Friday, June 2, 2017

The ethics of conversion -Ram Swarup

Regarded from a deeper angle, Christian proselytizing is
an arrogant idea, a denial both of God and of one's
neighbour; it denies God, denies his working in others,
denies the many ways in which he fulfills himself. It
helps neither the missionaries for the converts.
Addressing Jewsh missionaries of his days, Jesu said,"Woe
upto you, hypocrited You compass land and sea in order to
make a proselyte, and make him twofold more the child of
tell than yourselves".
Mahatma Gandhi found Christian proselytizing to be the
"deadliest poison that ever sapped the foundation of
truth". To him it embodies a double falsehood. He saw "no
spiritual hunger" in the nominal converts and no
"spiritual inert" in professional missionaries To him a
missionary was "like any end or of goods". He said that
if he had "power to legislate", he "should certainly stop
all proselytizing."
That missionaries attract the word elements of a society
without improving them in any way is the testimony of
many missionaries. Abbe J.A. Dubois the well-known
missionary of the century, after being in the business
for 25 year, says that two-thirds of his concerts were
"pariahs" and declare it `with shame and confusion that I
do not remember any one who may be said to have embraced
Christianity from con victim"; that when their
expectation were not met, many of them "relapsed into
paganism." He end with the "humiliating avowal, that
those who continued as Christian are the very worst among
my flock".
Proselytizing of Christian conception is both unspiritual
and un-natured. Therefore, there is no wonder that such
abnormal aims need abnormal means to achieve them. We
need not go here into the story of how Christian came to
triumph, what it did to achieve its, ends `in different
regions and centuries, how it subjected first the
Mediterranean region and then Northern Europe, how it
persecuted pagans, the Jews and then it own heretics, how
it persecuted cultures, peoples, different modes of
worship and different views of God, how it launched once
a career of persecution sustained, systematic and
unifying change, how after subjugating Europe, it carried
its excess to other parts of the world, to Asia the
Americans and Africa.
During the last centuries, of what may be called the
European era. Christianity and Western Imperialism have
been close partners. India's first contact with
Christianity was not unhappy. India found the Portuguese
destroying temples and foreign people to convert. India
got respite from these excesses when the British came
upon the scene. But they too worked for Christianity
though more indirectly. Education and relief work were
placed in the hands of the missionaries and they used
then for proselytizing.
The advantage of relief work after a disaster and in fact
of the disaster itself as a great support to
proselytizing was noticed by missionaries quite early. 
India and its Missions, an official Catholic publication,
issued by the American Caption in Mission Monks (1923),
discusses the Spiritual Advantages of Famine and Cholera
under that very heading! It quotes the report of the
Archdiocese of Pondicherry to his superiors in Europe:
"The famine has wrought miracles. The catechumenates are
filling, baptismal water flows in streams, and starting
little tots fly in masses to heaven."
A amine was put to other similar missionary uses. Mahatma
Gandhi writes in Harijan (May 11, 1935) "Only the other
day a missionary descended on a famine area with money in
his pocket, distributed it among the famine stricken,
converted them to his fold, look charge of their temple,
and demolished it. The temple could belong to the
converted Hindus and it could not belong to the Christian
missionary. But the friend goes and gets it demolished at
the hands of the very men who only a little ago believed
that God was there".
Regarding Christian schools, India and its Missions says
that "conversion may often be traced to the schools."
About their medical ministry, it says that a "hospital is
a ready made congregation; there is no need to go into
the highways and hedges and compel them to come in", a
reference to a biblical text which has been used for
justifying forced conversions. It describes certain
subterfuges practised there. For example, in an operation
case, prayers are offered for the patient in the presence
of his relatives, the pagan servants or pagan pupil
nurses `in a language they understand'. When the cure is
effected it appears "marvellous" to them and they "very
naturally attribute the one to the other".
Such practices are not things that belonged to the part.
They still continue. Hinduism Today (Hawai) gives many
instances of similar practices reported to it during the
last decade from different parts of the Hindu world. They
