Yvette Rosser's letters to National Public Radio
During NPR's Morning Edition broadcast on Friday, November 5th, 1999, there were three separate pieces about the Pope's journey to India, including a short news flash, repeated several times, informing us that the Pope, whose three day visit is meant to "strengthen cooperation among religions" was facing protests from Hindu extremists. This ominous news flash, on the Morning Edition loop, alerted the listeners more than once that fanatical Hindu fundamentalists are protesting the Pontiff's good will tour. One journalist, Vir Singh, explained that Hindus are demanding the Pope apologize for centuries of "forced conversions," though neither he, not any other newsperson covering the story thought it necessary to discuss the basis of these demands.
The piece by Michael Sullivan, the NPR correspondent in New Delhi was sensationalist and could have been written by Pat Robertson who is a dedicated and seasoned Hindu-basher. There was an interview with nuns who fear that, after the Pope's visit, they will be "targeted" by the threatening Hindus who have set fire to Christian schools from "village to village." And an interview with a Hindu fundamentalist vowing to forcibly reconvert local tribals who had recently become Christians--he is described as sitting under, of all things, a poster of Krishna.
However, according to these inflammatory reports from NPR it is obvious that Christianity is in grave danger in Hindu India, where fanatical Hindus rule. In the last couple of years there have been conflicts between members of hard-line Hindu groups and Christian missionaries in the Dangs region of Gujarat, as well as the tragic attack in Orissa on the Australian missionary and his sons. Violence is *never* to be condoned. However, these incidents are inevitably reported from not only a Christic-centric perspective, but with an anti-Indian slant, and with no reference to the politics of conversions in the Subcontinent. Conversions are part and parcel of the Christian worldview. . . negatively appraising missionary activities is nonsequitor.
One notable example of this slanted journalism can be recalled in the coverage of the rape of several Christian nuns in Madhya Pradesh last spring. The international media immediately picked up on the story, reporting with the same anti-Hindu bias that was evident in NPR's pieces on Friday morning. In the case in Madhya Pradesh, a subsequent criminal investigation found that the nuns had been raped by men from a rival Christian group, not by Hindus, as originally reported. There was, of course, no international media attention to this interesting fact. . . when Hindus attack Christians it is news but when Christians attach each other it is rather boring. (This may be a weak critique since the press is notorious for reporting sensational crimes and ignoring acquittals.)
In the Dangs region of rural Gujarat, a large portion of the inhabitants are Adivasis or tribals. There has, over the last few decades, been a concerted effort by evangelical Christian groups to convert the Adivasis in this area. Many unethical methods have been used to save the souls of these simple rural folk. One tactic is to throw a stone statue of the Hindu God Hanuman in a pond along with a wooden crucifix. The Adivasis are told that the Christian God is more powerful because he floats to the top and Hanuman sinks to the bottom. Adivasis and others, are offered free tuition at the Christian schools and free medical care at the hospitals, if they convert. These schools and hospitals, funded by donations from Christian organizations abroad, certainly offer important services in an impoverished remote area. However, it is the mocking derogatory rhetoric that accompanies Christian conversion propaganda which is disturbing to many Hindus.
If you have ever seen one of Pat Robertson's anti-Hindu television programs, and for that matter, they are anti-Buddhist as well, you will know the demeaning and disrespectful way in which Hindu and Buddhist traditions and beliefs are treated in fundamentalist Christian rhetoric - where Hindus are described as superstitious pagans who worship demons. Since the 16th century, the work of the innumerable groups of Christian missionaries seeking to convert the heathen Hindus has cost the equivalent of billions upon billions of dollars. I remember in Sunday School at my grandparents' Baptist Church there were special collections to raise money to help the missionaries in India bring the message of Jesus to the pagan Hindus. In my own Catechism class we were told that Hindus must unfortunately go to hell because they do not accept Jesus as the only God. The Christian West has been fed on a steady diet of anti-Hindu rhetoric for over three hundred years. It is no wonder that NPR can conjure up Hindu extremists who are burning and pillaging in connivance with the Hindu nationalist government, without feeling any responsibility to discuss the basic assumptions inherent in missionary activity.
