, both Christianity and Islam have been intolerant of other religions, often of each other, even to the point of violence.

Yahweh / JehovahThis was not inevitable, but neither was it an accident. The potential for intolerance lies in the logic of religions like Christianity and Islam that say their teaching derive from a divine revelation. For them, the truth that God has revealed is the most important truth there is; therefore, denying or doubting this truth is extremely dangerous, both for nonbelievers, who lack this essential truth, and for believers, who may well be misled by the denials and doubts of nonbelievers. Given these assumptions, it’s easy to conclude that even extreme steps are warranted to eliminate non-belief.

You may object that moral considerations should limit our opposition to non-belief. Don’t people have a human right to follow their conscience and worship as they think they should? Here we reach a crux for those who adhere to a revealed religion. They can either accept ordinary human standards of morality as a limit on how they interpret divine teachings, or they can insist on total fidelity to what they see as God’s revelation, even when it contradicts ordinary human standards. Those who follow the second view insist that divine truth utterly exceeds human understanding, which is in no position to judge it. God reveals things to us precisely because they are truths we would never arrive at by our natural lights. When the omniscient God has spoken, we can only obey.

For those holding this view, no secular considerations, not even appeals to conventional morality or to practical common sense, can overturn a religious conviction that false beliefs are intolerable. Christianity itself has a long history of such intolerance, including persecution of Jews, crusades against Muslims, and the Thirty Years’ War, in which religious and nationalist rivalries combined to devastate Central Europe. This devastation initiated a move toward tolerance among nations that came to see the folly of trying to impose their religions on foreigners. But intolerance of internal dissidents — Catholics, Jews, rival Protestant sects — continued even into the 19th century. (It’s worth noting that in this period the Muslim Ottoman Empire was in many ways more tolerant than most Christian countries.) But Christians eventually embraced tolerance through a long and complex historical process.

VoltaireCritiques of Christian revelation by Enlightenment thinkers like Voltaire, Rousseau and Hume raised serious questions that made non-Christian religions—and eventually even rejections of religion—intellectually respectable. Social and economic changes—including capitalist economies, technological innovations, and democratic political movements—undermined the social structures that had sustained traditional religion.

The eventual result was a widespread attitude of religious toleration in Europe and the United States. This attitude represented ethical progress, but it implied that religious truth was not so important that its denial was intolerable. Religious beliefs and practices came to be regarded as only expressions of personal convictions, not to be endorsed or enforced by state authority. This in effect subordinated the value of religious faith to the value of peace in a secular society. Today, almost all Christians are reconciled to this revision, and many would even claim that it better reflects the true meaning of their religion.

The same is not true of Muslims. A minority of Muslim nations have a high level of religious toleration; for example Albania, Kosovo, Senegal and Sierra Leone. But a majority—including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and Malaysia—maintain strong restrictions on non-Muslim (and in some cases certain “heretical” Muslim) beliefs and practices. Although many Muslims think God’s will requires tolerance of false religious views, many do not.

A Pew Research Center poll in 2013 found that in Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan and other nations in which Islam is officially favored, a large majority of Muslims think some form of Islamic law should be the law of the land. The poll also found that 76 percent of such Muslims in South Asia and 56 percent in the Middle East and North Africa favored executing Muslims who gave up their religion, and that in 10 Muslim counties at least 40 percent favored applying Islamic law to non-Muslims. This shows that, for many Muslims, the revealed truths of Islam are not only a matter of personal conviction but must also have a central place in the public sphere of a well-ordered society.

Ibn Sina / AvicennaThere is no central religious authority or overwhelming consensus that excludes such Muslims from Islam. Intolerance need not lead to violence against nonbelievers; but, as we have seen, the logic of revelation readily moves in that direction unless interpretations of sacred texts are subject to nonreligious constraints. Islamic thinkers like Ibn Sina accepted such constraints, and during the Middle Ages Muslims were often far more tolerant than Christians. But the path of modern tolerance has proved more difficult for Islam than for Christianity, and many Muslims still do not accept the ethical constraints that require religious tolerance, and a significant minority see violence against unbelievers as a divinely ordained duty. We may find it hard to believe that religious beliefs could motivate murders and insist that extreme violence is always due to mental instability or political fanaticism. But the logic (and the history) of religions tells against this view.

