Obligatory Humorous Opening Lines
I read about an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest, “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?”
“No,” said the priest, “not if you did not know.”
“Then why,” asked the Eskimo earnestly, “did you tell me?”
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
People need religion like they need a lift in their shoe. If it makes them feel a little taller and happier about themselves, fine. But if you keep that lift in your shoe all the time, as you walk, jog, play sports, then you can wind up sore, maybe even crippled.
And, PLEEEASE, letʼs not send folks to other countries to nail lifts onto the nativesʼ feet!
Hi, weʼre from America! Weʼve come to decimate your jungle, convert your youth, and make you feel inferior!
Crow, Mystery Science Theater 3000
The gods of the Disc have never bothered much about judging the souls of the dead, and so people only go to hell if thatʼs where they believe, in their deepest heart, that they deserve to go. Which they wonʼt do if they donʼt know about it. This explains why it is so important to shoot missionaries on sight.
Terry Pratchett, Eric (more wonderful Pratchett quotations)
Of all the failures of which we have any history or knowledge, the missionary effort is the most conspicuous. The whole question has been decided here, in our own country, and conclusively settled. We have nearly exterminated the Indians, but we have converted few.
There is an old story of a missionary trying to convert an Indian. The Indian made a little circle in the sand and said, “That is what the Indian knows.” Then he made another circle a little larger and said, “That is what missionary knows, but outside there the Indian knows just as much as missionary.” [From Ingersollʼs essay, “Blasphemy”]
Great minds in evangelical seminaries across the country continue to dispute among themselves as to what is to become of the heathen who fortunately died before meeting any missionary from their institutions.
A Christian motherʼs first duty is to soil her childʼs mind, and she does not neglect it. Her lad grows up to be a missionary, and goes to the innocent savage and to the civilized Japanese, and soils their minds. Whereupon they adopt immodesty, they conceal their bodies, they stop bathing naked together.
The convention miscalled Modesty has no standard, and cannot have one, because it is opposed to nature and reason, and is therefore an artificiality. In India the refined lady covers her face and breasts and leaves her legs naked from the hips down, while the refined European lady covers her legs and exposes her face and her breasts. In lands inhabited by the innocent savage the refined European lady soon gets used to full-grown native stark-nakedness, and ceases to be offended by it. A highly cultivated French count and countess—unrelated to each other—who were marooned in their night clothes, by shipwreck, upon an uninhabited island in the eighteenth century, were soon naked. Also ashamed—for a week. After that their nakedness did not trouble them, and they soon ceased to think about it.
Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth
Every day a Christian missionary teaches another Third World child how to read the Bible. But we at “Purity and Modesty World Ministries” send forth missionaries to stop those other missionaries! Because, letʼs be honest, once a child has learned to read the Bible whatʼs to stop them from moving on to “Letters to Penthouse?”
Wes “Duke of Doubt” Anderson
“Nearly all the money the religious givers—which in the United States comprises mostly Christians—give to their congregations appears to end up getting spent directly or indirectly on themselves.” Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Donʼt Give Away More Money by eminent sociologists of religion Michael Emerson, Christian Smith and Patricia Snell, Oxford University Press 2008
Evangelical churches on average devote only about 2% of their budgets to missions, or 2 pennies for every dollar of the church budget. More money is staying within the church to pay for things like music and technology. Empty Tomb Inc.
But 2% still constitutes billions of dollars spent on missions which makes one wonder what the churches are doing with their 98% or 98 pennies of every dollar of their budgets which constitutes hundreds of billions each year—even more when you consider all the tax free church real estate in the U.S. (Also see Charity, Religions and Non-Religious)
There are a quarter of a million missionaries in the world today; their annual expenditure is almost equal to the American foreign aid budget. To some, missionaries are heroes, representing the ideal of human endeavor. To others, they are self-righteous zealots who wreak irreparable cultural damage. BBC reporter, Julian Pettifer has filmed a six-part series, Missionaries, in which he forcefully points out that for the past 500 years at least, white Europeans have been invaders and conquerors driven equally by greed and Christian zeal.
Free on Video! Must Watch!!
How Missionaries Lost Their Chariots of Fire
Wall Street Journal article updated July 2, 2010
by Brad A. Greenberg—a Christian who writes about the intersection of faith and life for The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, and author of TheGodBlog.org
The 1910 World Missionary Conference was a watershed moment for Protestantism. Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, the assembled 1,200 Protestants believed that Christianity was on the cusp of spreading to every corner of the world, and that Christ would come again once every ear had heard the good news of salvation. Their master plan for missions would hasten his return.
But Edinburgh 2010, the centenary conference that concluded last month, drew only about a quarter of the crowd and received attention only from a few Christian publications. The modern master plan was less ambitious as well: a call to global missions and “to witness and evangelism in such a way that we are a living demonstration of the love, righteousness and justice that God intends for the whole world.”
This dramatic change was summed up at a small gathering of academics and missions professionals at Fuller Theological Seminary in late May. “At (1910) Edinburgh, people thought they were going to take over the world,” said C. Douglas McConnell, dean of Fullerʼs School of Intercultural Studies in his opening remarks. “And now many of our students wonder if they should even try.”…
The overwhelming majority of American missionaries today are ‘vacationaries.’ Joining mission trips of two weeks or less, they serve in locales where Christianity already predominates. The purpose, then, of their visit is to battle the ills of poverty and to stretch their own spirituality…
Says David A. Livermore, executive director of the Global Learning Center at Cornerstone University. “In a postmodern context it goes against the grain to go in and do hard-core proselytizing. To millenials, it really feels like al Qaeda in Christian wineskins.” And “thatʼs a good shift,” he adds, because “itʼs caused us to see itʼs not enough to say Jesus loves you and then jump on a plane and go home. . .”
Scott Moreau, a missions professor at Wheaton College, estimates that two decades ago half of his graduate students believed building churches abroad was their top priority. “Today, it might be 10%,” Moreau says. “Fighting trafficking, orphanage work, HIV-AIDS, poverty—that is probably 50%….”
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life reported in April that neither Christianity nor Islam had much opportunity for further growth in sub-Saharan Africa. At least 90% of people in the 19 countries surveyed identified themselves as Christian or Muslim, so the pool of potential converts outside those religions remains small…
Spreading Christianity through deeds alone aligns with a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words.” But research suggests that non-Christians often miss the message without the words. A 2006 study by Calvin Collegeʼs Kurt Ver Beek found “little or no difference” in the spiritual response between two groups of Hondurans—one which had its homes rebuilt by missionaries who did not proselytize and the other by local NGOs. Intuition would suggest as much.
Factoid: The missionary featured in the famous film, Chariots of Fire, died of cancer in China.
On a mission — a short-term mission by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Special for USA TODAY Posted 6/18/2006
Popular as they are, critics say, short-term mission trips can be counterproductive — or worse… Judd Birdsall, former managing editor of The Review of Faith & International Affairs, a Christian journal, grew up in Japan in an evangelical missionary home. Too often these days, he says, untrained short-term missioners — or ‘vacationaries’ — offend indigenous populations and undermine hard-earned relationships cultivated by long-term missionaries over many years. “At this point, it really is an out-of-control phenomenon,” Birdsall says. “Americans come in with good intentions, but they couple zeal with ignorance, and that can be a deadly combination for the folks who are on the ground slogging it out year after year.”
All too often, groups set off with scant foreign-language skills and minimal cross-cultural training, says David Livermore, author of Serving with Eyes Wide Open. Their construction projects sometimes take work away from locals or come at the expense of more pressing needs, Livermore says, but impoverished hosts dare not protest. “Often thereʼs too high a price for them to say no to this because often (hosting a group) is the means to getting the check that will help support them.”
