Tag Archives: Christian conversion

Returning Home: My Reconversion Story – by Shimtihun Lyngwa

No, it’s not the immediate “Ghar Wapsi” effect; nor has the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have an impact in my life. My decision to leave the Christian faith and return to Niam Khasi didn’t just happen because of a few negative conversations, or a few isolated events — my decision was made because I realized I’ve been staying in the “wrong house” all these years. Two years ago, there would be no way in fiery hell that I could ever conceive of leaving the Christian faith. But here I am today.


I have received a lot of mixed reactions from being honest about my religious beliefs. For over a year, I had been terrified to tell anyone that I wasn’t a Christian anymore, because I was afraid of all the relationships I would lose, and all the people that would distance themselves from me. To me it feels like there’s a tremendous stigma in a lot of Christian circles about people leaving the church, and this assumption that I’m not a good person, or a person Christians can be friends with, because my views are now so different.


A lot of Khasi Christians I had met would refer to other Khasis who still followed the indigenous faith as “non-believers” and talk about them in a sort of vernacular that reflected an “us versus them” attitude, as though these “non-believers” were a part of the community, and that the community was a dirty and unreligious place filled with all sorts of depravity. “We are of the Khasi Community, but not of the Khasi Community,” is a catch-phrase I often heard, and while I appreciate holding onto certain Christian values about one’s conduct in life, I didn’t want people to think of me as “of the Khasi Community” — when they were thinking of the Khasi Community as such a terrible, unreligious place.

I was really scared of telling people. What I started to realize though, is that people had been distancing themselves because of my religious views, and that I didn’t want those kind of people in my life. I would rather be friends with people who would love me, regardless of my religious beliefs. And I am very happy and grateful to say that I do still have friends that are Christians, and our beliefs and views are very different, but that hasn’t had an effect on our friendship. That was very huge and important to me, Other people have, yes, chosen to distance themselves from me, or let our friendship “fade away” or have told me they were disappointed in me, or even worse, call me a hypocrite or tell me I’m going to hell, or try and “re-convert” me.


A lot of Christians I know have used the bible to justify slavery. And I have no idea how to interpret the stories in the Bible where God commands people to commit genocide, or God destroys populations and wipes out cultures, and tears entire cities to the ground, or floods the world sparing only one family and a bunch of animals. But even fast-forwarding to today, it feels like so many Christians I met were content to pick-and-choose the parts of the Bible they would follow.


There is a clear double standard in many Christian denominations in this Christian State, and because of that, churches are actually not a place for fellowship for everyone. One person told me, in a conversation we were having about abortion and human rights, that if a child gets raped, she has to keep the baby. I know that these attitudes are reflective of the extreme and fundamentalist side of religious belief, but regardless, these were people I personally knew and connected with that said this to me, and I never thought I had come from a place and had relationships with people who could demonstrate such intolerance.


Morally and ethically, I cannot follow a religion that would advocate such hate, judgment, and ignorance. I know that a lot of Christians do a tremendous deal of good things in society, and advocate on behalf of many oppressed people, but I still really sorely miss the critical conversations where these double standards exist in the Bible, the interpretation, and how that enacts itself in the world, and wish for more Christian leaders to speak about these issues. So maybe it should be up to me to fix the church, but it got to a point where I started to realize this kind of hate is larger than just a problem that needs to be fixed, but that it is ingrained into a really big part of Christian culture in the so-called “Christian State” of Incredible India.


So many church denominations are content to split up if they disagree; people believe so strongly and fervently in their interpretation of the Bible that they would sooner split up their church denomination than actively dialogue and try to understand one another. And for all of the things I can do, I cannot go up against that kind of strength of belief — to many, it is church doctrine, and not something that simply changes.
But why did I decide to return home to Niam Tynrai? I could recall the time where I “was moved by an overwhelming presence” during a climb to Lum Sohpetbneng, where everything felt very different, and I clearly felt a “sacredness” to everything and everyone gathered there. I could feel that “holy presence” every time I’m at the sacred Lum Sohpetbneng, and I can never seem to forget that feeling. But I believe I’m not the only one. There are a lot of Khasi Christians out there who weren’t given a “choice”.