Does this mean that Islam is evil? No, but it does mean that it has not yet tamed, to the extent that Christianity has, the danger implicit in any religion that claims to be God’s own truth. To put it bluntly, Islam as a whole has not made the concessions to secular values that Christianity has. As President Obama recently said, “Some currents of Islam have not gone through a reformation that would help people adapt their religious doctrines to modernity.” This adaptation will be long and difficult and require many intellectual and socio-economic changes, some produced by outside forces, others arising from the increasing power of Islamic teachings on tolerance and love. But until such a transformation is achieved, it will be misleading to say that intolerance and violence are “a pure betrayal” of Islam. – The New York Times, 1 August 2016

Ten serious accusations against Mother Teresa – Adrian Asis

Mother Teresa

Adrian AsisIt’s easy to dismiss the criticisms against Mother Teresa as the biased rantings of anti-Catholic skeptics who aim to discredit her. But perhaps, it is wiser to look into the evidence these critics present before making a judgment on the life of a woman once dubbed “the living saint.” – Adrian Asis

Mother Teresa is commonly depicted in such a saintly manner that it’s difficult for most people to imagine she has even one bad bone in her body. After all, the religious sister is responsible for founding the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation that provides free care for the sick, the hungry, the orphaned, and the dying. Moreover, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and was beatified as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta” by the Catholic Church in 2003. And yet, to this day, eighteen years after her death, numerous critics still insist that Mother Teresa is not the saint many people believe her to be.

Of course it’s easy to dismiss the criticisms against Mother Teresa as the biased rantings of anti-Catholic skeptics who aim to discredit her. But perhaps, it is wiser to look into the evidence these critics present before making a judgment on the life of a woman once dubbed “the living saint.” Here are ten of the most serious accusations that have been brought up against Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

10. Forced Catholicism on others

Because Calcutta (now “Kolkata”) is composed predominantly of Hindus, they are responsible for many of the criticisms against Mother Teresa, most especially with regard to her conversion of Calcuttans into Catholics. An example of such a critic is head of an Indian Hindu nationalist group Mohan Bhagwat who, in a public speech, said, “It’s good to work for a cause with selfless intentions. But Mother Teresa’s work had ulterior motive, which was to convert the person who was being served to Christianity.” In support of Bhagwat’s claim, researchers revealed that nuns at Mother Teresa’s institution secretly baptized the dying regardless of the patients’ religious affiliation. More specifically, Mother Teresa was said to have taught nuns how to ask the dying if they wanted a “ticket to heaven,” after which a positive reply would be followed by cooling the dying’s head with a damp cloth while the nun softly uttered the words for Catholic baptism.

9. Substandard quality of medical care

Mother Teresa established the Kalighat Home for the Dying in 1952 by converting an abandoned Hindu temple into a free hospital. As the name of the facility suggests, its main purpose is to provide its patients with an opportunity to die with dignity. However, in 1991, the editor of the medical journal The Lancet paid a visit to the hospice and observed that conditions there were far from ideal. More specifically, Robin Fox described the quality of the care provided to dying patients as “haphazard,” including unacceptable practices like the reuse of needles and the mixing of tuberculosis-infected patients with the uninfected. Worse, no distinction was made between the dying and the curable, thus leaving even curable patients to waste away. Furthermore, other critics pointed to the hospital’s disregard for modern medical practices, including the most basic of diagnosis procedures. However, Mother Teresa’s defenders countered the accusations by pointing out that the facility was only meant to serve as a refuge for the dying.

