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And threats from America and sermons from Pakistan - The Observer

S Gurumurthy ()
January 19, 1999

Title: And threats from America and sermons from Pakistan
Author: S Gurumurthy
Publication: The Observer
Date: January 19, 1999

The Pope is concerned about the "attacks on the Christians in
India." The Americans are even thinking of sanctions against
India for "repression" of Christians. A West German minister
says that the anti-Christian incidents in India have caused a
"dent in the image of India" as a tolerant nation.

The Canadian Government is "concerned."' its Ambassador is
"seeking meetings" with the VHP to get explanations. The
Christian nations are trying to get Kofi Annan, the chief of the
United Nations, to "intervene to stop the persecution of
Christians" in India. Last, Pakistan is also "concerned" about
the "security" of the Christians in India. It is as if India is

Yet, not a word of protest from India or Indians - neither the
Indian Government nor the Indian polity nor the Indian press has
taken exception to such blatant intervention by these
international forces in a matter which hardly merits
international attention. Granting that it does, see what a self-
respecting country, which perceives such international attention
as intervention in its affairs, reacts.

When the Americans murmured about action against China under the
International Freedom of Religion Law, saying that China was
repressing the religious rights of Christians, China did not
merely protest, but warned the Americans not to meddle in
China's internal affairs using the pretext of religion. This
happened hardly a week back. See the contrast in India. India
has not reacted to American interference.

Why is that the Gujarat incidents do not deserve international
attention, and certainly not international comment or criticism?
Because the Gujarat incidents are at best a clash between
converted and non-converted tribals. It was not a case of the
brute Hindu majority chasing a hapless minority of Christians
which needs the attention of the Pope in Rome. or the Americans
in Washington or of the distinguished Christian member nations
of the United Nations.

Even if, theoretically, the brute majority of Hindus from all
over India descend on the Dangs and chase the Christians away,
India would still be different from China, because, in India,
there is a functioning democracy and a Constitution with a
judiciary which has expressly held that the minorities have
special rights which even the majority don't have.

It is only where there are no civil liberties or a free
Constitution to safeguard the rights of minorities, as in China,
that international criticism or comment is justified.

By this criteria, even though China deserves to be commented
upon, it does not allow intervention by America. The reason is
obvious. No nation can allow, even remotely, an intervention by
other nations in its internal affairs.

In the case of the Dangs incidents. there is absolutely no scope
or justification for intervention by any forces, religious or
political, from abroad. In fact, according to the statement of
Gandhians on oath, the clash was more due to the provocative
conduct of the Christian missionaries and a reaction of the
uncoverted to the actions of the missionaries. The fact remains
that not a drop of blood of either the Christians or other was
shed in the Gujarat incidents. No mentionable property loss was
reported. And yet the matter has been blown out of all

There are two reasons for why a marginal issue like Dangs has
been blown out of all proportion. First, the Church in India is
still controlled by foreign countries.

Second, the Church in India wields influence disproportionate to
the numerical strength of the Christian community in India.

Let us take the first aspect. In India, we have churches under
the domain of all countries except India itself. There is no
Indian national church. The only effort to indigenise the
Indian church was made by a nationalist Christian leader
Archbishop Dr J S Williams. He pleaded with Pandit Nehru that
the church buildings and the land owned by the British
Government in India should be handed over to an Indian National

But, in what was regarded as a secret deal at that time, the
Government handed over all Government church property and land
worth several thousand crores today - to the Church of England.
This was on April 1, 1948.

Till now, there is no explanation as to why the Government did
that. Williams later pleaded with Nehru's successor, Lal
Bahadur Shastri, who, in his short tenure, would only declare
the Indian National Church as India's indigenous organisation.
It's a pity that a highly indigenised Christian community in
India has to be led by foreign churches which have their own

The second aspect - that the Church wields disproportionate
influence - is admitted in a publication of the Church itself.
In the book Integral Mission Dynamics: An Inter-disciplinary
Study (published by Intercultural Publications, New Delhi) the
church authorities have admitted "the indirect impact of
Christianity on Indian society cannot be measured easily.

For example, there an 29 civil districts with a Christian
population of 10 per cent or more.

Nearly 15 per cent of the school children in India study in
Christian schools and 10 per cent of the university students
study in Christian colleges.

In a similar way, 14 per cent of the health services in the
country are under the Christian management.

Therefore, the numerical Christianity is not indicative of its
real influence in Indian affairs.

One can understand how with its foreign roots the Christian
establishment can - and does - influence the course of events in

Again thanks to the mindless policy of allowing foreign
missionaries, the church has virtually had a licence to carry on
indiscriminate conversions in the most vulnerable and security
risk areas of the country something which it would never have
been allowed to do in another country.

