This is a subject that has been burning in my heart, for quite a number of years, but I fell short of addressing it, for the fear of being bullied and targeted for my views. However, with the growing tide of intolerance, and the widespread and successful propaganda of hate against my faith, and in turn, my community, based on lies and partial truths, packaged as absolute truths, and propagated in a very systematic and effective fashion; I’ve finally decided to step in, no matter what the consequences are. I must admit that I often admire ( not in a very delightful way, though) the men and women behind this; only if they had put their brains to better use, our nation would have become a prosperous nation by now!
Perhaps this is just some wishful thinking as the world in itself would be a much peaceful place if everyone learnt to put ‘Love’ ahead of ‘Hatred’ and ‘Humanity’ ahead of Pseudo-nationalism!
Oops, I think I am beginning to step on hot lava and could feel the intense heat already.
‘Social Media’, as most of us already know has revolutionized the way individuals interact and form opinions. On the flip-side, this has also given rise to the spread of unreliable lies, and fake stories that are mostly cooked up with no substantial and reliable facts to back them up! Gone are the days of systematic and reliable journalism, that were pain-painstakingly researched, and analyzed to see if their findings were indeed what they seemed to be, and unbiased. Most importantly, they would often consider the other side of a story and present their views as well.
But who cares about facts anymore? I recently came across the below picture on social media with a caption that read “This is how the media reports these days”
“A brave snake trying to rescue a drowning fish”
Though it looks funny and unbelievable to be anywhere close to being true, this depicts how facts can be twisted to present an entirely different story, poles apart from the actual truth! The only reason you and I know this to be false is because we know that
- A fish cannot drown and needs no rescuing.
- A snake will never try to rescue a fish even if the first premise is false because that goes against its very nature.
Without this underlying understanding, anyone can believe the caption to be true! The same applies to what is circulated on social media sites.
Let’s now go to the heart of the subject! The term ‘Conversion’ has been a term that has evoked a lot of controversies; but not much debate as to whether it’s indeed what it seems to be; perhaps, due to the heated nature of the argument.
Let me get it straight! I’m not denying that there are con men and wolves in sheep’s clothing who perhaps are trying to take advantage of the good and the noble among my people. Neither am I denying the rampant corruption that is plaguing the churches today? However, this doesn’t mean that I have to remain silent, at the way my faith is being targeted, and the pain-staking sacrifices and good deeds of the selfless many projected as anti-national and evil. Nothing could be far from the truth.
Christianity, as some project is not a western religion -not even close; As a matter of fact, it’s an eastern religion that is two millennials old and had arrived in India around the same time. Indian Christianity is much older than European or American Christianity, and to say that Christianity is a foreign/alien faith to the Indian sub-continent is a blatant lie and a myth.
Christianity is not a western religion
I would even go further and say that Christianity in India is much older than modern ‘Hinduism’ which in the first century was much different, than what we have now. My intention is not to belittle Hinduism, but to clarify that the Christian faith, is as native to our sub-continent (if not more) as much as any other faith. I shall try to address both these claims in detail in another post.
So, to say that Indian Christians are agents of the west, that we receive money, for every convert we make, are anti-nationals and don’t love our nation, beyond hurting the sentiments of people like me are baseless and false allegations.
Let me narrate my story…
I’m a fourth-generation Christian, on my father’s side of my family, and probably nine or more generations on my mother’s side. My father told me that his grandfather was a Hindu by birth, embraced Christ on his own, was excommunicated from his village; thereby ended up losing his property and livelihood. Financially speaking, he was bankrupt and lost but his conviction,and the love he had for Christ, superseded his loss and humiliation. So the theory, that a convert makes money by giving up his faith, amounts to insulting people like my great-grandfather and belittles the sacrifices they made and many still make to stand for what they believed/believe in.
One may ask, why change/convert your religion when you choose to follow Christ? A good question that sounds reasonable enough to give it a thought! To understand this one needs to understand the fundamental social-economic structure of our society. We live in a highly hierarchical, and casteist culture. The caste one is born into, often dictates the profession one practices; it was also the benchmark for the value they had in the society. This system, ascribed values based on one’s birth, rather than their intrinsic worth. Besides being highly discriminatory; this also gave rise to the oppression of those who were unfortunate to be born into the lower castes, by those who considered themselves superior. Christianity, on the other hand, preached that all men and women are created in the ‘image of God’; born equal, and hence, are equal in God’s sight, and that no one can discriminate another human, based on their birth. Moreover, those who carried this message, embraced those deemed untouchables, with love, and affection, serving them, as their own family. This love, attracted many, to their new found faith, abandoning the faith of their ancestors, that had discriminated them for centuries!