It is interesting to note that the Vatican requested permission for the Pope to visit China, Bangladesh, Taiwan and Sri Lanka on his Asian tour, but they refused. It was Hindu majority India, it the grips of the Hindu nationalist government, that allowed the Papal visit. The Pope was not there to honor the traditions of the "East" he came to launch his new activities that aim at the evangelization of Asia. Those Hindu zealots in New Delhi allowed him to do so. In fact, India is one of the few countries that recognizes the Pope as a head of state. The United States and most Western countries recognize the Pope only as a religious leader. The Pope did not go to India as a political leader but as a religious leader. The Catholic Church has a long and self-proclaimed policy of evangelization or conversion and a special Asia synod to convert Asia. The Pope came to convert Hindus, not to show respect to an ancient and rich civilization. He was on a mission from God to bring more Hindu souls to Christ. He was not on a Dharmic Yatra visiting the ancient Tirthas.
There is also, as usual, a socio-political aspect to the Pope's desire to convert Asia. The Catholic Church has lost most of its power in the West. In general, Catholics are only nominal in their beliefs, with many American Catholics practicing birth control, getting divorced and then, with a convenient annulment, remarried--all these practices are banned by the Church in Rome. Most, though philosophically connected with their Catholic roots, don't attend church on a regular basis. It is significant that the average age of priests and nuns is about sixty and few younger people joining the orders. It is clearly an institution in decline. Without replenishing its population base it is facing a severe crisis. India offers perhaps the best possibility for doing this with a large population with a history of religious devotion and monastic activity that could readily become priests and nuns.
Cabbages & Kings: The Pope lets down secularists by V.P. Bhatia, Organiser Volume LI, No. 17 on November 21, 1999
By brazenly proclaiming India as the launching pad for Christianity in Asia, the Pope has exposed himself as a Wolf in Sheep's clothing.Pope's Fundamentalist Agenda by N.S. Rajaram, Organiser Volume LI, No. 17 on November 21, 1999
"HE CAME, HE SAW, HE CONQUERED the secular State". Or at least so he imagined. This should be the apt description of the last week's imperialist invasion of India by the Roman Catholic Supremo who heads a totalitarian organisation as bigoted and insidious as the once mighty Soviet Union, which is supposed to have disintegrated by the crusading buffeting of the Polish pontiff himself. It is another matter, that he proved to the hilt the VHP charges regarding the contents of the 140-page offensive agenda presented to his slavish frock at St. Thomas' Cathedral in New Delhi on Saturday, November 6.
In any case, taking full advantage of the customary hospitality due to the head of a state, the puffed up religious crusader lost no time in casting off his deceptive mask and went ahead with his real business of exhorting his flock in unambiguous strident tones to get ready to wage a decisive war of conversions on the Asian people. Which made most thinking people wonder why at all he was permitted to make secular India a launching pad for his offensive campaign of establishing Christian hegemony over the native faiths of Asia. Or, why in God's name was he allowed to hold the concluding session of the Asian Synod of Bishops from the Indian soil. For, that was the real Unsecular aim for which he chose to come here.
Abuse of Indian hospitality
His evangelical offensive was of course accompanied by left-handed compliments to Indian tolerance and condescending character certificates to Indian secularism, valid only so long as the Indian soft state facilitates his mission of undermining itself by allowing the missionary predators to carry on the old heinous game of preying on its unwary populace.
