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
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 1498… The newcomers were not only merchants but also devout Christians ordered by the Pope: “… to invade, conquer, and subject all the countries which are under rule of the enemies of Christ, Saracens (Moslems who fought against the Christian Crusaders in the middle ages) or Pagan….” . (Western Colonialism in Asia and Christianity – edited by Dr. M.D. David.)
Hindus were forced to convert or faced torture and death. Thousands had to flee Goa in order to keep their culture and religious beliefs.
The historian Gaspar Correa described what Vasco da Gama did, thus:
“When all the Indians had thus been executed, he ordered them to strike upon their teeth with staves and they knocked them down their throats; as they were put on board, heaped on top of each other, mixed up with the blood which streamed from them; and he ordered mats and dry leaves to be spread over them and sails to be set for the shore and the vessels set on fire… ” Before killing and burning the innocent Hindus he had their hands, ears and noses cut off.
…”When the Zamorin (head of the Hindu population) sent another Brahmin (Hindu Priest) to Vasco to plead for peace, he had his lips cut off and his ears cut off. The ears of a dog were sewn on him instead and the Brahmin was sent back to Zamorin in that state. The Brahmin… had brought with him three young boys, two of them his sons and the other a nephew. They were hanged from the yardarm and their bodies sent ashore.”
Francis Xavier, a Jesuit Priest, came soon after Vasco da Gama, with the firm resolve of uprooting Hinduism from the soil of India and planting Christianity in its place. His sayings and doings have been documented in his numerous biographies. Francis Xavier, wrote back home,
“As soon as I arrived in any heathen village, when all are baptized, I order all the temples of their false gods to be destroyed and all the idols to be broken to pieces. I can give you no idea of the joy I feel in seeing this done.” The Church had a special way of dealing with converted Hindus who were suspected of not observing Christian rites with appropriate rigour and enthusiasm, or even of covertly practicing their old faith: “…the culprits would be tracked down and burnt alive.” ( Ref : Paul William Roberts, Empire of the Soul, Some Journeys in India (Riverhead Books, New York)
Xavier called for an inquisition, recorded by historians as being more horrendous and barbaric than any prior to that. Thousands were tortured mutilated and killed. Thousands had to flee Goa in order to keep their traditional culture and religion.
It is recorded that between 600 and 1,000 Hindu temples and shrines were destroyed, but many consider these numbers to be on the conservative side. ( Ref : History of Hindu Christian Encounters, Sita Ram Goel)
Many types of brutal torture were employed by the Inquisitors, such as mutilation of body parts, fire torture and drownings. The details of this torture are too ghastly and horrid to contemplate for any sane human being.
The archbishop of Evora, in Portugal, eventually wrote, “If everywhere the Inquisition was an infamous court, the infamy, however base, however vile, however corrupt and determined by worldly interests, it was never more so than in Goa. (The Empire of the Soul by Paul William Roberts (Harper Collins, 1999)
No body knows the exact number of Goans subjected to these diabolical tortures; low estimates put the number in the tens of thousands, high estimates are in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps even more. The abominations of these inquisitions continued from 1560 until a brief respite was given in 1774, but four years later, the inquisition was introduced again and it continued un-interruptedly until 1812 — the inquisition in Goa went on for over two-hundred and fifty years.
Revised Tactics by British:
The British officially decided to keep religious conversion on the backburner due to the massive resistance of 1857 War of Independence. However, they launched a new scheme of creating a Christian defence among Hindus through Macaualy to create “a class of persons, Indians in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect “ who would protect the Christian missionary activities within Bharat.
