Seven Evangelical media networks active in India
1. CBN India
Headquartered in Gurgaon (Delhi-NCR), the Christian Broadcasting Network claims it reaches across the country sharing the good news of the Gospel coupled with giving assistance to those in need to “one and all without any discrimination of faith, opportunity or status.”
Pat Robertson, founder and Chairman of CBN says, “The events of recent days around the world, remind us that we are living in tumultuous times! Yet in spite of global unrest and uncertainty, and relentless division and rancor…. we can lead successful prosperous and meaningful lives, no matter what this world brings our way.”
CBN also sponsors television programmes, which besides documenting the work of CBN Foundation also propagates tales of people who allegedly overcame life’s many problems with the extraordinary strength of faith (in Christ).
These programmes are telecast in four Indian languages:
- Hindi: ‘Ek Nayee Zindagi‘
- Punjabi: ‘Ik Navi Zindagi‘
- Telugu: ‘Nireekshana‘
- Bengali: ‘Samadhan‘
It is clear that this is an overt propaganda as it paints humanitarian activities in Christian hues, and the TV hosts asking the participants to offer prayers over live broadcast. These shows are broadcasted on television channels like Sony TV.
CBN also makes good use of technology as it has interactive games for children titled ‘Bible Games.’ CBN and its chief Pat Robertson have in the past branded Hindus as devil worshippers and have called for mass-scale conversions.
On 23 March 1995, Robertson in his television program “The 700 Club” said this about Indians:
“I feel that these beautiful people, they are so hungry for God. You know this is the largest democracy in the world, over a billion people, and perhaps this would be considered the most religious country on earth. But they are looking for the wrong God. I believe they are open to Jesus, and my hope is to see 100 million Indians come to the Lord Jesus Christ in the next few years.”
In this video, Pat Robertson cautions against participation in Yoga and seems to think that “Hindu” is a language. And in this video we see Robertson interviewing Dr. Paul Dhinakaran who is the Vice-Chancellor of Karunya University (a Deemed University located in Coimbatore) about his ministry in India. Dinakaran claims even BJP Chief Ministers welcome him to organize ‘miracle shows.’
From a 1995 edition of Hinduism Today:
The March 23rd episode details Robertson’s conversion of some Hindu people of Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh, India, to the Christian religion. In the course of the show, Robertson makes shameful, unChristian accusations against the Hindu faith, the world’s oldest religion. When contacted, Mr. Robertson’s office told us he was “unavailable for comment.”
To begin, Robertson’s experiences in Rajahmundry are described by a narrator. The scene is of a poverty-stricken people, bathing in the river at the head of which rests a statue of Lord Siva. Water is pouring out of Siva’s head and a snake is wrapped around his head as well.
Robertson and his son are found in the midst of the scene, observing and mocking the early morning prayers of Hindus. As they witness the scene, they make incorrect reference to the river as “Siva’s sperm,” and claim that the people “were supposed to wash away their sins in the sperm of the God.”
Robertson goes on to characterize Hinduism as having evil tendencies toward random spiritual worship and polytheism. Mr. Robertson’s son and fellow evangelist, Gordon, stated disparagingly, “Whenever [Hindus] feel any sort of inspiration, whether it’s by a river or under a tree, on top of a hill, they figure that some God or spirit is responsible for that.
And so they’ll worship that tree, they’ll worship that hill or they’ll worship anything.” What was even more regrettable was Robertson’s assertion of some connection between idol worship and the poverty in India. Robertson does not deny his son’s claim that “Wherever you find this type of idolatry, you’ll find a grinding poverty. The land has been cursed.”
But if the argument of poverty as the curse of India is not enough for the American audience of “The 700 Club,” they next hear Hinduism boldly labeled “demonic.” Robertson says, “Siva [is] the God of Destruction, and his consort, the Goddess of death [Kali] — that black, ugly statue there with all those fierce eyes.”
He then suggests that the evil tendencies of death and destruction can be found in those who worship the deities: “I mean these people are out to kill other human beings in the name of their God.”