Obviously, the Pope's religious regalia and the panoply and the attendant deceptive noises of promoting peace and amity through religious dialogue did disarm a section of the media, experts in ever-obliging and soft pedalling all anti-Hindu causes, so that some of them were too motivated or confused to call a spade a spade. But the Popish militancy was so overt in emphasising the supreme evangelical mission even by branding the new millenium as the millenium of �Christian conquest of Asia�, that some of them did perforce report a mailed warrior behind the lily white cassock, a veritable wolf in sheep's clothing. As The Statesman's headline put it, "Conversion is a basic Christian tenet", said the Pope, as he even went to the extent of appealing for unity of all Christian sects to achieve this object.
Take a few other newspaper headlines of November 7 which did report the Pope's true intent while some unsuccessfully tried to put a gloss over his anti-secular thrust under a secular veneer, to cover up their embarrassment at the Pope's shock therapy to perfidious secularists.
"Spread Christianity in Asia" said a frontpage headline of The Pioneer, reporting the Pope's blunt message. "Affirming superiority of the Christian faith, the Vatican head asked the Bishops in India to spread Christianity across Asia even as he demanded that freedom of belief and worship be respected everywhere in the continent", said the body of the same paper's report. Of course, he had China and Taiwan in mind who had refused to let him in to broadcast the sinister message. The Indian Express made up for its lukewarm report about the Pope's �between the lines� message by a powerful editorial two days later (November 9) entitled "Christ in Asia--Motivated dialogue is no dialogue Your Holiness".
The Asian Age had a rather more pointed report elaborating its banner headline of "CONVERT ASIA NEXT : POPE". However, while the Muslim editor of the same paper went on to peddle learned arguments in defence of individual conversion in his Sunday column in the same issue, in an editorial two days later, it excelled its part record in pouring vicious abuse on the �saffron brigade� to hide its discomfiture and frustration at the fact that the Pope had destroyed the secular argument that not the Hindus but the Christians had been at the receiving end in India since Vasco da Gama's days. This while even the body of the front page report on this Popish Plot said : "Evangelism had to be an �absolute priority� for the church in Asia, the Pope said."
Obviously, such secularists consider mass missionary invasions for mass conversion as an individual human right. Whereas the Vatican sermon from the land of Machiavelli, beats even the most dare-devil, hard-boiled politicians in chicanery. As even the Hindustan Times recognised that the Pope had been insensitive to Indian sentiments by viewing to reap �the harvest of faith�. The fall-out, as the Star TV commentator said, is bound to be highly controversial.
IN ANY CASE, the most disconcerting feature of the Pope Paul II's recent, Diwali-eve visit to India has been to reveal the enormous clout that the foreign missionary class of the �miniscule� Christian community enjoys over our ultra-secular State even after the departure of the Christian-British rulers. It is obvious that the Pope's imperial-style visit was planned to coincide with the expected defeat of Vajpayee Government and installation of Vatican transplant Sonia Gandhi after the polls. It is another matter that the conspiracy went awry, despite the unprecedented hate campaign against BJP, joined in by all the overt and covert anti-Hindutva forces with massive input by the secularist media.
Thus while the imperious Pope proclaimed the Christian right to conversion from the country's capital itself, there were quite a few other assertions of an arrogant and impudent stance of the highly organised totalitarian Roman Catholic Church's big and small fry towards the BJP-led dispensation at the Centre. This was pointed out at a Star TV panel discussion which included a Christian bishop, a VHP leader and the Union Minister, Shri R. Kumaramangalam.
Kumaramangalam, in fact, had to pull up the bishop, flaunting a white frock of his religious order, for the latter's �sarcastic� reference to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Another sarcastic remark reported in Indian Express and India Today was made in full media view by the Archbishop of Delhi who �mimicked� Advani while reporting to the press his meeting with the Home Minister.
In the Star TV discussion Kumaramangalam had in fact to warn the Bishop not to go too far in deriding the Hindus' anti-conversion concern or to scoff at it as some of the bishop's co-religionists had been doing even in Parliament. For such provocative bid to assert their special claim to superior fundamental right of conversion through social service in selected poverty-ridden areas could lead to more severe backlash. This appalling poverty, incidentally, is a consequence of two pre-1947 predatory imperialisms--the Islamic and the British--followed by the post-independence dynastic one founded by Jawaharlal Nehru, aptly nicknamed as the Last Viceroy of India.