8. Support for the suspension of civil liberties

“The Emergency,” which took place from June 25, 1975 until March 21, 1977, is one of the most controversial intervals in India’s history. During the period, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed a dictatorship whereby civil liberties were suspended and most of her political enemies were imprisoned. Furthermore, the press was heavily censored, and a shocking mass-sterilization campaign was said to have been carried out by the Prime Minister’s son. Mother Teresa, however, seemed to have failed to recognize the oppression present at that time. Of the period, she commented, “People are happier. There are more jobs. There are no strikes.” Well, the Indians of the time certainly seemed to disagree with Mother Teresa as during elections in 1977, Gandhi and her son lost their seats in parliament, and the opposition was overwhelmingly swept into power.

7. Warped understanding of suffering

The Catholic Church is often criticized for allegedly teaching its followers to revel in suffering, and Mother Teresa is said to have been among the teaching’s most prominent purveyors. During a Washington, D.C. press conference in 1981, for example, Mother Teresa was asked, “Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?” and she replied,

I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.

This response is said to exemplify the crooked mentality behind Mother Teresa’s insistence on keeping her facilities substandard despite the availability of funding to improve their services.

6. Inconsistency in teachings and actions

Perhaps even worse than allegations of her warped understanding of suffering are accusations of Mother Teresa’s hypocrisy. These are rooted in the advanced treatments she received for her illnesses despite her supposed appreciation for the value of suffering. More specifically, in 1985, Mother Teresa underwent cataract surgery, including the implantation of an artificial lens, at the St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan. Then later, in 1989, the “Saint of the Gutters” received a pacemaker at the Woodlands Nursing Home in Calcutta. Furthermore, Mother Teresa has been accused of being selective in her values, such as when she openly opposed the legalization of divorce but supported Princess Diana when she divorced Prince Charles.

5. Questionable associations and silence on abuse

Mother Teresa has been documented to have associated with several individuals whose records of uprightness are questionable at best. In 1981, for example, she visited Michèle Duvalier, then the wife of Haiti president Jean-Claude Duvalier, who was later overthrown by popular uprising because of the terrible abuses of his regime. However, Mother Teresa instead ended up singing praises for the people’s familiarity with the First Lady and even accepted a national award from the government — all the while remaining silent on the numerous human rights violations of the regime. Another similar encounter took place in 1989, when Mother Teresa visited communist Albania. At that time, the government there was widely perceived to be openly oppressive to anyone who opposed it, and yet, Mother Teresa met with the nation’s leaders without commenting on their abuses.

4. Accepted donations from criminals

Connected to Mother Teresa’s questionable associations is her practice of keeping donations from criminals. One example involved Robert Maxwell, a British Member of Parliament who donated to Mother Teresa’s charities but was later found to have misappropriated the pension funds of his media company. Even more infamous was the case involving Charles Keating, a moral crusader who donated millions of dollars to Mother Teresa’s charities and even had her use his private jet. Later though, despite Mother Teresa sending the court a letter to attest to Keating’s kindness and generosity, he was found guilty of multiple counts of fraud that deprived thousands of people of their life savings. Then, after Keating had been convicted, the Deputy District Attorney wrote Mother Teresa a letter asking that the money she had received from Keating be returned. She did not reply.

3. Lack of transparency with funding and expenses

With all of the positive attention that Mother Teresa commanded and still commands, it is uncontested that her charities have received millions in donations from various sources. And this has led her critics to ask, “Where is all the money?” In fact, even Susan Shields, a former nun at the Missionaries of Charity, has asked the question. Shields claims she was assigned to record donations at the institution, and despite the fact that she regularly wrote receipts for donations of up to $50,000, the nuns continued to beg for supplies and reuse syringes. Furthermore, Stern, a German magazine, exposed that despite Indian laws requiring charitable organizations to publish their finances, the Missionaries of Charity never did. Stern also reported that only 7% of the 5.3 million Deutsche Marks donated in England in 1991 had been used for charitable purposes. The rest? Head of the Missionaries chapter in England, Sister Teresina, insisted, “Sorry, we can’t tell you that.”

