DNA / Yogesh Pawar / Sunday, March 27, 2011 2:00 IST
In his explosive new book The Armies Of God: A Study In Militant Christianity, British-born, Malaysia-based academic Iain Buchanan blows the lid off a subject that most scholars and journalists tend to shy away from: the rise of US evangelism as a force in global affairs.
His book looks at how some of the powerful evangelical outfits operate — often as US government proxies — in countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and of course, India, and the disastrous effects this has had on the relationship between the Christian West and non-Christian cultures, religious communities and nations. He also unmasks the role played by the seemingly secular ‘success motivation’ industry, and its leadership gurus such as Zig Ziglar and Ken Blachard, who are not only management experts but also conscious agents of US-style Christian evangelism.
Excerpts from an interview:
What led you to write this book?
I grew up in an agnostic family with respect for spirituality of all kinds — from animism to true Christianity. I suppose one of my strongest incentives for writing the book was to show how, in the West, inherently decent things like liberal secularism and Christian spirituality (no necessary conflict here!) are so deeply corrupted by political power and so dishonestly vaunted as marks of cultural superiority.
Not many would want to come out in the open and talk about the issues raised in your book. Was that a concern for you?
In the West, certainly, there is a reluctance to enquire too deeply into the affairs of organised Christianity — both at home and overseas. Western culture is a deeply, subliminally Christian culture, and even committed secularists have trouble avoiding Christian parameters in their arguments, and recognising the Christian capacity for wrong-doing. Among other things, this leads to a rather benign view of the behaviour of our missionaries overseas — fed partly by ignorance, and partly by a sense that the Christian mission can be equated with civilisation. And such myopia has increased dramatically over the past 40 years, as the secular West has managed to define a global order largely in its own terms, with decisive help from its Christian missionaries. By contrast, of course, the behaviour of non-Christians (especially Muslims) is scrutinised ruthlessly, misunderstood, and demonised.
Academics who have attempted to study the work of missionaries in India have been accused of helping the right-wing Hindutva brigade. Has this been your experience too?
The glib response to this would be to say that religious extremism of any kind needs to be exposed. But it is more complex than this. There is a need to go beyond the purely religious objection to Christian missionising, and examine the global forces which define it, and which are subverting countries like India in a far more comprehensive and profound way than most people realise.
A key contention of my book is that the extremism of Christian evangelicals is no more benign than the extremism found in non-Christian religious groups. Indeed, its local impact can be hugely destructive — precisely because of its ability to draw upon a vast global network of forces (including powerful secular ones), and its ability to penetrate and shape local forces, whether they be ethnic, religious, political, or social, according to alien priorities.
You speak at length of the US’s use of Christianity for it own geopolitical designs. Is this manifestly part of US strategy worldwide?
Most Western leaders (not just Bush and Blair) will claim they are inspired by their Christian beliefs. Sometimes, as with both Reagan and George W Bush, they quote chapter and verse in support of policy, although usually it is not so blatant. Certainly, deep in Washington, self-professedly Christian pressure groups (like the Fellowship Foundation and the Council for National Policy) have a highly influential membership and a powerful grip on policy.
Of course, one can debate whether US strategy is manifestly Christian in inspiration — few Americans would say it is not, although most would probably insist that such strategy is guided primarily by secular concerns.
But there is no doubt at all that US strategy makes deliberate (and somewhat cynical) use of Christian agencies in pursuit of foreign policy — and that the distinction between the religious and the secular is deliberately blurred in the process. There are over 600 US-based evangelical groups, some as big as large corporations, and between them they constitute a vast and highly organised network of global influence, purposefully targeting non-Christians, and connecting and subverting every sector of life in the process.
Most of the major evangelical corporations (like World Vision, Campus Crusade, Youth with a Mission, and Samaritan’s Purse) operate in partnership with the US government in its pursuit of foreign policy goals. World Vision, which is effectively an arm of the State Department, is perhaps the most notable example of this. There is also the benefit of a custom-built legislation, with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 providing necessary sanction to bring errant nations into line.