Volunteers also run the risk of duplicating efforts in todayʼs decentralized mission environment, says Mark Oestreicher of Youth Specialties, an El Cajon, Calif.-based training firm for church youth leaders. One slum in Tijuana, Mexico, for example, now expects regular visits from mission-driven groups from Southern California. “Each of these groups will come in, do a vacation Bible school and lead the same kids to Christ over and over again,” Oestreicher says.
Rethinking short-term missions… and other forms of volunTOURism by The Tentative Apologist, Randal Rauser
Every year in the United States more than 1.5 million people spend close to $2 billion going on a short-term mission trip… However, a growing number of Christians have been expressing reservations about the trend [including the authors of] a CBC Doc Zone documentary called “Volunteers Unleashed” that examines the growing industry of “voluntourism” that integrates volunteering in a foreign territory as part of a vacation experience. [The documentary covers cases ‘in Tanzania’ where “one sees western volunteers travel, party and volunteer, among them are untrained medical volunteers eager for experience who tackle procedures beyond their training or ability, potentially putting a patientʼs life at risk. In Cambodia, one sees the link between the volunteers working in orphanages and the exploitation of the very children they have come to help. In an Ecuador animal refuge one sees a profit-driven voluntourism company preying on volunteersʼ good intentions. Volunteers Unleashed shows dramatically that going overseas with good intentions, does not guarantee good will be done.”]
Liberal, agnostic filmmaker, Amy Gattie, who was raised by conservative Christian parents explores this experience in her first documentary film, “The Greatest Commandment is to Love,” which documents mission relief trips to Kosovo that she took with her parents over several years. Gattie chronicles her journey toward understanding and communication with her parents and their beliefs, and makes some interesting discoveries about the nature of love, compassion and friendship that transcend specific belief systems. She even points point out the universal problem with self-righteousness that we all struggle with, conservative religionists and liberals alike. Amyʼs interview published in SF Gate appears here.
Missionary Miracle Story
Iʼm a missionary kid… and an atheist
I went on a medical missions trip with my father to Mexico. The goal of our group was to give medical care to the poor people there (for free) and teach them the Gospel (preying on the helpless- I love it!). Well, during my time there, a little girl came to one of our clinics. She had very poor eyesight, perhaps qualifying for legally blind even though she had some sense of vision. Well, a few people in the group, myself included, gathered around and prayed for her and Voila! She was healed! Her eyes cleared up and she could see perfectly!
Haha. That was the version of the story that my father took to the pulpit, along with a few other people who spread the story. Hereʼs what really happened: we prayed for her. Then, the optometrist who was with us did some eye tests on her. He then gave her a pair of eyeglasses that had a really strong focus and, wouldnʼt you know it, she could see quite a bit better than she could before. This somewhat regular occurrence turned into a big miracle story. My father even wrote an article about it entitled, “Blind Girl Receives Sight”. I couldnʼt believe that my own father would obscure the truth so blatantly and yet so sincerely. I confronted him about it, but he was completely convinced that it was a great miracle. When I realized that this story, which would eventually be widespread among our local Christian community, was so fake, I called into question all miracle stories.
Converting the Missionary, a chapter of Donʼt Sleep There Are Snakes—How Daniel Everett converted and deconverted from Christianity. After converting, Dan led many to the Christian faith and became an ordained minister, then became a missionary/Bible translator/linguist who took his family with him to evangelize the Pirhana in South America, one of the most remote tribes in the Amazon that had never been converted to Christianity despite former missionaries visiting the tribe. Dan spent decades of his life learning the Pirhana language to translate the Bible into it so that this remote tribe would have the Word of God in their own language, but after getting to know the tribe and hear its questions, left the fold. Video in which Dan discusses his religious/spiritual journey. Another video. More recent video featuring a long lecture by Dan about how the tribe he was hoping to convert deconverted him.
Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary by Kenneth W. Daniels, authorʼs website and links to full book online. Another site that hosts a free online copy of his book is here. Along his journey Ken also read Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists, the book I edited.
I donʼt think I was ever a religious addict, except maybe for a year, during high school. I had a "spiritual experience" and was "on fire for God" and took a mission trip to Paraguay. Well the mission trip changed my whole attitude towards Christianity. Here WE were, traveling to a poor, pitiful country to share our WONDERFUL religion, yet, I learned more from them I think than they learned from me. They didnʼt need anyone coming in and telling them they were wrong, they were already content with their lives. They lived peacefully in tribes. Who were we to tell them that what we had was better? I loved it so much down there, I really considered marrying the village chief so I wouldnʼt have to come home.
C. Hagen [email protected] on yahooʼs exitfudyism group (28 July, 2003)
A Former Evangelical Missionary talks about entering the leaving the fold.
Atheist visits Africa to teach English there, and is treated with contempt by missionaries. The missionaries he met found Kenya disgusting and only seemed to be there because they thought they were thereby getting their tickets to heaven. Meanwhile the atheist loved every minute and learned a lot. He also returned with a dozen more stories about the lack or morals exhibited by missionaries.
Missionaries in Canada
In Canada, up until 1985, Christian churches, Catholic and other affiliated churches, ran around 100 boarding schools for aboriginal children in the Canadian Northwest. Children were even taken away by force from their native American Indian parents to fill these boarding schools. Between 100,000 and 200,000 children were forced to attend these boarding schools. (Canada probes TB ‘genocide’ in church-run schools - health - 05 …) Reportedly, around 50,000 aboriginal children died in these schools. Documents show a death rate of 50%. ( Protesters demand PM, churches reveal fates of residential school…)
“A 2001 report by the Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada documents the responsibility of the Roman Catholic Church, the United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the federal government in the deaths of more than 50,000 Native children in the Canadian residential school system.”
“The report says church officials killed children by beating, poisoning, electric shock, starvation, prolonged exposure to sub-zero cold while naked, and medical experimentation, including the removal of organs and radiation exposure.” - CANADA
On 1 January 2008, the Canadian governmentʼs ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ head, Bob Watts, stated that criminal acts had gone on in the schools, accounting for the deaths of ‘unknown’ numbers of children. (Epoch Times Move to Investigate Residential School Deaths …)
1. The United Church provided aboriginal children from its schools for drug-testing, and radiation experiments [their testes were irradiated, making them sterile]
Documentary filmmaker Kevin Annett estimates there are at least six burial sites at former British Columbia residential schools run by the Catholic Church. (Natives want childrenʼs remains returned) According to Annett: “We know that thereʼs mass graves behind the school in Port Alberni, in Alert Bay, in Mission, right next to the grounds of the Mission Folk Fest.” Annett said he has heard many stories of children who simply disappeared from the more than 100 residential schools for aboriginal children that operated in Canada from the 1870s to the early 1980s. Former students have told Annett they helped with burials. Many died from tuberculosis [the ill children were forced to play with the healthy ones instead of being quarantined], as well as from violence and abuse.
According to Annett: “Itʼs about genocide. Itʼs about murder…. If you do a conservative estimate, then you are talking at least 50,000 children across Canada over a century.” “The priests dug up the secret gravesite in a real hurry around 1972, when the school closed. No-one was allowed to watch them dig up those remains.” “I think itʼs because that was a specially secret graveyard where the bodies of the pregnant girls were buried. Some of the girls who got pregnant from the priests were actually killed because they threatened to talk. They were sometimes shipped out and sometimes just disappeared. We werenʼt allowed to talk about this.” (Testimony of Arnold Sylvester to Kevin Annett, Duncan, BC, August 13, 1998). (CANADA)
“I believe the conditions are being deliberately created in our Indian boarding schools to spread infectious disease. The death rate often exceeds fifty percent. This is a national crime.”