2. Doubtful miracle attributed to her

This item is not an accusation directed at Mother Teresa but rather at those responsible for her beatification. However, the issue does raise doubts on the integrity of those defending her legacy. The matter in question has to do with Mother Teresa’s beatification, which like all those before her, required the documentation of a miracle performed with the candidate’s intercession. In the case of Mother Teresa’s beatification, the “miracle” certified by the Vatican as genuine involves the healing of Monica Besra, a woman from Calcutta.

On September 5, 1998, exactly one year after Mother Teresa’s death, Besra applied a medallion bearing Mother Teresa’s image over what she believed was a tumor in her stomach, and this act purportedly caused the growth and the pain it caused to disappear instantly. However, the doctors who handled Monica’s case over several months claim that the growth in Monica’s stomach was not a full-grown tumor and that treatments they had administered could have been responsible for the cure. In fact, even Monica’s husband, Seiku, believes that his “wife was cured by the doctors and not by any miracle.” Adding to the mystery, the medical records of Besru’s case were taken away by a certain Sister Betta of the Missionaries of Charity, and a call to her by Time magazine simply had her responding, “No comment.”

1. False claims about the impact of her work

Even the harshest critics of Mother Teresa concede that she had a positive impact on some people’s lives, but how many lives, really? Aroup Chatterjee, an atheist who performed extensive research on Mother Teresa, claimed that “the living saint” deliberately misled the public several times about how many people the Missionaries of Charity were helping. For example, Chatterjee noted that Mother Teresa repeatedly changed the figures—from as low as 1,000 to as many as 9,000—relating to how many people her charities in Calcutta had fed, sometimes in speeches delivered within just days of each other. Then there’s Mother Teresa’s claim of a “modern school [in Motijheel]. . . with over 5,000 children in it” even if no such school established by her with such a large number of students actually exists. – The Richest, 7 May 2015

» Adrian Asis is a freelance writer from the Philippines.

Academics condemn Mother Teresa

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice

Petitions

There are two petitions at Change.org requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to send official government representation to the controversial canonization ceremony for Mother Teresa on September 4th at the Vatican. Official Indian government representation for this sectarian Catholic religious function is deemed to be highly inappropriate as India describes herself to be a modern, science-oriented secular republic that does not favour one religious group over another. See the petitions HERE and HERE.

See also

  1. Kolkata will take a century to recover from Mother Teresa – Aroup Chatterjee
  2. How Mother Teresa became a saint – Christopher Hitchens
  3. Mother Teresa’s troubled legacy – S. Bedford
  4. Mother Teresa ‘a friend of poverty, not of the poor’ – Carol Hunt
  5. Living and working with the Missionaries of Charity – Amy Gigi Alexander
  6. Mother Teresa: More dirt on the saint of the gutters – Jayant Chowdhury
  7. Aroup Chatterjee: Revealing the whole truth about Mother Teresa – Kai Schultz
  8. St Teresa: The hypocrisy of it all – Jayant Chowdhury
  9. The scandal of Mother Teresa’s sainthood – Canterbury Atheist
  10. Mother Teresa defended notorious paedophile priest – Nelson Jones
  11. Mommie Dearest – Christopher Hitchens
  12. Nobel Prize acceptance speech – Mother Teresa
  13. To many critics, Mother Teresa is still no saint –  Adam Taylor
  14. Mother Teresa and her millions – Susan Shields & Walter Wuellenweber
  15. The ‘miracle’ that makes a saint out of Mother Teresa – Jaideep Mazumdar
  16. Mother Teresa was “anything but a saint” say research scholars – Kounteya Sinha
  17. Indian Rationalists question mother Teresa’s ovarian miracle – Sanal Edamaruku
  18. Mother Teresa brainwashed Hindus and fuelled an insurgency, claim BJP leaders – Andrew Marszal
  19. Is canonising Mother Teresa the Vatican’s strategy to gain ground in India? – Sandeep B.
  20. VIDEOS: Mother Teresa and her cult of suffering – Christopher Hitchens, Aroup Chatterjee & Others

