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, November 08, 2005

Ram Gidoomal: Behind the Mask of Respectability

Hindu Human Rights UK

As a millionaire businessman, candidate for London mayor, a tireless worker for charity and raising social concern over the poor, and someone widely regarded as spokesman for the British “Asian” community, Ram Gidoomal carries much influence in the Britain of today. This is especially true among the ethnic minorities, mainly Hindus, but he is increasingly quoted in the mainstream media, as someone with knowledge on Hindu and Indian issues, as well as those concerning race and ethnicity in the UK. What he says therefore carries not an insignificant amount of authority.

A hindu, from the eyes of a Christian MissionaryShri Gidoomal is also an believing and active Christian, in a country which has seen a rapid decline in both church going and the dominant faith, for unlike the USA with its influential Christian Coalition and “Moral Majority”, anything remotely religious is often looked upon with unhealthy scepticism by a Europe which has taken secularism to incredible extremes, as events in France have only too obviously demonstrated. Nevertheless this has not stopped the majority of people believing in “something” even if that “something” is indefinable and amorphous. In trying to emulate the continued existence of what might be termed “faith politics” in Europe, as can be seen by various Christian Democrat parties, Gidoomal uses his beliefs to give stability to a society that is fast falling apart, and a social consciousness that has often been forgotten in a consumer society that has not benefited all.

As a former Hindu who converted to Christianity, Ram Gidoomal ostensibly still urges close social relations with those of his former faith.

At the AGM of the Shaftsbury Society in 2004:

My mixed and rich background – born into a Hindu family, raised in the practice and traditions of Sikhism, educated in a Muslim school and now a Christian, a follower of my Sanatana Satguru, the Lord Jesus Christ – means that I can now approach issues without the hang-ups of many of my western contemporaries, who struggle for example with the use of the term "Christian" in the name of a political party. So when the Christian Peoples Alliance was set up as a new political party by a group emerging from the Movement of Christian Democracy, and I became its London Mayoral candidate, senior Christian leaders expressed several concerns to me. One key concern was, "What will people of other faiths think? Will it not offend them?"

The answer to those questions is certainly indicated by my own experiences in the London Mayoral campaign. While the Christian establishment hesitated to lend its support, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs backed my campaign with more than words.

('s+AGM+address )

In one of his own books:

We would like to see Christians getting into conversations and building friendships with Hindus so that they gradually learn more about Hindu beliefs and practises through experiences.

(Ram Gidoomal, Margaret Wardell, Chapatis for Tea, Highland Books, Guildford, 1994, p.1)

Now at first glance there is nothing wrong with this. But then when one reads this Chapatis for Tea, as well as other books, a whole new nasty agenda emerges.

How do Christians relate to Hindus around them? Christ’s command is clear. He said “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples” (Matthew 28:18). We also read in Acts 4:12 “Salvation is to be found through him alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us.”

(Chapatis, p.8)

So this gives a whole new meaning to the word “friendship”. Gidoomal makes it even more candid what his attitude to the millions of Hindus in the world:

We need to respect Hindus but not the Hindu religion as a whole.

(Chapatis, p.14)

Hinduism has no room for any person or belief that claims to be unique, so no human being can easily persuade Hindus that Jesus is the only way to God. It may seem therefore that any attempt to approach them with the gospel is doomed to failure. But such pessimism reckons without the power of the Holy Spirit. If we witness faithfully and pray for our Hindu friends, the Holy Spirit will convince them of the truth about Jesus in their innermost hearts.

(Chapatis, p.5)

His urge for Christians to “understand” Hindu Dharma is not for purposes of widening one’s mind and being less dogmatic. In fact quite the opposite:

We must not relinquish our conviction that the Christian faith shows us the only true way to God and that other religions cannot save people.

(Chapatis, p.13)

He offers a meaningless concession to his target audience and potential victims:

Let a Hindu become a follower of Christ rather than “a Christian”. It’s all the same to us but a less threatening concept to a Hindu.