There seems to be an assumption that because I’m not a Christian anymore, I no longer believe in God, but I do very much, and still wish to be included in the dialogue. There is a very fine and delicate balance between the relationship of people based on their religious beliefs, allowing room for dialogue, and the opportunity to learn from one another. Like the lesson I learned so long ago, it is difficult, but so right to exist in the liminal experience that is being able to be wrong, and being willing to learn from one another, and, like that speaker who spoke at Lum Sohpetbneng, have the courage to hold your true faith and ideas in an open hand, and truly see what it is they are made of.


Mahatma Gandhi once asked Christian missionaries, “If you feel that only conversion to Christianity is the path to salvation, why don’t you start with me or Mahadev Desai? Why do you stress on conversion of the simple, illiterate, poor and forest-dwellers? These people can’t differentiate between Jesus and Mohammad and are not likely to understand your preachings. They are mute and simple, like cows. These simple, poor, Dalit and forest-dwellers, whom you make Christians, do so not for Jesus but for rice and their stomach.”

This quote on religious conversion by the Father of the Nation got the hackles up of the Christian community. If we would have asked a similar question to Christian missionaries who came to the Khasi Hills early in the 19th century, we could have avoided this mass religious conversion altogether. But it’s never too late to return back home. I have; so should you.


(Email: shimtilyngwa@gmail.com)

Source: The Shillong Times (https://theshillongtimes.com/2020/09/01/my-reconversion-story/)

State assisted conversions in AP? 70% of Christian pastors who received govt honorarium through Disaster Relief Fund hold SC/OBC caste certificates

In a startling revelation by Legal Rights Protection Forum (LRPF), 70% of the 29,841 Christian pastors who received one-time government honorarium of Rs.5, 000 through Disaster Relief Fund hold SC/OBC caste certificates. LRPF obtained the relevant details through an RTI which revealed that a large percentage of Christians who have been baptised and have undergone Pastor Training courses but holding Hindu Caste Certificates have obtained one-time relief honorarium of Rs. 5,000/- each.

The honorarium was given by the Andhra Pradesh government to all ‘Religious Service Renderers’ which includes Archakas, Imams, Mouzzams and Christian Pastors who were facing hardship and distress of various religious institutions, as a measure of relief arising out of break out of COVID-19 Pandemic. The AP government has spent close to Rs. 34 crores on the one-time honorariums on 31,017 Archakas, 7000 Imams & Mouzzams and 29,841 Pastors which was credited to the respective beneficiaries’ bank accounts.
 
LRPF investigation revealed that while the official estimate of population of the Christians in AP is 1.39%, 43.99% of the honorarium beneficiaries are Christian Pastors. The data clearly shows that a large percentage of Christians who have been baptised and have undergone Pastor Training courses continue to hold Hindu Caste Certificates only to obtain government benefits like the recent one-time relief honorarium during COVID lockdown. 

Since holding of dual religious identities for government benefits is punishable under law, LRPF has complained to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes to take action and immediately order Government of Andhra Pradesh to submit to the Commission the complete list of Christian Pastors who have received Rs. 5,000/- as one-time disaster relief as mentioned above, together with religion/community details of all the 29,841 pastors.
 
LRPF in its complaint letter says that their sample data has revealed that 58.14 % of Christian pastors are actually holding Hindu-SC community certificates and 13.37 percentage of the Christian pastors are holding Hindu OBC Community certificates. On a conservative basis, if it is assumed that 70 percent of the pastors listed above carry Hindu community certificates (sample data reveals 80.81%), the total figure of such pastors come to 20,900. The amount received by them at Rs. 5000 per head comes to Rs. 10.45 Crores which is clearly fraudulent misuse of public money, says the LRPF complaint. 

@lawinforce

LRPF has requested the commission to initiate appropriate action to safeguard the interests of Scheduled Caste communities of Andhra Pradesh and weed out converts who have illegally obtained SC/OBC Communities certificate through fraudulent misrepresentation of facts.