This means that evangelisation is an intensely secular pursuit, as well as a religious one. In turn, of course, the secular powers, whether they be departments of state or corporate businesses, find such evangelicals to be very effective partners.
Indeed, most missionaries are not obviously religious. A case in point is the Success Motivation industry.Many of the most popular ‘leadership gurus’ — Zig Ziglar, Paul Meyer, Os Hillman, Richard DeVos, John C. Maxwell, and Ken Blanchard, for example — are not just management experts, they are also evangelical Christians and conscious agents of US-style evangelisation. Conversely, groups which, on the face of it, are primarily religious, may also serve a powerful secular agenda, such as the collection of intelligence, the grooming of political or commercial elites, or the manipulation of local conflicts.
Some accuse the church of fomenting dissent among poor tribals by exploiting them; others say the church is a liberating force. This debate has gone on for decades in India’s North-East. What is your view?
The situation of India’s tribal people, like that of tribal people elsewhere in Asia, is certainly tragic. And it may be that Christian activity offers an opportunity to escape the various forms of homegrown oppression — state and corporate abuse, Hindu contempt, and so on. But Christianity in India is a very diverse thing. There are many situations where the Christian church has taken firm root, and is deeply involved in local administration, social welfare, education, and so on. Nagaland is a case in point. There are movements for tribal welfare elsewhere which are Christian-inspired and doing excellent work.
But there are many cases, too, of evangelical missions which go into tribal areas with little respect for local realities, and with an agenda far removed from tribal welfare. In this, they may be no better and no worse than the home-grown oppressor. But there is an important difference. Such missionaries often belong to an evangelical network whose strategic purpose is defined elsewhere, and which has little loyalty to the local population, its cultures, its communities, and its welfare, let alone to the nation as a whole. This is particularly true of the new breed of US-inspired evangelicals, led by Baptists and Pentecostalist/Charismatics, who have spearheaded evangelisation over the past 50 years. It is the working of this wider, and self-consciously global, structure of behaviour which is of concern.
It is unfortunate that missions doing good work in tribal areas have their efforts tarnished by others whose approach is more opportunistic and exploitative. For the new evangelicals, distaste for paganism is just part of the equation — oppressed tribal groups are a relatively easy target to penetrate in a much wider war against non-Christians generally, and for influence in strategic (especially border) areas. In this respect, even a relatively long-established Christian presence — as in Nagaland — has utility as a strategic outpost.
These are turbulent times for India as its number of hungry and poor are growing exponentially even as the wealthy in the cities are becoming billionaires. Does this make harvesting of souls easy? Do missionaries love turbulence?
It certainly seems, sometimes, that evangelicals thrive on suffering and disaster. India’s own KP Yohannan, for example, welcomed the tsunami of 2004 as “one of the greatest opportunities God has given us to share His love with people” — and he was only one of many expressing such sentiments. There is no question that many evangelicals exploit the poor and marginalised for reasons which have a lot to do with narrow theology and political self-interest, and relatively little to do with long-term practical help.
But evangelicals court the wealthy and the powerful of a society with equal passion. One of the most telling features of the new evangelism is the way it has turned Christianity into a force for protecting the rich and powerful. US Protestantism, in particular, has worked hard to undermine the impulse in the church towards social justice and reform. A measure of its success has been the defeat of Liberation Theology and the remarkable expansion of US Pentecostalism in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. More than a quarter of all Christians now belong to Pentecostalist and Charismatic churches.
In these, as in most new evangelical churches, great attention is paid to a ‘theology’ of economics which stresses individual profit, corporate obedience, the sanctity of making money, and the power of “miracles, signs, and wonders.”This ‘theology’ is a key part of modern imperialism: it offers something to both rich and poor, it is safely counter-revolutionary, and it ties tightly into the wider global network of more secular influences (in business, government, education, the media, the military) which underpins Western expansion.
