(Undercurrent thanks all the contributors who helped create this article)
The business strategy – indoctrination and training
The first step is to identify the more articulate, more influential among the indigenous Christians; woo and applaud them for being devout and invite them to a denominational (Church) headquarters in a Western city. For the starry-eyed converts a visit to the industrialized west is quite a treat and is impossible to resist in the first place. The core group in turn is encouraged to identify vocal and aggressive youth to be recruited as grass-roots evangelists. These youth are not so successful in life and generally drawn from the under-privileged sections of the society.
The ability to inflate egos is at the core of public relations function and for the proselytizing evangelists, the ability to strum on the inadequate man’s ego is something they learnt in the nursery. The subject – the new recruit – is wined and dined, toasted and introduced to the high and mighty. The subject is softened and the erstwhile lumpen gloats over his new-found prominence.
The next step in the process of proselytization is set in motion. Fact and fiction cleverly intermingled, he is fed stories of how his class has been oppressed by those at higher hierarchical levels and has been suffering for centuries. The correctives that his society applied, the social revolutions, upheavals and transformations are airbrushed or glossed over to arouse the latent anger in him. The aversion that was aroused for real or imaginary ills suffered, leavens up in him a sense gratitude for his new emancipators. The psychological treatment is almost diabolical in its cleverness as the twin feelings of aversion and gratitude feed each other in a rising spiral obliterating any empathy the subject may have had for his compatriots.
A higher spiritual dimension is now added to complete the process of indoctrination – the myth of the parallel with the prophet himself as to how he too suffered at the hands of the oppressors; how he sacrificed his life for the emancipation of others and how he was crucified and resurrected. The ambience for subtle conversion is played out in great detail with prayers and preachings to win over the mind and choirs and carols as props to lull and soothe.
The neophyte evangelists are taught techniques of oratory: raising the voice to a crescendo one moment and lowering it to a whisper the next; using rhetoric and dramatization to paint a heavenly picture of the society of the virtuous and magnifying and denouncing the kinks in the religion of the infidels. He is taught that the Christian societies are a model of equity. It does not occur to the neophyte evangelist to question why then there are so many denominations, there was so much strife, why there were crusades and why the Jews were ersecuted for well nigh two thousand years. Social stratification in Hinduism is greatly played upon to paint the upper castes as demons perpetually oppressing the lower castes.
The training of the neophyte evangelist ends in being given a purse of gold some of it for using as charity for the under-privileged and a bit for preaching the gospel. Early in the game, the catty neophyte learns the techniques of expropriation. In his appeals for largesse he documents poverty and hunger; the bleaker they are portrayed the better, from his point of view. Photographic evidence cleverly fabricated – for e.g. an emaciated human being and an emaciated animal vying for crumbs in a waste bin – should do the trick. They appeal to the latent humanity – and moral superiority – of the haves who can throw a few crumbs. Our neophyte evangelist passes on a few of the crumbs to keep up pretences but a lot of the largesse also goes to feather his own nest. Thus harvesting souls doubles up e-Commerce (‘e’ for evangelical not electronic)! And the more the merrier – both for the Church with dwindling numbers in the West and the commercial evangelists in the East.
The two principal objectives of corporate management are growth and profits. The organizational structure of the Church is used as a typical management case study, the other universal application being the armed forces. Therefore it follows, according to the management gurus, the harvesting of souls is run like a business with the twin objectives of growth and profits, each feeding the other. The dwindling numbers of Church-goers in the West following secularization of societies is naturally a cause for concern of the top management. The remedial strategy adopted by the top management ironically is akin to Hitler’s Lebensraum concept but by more subtle means.
As the loyalty shift takes place the subject’s nationalistic feelings are subconsciously substituted with an overt love for his new mentors. The lure of the lucre and the acquired power to influence others are added motivationalfactors. The strange irony in the process is that the subject has ‘the best of both the worlds’. He avails of the benefits of affirmative action that his nation provides for the under-privileged and enjoys the lustrous sheen of an evangelical fellow-traveler.
These fellow-travelers have successfully infiltrated many areas of social life such as the blogosphere, bureaucracy, journalism, police and politics. They work with the fanatic zeal of the neophyte to denigrate everything that has to do with Hinduism (and India) and propagate the gospel. In this enterprise as we have seen earlier, the means do not matter; only the ends do. The clever campaigners – radical or extremist – masquerade as the liberal or the neo-liberal, a stance that appeals to the educated middle classes.
