Post Mortem

Tackling the propaganda against Christianity

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 11/1/2020 12:46:20 PM IST

 (It does not take a majority to prevail... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men-Samuel Adams)

Many observers see minorities as the prototype of resistance; some observe their sustenance as the source of stability in the political system; some analyze them as the source of change. Minorities are a significant part of any state. They are small in number, but in this intense prevailing nationalism atmosphere, they face the most number of critique, and strong debates are mostly converged toward them. Their social and cultural impact pervades the whole society and shapes the incumbent social fabric. Sometimes it causes the gap or subsystem that leads to continuous skirmishes and hostilities like the Muslims and Jews in Israel. However, sometimes these societies amalgamated to generate incorporated culture that causes harmony and peace between two or more religious cultures. Later was India's case, where people from different religions can retain their own identity through cultural, religious, and social practices by incorporating the social culture.

The late twenty-first century marks the rise of nationalism and extreme fascist ideologies in the whole world. Iran turned into the Shia ideological state, Middle east countries faced nationalism ideologies by coups like Sadam Husain in Iraq, and Zia leads Pakistan to a theocratic republic. India was no aberration in that era. Intense Hindu nationalist parties like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh started to rise, which creates an environment of polarity supported by propaganda. Christians did not exempt from this propaganda. They were denounced as the "elements of colonization," while if someone digs the history of Christian theology and its practices, the reality is by far different from the perception. Noam Chomsky presented his theory of "manufacturing consent," He underlined the media's role as a propaganda tool that can make any community villain based on fake lies. Christians' struggle for India's betterment and the whole of the subcontinent seems to be forgotten by the mob unions, blatant accusations, and shouting slogans. 

Many notable Christians stood with Gandhi against the suppression of colonization. The first and last Governor-General of India, Chakravarti Rajagopalachar, is one of the prominent leaders in northern India for the subcontinent's independence. He was a lawyer and aligned his ideologies with Gandhi and choose the path to reform society. He risked his liberty many times for Gandhi. When Gandhi started the Dandi march against Britain's tax in 1929, he started the same non-cooperative protest movement named Vedaranyam Salt Satyagraha. He also held the minister's seat in the Madras and water to civil disobedience against the colonization. He was not the only one that participated in the formation of this nation. According to Congress official data, more than 600 Christian presents in the Indian National Congress's meeting in 1887 in Madras. Later, They made the independent All India Conference of Indian Christians (AICIC) in 1914 to safeguard the interest of Christians of India. During the formation of the Constitution, thirteen memoranda were signed by them to ensure the safety of minorities in independent India. R. R. Keithahn is also a prominent name in the Indian struggle. So the Christian are also the indigenous people of land that are living there for around 2000 years

Besides the political well being of Indian society, many Christian figures help in the betterment of society. Mother Teresa was a nun and missionary who worked for humanitarian causes without considering caste, creed, or ethnicity. She laid the foundation stone of Missionaries of charity that is still active in more than 133 countries. She runs school and institution from the adoption and care of children to assisting youth in meeting daily life requirements. She was still admired for her charitable work. When she was subjected to harsh criticism, she argued that she is just converting them to be better Muslims, Hindu, and Christians, and one should find betterment in his religion.  Doctor Ruth Pfau was a doctor who devoted her life to the cure of Leprosy in Pakistan. She lived in Germany but then migrated to Pakistan for the betterment of Asia. There are hundreds of social institutions that are doing charitable work for the betterment of society.

With the rise of Hindu nationalism, the Christian social institutions face the critique of being used only for proselytization and receiving foreign funding from the Christian missionaries. At the same time, the argument is bogus and has no factual ground.

In a recent tweet, Subramanyam Swami (Cabinet minister) said “Threat to India’s integrity today is from Christian missionary organizations who use induced  conversion to  Christian faith to subvert the nation. Islamic terror is a more manageable threat and is mainly from within India”.

The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act promulgated in 2011 is an evident example of regulating and censoring Christian social support to the community. NGOs and social work institutions have characteristics of non-alignment to any political system, and it only works for humanity. However, the state's bigotry against these organizations is also a tool for the suppression of goodwill. Civil work is also a way to mend the bridge between subculture, and its suppression will increase more violence. The famous NGO "Compassion international" was banned from working in India, and its more than six hundred care center that was nurturing more than one lakh children ceased to exist.  

The notable names in the realms of science are Benjamin Bailey that established the first printing press. We all know about the Indian mission to Moon, and Dr. Koshy contributed much to this matter. May George was the first Indian woman engineer. The list goes on as we have no words to tame the Christian community's contribution to this prestigious and glorified Country. The most common misconception propagated inside the ordinary person's mind is that Christianity is spread by European to colonize this continent. However, history tells us a different story; Thomas spread the words of Jesus in around 64Ad. At the same time, the British and dutch missionaries came hundreds of years later. The Christians living in southern India are there for more than a thousand centuries. Therefore the prejudice on the argument of colonization has no factual basis. 