However, the tragedy is that even after independence, the British type of �secularism�, which while professing a neutral attitude towards all religious communities, exposed its heavy tilt towards the �minorities�, still reigns supreme. As everybody knows, this British tilt had horrendous consequences, culminating inevitably in the Partition of the hoary country. The irony is that it continues to play havoc even in the post-Partition.
British policy of making North-East special preserve of Christian missionaries continued by Pt. Nehru
IN HIS celebrated book India--From Curzon to Nehru (Collins, 1969) embodying memoirs of 50 years of his pioneering journalistic work and intimate contacts with almost all leaders of the freedom movement, including Jinnah and the British Viceroys, the late Durga Das, a former editor of The Hindustan Times makes two significant observations throwing a flood of light on the insidious nature of Christian missionary activities and their powerful clout in India both before and after independence in India.
The first relates to the stormy year of 1942 after the Cripps mission had failed to enlist the Congress support to set up a national government in lieu of its active cooperation in the war effort, as the Japanese were virtually knocking at the gates of India.
Consequently, one of the various formulas advanced for the breakup of India trotted out at that time to punish the �Hindu Congress� was that of Sir Reginald Coupland, a Professor of Oxford University who had spent the winter of 1941-42 in India at the instance of the die-hard Tory establishment and was later attached to Cripps Mission as unofficial adviser in March 1942.
Coupland's ingenious scheme consisted of break-up of the country into four broad geographical regions: the Indus basin, the Gangetic basin, the delta of Brahmaputra and the Deccan. Two of these were to have Hindu majority and two Muslim majority. The princely states were to have either a separate single dominion or several dominions of viable units. However, as Durga Das puts it,
"It is interesting to note that Coupland wanted a statutory guarantee for the continuance of the work of the Christian missions in the hill tracts of Assam (constituting present Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram etc. which were all part of Assam at that time)." This stipulation, says Durga Das, "lends weight to the suspicion that the present day movement for independence among a section of the Nagas and Mizos on the Assam borders is inspired by the missionaries". (P. 207)
The second observation in this context relates to Pt Nehru's continuation of the licence given to the missionaries by the British in framing of the Constitution of India. Says the eminent know-all journalist who was permitted daily evening meetings with Sardar Patel and weekly ones with Maulana Azad to exchange information, in this context :
"The Constitution-makers swept under the carpet the important matter relating to the scheduled tribes in the Assam hills in the North-east. They adopted a formula virtually placing the region outside the pale of normal union laws and administrative apparatus. Nehru did this on the advice of Christian missionaries. His colleagues in the top echelons let it pass, treating the matter, in the words of Maulana Azad, as �a Nehru fad�."
Thus like in Kashmir, Pt Nehru laid the foundation of secessionism in the North-east as well, by his pronounced pro-minority tilt at the cost of the national interests handed down by the British-brand of secularism.
Vatican remains intransigent while the Indian intelligentsia is not yet mature enough to face issues squarelyPope’s apology of an apology by R.C. Batura, The Organiser on April 23, 2000
The Godman of Rome
The Godman of Rome, who styles himself as the Holy Father, Vicar of Christ, Pontifex Maximums and so on and so forth, but better known as Pope John Paul II, came to India and went. His Holy Mass on amavasya (dark moon) was also symbolic of its message of medieval darkness, seething with intolerance and doublespeak, more of which later. His speech--read from a written text--was an exercise in inspired incoherence.