(Chapatis, p.146)

That probably explains why Christian extremists are so keen to target poverty stricken Hindus in India as easy game for conversion tactics, and do the same to second generation Hindus in the UK, the confused “desis” for whom Bollywood, Bhangra and biryani are the only tangible symbols of an artificial identity known as “Asian”. Those that once spread the faith by means of the sword like St. Francis Xavier, and burning the innocent at the stake, as the Portuguese Inquisition managed to do at Goa, now come onto the scene with the slimy character of the Cable Guy. Unlike many churches who are in line with the globalised world that is the twenty-first century, the agents of “extreme right-wing” of Christian ideology and politics scrupulously avoid debate with Hindus knowledgeable in their Dharma:

Christians who are keen to witness to their Hindu neighbours need to know enough about their practices to be able to relate to them sympathetically. If this is your objective you must focus on information which will help you build bridges of friendship. Pray for the right opportunities to share the gospel with them rather than trying to acquire academic information. Too much know-how may distance you from most Hindus and make it difficult to build meaningful relationships. Although they enjoy intellectual debate, this can usually lead the average Christian round in circles. It does not generally lead to any worthwhile study of the unique claims of Christ.

(Chapatis, pp.4-5)

The warning is repeated on page 136 of Chapatis:

You should not let yourself be dragged into arguments.

Indeed most of Gidoomal’s remarks are full of such simplistic and childish bits of advice which may be sufficient for an animal civilisation of illiterates, but hardly has any role in the third millennium. This next extract from pages 137 and 138 of Chapatis uses a sound scientific theory, once at odds with Christian teaching itself, to denigrate Hinduism:

Hindus see no reason to challenge their faith because they believe they are born Hindus and should remain so. Most Hindus have no missionary vision because they think it does not matter what spiritual path we follow, that we are all on the way to God. If you challenge them on this point they will probably tell you that Hindus have believed this for generations and many millions of people can’t be wrong. But this argument is invalid. After all, millions believed the earth was flat until it was proved otherwise.

Well if the respected Mr. Gidoomal is so keen to look at empirical proof, why does he not prove his way is the best? Of course that would require debate, that dreaded “argument” with the unbeliever. This whole mind destroying logic requires sensible people to dumb down their mental faculties and just accept something on the basis of faith, not to be awkward and ask questions. It should now be clear why so many Hindus involved in interfaith discussions with dishonest and Janus-headed “friends” and church pastors, who then unmask themselves as uncompromising hardline Christian fundamentalists, find the easy going attitude and china white smiles, complete with invites for that obligatory cup of tea with biscuits and vegetarian snacks, soon turn into the looks of disgust, sinister frowns, and toothy grins of hate that would do Vlad the Impaler, the role model for Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula, proud. But then theological discourse was never going to be the strong point of those who are afraid of “argument”:

Avatars, reincarnations of one of the gods, usually Vishnu, have never atoned for our sins. They are not God in the flesh. They are simply aspects of the Hindu gods, never the total incarnation of every aspect of divinity. Only in Christ is the fullness of God revealed. No Hindu scripture can dispute this.

(Chapatis, p.126)

Well this has got to be one of Shri Gidoomal’s stupidest statements. I mean to dispute anything would necessarily involve an argument. But he has already told his disciples to avoid “argument”. So just how is anyone going to dispute anything? There can be no dispute without argument, just as there is no smoke without fire, so this is yet another one of his mind destroying self-validating nonsensical statements. To “dispute” would require sound academic enquiry and examination of texts by scholars well versed in the necessary commentaries and ancient languages, otherwise the whole exercise becomes meaningless, as talking about belief is often a matter of faith, a nebulous concept which it is extremely hard to prove one way or another. Also in examining the claims made by Gidoomal, we would need to look at historical facts as attested to by archaeological evidence, which brings us nicely on to the next point:

Just as for Christians the Bible is the prime source book to guide us through our lives, so Hindus have scriptures of their own, to sever a similar purpose. But the Hindu concept of time and history is different from that of the Bible. The Bible is rooted in actual events but much of the Hindu scriptures are unashamedly mythological. There is no historical evidence for many of the events described.

(Chapatis, p.79)

Again this theme is repeated throughout Chapatis just to hammer home the point that Hindu Dharma is invalid.

Page 83:

It is important to understand that the Mahabharata is not a historical book though it may appear to be at first glance.

Page 139:

Hindus do not distinguish clearly between history and legend. For Christians the fact that Jesus was a real flesh and blood man who lived in Palestine at a time is important. A Hindu sees little difference between the stories of Krishna and Rama (which seem legendary to us) and those about Jesus. However the stories of the former grew from literary origins whereas those of Jesus are based on accounts of actual eye witnesses.