The Christian population in Nagaland which was 46 per cent in
1951 increased to 88 per cent in 1991 in Meghalaya in increased
from 35 per cent to 67 per cent; in Manipur from 12 per cent to
34 per cent: in Mizoram from 46 per cent to 88 per cent and from
nothing to 11 per cent in Arunachal Pradesh.

The same book, Integral Mission Dynamics, explains how this
happened. It says, "Independence of India was a boon to the
Roman Catholic Church in Assam."

"New, areas like Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram were gradually
thrown open to the Catholic missionaries ...... the 1960s and
the 1970s witnessed a phenomenal growth of the church in North-
east India, and the region ceased to be purely a mission
territory that had been entrusted to a Salesian congregation,
but became to full-fledged ecclesiastical province".

(Ecclesiastical is a derivative of the Greek term Ecclasia which
means political assembly).

Pregnant world indeed. In simple language, what it says is that
the conversions have reached a scale where the region remains no
more a place for social service, it has become a political
assembly of Christians .

This is what is meant by the term ecclestiatical province.

It is with the rise of the ecclesiastical province the
ecclesiastical province the largescale - insurgency and
terrorism arose in the North-east.

In their memorandum to the Prime Minister, the stated, "the more
disturbing fact is that conversions breed extra-territorial
loyalties. It is sad to see the people of this country looking
to other countries for warmth, security and protection. It
creates a sort of crevice in the emotional and real integrity of

What the Gandhians have said about Dangs district, which is not
in any border area, applies with million times the force in the

Is it not intriguing that no church leader of consequence has
ever condemned the insurgency in the North-east?

Even different political parties and their leaders dare not
speak against the activities of the church in the North-east
because of the extra-numerical influence of the church.

Even the Press has equated secularism with not protesting
against the activities of the missionaries in the north-east.

Such Christian separatist movements in the North-east have gone
so obviously unprotested by the mainline polity and the Press
that it has infected and encouraged even the unconverted tribals
to choose insurgency.

It is an open secret that the missionaries are actively
assisting Bodo militancy.

But contrary to its equivocal position even in matters of
insurgency, the foreign-funded church positions itself as an
institution promoting peace.

In the context of the Dangs issue, an Archbishop has said, "Even
though they are attacked, the Christians will not react; they
will pray even for those who attack them."

What appears utterly noble is sheer duplicity.

First, he suppresses the fact that the converted tribals in
Dangs have attacked the non-converts which led to reaction from
the latter.

Second, he has portrayed all Christian missionaries in Indian as
non-violent as if they are in the tradition of Jesus who asked
Christians to show the other cheek, if they are slapped on one.

Here, the Archbishop completely sweeps under the carpet the
violence with guns unleashed by the different Christian outfits
in the North-east, not only against non-Christian tribals, but
also against each other.

How does turning the other cheek match with the guns in

Why does the Christians establishment in India maintain such a
deafening silence about the violence in the North-east where the
Christian majority ranges from 67 per cent to 88 per cent which
area has been declared by the church itself as an ecclesiastical
province? It is not just a matter between the tribals. Because
the largest number of missionaries operating in the north-east
are from Kerala.

When the Indian Press does not report the truth, when Indian
politicians tell lies and the church in India deliberately
creates a fear psychosis among its adherents why will the Pope
not think that his followers are not safe in India, and why will
the Americans not think of putting some more pressure of India.
And this is precisely what emboldens even a bigoted Pakistan,
which has invoked blasphemy laws against Christians in that
country and recently witnessed half a dozen Christians being
axed and beheaded, to sermonise to us on how to treat

Again, look at how the Indian Embassy in Washington has to plead
before the American people "We are not slaughtering Christians,
believe us." Why will they believe the Indian Embassy when the
Press and politicians and the church in India have already
virtually pronounced that Christians are subject to a communal

Will the church in India ever ten the Americans to mind its
business and to shut up saying that this is a matter between two
brother communities in India. No, why? Because its precedes
the US only as a fellow Christians country, and because the US
too acts as only a Christian nation. Contrast it with how the
US merely shed crocodile tears for Bosnian Muslims who were
being butchered in the thousands by Christians. Not a drop of
Christian blood has been shed in Gujarat and the US talks of

Results: Threats from American and sermons from Pakistan in a
matter in which more lies than truth have been uttered. Will
the responsible leaders of the Christian community like
Archbishop Williams think?

Will the politicians limit their pursuit of votes within the
boundaries of India, and not let down the country before the
world? Will the media do its duty fairly so that as a nation we
can hold our head high?

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