Dr. Peter Bryce, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Indian Affairs, April 15, 1907
“Then he kicked her. She went rolling down the stairs. She just lay there. She wasnʼt moving; she wasnʼt breathing. I see that all the time.”
Harriett Nahanee, eyewitness to the murder of Maisie Shaw, age 14, by Alberni Indian Residential School Principal Alfred Caldwell on December 24, 1946
Mayan scribes in Central America wrote: “Before the coming of the Spaniards, there was no robbery or violence. The Spanish invasion was the beginning of tribute, the beginning of church dues, the beginning of strife.” Missionaries fought among themselves. In Japan and China, the Dominicans fought bitterly with the Jesuits. In the Near East, the Franciscans fought with the Capuchins. And in India, the Jesuits fought several wars against the Capuchins. A Seneca Indian chief asked of a Moravian missionary in 1805, “If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it?” Missionaries often took part in the unscrupulous exploitation of foreign lands. Many became missionaries to get rich quickly and then return to Europe to live off their gains. In Mexico, Dominicans, Augustinians and Jesuits were known to own “the largest flocks of sheep, the finest sugar ingenios, the best kept estates.”
Source: Helen Ellerbe, The Dark Side of Christian History
Missionaries in the Great White North
Think of the Inuit - they had an almost total meat diet. The reason they did not get scurvy from eating no vegetables and fruit was because a lot of the meat and fat they ate was raw and contained vitamin C. Soon as the missionaries made them cook it all they started going down with scurvy.
Comment on internet by helen baillie-gutteridge
The Franciscans came to California not merely to convert the tribes to Christianity but to train them for life in a European colonial society. Conversion was seldom an entirely voluntary process, and converts (neophytes) were not left to return to their old ways but were required to live in the walled mission enclosure or on rancherías, separate settlements sponsored by missions although located some distance from the mission proper.
European Contact in California by Vernon T. Johnson (full-blooded Calif. Indian)
Rather than treating California Indian tribes as sovereigns and respecting members of the tribe as residents of another government, the Spaniards once again carried out their systematic colonization policies and declared California Indians to be citizens of New Spain. Missionaries worked to convert Indians to Catholicism and sought to wipe out all traces of their native beliefs and culture. To accomplish this missionaries forced the Indians to build missions where they were required to reside and submit to the demands of the Padres. Vicious punishment was meted out to those who refused to submit to the missionaries or who attempted to flee. Once Mexico gained its independence from Spain it assumed control of the missions and rewarded its supporters with huge land grants that included areas occupied by the Indians. The homeless Indians had no alternative but to become indentured to the landowners.
When gold was discovered in 1848, people in the midwest and eastern parts of the country began heading west. Here is how historian, H.H. Bancroft described the impact on Indians:
“The California Valley cannot grace her annals with a single Indian war bordering on respectability. It can boast, however, a hundred or two as brutal butchering, on the part of our honest miners and brave pioneers, as in any area of equal extent in our republic… When now and then one of them [Indians] plucked up courage to defend his wife and little ones, or to retaliate on one of the many outrages that were constantly being perpetrated on them by whiter persons, sufficient excuse was offered for the miners and settlers to band and shoot down any Indians they met, old or young, innocent or guilty, friendly or hostile, until their appetite for blood was appeased.”
During these ‘black pages’ of California Indian history the California State Legislature, meeting in their first session since being admitted to the union, passed the California Indian Indentured law which gave the white citizens the right to enslave Indian people and abuse them any way they desired. No consideration was given to the United States Supreme Court ruling that Indian tribes were sovereign nations and that their territory was not to be a part of the state surrounding it and that the state did not have jurisdiction within ‘Indian country’. Sexual abuse and even murder could be carried with impunity because Indians were not deemed to be citizens and were not afforded the right to appear in court and bear witness.
White merchants, miners, and others impatient for the new state to further their interests created citizen militias to rid the state of Indians who resisted their demands for their land, their labor, or anything else. The Pit River Rangers, the Oregon Militia and others carried out their deadly work with support from the new State of California that provided a bounty for Indian scalps. By 1859 less than a third of the Indian population in California was able to escape the bloodbath. During this period the federal government negotiated eighteen treaties with Indians that promised reservations where Indians could live in peace and economic aid and vocational training g in compensation for the lands taken from them. The California Legislature prevailed on the Senate not to ratify the treaties and the genocide proceeded. By 1900, California Indians had nearly been annihilated and the population was only 15% of what it had been in 1850. The surviving Indians had to learn to live with an alien set of beliefs and life philosophy. Indians were forced to adapt to changes in their standards of living, their ability to travel, their ability to use their own language, the way they practiced conservation, their diet, and their art forms. In other words, their way of life was forcibly taken away from them and those who rebelled were destroyed.
Towards the end of the 19th century the policy of exterminating and isolating Indians (physical genocide) changed to forcing total assimilation (cultural genocide). Because the reservations provided some territory where Indians could try to maintain their shredded identity, the United States passed the Dawes Act which took tribal ownership of the reservations away from the common tribal ownership and deeded it to individual Indians who were given the right to sell it to non-Indians.
The final stage was set when California Indians were herded on foot like animals from the various parts of California to concentration camps in northern California. Many people died on the roads and trails of California during the California “Trail of Tears” that mirrored in many respects the “Trail of Tears” followed by Indians in the southeastern United States that were forced to face unendurable hardships on their forced march to western reservations.
Santeria itself developed in Cuba with the arrival of the African slaves. When they came they brought their deities, called Orisha¹, with them. The slave masters and the Christian missionaries made them convert to the Christian religion or else. They did so, but they didnʼt leave their practices behind. In a clever and successful move, the slaves started making associations between their Orisha and the catholic saints, thus giving their practice the name of Santería.
When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.
Source: Desmond Tutu (South African teacher, clergyman and political activist)
“Many of the Maoris used to tattoo their faces, but the religious missionaries made them feel ashamed of their traditions, especially of their tattoos…”
The story of the Fuegians is a sad one. In 1868 the first big sheep farm or estancia was established on the south coast of Tierra del Fuego at Harberton and many of the Indians were hired to build roads and fences. The Ona hunters killed sheep to eat as they were easier to acquire than the wild guanaco. Sheep ranchers reacted strongly by killing Indians. European sealers furthermore virtually wiped out the sea lions on which these people depended for food, harvesting as many as 800,000 sea lions and fur seals in one season in the 1880ʼs. Finally, the missionaries made them wear clothes for which their body metabolism was quite unsuited. By about 1945 alcohol and diseases to which they had no resistance had taken their toll and the Fuegians, who probably had never numbered more than 9-10,000, died out.
Although the missionaries created a written form of Hawaiian language, they did not do so to keep the language from dying. Ironically, if the missionaries had never arrived, spreading more diseases and converting natives to Christianity, there would have never been a need to convert the Hawaiian language into written text. Although admirable in their contribution, the missionaries were not needed in the matter, in truth, they simply evened out the damage they caused with their influence in the first place.
Clothing was huge issue to the missionaries, thus the issue became pertinent among Hawaiians as well. When the missionaries first arrived in 1820, Hawaiians dressed in cloths made of the bark or in no clothes at all. After the missionaries arrived and banned nudity in 1838, “most of the chiefs… [wore] a part [or] whole of the European costume” (Stewart, circa 1820). The missionaries encouraged clothing so much that the ruling monarch of the time would order 400 garments at a time. Evidently, clothing plays a large factor in colonization, for Hawaiians are encouraged to look like the foreigners, and in the process are being unconsciously trained to be ashamed of nakedness. Clothes and figures are just the beginnings of how certain aspects of Hawaiian culture were lost due to the missionaries. The effects of this tactic can still be witnessed today, as no one ever dares to walk the streets of Honolulu armed only with a malo.
