Pseudo-Secularism

Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

End Aggresive Faith-Marketing

By P N Benjamin

The real source of danger to the Indian Christian community is not the handful of Hindu extremists. Most of the violent incidents have been due to aggressive evangelising. A senior RSS leader once told me:
“The incidents of violence against Christians are a reaction to the aggressive propaganda and mindless evangelism, abusing Hindu Gods and indulging in similar activities. The incidents are blown out of proportion. We have decided not to tolerate intolerance of other faiths. Let the Church declare that there can be salvation outside the Church also. The whole atmosphere will undergo a radical change…”


The real source of danger to the Indian Christian community is not the handful of Hindu extremists. Most of the violent incidents have been due to aggressive evangelising. Other than this, there have been few attacks on Christians. Finally, the sensitive and sensible Christians must realise that acts of certain groups of Christian evangelists are the root-cause of tension between Christians and Hindus. Christian leaders should come out in the open to disown such acts of intolerance.

The best and perhaps the only way Christians can bear witness to their faith, is by extending their unconditional love to their neighbours and expecting nothing in return. As such, most of the Christians are against aggressive faith marketing by any religious group because such efforts discredit India’s tradition of respecting all religious thought and also runs counter to the true spirit in which the Constitution grants people the right to profess, practice and propagate their faith.

Many of the Indian Christians were born into Christianity and some others freely chose to embrace it. They also believe that the Great Commission in the Gospel, according to Matthew, unequivocally calls us to witness Christ in a pluralistic setting without violating the right of others to preach, practice and profess his/her faith. Witnessing Jesus cannot in any case be done by questionable means, whether by exploiting people’s socio-psychological vulnerabilities or by running down other religions.

The Christian injunction to make disciples of all nations in today’s context is best honoured by the bearers of the Good News living exemplary Christian lives and showing respect for the nation’s commitment to pluralism, for the larger public good in a civil society. Conversion of faith, given its life-changing nature, stems from a considered personal experience and is less likely in this day and age to be the stuff of dramatic immediacy.

India will continue to remain hospitable to all religions only if the Muslim fanatics and the Christian fundamentalists accept the pluralistic tradition of Hindus which is to consider all religions as equal. Pluralistic Christians and liberated Muslims of India have done that. The overwhelming majority of Hindus practice it.

Fundamentalist Christians assert that they alone are the holders of valid visas to heaven and paradise! Many preachers of the Gospel lay enticing traps for people whom they think must be ‘saved’ at all costs. It is worse still that their attitudes, though they (Christians) are a tiny minority in India, often create counter-reaction from among militant Hindus who sometimes incite violence against Christians. The Hindu fundamentalism is a reaction to the provocation of Christian proselytisers. The fanatics among the Christian faith will soon realise that theirs is a losing battle even if they derive their financial and other means of support from the wealthy nations overseas.

Will the Christians listen to the words of sanity of Dr Ken Gnanakan, well-known Christian scholar who told this writer the other day: “Preach Christ, but do not condemn others.” Even Jesus said in John 3.17: “God did not send his Son to condemn the world...”

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