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.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Benny Hinn, a symbol of secular adharma


'Be ye men of valour and be in readiness for the conflict. For it is better to perish in battle than to see the outrage of your altar. If that be the will of God, let it be'.

Till recently all enlightened people in India were generally shocked by the conduct and behaviour of most politicians in India. Now the stage of shock is over. We have moved over from the STAGE OF SHOCK to the STAGE OF ABSURD AMUSEMENT. The prima donna of this stage today is N Dharam Singh, Chief Minister of Karnataka, who participated with gusto and secularly religious fervour at the prayer meet conducted by the American Pastor Benny Hinn, a gigantic global fraud, at Bangalore on 21 January 2005 Friday night. His participation is no doubt amusing. But what is shocking about him is his Himalayan ignorance about the conduct, character and past antecedents of Benny Hinn. Swami Vivekananda went to America in 1893 carrying the universal message of Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma to the West. He did not go there for conversion or proselytisation. Nor did he go to USA to attack the Americans as heathens and barbarians having faith in a false God and requiring the healing touch and light of Hinduism to save their souls.

Great deception is afoot in the church today, happening right before our very eyes. In fact, it may have already come to your church. False doctrines, a different gospel, and even doctrines of demons have been introduced into many churches via books, music, videos, teachers and movements that claim to be of God. Viewed against this background, the known facts about Benny Hinn are not only shocking but also revealing.

Benny Hinn is a Roman Catholic mystic, who is taking the Pentecostal and Charismatic Church down the ecumenical road towards Rome. This has been known for some time. For example the Italian Assemblies of God refused to endorse his crusade in Rome (1996), sponsored by the independent Pentecostals, who themselves were shocked when Mr Hinn failed to even once open his Bible on the first night of the Crusade. On the second night the interpreter refused to interpret Hinn's favourable comments about the Pope and the Catholic Church and the music group refused to sing. The up-shot was that the organisers signed a document of 'non-association' with Benny Hinn, and promised never to invite him to Italy again. Despite this he was invited as guest speaker to the Australian Assemblies of God Conference in May 1997, where once more he spoke favourably of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. At that Conference he told how he had met with Cardinal Sin of the Philippines, with whom he formed an agreement to encourage people who attended his crusade not to leave the Roman Catholic Church. The Cardinal in turn promised to encourage Roman Catholics to attend the Hinn Crusade. Things have become worse since then! There is documented evidence that Hinn is into necromancy .

Wayne Hughes is the General Superintendent of Assemblies of God in New Zealand and was one of the Church leaders who, together with Ian Bilby, former President of the New Zealand Elim denomination, endorsed the visit of Rodney Howard-Browne whose 'laughing revival' has caused so much division among Churches and Christian families in New Zealand and Australia. It is also reported that Wayne Hughes was alerted to the fact of Benny Hinn's documented necromancy in late January or early February '98. Despite this he has continued to endorse Hinn and his ministry, although it is rumoured that he is concerned that he might be doing the wrong thing. Council for World Mission (CWM) has advised all true Christians in the world: 'Our strong recommendation to all Christians is that you do not participate in any supportive way - by means of donations or otherwise - in the Benny Hinn Crusade or to the Benny Hinn Ministries'.

John the apostle of Lord Jesus Christ wrote: - 'Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him (bid him God speed - AV) for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds ( biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds - AV)' - 2 John 9-11. This is THE WORD OF THE LORD.

Further documented proof about the necromancy practiced by Benny Hinn is supplied in the book - The Confusing World Of Benny Hinn.