 

Mother Teresa: Where are her millions? – Walter Wuellenweber

 Vatican Bank (Institute for the Works of Religion)
Walter Wuellenweber“Every year, according to the returns filed by the Missionaries of Charity with the British authorities, a portion of the fortune is sent to accounts of the order in other countries. One of the recipients is however, always Rome. The fortune of this famous charitable organisation is controlled from Rome—from an account at the Vatican Bank. And what happens with monies at the Vatican Bank is so secret that even God is not allowed to know about it.” — Walter Wuellenweber

The Angel of the poor died some years ago. Donations still flow in to her Missionaries of Charity like to no other cause. But the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize vowed to live in poverty. What then, happened to so much money?

If there is a heaven, then she is surely there: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu from Skopje in Macedonia, better known as Mother Teresa. She came to Calcutta on the 6th of January 1929 as an 18-year-old sister of the Order of Loreto. 68 years later luminaries from all over the world assembled in Calcutta in order to honour her with a state funeral. In these 68 years she had founded the most successful order in the history of the Catholic church, received the Nobel Peace Prize and became the most famous Catholic of our time.

Are doubts permitted, regarding this “monument”?

In Calcutta, one meets many doubters.

For example, Samity, a man of around 30 with no teeth, who lives in the slums. He is one of the “poorest of the poor” to whom Mother Teresa was supposed to have dedicated her life. With a plastic bag in hand, he stands in a kilometre long queue in Calcutta’s Park Street. The poor wait patiently, until the helpers shovel some rice and lentils into their bags. But Samity does not get his grub from Mother Teresa’s institution, but instead from the Assemblies of God, an American [Evangelical Christian] charity, that serves 18000 meals here daily.

“Mother Teresa?” says Samity, “We have not received anything from her here. Ask in the slums — who has received anything from the sisters here—you will find hardly anybody.”

Pannalal Manik also has doubts. “I don’t understand why you educated people in the West have made this woman into such a goddess!” Manik was born some 56 years ago in the Rambagan slum, which at about 300 years of age, is Calcutta’s oldest. What Manik has achieved, can well be called a “miracle”. He has built 16 apartment buildings in the midst of the slum—living space for 4000 people. Money for the building materials—equivalent to DM10000 per apartment building—was begged for by Manik from the Ramakrishna Mission, the largest assistance-organisation in India. The slum-dwellers built the buildings themselves. It has become a model for the whole of India. But what about Mother Teresa? “I went to her place 3 times,” said Manik. “She did not even listen to what I had to say. Everyone on earth knows that the sisters have a lot of money. But no one knows what they do with it!”

In Calcutta there are about 200 charitable organisations helping the poor. Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity are not amongst the biggest helpers: that contradicts the image of the organisation. The name “Mother Teresa” was and is tied to the city of Calcutta. All over the world admirers and supporters of the Nobel Prize winner believe that it must be there that her organisation is particularly active in the fight against poverty. “All lies,” says Aroup Chatterjee.

The doctor who lives in London was born and brought up in Calcutta. Chatterjee who has been working for years on a book on the myth of Mother Teresa, speaks to the poor in the slums of Calcutta, or combs through the speeches of the Nobel Prize winner. “No matter where I search, I only find lies. For example the lies about schools. Mother T has often stated that she runs a school in Calcutta for more than 5000 children. 5000 children!—that would have to be a huge school, one of the biggest in all of India. But where is this school? I have never found it, nor do I know anybody who has seen it!” says Chatterjee.

Compared to other charitable organisations in Calcutta, the nuns with the 3 blue stripes are ahead in two respects: they are world-famous, and, they have the most money. But how much exactly, has always been a closely guarded secret of the organisation. Indian law requires charitable organisations to publish their accounts. Mother Teresa’s organisation ignores this prescription! It is not known if the Finance Ministry in Delhi who would be responsible for charities’ accounts, have the actual figures. Upon Stern’s inquiry, the Ministry informed us that this particular query was listed as “classified information”.