So the evangelical church has a key role to play in a society as disparate as India’s. It is a form of social management: it gives divine sanction to the rich, it gives hope to the struggling middle class, and it cultivates discipline (and distraction) amongst the poor — and it does all this with a keen eye to the West’s self-interest. This is not to suggest that India does not have its own mechanisms for doing the same things. But such evangelisation, as a concomitant of Westernisation, is bound to strengthen as India urbanises and looks ever more Westwards.
A recent issue of the Texas-based magazine, Gospel For Asia, says: “The Indian sub-continent with one billion people, is a living example of what happens when Satan rules the entire culture… India is one vast purgatory in which millions of people …. are literally living a cosmic lie! Could Satan have devised a more perfect system for causing misery?” How and why does such propaganda work in a developed country like the US in the era of the Internet and the media?
There are two important points here. First, we must not assume that the ‘developed’ West is free from wilful ignorance. Indeed, wilful ignorance is often a very useful weapon. We need enemies, and, as religious people, we need demons. The utility of Islamophobia is a case in point.Besides, there’s a useful role for such bigotry within the system: as a foil for the liberal powerful to prove their liberal credentials.
But such attitudes are nothing new, of course. Christians have waged such ‘spiritual warfare’ against their enemies for centuries, and with the same kind of language. What is new is the vastly increased facility, offered by the electronic media, for fighting such a war. And this is the second point.
New technology is spreading, and hardening, such bigotry. Since the mid-1960s, the evangelical movement has systematically computerised its entire global operation, creating huge databases of information on its non-Christian enemies, centralising administration, and linking some 500 million ‘Christian computers’ worldwide for the purposes of fighting ‘spiritual warfare’ against non-believers in strategic places. And ‘spiritual warfare’, for the evangelical Christian movement, is not just a matter of prayers and metaphor: it is also, very decisively, a matter of ‘virtuous’ troops, tanks, and drones.
(also published in http://www.indiacause.com/blog/2011/03/17/conversion-corruption-congress-bloody-indians/)
Recently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured a Christian delegation that he was trying to evolve a consensus on granting Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims. This is interesting since just a few days ago; the Gujarat High Court has rejected a plea filed by a converted Christian seeking access to benefits extended to him earlier as a Scheduled Caste Hindu.
In addition the Prime Minister reportedly promised “to act on the Saldanha report on violence against minorities in Karnataka”. This is in reference to the independent inquiry report of Michael Saldanha, of The Catholic-Christian Secular Forum (Catholic but Secular? Hmm!), a retired judge of the Bombay and Karnataka High Courts, (and just happen to be the President of the Catholic Association of South Kanara or Dakshina Kannada, the place where violent incidents had taken place) in which he accused the state government, including the Chief Minister, B. S. Yeddyurappa and the former home minister, Dr. V. S. Acharya, for playing active roles on the 2008 attacks on churches in Karnataka.
However that accusation was not supported by another recent Commission of Inquiry by Justice B.K. Somasekhara that reported (among other things)
(a) There is no basis to the apprehension of Christian petitioners that the Politicians, BJP, mainstream Sangha Parivar and State Govt. directly or indirectly, are involved in the attacks.
(b) Some incidents of attack are true, some self inflicted, some make believe, some blown out of proportions and some totally politicized.
(c) The issue of conversions and circulation of derogatory literature with insulting attitude against Hindus has been the recurring impressions of large number of Hindu petitioners and is being projected as the reason for attack.
(d) There appears to be no conversions at all by Roman Catholic Churches or its members except for routine purposes like marriage or voluntary instances. But there are clear indications of conversions to Christianity in the districts of Bangalore, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Bellary, Davanagere, Chikkamagalur, Udupi by few organizations and self styled or self appointed Pastors continuing as Hindus by religion for all benefits of law by circumstances and inducements and as a commercial bargain using unaccounted local and funds of the foreign countries but not necessarily by compulsion or fraud or coercion but definitely by inducements.