reveal the same pattern of coersion and deception. In
many places, missionaries adopt the dress and titles of
Hindu sanyasins and run "ashrams" to become more
acceptable. Other methods are palpably more-dishonest.
For example in Denmark, evangelists will go to a Hindu's
home, read the Bible, then come back the next day and
say, "Because we have read the Bible in your home, you
are now a Christian.' Evangelists in India will leave
food for a family, then return and say, "Because you ate
my food, you are now a Christian." Others have made idols
of Jesus out of wood and a Hindu God out of stone ,
placed them in water and said, "See, your idol sinks,
therefore ours is greater." In 1993, a new convert in
Fiji burned a Hindu temple to the ground to "see if the
God could save it."
Put to this kind of test, Jehovah and Atlah would fare no
Denigration of other religions is a common enough method
in which the fanciful testimony of ex-Hindus, Hindus,
real or invented, is often. The boot Death of a Guru with
its wildly implausible tales is one current instance.
But the old era is coming to a close. Christian Europe is
losing its old position of domination. Other countries
mostly Muslims are asserting themselves. But tolerant
religions have yet to learn to stand up and speak cut. 
Muslims countries have stopped missionaries from making
converts from among them, but they still find it
profitable to allow them to make converts from Muslims of
their countries. For example, the Indonesian Government
does not allow conversion of Indonesian Muslims but the
missionaries are allowed to work among the "animists and
Hindus and make their conversions there. It is the same
in Pakistan and Bangladesh, Missionaries are kept to
hamour by being allowed to make their conversion from
among the Hindus and the Buddhist chakrams and the
"animists". David Barrett, in his world Christian
Encyclopaedia gives the information that recent
conversions in Sindh and southern Punjab (8000 Catholic
baptisms and 5000 Protestant baptisms) have been from the
Hindu fold. Similarly he tells us that the Hindus
millions who have had to live in refugee camps "since 975
were increasingly open to Christian evangelism."
In the past, "Freedom of Religion" meant to Christian
protection of their "right" to seek without hindrance
converts from among the world's peoples. But his has to
Missionary activity is the major plank of organised
Christianity. At present 4,000 Mission Agencies operate
huge apparatus of Christian world missions manned by
262,300 missionaries costing eight billion dollars
annually. Their activities and methods have created havoc
in many traditional societies. They have engulfed
continents and whole civilisations. Old Americas are
almost completely lost. Africa in caught in the fires of
two proselytizing religions and it would be a miracle it
could retain its identity. Conversion continues at a
massive scale. Between 1970-85, Christianity won here
1,470,000 converts annually, or "4000 converts a day" as
a British Journal reported with pride. In South Asia
which include countries like India and Sri Lanka, the
annual gain during the same period was 44,000 convers. 
All these tactics amount to a distressing political and
social problem for Hindus as a whole, but they have
particularly unsettling for the tribal people. They have
traditionally belonged to the larger Hindu stream, but
effort have been afoot for a hundred years to separate
them for the main current. They are called "animists" and
"aborigines." And out them, Gandhi said that "we were
stranger to this sort of classification... but we have
learnt from the English rules."
How long will the traditions tolerant religions be able
to with stand the powerful, financial well-oiled
onslaught of the missionaries? Are they to have a
safeguards? Would the world sciences continue to sleep?
Thank to the powerful missionary loft in the United
Nations, its universe declarations of human rights (1948
states that every individual has right to embrace the
religion or belief to his choice. But it there to the no
similar charter that declare that countries, cultures and
peoples of tolerant philosophies and religions, too have
a right of protection against aggressive, systematic
proselytizing? Are its well drilled legionaries, organise
round a fanatic and totalitarian idea, to have a free
field? Should not the missionary apparatus by wound up in
the interest of justice and fair play?
We know world bodies reflect underlying power realities 
and they would do little in these large matters. Yet
should they not develop some ethical guidelines in the
matter of conversion? Should not the proselytizing
religions by asked to observe minimum ethics in their
mission? Must they give us all norms, all scruples?

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