When I researched about the Spurious Spiritual Voyage of Benny Hinn, I read about the Curing Ministry conducted by Benny Hinn on 7 June 2002 at The Sydney Entertainment Centre. I am quoting verbatim from an article in the September 2002 edition of The Skeptic, The Journal of the Australian Skeptics:

'The Sydney Entertainment Centre. can hold 12,500 people when the seating is configured for the maximum capacity. On 7 June, 2002, more than that number turned up to see faith healer Benny Hinn do his act of curing people of many illnesses through the power of Jesus. A team of observers from the RatbagsDotCom Empire and the Australian Skeptics went along to see the magical Benny but, alas, they got there too late and were left standing outside with the many hundreds of other people who had also not bothered to start queuing ten hours before the show started. Buses emblazoned with the names of Christian congregations from various parts of Sydney arrived, only to have the occupants be told that they could hit the freeway again because there was no room for them. People in wheelchairs moved through the crowd, and people stared at closed doors and security guards. There was a pall of disappointment that was almost palpable. INSIDE, THE BUCKETS WERE PASSED AROUND TO COLLECT THE TAX-FREE CASH.

We asked some of the waiting people about their disappointments and what were their expectations, had they been able to get into the building. What they said was depressing and bewildering. Some of the ones in the wheelchairs had expected to walk home. Some with diseases and ailments had expected relief. Some had brought written prayers from members of their families. All had expected that this slimy charlatan would perform miracles. Inside, the buckets were passed around to collect the tax-free cash. As we moved through the crowd, Hinn's henchmen followed, asking people what we had spoken to them about. We were told to get off the private property (it was a public footpath). Earlier in the day, a crew from a television current affairs programme had fared even worse and were ordered to stop speaking to people waiting in line to get into the building. IT SEEMS THAT HINN DOESN'T WANT ANY PUBLICITY UNLESS HE CONTROLS IT. The fact that bookings could not be made for the show suggests that Hinn is just as shy about accounting for the tax-free cash that he steals from the gullible and desperate.'

'It did not seem possible that all of the thousands crammed into the building could be there to be cured of something and we were pretty sure that all of the skeptics were outside in Harbour Street, so we wondered about the motivation of the other people who had come to see Hinn. We received a clue when we fell into conversation with a young lady in a bar across the street from the venue. This girl (who was about 18 or 19) had travelled about 100 kilometres to not get in to the Hinn show, and she invited herself to our table knowing who we were. She expressed a theology and knowledge of Christianity which were so confused and incoherent that it seemed that she was totally detached from reality and had never absorbed even the rudiments of the teachings of any mainstream Christian church. It was quite unnerving to sit next to an extremely attractive girl who just talked nonsense. I spoke to her mother at another table and she seemed to be a normal church-goer. I got the impression she was only there because her daughter wanted her to come, so I guess that the silliness was not hereditary. I realise that a sample of one cannot be representative of much, but there is certainly the possibility that Hinn and his like attract people who are desperately seeking some sort of meaningful religious experience, as well as those who are desperately seeking relief from illness. TO HINN THEY WOULD ALL BE THE SAME, ANYWAY, AS LONG AS THEY HAVE MONEY TO PUT IN THE PLASTIC BUCKETS.'

'I should make it clear that I do not object to Hinn on any religious grounds. I have no idea what his theology is or what he preaches beyond a banal, infantile reading of the Bible. In fact there was a gospel revival meeting at the nearby Sydney Town Hall on the same night and what was going on there was of no concern to me. What I object to about Hinn is that he is exploiting people's hopes and fears for nothing beyond his own financial gain. He does no missionary or outreach work, he funds no shelters for the homeless, the indigent, for orphans or abused women. He simply takes money and keeps it.'

'The Sydney Entertainment Centre is in the city's Chinatown district. Within that area it is easy to find prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, fantan games and other illegal gambling games and producers of pornography. The difference between these criminals and Hinn is that they at least provide some value for money. Hinn just takes and in return offers lies, false hope and (if the stories about people throwing insulin and other drugs onto the stage at his shows are true) potential death.'

