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Christian Missionaries hurting India

Christian Missionaries hurting India



Christian missionaries have become increasingly visible and controversial in India. As I grew up as a Christian, I would like to share my observations from a personal angle.

When it comes to religion, I noticed that Indians tread cautiously. Care is taken ‘not to offend the sensibilities’ of the followers of other religions. Well, I should specify: Hindus take care not to offend the sensibilities of Christians and Muslims. As those are in the minority, it is argued, they need special consideration so that they don’t feel threatened by the Hindu majority.  It is true that those religions are in the minority in India, but worldwide, both religions are very powerful with great financial and political clout to achieve their objective which is to bring as many people as possible into their fold. This clout is reflected even in the Indian media and politics. Just observe how mainstream media report on minorities. I can’t help feeling that there is a clever Public Relation strategy behind the scenes. In contrast, Hinduism clearly has no PR strategy. ‘Truth will triumph’, is the motto here, never mind if it takes ages.

Sometimes I hear the following argument for a laid back attitude: ‘Just because missionaries despise Hinduism, it does not become bad.’ This is true, but it would not harm anyone and might benefit many, if Hindus would refute the obnoxious accusations that Hinduism is a primitive, polytheistic religion, as it certainly is not. One can present the profound tenets of Sanatana Dharma, as Hinduism used to be called before foreign rule, if not point out the shortcomings of the dogmatic founder religions.

Pointing out the shortcomings of other religions seems to be a taboo for Hindus. I wonder why. Debates on religious issues were common in ancient India and were of the highest order. Women also took part in those debates, which are recorded in the Upanishads. Adi Shankara challenged the Buddhists in debates. Yet today there is not much discussion on religion or philosophy. One reason may be that a part of the intellectual class in India has been influenced by the British to such an extent that they adopted the view that Hinduism is primitive without ever reading any of the ancient scriptures. It is a small, but influential group that is ever ready to defend the minority religions.

Often, Hindus declare that all religions are equal as they all believe in the same God as there is of course only one. Yet are they equal? Christianity (and Islam, too) refute this view. It declares that it is not only superior but “the one and only way” and therefore everyone needs to join it to be saved. The Church claims that Jesus Christ himself commanded to go out and convert. So they have the ‘duty’ to convert the whole world population to their ‘professed truth’. And the Church goes about it with great zeal and dubious means.

Of course every religion has good points. They all point to the Highest; they all stress the need for an ethical life. They all give hints how to connect with God. Yet one should be very wary if there are also ‘bad’ points, like if a religion divides humanity into those who are saved and those who are eternally damned.

So what distinguishes Christianity from Hinduism so that it feels superior? The main point is the status of Jesus Christ. It is just not enough to see in him a great enlightened sage or an avatar. He is claimed to be the only son of God, whom God had sent to earth and who, through his death, has saved mankind.  This of course is difficult to understand and cannot be understood. It has to be believed. It is a dogma and dogma means, there is no proof. So why should one believe it? Because it has been decided in some council some 1700 years back that this is the truth and Christians have to believe it.




Unfortunately Christians do believe it. I, for example, ‘knew’ already in primary school in a small town in Germany, that we, i.e. the Roman Catholics, were ‘right’ and all others, including the Protestants in the neighbourhood, ‘wrong’. As a teenager, however, I started questioning and almost lost faith in God. I could not believe in the personal God anymore who loves his Church and sends all heathens to hell. One uncle happened to be a priest and in his library I read about the history of the Church. It was an eye-opener – the decadence of the popes, the bloody conversion of South America, the literal killing of any dissent, the scheming for power and wealth… Together with religion I was about to throw out God as well, as He seemed inextricably linked with it.

Then I read an article on modern physics. It said that the whole creation basically is one energy. “This means there is a God!”  I realized. God cannot possibly be biased towards one group against another. He has to be the ground of everybody and everything.

When I came to India, I was amazed how profound her ancient wisdom was – a wisdom that does not have any dogmas and does not divide people into us versus them. ‘Brahman’ or ‘Tat’ of the Vedas is not a personal God that has likes and dislikes, but the invisible, conscious basis of all forms and names in this creation. This basis is there also in our own person and can be experienced, is claimed and this claim does not go against reason. “Enquire and experience” is recommended.

In contrast, Christianity demands belief and certainly does not encourage enquiry nor experience. A Church that branded her own mystics, who realized their oneness with God, as heretics cannot teach anything to India. She only can divide. Missionaries try by hook or crook to get converts and target especially the lower classes and even children. It seems as if they have a quota to achieve. They claim that Christianity is the right faith and Hinduism very wrong. The phrase “divisive forces” is used freely in India, but strangely I have not heard it in connection with missionaries where it were appropriate.