Before there was a written Hawaiian language, “the spoken word was translated through dance and the hula” (Constantini 1). Unfortunately, the missionaries didnʼt understand this. They despised the art form of hula because they believed its only purpose was to worship the ancient Hawaiian gods. Since there was no other god save for Jehovah, hula was considered evil. One woman describes how Calvinists “made us feel shame” and how the missionaries believed that “hula [was] lascivious” (Bender 1) This is why hula was outlawed in 1838 and Hawaiians were denied yet again, the right to practice another aspect of their native heritage. Luckily, hula is one aspect of Hawaiian culture that has survived today. It was practiced in secret until the outlaw was lifted nearly fifty years later. Today it is recognized as a indigenous art form along with many other Polynesian dance forms.
Perhaps the most detrimental effect the missionaries had on Hawaiian culture was their involvement in political matters. Part of the agreement all missionaries made before actually becoming one, was to never involve themselves in matters of government. In this case, the Hawaiian government was to remain untouched by the ideals and actions of the missionaries. Alas, it was not so. Their involvement in Hawaiiʼs political scene is evident from the outlawing of nudity, the Hawaiian language, and of hula. There was more to it than that though, there was more to be gained by taking advantage of the naïve Hawaiians.
The missionaries first started by influencing Christianized monarchs to create laws that promote religious freedom. So a constitution was written, also known as the constitution of 1840. This document made the decree that all laws in Hawaii would be held in consistency with the word of Jehovah. Furthermore, it said that all men of every religion would be protected in worshipping Jehovah. This is actually not a decree of religious freedom at all. All this law guaranteed was that men that worshipped Jehovah would be protected in Hawaii. If this law had not been revised in 1852, a civil war would most likely have taken place in Hawaii as others who did not believe in Jehovah were in protest (Stauffer 1). Unfortunately, this was only the beginning.
When they realized that the Hawaiians believed the land belonged to the gods and had no concept of land ownership, many missionaries left the ministry and sent their children to be lawyers, engineers, architects and surveyors. Many of the former missionaries became advisers to the monarchs. Initially not allowed to buy land in Hawaii, the foreign former missionaries pressed for a constitutional government. The monarchs grew dependent upon the former missionaries, making them the “power behind the throne” (Crawford 28). With a new form of government, the new cabinet members convinced the monarchs, who had no experience in running this sort of government, to implement laws dividing land into fee-simple shares. Ruthlessly exploiting the Hawaiianʼs ignorance of land ownership, the foreigners greedily bought and divided the land amongst themselves. In no time at all, less than 1% of native lands was in the hands of the Hawaiian people, splitting up the Hawaiianʼs most important aspect of culture, family (Crawford 28). This injustice led to the commercialization of sugar cane. It was the children of the original missionaries that led this industry and ultimately became leaders of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Hawaiians are still at lost for their land even today. It got so bad that an entire sacred island was taken by the U.S. Navy so it could be used as a bomb test site. Just recently it was returned to the state of Hawaii although still riddled with bombshells and debris. The land, the livelihood of the Hawaiian people was stolen from them by the missionaries and in their honor many schools in Hawaii are named for them.
A group of village dancers pose for the camera before the missionaries made them cover up.
Source: "Fashion from the "Old Days"" a American Samoa Travel Page by sennaya
The Aramaean Genocide is due exclusively to Anglo-French colonial plans for domination in the Middle East, and has been executed in the span of at least four to five centuries. The Catholic and the Anglican missionaries who traveled at the times of the Ottoman and Safevid Iranian empires to parts of today´s Middle East (SE Turkey, SW Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine) were criminal agents who exploited the fears and insecurities of the local Aramaean Christian minorities, and through the false promise of help, forced them to abandon their earlier — authentic — faiths and adopt the Western versions of Christianity that their forefathers had abhorrently rejected long ago. The extirpation of the Oriental Christian faith by the Western European Christian missionaries was completed with a criminal act of national dimensions perpetrated against the Aramaean Nation; placing these marginalized (in both the Ottoman and the Safevid Iranian empires) Aramaean Christian minorities in front of the dilemma ´abandonment or cooperation´, they gradually forced them to accept a false national identity. The Catholic missionaries forced the Aramaeans who accepted them to believe that they are Chaldaean; and the Anglican missionaries forced the Aramaeans who accepted them to believe that they are Assyrian. Both historical claims are absolutely false and totally disastrous because they caused a trichotomy among the Aramaeans, shaping three national groups of the same nation, namely
- those who rejecting the Western European fallacies preserved their Aramaean identity,
- those who believe that they are Chaldaean, and
- those who believe that they are Assyrian.
Beyond the trichotomy, the criminal Western European scheme reduced the Aramaeans to marginalized and persecuted populations, treacherously exposed them to genocide at the hands of the Kurds (1915 — 1917), and prevented them from achieving national independence.
Some early Protestant missionaries liked to aim snide remarks at Buddhism (and received more than a few in return) but generally ignored it until the early 1880s. Professor Thelle suggests that such mutual carping was part of a low-intensity spiritual war being waged between Christianity and Buddhism. Yet, too much can be read into loose statements by missionaries, for it is to be emphasized that many missionaries displayed a similar mordant characteristic in writing about other Christian denominations or, not uncommonly, their own missionary colleagues.
Andrew Hamish Ion, “First Contact: Early Protestant Missionary Views of Japanese Religions, 1859-1883,” Japanese Religions, Vol. 27, No. 2, July 2002
In the cultural encounter between Christianity and religions of the subcontinent the missionaries failed to influence the followers of Islam. As believers in one God Muslims could not accept the doctrine of ‘Trinitarian’ Christianity. Some adverse comments about the prophet Muhammad (Sm) in a pamphlet issued from Serampore Baptist Missionary press in 1809 created a widespread commotion among the Muslims. The Seramore Trio judged the publication as an imprudent act and never again published anything which could offend the Muslims. Henceforth the Baptists became more cautious about preaching among the Muslims. The Muslim society in general remained beyond the missionary efforts and there were very few mission stations in the Muslim dominated rural eastern Bengal.
Portuguese missionaries made them their own slaves by force while British was ruling and controlling India.
Article that Generated A Lot of Buzz
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
“What made Hindus angry in Karnataka?”
I WAS born in a Catholic family. My uncle was a priest, a wonderful man of warmth and compassion and I spent most my early years in Catholic boarding schools. When I was young I wanted to become a missionary and to ‘convert’ pagans in Asia. What I was taught by priests was that Hindus worship false gods and they needed to be brought back to the True Word by Jesus Christ.
Then of course, I came to India and discovered that actually Hindus, far from being the heathens, as had been portrayed in Europe, not only believed Godʼs diversity, the wonderful concept of avatar, but had given refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world, whether the Syrian Christians, the Parsis, the Jews (India is the only country in the world where Jews were not persecuted), the Armenians, or today the Tibetans.
I am also aghast at the one-sided coverage by the Indian media of the Christian- Hindu problem: blasts after blasts have killed hundreds of innocent Hindus in Varanasi, Delhi, Mumbai train blasts, Jaipur, etc. Yet, neither Manmohan Singh nor Sonia Gandhi have pronounced once the word ‘Islamic terrorism.’ But when furious Hindus, tired of being made fun of, of witnessing their brothers and sisters converted by financials traps, of seeing a 84-year-old swami and his Mataji brutally murdered, of reading blasphemy about their Gods, vent their anger against churches, many of them makeshifts, the Indian government goes after the soft target which the Hindus are. The same thing applies to the United States: they never warned Muslim organisations in India about the killing of Hindus, but when dollars are used to buy new converts and it angers the majority community of India,Washington has the arrogance to issue a warning, and Manmohan Singh does not have the pride to tell the US to mind its own business.