The conduct of the media was along predictable lines. The same people who clamoured for the Government to disown "fundamentalist" organisations like the VHP and the RSS did not see it fit to comment on the impropriety of extending a royal welcome to the chief of a fundamentalist religious organisation like the Vatican. The media by and large ignored the message of the Asian Bishops� Synod--that the Church remains as intransigent as ever as regards its main agenda, which is aggressive conversion activities in Asia. The synod report repeated verbatim the famous--or infamous--words of the previous Asian synod: "A great new harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent." The attitude of the Indian intelligentsia may be summed up : "The Vatican is a western institution and the Pope is is a westerner. We as Indians have no right either to criticize them or question their behavior. Our sole duty is to bow to him as our superior.
As far as the papal visit itself, what promised to be a bang ended in whimper. While we should be grateful to the Holy Father for demonstrating the aptness of Napoleon�s dictum--"From the sublime to the ridiculous is but one step", there is also a sinister side to the story. His spokesmen were intransigent, even insolent. There was no dilution of the Church�s fundamental claim that salvation is possible only through Jesus. To go with this, people who demanded a retraction of this absurdity were dubbed as fundamentalists, even by the largely secular western media. This shows that the secular-humanist west still views fundamentalism through Christian eyes. Although it might deride and reject Christian fundamentalism at home, when it comes to non-Christian countries, it views opposition to Christian aggression as fundamentalist. As a result, it sees the aspiration of the Hindus in their own country as fundamentalist. This suggests that the west has not yet grown out of tis colonial and sometimes racist mindset.
----------deleted--------Brazil's Indians Offended by Pope Comments by Raymond Colitt, washingtonpost.com
When he came to India in October 1999, Hindu leaders had asked for the Pope’s apology for atrocities committed by Catholics in India, especially the burning of alleged heretics by the Inquisition in Goa. But the Pope did not oblige. His aides and the local bishops had argued how far the Church could go back in the past. But, now, the Vatican has gone back right to the beginning of Christianity in order to placate the Jews and to a lesser extent the Muslims.
The, third-and by far the most important reason-is the Vatican’s ambitious programme of mass conversion during the third millennium, described by the Pope himself as the “great harvest of faith” in Asia, having already Christianised the. Americas and Africa in the first and second millenniums. In their zeal to Convert, the Christian hordes had destroyed whole races and tribes. Lakhs of Incas and Mayas in America were killed destroying their race. Innumerable Jews and Muslims were exterminated to secure the domination of the Christian gospel. Colonisation of Africa and Asia by European Christian invaders came handy to effect conversions through force, fraud, lurement and faith-healing. Interestingly this faith-healing continues till to-day. In a move with echoes of the Roman Catholic Church’s past, the Pope had on November 28, 1999, issued a Papal Bull reviving on a grand scale the practice of granting indulgences.
Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times Service has pointed out: “The Pope has repeatedly said that the new evangelisation he is calling for in the third millennium can only take place after what he has described as a Churchwide ‘purification of memory’ His effort to cleanse his Church’s conscience for the new millennium has already drawn criticism, but it is almost certain to deeply mark his legacy.
But it cannot really cover its dark spots. They show up now and then. In a message to the Christian community in Kerala, a Church pamphlet issued on 1-2-1999, called upon the Christian community thus:
“Our goal (is) to make Christian(ity) a global religion. We should have Christians as highest population in world. Our target is to convert 50,000 Indians every week into Christianity. Those who is helping in conversion can get full support of international community in terms of money and facility. We can give you any amount of dollars & pounds if you do good work for Christianity...’ Provide free Education, food, medicine, clothes and financial help, which Indian Government is not able to do. We are collecting money from all over, from the donors to help missionaries and motivate them by giving them good financial status and facilities. Rural and semi-urban places in India do not have good schools and institutions except low-rated government schools where medium of instruction is local language, and people badly in need of good schools and English medium are helpless. In such places our missionaries have good share and patronage of Christian schools and institutions from Indians. At such point we can exploit our target of making thousands of Christians. We can convert lot of Indian population into Christianity by individual canvassing, by reaching every house and telling message of Christ, who can solve any problem of a person. Since all Hindu gods are popularly known as devils and a little educated or illiterate persons can easily accept our modem religion where life is taboo-free and more luxurious. Youth in India is very much after easy money, more luxury in life, good education. Taboo-free life (e.g. social mix-up, easy interaction with opposite sex, dance parties which is difficult in Indian religions) So we can easily convert them and take their help to make our mission come true. Do support us and our mission and we will help with any kind of assistance required. Jesus gives us everything.”