This lack of historical basis is supposed to put Hinduism at a great disadvantage when compared to Christianity. How does he know that Rama and Krisna were mere myth? What evidence is provided in this regard? It is a theme explored again in Karma ‘N’ Chips another non-masterpiece and lack of contribution to world literature:

The Ramayana and Mahabharata are epic poems, uncovering profoundly important eternal truths in mythological form. . . . These mythologies are profoundly important for Asian culture, because of their great moral teaching and the grounding they provide in social ethics. Yet, at the end of the day, they are stories. They didn’t really happen, and Krishna and Rama were never ‘real’ people.

(Ram Gidoomal, Mike Fearon, Karma ‘N’ Chips, 1994, WPC, Wimbledon, p.85)

We need to examine this issue of myth, and who really existed further. Well it is a subject area that is going to upset many people, and this piece was not written with the intention of offending anyone’s beliefs, even less with the objective of invalidating Christianity as a valid form of belief. But since “right-wing” hardliners like Gidoomal are so keen to push the issue, while at the same time avoiding any argument with their prey, it just so happens that many competent scholars have cast doubt on the authenticity of the events related in the Bible, indeed whether the characters even existed. Indeed the Dead Sea Scrolls, which the Vatican has been keen to keep such a close guarded secret, mention the existence of the Essenes, a Jewish monastic sect whose beliefs and practices resembled Christianity before Jesus was even born. So here we have the unnerving (at least for Gidoomal) possibility of Christianity existing before Christ. But that is not all because it has led others to question whether Jesus himself really existed. Like Rama or Krishna perhaps he was not a real person. But then perhaps Jesus was not a “real person” but then Rama and Krishna were, in which case we will need to turn our thinking and accepted ideas upside down. What will be the implications of this last hypothesis? Well as one evangelical outreach worker, a leader of the notorious SACO (Southampton Asian Christian Outreach) mentioned in a previous article on HHR, to the “Asian” community in Southampton, once said, “No Christ, then no Christianity”. Very well put and uncompromisingly candid. Hence the desperation to avoid open debate and historical analysis when it comes to the Bible, but then using all manner of dirty tricks when it comes to discussing Hindu Dharma and Hindu civilisation. Such is how the Gidoomal tribe avoid their feared “argument” yet again.

For the objective scholar and seeker of truth they are merely facts, but for the dogmatic extremists that wish to annihilate Hindu Dharma, they are devastating historical truths, that musty be ignored and denigrated, but above all kept out of the view of pagan idol-worshipping Hindus lest these surviving pagans dare to sue them in an intellectual debate. But then again, as Gidoomal warns his disciples, one must avoid “arguments” with Hindus, as that does not sit well with a dogmatic belief system. To attack a belief system as opposed to understanding it, any semblance of superficial respect is negated by a counter measure.

Hindus will be delighted if you want to visit a temple. You should learn as much about Hinduism as you can beforehand. Then contact the priest or a member of the committee, and ask permission to visit — this is particularly important if you want to take a group. Dress modestly and take off your shoes before going into the room containing the images. Remember the temple is a sacred place for Hindus and behave respectfully. Ask permission if you want to take photographs or make tape recordings. After your visit a thank you letter would be appreciated. From the Christian perpspective don’t go when worship is taking place and do have prayer support. Before entering, ask the Lord to protect you from any spiritual forces that may be present in a place where images are worshipped. it may be better to see a temple on video.

(Chapatis, p.64)

How about this next extract? Would it sit well with a religious studies class in school?

Hinduism has become like a tampon or sponge that keeps absorbing without ever becoming saturated.

(Karma ‘N’ Chips, p.152)

Dear reader, just imagine what would happen if Hindus were to describe that Christianity was a “tampon”, that churches were full of demonic evil spirits, such as one would find in the Exorcist. Would they not be called right-wing fascists, fundamentalists, and anti-Christian extremists? Does Mr. Gidoomal have his Christian followers praying for him whenever he meets one those detestable vermin like Hindus? The people he asks to visit temples are not going their for a better understanding in terms of mutual respect or spiritual enlightenment. They are like a commando operation entering the den of Resident Evil to complete the mission and get the hell out of there, for with all those evil spirits, it is a veritable hell indeed. This lack of true interaction goes as far as issues which are shown to be beneficial for health, and not concerned with proving one religion is true, less concerned if god even exists:

Even though people may claim they only practice the physical exercise of yoga, they are under the influence of their teacher. Most teachers are heavily influenced by Hindu philosophy and into goal of absorption into Brahman. They inevitably pass this on to their pupils. It also centres on oneself, emphasising self-realisation, self-fulfilment, self-knowledge and even salvation, rather than salvation through Christ. It also teaches that all religions are equally valid ways of discovering God. This conflicts with the Christian teaching that salvation is found through Christ alone. Therefore Christians should not be involved in yoga.

