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, January 19, 2008

Unholy ways of Holy Missionaries

by U. Mahesh Prabhu
1/14/2008 1:57:53 PM

On December 25th when the whole world was celebrating the birth of the Jesus Christ, churches were burning in Gujarat. As per confirmed estimates 11 churches had been burnt. On December 27th Religious leaders in the national capital expressed their anguish over the continuing attacks on the churches in Orissa, saying violence in any form in unacceptable. But something that which really bothered me was one of the statements, by Swami Shantatmanand – Secretary of Ramakrishna Mission in New Delhi – published in Indian Express that which read ‘Hinduism teaches us to respect and acknowledge the validity of all other religion.’ I am yet to understand as to why was he saying so? Or what made him to make that statement? Is he trying to portray that some Hindus had done those deeds? But how can you say without investigation is complete and report is out?

Reports do say that the attacks on Churches had begun on Christmas after assault on a VHP leader and until today 11 Churches and prayer houses were ransacked and torched by ‘suspected saffron activists’ in several areas of Kandhamal districts in Orissa. But who attacked the VHP leader? It isn’t clear. Overall for many people the situation may just look, as if, ‘VHP people had attacked in response to the assault on their leader’. That’s simply not it. But, there is more to it.

Recently I happened to read Edward Gibbons ‘Decline and Fall of Roman Empire’. In the book he makes observation on early Christians and their tactics for conversion. Here he quotes a Roman proconsul who wrote that Christians have a very effective method of getting noticed and portraying themselves as ‘Victims’ in order to advance their cause. Whenever, a minute transgression or even an attempt is made to implement law against them they make such a fuss and in such a rowdy manner that one would think that a ‘great injustice’ had been committed to them.

Christianity does not have a notable reputation for tolerance and respect for other religions. ‘The Christian need to convert the entire world’ has been an historical obsession that continues in major Christian fundamentalist groups even today, both Protestant and Catholic. The Christian Missionary’s failure to honor other religions, particularly non-biblical traditions, is well known, with Christians still denigrating the sophisticated yogic traditions of Asia as mere superstition, idolatry and polytheism. Christian missionaries have had a reputation for using methods to promote conversion that are not always honest, including employing military and political force during the colonial era. Their targeting of the poor and illiterate for conversion shows that they don’t like open debates in the light of the day. Yet Christians like to ignore such inconvenient facts while posing as peaceful people concerned with human welfare, not with conversion. They are surprised if members of other religion are suspicious of them, even if they look at these religions and condemn them as works of the Devil. They feel easily hurt and insulted should anyone question their motives.

In the modern secular world, Christians along with Muslims, now demand conversion as a democratic right, even though their religion is authoritarian, and not democratic, accepting only one way, and not honoring pluralism in approaching the Divine. They offer no freedom of choice about the ‘savior’ or the book or the creed that can bring salvation and there is little tolerance for those who choose another way outside their faith. Europe had to reject the church and Christian dogma in order to become democratic over the past several centuries, considering this; Christian churches are the last people on earth who should be talking about ‘democratic rights’. It is merely a smokescreen for promoting their own agendas, spreading their authoritarian and exclusivist beliefs, recklessly eliminating other cultures and religions along the way.

Years before there were serial church bombings in South India. It proved that the charges made by Christian leaders against Hindu organizations for the bombings were unfounded, if not malicious. However instead of admitting their mistake Christian leaders and organizations started a propaganda campaign, again blaming the Hindu organizations for ‘creating an atmosphere’ that led to these crimes! The arrests in this regard, in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, had shown that Deendal Anjuman, a Muslim organization led by a Pakistani National was behind most of the bomb blasts and attacks on Christian groups in South India. The Christian response has been to ignore or deny the report, though it is quite well documented and occurred in states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, not ruled by the so called ‘Hindu BJP’. For further details, I suggest you to, read ‘Church Blasts: Truth and Propaganda’ by S Y Seshagiri Rao.

Christians in India, who exaggerate such minor incidents into a National or International anti-Hindu propaganda, somehow never speak of the fact that ‘More churches have been burnt in America in recent years than in India. Several dozen black American churches were burnt to the ground. Christian priests and ministers are also robbed, assaulted and sometimes killed in all Western countries in numbers not unlike what occurs in India. We should note that many more priests in America have been arrested for sexual molestation of children than have priests been assaulted in India. Should we use that to make conclusions about the nature of Christianity?

Did you know the fact that many more pagans were killed by Christians, and thousands of pagan temples were destroyed throughout Europe? The great Greek (Neo Platonic) Academy in Alexandria was destroyed and its scholars like Hypatia killed by Cyril – ‘Saint Cyril’. The number of Native Americans killed or forcibly converted by Catholics was also in the many millions, and yet the Catholics emphasize a few priests martyred by Native Americans as being the real victims. Such and more are stories of ‘Christian Oppression’.