There are specific claims made on the Christian by the numbers of followers and population, but many sociologists disagree with the government consensus. The reason for this is that there are specific leverages for the scheduled caste by the government. Therefore many Dalit, even after the conversion, officially remains Hindus. Today about 2.6 percent population of India is Christian. Many argue that the reason for this is sociological and economical. The growth rate of Christians is less than Hindu and Muslim. The recent attacks on the converted Christian through a campaign like "Ghar Wapsi" pose a severe threat to Christianity's propagation in India. Jenkins is not satisfied with Indian national consensus and calls it "one of the world's great works of creative fiction." he further reiterated, “is because of systematic and widespread persecution by Hindu extremist sects, often operating in alliance with local governments and police authorities — violence that receives virtually no publicity in the West.” Many people believe in Jesus but are not leaving their cultural affiliation to previous religions. So there is a particular community living the life of multiple religions that are not counted as the Christian.  Other religions in India are older than Christianity, but they are less than 2 percent of the total population. For example, Buddhism came hundreds of years before Christian, but less in number, and the same happened with Judaism. 

There is the promulgation of Anti Conversion laws in the states like Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu. They not only passed legislation but also implemented it harshly. 

Article 25 of the Constitution of India constituted as "all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health."

This type of law restricted conversion activities and stood against the Constitution and the fundamental human right of practicing any religion. A senior lawyer Tehmina Arora mentioned that using these laws as a tool to coerce minorities is increasing. She mentioned many incidents in which the mob attacked minorities and took them to the police station to lodge the FIR. The Christians in eastern India faced this type of violence. The United Nations Charter also professed the practice of every religion as the fundamental human right. So the anti-conversion laws are both the laws of the Constitution of India and also universal human rights. There is a provision that "Threat of divine displeasure" can be accounted for the guilt. Even if someone does not believe in the holy personality, he can be made guilty.

There are reported violence against Christians in recent years. According to the Christian council, every Christian faces the prejudice or criminal act done to coerce or suppress him after every forty-minute. These are a threat that is imposed on the Christian community. RSS, Shiv Sena, etc. are the staunch right-wing parties that are nurturing this violence. The distraction from national matters like unemployment, worse economy, etc. was also gain due to the spreads of false propaganda. From January 2016 to September 2020, India witnessed 2,224 incidents of persecution against Christians. These are the figure for reported incidents. At many times, the fear is placed so that the people fear reporting the incident, or there is a pressure of Police to relinquish the suit due to corruption. Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh are considered to be the worst place for Christians to live in. There are no laws that have been passed or the formal response from the government against this persecution. In the recent "Palghar Lynching," Christian missionaries were accused by the right wing Hindu leader of the killing. However, the realities were quite different, and the motive to kill those persons was a misconception that they abduct the child. This type of propaganda is done to pollute the image of the community.

Christians have also made many mistakes in the past that confined them to the small population. In the beginning, the upper class was only proselytized. The focus on the lower cast came very late. The Church's educational service was previously reserved for the upper class, and the lower cast was not allowed to enter the Church. These modifications in the practices of the Church decrease the popularity of Christianity in the eye of the typical person. There is also "church corruption" reported in many places. The violence can not deter violence, so any force must be abandoned.  A new term, "Crypto Christian," is started to write for those people who have been baptized and accepted Jesus as their savior. However, for economic reasons, they still are legally Scheduled cast and enjoying the state's leverage.  If a person coverts to be a Christian, more or less, his caste remains the same. These practices must be abandoned, and the class system must be abolished. These are the main hurdle that must be transcended in order to be more effective and pervasive.

The world has become an informative web, and there are many media where one can verify the news and prevailing argument about the incident. Humanity has suffered a lot in history due to these prejudices based on religion, ethnicity, color, and creed. There is no more reason to fight and hate, as no religion teaches violence. The future strategy to cater is to dig inside the rationality of the arguments and verify the truth. The government should come forward and remove all the unconstitutional legislation from the state laws. There should be separate Police and legal structure to produce religious harmony and save the minorities from any violence. Any form of discrimination over the religion would be taken seriously and denounced by putting harsh penalties. Society should look for standard practices in the culture and promote them as a bridge. Society should behave more tolerantly and respect the emotional feelings of other people. There will be both legal and social safeguards for the minorities of all religions. 

Mahatma Gandhi said that “Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth."

Moanaro Imchen, Mokokchung

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