Christian Missionaries in India

There is something unhealthy in the whole missionary idea. Conversions have an unedifying history. The Encyclopaedia Britannica says, «Christianity from its beginning, tended towards an intolerance that was rooted in self-consciousness. Christianity consistently practiced an intolerant attitude in its approach towards Judaism and paganism as well as heresy in its own ranks». The advent of Christianity into entire continents, the Americas, vast parts of Africa, some parts of Asia razed local cultures to the ground. To go to a people like the Hindus, a race of high culture and a long tradition ante-dating Christianity and to go avowedly to save its people from damnation is certainly something grotesque!
The Papacy was born to convert the world to the only true religion, Christianity. This Pope merely continues this 2000 year tradition to cleanse the world off ‘false faiths’. Turn it exclusively Christian. And it is understandable because despite the colossal money and missionary effort pumped into this country since the times of Thomas some 2,000 years ago, the Christian population of India remains below three per cent of the total. Reliable reports say that attendance at churches in the West is dwindling, that churches are being sold away. According to that multi-disciplinary scholar, N S Rajaram, even in Rome, the home of Christianity, church attendances are down to six per cent or less. So why then is the Vatican not concentrating on retaining its flock instead of trying to harvest more and more souls in India and the rest of Asia?
A large part of Asia has gone Islamic and another large chunk communist. Their doors are closed for Christian missionaries to storm in. So, India has emerged as a fertile grazing ground. Christianity is now working overtime trying to convert Indian people, particularly the tribals. The rich white missionary agencies are making use of the country’s poverty and social ills to further their ends. In Madhya Pradesh, as the Neogy Report showed, the missionaries give small loans of say five or ten dollars to the tribals on interest, loans which they know could not be easily paid back but the payment of which can be waived off if the debtors accepted Christianity. It is not at all disinterested philanthropy!
A couple of years ago, the Millennium Peace Summit of the delegates of various religions of the world took place in New York. A unanimous resolution passed by about 1,000 delegates said all the religions are equal and there should be no violence in the name of religion. The ink on the resolution had hardly dried when the pontiff gave his assent to a 36-page report prepared by a committee of Vatican bishops. The report postulated that the non-Christian religions are gravely deficient as they did not accept Jesus Christ as the only son of god. Simultaneously, it stated that the other Christian churches too have defects because they do not accept the primacy of the Pope. The idea of equality of all religions is, therefore, totally unacceptable to the Church.
Recently, Michel Danino, a French student who live in India since 1977 as a genuine scholar of Indian culture and India’s ancient history, wrote an article that we want to reproduce here below in its essential feature.
«The methods used to secure conversions to Christianity are not only monetary allurements, but psychological pressure on the sick, promises of cure upon conversion, pressures to rope in the rest of the family when the promises don’t materialize, and finally to throw out of the family those who continue to “worship Satan”. In fact some missionaries and Christian educational institutions openly refer to tribals, Hindus, and Buddhists as Satan ka bachcha (‘children of Satan’) while Christians are Ishwar ka bachcha (‘children of God’). We heard several heart-rending tales of teenage boys or girls having been thus expelled from their families when they refused to convert, accused by their own parents of being “Satan”. Converted families are then instructed not to have contacts with the non-Christians, as a result of which they refuse to take part in traditional harvests and other aspects of the community’s collective life; the centuries-old harmonious working of the community suddenly becomes divided, and indeed division is a great way to secure conversions: “divide and convert”, until you can “divide and rule”.
That ultimate step is already visible in the militant movements of the North-East, most of which are rooted in Christian ideology. Witness the conversions the militants secure at gunpoint in remote villages at night, a fact asserted to us repeatedly.
The real tragedy is perhaps not the devious methods used by Baptists or Catholics alike — for, after all, the whole of Christian history is full of them and tainted in deep red. Rather it is the failure of the government to fulfil its primary duty of protecting from aggression peace-loving citizens and endangered communities and cultures. And the failure of educated Indians (‘miseducated’ would be more correct) to ably project the specific values of Indian culture, such as the oneness of humanity, the essential divinity of man, or the complete spiritual freedom to choose one’s path towards the manifestation of that divinity — values that are conspicuously absent from Abrahamic. Surely, one may be critical of a few aspects of Hinduism or Indian traditions; but to throw away a gem because some mud has stained it is plain ignorance».