Pat Robertson also heads the Regent University which trains Indian Christians in the methods of gaining more and more converts. In doing so these graduates are often seen demeaning indigenous traditions.CBN has consistently backed Evangelicals in the Republican Party and many members like Mike Huckabee are open about this association.
Even after police investigations have proved that these were misleading and fraudulent reports, the aforementioned news items have not been corrected. BosNewsLife also provides atrocity literature on caste violence to a neutral-sounding institution namedOxford Centre for Religion and Public Life, headed by an Evangelical academic named Rev’d Canon Dr. Vinay K. Samuel.
Gegrapha has chapters in the United States and across the world and offers annual conferences, opportunities for mentorship, and prayer support.
Gegrapha began as a small prayer group in the mid-1980s when a group of Christians working for several media outlets in Washington, D.C. gathered to pray for the life of Terry Anderson. Anderson was the one-time bureau chief for the Associated Press who was taken hostage by the extremist group Hezbollah and held in captivity until 1991.
By that time, the group had become organized and started functioning as a network. David Aikman, then a senior correspondent for Time magazine, termed this network Gegrapha in 2002. David Aikman is a Christian fundamentalist who believes that:
As journalists all over the world, many of us operate in cultures which either do not acknowledge truth to exist or are hostile to those who claim that it exists and can be known. In this climate, we need to remind ourselves that we serve a King [i.e. Jesus] who embodies both truth and justice, and who indeed is the truth (John 14 : 6).
During the 1999 General Elections in India, NDTV journalist Jennifer Arul was featured prominently at the Gegrapha International Conference in England, where she said:
The burning of a missionary, the rape of nuns, the destruction of churches, the assault on a priest, are ominous signals to Christians of all denominations…. How many perpetrators against the Christian community in Indian have been brought to book? Commissions of inquiry are appointed but very little comes out of them. Action? Seldom! A true picture or a report objectively and dispassionately, to be correct and impartial. It is no wonder that those who try to do their Christian duty are branded as activists. Talking of activists, three days before I left Chennai I met John Dayal, the editor of the midday newspaper, based in Delhi. He has involved himself in the United Christian Council, which is currently involved in telling Christians about various anti-Christian activities around India, activities which, as a journalist, he obviously is privy to. We are due to have our general election during the month of September and the information he gave at that meeting was most valuable. I heard him and I also saw the reaction from the six hundred organizations that were represented…. Christian media persons like ourselves have to use the power we have to influence.
On another occasion she clearly stated that she prioritized her Christian identity over that of a journalist:
Do we believe we are journalists first and foremost and only then does the Christian label get tagged on? It’s a tricky question and one that needs thinking about. As for me, I believe that being a Christian journalist puts me in a uniquely privileged position to bring the truth, as I see it, to my 375 millions viewers who are of course the public Square.
Stephen David is another Gegrapha member who is the principal correspondent on political and current affairs for India Today. The impressions that are created internationally by these Indian Christian journalists, is that Hindus terrorize Christians, and therefore, foreign intervention is necessary for justice for Christians in India.
4. Mission News network
An Evangelical news channel which paints India as a hostile rogue nation.
The oppressive caste system is blocking social mobility. Economic wealth is unevenly distributed. A new Hindu government (in power since May 2014 and led by Hindu hardliner Narendra Modi) is radicalizing society. All traditions of Christianity are affected by persecution in India, but Christian converts from a Hindu background and non-traditional Protestant groups are suffering most. At the top level the influence of fundamentalist Hindus has increased. Hindu radicals have started monitoring Christian activity in much detail. Many of them have planted spies in churches. Reports on pastors and church members beaten because of allegations of conversion are frequent; sometimes Christians are even killed.
Its website named OpenDoors ranks India at #21 in the list of countries “where Christians face the most persecution.” It has put India on a “Watch List.” Open Doorsalso has elaborate statistics and fairly detailed information about the political system of India, demographics, economics, and an entire fact sheet on India.