However, besides social equality, many others, found an inexpressible ‘Peace and Joy’, they had not experienced earlier. This led many from the upper castes (like some of my ancestors ), to abandon their caste-based privileges, embrace ‘Christ’ and be willing to be considered equals, with those they had ruled over, until then.
I know of many friends, who have embraced ‘Christ’ from a different religious background, on their own( some of whom I shall cover in my articles soon) with no one forcing them. I don’t know of one case, where someone had received financial support just to convert someone or ‘get converted.
Christianity was never meant to be a religious, or political force, and never can be! So the notion of ‘converting someone for money’, is as absurd, as someone getting married for mere dowry (which I oppose), and other financial benefits. It has absolutely, no value!
Christianity is about a relationship with ‘CHRIST’ and not about a religion
Moreover, we live in a secular and a democratic country, where one has the freedom to practice and preach the religion of their choice! Denying someone that right is against the very fabric of our Constitution.
Then, there is the allegation of converting the natives from their native faith! Going by this argument, one must be willing to accept that the only religion acceptable as native would be the religion of the earliest inhabitants of our sub-continent, who worshiped the elements of nature and were distinct from any of the other religions we see today. So even this argument falls short of any rationality.
As I had pointed out earlier, truth sometimes can be distorted, and the contrary sold as truth. There are websites, and social media pages, solely dedicated to defaming Indian Christian, and Christianity missionaries, like Mother Teresa, and many others, whose only crime was serving people, who were rejected by their own families, and communities.
Let me make it clear! As I had pointed out in my earlier article, ‘Conversion’ has never been, and never will be a requisite, to receive love, care, and support. But do people convert when such kindness is shown? Yes! they do. But such acts are only voluntary, and not out of force, or compulsion. People who don’t convert, are still shown, the same ‘Love’ and ‘Care’.
It’s not what is imprinted on a piece of paper that makes one ‘A Follower of Christ’ or a Christian; but what is imprinted in the heart of a Person. This matters to God more than anything else to the God of the ‘Christian faith’.
That which is imprinted in the heart of a Person matters more to the God of the Christian faith than what is imprinted on a piece of paper!
I often wonder at some of the allegations that are made against Christians, notwithstanding the fact that these were the very people that built some of the earliest free schools and free hospitals in some of the most backward regions of the country while expecting no financial benefits in return. One must understand that these people often called as ‘missionaries’ consisting of both Indian and foreign nationals, operated in times and places when/where it would be considered nothing short of a punishment for an educated person be it a doctor or a teacher to be working in;
Yet for all of the work the Christian community has been engaged in and is still engaging in, we are labeled as ‘agents of the west’ and ‘anti-nationals’. Such labeling is not only hurting the sentiments of the Christian community but also used to polarize and stereotype us, relying solely on hatred and communal feelings. The facts, however, are far from it.
What is disappointing and hurting is the fact that while most people implicitly believe the stories planted on social media sites, have not encountered such stories in their real life!
One such person was asked by a friend of mine, who proved that the allegations presented against Christians are not true and asked him why is he spewing hatred in-spite of knowing that these are false allegations; to which he replied: “I know they are not true, but I do it because I hate Christians”. This is such a heart- breaking statement to even consider.
I genuinely, and honestly, wish that those hate me, and my faith, with all their heart, and carry bitterness, to the point of even raping, innocent nuns, and murdering priests & believers, would be willing to see the heart, behind everything, and see us for who were are.
In-spite of all that’s thrown at us, I would like to say that I have no hatred towards anyone who oppose us, and I pray that they too like many of us, be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel!
“ I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me”
– Lord Jesus Christ
The above statement summarizes why do Christians do what they do, in spite of the hatred and the bigotry that’s spewed against them!
May God bless my wonderful nation India, now and in the days to come!
Hoping and praying, for a peaceful,harmonious and a safer India for all!