Neither the Indian press nor the western correspondents bothered to write about what made Hindus angry in Karnataka: Newlife, one important westernfunded missionary centre (http://www.newlifevoice.org), began making conversions in and around Mangalore by accosting poor people in market areas, or in bus stands, befriending them and then taking them to churches to introduce them to the father.
Upon introduction they were paid Rs 2,500 per person and then taken to the Velankanni shrine, in Tamil Nadu, where they would get another Rs. 3,000. When they finally converted to Christianity by changing the name, they got an incentive of Rs 10,000 onwards. Newlife would then give them instructions to abandon wearing tilak on forehead, not to visit and offer prayers at the Hindu temples, replacing the photos and idols of Hindu gods and goddesses with a Cross, etc. But what really angered local Hindus was when Newlife went one step further and published a book in Kannada — Satya Darshini — which was widely distributed by its missionaries. Here below is the translation of some of the most abusive passages:
“Urvashi — the daughter of Lord Vishnu — is a prostitute. Vashistha is the son of this prostitute. He in turn married his own Mother. Such a degraded person is the Guru of the Hindu God Rama. (page 48). When Krishna himself is wallowing in darkness of hell, how can he enlighten others? Since Krishna himself is a shady character, there is a need for us to liberate his misled followers (page 50). It was Brahma himself who kidnapped Sita.” “Since Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva were themselves victims of lust, it is a sin to consider them as Gods. (page 39). When the Trinity of Hinduism (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) are consumed by lust and anger, how can they liberate others? The projection of them as Gods is nothing but a joke. (page 39). God, please liberate the sinful people of India who are worshipping False Gods. (Page 39).”
When blasphemy and much worse is brought against the most sacred Hindu Gods, Hindus are supposed to take it meekly as sheep and let themselves be converted to a foreign religion! There are more than 4,000 foreign Christian missionaries involved in conversion activities across different states.
In Tripura, there were no Christians at the time of independence. There are 1,20,000 today, a 90 per cent increase since 1991. The figures are even more striking in Arunachal Pradesh, where there were only 1,710 Christians in 1961, but 1.2 million today, as well as 780 churches! In Andhra Pradesh, churches are coming up every day in far-flung villages and there was even an attempt to set up one near Tirupati.
Christians throughout the ages have strived on the concept of persecution and as a brought up Catholic, I remember feeling bad about all those martyred saints of Christianity. Christians in India like to say that they are only two per cent and can do no harm. But it is a sham: in the Tamil Nadu coastal belt from Chennai to Kanyakumari, there must be now 10 per cent Christians posttsunami and the same may be true in other parts of south India.
My heart goes out to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa who took a courageous stand against unethical Christian conversions, but is now under pressure from the Centre.
The BJP, having learnt from bitter experience that the Congress has no qualm in invoking Presidentʼs rule under fallacious pretexts in states which are ruled by non-Congress governments is in a quandary: it must show some action against militant Hindu groups while remaining true to itself.
This is why Yeddyurappa took some action against Hindu groups while saying that his government will not tolerate forcible conversions and will take stringent action against missionaries involved in conversions.
And ultimately, the blame must fall on Hindus: they are 800 million in India, the overwhelming majority; they have the brains, they have the money and they have the power. But either their intellectual and political class sides with the minorities, out of fear, inferiority complex imbedded by the British or just sheer crass political opportunism, or the bigger mass is indifferent inert, selfish, un-civic conscious. Every Hindu is the inheritor of the only surviving spiritual knowledge which at the moment is under a concerted attack by Christian missionaries, Americanisation, Marxism and Islamic fundamentalism.
see also the many comments this article has generated.
150 families return to Hinduism in Uttarakhand—January 5, 2008—By Ravindra Saini—Uttarakhand: Around 150 families from several villages, who had reportedly converted to Christianity a few years ago, were welcomed home in a ceremony…
» 4102 persons converted to Hinduism in Kozhikode
» Jagatguru reconverts 7,760 persons to Hindu Dharma!
» Jagatguru re-admits 131 converts to Hinduism!
» 187 Christians converted back to Hinduism
Comments—E.Raveendra—06 Jan 2008—It is good encouraging news, but it is NOT ENOUGH. With money pouring in from Christian countries, CONVERSIONS to Christianity ARE RAMPANT ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY. More so, after Sonia and several Christian Chief Ministers have come to power. The Christian population in the country has suddenly gone up to 10% (as per New York Times report), due to rampant induced and fraudulent conversions. THE MISSIONARIES ARE GETTING BOLDER BY THE DAY and Orissa type problems will increase. RSS alone cannot do much. EACH ONE OF US MUST PLEDGE HERE AND NOW TO PREVENT FURTHER CONVERSIONS IN OUR RESPECTIVE AREAS. LET INDIA REMAIN THE LAST HINDU BASTION TO TEACH SECULARISM TO THE WORLD.
The Problem of Christian Missionaries [in India]
by Koenraad Elst 7 June 1999
Now that the dust has settled, let us have a look at the problem of Christian missionary activities which raised a storm during the past autumn and winter. In a debate on conversions, it may be useful to hear the voice of a convert. I was raised as a Roman Catholic in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, which was for centuries a Catholic frontline region against Protestant Holland and Masonic-secularist France, and a top-ranking provider of missionaries.
One of my uncles is a missionary in Brazil, another was a parish priest in Antwerp until his death. We were raised with the example impressed on our minds of countrymen like Father Constant Lievens, who built the Jesuit mission in Chotanagpur in the 19th century, and of Father Herman Rasschaert, the Jesuit who was martyred there in 1964. He had tried to prevent a tribal, largely Christian mob from killing some local Muslims in revenge for the mass-killing of Garo tribals, also mostly Christianized, by Muslims in nearby East Pakistan. His death is included as number 2 in the list of ‘atrocities on Christians’ circulated by the United Christian Forum for Human Rights. I still have the highest regard for Father Rasschaert, though I have become skeptical of the claim made in all the press reports and literary narrations of his martyrdom that he was killed by ‘Hindus’: in the Christian version, tribals are emphatically ‘not Hindus’, except when they misbehave.
In a sociological sense, I am still part of the Catholic community, meaning that my children go to a Catholic school, I am a member of the Christian-Democratic trade-union, cultural foundation and so on. I have also retained my sympathy for the causes of Catholic nations, like Quebecʼs sovereignty and the Irish cause, and I can still argue the Catholic point against Protestantism or refute the allegation that the Inquisition killed millions of people or that Pope Pius XII was a Nazi collaborator. I still think highly of the Catholic social teachings and occasionally reread passages from Saint Thomas Aquinas. And I would still feel at home in the company of a Lievens or a Rasschaert, or their successors. Nevertheless, I am no longer a Roman Catholic. I am a secular humanist with an active interest in religions, particularly Taoism and Hinduism, and keeping a close watch on the variegated Pagan revival in Europe. The reason why I became an apostate has nothing to do with revolt against Christian morality, nor with indignation at the inhuman persecutions of unbelievers in various countries and ages, nor with a rejection of the Churchʼs political alliances, Left or Right. The real reason simply is that the basic doctrine of Christianity in all its denominations is untrue. While ultimate truth may elude us, it remains perfectly possible to decide on the untruth of a given doctrine, when it is found to be contrary to reason and to observable facts.