It is clear from the foregoing account that the Church’s objective of securing conversions by hook or crook has not changed. The only change is in its face. If the dagger was in the forefront in the past, lurement through material benefits like education, health and money are maim weapons today. it is only a change of tactics, not of heart and attitude. The target still is to turn the whole world into Christendom.
During his tour of India, the Pope had called conversion a human right forgetting that hardly any conversion is strictly religious in content. Most of the conversions are not even socio-religious. They are socioeconomic at best. Evangelists led by Pope wrongly call them the spread of faith because that is how their business of religion is Christened. And the Church has no plans to dismantle this business.
Pope stirs up India by Christian Century on November 17, 1999
A CALL BY Pope John Paul II, made during his three-day visit to New Delhi, for the evangelization of Asia has provoked mixed reactions in India. A prominent Hindu nationalist has accused the pope of abusing "the hospitality that India has extended to him" and of planning to try to convert India to Christianity. At the same time, Asian church leaders have played down the pope's calls for such evangelization.Christian conversion in Buddhist Sri Lanka by Kamalika Pieris
The issues of evangelization and religious freedom are particularly sensitive in India which in recent months has seen a number of attacks against Christians, who Hindu nationalists claim are engaging in forced conversions and offering material inducements for people to convert to Christianity.
Several bishops who attended the ceremonies in New Delhi said they were "stunned" by headlines such as that in the Asian Age, which bannered a report of the papal visit, "Convert Asia Next: Pope."
However, Rajender Chadha, spokesman for a section of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a prominent Hindu nationalist group, criticized the pope's call for religious freedom. "The pope has abused the hospitality India extended to him. He should not have said it," Chadha said, according to the Press Trust of India, the country's main news agency. In Chadha's view, the pope had confirmed fears that the Catholic Church has "grand plans to convert India into a Christian country."
Pointing out that Christians in Asia, where Jesus was born, died and was resurrected, are comparatively small in number, the pope predicted that the third millennium will mark the evangelization of Asia.
In Milan a prominent daily paper, Corriere della Sera, referred to the controversy over conversions to Christianity and quoted a leading Hindu, Swami Dayananda Saraswati: "With the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church recognized the validity of other religions, but only as means to prepare for Christ. This worries millions of Hindus, because it implies a theology of conversion [to Christianity]."
Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing
Christian conversion in Buddhist Sri Lanka
The Ecumenical Council of Vatican II (1962-1965) set the Catholic Church on a revised path towards conversion. There were regional synods. The Synod for the Bishops of Asia was held in Rome in 1998. The term "Asia" included in this case, Middle East, Gulf States, South and Central Asia, South East Asia, Asian Siberia and the Far East. It was argued that Christianity was now a part of Asian culture. It was now Asian in outlook and sufficiently indigenised to become genuinely Asian. The policy drawn up by this Asian Synod was proclaimed by the Pope in November 1999 in New Delhi, India. It contained a specific call to the Catholics to convert Asians to Christianity. It stated that Europe went Christian in the first millennium. America and Africa went Christian in the second millennium. Now it was the turn of Asia. One newspaper summarised this as "Convert Asia next." The Catholic Church also noted, inter alia, that Asia was a paradise for foreign investment. China was fast becoming a world super power with India trailing behind (Daily News, 9.11.99 p 10, Hindustan Times, 7.11.99 p5, Fr. Leopold Ratnasekera, Island, 22.3.98 p 12).