“We once again fervently appeal to you to send a fact-finding mission to the state of Andhra Pradesh and initiate steps to save the people of Scheduled Castes/OBC of Andhra Pradesh from becoming culturally extinct. The onslaught of Christian Evangelical lobby with financial support of thousands of crores of rupees through FCRA funds, hundreds of foreign evangelists coming to Andhra Pradesh indulging in brazen conversions, baptisms and a huge army of local native Christian pastors have set up on the ground in AP – all these have crushed the SCs of Andhra Pradesh and pushed them to the brink of extinction. SCs of Andhra Pradesh exist only on paper and in reality, our experience has shown that only 10-15 % of the SCs are real Hindu SCs clinging on to their ancestral religion, culture and civilisation. These people are small in number, politically insignificant and don’t count in vote bank politics. Hence, they require your valuable support”, urges LRPF in its letter.
 
State assisted conversions
 
LRPF complaint letter also shares details of the government appeasement of so-called minorities at the cost of Hindus and the finances of the state. The present government in Andhra Pradesh had proposed regular monthly payment to religious service renderers and applications were called from Christian pastors to apply for the same. Strangely, the state government has not made it mandatory to submit Christian community certificate by prospective beneficiaries while submitting applications.
 
“This has enabled a large number of Christians holding Hindu community certificates to apply and benefit from the one-time payment of Rs. 5,000/-. As and when the government fulfils its election promise of monthly payments to pastors, all these people will enjoy the benefit every month. This is serious abuse and defrauding of public exchequer”. Says LRPF. “This is direct encouragement of the present government to SCs to convert to Christianity yet corner all the constitutional benefits of SCs without any hassles”, says the letter to the SC Commission.

It can be recalled that the AP government recently released funds for construction/repair/renovation of 76 Churches at a cost of Rs. 5.00 lakhs each. The earlier government of Andhra Pradesh has, during the period 2014- 19, funded construction of 817 churches. Most of these are located in SC colonies or where large number of SCs are living. This is direct encouragement of conversions of SCs into Christianity. It is a matter of deep concern to us that successive governments have resorted to supporting conversions into Christianity.
 
LRPF data also reveals that recently an NGO – Samarasta Seva Foundation conducted a survey of SCs at Chilukuru Village, Ibrahimpatnam Mandal, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh. The following are the telling statistics from the village.

Though the figures are shocking, the situation is more or less same across the districts of Krishna, Guntur, East Godavari and West Godavari in AP. “Today a pathetic situation has arisen wherein officials and common man have concluded that ‘All people of Scheduled Castes are are Christians unless proved otherwise’. Identity of the people of Scheduled Castes as Hindus has been washed away in the deluge of Evangelists’ tsunami.” says LRPF.
 
“We are deeply concerned at this development as the SCs/OBCs of Andhra Pradesh with thousands of years of cultural heritage, civilizational achievements and deep religious practices now face extinction. Their way of life, their daily religious worship, celebration of festivals – all are being wiped out in front of their own eyes, with active financial/administrative support from successive governments”, says LRPF.
 
LRPF investigation also reveals that there is a huge jump in population of SCs while there is sharp decline in number of Christians. This is possible only when large number of Christians have started declaring themselves as Hindu-SCs and obtaining relevant community certificates enabling them to illegally corner all the benefits designed to uplift the livelihood of SCs. Such a large-scale misuse is not possible without active connivance of the administration in the state.
 
LRPF says that not just the present regime in AP, but all previous governments from the past 5 decades are to be blamed for the same as they turned a blind eye or actively assisted such misuse of benefits of Scheduled Castes.
Urging the SC/ST commission to launch an immediate inquiry into the whole issue, the LRPF requests them to send a high-power fact-finding committee to Andhra Pradesh to study the issue of large scale misuse of reservation benefits of SCs/OBCs and help the genuine SCs to utilize their legitimate constitutional benefits.

Reference: https://www.organiser.org//Encyc/2020/9/10/Andhra-Pradesh-70-percent-Christian-pastors-who-received-govt-honorarium-hold-SC-OBC-caste-certificates.html

Fact-finding report of religious demographics and their concealment in Andhra Pradesh

Fact-finding report of religious demographics and their concealment in Andhra Pradesh &  A case-study of 1 Mandal of Krishna district, AP

t has become increasingly evident over the last decade that evangelical Christian conversions have increased exponentially by leaps and bounds in the state of Andhra Pradesh. There have been drastic and alarming large-scale conversions in the state leading to social strife, law and order issues, and families being torn apart. In the last two decades, huge congregations are being held brazenly in all districts, towns and mandals to attract more converts, a big socio-religious spectacle hitherto not seen in India. It is also known that the speakers in these congregations speak against Indian religions and culture sowing the seeds of communal hatred among close-knit rural societies. New converts are refusing to cremate their departed elders, refusing to attend family ceremonies.

