(BHARATIYA PRAGNA AUGUST 2000 VOLUME 2 NUMBER 8 )
Christians Under Siege in India: A Missionary Ploy
- David Frawley
Christianity does not have a notable reputation for tolerance and respect for other religions. The Christian need to convert the entire world and the Christian failure to honour other religions, particularly non-biblical traditions, is well known. Christian missionaries have had a reputation for using methods to promote conversion that are not always honest, including employing military and political force during the colonial era. Yet Christians today conveniently like to ignore such facts. They are surprised if members of other religions are suspicious of them, even if they look at these religions as works of the devil.
Christians now promote conversion as a democratic freedom, even though their view of religion is authoritarian, not democratic, accepting only one way, and not honouring pluralism in approaching the Divine.
The Christians of India are continuing in attitudes hostile to the other religions of their country. They want a freedom to convert but they are not willing to accept the other religions of the land as valid. They highlight minor attacks on Christians done by unidentified groups as a concerted Hindu campaign against them, while they themselves are actively working to change Hindu India into a Christian nation. While Christians have a long history of aggression against other faiths that certainly has not come to an end, they are quite offended if their religion comes under even minor obstructions even by the groups they have long maligned and, not long ago, actively oppressed.
Recent arrests in India have shown that a Muslim organization led by a Pakistani national was behind most of the bomb blasts and attacks on Christian groups in South India. The Christian response has been to ignore or deny the report, though it is quite well documented and occurred in states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, not ruled by the so-called Hindu BJP party.
In fact Christians in India are defending the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency that has long tried to destabilise India, and absolving it of responsibility in the affair. This would be like an American religious minority defending the KGB during the Cold War. Whether the ISI is directly involved in such efforts to cause conflicts in India or not, we must recognize that it is a project they would certainly support and would be likely to promote.
To dismiss their involvement out of hand, as Christian leaders in India are doing, is highly suspicious. They are publicly blaming Hindu organizations for attacks that they have not been proven to have caused and which no court has found them guilty of.
Christians in India also exaggerate minor incidents into a national anti-Christian agenda. More churches have been burnt in America in recent years than in India. That a few priests or ministers have been harmed in a country of one billion over a period several years is not surprising even if we only consider ordinary crimes like robbery. That Christian missionaries have run into difficulties in sensitive tribal areas where there is not much government control is also not surprising, particularly given their hostility to tribal culture and to the tribal religions.
One even wonders if Christians are staging some of these attacks to gain sympathy, but certainly they are exaggerating them. Christianity has had a long history of using victimization in order to promote conversion. We know of the stories of Christians being fed to the lions in Rome. We are not told that many more pagans were killed by Christians and thousands of pagan temples were destroyed throughout Europe. The number of native Americans killed or forcibly converted by Catholics was also in the millions, and yet the Catholics emphasize a few priests martyred by the native Americans as being the real victims.
Mother Theresa's successor, Sister Nirmala, claims that Hindu fears that conversion is being done by force, deception or propaganda are not true and are ridiculous. But she should well know that such devices have long been used in Christianity. We can find native peoples all over the world whose cultures have been destroyed and even whose populations have been decimated by the missionaries and by the colonial armies that they supported. Even if the Hindu fear is exaggerated, it is certainly understandable. We should remember that the Pope in his recent visit to India himself threw down the gauntlet, stating a renewed church policy to convert Asia to Christianity in the coming years. To dismiss the Hindu fear as baseless only shows that it is not. If Christians were really sincere they would acknowledge that missionary activity has used such questionable methods in the past and work to insure that it does not do so in the future, not simply ignore the issue.
What is most surprising is that Christian missionaries have more freedom of operation in India than in the rest of Asia. They are banned in Islamic countries, including Pakistan, and strictly monitored in China, which has its own nationalist Catholic Church apart from Rome. Christians are under direct attack in Indonesia, where hundreds of Christians have been killed recently.
But it is India that is being called to task in the world forum for its oppression of Christians!
The reason is simple. India allows missionary activity and so is a soft target. Islamic countries and China are hard targets. The missionaries are targeting India because they feel they can make headway in India, not because India is a place where they are particularly under siege!
The hypocrisy of the whole thing is sad. It only shows that Christians are still promoting a medieval religion that will not honour other religions and is still seeking world domination by any convenient means.
If we count the victims of Christian aggression on one side and the Christians themselves who have been victimized we will find that the victims of Christianity are in the great majority. While some Christians have apologized to African and Native American groups for such missionary misdeeds, the Hindus have so far not received any such apology, though they have suffered from the same methods.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth century Christian colonial governments used their influence to promote conversion in the countries they ruled. Now Christians want to use freedom and democracy, which they didn't allow under their rulership, to continue the conversion process. And all without an apology.
If Christians want to be honoured and respected, let them first proclaim that Christianity is not the only true religion and Jesus is not the only son of God. Let them say that Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and the other Indian religions are as good as Christianity and that members of these religions will not go to hell but will gain immortality in the presence of God. They will certainly not do so. Their failure to do so shows the extent of their intolerance that naturally breeds conflict and leads to communal tension. Christians wouldn't even accept a Mahatma Gandhi and worked to convert him, while the Mahatma described missionary activity as a great danger and as ethically flawed.
As a former Catholic I know in what little esteem the church holds Hinduism and Buddhism with all their great sages and yogis. Were Christians to honour Hinduism as a valid religion all Hindu-Christian hostility could easily come to an end. As long as Christians hold that their's alone is the true faith and are working to convert the members of other religions in one way or another, they should not be surprised if members of other religions may not welcome their presence in the neighbourhood.
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