The organisation has 6 branches in Germany. Here too financial matters are a strict secret. “It’s nobody’s business how much money we have, I mean to say how little we have,” says Sr Pauline, head of the German operations. Maria Tingelhoff had handled the organisation’s book-keeping on a voluntary basis until 1981. “We did see 3 million a year,” she remembers. But Mother Teresa never quite trusted the worldly helpers completely. So the sisters took over the financial management themselves in 1981. “Of course I don’t know how much money went in, in the years after that, but it must be many multiples of 3 million,” estimates Mrs Tingelhoff. “Mother was always very pleased with the Germans.”

Missionary of Charity nuns entering the Chase Bank in New York.Perhaps the most lucrative branch of the organisation is the “Holy Ghost” House in New York’s Bronx. Susan Shields served the order there for a total of nine and a half years as Sister Virgin. “We spent a large part of each day writing thank you letters and processing cheques,” she says. “Every night around 25 sisters had to spend many hours preparing receipts for donations. It was a conveyor belt process: some sisters typed, others made lists of the amounts, stuffed letters into envelopes, or sorted the cheques. Values were between $5 and $100.000. Donors often dropped their envelopes filled with money at the door. Before Christmas the flow of donations was often totally out of control. The postman brought sackfuls of letters —cheques for $50000 were no rarity.” Sister Virgin remembers that one year there was about $50 million in a New York bank account. $50 million in one year!—in a predominantly non-Catholic country. How much then, were they collecting in Europe or the world? It is estimated that worldwide they collected at least $100 million per year—and that has been going on for many many years.

While the income is utter secret, the expenditures are equally mysterious. The order is hardly able to spend large amounts. The establishments supported by the nuns are so tiny (inconspicuous) that even the locals have difficulty tracing them. Often “Mother Teresa’s Home” means just a living accommodation for the sisters, with no charitable function. Conspicuous or useful assistance cannot be provided there. The order often receives huge donations in kind, in addition to the monetary munificence. Boxes of medicines land at Indian airports. Donated food grains and powdered milk arrive in containers at Calcutta port. Clothing donations from Europe and the US arrive in unimaginable quantities. On Calcutta’s pavement stalls, traders can be seen selling used western labels for 25 rupees (DM1) apiece. Numerous traders call out, “Shirts from Mother, trousers from Mother.”

Unlike with other charities, the Missionaries of Charity spend very little on their own management, since the organisation is run at practically no cost. The approximately 4000 sisters in 150 countries form the most treasured workforce of all global multi-million dollar operations. Having taken vows of poverty and obedience, they work for no pay, supported by 300,000 good citizen helpers.

By their own admission, Mother Teresa’s organisation has about 500 locations worldwide. But for purchase or rent of property, the sisters do not need to touch their bank accounts. “Mother always said, we don’t spend for that,” remembers Sunita Kumar, one the richest women in Calcutta and supposedly Mother T’s closest associate outside the order. “If Mother needed a house, she went straight to the owner, whether it was the State or a private person, and worked on him for so long that she eventually got it free.”

Her method was also successful in Germany. In March the “Bethlehem House” was dedicated in Hamburg, a shelter for homeless women. Four sisters work there. The architecturally conspicuous building cost DM2.5 million. The fortunes of the order have not spent a penny toward the amount. The money was collected by a Christian association in Hamburg. With Mother T as figure-head it was naturally short work to collect the millions.

Mother Teresa saw it as her God-given right never to have to pay anyone for anything. Once she bought food for her nuns in London for GB£500. When she was told she’d have to pay at the till, the diminutive seemingly harmless nun showed her Balkan temper and shouted, “This is for the work of God!” She raged so loud and so long that eventually a businessman waiting in the queue paid up on her behalf.