Also, interestingly, the first item on its “Prayer Points” reads thus:
For Christian converts to stand strong against those who are trying to force a return to Hinduism.[Emphasis added]
5. The Voice of the Martyrs
The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) claims that its organization is dedicated to “assisting our persecuted family worldwide”where “family” means Christians. It is actually an umbrella of several related Christian organizations “started through the influence of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand”and has presence in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.Its website also describes VOM as a “family of missions .collectively called the International Christian Association (ICA).” It runs the innocuously named website, persecution.com and makes no bones about its agenda. It even offers to smuggle Bibles to what it calls “captive nations”:
Christians residing in restricted nations are often denied access to Bibles. This fund helps VOM print and smuggle Bibles to believers—in their own language—who would otherwise live their lives without ever reading the word of God.
6. North India Harvest Network (NIHN)
The stated mission of this network is “Plug, Prem and be Nice” where:
Plug= People in everyLanguage in every urban centre in every geographic division.
Prem= Prayer,Research, Equipping & training and Mobilisation
Nice=Networking, Initiative, Catalyst and Encouraging the missionaries.
This mission statement-cum-tactics have been put into proper use by other groups like the Seventh Day Adventists. Their activities in India started with the Canadian national, D.R. Watts, President for the South Asian Division of Seventh Day Adventists, who had been residing in India on a Business Visa.
When Watts arrived in India in 1997, the Seventh Day Adventist Church had a membership of 2.25 lakhs. Within five years of his arrival, membership shot up to seven lakhs.
Helping the Adventists in their activities is the Maranatha Volunteers International, a non-profit organization based in Sacramento, California which has two main goals. The first is to provide buildings needed for Seventh-day Adventist Churches around the world and, at the same time, to provide opportunities for mission volunteers.
These groups achieved their greatest success in the Ongole municipality in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh. Here, according to Pastor Michael Ryan, director of Global Mission (the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s international outreach department), some 100 Global Mission pioneers completed training and baptized 50 villages surrounding Ongole beginning in September 2000.
7. Assist News Service (ANS)
An evangelical channel known to have links with the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA), which often acts as a pressure group asking the US government to interfere in the internal matters of India.
FIACONA has a controversial history as this news item shows:
A former President of the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA) was arrested and charged with battery after he attempted to choke a demonstrator at a rally protesting the government control of temples in India.
JayachandPallekonda, 62, of 4110 Potter, Des Plaines, was charged with battery after he allegedly choked a demonstrator with his hands outside the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 9301 Bryn Mawr Ave. at 5:39 p.m. May 6.
Click here to watch the former President of FIACONA getting handcuffed by the Rosemont Police. It happens a minute and 13 seconds into the video.
ANS also has links with the infamous Gospel for Asia (read IndiaFacts exposes on Gospel for Asia), which published a news report on ANS as recently as three days ago (Note: IndiaFacts has captured a screenshot of the said news report in case ANS takes it down). The report details how various Churches in India are playing a huge role in the deadly earthquake that has devastated Nepal:
Members from many GFA-supported churches in India are responding unconditionally to the disastrous April 25 earthquake in Nepal with widespread prayer, fasting, generous giving, clothing and food drives, as well as sending relief teams to help restore their neighboring country… Their actions demonstrate the strength of the Christian church in South Asia… Among those responding are Believers Church congregations in the Uttar Pradesh region of northern India…. One of the most generous responses is being organized in Delhi…Gospel for Asia-supported Believers Churches in Kolkata have contributed enough donations to set a goal of rebuilding at least 100 homes, providing rations to 200 families for two to three weeks, and providing for children’s educational needs… Numerous churches have already been involved in fasting and prayer, such as in Bihar, which called for a three-day period of special fasting and prayer for God’s grace… Church-wide observances are scheduled for May 8 in Delhi and May 12 in Udaipur.
Gospel for Asia has served the church in Nepal for more than 25 years. [Emphasis added]
This is just the latest episode that shows the extent of penetration that Gospel for Asia has managed to achieve in North and East India, and shows how well-networked it is, for example, by utilizing ANS as a media platform.