Hinduism is a religion of openness. We appreciate all gods and deities. We have never said that we are the ‘only way’ like many of the Semitic faiths. We have no problems acknowledging greatness of Allah, Jehovah or Jesus. We have done that many a times. Didn’t we? But Christian missionaries have, instead, used it as a pretext to promote Christian superiority, not to reciprocate with honoring Hinduism and its sages and yogis. They say Christ must be great because Hindus honor him. They don’t honor Hindu teachers in return. The hypocrisy of the whole thing is easy to see. It shows the condescending attitude towards Hindus, thinking that they can bully them or appeal to their tolerance by a feigned persecution. It wholly proves that Christians Missionaries are still promoting a medieval religion that will not honor other religions and is still seeking world domination by any means fair or foul. If we count the victims of Christian aggression on one side and the Christian themselves who have been victimized we will find that the victims of Christianity are overwhelming in the majority. While some Christians have apologized to African and Native American groups for such missionary misdeeds, the Hindus have so far not received any such apology, though they have suffered from the same methods. The reason is that the missionaries have not yet triumphed in India. The apology, like crocodile tears, comes only after the victim is dead.

I would trust those missionaries only if they say that Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and other Indian religions are as good as Christianity. Let Christians say clearly that members of other religions will not go to hell but will gain immortality in the presence of God by following what is good in their own teachings.

Writes David Frawley ‘As a former Catholic I know in what little esteem the Church holds Hinduism and Buddhism with all their great sages and yogis. Christianity, like Islam, sees tolerance not as a virtue to be emulated but as a weakness to be exploited. Were Christians really to honor Hinduism as a valid religion all Hindu-Christian hostility could easily come to an end. As long as Christians hold that their alone is the True Faith and are working to convert the members of other religion in one way or another, they should not be surprised if members of other religions do not welcome their presence.’ In his book ‘The Missionary Ploy.’

It is only a matter of time before Missionary Christianity is seen for what is imperialism in the name of God and Christ, the proverbial wolf in the sheep’s clothing. It is a political, worldly movement with little spirituality in it. Unfortunately such Christians confuse the real Divine work, which is improving us through introspection, with the institutional work of imposing a single belief upon all humanity. This political view of religion has no place in global age of consciousness that is dawning in enlightened minds all over the world today. The quicker it comes to an end, the better it will be for all of humanity.

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1 Comments:

At 2/11/2008 11:46:00 PM, Anonymous M Balakrishnan said...

'Christianity, like Islam, sees tolerance not as a virtue to be emulated but as a weakness to be exploited' says Dr Frawley, and that says all. Now this is very, very true. Plus, what he could have added, is the fact that Hinduism is soaked in vital spirituality unlike Christianity (and Islam). Xianity distorts the soul of the Vedas, by distoring what the Vedas define as the 'soul' by equating it to the Biblical 'spirit' the 'ghost' or the devil in man which needs to be driven out by prayer to Jesus.

And, look at this interesting incident happening (end 2004)while I stayed in the US: Two young missionary propagandists, in their early 'twenties, maybe even younger, came to our house and showed us a number of gospel/Christian books. My son-in-law had wanted me not to permit absolutely any uninvited guests barring close relatives and friends. But since I was impressed with the innocence of these two youth, as I saw them through the open glass door on the sides, I let them in, at my discretion.

You know the aim of missionary work there, as in India, is to target at the Hindus for conversion, since an average Hindu, and pretty much the vast sections of poor people among them, are quite transparently tolerant and broad-minded to treat Jesus Christ as a good man, indeed adding him as one more to the list of the numerous Hindu saints of the past. To which the young men said, Jesus has pointed out there are fakes who will mislead quoting God's messages for their own evil ends. To this, I clarified to them that he was just referring to fakes who did not believe in even the ordinary messages of love, truth, and the like. He would be committing a fallacy to say sages other than himself were all fakes, since any fake, and not just genuine saints, can say this too. I pointed out that like Jesus, many Vedic sages too have cautioned against evil wearing the garb of the religious, just to cheat and steal the material belongings of those who were attracted to him, the Devil.

Well, as the young men started suggesting regular reading of these books - and demanding more of them from them after finishing them - I said I had quite a few books when I had received as I exited through the portals of the Madras Univeristy at the time of my Convocation with my MSc diploma in statistics long ago. I had gone through those books, and that was enough for me as I had found that the universal essentials of all religious were there, too - love, charity, compassion, truthfulness, and the like. And long ago, I concluded that our Vedic wisdom had soared far higher, or beyond, than just these few 'atma gunas' which no doubt are essential as an aid to realize the ideal - perpetual,durable, ever-lasting - bliss which only comes when you realize, along with your individual self's involvement, with the universal self or cosmic consciousness which is all-pervading, and transcendent of time and space constraints by which mere human 'mind' is insuperably conditioned.

