Here's an intersting article by M.V.Kamath, written a couple of years back which I saved in my archives. It is contextual to the on-going 'debate' on giving the dog a bad name. I have been a victim of this dirty game played regularly by my co-religionists
The Beam In Your Eye
M. V. Kamath.
I have often wondered whether Christians realise how much offence their missionaries give to non-Christians in India, mainly Hindus, by their activities.
There are two kinds of Christianity. One is that of simple god-fearing people who go to church, say their prayers, do what little they can for lessening the suffering or ignorance of their fellow citizens, and be at peace with the world around them. They are respected, loved and honoured.
The other is the 'Institutional Christianity', which came to India with the marauding Portuguese in the 16th century. It is this Christianity that has been causing trouble in India in recent times.
The argument adduced by Institutional Christianity is that it is God's command that his good word be spread all over the world. They insist on their 'right' to convert people because God ordained that people must be converted. Such an attitude is insulting to non-Christians.
Some time in late January, the South Asian correspondent of Le Figaro, France's most popular newspaper, wrote a scathing piece against missionary activity in the Hindustan Times. Francois Gautier must have felt really incensed at the insensitivity of Indian Christians.
More recently, Jon Stock, New Delhi correspondent of the Daily Telegraph (a London paper) wrote a revelatory piece in the Spectator, another British journal, about the activities of missionaries in India. Put simply, Stock wrote, "The Indian subcontinent has become the principal target for a wide range of western Christian missions determined to spread the Gospel to India's 'unreached' people before the year 2000." Christian missions in the US have become particularly nasty and offensive.
Stock quotes what the US-based Bethany World Prayer Centre has been writing about Hinduism. Any American who wants to pray for the Ho tribals of south Bihar and northern Orissa, for example, is given a photo, he says, a detailed map and a description of how tribals live and what they believe in, with the suggestion: "Pray against the spirits of animism and Hinduism that have kept the Ho in spiritual darkness for centuries." Stock comments: "Bethany's exhortation to pray against animism and Hinduism is hardly a mark of respect." He's being kind. I call that a downright insult to Hinduism. But we are not supposed to protest.
Then Stock quotes 'The Native Missionary Movement in India' as saying about Orissa: "Satan has successfully camouflaged his grip on the people of Orissa with a thin veneer of religion." Is Hinduism satanic? As for 'AD 2000 and Beyond,' it says that Varanasi, Hinduism's holiest city, is full of temples dedicated to Shiva, "an idol whose symbol is a phallus. Many consider the city the very seat of Satan." Why are our Indian Bishops quiet in this matter?
But Stock goes further. He writes: "Hundreds and thousands of dollars are being channelled into India through well-organised US-based evangelica missions. The meticulously researched ethnographic data they are compiling on the region ensures that funds (as well as prayers) are being directed with military precision to the right places, even to specific PIN codes, in remote tribal districts."
Stock quotes 'AD 2000 and Beyond' as saying: "God is allowing us to spy on the land that we might go in and claim both it and its inhabitants for Him." The kind of language being used by US evangelical missions to describe Hinduism is appalling. But there is not a word of apology from our Christian bishops.
According to Suresh Kumar Unnithan, writing in the Observer (March 23), "A detailed strategy for massive conversion of tribals, Dalits and backward classes and large-scale church planting was formulated at a meeting of church and missionary leaders in Bhopal recently."
Unnithan quotes a document prepared by one Dr. Victor Choudrie, co-ordinator of 'Harvest Consultant' (a proselytisation programme of the Protestant Church) and present at the meeting, as saying that "the goal is to plant about 30,000 churches and reach over 10 million 'unreached' in the state by the year 2007." According to the report "MP has 70 million people in 70,000 villages and only 70,000 Christian families. We should strive to have one church in every village by 2010."
I call this Institutional Christianity and it seems to be hell bent on creating trouble in the name of religion. And the money for all these church-building activities comes from the USS, where Christianity hardly exists. For that matter, what sort of Christianity exists in Europe? In Ireland, Catholics and Protestants are at each other's throats. Not one of Christ's preachings are practised anywhere. Germans sent, god alone knows, how millions Jews to death during the Nazi era. The French ravaged Vietnam and Nigeria. Italians almost destroyed Ethiopia. The record of the Spaniards is despicable as is that of the Portuguese. Americans almost levelled Vietnam - a small nation that had done them no harm - to dust.
Is this Christianity in action? And they have the cheek to come to India to instruct us in pacifist ways? European Christianity is the very antithesis of Christianity. It is an insult to Christ. US evangelists dare not send money to support proselytisation in Muslim countries. Let them try to do so in any Muslim country and they would know what would happen. In India we allow our religion to be trampled upon, our gods insulted - all in the name of secularism.
I would like to know what Sonia Gandhi thinks of all this and what her Indian National Congress Party's veiws are on this matter.
The government needs to be warned in advance so there is not repetition of the Staines incident. The missionaries need to be told to cry a halt to their activities. And foreign church bodies should be told to lay off.
The point can be made that if non-resident Indians can support the International Hindu Council (Vishwa Hindu Parishad or VHP) financially, why shouldn't foreign Church bodies finance Indian churches?
The point is that these expatriates are not attempting to convert Christians. In any event, it is a matter of Indians supporting Indians. The people needing conversions are Europeans and Americans. We do not need US-style or European-style Christianity in India; thank you. We are quite happy and at peace with the local variety.
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