Christian theologians would do well to study Indian wisdom with an open mind. It would give them a deeper understanding of Jesus’ sayings, as many of them are cryptic, yet from a Vedantic angle easy to interpret. They would realize that dogmas are a hindrance in the process to uncover truth. Such openness would make religion spiritual. Mystics would be appreciated. No “us versus them”, no borders, no God who belongs only to one group and who condemns the rest, just a genuine search for the One Essence beyond name and form…

To expect broadmindedness from Church representatives seems a long way off. As of now their course is set on confrontation and Hindus are too polite to question the ‘one and only way’ bogus. While in the west many leave the Church, in India many join for reasons that have nothing to do with religion. Those converts may initially get some financial benefits but the price is high. They have to confess a belief in dogmas, in which they don’t believe. They have to despise the faith that they had held dear. They or at least their offspring will become convinced that they alone have the right faith and will look down on those who go to temples. In the process they lose their integrity and will become hypocritical, like so many in the west. And if conversion is not restrained, together with her children, Bharat may lose her integrity. Truth will have no place anymore.

~ Maria Wirth

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11 Responses to "Christian Missionaries hurting India"

  1. reya  June 19, 2014 at 5:57 am

    That’s true about India especially Indian Media, one more word should have added here “the politician”.
    Hindus are most tolerant in their own way, people from other religion, media persons and some so called literate hindus etc. targets Hindu for their thinking, secred books, culture, creed… hindus only accept it but never debate over it..and that has become their weakness now as people around know that hindu can be easily blammed for anything. if a Hindu politician wear muslim’s secred cap then he is called secular and our fool media broadcast this news, starts group discussion for those communal people who are not wearing the cap!! but other community have all the rights to decide what they want to follow.
    even if something is based on Our country and our motherland, they have rights to see it from the glasses of thier religion, they have rights to deny following it.
    Hindus have always been targeted by west and even by pseudo secular Indians too.
    and hindus are watching their Deterioration on the name of communal harmony and cursing their own brother for following & respecting their culture.

    Reply
  2. Shiva  June 20, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Hindu is not cast it is a culture for any one to or not but remember you are an outsider in this country which is is Hindustan.Go study history and then comment.

    Reply
  3. Sumohini  June 21, 2014 at 4:15 am

    I really hope that Hindus will become more aware of what they are doing while owning up the negative propaganda of those whose ulterior motive is to criticize n convert!
    Neutralization towards one’s own religion in the name of being secular is the first step!
    If we are secular why do we have different laws n different privileges only for certain religions!
    Does being secular mean being anti-Hindu?

    Reply
  4. Sanjit  June 27, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    It is rather naive to believe that all religions of beliefs are true. Truth is exclusive and if A is true, B which contradicts A cannot be true unless you qualify it. This is the most fundamental law of logic – The law of non-contradiction. It is quite possible that all religions are wrong, but all of them which may be diametrically opposite in their fundamental beliefs cannot be true. For the muslims, salvation is the will of God and one has no surety. It gets captured in that one phrase “Insha Allah” or the will of God. And one just hopes that his good deeds will outnumber his bad ones which would earn him salvation. For the Hindus, you keep paying ad paying and one is in the constant grip of births and rebirths, where every rebirth is a payment for the past life. If that is the case, which past life’s sin is one paying for in his first birth. For the Christian, it is a gift of God where the penalty for one’s sin has been paid for on the cross and it is not by works but by faith that one is saved. Superficially all the religions seem to be the same, but when you dig deep and go into the fundamental tenets, one finds that each belief system is so so different from the other. There are voices which say that Islam and Christianity are exclusivistic and that is unfair. I believe every religion is exclusivistic in its belief. In that sense even a religion like Bahaism which claims to accept and include all faiths is exclusive. While it claims to include all faiths and belief systems as true, it excludes the exclusivists. Truth is exclusive and one needs to examine the truth claims of all belief systems and then decide for oneself, which one would answer the most fundamental questions of life – about origin, meaning or purpose, morality and destiny. Where do I come from, why do I exist or what is the purpose of my life, on what basis or standards do I decide what is right and wrong, and finally, where do I go from here or what happens to me after I die.

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  5. Shivrajan  July 18, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Christians are the real threat to Hindus and its foundations.
    No Muslim forces their religion on us. They are better than these “rice” christians..!!

    Reply
  6. Biswatosh  July 28, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    I belong from a Brahmin family and below is my opinion –
    No one is a threat to anyone. Its very much easy for any people to put the blame on others including me. But here i would like to point out is “Your destiny is aligned with the choices you make in your life”. No one is forced to commit sin or get converted unless you made a choice to do it (Eg – Smoking, drinking, rape, false judgement, murder, theft, crime, bribe, abortion and the list goes on). No one can force a man/women to get converted if the right belief and education has been given. I know people who got converted from Christianity to Hinduism, here whom to blame??? lets not judge and rather put our focus on right belief and education so that the life pillars cant be shaken with the opinions or views.
    I have seen a christians carrying and reading the bible everyday, attending sunday mass, family prayer before going off to sleep etc etc.. How many of we hindus know upanishads, vedas, more importantly reading the gita everyday. If we inherit this habits in a child from time he gets wisdom, there wont be any threat to any Hindus because the foundation will be strong.
    Here my intention is not to hurt anyone but to express my feelings and i guess we should shift our focus in educating the future generation about our culture, history and making a habit of reading the holy books everyday or else we will always feel threatened or insecure and at the end of the day its other religion or caste we will blame. So lets look at ourselves first and fill up the gaps!!!