Christianity, a mistake
The essence of Christianity is a belief, a particular truth claim: that Jesus was the sole son of God and that he redeemed mankind from sin by his crucifixion and resurrection. Modern Bible scholarship has made that belief untenable. Jesus was a troubled personality whose beliefs were entirely within the Jewish tradition, at least within its extremist fringe of people who expected Judgment Day to arrive within their own lifetime. He never founded a new religion, Saint Paul being the real inventor of Christianity as a sect separate from Judaism. The Gospels are highly doctored texts, rewritten to suit the theological developments and political needs of the budding Church. Thus, the injunction to pay taxes to the Romans (“give unto Caesar…”) and the depiction of Roman governor Pilate as innocent of Jesusʼs crucifixion were included to mollify the Romans after the defeat of the Jewish revolt in AD 70. Most importantly, Jesus never rose from the dead. The decisive difference between the dead and the living is that the living are someplace in this world, while Jesus, like all dead men, is nowhere to be found in this world. He was spirited away in the “Ascension to Heaven,” which amounts to dying: he left this world. Of course you could say that “his spirit lives on,” but that is equally true of other inspiring characters, both historical and fictional.
The reason why Christians are a shrinking minority in Europe is that an educated population, which applies its mind to religious questions, cannot keep on managing the contradiction between this faith and reason forever. This is not for want of trying: generations of Christian intellectuals have tried to harmonize faith and reason. The Saint Thomas institute (Leuven, Belgium) where I studied philosophy was founded in 1889 as an instrument to prove the basic unity between Aquinasʼs Christian philosophy and modern science. But to no avail: most professors teaching there now are no longer practicing Catholics themselves. Many moderns including myself have discovered that religion is still relevant, that the religious urge has survived the interiorization of the scientific worldview, that “the 21st century will either be religious or not be at all” (Andres Malraux); but the Christian belief cannot satisfy that religious need, because we cannot base our lives on fairy-tales anymore.
One of the great surprises which Indian ‘secularism’ offers to people familiar with genuine secularism, is that it totally shuns and even condemns the fundamental questioning of Christian (or Islamic) dogma. For ten years I have closely followed the Indian communalism debate, and not once have I seen a ‘secularist’ mentioning the debunking of Christian beliefs, still the single most revolutionary achievement of the secular study of religions. Even non-essential Christian fairy-tales like the story of apostle Thomasʼs arrival and martyrdom in South India are repeated ad nauseam in ‘secularist’ pieces on the current missionary crisis.
If Christianity were true
No less surprising is that even the Hindutva campaigners against Christian proselytization are silent about what ought to be their strongest, most peaceful yet most devastating weapon: the fictional nature of Christian dogma. On the contrary, quite a few of them have lapped up Theosophical stories about Jesus having come to India for his spiritual training, and returning there after his resurrection. Their point is that Jesusʼs message has been ‘distorted’ by the Church (which is true but hardly proves that he was somehow a Hindu), and that Jesus himself would therefore have abhorred the missionary subversion in India, his Gurubhumi. It is probable that Jesusʼs injunction to “go and teach all nations” is a Pauline interpolation, repellent to the Jewish Christians led by Jesusʼs brother James, but it is quite certain that Jesus was a preacher who wanted people to follow him.
The entire Hindutva argument against the missionaries ignores the question of the truth of Christianity. Yet, the answer to that question makes all the difference when we want to evaluate the practical problems underlying the present crisis. Consider the allegation that missionaries use material rewards to induce conversions. This is absolutely correct, as anyone from Christian countries can testify: in religion class, we were told that “material help is a necessary prerequisite for spiritual help”, so we should put some of our pocket-money into the donation box for the missions. On the Evangelical programme of Dutch television, an evangelist recently boasted how he converted Nepalese tribals at a fast rate by giving them a kind of walkman reciting the whole Bible in their own language, a modern equivalent of the trinkets given to African chieftains by Vasco da Gama. It is likewise well-attested that missionaries use deception to over-awe illiterate people, e.g. staged miracle healings. This material inducement or exploitation of gullibility may seem unethical from a non-Christian viewpoint, but it looks very different once you assume that the Christian belief is true. In that case, remaining a Pagan means eternal damnation, while conversion brings eternal salvation, and the greater good of eternal salvation amply justifies the minor evil of bribes and deception needed to lure people into the true faith.
The Sangh Parivar alleges that conversion is “anti-national,” a position supported in part by the historical fact of Christian separatism in the Northeast (and, less well-known, of 1947 intrigues between Jharkhand leaders and the Muslim League). But here again, anti-national designs should be evaluated differently if Christianity is true. In my country, secular nationalists recall with sadness that in ca. 1600, Belgium failed to gain independence from Catholic Spain while Holland succeeded, so that Holland turned Protestant while Belgium remained Catholic. The Catholic position on this national defeat is different: the Dutch heretics may have won their national struggle but they are now burning in hell, while the Belgians lost their freedom but won their eternal salvation by remaining in the true faith. Certain things are more important than nationalism. If Christianity is true, we must support the strengthening of the faith in all Christian pockets in India, if necessary by separating them from Hindu India. But the best would then be to convert the whole of India, which would turn Indian Christians into the greatest patriots.
Failure of the Hindutva critique
The Sangh Parivar is disinclined to educate its cadres on the illusory nature of Christianity, possibly because this would entail the tedious job of clearing the superstitious deadwood from Hinduism as well. It avoids polemicizing against Christianity as such and prefers to focus on the historical and contemporary misbehaviour of Christian missionaries: the Goa inquisition, the destruction of the Mylapore Shiva temple near Chennai, the expulsion of Riyang tribals from Christian-dominated Mizoram. These arguments about Christian fanaticism are valid and deserve being repeated by secularists, but to Christians they miss the point. They are well aware that all men are sinful, a basic Christian doctrine, so the sins of the missionaries do not nullify the truth of Christian dogma.
Moreover, their money and media power and their alliance with ‘secularist’ and Islamic forces allows them to trump any reference to Christian misbehaviour with impressions of far worse sins on the Hindutva side. When over a thousand Hindus are killed and a quarter million Hindus ethnically cleansed in Kashmir, the world media doesnʼt even notice, but watch the worldwide hue and cry when a few local riots take place and a few missionaries are killed by unidentified tribal miscreants. Christian Naga terrorists have been killing non-Christians for decades on end, and this has never been an issue with the world media, except to bewail the ‘oppression’ of the Nagas by ‘Hindu India’. The clumsy Sangh people cannot hope to outdo the Christian lobby at the blame game when you consider how well-crafted the recent Christian media blitz has been, how aptly designed to satisfy the needs of the world media. The India-watchers abroad were standing shamefaced because the predicted ‘fascism’ of the BJP government had failed to materialize, yielding instead a year of communal cease-fire with the lowest number of riot victims in decades. So they welcomed the ‘persecution’ of Christians as a gift from heaven.
An additional reason why Hindutva spokesmen cannot expect to convince world opinion, is that some of their allegations against the missionaries are demonstrably wrong. Most importantly, they are denying the plea that the missionaries are rendering a ‘selfless service’. To appreciate how this criticism is mistaken, let us first understand on what it is based, and in what respects it is right. The Churches as such are of course not investing all their money and manpower in Indian schools and hospitals as a matter of selfless service: they do want to gain from it, viz. a harvest of souls. The missionary network is willing to give, but just like the Devil, it wants your soul in return. Even in the elite schools where no direct proselytization is attempted, Hindu pupils are subtly encouraged towards skepticism of their own religion, and are also used as political pawns when Christian demands (e.g. reservations for Dalit Christians) are aired through pupilsʼ demonstrations or school strikes. This way, Christian schools become a power tool rather than a service, and it was to serve as a power tool that these schools were created in the first place. When the Sangh Parivar, without the benefit of foreign funding, opens schools in tribal areas, this is decried as ‘infiltration’, as creating channels of ‘indoctrination,’ but such suspicions are at least equally warranted in the case of Christian schools.
