Christian Expansionism: A study
This is the concluding part of the series titled ‘Are Indian Tribals Hindus’
Christianity spread by way of four Grand Tactics, which are still as effective today as they were in the past:
1. Conversion: Conversion of individuals and groups from other “False Religions” to the “One True Religion” is the most fundamental tactic of Christian expansionism. To begin with, within the Roman Empire, this was done from below: i.e. individuals were converted and initiated into the Christ-cult, first in Palestine and then in Rome itself, on the force of the fanatical zeal of the already initiated, the promise of everlasting pleasures in heaven (for those who accepted Christ and his God as the only path to liberation) coupled with threats of everlasting tortures in hell (for those who, whether or not they accepted Christ, accepted that there could possibly be other paths to liberation), and the community bonding of the converted. The early history of Christianity is the history of Crypto-Christians in Rome: secret Christian cultists who met in secret places, including underground catacombs, and organized themselves and initiated others into their cult.
But with the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine (306-337 CE), conversions started from above as well, i.e. rulers were converted to Christianity and they slowly (or swiftly by issuing edicts) Christianized the lands. A primary method was to get a Christian convert girl to marry the king, emperor or ruler; secretly convert the male progeny of the marriage to Christianity; see that this secretly converted prince becomes the king, emperor or ruler after his non-Christian father; if possible see that his queen is also another converted Christian; and finally gradually employ the full force of the royal or imperial power to make Christianity the official religion, convert large sections of the populace to Christianity, persecute or severely handicap those who refuse to convert, and finally to spread the Word to other kingdoms and lands by aligning with Christian populations in those kingdoms and lands and using them to help conquer those kingdoms and lands and continue the same process there. This was the method by which Rome was converted, and which set off the trigger of conversions over the whole of Europe and the rest of the world in the course of time. This was the method which similarly almost worked in ancient Persia (see Sohrab Modi’s film “Nausherwan-e-Adil”), but then the Islamic hurricane came and wiped out all the gains there. This is also the method which almost worked in modern post-Independence India!
Today this Conversion or Proselytisation is at work on a grand scale in the tribal areas, mofussil rural areas, remote suburban areas, and, within the urban areas, in slums, footpath-dwellings and isolated localities, carried out on a systematic basis by foreign or local missionaries or strategically established “miracle” centres. Converts are generally of two kinds: direct converts and crypto-Christians. Crypto-Christians, who are secret converts to Christianity, are found mainly among (a) scheduled caste converts (since they lose their constitutional rights to reservations on open conversion, and hence the sustained campaigns to extend reservations to “scheduled caste” Christians), (b) tribal converts (in areas, e.g. Arunachal Pradesh, where there is strong and often violent reaction within the particular tribes to conversions. This continues till the converts achieve enough numbers to come out of the closet) and (c) among certain categories of socially well-placed converts (who feel they will be better placed to serve the cause by remaining crypto-Christian and working behind the scenes than by declaring their conversion openly). The proportions of the conversions going on in India today are humongous (to borrow Jaipal Reddy’s favourite phrase) and simply should not be underestimated. The various methods and tactics employed need not be spelled out here: the Niyogi Commission had exposed them in ruthless detail very long ago.
2. Military Strategy: This is the second tactic of Christian expansionism. Christian expansionism is not merely “conversion” by hook or crook involving only the individual Proselytisers and the individual Proselytised; it is a Perpetual War carried out on a war footing with full military precision. There are international think-tanks and organisations, with multi-billion dollar budgets, which plan out and execute the conversion campaigns in different countries. And they have huge armies of foot soldiers. In recent times, most of them, who may have been rivals in earlier times, often carry on their activities in coordination with each other. Their budgets and strategies are not secret documents or products of the fevered imaginations of opponents: they are set out in detail in black-and-white in their own publications, and are referred to and quoted by opponents (in India, notably in the writings of Ram Swarup and in related Voice of India publications).