Improvising on Revised Conversion Techniques Post Independence :
Now the Christians evangelists have further revised their techniques of conversion. Christian evangelists are now using vast amounts of wealth (billions of US dollars) to spread their propaganda. Worldwide, an incredibly vast organisation has been built up, and incredibly huge resources are expended to “save souls”. It costs “145 billion dollars to operate global Christianity,” records a book on evangelization. The Church commands four million full-time Christian workers, it runs 13000 major libraries, it publishes 22000 periodicals, it publishes four billion tracts a year, it operates 1800 Christian radio and TV stations. It runs 1500 universities, and 930 research centres. It has a quarter of a million foreign missionaries; and over four hundred institutions to train them. And those are figures from a book published in 1989 – since then there has been the surge in Eastern Europe and Russia. – Ref S.Gurumurthy article.
New projects have been strategized by the Church after extensive survey in the Hindu society. One such major intiative is the Joshua Project ( http://www.joshuaproject.net )& Project Thessalonica (crusadewatch.org ). Its has a large focus on Bharat.
Joshua Project II set the scope and strategy for converting the “heathen” of the world in 10-40 window (regions that lie between the latitudes of 10 and 40 degrees north)
Joshua Project II strategized the methodology called ‘Adopt-a-peoples’ wherein every mission agency or church adopted a ‘people group’. Today, followers of Christ are concentrating their efforts on the unreached peoples of the world, most of which are in the 10/40 Window. (The Resistant Belt). It is also important to note that the Joshua Project has a direct web-link to the American CIA, viz., Central Intelligence Agency’s – World Factbook.
The 10/40 Window: What is it?
The 10/40 Window is the rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude. The 10/40 Window is often called “The Resistant Belt” and includes the majority of the world’s Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. An estimated 4.03 billion individuals residing in approximately 7,057 distinct people groups are in the 10/40 Window. The 10/40 Window is home to some of the largest unreached people groups in the world such as the Shaikh, Yadava, Turks, Moroccan Arabs, Pushtun, Jat and Burmese.
The 10/40 Window has several important considerations: first, the historical and biblical significance; second, the least evangelized countries; third, the unreached people groups and cities; fourth, the dominance of three religious blocs; fifth, the preponderance of the poor; sixth, the strongholds of Satan within the 10/40 Window
One of the most important “resistant countries” in 10/40 window block is Bharat. As per their data, Christians form as much as 10 crores in Bharat’s population.
Project Thessalonica :
In their attempt to weaken Hinduism, the church strategists started Project Thessalonica in 2004. Project Thessalonica is a sub-project of Joshua Project II. Project Thessalonica (called PT) prioritizes the tasks to be taken in the 10/40 window.
Project Thessalonica aims to stop or limit Hindu activity by converting people who form the pillars of Hindu culture, festivals, traditions and activity. Traditionally missionaries hate any public expression or display of heathen religions in the form of festivals and temples. Missions want to ensure that no new temple construction activity starts. With this objective they are converting masons, craftsmen and others involved in temple construction activity. The First Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee adopted towns where the annual Kumbh Mela takes place and has been actively converting the locals so that visitors face extreme hardship during their next visit trying to find services and supplies. Another mission group is adopting boatmen of Kasi where Hindus drop rice balls in river Ganges as an offering to their forefathers. The boatsmen are being trained in other fields so that they abandon this profession. They are making environmental groups raise the voice so that Ganesh processions, Kumbh Melas and Jagannath Rath Yatras are limited. One big worry seems to the extremely popular Hindu television programs. Christian agencies have decided on buying these prime slots at a premium and are actively working with programming sources. Over the past 20 years, missionaries also appear to have invested a lot in handling the political leadership, so much so that their activities appear to be almost immune to the ruling political party. It seems that a good section of media is also on their side to such an extent that any group opposing their activity finds itself identified as a militant or extremist group in the news media.
The Impact of Conversion:
India is now beginning to realize what the Christian Mission activity is really all about. This is evidenced in states like Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and in other areas in Northeast India and very recently in Orissa as well . As soon as Christians become a majority in a given area, they sow the venom of hatred and strife, turning family member against family member, villager against villager and instigate their Christian followers to ask for self-determination and a Christian Homeland. This is virtually the same technique that the Moslems continue to use with success.