At the individual level, there is yet another gainful element in the missionary vocation except for the satisfaction of converting people. In many Protestant denominations, the mission is actually a profitable career, but more than the material aspects, there is a psychological stake involved. People who would be nobodies in Germany, the US or Australia, can derive enormous ego gratification from a missionary career: suddenly they are promoted to a frontline post in the war against idolatry, they are praised back home as messiahs to the poor lepers even when stationed in non-leprosy areas, they are revered by some of the illiterate villagers for teaching them beliefs which would only provoke laughter back home, and strangest of all, they are applauded by ‘secularists’ whose Western counterparts would prefer to put an end to the whole circus of the Christian Churches. It is rewarding to be a missionary in India, and much safer than China or Pakistan.
And yet, the element of ‘selfless service’ in the missionary project should also be acknowledged. Firstly, it is a fact that quite a few Christians sent for work in the missions in India are genuinely not interested in conversion work. A Flemish nun said on Flemish TV early this year: “I went to India to convert people. But it is India which has converted me.” Not that she turned to any Indian religion herself, but she is doing sterling social work among housemaids in Mumbai regardless of religious identities. Of course, Church strategists calculate that in spite of their non-missionary vocation, such social workers are helpful in creating goodwill towards Christianity, preparing the ground for future work by real missionaries.
Secondly, even the proselytizers are altruistic, at least subjectively: even though their desire for ‘harvesting souls’ is objectively a peculiar type of greed, they are convinced that they are only rendering a service to their converts. It is for the love of God and their fellow-men that they leave their comfortable lives in the West behind and settle in the heat and dust of a jungle village there to destroy the tribal religion. Yes, for love. If you believe that Pagans are bound for eternal hellfire, baptizing them is the greatest gift you can possibly give them. They are not evil but simply deluded, and the evil they work is the result of lack of knowledge (as Socrates already understood). So, we are again face to face with the basic issue: Christian belief. The Hindutva spokesmen are completely misconceiving the problem of proselytization unless they inform themselves about the modern evaluation of Christian beliefs.
Proselytizing and politics
Another mistake often made in Hindutva polemic against the missionaries is to deny that their motive is Christian religion. It is said that their real motive is political, that they serve the interests of a secular entity, typically European colonialism or American hegemonism. There is a historical basis for this suspicion, e.g. the militantly secularist French Third Republic (1870-1940) encouraged the missions as de facto French outposts and agents dʼinfluence in the colonies. Conversely, tribal anti-British rebellions in India typically started with attacks on mission posts. It is also likely that during the Cold War, the CIA supported attempts to set up a Christian state in Indiaʼs Northeast as an American foothold in Asia. Yet, apart from being largely anachronistic now, such scenarios simply donʼt represent the main thrust of missionary activity.
The Churches have a history of accommodating all kinds of political forces and regimes, and they can be quite patriotic too. In some countries where society was very decentralized, esp. the Germanic and Slavic parts of Europe, the Church played a decisive role in nation-building, and it is now quite hard to separate Russian patriotism from Orthodox Christianity. Even with India being predominantly non-Christian, the Churches have largely accepted the fact of India and are abstaining from risky involvements in separatism or American intrigue. It is a simple calculation: if Nagaland would manage to break away, this could hurt the position of the Churches in the rest of India.
Another historical development is that with the demographic stagnation of Christendom in Europe and North America, and with the emptying of the churches in Europe, most Churches have mentally prepared for the shift of their centre of gravity to the Third World. Very soon, the average Christian will be non-white. Already, one third of all new Jesuits are Indians. For the Catholic Church in particular, priestly recruitment is targeting India more than any other country: while most other peoples tend to dislike or ridicule the celibacy imposed on Catholic priests (which is why in Africa, many priests do have a common-law wife in defiance of Church rules), Indian culture holds it in high esteem. Of course, none of this alters the historical fact that Christianity is a foreign religion, but depicting it as something which the West is trying to force on India is anachronistic. The indigenization of missionary work has advanced to the point that all over North India, you find Christian institutions manned by Kerala Christians.
It will not do to say that “Christianity is not a religion but a political ideology masquerading as religion,” for even where Church interests are closely intertwined with certain political forces, the deeper motivation of most Church agents is definitely religious. Moreover, if American power collapses and there is no political danger anymore in a foreign connection of the missions, would that make the replacement of native religion with Christianity acceptable? At this point, the Hindutva movement has to decide whether it is a nationalist movement (as frequently proclaimed in its efforts to sound secular) or a Hindu movement. From a Hindu viewpoint, the Indian Republicʼs unity and integrity are necessary to provide Hindu civilization with a home, but lose their importance if India ceases to be Hindu. The problem with Christian proselytizers is not their degree of patriotic or foreign loyalty, but their determination to destroy the native culture.
Is violence warranted?
An aspect of the current crisis which no ‘secularist’ would dare to mention, is that the Churches have a fawning respect for strength. They lick the boot that kicks them, and bite the hand that feeds them. When millions of Christians were persecuted in the Soviet bloc, Christians in the cosy West started the quasi-Marxist fad of Liberation Theology. Now that Christians are oppressed in Islamic countries, the Christian media are full of sugary rhetoric on Muslim-Christian dialogue. In India, the Christians have formed an anti-Hindu front with Muslims and Communists, as has been obvious once again in the support which the Christians have received during the recent missionary crisis from Imam Bukhari, A.G. Noorani, Syed Shahabuddin and other veterans of the Babri Masjid cause, who gratefully remember how the Christian media supported the Muslim side in the Ayodhya conflict.
These media give far less coverage to the numerous acts of terror against Pakistani Christians, because it would only make things worse for them. So they save their fire for the propaganda war against the Hindus, who have given Christians hospitality for a full sixteen centuries, and who today give them facilities and constitutional privileges which contrast with the restraints imposed on them in most Asian countries. Since the missionaries have no hope of converting Pakistan, they concentrate on converting India and consequently vilify Hinduism much more than Islam.
So, there seems to be a connection between beating the Churches and gaining their friendship, as also between generosity to the Churches and earning their hostility. There is a name for this peculiar psychological disorder, but that need not detain us here. The point is that one could understand impatient young Hindus who conclude that force is the language which the missionaries understand best. Beat the padre and he will start praising you, right? Yet, they would be mistaken to think that force will further the Hindu interests.
First of all, there is a moral problem. Hindus are right to be skeptical of Mahatma Gandhiʼs unbalanced and masochistic rejection of the use of force in all circumstances, which amounts to submission to the aggressor. But they should not go to the other extreme. Let us take a leaf here from Saint Thomas Aquinasʼs ‘just war’ theory. The doctor angelicus taught that the use of force should not be ruled out altogether, but should always be subject to strict conditions: it should be a defensive war, all peaceful means of achieving the war aims should be exhausted first, there should be a reasonable chance of victory, the non-combatants must be spared, and so on. To a mature mind, these conditions ought to be self-evident, especially to Hindus who should recognize something of their own notion of Dharma-Yuddha here (contrary to Khalistani and ‘secularist’ usage, Dharma Yuddha is not a Hindu equivalent of Jihad, but a war restrained by a code of ethics and chivalry). How do these principles apply in the present conflict? The Hindu side is definitely on the defensive, but it cannot claim to have exhausted all peaceful means of countering the missionary offensive. It has not even challenged the missionaries to a debate on the irrational beliefs in which they try to indoctrinate Indian tribals. In Sri Lanka in the 1870s, the Buddhists challenged the Jesuits to public debates, and it is generally acknowledged that their good performance in these debates has stemmed the tide of conversions to Christianity.