These Proselytising Armies are backed by three categories of back-up groups which facilitate the expansionist activities of the warriors: (a) powerful lobbies within the mother countries (the USA, Australia, various European countries, etc.) which exert pressures on their respective governments to in turn exert pressures on India and on international bodies, (b) effective moles and Trojan horses within the media, intelligentsia, academia, political parties and social organisations (including NGOs), judiciary and bureaucracy of the targeted country, and (c) effective moles and Trojan horses actually within the religious organisations of the targeted communities themselves. The combined potential of all these various open or hidden forces is almost limitless.
In India, there is a further strategic alliance by the Christian expansionists: with Islamic forces, Leftist and Secularist political forces, and casteist forces.
3. Hidden Indoctrination: A third major tactic of Christian expansionism is hidden indoctrination through educational institutions. A significant proportion of the white collar and the upper crust segments of society (particularly in India) are educated in English schools, and most of them are run by Catholic or other Christian organisations. Now an increasing number of educational institutions run by Christian organisations also give education in regional languages, particularly in semi-rural and tribal areas. These educational institutions turn out ex-students in the millions who occupy positions of importance in all fields of society.
These ex-students continue to be followers of their respective religions, but without realizing it a very large number of them have internalized some of the tenets, principles and beliefs of Christianity, or have learned to view things through not just Western but specifically Christian categories and viewpoints. They are indoctrinated from the earliest formative years through the media of “children’s story books” with a marked Christian stance, advice by teachers to visit the chapel or pray to Jesus whenever in trouble, sympathetic Nuns and Fathers (or preachers in Protestant schools) who give counselling to them in their problems, “moral science” periods for non-Christian students (while Christian students have Bible Classes) with text-books emphasising the “truth” of “monotheism” over “atheism”, “polytheism” or “pantheism” or subtly preaching the errors of “idol-worship”, regular story-telling sessions on the “historic” life of Jesus or “non-religious” talks by visiting missionaries, choir singing for all (especially in girls’ schools), etc.
Thus, without actually converting them, Christian expansionism creates an automatic sympathetic spectrum of people within the targeted non-Christian society which creates a very conducive atmosphere for actual conversion activity and neutralizes opposition.
4. Popular Perception-Building: The fourth important tactic is building up a popular image based on myths and perceptions which neutralizes public opposition to Christian expansionism. This takes Christian influence beyond its converts, strategic allies and indoctrinated students, into the domain of common people not otherwise influenced by Christianity in general.
Thus, there is the common lazy-intellect belief that “all religions say the same thing” which is particularly strong among Hindus. This is applied to both Christianity and Islam. The common Hindu, who may not know the “a b c” of either the Bible or the Quran and Hadiths, or of the history of either Christianity or Islam, will knowledgeably assert that “all religions”, including or particularly Christianity and Islam, are religions of “peace” and “love”. “No religion teaches you to steal, kill or hate”, they will sagely affirm, as if they have studied the tenets of all religions in great detail. Likewise, they will visit the dargahs of Muslim peers, and the churches of Christian “saints”, with equal respect and devotion.
But when it comes to viewing the two communities (Christian and Muslim), as opposed to the two religions (Christianity and Islam), there is a vast difference in approach. The common Hindu knows little or nothing about the bloody history of the early Church Fathers, the Popes, the Crusaders, the founders and perpetrators of the Inquisition, the Templars and the Jesuits, the Conquistadors, the missionaries, etc. Of course, he also knows little or nothing about the bloody history of early Islam in West Asia from the day of its foundation.
But he does know (in spite of over half a century of apologetics and falsification of history by Leftist and Secularist historians) about the barbarism of the umpteen Muslim invaders and rulers of India, the Muslim League during the Independence movement, the Muslim Underworld in India, the nature of Islamic rule in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the activities of the Pakistani Army, ISI, Taliban, international Islamic terrorists, and, presently, the ISIS. What he sees around him, in the speeches of Mullas and Muslim politicians, the generally visible Muslim sympathies for extra-Indian Islamic entities and issues and the propensity to indulge in violence in their support, the disquieting practice of large scale public ritual slaughter of animals during Bakr Id, etc., only adds to the picture. The common Hindu is therefore inclined to be prejudiced against the common Muslim in general. This prejudice becomes apparent in daily life: how many Hindus would like to buy a house and reside permanently deep inside a Muslim locality, or would like to see a Muslim buying a house in their society or building, or would take a Muslim paying guest in their own house? How many Hindus would be all right with finding out that their daughter wanted to marry a Muslim?