Fabricating sociological and anthropological research papers is a strategy that the resource-rich Christian institutions often adopt. The outcome of the research is, as Sherlock Holmes famously expressed is ‘finding facts to suit theories’. Oblivious to the ‘color-code’ practices in western societies the neophyte evangelists offer fodder to these research mills maybe a few misunderstood tidbits but quite a few fabricated. These research articles repackaging old myths but devoid of any objectivity acquire credence when they appear in reputed magazines like Reader’s Digest, National Geographic and other mainstream newspapers.
The Indian social milieu is already infested with quack sociologists, anthropologists and left liberal intellectuals, who have an ideological contempt for India’s culture and traditions. It is easy for the neophyte evangelists to infiltrate into the interstitial spaces and conduct their campaigns. And the more rabid the denunciation that is cleverly camouflaged to be acceptable to the society the more rewarding it is from their evangelical masters.
Any kind of protest from a Hindu is immediatly labelled as “Hindu Right wing fundametalism” That silences quite a many Hindu. Defending Hinduism is labeled “oppression” of devout Christians. Isn’t it comic to hear the cry of being oppressed from the proponents of a religion that has oppressed the whole world at one time or the other in its attempts to subjugate and proselytize? The British is famously described as the race destined to subdue and govern! When America sought to end the Second World War it did not drop “Little Boy” (“Little Boy” is the code name for the atomic bomb the Americans dropped on Hiroshima in the first week of August 1945. To understand the magnitude of the horror wreaked by Little Boy, please read Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima by Robert J. Lifton (1969, New York, Random House.) on Christian Germany which started it all but on expendable non-Christian Japan. And it sought Asiatic cannon fodder for “Fat Man” (“Fat Man” is the code name for the second atomic bomb the Americans dropped on Nagasaki three days after they tried their first fancy toy Little Boy. Japan surrendered after Hiroshima was wiped out. But the second bomb was of a different design and curiosity got the better of the scientists. The scientists presumably were certain that they could find out whether it worked or not – with impunity. Well, it did and wiped out the city!) to satiate the scientific curiosity of benign Christian science.
As Indian public opinion is hostage to the ‘support the underdog’ philosophy the neophyte evangelists are able to get away with grave acts of provocation. How else would one account for their audacity to resort to evangelical activities in the vicinity of Hindu temples.
The following are some of the tactics that are adopted to provoke, mislead and lure converts:
a) Building a church close to every major and minor Hindu religious place.
b) Hiding behind Hindu names and writing articles against Hinduism.
c) Adopting Hindu religious practices like wearing saffron clothing, building churches to resemble Hindu temples, naming churches as Mandirs to lure away the indecisive. As the Hindus have in any case a pantheon of gods and goddesses, the ploy to add one more member to it by subterfuge works.
d) Make special mass on days of Hindu festivals with an aim to distract Hindu worshippers.
e) Increasing decibel levels during prayers with an aim of attracting maximum attention.
f) Defending vociferously actions and speech of right wing western religious leaders in public, and endorsing each move made by them (for e.g. the story of the Christian Yoga)
g) Mocking and taunting Hindu religious leaders. There are rumors of full time research scholars who are awarded Phd’s for this task in some western universities
h) Solicit and sponsor secular and anti-Hindu politicians to do their bidding. (In India secular means anti-Hindu in any case!)
i) Celebrating Indian Independence day gatherings in Churches as if to convey that the Church had a role in its achievement.
j) Trying to wean away Hindu children and the next generation to their faith on the sly. The bus story doing rounds on you tube is a classic example.
k) Disfiguring images of Hindu deities and using them in commercial advertisements in an irreverent, nay insulting manner.The ritual of making new converts walk on pictures of Hindu gods after their conversion is quite provocative.
j) Expropriating credit for everything good that Hindu culture has to offer.Even the Mahatma who was strongly opposed to Evangelism was not spared.He now adorns the walls of many a Indian church.