Despite officially being only 2.3% of the population (2001 census) Christians in India have been a privileged class. It is hard to believe the allegation that Christians are victims of discrimination. Perhaps unknown to many, the church controls 30 percent of academic institutions and 22 percent of health services in the country. After the Government of India, it is the church that possesses the largest landed property in the country, and a major portion of this land is in posh areas. Over 70% of the 25 million official Christians are converted from the section of Hindu schedule castes and schedule tribes, but even after being promised an egalitarian status in their new faith, they hardly get the same benefits that their upper caste Christian leaders enjoy. They still remain dalits – hence the term Dalit Christians! Conversion to Christianity has not redeemed the 19 million Dalit Christians from social discrimination and untouchability. It has only added to their misery. Conversion disqualifies the Dalit Christians from a whole lot of constitutionally guaranteed protection and privileges, which the Church leaders would like them, continue to enjoy, as part of maximum leverage that they can extract from the government and the society. Hence is the attempt to claim the SC status and benefits for Dalit Christians.
The vast majority of the Christian community of India is happy to coexist with other religious followers within the secular framework of India, but the same is not true about the Christian leadership in the country. Christians at large, like most Hindus, are perhaps not even aware of the menace of conversion by force, allurement or other unethical means that is the root cause of conflict between the followers of Christ and members of other dominant faith, especially in the tribal areas in the country. The Christian community is often held as pawns when the fight against fraudulent conversions to Christianity is projected as a campaign against Christians themselves by the power brokers and by local, national as well as international media. One is tempted to ask that if there is no fraudulent conversion activity, why are the Church leaders bothered with anti-conversion bills?
Foreign funds are increasingly pouring into India and the vast majority go to Christian organizations. The church is long suspected to be involved in nefarious and subversive activities in India as they have been in Nepal and Sri Lanka. The hand-in-glove relationship of separatists and Maoists with the missionaries and the church in India is now an open secret. Conversion activities are in full gear, and evangelists are much more daring over the last several years. It is not too difficult to understand that all of this is happening because of overt or covert patronage of the Catholic President of the Congress Party.
India is being sold out, her traditions and values eroded and her civilization disintegrated by her own people.
Ironically this Congress boasts to carry the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi, who had proudly proclaimed, “I am not interested in weaning you from Christianity and making you Hindu, and I do not relish your designs upon me, if you had any, to convert me to Christianity. I would also dispute your claim that Christianity is the only true religion …… I hold that proselytizing under the cloak of humanitarian work is unhealthy to say the least.”
Like Muslims leaders, the Christian leaders and Church authorities are pampered by the Congress lead UPA government for their dirty vote bank politics. The Christian community has an unwritten alliance with the current Congress Party and that is obviously due to the presence of Sonia Gandhi as its leader. This explains the disproportionate percentage of Christians like Ambika Soni, A K Anthony, Ajit Jogi, the late Y S Reddy, Margaret Alva, Oommen Chandy Oscar Fernandes, P N Sangma and Digvijay Singh in her close circle within the Congress Party over the last few years. Many of these people (along with the presence of Ahmed Patel, Gulam Nabi Azad and Salman Khurshid, all Muslims), as core members of Sonia’s think tank has been the reason for concerns for the majority Hindus, who apprehend that they are cornered in their own country and their interests are not dealt with appropriate values to their rights and sentiments. This is substantiated by the handling of the government of such issues as the Amarnath shrine, the Ram Setu or the Ayodhya issues.
Also obvious is the promotion of noted anti Hindu, Christians of debatable integrity in various important posts and positions in the government, under controversial circumstances. One may recall how Rev. Valson Thampu a Christian theologian, who had a brief and controversial tenure as Principal of St Stephen’s College, Delhi, was made the Chairman of NCERT Curriculum Review Committee and member of the National Minorities Commission and the National Integration Council (NIC).
Another such member of the National Integration Council is Mr. John Dayal, the President of All India Christian Council who was thus assessed by a fellow Christian, PN Benjamin, who runs the Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue, “John Dayal opens his mouth and wields his pen only to spew venom on the Hindu community.”