(Chapatis, pp.41-42)

So far we have exposed Ram Gidoomal’s real intentions in his political campaigns and interfaith work. But it gets worse. In Karma ‘N’ Chips he mentions the racist and colonialist Aryan Invasion Theory on page 21, one area where Mr. Gidoomal, despite protesting any innocence at being called “extreme right-wing”, would find common ground with Shri David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan leader, and the intellectual spearhead of renascent American National Socialism. Karma is more politically flavoured than Chapatis, something which should really concern Hindus:

In Ayodhya, a pile of rubble where a mosque once stood – and 1,100 graves throughout India – offer mute testimony to the actions of certain zealous Hindus whose view of religion lead them into an orgy of death and destruction.

(Karma, p.24)

Well what of the mute testimony to the many thousands of Hindu temples destroyed by invading Islamic hordes over a thousand years across northern India, which were recorded with glee by scholars such as Al-Beruni, and conquerors such as Babar? Are we now to say that their first hand eye-witness accounts were fake and cane be deemed as untrustworthy? What of the millions of Hindus enslaved and deported in such numbers, that those who died had the Hindu Kush named after them, meaning “Hindu Graveyard”, while the descendants of the survivors were perhaps worse off. As Gypsies or Roma they became Europe’s most marginalised and persecuted minority, who met their nemesis in the gas chambers of the Third Reich, and to this day find themselves friendless and voiceless as they are subject to all manner of atrocities by governments and Nazi skinhead gangs in Eastern Europe. Uncomfortable issues yet again, but we need to face facts, and deal with them as they exist, not in some fantasy world. This Ayodhya structure was not even in use as a mosque, yet has been the site of Hindu devotional practises from time immemorial. Also the extract shows the usual approach of blaming Hindu elements, while making the casualties seem impersonal. The fact that millions of Hindus have been massacred, ethnically cleansed, raped and kidnapped by Islamic holy warriors in Kashmir, Pakistan, Gujarat, Kerela, and Bangladesh, Christian terrorists in India’s north-east, and Communist guerrilla forces in Nepal and various parts of south and central India, and this has been deliberately ignored should indicate what we are dealing with here: yet another organised ideology and political force which is only concerned at making converts out of Hindus. If that means taking advantage of their being victims of actual physical terrorism, then so much the better. While pushing for a Christian political agenda, he follows and enhances the prevailing hypocrisy to make it a crime for anyone to be politically conscious as a Hindu, that ideology known as Hindutva. This is made clear at his introduction to Healing the Wounds a supposed peace conference report on the Godhra massacres in Gujarat which links Hindutva to Nazism and Fascism ( ). Incredibly that report by Shri Gidoomal proudly parades a message from Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Congress Party, an organisation which for 50 years subjected India to the Marxist degeneracy of Leninist planning, churning out graduates from Stalinist universities who were functional illiterates, suppressing indigenous cultures, and enforcing kleptomania of natural resources plundered by the Swiss bank socialist ruling caste, all the while pursuing a foreign policy which by virtue of its anti-westernism, pro-Communist orientation, and anti-Semitism was at odds with democracy, as well as being ideologically closer to Nazism than Hindutva has ever been, or is likely to be. Perhaps Shri Gidoomal is keen to forget how Sonia Gandhi’s family were fanatical supporters of Mussolini’s Fascism, and her own father volunteered, was not conscripted but volunteered like a true fanatic, to fight for the Nazis on the Russian front. That makes his comparison with anti-Nazi Christian activist Pastor Niemoller, and the emphasis to blame India’s communal problems on Hindutva alone, as a very sick remark.

