The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Missionaries slandering Hinduism

Publication: Hindu Vivek Kendra
Date: April 23, 2003

Christian missionaries abusing Hinduism and Hindus are not new. Hindu gods and goddesses are their favourite targets. The practise to mock and abuse is not recent in origin but dates back to the day when Christianity came to India. Missionaries churned out literature with sole aim to rundown Hinduism and practice related with it. Missionaries believe that their religion is the only true religion and what exist outside it is worth denouncing. The denouncement often laced in crude, vulgar and uncivilized language. And this is from them who were supposed to be in the business of civilizing. We have culled out some passages form different articles, reports to show that the missionaries are hardly mending their ways. (from HVK)

"When I was working in a Mumbai newspaper, I noticed a foreign missionary addressing a crowd at Azad Maidan. He was extolling the virtues of Christianity, which was legitimate, but then he went on to dissuade his audience from following Lord Krishna saying that 'even as a child Krishna stole butter churned by his own mother and later he was surrounded by women of loose morals'. I protested at his remarks at which he asked his aides to throw me out. Not one Hindu in the audience stood for me. I went to lodge a complaint with the police where I was told to put the news in my own paper. I gave the story to my chief reporter who asked me 'what's the news in it?' and did not publish it."

From K R Sundar Rajan, letter, Outlook, March 16, 1998.

"The type of abuses which missionaries hurled against the Indian Gods and Goddesses, if you read today, would be outrageous to any Hindu believer. Krishna is lecherous person, Shiva is some demonic force. All sorts of sexual abuses (are hurled) against Kali Durga. And can you imagine all those things were completely disregarded by people, by believing Hindus, because they thought that they were absolutely nonsensical. They did not believe that any such outrage is being done to their religion because they themselves mocked in some way their own gods, with their own tremendous reverence and admiration for them."

From Nirmal Verma, conference in Vadodara in 1994, Religion and Society in Contemporary India, (Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies, Project Nr 14, 1996, p 60.)

I am a bitter critic of the abominable evils perpetrated by the caste system. Untouchability has been the single biggest cause for the downfall of the people and the country. Yet, I share the views of MV Kamath on the activities of the Christian missionaries (Mid-Day, April 1). While working in Cambay in Gujarat, I was on very friendly terms with an Australian missionary who used to visit my roommate, a devout Catholic. One evening, when I was alone, the missionary happened to drop in. Since my roommate was away, he started waxing eloquent on the greatness of Christ and Christianity. Then he started maligning the beliefs, rituals and customs of Hindus. When it came to a point where he ridiculed the birth of Karna and the Pandavas, by Kunti cohabiting with different gods, Draupadi keeping five brothers as consorts, and Lord Krishna's unlimited amorous escapades. I could not resist telling that the birth of Jesus himself was shrouded in superstition. Instantly, the missionary a tall, handsome, sober and solemn personality, turned a monster, ready to kill and consume me. For a moment, I was mortally afraid of a deadly blow from him. He left like a whirlwind, warning me to refrain from uttering such blasphemy again. Only when you scratch them, you will have a taste of their tendency to malign others' faiths and impatience to her others' point of view. They, too, like the moon, have a brighter side for display and a darker side to hide from others.

From VU Warrier, a letter "The darker side", Mid-Day, April 6, 1999.

A persistent memory of a day, some 70-odd years ago, when I went to the weekly market in my small town only to get upset over a minor incident. Even as I was walking past a line of vegetable hawkers I saw a Christian padre addressing a bunch of people who were standing idly by. The padre had unrolled a largish picture of what passed for Hanuman and was saying: "You worship Hanuman? You worship a monkey? Is he God?" and words to that effect. Petrified at this sight, I found I could hardly move. Then, in a rush of tears, I ran to my home to tell my mother what I had seen. No one, of course, worshipped Hanuman. But we thought of him as the last word in loyalty to Ram.

From MV Kamath, "Slandering Religion", Mid-Day, May 21, 1998.

For the last few days I have been pretty upset over the issue of "converting all the Hindus." Yesterday, it crossed all the limits. A Christian girl, who sadly is from India, asked me if Hinduism is a good faith for me. When I said yes, she started to give me a long lecture in why Hinduism is no good and how she wants the whole world to convert to Christianity. After that disappointing conversation, I thought to myself, "Why is it that people only catch a Hindu to brag about their own religions!?" It is because we are thought of as vulnerable beings and easy targets. I think that we should stop being nice and saying that all religions are equal. I told that girl at least a hundred times that for us all religions are equal, but she clearly hated that thought. We shouldn't be scared to say, "I am proud to be Hindu, and it is the best religion in the world." We must also make our children more religious because they will be facing more challenges!