In this regard, it is to be remembered that many converted Christians keep their Hindu names. It is also often difficult to ascertain the religious affiliations of such person, because our media often conveniently fail to disclose that kind of information for non-Hindus.
It is intriguing that some of the names that surfaced in the recent allegations of corruption and infamy happen to be Christians. One of them is K G Balakrishnan, former Chief Justice and current Chairman of National Human Rights Commission. Another name that came up in the 2G scam involving the disgraced telecom Minister A Raja, is Father Jegath Gaspel, accused as a main link for Tamil Tigers in India, whose NGO office was raided by CBI, in relation to the telecom scam. Our Prime Minister however has selective amnesia and needs to be reminded from time to time; often by the court that he is leading a corrupt Government. Perhaps out of shame and disgrace Mr. Honest Prime Minister finally admitted “an error of judgment” in the appointment of another tainted Christian, PJ Thomas as Chief Vigilance Commissioner.
Thus it seems that there is a pattern where tainted persons are given prestigious positions by Congress lead UPA government (remember the controversial appointment of Chief Election Commissioner, Mr. Navin Chawla, author of a biography on Mother Teresa and recipient of the Italian government’s Mazzini Award for his contribution to promoting ties between India and Italy), and it is more than coincidental that quite often these persons come with a Christian background.
The Prime Minister may be a ‘super-academician’ with an impressive CV but he must be a fool to underestimate the intelligence of the aam aadmi. Corruption, manipulation and arm-twisting have been integral parts of Congress success all along. The aam aadmi knows that all these irregularities occur around the PM, either because he has full consent to it or else because he does not have any power to oppose them, which substantiate the accusation of being a weak and lame duck PM, despite his meek protest.
Thus when the Prime Minister promises action “to allay fears and insecurity Christians are experiencing”, it cannot be good news for the majority community. This is the same PM who once announced that Muslims have first right to national resources, repeatedly failing to rise above petty political and religious bias. One recalls that he was quick to condemn the Khandamal riots as national shame without giving a moment of thought on the brutal assassination of Swami Lakshmananda and his associates or trying to understand the resentment of the tribal’s as the root cause of the riots. Despite censors, news does come out about mutual accommodation between the Church and the Maoists. It cannot be that hard for the Prime Minister to find out about Radhakant Nayak, the chief of the local chapter of World Vision and his suspected role in the conspiracy to kill Swami Lakshmananda. He remains scot-free off course, being a Christian Congress MP.
Thus it was not at all surprising when recently Mr. Ninong Ering, the person who called the Hindu Guru, Baba Ramdev a “bloody Indian turned out to be a Christian Congress MP. Neither was it coincidental that the bloody Indian happened to be a Hindu Guru donning saffron attire and revered by millions of followers, national and international.
Has the PM ever cared for the feelings and sentiments of Hindus, the majority population of the country? He has highlighted Gujarat riot on multiple occasion but did anybody hear him spend a word of empathy for the 59 karsevaks, burned to death in the Sabarmati express at Godhra, even after the court’s recent verdict of Muslim lead conspiracy?.
The PM and his government, his party and its high command, should better realize that the majority of people with Indian blood are aware, despite the best efforts of a biased and soul-less media, that the Christ – influenced and corrupt Congress Party lead by Sonia Gandhi is becoming a threat to the nation.
They, the bloody Indians, had once thrown the mighty British Empire out. Rest assured when the time comes, they will not hesitate to do the same with the current rulers, to save their country.
The Congress crown prince and would be Prime Minister involved in gang rape?
Is there any truth to this accusation circulating on the web for some time now?
Can we expect a CBI investigation, a sting operation (of Tehelka kind) or a Narco Analysis (used indiscriminately against so called Hindu Terrorists)?
Is there any ‘activist’ who is interested?
Lucknow, March 1 (IANS) The Allahabad High Court Tuesday issued notices to Uttar Pradesh authorities and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on a plea seeking information about the whereabouts of a woman who went missing after meeting him in Amethi in 2006, a lawyer said.