Disturbing evidence has come to the fore through TV debates that aggressive proselytising evangelists are sowing the seeds of secessionist, separatist ideas in the minds of converts. Loyalties of the converts are being shifted from nation to extra-territorial, extra-constitutional evangelical/ Christian religious heads located abroad. This directly affects the unity andintegrity of the country.

In view of this huge demographic and socio-political challenge in Andhra Pradesh, Legal Rights Protection Forum (LRPF) has decided to undertake a fact-finding exercise to determine the truth behind the phenomenon.    

  1. A case-study of Reddygudem mandal, Krishna District, AP

RTI applications were filed with the appropriate authorities in the year 2019 in Reddygudem mandal, Krishna district. The request was to provide the number of churches in the mandal, and the percentage of religious populations of Hindus, Christians and Muslims.  

The Mandal Tahsildar of Reddygudem mandal furnished the following data:
No. of Churches in the mandal – 68
No. of villages in the mandal – 11
Therefore, average number of churches per village –
6

Note: As per 2011 Census the number of Christians in entire Reddygudem Mandal comprising of all 11 villages is – 630

However it is to be noted that the actual number of churches on the ground are much higher, and these are not recorded in Revenue Records of the mandal. If unrecorded/ unauthorized Churches/Christian prayer-houses are added, the average number of churches would be 10 per village.

A.1.  Data from the village of Maddhulaparva, of the same Mandal Reddygudem- is as follows :

Patha maddulaparva  5 churches
Kottha maddulaparva – 3 churches, BC colony – 2 Adavi Kotturu  – 1

It is extremely intriguing that officially there are 11 Churches functional in 1 larger village, when there are NO practicing christians.  The only inference that can be drawn is that a large number of christian converts of predominantly `Hindu SC/OBC’ exist in the village? (Attached as Annexure-3)

B. Govt data of a scheme `Chandranna Christmas Kanuka’ exclusively for Christians

The state of Andhra Pradesh does not have any legislation to regulate or monitor the change from one religion to another. In the absence of any kind of mandatory provision to register change of religion, most of the conversions from Hinduism to Christianity are neither noticed nor recorded in any official records. Majority of the said conversions are out of SC Hindu population in the state. The enormity of the problem can be gauged by the fact that the word ‘SC’ and ‘Christian’ are being used interchangeably and being exploited.

To an RTI query on `selection of beneficiaries’ for the previous government’s scheme ‘Chandranna Christmas Kanuka’ exclusively for Christians, the concerned officials of Achampeta mandal, Guntur District, AP, replies dated 06.09.2019, 26.09.2019 and 05.11.2019 respectively stated that they treated the entire SC population in the aforesaid mandal as Christians and as such they extended the scheme to entire SC population, whereas it should be given only to Christians.(Annexures-1A, 1B & 1C – Attached)

C. Serious violation of Constitution- willful wrong declaration of religious status

Christian pastors own claims of Christian population in Andhra Pradesh  – In the recent years, several Christian leaders on TV debates have been claiming that about 30% of the state population is now Christian which leads to the inescapable conclusion that 28.5% of the population has wrongly declared its religion during census and a bulk of this wrongful declarations have been made by SC/OBC converts out of Hinduism into Christianity. This amounts to a serious gross criminal violation of the laws and disrespect to the Constitution of India and the entire nation.(Video Clip of the TV Debate attached as Annexure-5)

D. AP United Pastors Association

Mr. K. Rajendra Prasad, Secretary for the AP United Pastors Association in a meeting held after the 2019 Assembly Elections in Kaamayyapalem Village, Jeelugumilli (M), West Godavari (District), Andhra Pradesh, giving further proof of large-scale conversions claimed that the Pastors Association has a membership of 5 Lakhs Pastors, and that the state of AP has a total of 2Crores of Christian Population. Whereas the 2011 Census shows the total population of Christians is only 6.82 Lakhs in Undivided Andhra Pradesh. The pastors association felicitated an elected MLA, and the MLA assured that all the pastors would be provided a monthly honorarium by the newly elected AP govt.   (Attached News Clip as Annexure-4)

E. Population break-up of AP as per 2011 census

The population of Christians in Andhra Pradesh is only 6.82 Lakhs out of 4.93 Crores (State Population) which would translate to just 1.4 percent Christian population.

