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.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Investigate Western, Christian charities

By Sandhya Jain

Teresa betrayed those who generously supported her work because they did not realize how her twisted premises chocked all efforts to alleviate misery. Most donations simply remained in her bank accounts. The world now needs to know through a multi-nation enquiry.

In virtually simultaneous exposes, CNN-IBN has revealed that Western-funded NGOs in Bodhgaya are abusing small children for labour, conversion and molestation, while a Catholic Sister who worked for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity has confessed quitting in “disgust over the misuse of millions in charitable donations that never got to their destination - the poor and afflicted.”

The Poor Christian Liberation Movement (PCLM) has for years been demanding a hundred year moratorium on conversions and a detailed scrutiny of the manner in which the Church utilises funds received from abroad, as this has failed to improve the lot of converts in any tangible manner. The very fact that Christian organisations and politicians are trying to get SC/ST benefits extended to converts proves that the various church denominations have no intention of uplifting the poor converts in a meaningful way once they have been converted.

It follows that funds received by Christian organisations or Church-friendly NGOs is used purely for allurement purposes, or to set up ‘charitable’ institutions availing government subsidies while maintaining money like corporates, such as hospitals or professional colleges. These now require a comprehensive national review.

CNN-IBN found that Samanvaya Ashram, an NGO funded by Mr. Sandeep Pandey’s ASHA, which receives foreign funds, sheltering children from the Dalit-Bhuiyan community, was subjecting children as young as five years old to illegal labour at the Ashram. Those children had to wash clothes, cook in the Ashram kitchen, fetch water, and plough the fields. The channel found that foreigners run shelters that are actually dens for paedophiles and child-molesters. Gaya police say they can’t act without formal complaints, but admit many NGOs have a conversion agenda; many foreign countries send huge sums for this purpose.

Meanwhile, years after Germany’s Stern magazine exposed Mother Teresa’s money-making and non-performing charities. Susan Shields, who worked nine years as a Catholic Sister with the Missionaries of Charity, has gone public with how she quit in 1989. Shields gave her story to the Arctic Beacon, it was printed in the Free Inquiry Magazine, and exposes how Mother Teresa ignored the poor while stashing millions of dollars in donations in Vatican bank accounts.

Shields worked with Missionaries of Charity in the Bronx, Rome, and San Francisco, till May 1989. She took years to unravel the life she lived there, and finally came to the conclusion that Mother Teresa’s religious congregation rested upon three dangerous teachings, which really amounted to mind control. These are - as long as a nun obeys (Teresa) she is doing God’s will; the sisters have leverage over God by choosing to suffer; and any attachment to human beings, even the poor, interferes with love of God and must be avoided at all costs.

Surprisingly, Shields says these were old Church beliefs, and Teresa only enforced them vigorously. But once indoctrinated thus, a sister would allow her health to be destroyed, neglect those she vowed to serve, and switch off her feelings and independent thought. She would be indifferent to suffering, carry tales about fellow sisters, tell lies, and ignore public laws and regulations. As a result, many of the sisters who trusted Mother Teresa “have become broken people.. their self-confidence has been destroyed.” Many lack education and do not know how to quit. Says Shields, “I was one of the lucky ones who mustered enough courage to walk away.”

Even more than those who joined, Teresa betrayed those who generously supported her work because they did not realise how her twisted premises chocked all efforts to alleviate misery. Most donations simply remained in her bank accounts. The world now needs to know through a multi-nation enquiry if Vatican funds are used for conversion in third world countries, or for political purposes like regime change in target countries, as for instance, Poland under Pope John Paul II.

Shields’ testimony is important because she was deputed to record donations and write receipts in the form of thank-you letters. Money would often come in sacks; receipts for cheques of $50,000 and more were received regularly. The money came for “the starving people in Africa, the flood victims in Bangladesh , or the poor children in India. Most of the money sat in our bank accounts.”

The donations, she continues, rolled in but had no effect on the lives of the poor. A degrading spirit of poverty was maintained in the organisation. In Haiti , the sisters re-used needles until they became blunt. Seeing the pain they caused, some volunteers offered to procure more needles, but the sisters refused. The issue here may be more serious that the pain caused to the recipients of charity - an honest investigation is required into the endemic spread of certain diseases in poor parts of the globe, diseases through which White Western pharmaceutical companies are earning literally billions and trillions of dollars annually. And they are using WTO to prevent the manufacture and sale of cheap bulk drugs!

Even food was not purchased for the poor if local merchants did not give it free, when the organisation sat on hefty resources. Everyone was used as a resource - airlines were requested to fly sisters and air cargo free; hospitals and doctors asked to absorb costs of treatment for the sisters; workmen asked not to take payment; etc. Shields found it nauseating that she wrote thousands of letters to donors assuring them that their entire gift would be used for the benefit of the poorest of the poor. When it became too much, she had to quit.

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