England is one of the few countries where the sisters allow the authorities at least a quick glance at their accounts. Here the order took in DM5.3 million in 1991. And expenses (including charitable expenses)?—around DM360,000 or less than 7%. Whatever happened to the rest of the money? Sister Teresina, the head for England, defensively states, “Sorry we can’t tell you that.” Every year, according to the returns filed with the British authorities, a portion of the fortune is sent to accounts of the order in other countries. How much to which countries is not declared. One of the recipients is however, always Rome. The fortune of this famous charitable organisation is controlled from Rome,—from an account at the Vatican Bank. And what happens with monies at the Vatican Bank is so secret that even God is not allowed to know about it. One thing is sure however—Mother’s outlets in poor countries do not benefit from largesse of the rich countries. The official biographer of Mother Teresa, Kathryn Spink, writes, “As soon as the sisters became established in a certain country, Mother normally withdrew all financial support.” Branches in very needy countries therefore only receive start-up assistance. Most of the money remains in the Vatican Bank.

Stern asked the Missionaries of Charity numerous times for information about location of the donations, both in writing as well in person during a visit to Mother Teresa’s house in Calcutta. The order has never answered.

“You should visit the House in New York, then you’ll understand what happens to donations,” says Eva Kolodziej. The Polish lady was a Missionary of Charity for 5 years. “In the cellar of the homeless shelter there are valuable books, jewellery and gold. What happens to them? The sisters receive them with smiles, and keep them. Most of these lie around uselessly forever.”

The millions that are donated to the order have a similar fate. Susan Shields (formerly Sr Virgin) says, “The money was not misused, but the largest part of it wasn’t used at all. When there was a famine in Ethiopia, many cheques arrived marked ‘for the hungry in Ethiopia’. Once I asked the sister who was in charge of accounts if I should add up all those very many cheques and send the total to Ethiopia. The sister answered, ‘No, we don’t send money to Africa.’ But I continued to make receipts to the donors, ‘For Ethiopia’.”

By the accounts of former sisters, the finances are a one way street. “We were always told, the fact that we receive more than other orders, shows that God loves Mother Teresa more,” says Susan Shields. Donations and hefty bank balances are a measure of God’s love. Taking is holier than giving.

The sufferers are the ones for whom the donations were originally intended. The nuns run a soup kitchen in New York’s Bronx. Or, to put in straight, they have it run for them, since volunteer helpers organise everything, including food. The sisters might distribute it. Once, Shields remembers, the helpers made an organisational mistake, so they could not deliver bread with their meals. The sisters asked their superior if they could buy the bread. “Out of the question—we are a poor organisation.” came the reply. “In the end, the poor did not get their bread,” says Shields. Shields has experienced countless such incidents. One girl from communion class did not appear for her first communion because her mother could not buy her a white communion dress. So she had to wait another year; but as that particular Sunday approached, she had the same problem again. Shields (Sr Virgin) asked the superior if the order could buy the girl a white dress. Again, she was turned down—gruffly. The girl never had her first communion.

Because of the tightfistedness of the rich order, the “poorest of the poor”—orphans in India—suffer the most. The nuns run a home in Delhi, in which the orphans wait to be adopted by, in many cases, by foreigners. As usual, the costs of running the home are borne not by the order, but by the future adoptive parents. In Germany the organisation called Pro Infante has the monopoly of mediation role for these children. The head, Carla Wiedeking, a personal friend of Mother Teresa’s, wrote a letter to Donors, Supporters and Friends which ran:

Mother Teresa“On my September visit I had to witness 2 or 3 children lying in the same cot, in totally overcrowded rooms with not a square inch of playing space. The behavioural problems arising as a result cannot be overlooked.” Mrs Wiedeking appeals to the generosity of supporters in view of her powerlessness in the face of the children’s great needs. Powerlessness?! In an organisation with a billion-fortune, which has 3 times as much money available to it as UNICEF is able to spend in all of India? The Missionaries of Charity have the means to buy cots and build orphanages,—with playgrounds. And they have enough money not only for a handful orphans in Delhi but for many thousand orphans who struggle for survival in the streets of Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta.