Source: Statistical Abstract of Andhra Pradesh – 2015 prepared by Directorate of Economics & Statistics, Government of Andhra Pradesh.
  • F.“What happened to the Christians of Andhra Pradesh?” Report prepared by Centre for Policy Studies, New Delhi

Centre for Policy Studies, New Delhi in their report titled “What happened to the Christians of Andhra Pradesh?” (report copy – Annexure-2) presented the demographic data which reveals  blatant misuse of SC reservation benefits by converted Christians. The data shows a sharp decline in those who declared their religion as Christian between 1971 and 2011.

TABLE – 1: Districts of Christian concentration in Andhra – Changes between 1971 – 2011

Data for 1 district –  Guntur: The number of Christians has reduced from 4.15 lakhs to just 0.89 lakhs in last 40 years while the population of the district went up from 28.44 lakhs to 48.87 lakhs between 1971-2011.


Table – II



The data for Guntur district is even more shocking. In 1961, 5.24% of the population was from Scheduled Castes and 13.40% was from Christians. By 2011, the figure for SCs has risen to 19.59% while the figure for Christians came down to 1.84 %. The sharp decline in number of Christians is correlated with those claiming themselves as Scheduled Castes.

G.Inferences from the data and Census

Is it not safe to assume that those practicing Christianity have obtained Hindu-SC caste certificates to garner all opportunities, facilities and schemes given for benefit of SCs – like reservations in electoral constituencies, political and nominated posts, jobs, educational opportunities, scholarships, hostels, housing etc?

As per 2011 Census, the number of Christians in the entire state of Andhra Pradesh is 6,82,660. From the year 1951 to 2011 Census, the percentage of Christians has fallen from 5.37% to 1.38%. Whereas there is an explosion in the number of Churches/Evangelical activity across the state. This shows that the constitutionally guaranteed reservations/safeguards meant for benefit of SCs are being misused by Christian converts, converted from Hindu SC/OBC.


H. Misuse of FCRA provisions?

It is also possible that the large presence of Churches, large scale receipts of FCRA funds by evangelical organizations, and the lethargy, inaction and possible complicity of Government officials treating all SCs as Christians, is a clear indication of SCs conversions into Christianity,that have taken place in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

I.Violation of Constitution

It is pertinent to note that majority of the converts from Hinduism into Christianity continue to obtain Hindu Caste Certificates like SC/OBC and garner all the benefits of reservations, whether in selection of candidates for SC reserved constituencies (MP, MLA etc.), nominated posts reserved for SCs, educational opportunities, job opportunities etc.  The genuine SCs still faithfully practicing Hindu religion and traditional/ancestral way of life and cultural practices are thoroughly deprived of their legitimate constitutionally guaranteed benefits for their social and economic upliftment. This is the gross misuse of the special facilities granted by the Constitution for SCs.


If a proper demographic exercise is conducted in the state of Andhra Pradesh, regarding the converted Christians carrying Hindu caste certificates and availing reservations and a horde of other benefits, a scam of gigantic proportions would be revealed. If this data is translated into absolute numbers of people, funds misused, and the huge time-periods of decades when this deceit is perpetuated, this may well stand-out as the largest and longest fraud on the Constitution of India as well as violations of the Law of the land. It would reveal the gross injustice that has been perpetrated against genuine and deserving SCs and could turn out to bethe biggest scam of post-independent India.





Annexure 1A
Annexure 1 B
Annexure 1C
Annexure 1D
Annexure 4

Swami Vivekananda on De-Conversion

ON THE BOUNDS OF HINDUISM

(Prabuddha Bharata, April, 1899)

Having been directed by the Editor, writes our representative, to interview Swami Vivekananda on the question of converts to Hinduism, I found an opportunity one evening on the roof of a Ganga houseboat. It was after nightfall, and we had stopped at the embankment of the Ramakrishna Math, and there the Swami came down to speak with me.