The Lucknow bench court issued notice to Gandhi after the petition alleged that the woman and her family members were ‘untraceable’ ever since they met him in his parliamentary constituency Dec 13, 2006.
The notice was issued by Justice S.N. Shukla, the petitioner’s advocate Surya Mani Raikwar told IANS here. The court did not fix any date for the next hearing, he said.
Filing the petition on behalf of the family, Kishore Samrite, a former Samajwadi Party legislator from Madhya Pradesh, accused the Congress leader and his five ‘foreigner friends’ of allegedly assaulting the 24-year-old woman Sukanya Singh.
Claiming to have learnt about the incident from a web site, the petitioner said: ‘I was moved by the news. So I came from my home in Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh to Amethi where I found the girl’s house locked. Villagers were tightlipped about the whereabouts of the family.’
The petition seeks presentation of Sukanya, her father Balram Singh and mother Savitri Singh in court.
Below message is received from sources on the ground and also members of Hindu Unity.
Source: HINDUUNITY.ORG, Local reporters
Rahul Gandhi, Congress Member, Parliament of India, representing the youth of Congress Party is been charged for raping a girl named Ms.Sukanya who happened to be daughter of Congress worker. Rahul Gandhi is fifth-generation scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and son of Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi, he ran on a campaign promoting economic development, honest politics and the role of youth. Mainstream media is silent on this issue .
On that fateful night Ms.Sukanya tried to get the support of local bastiwalas, but no one came forward as everyone are scared of Congress Goondaism which is strong in Amethi.Sukanya’s father beat her so badly that she was forced to run away with her mother because Congressman wanted to kill her. A Group of 1,000 Congress people roamed the town on that night and kept warning people to keep their mouth shut otherwise they will kill them.It all happened under the nose ofthe police who acted helplessly.
The local media who learnt about this incident next morning enquired from the local people. Both people and Police refused to speak anything and evaded any question. Reporters of Small and Medium Newspapers had shown interest in this incidence but it did not carry much weight. Major newspapers had heard about this incident, but did not take it seriously.
The following Reporters who were present on 4th December,2006 to cover Rahul’s Trip in Amethi and who were given information about the incident. These reporters were informed about the incident, none of them took interest to look into the matter
b) Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar
c) Punjab Kesari
d) Hindusthan Times (Hindi)
e) Times of India & Times now
f) NDTV (Hindi)
g) Aaj Tak
h) Star News
i) Nav bharath times
Sukanya and his mother are said to be hiding in one of their Relatives House in Harayana. Our Sources in Lucknow say that “The Congress men have been ordered to kill them at sight before they come out in open or approach the president” .Congressman have been deployed at all 7 borders of UP & Delhi to trace both motherand and Daughter. Congressmen deployed at checkposts have been provided photographs of Sukanya.
Door to Door Searching is on in Amethi and neighbouring Villages to track down them, and simultaneously the villagers are being warned and threathened if they provide protection to both mother and daughter.
As per the information, both Mother and Daughter are alive (Updated information about 10:00 P.M IST 16/1/2007) and search is going on. There is likely that Congressmen and Congress Governments in other states are secretely been instructed to track them down and hand over to them at the earliest.
We have no information like who is contacting the president on behalf of them. We are trying to gather information from our people in New Delhi whether the Human Rights has seriously registered their Complaints. Our people are hesistant to to because there is a possibility that they may apprehend us and hand over us to the police or congressmen for questioning.
Few Congress MLA’S from Uttar Pradesh are under tremendrous pressure from the high command to Locate both mother and daughter and finish the needful.Secretly a reward has been announced by the Congress High Command if whosoever provides info or …… Congressman from other districts and states are touring all over UP & Delhi.
“I am sure they have decided to kill both mother and daughter.”
IMPORTANT: Father of the victim Mr.Balram Singh has either gone underground or has been killed, he is not to be seen since 4th January 2007.