That in essence what drives Gidoomal. He is by no means a unique phenomenon, but one that is perhaps so dangerous because of the sometimes superficial humanitarian and interfaith characteristic which he gives to his work. If he wishes to use Christian principles to tackle issues such as crime, family breakdown, homelessness and other social ills, as well as the wider areas of education, health and transport, then by the rules of democracy he should be given his chance. If other political voices speak up with their own views, then judging by the amount of support he has, Shri Gidoomal is entitled to his share. Even if he wishes to convert all Hindus to Christianity and believes that Hindu Dharma is a dead religion which can offer no salvation, then he has the right to say so. As French philosopher Renan once said “religions are facts and must be examined as such”, something which would also apply to Hindus as much as any other community. But the moment he tries something more sinister, such as deliberately omitting historical facts, urging censorship by means of avoiding debate, and at times outputting open dishonesty, then it is the right and duty of any self-respecting individual to expose this. Hindus should be aware of what his real motivations are, and what lies beneath the seemingly innocent façade of asking “friends” and the supposed pride in his Hindu background. They should be outraged when realising that the effect of his thinking is to immunise the world at large to the massacres and general degeradation which effects Hindus even in India, by blaming Hindus in one way or another for every communal riot, every religious despite, and every failing of quasi-Marxist post-colonial India. One should try and swap words around and ask is Hindus were to speak about Christians the way Gidoomal and his tribe speak about Hindus, would this be taken as gospel or would it be laughed off, ignored, or put down to Hindu “right-wing” fundamentalism? These are important questions to ask when one is faced by the utter dishonesty in which Hindus are treated in a supposedly multicultural society like Britain. The issue is not whether Jesus is the way, or if devotion to Krishna can offer salvation. What we need to ask ourselves is if the stance taken by Gidoomal is dishonest, hypocritical and ultimately has an pseudo-intellectual edge which is enhancing the universal insensitivity to what is happening to Hindus now, without even delving into the actions of psychologically unstable monsters such as Mahmud Ghazni, Aurangzeb, Francis Xavier, Jinnah and Nehru, which make the recent Hindu past a human catastrophe which has few parallels. If you denigrate a people and community to saturation point, then you will not really care if they are subject to all manner of atrocities and humiliations, and denied that most basic right, the right to life. So we should not be surprised if Hindus, constantly subject to this type pf abuse and denied the legitimate right of academic self-defence, are being wiped out or subject to fraudulent and forcible conversion by missionary forces, who have no interest in interfaith understanding, much less in communal harmony. After all the ends to indeed justify the means, and pagan Hindus are but pawns in this game of numbers. If millions can be convinced of the “truth” at the point of the sword, Kalashnikov, the temptation of alleviation from famine and poverty, or economic and social blackmail, then we need to ask ourselves if this “truth” has any meaning.

In concluding one has to be reminded of the following. An aggressive proselytising cult and missionary faith does not sit well with the multi-faceted world which we have moved into, one area in which human society can said to have progressed. If we look at other communities as fellow human beings our actions will reflect this. Mutual respect, exchange of ideas and concerted efforts to move in the direction of peace and harmony will be the aspects of such behaviour patterns. If however we are the mindless automata under the command of a supreme being who brooks no rivals, and whose only concern is to have more of the living dead at his control then we look upon people who have different opinions as subhuman, as evil. No hurdles will put in our way to convince them of the “truth”. Any resistance will be deemed itself as evil, and ultimately a digression from the true path of arrogant monologue which the “pagans” must be subjected to for their own good. Only if they join the chosen cult can they be our “friends”, our “brothers and sisters”. This explains why Gidoomal and others in the “Asian outreach” movement have not only avoided debate with Hindus, but are unlikely ever to involve themselves in something of this type. Let us face some pretty disturbing and unpalatable facts, because philosophical discourse was never a strength of a dogmatic belief system, as it makes people think. If a few more million Hindus get killed and wiped out because of this attempt to halt any discussion of such issues and drown out any Hindu political manifestation as fascist, then it matters not. The survivors, victims of rape, mutilation, and starvation, those who have lost close family members and are unable to rebuild shattered lives, will prove to be yet more rich pickings for those zealous egotists, missionaries who can only think of reproducing yet more clones of zombies, whose vision is so tunnelled that it cannot see the very real human misery which it causes. To even raise this as a valid point is considered by its detractors to be “Hindu fundamentalism”. But in the end this desperado labelling is certain to fail, if only because it shows the glaring hypocrisy and flawed arguments which the Gidoomal tribe present their case.

Only when the day arrives when Shri Ram Gidoomal is prepared to debate these matters openly honesty, and on a level playing feel should anyone reassess their views. Until then his silence and continuing refusal to address the very real concerns addressed should tell us what he really thinks of Hindus. Those who cannot debate the issue are always conspicuous by their silence, and their absence. In the case of Gidoomal, it is fitting to end using the words of Tertullian, the third-century Church Father who said, whose defining statement on faith fits the thinking of this “Asian” evangelist very well indeed, and explains why he avoids Christian-Hindu dialogue and debate, denigrating it as mere “argument”:

Credo quia absurdum.


I believe because it is absurd.

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