Political counter measures:
After the first flush of enthusiasm ebbs out some neophytes feel remorse; remorse for being used as pawns in a larger game and remorse for perhaps for betraying a society that has been once grand and presently evolving. And then there may be a longing for home-coming figuratively speaking.
Health, education and exploitation of the weaknesses of the Hindu faith such as the caste system are subtle vehicles that the clever Christian proselytizers have employed to achieve their objectives. The naïve under-privileged or the tribal populations in the far reaches of India have never been told that there are as many distinctions, denominations and hierarchical rungs and under-privileged in the Christian West, only they had a different nomenclature.
One must understand that there is intense pressure on the neophytes to continuously proffer proofs of their loyalty to the new creed that they have adopted. They have to be more loyal than the king! As a consequence their public display of loyalty ranges from the servile to the comic. If the public behavior of Bobby Jindal is an example of the former, Penguin India editor David Davidar’s interview aired on the Canadian television CBC is an example of the later.
Nearer home the protests against the movie Da Vinci Code by poor people who neither read the book nor can understand the movie, which every Christian nation and even the Vatican shrugged off – is an expression of loyalty more loyal than the king. The banning of the movie by secular governments which questioned the incarnation of Sri Ram is only proof of the political power these poor people could wield.
As the campaign is political it should be countered politically to unmask the camouflage and expose real motives.
WCM (white Christian missionaries) and are able to play the ‘two cats and a monkey’ game to great advantage with the third world countries who are constantly indulging in squabbles among themselves. The business of harvesting souls has been played out with all its sub-plots such as avarice, diplomacy, greed, money and politics. If lofty ideals like human rights and religious freedom were thrown in it was par for the course – they were mere public relations ruses. The knowledge of local socio-political conditions of their indoctrinated neophyte evangelist (INE) acolytes is a great advantage for the WCM.
How then do we handle the INE when they try to demean India’s culture and traditions with their newly acquired swagger? The more tempting approach would be to meet aggression with aggression. But this would only strengthen the INE’s ntipathy and would serve the WCM’s objectives only too well. But protest one must and in civilized terms. The pain of the average Hindu is not perceived by the common man in the west. They think that all Evangelists are angels and are doing a fine job in India. The troubling reality has to be communicated. And a direct dialogue with the church has to be established to discuss the trouble being caused by them.
For our newly converted Indians, who display strange behaviour towards fellow Indians after conversion, its important to reason it out. They are our people.It is not possible to undo all the indoctrination in one go. It requires patience and sustained engagement. We have an advantage in that the NCE are, at heart, are Indian. They know and the WCM know that no amount of indoctrination can change their complexion and not just literally. Secondly, contrary to their public posturing the WCM do not accept the NCE as equal. We have the advantage of being the only religion in the world that hasVasudhaika Kutumbakam (The Earth is a Family)as its core philosophy!
Editors Note1: There were no Hindu Christian violence in India as recently as 10 years.We hear it now from some Indian states. The India society is divided today, Indians have been drawn into including Christianity to the long list of reasons they fight each other. It is a clash between Indians. While the instigator of this violence, the new age White evangelist slids away in first class comfort to his home in the west after burning the continent. No questions asked. Example: In the recent Indian Christian and Indian Hindu violence in Karnataka state, the New life evangelist group of U.S.A, which triggered it was left to fly off scot free. If an Indian Hindu group does a similiar act of provocation in the US, it for sure will be banned. Should not the government of India take atleast passive steps to stem the violence instead of encouraging the drift and then playing politics. Western governments should realise that this is no clash between a white Christian and brown Hindu but between two brown people instigated by white missionaries who are insensitive to the fragility of a developing society. Western governments should bring in some kind of monitoring system on missionary activty. In simpler terms they need to advise the white missionaries to stop sowing the seeds of violence and instead act as true messengers of peace and love.
Editors Note2: Since keeping the flames of Hindu Christian strife alive is the core to raise funds abroad and keep them flowing into India, there would be constant attempts by newly converted Indians(under the watchful guidance of their new masters) to provoke passive and aggressive Hindus into retaliatory and action.There are “desks” of journalists abroad waiting to immortalize it in prose in mainstream western newspapers / TV. It has to handled carefully. The approach of Mahatma Gandhi is the only solution to this new problem being thrust on India and references to WCM is just an expression and not meant be derogatory or condesending.