Why are Hindus too lazy to follow their example? As for the chance of victory, this moral condition brings in a strategic consideration: can Hindu society gain from violent attacks on the missionaries? Lenin has observed that it is necessary to gain the moral ascendancy before starting the next phase, that of forceful action. Obviously, the Hindus do not enjoy the moral ascendancy. Destroying Hindu idols is a standard ingredient of the conversion process in tribal villages, yet it is only when a Christian church is damaged for once that the incident is even registered. There has been plenty of violence by Christian converts against their Pagan neighbours, but they have been getting away with it, their crimes go unreported and remain unpunished. Already in the 1950s, anthropologists like Verrier Elwin and Christoph von Fuehrer-Haimendorf described how conversions destroy communal life in tribal villages, yet even mentioning this widespread phenomenon is denounced as ‘anti-Christian hate propaganda.’ Christian clerics subverting tribal culture are ‘rendering selfless service,’ Hindu sadhus encouraging tribals to stand by their own traditions are ‘communal hate-mongers.’ Clearly, it is the missionaries who have the moral ascendancy, and consequently, it is they who will reap the moral and political harvest of any physical conflict between Hindus and Christians.
If Hindus want to win the war against the missionaries, they will have to start using their brains instead of their itching fists. They will first of all have to define the problem correctly. Thus, no more breath should be wasted on the discussion whether Christianity is a foreign religion. Of course, Christianity originated in distant Palestine, and the first Christian community came as hapless refugees seeking asylum in a country which they did not arrogantly claim as their own. But if some people want to deny these facts and insist that Christianity is indigenous, just let them. The question is not whether a belief system is indigenous. As Bal Thackeray has aptly said: we shouldnʼt take the Swadeshi idea too far, for then we would have to do without the electric lightbulb. The law of gravity was discovered by some paleface in distant Europe, yet even RSS schools teach it. If Christianity is true, then we should all embrace it, no matter where it originated. Conversely, if Christianity is untrue, we should inform everyone that a quack belief is being promoted, in violation of the Constitutional injunction that Indian citizens should develop the scientific temper. And we should imitate the missionaries in extending our heartfelt love to them by patiently liberating them from their false religion.
A question to the Christians
In the 4th century AD, Christianity became the dominant and then the established religion in the Roman Empire. The Sassanian rulers of Iran wisely foresaw that the Syrian Christians within their borders would develop into a fifth column of their powerful neighbor. Their solution was to persecute the Syrian Christians. Some of these Christians fled Iran and one group, led by Thomas Cananeus (whose name would later get confused with that of Thomas Didymos the apostle), arrived on Indiaʼs Malabar coast and asked for refuge. The generous and hospitable Hindus granted the wish of the refugees and honored their commitment of hospitality for more than a thousand years. The Christian world has no record at all of any such consistent act of hospitality: the only non-Christian community which they tolerated in their midst were the Jews, and the record of Jewish-Christian co-existence is hardly bright. The Hindus, by contrast, have likewise welcomed Jewish and Parsi communities. Unfortunately, the Portuguese Catholics gained a foothold on the Malabar coast and started forcing the Malabar Christians into the structure of the Catholic Church. Even so, the Christians, who had gotten indianized linguistically and racially, tried to maintain friendly relations with the Hindus. This attitude is not entirely dead yet, a recent instance is the statement by a Kerala bishop denying the false allegation that the BJP was behind the gang-rape of four nuns in Jhabua, a lie still propagated by the missionary networks till today. However, many other Malabar Christians have been integrated into the missionary project, and are now gradually replacing the dwindling number of foreign mission personnel. My question to them: donʼt you think that working for the destruction of the very religion which allowed your community to settle and integrate, is an odd way to show your gratitude?
To conclude, I must say that I find it sad to see something dying, especially when the dying entity is the religion in which I grew up. Yet, it is mathematically certain that this will happen. Just as the belief in a flat earth cannot survive mankindʼs inquisitive interest in the fact of nature, the beliefs underlying Christianity will not survive the advancement in knowledge. It is painful to lose your faith, to find your beliefs untenable or disproved, to feel like you have been fooled for all those years, often in good faith by your beloved parents. But then, losing an illusion is also liberating. And to avoid being trapped in that illusion is even better. The Indian tribals can save themselves the trouble of outgrowing Christianity by not becoming Christians in the first place. Therefore, all peaceful and legal efforts to stop Christian conversion work in Indiaʼs tribal regions deserve our support.
Missionaries from Distant Planet Land on Earth!
They are here to spread the one and only true Gospel of the universe. They dropped by yesterday, below is the gist of my conversation with them.
—Followers of Falz, the one true God!
—Well, hel-LLLLO! Donʼt YOU folks have a lot of eyes, and um, arms! Not from around here are you?
—Weʼre from Alpha Centauri, and weʼre here to spread the good news about Falz, the one True God.
—No, itʼs pronounced, “Falz,” is something wrong?
—Iʼll tell you later, please continue.
—Falz gloriously created the cosmos and was incarnated on our planet where he arranged that his third eye on his fourth arm be plucked out, so that all the creatures in the cosmos MAY SEE!
—And Jesus died, quite horribly in fact, that we may have life.
—Oh, nothing, just something someone told me after knocking on my door earlier today. Please tell me how you got here from Alpha Centauri, just how advanced is your civilization? And could you help us out by sharing some of your advanced science? We still havenʼt gotten off the cradle planet yet.
—Oh, not sure we could be much help. We built a large crude metal canister and filled it with ourselves and with plenty of bombs, I believe you call them nuclear bombs, and we exploded them behind the canister to propel us toward your planet after our telescopes detected that life might be on it. We are very eager to preach the good news of Falz to all sentient beings we can reach. It took us many generations to reach this world, and many of us died in that canister because our scientists had not perfected radiation shielding. So the trip was very dangerous. What was once a proud missionary fleet of canisters carrying our holy missionary brethren has been reduced to us, a few survivors who crash landed on your planet moments ago. But for the sake of the Gospel, we ventured forth beyond our star. And all the sacrifices of our brethren have led us to your door! God has rewarded us richly by filling this planet with beings to whom we can preach the good news! So we donʼt have advanced technology, but what we do have is a thousand time more precious, the story and words of Falz who sacrificed his third eye on his fourth arm that all may SEE!
—Yes, you said that already.
—And who arranged to have his fifth appendage amputated horribly that all may FEEL, and that the greatest truth of the cosmos may be known by you if you only believe in Falz. Otherwise, you may perish in the eternal black hole of Turkundra!
—Gee, you came such a long way and took such risks, how about taking a break and enjoying a meal with me and my friends?
—We would, but something in your world appears to be rotting our limbs.
—Microbes? Tiny organisms that are different on our world than on yours?
—We donʼt know about that. All we know is that we usually have more arms and eyes than you currently see. So we havenʼt much time left. So here is the Book of Falz, and we shall proceed to knock on as many doors as we can and hand out as many Books of Falz before our last appendages drop off. Hallu-Falz-Ya!
And they hobbled off to my neighborʼs door, carrying copies of their holy book, shedding body parts with each step. Wow, thatʼs what I call faith. Hallu-Falz-Ya!
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