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Sunday, June 26, 2022

A former Christian’s view of missionaries in Bharat: Of lies, deceit and supremacist worldview

Abrahamic monotheism, with the possible exception of Judaism, has a violent history. Christians imagine having direct and literal conversations with their almighty God. A being that is absolute and certainly beyond much of anything they could actually fathom. They believe that they will get what they want from this deity, which includes converting the world. More so, if they pray in groups. They also are sure they have in their possession, the literal and infallible “word of God”, yet most Christians constantly try to reinterpret the Bible. They attempt to use it to prove one thing, while other Christians use it to try and prove another thing. Remember, the moment a Christian says the Bible needs to be interpreted, he or she has lost the debate on whether the Bible is the legitimate and actual word of God.

Christians tend to believe blindly that this God, who is himself quite intolerant, is on their side alone and punishes all others. If anyone merely disagrees, that person is a product of their devil and does not deserve equal rights. That person either needs to accept Jesus, or is considered unworthy of life itself. Their ‘God told me’ mentality is dangerous and a detriment to experiential truths. Such people can use this ‘I know what God wants’ concept, to gain power over others. This is what happens when a religion is more “religious” than it is spiritual or for that matter, intellectual.

This attitude has affected the rights of non-Christians in Bharat and in many other parts of the world for centuries. Of course I am not saying this about all Christians. Most Christians in the world just live and let live. Most are not really very concerned with converting others. Here, I’m speaking of the evangelical, fundamentalist Christian supremacists bent on their hopes for a world where everyone prays to Jesus.

People should be able to choose their religion, but when one expansionist religion promotes the use of deceit within their efforts of conversion, that choice becomes contaminated. It seems that these right-wing Christians want Hindus to think they are somehow diseased. Then they want to sell their cure to this disease of not being Christian to Hindus and all other non-Christians. They are convinced that the God of the Old Testament made all of us sinners, and that the God of the New Testament (Jesus) died to relieve us of those sins.

Does this not seem to be just a little absurd?

In their attempts to convert Hindus to their dogma, Christian missionaries in Bharat will use: lies, scare tactics, threats of poverty and starvation, ridicule of Hinduism, demands, ultimatums, cultural and religious appropriation, promises of immediate riches and an eventual utopia after death, a denial of reason and a vilification of any other culture but their own. They will do almost anything to “expand the kingdom”. This is why I say that Christianity is not just a religion. It is also a sort of imperialistic political ideology with an agenda.

The favourite targets of the Christian missionary industry are Bharatiya Hindus. Some of whom may have little. They have their family, their culture and their religion. Missionaries attempt to break up their families, consume and appropriate their culture and attempt to ridicule away their religion or worse, assimilate it into their own by transforming it into something they can more easily understand and tolerate. Missionaries are not in Bharat for any altruistic reasons. They are not to be confused with the Peace Corps. or UN workers. They are there primarily to convert by any means necessary.

Missionaries are not heroes. They are just people who have been taught from early childhood to believe that what they think, is superior to what others think. What is the difference between a Christian supremacist who dreams of one dominant world religion and a white supremacist who dreams of one dominant world race?
Some missionaries have endangered tribal people who are susceptible to diseases from the outside world. The common cold or flu could wipe them out. The missionaries know this but they don’t care because they are only concerned with, as they say “establishing the kingdom of Jesus”.

They say, “it’s all worth it to declare Jesus to these heathens.”

It’s time these evangelists adjust their condescending and derogatory views of other religions and of their adherents. It’s time their intrusive and detrimental conversion efforts become a thing of the past, like their Crusades, Inquisitions and witch hunts. Of course, there are many missionaries in Bharat and other parts of the world who are more concerned with ‘Christian dharma’. That is, to actually do what Jesus taught and help their fellow man and woman. However, many other Christians on missions in Bharat, do not have any respect for or knowledge of Bharatiya culture or religion. What they do know of these is based on inaccurate, negative and bigoted stereotypes.

Hinduism represents the world’s most ancient, continuously practiced spiritual tradition. There is a reason over 500 million non-Hindus practice yoga and/or some form of meditation, stemming directly from Hinduism. Not counting Buddhists, Taoists, Shintoists, etc. Bharat is the world’s largest democracy and is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse countries in the world. Hinduism is a fascinating and beautiful religion. We Hindus do not need to be converted.

I have adopted the Hindu dharma and I think I can speak for many Hindus. We do not want to join a supremacist and oppressive organisation with imperialistic tendencies. We are not interested in a scripture that promotes misogyny, slavery and murder. We are not interested in an exclusive monoculture or in a dogmatic religion devoid of any conscientious, scientific and metaphysical principles. We are not interested in a credo that teaches exclusion rather than inclusive universalism and tolerance.

Finally, I’d like to say that as a former Christian, I still have love for Christ, but I have lost my love for his followers and for the religion which came about due in part to his existence. Actually, I should say ‘despite his existence’. I highly doubt this religion was anything Jesus actually had in mind. I would love the zealous Christians as much as I love Christ, if they were more like him. I would also most likely love Christianity itself, if it resembled the actual mystical teachings of Jesus, instead of the dogmatic teachings of the Church.

(Sean Bradrick is an Ayurvedic counsellor and writer living in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. The above article is an edited extract from his book, ‘A Hindu’s Guide to Advocacy and Activism)

(This article was published on firstpost.com on February 27, 2022 and has been reproduced here with minor edits to conform to HinduPost style-guide.)

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