On the other hand, the public relations work of Christian missionaries has been excellent. The religion, known of course for its well-established system of expansion through schools and hospitals, has somehow acquired a “saintly” image. The picture of much-publicized “Nobel laureate Indian” Mother Teresa (the truth about whom is unknown to the gullible Hindu) adorns police stations, government offices and countless Hindu homes, along with the photos of Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Bose, Shastri and Indira Gandhi, and her name is invoked by everyone, from schoolgirls to beauty contest aspirants and winners, as their “ideal”. This one name perhaps symbolizes the success of Christian propaganda more than anything else. It follows that while Bollywood films regularly depict Hindu priests as corrupt, crafty and villainous, Christian priests and nuns are regularly depicted as the epitome of compassion: they inevitably appear on the scene when the Hindu heroine or child or old person is in trouble and shower their compassion and help on them (a benign “my child” being a ubiquitous phrase in their speech), although on the international level, they are most famously known for their pederasty! The Christian missionary and priest, known everywhere in the world as the very epitome of craftiness, ruthlessness and treachery, has become, in the eyes of the common Hindu, a benign, saintly figure.
In combination with the increasing westernization of Indian society (and the spread of Christmas, etc. celebrations on a large scale in modern times), Christianity, which is on the decline everywhere in Europe and America itself, is on a roll in India. The attitude of the general Hindu public towards Christian expansionism ranges mostly from the indifferent to the faintly admiring. I still remember the admiring tone in which the Hindu girl, at the counter of the neera stall outside the Khadi Emporium near Hutatma Chowk in Mumbai, said (in Marathi), “how devoted they are to their religion, no?”, as I stood there with a glass of neera in my hand while a protesting crowd of hundreds-of-thousands of Mumbai Christians passed in a vociferous procession through the streets in 1978 in protest against the Freedom of Religion Bill sought to be introduced in Parliament by MP Om Prakash Tyagi. It never even struck her that her admiration for the “religious devotion” of a crowd which was demanding their right to convert people from her religion into theirs spoke volumes for her own lack of devotion to her own religion!
In these circumstances, Christian expansionism is clearly at least as dangerous as Islamic terrorism to India – perhaps more so in being a silent and unrecognized killer.
Tribal Religions vis-à-vis Christianity and Hinduism
Keeping in mind that by tribal religions, we are referring only to the Hindu Category Three religions (Sarna, Donyi Polo, Khasi, Meitei, Garo, and possibly others practiced by more microscopic sections of other isolated tribes), since the other tribals are themselves fully conscious that their religious practices are “Hindu” (which is why they clearly declare their religion to be “Hindu” in the census, as accepted even by the Joshua Project), can we say that these Hindu Category Three tribal religions are neutral between Christianity and Hinduism?
The first and most fundamental factor which places Hinduism and these tribal religions in one fundamental category completely distinct from Christianity is the geographical factor. Hinduism Category One, Hinduism Category Two and Hinduism Category Three religions are all Indian religions, as distinct from Christianity which is a foreign import.
This has further automatic implications. It means that the sacred places, the sacred rivers, mountains and groves, the sacred plants, animals and birds, the materials used in religious rituals, etc. of all the three Categories of religions are Indian. India is the stage of activity of the acts and events involving all the historical and mythological characters in the narratives of all these religions. The languages in which the original religious lore, poetry and traditions of all these religions are couched are Indian languages. The traditional religious music, the traditional religious food, the traditional religious costumes, etc. of all these religions are representative of the traditional culture of some part or the other of India. The traditional religious beliefs and rituals of all these religions are derived from their Indian ancestors.
