Need For Dialogue on Conversion
Posted March 14, 2004
By Dina Nath Mishra
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's call for a national debate on conversion during his visit to Gujarat has bring back the focus of propaganda of Gujarat violence to some extent. The real problem lies in exploitation of poverty and ignorance of Tribal and other people targeted by Christian missionaries. The Constitution of India guarantees the freedom of faith and preaching. But Christian missionaries generally employ unethical method of allurement and direct and indirect coercion for conversion. This is against the letter and spirit of constitutional provision. This is also against the social harmony has been evident in the Hindu Tribal backlash in Gujarat in the form of small-small incidents in which not a single person died. The incidents of Gujarat have been blown out of proportion. So much has been propagated in the National and International media. The fact that the first attack was launched by Christians. A Hanuman Temple was damaged and just a few hours after a Hindu gathering was stoned by Christians. This triggered the chain reaction and a mountain was made out of molehill by powerful Christian lobby. There was band wagon effect on media for all anti-BJP forces joined the condemning orchestra.
We all know that for last 50 or more years missionaries were active in Assam hill areas. Nagaland and Mizoram became Christian majority areas. Hindus had to face the burnt of conversion in a big way. From Mizoram alone 41,000 Hindu Tribal had to leave their home and hearth in last few years for they resisted conversion. They are now camping in neighbouring areas. All great leaders, champion of secularism did not utter a word against the atrocities of Christians or in the sympathy of unfortunate Hindus who were pushed out. They are being looked after by Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. They are the victims of Christian fundamentalism like Kashmiri Hindus who had to leave the Kashmir valley because of the terrorism of Islamic fundamentalists. That was again due to forcible conversion that took place in Aurangazeb era and onward. Numerous examples like these can be cited.
The point is the conversion by sword or by exploitation of poverty and ignorance has been a big problem which India has faced for centuries and is still facing. Millions of dollars are pouring in every year for Christian missionaries for conversion purposes. Similarly huge amount of petro-dollars are being sent from Gulf countries to Islamic organisations in India for similar objective. The collapse of Christianity in the West has forced the Vatican to look for new pastures in the East, India in particular. They see soft target in Hindus for they are tolerant by tradition and are safe to convert by hook or by crook. Vatican officials, including the present Pope, have made no secret that the conversion of Hindus remains their highest priority.
It is important point to note that the Vatican is one of the world's largest financial institutions, though operating under the cloak of religion. Indian Constitution allows tax exemptions to Christian institutions but none to Hindu institutions. This has created an opportunity for Vatican controlled financial institutions to hide their money. A good deal of its income derives from criminal activities like narcotics smuggling. Several officials of the Vatican Bank like Archbishop Marcinkus, Luigi Benini, Carlo Bordoni and many others have been found guilty of criminal offenses by European and American courts. A high Vatican official, Cardinal Posadas Ocampo was recently assassinated in Mexico when he was engaged in some activity on behalf of a Colombian druglord. The Vatican has very close ties with the Italian Mafia. The Vatican is absolutely ruthless when it comes to using its power and influence. For example, in 1964, it threatened to destroy the Italian stock market when the Italian government tried to tax the Vatican's profits.
The major Christian denominations argue that conversion is no longer on their agenda. These are Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, Orthodox Church, Syrian Christians, etc. They say, what the minor sects do is not approved by them. They are confined to social work. They resent their being clubbed with the minor Adventists. In this context, it may be noted that the conversion business is more zealously carried out by some minor Christian sects; minor in the sense of papal recognition, but more active than the major ones. These are identified officially and by NGOs as the Seventh Day Adventists, Born-again Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses. They are active in South India especially in Kerala. These are known to be the main activists who are in the forefront of the conversion activities in South Gujarat. These busybodies, have abundant foreign funds coming from their parent bodies in the US and Europe. These parent bodies deploy their representatives to supervise the work of these minor sects in India.
Ascendancy of Sonia Gandhi to the top of the Congress has boosted the morale of Christian missionaries in general and Congress leaders belonging to Christian faith in particular. High placing of half-a-dozen Christian leaders of Congress including those have Hindu names has clearly sent the signals of working of the Sonia Gandhi's mind. She chose to visit the violence affected areas of Dang to further politicise high voltage anti-BJP propaganda. This was done primarily to give signals to all minorities by underlining that BJP is communal. The fact that even oldest Gandhians whom I quoted last week too have said that the problem lies in conversion.
India is a country having civilisational tradition of at least 5,000 years of respecting all religions. The Constitutional secularism in India is not any improvement over the traditional respect and even welcome attitude for other faith. India is a secular country because it is predominantly Hindu. The day Hindus lose majority in any part of India, it is dominated by the religion which distinguish between believers and non-believers. In the affected district of Gujarat Christian population has reached 40 per cent because of conversion. The incident of December 25 was indicative of its reaching boiling point. The area was heating for long. Many of the tribals who had become Christians wanted to come back to Hinduism. This enraged the Christian missionaries. Even at 40 per cent level missionaries were intolerant enough to harass who got reconverted. They tried to stop their prayers. They broke number of idols. The area was under tension for quite some time. When missionaries dared to attack Hindu tribal congregation in an organised way the tension exploded. The root cause was the conversion.
The respect for other religion in Hinduism itself became principal cause of becoming target of Christianity. It was put by father J. Monchanin, a Catholic priest 'India has received from the Almighty an uncommon gift, an unquenchable thirst for whatever spiritual. From the Vedic and Upanishadic times, a countless host of her sons have been great seekers of God.... Unfortunately, Indian wisdom is tainted with erroneous tendencies and looks as if it has not yet found its own equilibrium. So was Greek wisdom before Greece humbly received its Paschal message of the Risen Christ But once Christianized, Greece rejected her ancestral errors." Greek civilization was destroyed. Hindu tolerance is not ready to be destroyed by its own tolerance. All Indians including Hindus and Christians have to live together. Quarrel generating conversion have to be done away with. Willing conversion or re-conversion or change of religion to whatever faith is ethical and constitutional.