Besides, the attempt of converting tribals in India is a long and dirty business. According to Suresh Desai, «The British imperialists had various ideas for the conversion of tribals in India. They wanted to sow the seeds of division, dissension and separatism in the Hindu society to perpetuate their own rule. That’s why the 1871 census described the tribals as animists. Animists means people who worship spirits and propitiate them. It is indeed very difficult to define where Hindu Dharma ends and tribalism begins. But when I go to my village, I see there my own cousins doing yoga for meditation in the morning and indulging in worshipping the spirits of the ancestors, the kuldaivata, the gram daivata, the vetala and the cobra in the evening. Would you say that they are Hindus in the morning and animists in the evening? Some of them are extremely well-versed in the subtlest nuances of the philosophies of vedânta». (Reviews and Reflections).
Christian Europe has always believed that it has the divinely ordained mission of bringing all heathendom under the domain of the Church; similarly at the dawn of modern period, Imperial Europe felt heavily the “white man’s burden of civilizing the world”. Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl (1859-1938) says: «Naturally, the Europeanization of all foreign parts of the world is the destiny of the earth». God made Europe in His own image, and now the rest of mankind will be made in the image of Europe. Heidegger (1889-1976) also refers to the «complete Europeanization of the earth and of mankind», but he is less proud about it. Europeanization of the earth may satisfy the West’s ego, but the satisfaction will be short-loved. The West does not realize how deep is man’s including its own, present evolutionary crisis.
Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975), the great British historian, published his massive researches in 12 volumes between 1934 and 1961 as A Study of History. He was a major interpreter of human civilization in the 20th century. He has observed: «Christianity presents a contrast to the religious and philosophies of Indian origin in being, on the whole, exclusive minded and intolerant hearted. Most Christians believe that their own religion has a monopoly of truth and salvation; some Christians feel hostility towards other religions; and some of these, again, have put this Christian belief and Christian feeling into action in times past by trying to wipe other religions off the map. In showing this militant aggressive temper, Christianity is not unique. The same temper is characteristic of all those living religions and ideologies that have arisen in the section of the Oikoumene that lies to the west of India. Intolerance is common to Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and also to the modern Western ideologies, that have sprung up in a post-Christian environment: I mean Fascism, Nazism, Communism. But, on the whole, aggressive militancy is, I am afraid, characteristic of all the religions of the trans-Indus family, in contrast to the catholicity of Indian religion and philosophy» (One World and India).
Before the rise of Christianity, the Pagan Greek Civilization, on the Mediterranean Sea, gave the world a Golden Age. It produced thinkers like Socrates and Plato, poets like Homer and Hesiod, dramatists like Aeschylus and Sophocles, as well as scientists like Ptolemy, Pythogoras and Euclid. The seat of this ancient wisdom was destroyed by the rise of Christianity. Alexandria used to be a great center of Platonic learning. One of the greatest Neo-Platonic scholars was Hupatia, who used to teach at the academy. A Christian monk named Cyril and a gang of hooligans dragged her out of the academy and murdered her in public. (Cyril is considered a saint and was named a ‘Doctor of the Church’ by the Pope in 1882). Greece never recovered from the disaster. The Vatican’s goal is to repeat its ‘success’ in Greece in India by destroying Hinduism. It was put in so many words by Father J. Monachanin, a Catholic priest: «India has received from the Almighty an uncommon gift, an unquenchable thirst for whatever spiritual. From the Vedic and Upanishadic times, a countless host of her sons and her daughters have been great seekers of God… Communion with Him and liberation from whatever hinders that realization, was for them the unique goal. Unfortunately, Indian wisdom is tainted with erroneous tendencies and looks as if it has not yet found its own equilibrium. So was Greek wisdom before Greece humbly received its Paschall message of the Risen Christ. But once Christianized, Greece rejected her ancestral errors [Greek Civilization was destroyed]… Is not the message she[India] has to deliver to the world similar to the message of the ancient Greece? Therefore the Christianization of Indian civilization is to all intents and purposes an historical undertaking comparable to the Christianization of Greece». So, according to Father Monchanin, all India has to do is allow her civilization to be destroyed by marauders in the name of Christ – like classical Greek civilization. None of this has to do with religion, much less with spirituality.

December, 2002