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Conversion - cause of all trouble

Conversion - cause of all trouble

Author: A.R. Kanangi
Publication: Afternoon Despatch & Courier
Date: July 1, 2000

After a meeting with prime minister A.B. Vajpayee, Pope John Paul II told a gathering at St. Peter's square that in Indonesia some 4000 Christians and Muslims have been killed in communal violence.

The Pope referred to Christian attacks in India and said reports from India were "alarming after many attacks were made against Christians".

The Pope however did not tell the gathering how many Christians had died in the attacks in India.

If he had revealed the actual number of those killed, he would have made no impact.

Not even a dozen persons have been killed in the "alarming" attacks on Christians.

Someone bad, someone interested is exaggerating the happening, giving the Pope wrong information.

The Christians in India have always been safe, they are safe now and they will always be safe. The tolerant Hindu is not anti-Christian.

But an impression is being created abroad that Christians are being persecuted in India. Minor incidents are being blown-up. The Christian leaders have been irresponsible. Some of them have been shouting from housetops that Christians are in danger.

Religious freedom

Ask any ordinary Christian citizen in India, in Mumbai, whether he has ever felt insecure. Is any Christian being prevented from doing his own thing? Because he had wrong information, the Pope thought that he had the right to ask prime minister Vajpayee to "work for religious freedom in India".

In no country in the world is religious freedom available to people as it is in India. There are dozens of faiths which all coexist. The Pope who recently apologised to the, Jews for the barbaric manner Christians persecuted them for decades, is perhaps not aware that India is the only country where Jews have not been persecuted. The Jews have built synagogues all over the country and are- practising their religion in total freedom. When Parsis - victims of Islamic hatred - sought refuge in India, a Hindu King gave them shelter. And ever since, they have been practising, their religion in total freedom. There are hundreds of tribals who have their own gods and they are all free to do what they like. When India was partitioned, hundreds of churches in Pakistan were destroyed. And which are the churches destroyed in recent attacks? Some bamboo structure put up dubious missionaries with a programme for conversion. Has a single proper church solid and standing for decades been attacked?

There is no attack on Christians in India.

Prime minister should have placed facts before the Pope. He has chosen not to do so perhaps for diplomatic reasons. He wanted to win over the European Union. The next chairman of the powerful prosperous EU will be Portugal - a Catholic country. Mr. Vajpayee's European visit includes Portugal too.

And what is quite hilarious is some ambassadors and politicians of developed countries are also voicing their "concern for the poor, persecuted Christians. How come they are publicly expressing their sympathy? When Dalits are butchered in India, nobody is bothered. How come they regard Christians as their own kith and kin?

What is also quite amazing is the role played by the media - the television, the newspapers, magazines. They have been responsible in no small measure in distorting the picture. They are attacking the BJP government and they have been saying that the BJP is indirectly responsible for the so-called attacks on Christians because it belongs to the sangh parivar which has such "aggressive" Hindu organisations like the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. When Graham Staines was murdered, the immediate conclusion was that Bajrang Dal did it. Subsequent investigations clearly showed that the Dal was not even remotely connected with it. When the Christian principal of a school was killed by criminals, a big noise was made and accusing fingers were pointed at the sangh parivar. It has now been revealed that the motive for the murder was robbery. But it is too late, the news has spread that the murder was by "Hindu fanatics". Nobody wants to highlight the later findings. It is convenient - more sensational perhaps - to make out that the principal was a victim of communal violence.

Thousands of women in our country are raped every year. There are animals among men in all parts of the country, all parts of the world. This is a horrible crime. When a Christian sister is raped, the conclusion is immediate that a Hindutva fanatic is behind it. They do not wait till investigations are completed. A communal angle is given to it. And of course, the rapist of a Christian sister cannot be anyone but a Bajrang Dal or VHP or Vidyarthi Parishad activist.

Yes, it is a fact that the Bajrang Dal and the VHP have decided to stop conversions. If this is what the Pope objects, if this is what makes the Pope say there is no religious freedom in India, he is right. For nearly two centuries, conversions have been going on in this country - without let or hindrance. There was keen competition between the Catholic church and Protestant church and between them they were able to convert lakhs of hapless people. All Christians were a few years ago mostly Hindus and some Muslims. Before the European conquest of India, there were only a handful of Christians in the country. By using force, by trickery and treachery, by dangling baits, by offering means of sheer survival, by false propaganda, the missionaries from Netherlands, from Spain, Portugal and Italy, from Germany and England converted Christians.

Most of the missionaries have run away after independence.

But they will not give up. A lot of money is coming from abroad. Indian agents of foreign missionaries are carrying on. Under the guise of helping leprosy patients, providing education or medical facilities, the missionaries continue their nefarious work. They go to tribal areas because the poor tribal folks are all illiterate and gullible and it is easy to convert them.

There is a string attached to all the charity work they do.

If they are sincere about helping people, nobody will object. They have however a sinister purpose. Graham Staines was a good missionary, but in addition to doing leprosy work, he was also engaged in conversion programme.

Help the poor, conduct programmes of charity, spread the message of love, but do not baptise people.

All be well if conversions stop.

This is an issue which the Christian leaders should seriously think about. The Bajrang Dal or the VHP are not fanatic, they will however not allow conversion anymore.

Converting anyone by force, deceit, or treachery or temptation is a heinous crime. The claim by Christian missionaries that they are -only voluntary conversions is a big he.

Dangerous agenda

The Hindus do not want anyone to convert to Hinduism. Jews, Parsis are not interested in converting people. Entry into a Parsi agiary is prohibited to members of other communities. Nobody can become a Hindu or a Parsi. He has to be born a Hindu or Parsi.

And how have Parsis fared in India? Have they had any problem with the majority community. They are a. prosperous and progressive lot. They have made a mark in every field. They are loved, respected and admired.

By sticking to conversion agenda, the Christian church is endangering its flock. It should abandon it.

Mr. Vajpayee should have been more explicit. The BJP leaders should not be on the defensive when they are accused of attacks on Christians. They should correct the tarnished image. They should take a positive attitude about conversions. No explanation is necessary.

They should just tell the church crusaders: Enough is enough. Stop it.

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