Against the above background I would like to put the following questions to the Karnataka Chief Minister:

a) If BJP and Sangh Parivar are reactionary forces, in what way are you less reactionary by supporting a known International Fraud like Benny Hinn?

b) Are you supporting Benny Hinn because he is more 'secular' and less 'communal' than the BJP and Sangh Parivar?

c) Are you aware of the fact that under the Indian Penal Code Section 153A, promoting enmity between groups in religion is a cognizable offence?

d) Are you aware of the fact that Benny Hinn was guilty of an offence under this section for making provocative anti-Hindu statements before large crowds?

e) Is it part of Sonia Congress ideology that anti-Hindu statements made by Indian Nationals are only ordinarily 'secular' and non-communal and those made by foreigners are extraordinarily 'secular' and non-communal in character?

f) Is there any proposal sent by Government of Karnataka to the Government of India for the appointment of Benny Hinn as Chairman of the Christian Minorities Commission at the national level?

g) Are you aware of the view that with Benny Hinn praying for India and the stories of sick people being cured through necromancy, Benny Hinn can also be arrested by the police on charges under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act-1954? (This Act gives power to arrest the offenders even when there are no complaints lodged by anybody. Police can initiate action suo motu and charge-sheet the accused).

h) Do you sincerely believe that Benny Hinn is in the authentic tradition of great and revered saints like Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Loyola and the like?

Dr.S.L.Bhyrappa, a noted litterateur, has come down heavily on the 'Pray for India' mission of Benny Hinn. He has stated: 'Christian Missionaries have millions of dollars, donated by rich Christian Nations to be used for the conversion of the gullible into Christianity'. In my novel Dharmashree I have written about how Christians use their religion to convert the credulous multitude in India.

The eminent Kannada litterateur also expressed his reservations about Chief Minister N.Dharam Singh attending religious prayer meetings of Benny Hinn at Bangalore on 21 January.

In June 1995 the Chicago Tribune reported that Pope John Paul II had urged the Roman Catholic Church to seize the 'particularly propitious' occasion of the New Millennium to recognize the 'dark side of its history'. In a 1994 confidential letter to Cardinals which was later leaked to the Italian Press, he asked:

'How one can remain silent about the many forms of violence perpetrated in the name of the Faith—wars of religion, tribunals of the Inquisition and other forms of violations of the rights of persons?'

Unfortunately too many have remained silent While historians have certainly written about the dark side of Christian history, their words have largely stayed within the confines of academe. And few have written of Christianity's role in creating a world in which people feel alienated from the Sacred. In this context Helen Ellerbe in her popular book The Dark Side of Christian History has observed:

'The Christian Church has left a legacy, a world view, that permeates every aspect of Western Society, both secular and religious. It is a legacy which fosters sexism, racism, the intolerance of difference and the destruction of the natural environment. The church, throughout much of its history, has demonstrated a disregard for human freedom, dignity, and self-determination. It has attempted to control, contain and confine spirituality, the relationship between an individual and God. As a result, Christianity has helped to create a society in which people are alienated not only from each other but also from the Divine'.

As we have ignored the horror of Christian history, so we have ignored the scrutiny of Christian beliefs and their pervasiveness in our seemingly Godless modern world. Without scrutiny, the destructive patterns have continued to alienate people from God, their natural environment, and each other.

The only statesman in world history who clearly saw the real horrors of Christianity like a hedgehog was Thomas Jefferson who observed with clairvoyancy in 1785:

'Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half of the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support error and roguery all over the Earth'.

Fortunately for Thomas Jefferson he was an American and not an Indian. If he had been in India today, Dharam Singh would have dismissed him as a rabidly communal and non-secular Hindu. In addition in Tamilnadu, he would have qualified for arrest under the Goondas Act.

Thomas Jefferson made it clear that the belief in a singular supremacy lies at the root of chauvinism, racism and totalitarianism. It is a reminder to us all that we must move towards a world that values diversity, freedom and human dignity. Why should we not embrace the hope and pursue the dream that humanity can be free to act humanely?

(The writer is a retired IAS officer)


Post a Comment

<< Home

Home | Syndicate this site (XML) | Guestbook | Blogger
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors.
Everything else © 2005 The Conversion Agenda