This geographical factor alone and in itself is so important that Dr Ambedkar placed emphasis not only on the necessity of placing in one legal class the followers of all religions other than those of foreign origin (Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Judaism), but put the matter in even more categorical terms with specific reference to the question of conversion itself: “If the depressed classes join Islam or Christianity, they not only go out of the Hindu religion, but they also go out of the Hindu culture…What the consequences of conversion will do to the country as a whole is well worth bearing in mind. Conversion to Islam or Christianity will denationalize the depressed classes” (DhanajayKeer: “Dr Ambedkar: Life and Mission”, p.279). That conversion to Christianity (or Islam) would “denationalize” the converted Indians, with adverse “consequences” for “the country as a whole” was very clearly a matter of deep concern to him.
But the geographical factor is only the beginning. Quite apart from the fact that there is no form of religious belief or philosophy (from atheism, through agnosticism, to all forms of “theism”, and from the most “ahimsak” philosophy to the most violent bloody rituals) which is not found in some part or the other of Hinduism, and which therefore, basically makes it almost impossible to point out fundamental opposition between Hinduism and any particular tribal religious system, the fact is that all the tribal religions have features which fit into the most basic accepted definitions of standard Hinduism: idol-worship, totemism, polytheism, pantheism, animism, worship of the elements and of nature, belief in reincarnation, ancestor worship, etc., every single one of which is pure anathema to Christianity. Note that in the Wikipedia entry on the Karbi tribe, quoted earlier, we are told with a straight face that the “practitioners of traditional worship believe in reincarnation and honour the ancestors”. In fact, almost all these elements, and even most of the local deities in every village and town of India, which are now the core of Hinduism, entered standard Hindu religion from these very local tribal religions in the course of millenniums of mutual interaction and influence; even as every local tribe and community preserved its own religious traditions without interference, a circumstance which would have been impossible in a Christian dominated country.
And by this is not meant only some mediaeval Inquisition-instituting and Crusades-mongering Christian country: see what has been the fate of other Pagan religions which have fallen prey to the Proselytising Armies in the very citadel of the Proselytisers, the U.S.A., which, along with its other white colleague nations (in Europe, Australia and the Americas), is always first and foremost in condemning any curbs on “religious freedom” (read curbs on missionaries) in India, and which prides itself on being the beacon of internal Democracy and Freedom:
“From the 1600s European Catholic and Protestant denominations sent missionaries to convert the tribes to Christianity. These efforts intensified during the mid 19th century through mid-20’th as US Government and Christian churches’ joint efforts forcibly registered Native Americans as Christians, which caused contemporaneous official government records (and sources that reference these government records) to show “Christianity” as the majority religion of Native Americans for the past 100 years. These forcible conversions often occurred through US government and Christian church cooperative efforts that forcibly removed Native American children from their families, and forcibly moved those Native children into a Christian-US government operated system of American Indian boarding schools (aka The Residential Schools) where Native children were indoctrinated in European Christian beliefs, mainstream American culture and the English language. This forcible conversion and suppression of Indigenous languages and cultures continued through the 1970s.
As part of the US government’s suppression of traditional Indigenous religions, most ceremonial ways were banned for over 80 years by a series of US Federal laws that banned traditional sweat lodge and sun dance ceremonies, among others. This government persecution and prosecution continued until 1978 with the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA).” (Wikipedia entry on “Native American Religion”)
All this, please note, was being done blatantly and on a war footing in the U.S.A. till 1978. Must we assume there was a sudden magical about turn in that year which miraculously brought about an overwhelming love for the indigenous religions of the native American Indians in the hearts of those who had been carrying on the above mentioned activities so blatantly till then, and that the suppression and persecution completely ceased thereafter?
When those same ruthless forces of Christian Evangelization, who thought nothing of indulging in the above barbarism to destroy the native religions of the U.S.A., send their Proselytizing Armies into India to do the same to the native religions of India (whether Hindu Category One, Two or Three), clearly it is the duty of all the native religions to unite against the common enemy. And clearly it is not only the right of Hindus to protect the tribals (whether Hindu Category One, Two or Three) from the depredations of Christian missionaries, it is their sacred duty to protect their fellow-Indians and fellow-Hindus from these wolves. Anyone who has read beyond the leftist and missionary sponsored articles in the media blaming Hindu organisations, every time there is conflict over conversions in tribal areas, will see that the conflicts are basically between the converted tribals and the non-converted tribals, the latter literally fighting a last-ditch battle for the preservation of their ancestral religions from the Proselytising Armies with their multi-pronged military divisions.