I pointed out this truth to the young men, gently suggesting that they should do a little East-turn, in particular Hinduism, maybe, after, if they will, looking at Buddhism. Buddhism, with its 'niraatma' vaada, really does NOT oppose or deny the self and the universal conscious, for Siddhartha Gautama Buddha was steeped in the Upanishadic wisdom. But Buddhism is satisfied with the 'mind' as 'adequate' for 'this' world, maintaining that there would be enough work in this world for ensuring control of mind and the anger, lust, and other vices that bring misery and disease to man. He probably was the first evangelic in the world. But as we today, evangelism of Xian or other variety produces much more crime through lack of spirituality than peace and joy through satisfaction of material wants. To insist that first the physical needs are to be met, and then only spirituality can follow, if it should, is not true religion, it is, in the final analysis, no different from the materialistic philosophy of the economists who keep out true happiness, which can only be materialism fused with spirituality, from their domain of study.

And I added that I love Jesus, as I do the hundreds of Hindu saints who adumbrated profound Vedic religio-philosophical insights (together referred to as Hinduism which, as I told them, is NOT a denominational, proselysing, divisive 'religion' in the Western sense, which has all the potential for fundamentalism and fanaticism going to the extent of violence in the form of crusades doing mental and spiritual violence, or Jihads doing crude physical violence).

The Vedic insights I said went much fartther than love, compassion, conscience, God as a personal entity for both man and what he considers his enemies, ... These Atma Gunas are ESSENTIAL aid in realizing God's presence in life in a personal way, but without contemplation of the universal self, all powerful and omnipresent, these qualities can just go take one to materialistic borders and not beyond. This part, of Atma Gunas, formed just the first part, the Karma Kanda of the Vedas. The identification of the soul in all men with the universal consciousness formed the core principle of the Upanishads, the latter part of the Vedas known as the Jnana Kaanda. And that is how Hinduism is referred to as THE universal and eternal religion, applicable at all times and for all humanity, indeed all ecology, and all cosmos and not just the earth. That is what attracted the profoundest thinkers of the West and the East alike, including some scientists, to the universal message of Hinduism for real solace, which is just not possible for other religions differently "conceived".

I continued, and the men were not just patient, but highly interested as I went on: Hinduism was not a one man's "concept", unlike Nabi's Islam, or Jesus's Xianity, for instance, as his apostles or first disciplies made out. It was the collective wisdom handed down by Rishis through periods that cannot be dated with carbon dating methods, to which Jesus and Nabi, or other religious progenitors are being subjected.

Instead of waiting for their feedback, at that point, I told them spreding the message of Christ is okay, rather like science adn technology advances are. But to combine this act with allurements for the poor as Jesus' direct gifts for driving out their poverty, and fraudulent shows of miracle cures of the diseased, and then to demand a change of the victim's name and religion through 'conversion' was unacceptable at least in today's world, which supports huge populations of people profession every one of the religions, denominational ones and the rest including what the missionaries condemnably refer to as 'native' or 'primitive' beliefs, paganism, and so forth.

I ENDED MY CONVERSATION WITH THE YOUNG MEN SAYING THAT I COULD GUESS THEY ARE 'REQUIRED' TO DO A BIT OF THIS PROPAGANDA IN RETURN FOR THE EDUCATION THEY MUST HAVE GOT WITH MISSIONARY ASSISTANCE. They agreed. I then suggested that they should call it off, and try looking into the real philosophy of life, and beyond, which is available only in the Vedic truths which were 'seen' (or perceived) by the Rishis through ages, whose collective whole is called Hinduism. And no religion, not Hinduism either, can AFFORD to preach hatred, theft, and the like! The young men did not say a word, openly, at this suggestion, but I could see that they understood my pity for their being held captive by the missionaries preventing them in their spiritual development. This I understood from their not exxhibiting any signs of frowns or resentment at my suggestion. I am sure they would look at the eternal wisdom of the East, and probably delve deep into it, like those thousands of honest seekers of truth even scholars do in the West do. Their approving looks suggested their okay to my suggestion. I said I would read the books handed to me, just for a little refreshing of my mind on the fables of truth read by me from the Convocation day distribution, and return. The young men said no need to return, keep them yourself sir, for reading. I said they should study Hindu religion and philosophy from authentic sources, such as some genuine Gurus who were already there in the US. No proselytization, no conversion, is a tenet of the Vedic religion, which aims at genuine solace, the life-sustaining message which promises (a) life on earth (Iha) [to mutual benefit ahd harmony amidst humanity and ecology]; [b] Beyond (Para) since the soul never dies but assumes different forms after the physical frame separates from it.

As indeed not expected by me, they did not 'assure' me openly that they would carry out my suggestion - they had to appear 'loyal' to the Church that fed them until the bond period was over.

 

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