As soon as a convert is made, they are greatly encouraged to vehemently and publicly denigrate their previous culture, traditions and everything related to it. This greatly disrupts the entire community and its normal social and economic activities.
Militant Christians in several of these Northeastern Indian provinces have been forcing non-Christian residents to either convert to Christianity or face capital punishment. With death staring at their face, most of the adult members have fled the villages to escape torture, resulting in disruption of agricultural activities. Buddhist leaders of both the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have strongly condemned the heinous carnage committed by the militants on the peace-loving Buddhists and tribal cult followers.
Because Hindus now know what the Christians are up to, it is time to take some serious steps to counter the Christian propaganda and instill pride in Indians across the nation for their glorious past and distinguished Vedic heritage.
Lessons for Hindu Organizations from Joshua Project and Other Christian strategies:
There are a few important lessons for organizations working for Hindu cause from the data furnished by Joshua Project. One of the most important aspects is that among the “least reached people groups” of the world, more than 30 jaatis are in Bharat.
1. Understanding Our Strengths :
As Swami Vivekananda said,” Each nation, like each individual, has one theme in life, which is at its centre. If any nation attempts to throw off its national vitality, that nation dies. In India, religious life forms the centre”. And that is our strength.
Hindus generally believe that conversions are rampant among all the Scheduled castes and tribes and generally diagnosis is not based on hard data. However, an analysis of the data submitted by the Joshua Project themselves reveals that their attempts to convert many Scheduled castes like “Chamars” have met with little success. In fact the chamars form one the least reached “people groups” in the world.
One of the major reasons for this is the fact that these jaatis( castes) have a strong spiritual base. For example, Joshua Project describes the Chamars( otherwise known as Bhambis) as, “ The Bhambis are Hindu. They belong to the Shiva and Bhagvat sects. Their deities are Bahiroba, Janai, Kandova of Jejori and Bhawani of Tuljapur. They follow the spiritual teachings of Ravidas. They recite mythological tales and sing songs from the religious epics. They celebrate the festivals such as Diwali, Panchami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Kartik, Holi and Hannami.”
( Ref : http://www.joshuaproject.net/peopctry.php?rop3=111752&rog3=IN)
2. Revitalising Forgotten Spiritual traditions : A bit more research into the profiles of the “unreached people groups” reveal that Christian conversion occurs primarily in castes groups (jaatis) where the connectivity with their “kula devatas” and customs( achaaras) has reduced. In fact, money forms a basis for conversion only when the spiritual roots get weakened.
Therefore, if we are to protect Sanatana Dharma viz Hinduism, we need to relook at how to revitalize different “jaatis” with their spiritual traditions.
3. Exposing the Filth within the Church: The Church worldwide, is plagued with problems galore worldwide, right from homosexuality, child and women abuse, illegitimate relationships, trafficking of orphans and similar happenings in India have been reported. The vast majority of Hindus are unaware of these issues and they need to be informed that conversion could mean more harm than the perceived benefits.
4. Spiritual Education to Youth : Hindu organizations need to educate Hindu youth, preferably from all jaatis, with basics of Hinduism, the vital importance of their jaati in the history of Bharat’s spiritual tradition and of course last but not the least, try and work out methods of achieveing social harmony among all the jaatis living in Bharat.
5. Detaching Jaati( caste) from Clutches of Political Leaders: If Hinduism has to survive more number of apolitical social and spiritual leaders need to emerge who can lead the society away from the clutches of the current narrow political leaders. That is the challenge.
Key Sources for more information :
- Goa Inquisition by Priolkar
- History of Hindu Christian Encounters, by Sita Ram Goel, VOI Publications
- The Empire of the Soul by Paul William Roberts (Harper Collins, 1999)
- Paul William Roberts, Empire of the Soul, Some Journeys in India (Riverhead Books, New York)
- Joshua Project – http://www.joshuaproject.net
- Project Thessolanica – http://www.crusadewatch.org
- Partial History of Christian Missionary Atrocities – Burningcross.net