Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by hit&run, Apr 23, 2014.

  1. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion? | Philip Goldberg

    Imagine you're poor and living in a rural area. Your child gets sick. You manage to transport her to a hospital or clinic. To your relief, the condition is treatable. But the cost of treatment is not just beyond your means, it's beyond your imagining. However, says the kindly health care worker, you can get the treatment free of charge. All you have to do is renounce the centuries-old traditions of your people and convert to a foreign religion.

    Such offers are being made to desperate people in the villages and tribal areas of India.

    I just returned from a month in that country, to mark the Indian publication of my book, American Veda. In the 18 cities I visited, the most frequently mentioned topic was the shady tactics of certain missionaries.

    Not all of them, mind you. Not the intrepid souls who work selflessly to help the poor, the afflicted, and the illiterate, in the spirit of their savior's exhortation to serve "the least of these." Such missionaries have been welcome in India for centuries, and the Hindus I spoke to are grateful for their good works. What is causing consternation and anger is a new breed of zealots, heavily financed by American fundamentalists, who seem driven to pile up numbers like door-to-door salesmen racking up commissions. Determined, fervent, and creative in pursuit of souls to save, they sound more like the snake-oil hucksters of legend than servants of Christ.

    Targeting mainly the impoverished and uneducated, some of their tactics make the hospital bargain I described earlier look as reputable as ordering a book from Amazon. I was told of missionaries giving people temporary jobs in return for converting, and then threatening them with job loss -- not to mention eternal damnation -- if they reconvert to Hinduism. Families have apparently been torn apart because the converts are made to disassociate from the heathen.

    I heard about missionaries who dress in orange robes to look like swamis. Gullible and desperate villagers are told that their traditional gods are actually corrupted versions of Christ; that the venerable saints and sages of India's past were really Christians; that the three horizontal stripes traditionally drawn on the foreheads of Shiva devotees stand for the Holy Trinity; that the Upanishadic prayer that includes "Lead us from darkness to light" was meant as a cry for Jesus to save them.

    A mother is sick? A father loses his source of income and can't feed his family? The bus filled with youngsters suddenly "stalls" on a dangerous mountain road? Well, say the missionaries, try praying to your Hindu gods. Hmmm, imagine that: nothing changes. Well then, see what happens if you pray to Jesus. Wow! Lo and behold! The mother receives medicine. The father gets a one-day job that puts rice on the table. The bus engine starts again! If one prayer to Jesus produces miracles like those, imagine what converting will do!

    I heard about people being told that their misfortune derives from their worship of Hindu deities, because the idols are really forms of the Devil; about village strongmen being paid to coerce conversions from other villagers; about women given a choice of walking a mile to haul water from their usual source or using the new well conveniently dug in front of a church. The price? Conversion, of course.

    I don't know if these egregious actions are commonplace or rarities. I do know that they are dishonorable. They're about coercion, not spiritual conversion; extortion, not the exchange of ideas. And, if I may say so as a non-Christian, they are an affront to Jesus, whom every Hindu I've ever met regards as a holy man of the highest order if not an incarnation of God. I can't help thinking that he would be as outraged by the deception being perpetrated in his name as he was about the moneylenders in the temple.

    I told people in India that most American Christians would be appalled if they knew what was being done by their overly aggressive brethren. I was tempted to wait until after Christmas to test that thesis, but I decided that this season of goodwill might be the ideal time. So, what do you think, my Christian sisters and brothers? Is there some cosmic war for souls going on, in which anything goes? Or are there rules of engagement that civilized people should observe? What would Jesus say?

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    Today the threat to Hinduism is more form these missionaries who are not only cunning but well resourced.

    It would be quite late for Hindus who have been assuming the threat is from Islamic fundamentalism. There is another unattended frontier already breached which needs to be plugged and guarded ASAP.

    No wonder why Hindu organizations who have been working at ground level are getting unprecedented resistance from these organizations who otherwise were never called out but were coexisting and breeding in harmony.

    There desperation to increase the number through conversion has to be knocked down before they inflict more damage; not only by oppressing the population but abusing the Hinduism.
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  3. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Then it is problem of majority community who should bulid hosiptals ,hostel for all without discrimination not ashrams and temples.

    But most majority did is discriminate among themself .

    So why should down trodden support.

    What other is doing is just exploiting fissures among majority.
     
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  4. jackprince

    jackprince Turning into a frog Senior Member

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    hmmm... who did built the thousands of Hospitals (the govt. ones)? The health centres? Have you heard of Ramkrishna Mission? Want to bet what percentage of Doctors in India is born a Hindu?

    It is the money of majority - the taxes paid by the majority- which built them. The only difference is that these scums finds the places where the govt. have failed to provide (I won't be surprised if they subvert the system) and use the millions in foreign funds to run their scams.
     

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