Saving, in Mother Teresa’s philosophy, was a central value in itself. All very well, but as her poor organisation quickly grew into a rich one, what did she do with her pictures, jewels, inherited houses, cheques or suitcases full of money? If she wished to she could now cater to people not by obsessively indulging in saving, but instead through well thought-out spending. But the Nobel Prize winner did not want an efficient organisation that helped people efficiently. Full of pride, she called the Missionaries of Charity the “most disorganised organisation in the world”. Computers, typewriters, photocopiers are not allowed. Even when they are donated, they are not allowed to be installed. For book-keeping the sisters use school notebooks, in which they write in cramped pencilled figures. Until they are full. Then everything is erased and the notebook used again. All in order to save.

For a sustainable charitable system, it would have been sensible to train the nuns to become nurses, teachers or managers. But a Missionary of Charity nun is never trained for anything further.

Fuelled by her desire for un-professionalism, Mother Teresa decisions from year to year became even more bizarre. Once, says Susan Shields, the order bought am empty building from the City of New York in order to look after AIDS patients. Purchase price: 1 dollar. But since handicapped people would also be using the house, NY City management insisted on the installation of a lift (elevator). The offer of the lift was declined: to Mother they were a sign of wealth. Finally the nuns gave the building back to the City of New York.

While the Missionaries of Charity have already withheld help from the starving in Ethiopia or the orphans in India—despite having received donations in their names—there are others who are being actively harmed by the organisation’s ideology of disorganisation. In 1994, Robin Fox, editor of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, in a commentary on the catastrophic conditions prevailing in Mother Teresa’s homes, shocked the professional world by saying that any systematic operation was foreign to the running of the homes in India: TB patients were not isolated, and syringes were washed in lukewarm water before being used again. Even patients in unbearable pain were refused strong painkillers, not because the order did not have them, but on principle. “The most beautiful gift for a person is that he can participate in the suffering of Christ,” said Mother Teresa. Once she had tried to comfort a screaming sufferer, “You are suffering, that means Jesus is kissing you.” The sufferer screamed back, furious, “Then tell your Jesus to stop kissing me.”

The English doctor Jack Preger once worked in the home for the dying. He says, “If one wants to give love, understanding and care, one uses sterile needles. This is probably the richest order in the world. Many of the dying there do not have to be dying in a strictly medical sense.” The British newspaper The Guardian described the hospice as an “organised form of neglectful assistance”.

It seems that the medical care of the orphans is hardly any better. In 1991 the head of Pro Infante in Germany sent a newsletter to adoptive parents:”Please check the validity of the vaccinations of your children. We assume that in some cases they have been vaccinated with expired vaccines, or with vaccines that had been rendered useless by improper storage conditions.” All this points to one thing, something that Mother Teresa reiterated very frequently in her speeches and addresses—that she far more concerned with life after death than the mortal life.

Mother Teresa’s business was: Money for a good conscience. The donors benefitted the most from this. The poor hardly. Whosoever believed that Mother Teresa wanted to change the world, eliminate suffering or fight poverty, simply wanted to believe it for their own sakes. Such people did not listen to her. To be poor, to suffer was a goal, almost an ambition or an achievement for her and she imposed this goal upon those under her wings; her actual ordained goal was the hereafter.

With growing fame, the founder of the order became somewhat conscious of the misconceptions on which the Mother Teresa phenomenon was based. She wrote a few words and hung them outside Mother House:

“Tell them we are not here for work, we are here for Jesus. We are religious above all else. We are not social workers, not teachers, not doctors. We are nuns.”

One question then remains: For what, in that case, do nuns need so much money? – The Freethinker, 22 December 2006

» Walter Wuellenweber is an investigative journalist for the German magazine Stern and a fellow at the Research Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn. This article originally appeared in Stern.

See also