Time and place were alike delightful. Overhead the stars, and around — the rolling Ganga; and on one side stood the dimly lighted building, with its background of palms and lofty shade-trees.

“I want to see you, Swami”, I began, “on this matter of receiving back into Hinduism those who have been perverted from it. Is it your opinion that they should be received?”

“Certainly,” said the Swami, “they can and ought to be taken.”

He sat gravely for a moment, thinking, and then resumed. “Besides,” he said, “we shall otherwise decrease in numbers. When the Mohammedans first came, we are said — I think on the authority of Ferishta, the oldest Mohammedan historian — to have been six hundred millions of Hindus. Now we are about two hundred millions. And then every man going out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less, but an enemy the more.

“Again, the vast majority of Hindu perverts to Islam and Christianity are perverts by the sword, or the descendants of these. It would be obviously unfair to subject these to disabilities of any kind. As to the case of born aliens, did you say? Why, born aliens have been converted in the past by crowds, and the process is still going on.

“In my own opinion, this statement not only applies to aboriginal tribes, to outlying nations, and to almost all our conquerors before the Mohammedan conquest, but also in the Purânas. I hold that they have been aliens thus adopted.

“Ceremonies of expiation are no doubt suitable in the case of willing converts, returning to their Mother-Church, as it were; but on those who were alienated by conquest — as in Kashmir and Nepal — or on strangers wishing to join us, no penance should be imposed.”

“But of what caste would these people be, Swamiji?” I ventured to ask. “They must have some, or they can never be assimilated into the great body of Hindus. Where shall we look for their rightful place?”

“Returning converts”, said the Swami quietly, “will gain their own castes, of course. And new people will make theirs. You will remember,” he added, “that this has already been done in the case of Vaishnavism. Converts from different castes and aliens were all able to combine under that flag and form a caste by themselves — and a very respectable one too. From Râmânuja down to Chaitanya of Bengal, all great Vaishnava Teachers have done the same.”

“And where should these new people expect to marry?” I asked.

“Amongst themselves, as they do now”, said the Swami quietly.

“Then as to names,” I enquired, “I suppose aliens and perverts who have adopted non-Hindu names should be named newly. Would you give them caste-names, or what?”

“Certainly,” said the Swami, thoughtfully, “there is a great deal in a name!” and on this question he would say no more.

But my next enquiry drew blood. “Would you leave these new-comers, Swamiji, to choose their own form of religious belief out of many-visaged Hinduism, or would you chalk out a religion for them?”

“Can you ask that?” he said. “They will choose for themselves. For unless a man chooses for himself, the very spirit of Hinduism is destroyed. The essence of our Faith consists simply in this freedom of the Ishta.”

I thought the utterance a weighty one, for the man before me has spent more years than any one else living I fancy, in studying the common bases of Hinduism in a scientific and sympathetic spirit — and the freedom of the Ishta is obviously a principle big enough to accommodate the world.

But the talk passed to other matters, and then with a cordial good night this great teacher of religion lifted his lantern and went back into the monastery, while I by the pathless paths of the Ganga, in and out amongst her crafts of many sizes, made the best of my way back to my Calcutta home.

Reference

Facing New Evangelisation Strategies

Arise Bharat

Namaste

Readers of Telugu may wish to read my article that appeared in Jagruthi, a Telugu weekly on Facing New Christian Evangelisation Strategies and lessons that Hindus must learn.

Facing New Evangelisation Strategies

Ayush

English Version :

Facing the New Christian Evangelization Strategies

– Nadimpalli Ayush

 What Keeps Hindus attached to their traditions and remain as Hindus inspite of varied onslaughts?  This question has been bugging almost all evangelists who have come to Bharat.  In their ambition to Christianize the whole world, the evangelists have time to time revised their strategies. Though most parts of the whole world fell to their designs, they have faced major resistance in Bharat. However, the future of whether Bharat would remain Hindu depends largely on how the Hindus respond to the evangelistion strategies and methods.

” India’s first major contact with Christianity began when Vasco da Gama, from Portugal, landed with gunboat and priests in…

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