From Minnie (, Christian Conversionists (a letter), Hinduism Today, February 2000

"Is there a people in the world more tolerant than this good and gentle Hindoo people, who have been so often described to us as cunning, cruel and even bloodthirsty? Compare them for an instant with the Mussulmans, or even with ourselves, in spite of our reputation for civilization and tolerance. Only let a Chinese or an Indian come and walk in our streets during a religious festival or ceremony, and will not the crowd exhibit the most hostile feelings towards him if his bearing should not be in conformity with the customs of the country? Will his ignorance excuse him? I doubt it. "And in what country could such a spectacle be witnessed as that which met my eyes that day in the square of Benares? There, at ten paces from all that the Hindoo holds to be most sacred in his religion, between the Source of Wisdom and the idol of Siva, a Protestant missionary had taken his stand beneath a tree. Mounted on a chair, he was preaching, in the Hindostani tongue, on the Christian religion and the errors of paganism. I heard his shrill voice, issuing from the depths of a formidable shirt-collar, eject these words at the crowd, which respectfully and attentively surrounded him - "'You are idolaters! That block of stone which you worship has been taken from a quarry; it has been carved by a workman, and it is as inert and powerless as the stone post leaning against the wall of my house.' "These reproaches called forth no murmur; the missionary was listened to immovably; but his dissertation was attended to, for every now and then one of the audience would put a question, to which a brave apostle replied as well as he could. "Perhaps we should be disposed to admire the missionary's courage if the well-known tolerance of the Hindoos did not defraud him of the greater part of his merit: but it is true that this very tolerance is what most disheartens the missionaries, one of whom once said to me, 'Our labours are in vain; you can never convert a man who has sufficient conviction in his own faith to listen, without moving a muscle, to all the attacks you can make against it.'"

From Khushwant Singh, "Tolerance no longer a way of life (Excerpt)", The Telegraph, May 15, 2000

Email From: To: Multiple recipients of list Date: Friday, October 22, 1999 8:46 AM

I have to say that I find most evangelical Christians offensive, beginning with my first fieldwork in a mission hospital in Punjab, where for one week every day a New Zealand evangelical missionary harangued the captive patient audience in the OB-GYN ward, where I was doing my study, in a strong Kiwi accent that I could not understand and in a language that none of the patients could understand. The missionary doc head of this section who came from NZ said that even though the patients did not understand, it would be good for their souls. Some of the Akali Dal women in the ward pointedly got up off their beds, furious, and went out into the yard during these episodes. The others, too ill to move, tried to ignore it.

By Joanna Kirkpatrick The scripture period was the last in the morning. It was not such a dull hour after all. There were moments in it that brought stirring pictures before one: the Red Sea cleaving and making way for the Israelites; the physical feats of Samson; Jesus rising from the grave, and so on. The only trouble was that the Scripture master, Mr. Ebenezar, was a fanatic. "Oh wretched idiots!" the teacher said, clenching his fists, "Why do you worship dirty, lifeless, wooden idols, and stone images? Can they talk? No. Can they see? No. Can they bless you? NO. Can they take you to Heaven? No. Why? Because they have no life. What did your Gods do when Muhammed of Gazni smashed them to pieces, trod upon them, and constructed out of them steps for his lavatory? If these idols and images had life, they did they not parry Mohammed's onslaught?" He then turned to Christianity. "Now see our Lord Jesus. He could cure the sick, relieve the poor, and take us to Heaven. He was real God. Trust him and he will take you to Heaven; the Kingdom of Heaven is within us." Tears rolled down Ebenezar's cheek when he pictured Jesus before him. Next moment his face became purple with rage as he thought of Sri Krishna: "Did our Jesus go gadding about with gopis? Did our Jesus go about stealing butter like that arch scoundrel Krishna? Did our Jesus practise dark tricks on those around him?" He paused for breath. The teacher was intolerable today. Swaminathan's blood boiled. He got up and asked: "If he did not, why was he crucified?" The teacher told him that he might come to him at the end of the period and learn it in private. Swaminathan put in another question: "If he was God, why did he eat flesh and fish and drink wine?" In answer to this, Ebenezar left his seat, advanced slowly towards Swaminathan, and tried to wretch his left ear off.

From RK Narayan, Swami and Friends, Indian Thought Publications, Mysore, 2000, pp 5-6. (First published in 1935 by Hamish Hamilton, London. First Indian Edition, 1944.)

As a child, I studied in a Protestant Christian convent school where my Hindu way of life was constantly maligned casually and there was a steady effort to impress upon young minds the virtues of Christianity (Sediments of Faith, March 24). I have sat in numerous classes where a particular teacher would talk for some half hour denigrating Hinduism and treating my gods as a joke. I sat through all this without it ever crossing my mind that this lady was misusing her right to freedom of speech and religion. Secularism doesn't have to be only for the majority, it has to be for the minorities too. There is really more tolerance in India than anywhere else in the world. I can't, for instance, see anyone maligning the American way of life and getting away with it.

From Madan, (Orlando, USA), "Minding the Minds" (Letter to Editor), Outlook, April 7, 2003


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