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  7. Loretto  November 12, 2014 at 6:42 am

    Biswatosh, Christians may carry the Bible but few of them actually read it. If they did, and then stacked it up against the Gita and Upanishads, they would embrace Sanatan Dharma. I know, because I did- well, OK, I took a side trip through atheism but I’m a Hindu now. I think that aside from its exclusivism, Christianity’s biggest problem is the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement. Christians believe that Jesus died for their sins, so all they have to do is believe in Jesus and they can go to Heaven and enjoy eternal bliss. Lip service is paid to repentance, but they don’t hesitate to lie, cheat, even molest children. In the past year here in the US, two churches hired convicted child molesters as pastors. One is back in prison for raping children in the church he pastored. The other church decided to deal with the problem by banning children from the church. This may be regarded as an aberration, but it is actually the logical extreme of belief that someone else has paid for your sins, so you don’t have to. Jesus forgives, who am I to judge, then extends to, well, he’s repented, we can trust him with our children. And just last week, a Christian extremist murdered a Pagan acquaintance because the Bible says “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Beheaded him, actually, ISIS style. Christians preach love and practice hate. The religion teaches that it isn’t how you behave that determines what happens to your soul in the next life, it’s what you believe. Spend a lifetime lying, cheating, kicking children and raping puppy dogs, repent on your deathbed, go to Heaven. Karma is accountability. Believe what you will, worship whatever god you feel a connection with, or no god at all, it’s your actions that determine what happens in your next life. Christianity is founded on a profoundly immoral doctrine.

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  8. Logos  May 23, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Premise 1: truth cannot contradict itself

    Premise 2:’God doesn’t lie

    Premise 3: All religions contradict each other

    Inevitable conclusion: there is at most one religion that comes from God uncorrupted, possibly none

    Reply
  9. Rahul Rastogi  July 4, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Very well said @Logos

    It’s easier to induce faith at a young age than it is at an older age, much like teaching a language. Common sense takes figuring out and learning with mistakes, and it requires exercising logic. The act of erasing a memory is much more difficult than creating one without any regard to logic. It is actually much more difficult to leave a faith at an older age than it is at a younger age. The problem arises when the clean slate is written upon by an agenda repeatedly and is combined with the notion of disrespect if challenged with logic. To make matters worse, the argument that “it has been like this from the beginning” is allowed to prevail or even used to refute logic by calling itself the “only logical thing to do.” Thus, making future generations slaves to prevailing flawed logic. Simple questions like “Why…?” are shunned with attribution to disrespect to continue the propagation. Try this simple experiment – when you find something that you don’t agree with ask why. Continue to question the answer with another why or how till you reach the core. Reaching the core is not a goal, but rather a logical journey that will have a lot of learning. And in the process you will witness human emotions that are emoted when someone is either sure or questioning themselves.

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  10. sudhir gupta  March 27, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    hinduism is not a religion but it was the culture of whole indian sub-continent. unfortunately every one say it religion. you will realize the truth if you study about it. then question will arise in your mind that what is the religion then? the religion is ‘sanatan dhatrma’. the meaning of it is the eternal truth. one more misconception i want to tell you about the word DHARMA. dharma is not religion. word dharma is used for the truth, right path of life, the laws of nature that holds the universe. where religion is the set of rules that a community follows.actually there is not any word in english which is appropriate for dharma. but sanskrit/hindi language has appropriate word for religion which is PANTHA. dharma is something that is believed that it is the laws of nature which regulates the universe. for humans dharma is not something like the laws or set of rules that must be followed to go in the heaven. dharma evolves. how?. dharma evolves through debates discussions. it just similar to the science. just like, science has methodology, scientists give their assumptions/ philosophies after the experiment/experience, discuss it with others debates with the others. and after having proofed it is expected and becomes law and also it has chance to be replaced in future. dharma is similar to this it also have methodologies, people debate/discuss, hear others point of view and experiences and in past the fully debated and satisfied and expected points were written in puranas and upnishads. you might not know that any religion in the world do not allow you to argue, debate on your religion and if you do so you are called atheist. but only sanatan dharma allows to question everything. it also have a methodology to know the truth, which is ‘sahaj yoga’. atheists have same privilege as believers and no one hate others following other religion or following different methodology to know the truth or beliefs.
    YOU CAN NOT UNDERSTAND THE EAST WITH THE EYES OF WEST

    Reply
  11. Nazario D'souza.  March 30, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    In Christianity are all missionaries. Not just a selected few.

    Reply

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