Note: (1)Hinduism Category One itself is basically a Parliament of (Indian) Religions. (2) If there are some religions born out of mainstream Hinduism (Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism) which have acquired distinctive identities over the centuries, they have still remained part of the Hindu cultural stream (having a common history, a common viewpoint towards life, common religious symbols like Om, respect for Sanskrit as a Sacred language and for the saffron colour as a Sacred colour, vegetarianism as an ideal ethic, similar religious-philosophical terms and institutions, etc., and, as Dr.Ambedkar pointed out: “The application of the Hindu Code to Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains was a historical development, and it would be too late, sociologically, to object to it. When the Buddha differed from the Vedic Brahmins, he did so only in matters of creed, but left the Hindu legal framework intact. He did not propound a separate law for his followers. The same was the case with Mahavir and the ten Sikh Gurus” (Keer, p.427).) And, (3) if some tribal religions have retained or acquired identities with a distinctive name, all these are included within the different Categories of Hinduism (One, Two and Three), which together form a Full Parliament of Indian Religions. In fact, all these Categories of Hinduism fall within a larger Parliament of World Religions, namely Paganism (which includes all the native religions which existed in the world before the rise of the Abrahamic Religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam).
Strangely, while this whole article has been only about the conversion of “tribals”, whom the ubiquitous moles of the missionaries in India assure us are “not Hindus”, the main theme dominating the media these days is about the inalienable right of the missionaries to convert Hindus (including Hindu Category One Hindus) coupled with the utter inadmissibility of any right of Hindus to even re-convert converted Hindus back to the fold! “Why does not Modi speak out against the ghar-wapasi programs of the VHP?” is theHindus (incluf common refrain among media people, who never bother to ask why Modi does not speak out against Christian missionaries, almost as if they believe that the BJP came to power only on the development plank, and put Hindu issues on the back burner in its election campaign, but it also at the same time promised: “we will not allow Hindu organisations to reconvert ex-Hindus to Hinduism, but we will allow missionaries to continue to convert Hindus to Christianity”! And the media is on a campaign to convince the nation that the “youth” are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the BJP because of its failure to curb re-conversions to Hinduism, as if those same youth are perfectly all right with conversions from Hinduism to Christianity; and that the “youth” feel that allowing Hindu organisations to reconvert ex-Hindus to Hinduism is a “deviation” from the “development agenda”, but allowing missionaries to convert Hindus to Christianity is not!
If all this is not the height of slave mentality, what is? [This is not to suggest that the expectations of the media are necessarily misplaced. Past experiences have shown that the BJP abandons its Hindu “cards” as soon as it comes to power, and becomes a super-secular version of the Congress, more dangerous than the Congress because it converts militant Hindus into apologists for its about turns. And when “Hindu” organisations organize and publicize farcical and self-defeating “gharwapasi” events like the one in Agra, it does not help. But, even if the media expectations from the BJP are well-founded ones, that does not make it any the less slave mentality]
No Hindu organisation need spend its time and energy in trying to explain its position on conversions to its critics. The need of the hour is to bring to a grinding halt the military incursions of the missionaries and to protect the cultures and traditions of Hindus (Category One, Two and Three).
As the Catholic theologian Louis Veuillot (1813-1883) arrogantly declared; “when we Catholics are in a minority, we demand freedom in the name of your principles; when we Catholics are in the majority, we deny freedom in the name of our principles”. This is the basic principle of the predator religions, and it is up to us to decide once and for all whether this state of affairs is to be allowed to be continued till we are completely annihilated, or whether it is time to wake up before it is too late.
Hindus should refuse to be treated any more like Oliver Twist asking for more. The need of the hour is for all the three Categories of Hindus, along with the other few remnants of other Pagan religions still surviving in the world, to unite positively against Christian Evangelism and to recognize and isolate the moles and Trojan horses within their own fold who are working to create divisions and cleavages among them.