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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Meet IMA President Dr. Johnrose Austin Jayalal – a committed Christian evangelist

Dr. Johnrose Austin Jayalal was appointed as the national president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) in December, 2020 at its 95th annual national conference held in Chennai. IMA is the nation’s largest professional council of health care workers. It was established in 1928 under The Societies Act of India, and has over over 3 lakh member doctors and over 1,700 active local branches across the country.

A recent interview given by Dr. Johnrose Jayalal to an American evangelical news outlet Christianity Today provides explosive details of how this man, who heads the most powerful medical advocacy group in the country, believes in using secular spaces like hospitals and medical colleges to convert medical students, doctors and patients to Christianity.

Some excerpts from this interview are reproduced below in italics, with accompanying commentary.

Dr. Johnrose believes in spreading Christianity irrespective of the profession one is in – if you thought doctors, police, bureaucrats are ‘secular’ professions where one should restrict religious practice to the personal sphere, you are wrong as per him. He thinks that ‘amid persecution…by various means and ways, Christianity is growing’ in Bharat:

You can be a Christian police officer or work in the revenue department. The place does not decide how you are going to be a Christian. It is your relationship with God Almighty. When we have a relationship with the Father above, we know who we are and who is our master.

The opportunity in front of every Christian is splendid. It is not solely the responsibility of the pastor; it is that every Christian who is born again and who has experienced the love and affection of God Almighty will respond to the calling to go and preach the gospel.

I am able to see, even amid persecution, even amid difficulties, even amid the control by the government, even among the restrictions we face in openly proclaiming the message, by various means and ways, Christianity is growing.

More than physical healing, he believes a Christian doctor’s primary job is to provide ‘spiritual healing’. Moreover, he wants more Christian doctors to work in secular institutions and medical colleges to spread ‘Christian healing’ and mentor (brainwash) students and interns. Imagine, a patient who is at her/his most vulnerable and implicitly trusts the doctor, being told by the same doctor that they should believe in Christianity for their spiritual upliftment? Can there be a greater breach of ethics?

I firmly believe that wherever you are or whatever position you are, you can be a Christian doctor. Normally in the medical profession we talk about the physical curing. But as a Christian I believe we are not just here to physically cure, but God Almighty has called us to give holistic healing, which includes the spiritual healing, the mental healing, and the social healing.

My primary concern when I work as a Christian doctor is to ensure that I have time to talk about the mental well-being and spiritual healing of the person. We need more Christian doctors to work more in secular institutions, mission institutions, and medical colleges. I am working as a professor of surgery in a medical college, so it is also a good opportunity for me to carry on the principles of Christian healing there. I also have the privilege of mentoring graduates and the interns.

After slandering Bharat for ‘persecuting’ Christians, Dr. Johnrose admits that most Hindus are ‘soft-minded’ and that Bharat has less religious restrictions for Christian missionaries and evangelists! Just see the irony. He also believes that being polytheistic, Hindus accept different Gods – basically, he’s admitting that the Hindu respect and tolerance for different spiritual paths can be abused to spread hate against our own Gods and convert us:

Most of the people are soft minded. There are fewer hardcore people, apart from the people who are in power. Often people are more understanding; people are more tolerant; people are more able to go along with them.

One of the things we must always remember is that Hinduism or Hindutva is different from other religions because of polytheism. They accept different gods. They have no difficulty in accepting or proclaiming that Jesus is one of the gods or Muhammad is one of the gods. So religious restrictions are less when comparing them with systems of other countries. I personally feel that it is not that difficult in India.

Recently, you might have heard about IMA’s aggressive campaign against ‘mixopathy’, the alleged mixing of different streams of medical science by the ‘Hindu nationalist’ government. IMA has also strongly protested against Ayurvedic doctors being allowed to perform certain surgeries, and has clashed with Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan too. The merits of these arguments notwithstanding, one of the reasons the IMA President opposes Ayurveda is because it will lead to people learning Sanskrit and then everything will be Hindutva. He also believes that after enforcing one unified system of medicine, the next step will be to impose one religion on the nation. It would be comic, if it weren’t so frightening to see a veteran, highly educated doctor, spouting such propaganda:

“The government of India, because of their cultural value and traditional belief in the Hindutva, believes in a system called Ayurveda. For the last three or four years, they have tried to replace modern medicine with this. Now, starting in 2030, you will have to study this alongside Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, homeopathy, yoga, and naturopathy. They want to make it one nation, one system of medicine. Next, they will want to make it one religion.

This is also based on a Sanskrit language, which is always traditionally based on the Hindu principles. This is an indirect way for the government to introduce the language of Sanskrit and language of Hindutva into the minds of the people.

He also mentions that he decided to use ‘fasting’ as a tool to register allopathic doctors’ protests so that they ‘take the pain on themselves’ and as fasting ‘takes you to a spiritual area’. For the record, fasting as a spiritual practice is an ancient Hindu tradition.

IMA President Evangelist
Credit: Christianity Today

Dr. Johnrose lies that only the Church has taken care of low socioeconomic status people, and runs down the efforts of the central government. Efforts of organisations like RSS, Art of Living, Hindu temples and other sections of civil society who all provided crores of free meals, supply kits and other assistance to underprivileged sections during the pandemic lockdown, also have no meaning in Dr. Johnrose’s bigoted worldview:

The people on the lower level—yes, it was a problem, but most of the time it’s really the churches who were taking care of them. The government has not come forward to support them.

He applauds hate-mongering evangelist groups like Paul Dhinkaran’s “Jesus Calls” and Mohan Lazarus‘ “Jesus Redeems” which have been found guilty of financial scams, FCRA fraud and illegal conversions of tribals through misrepresentation and allurement.

Two main groups, Jesus Calls and Jesus Redeems, were systematically conducting services at particular times

He runs down medical science’s ability to protect people from the pandemic and believes that only God’s grace can save them. How is this any different from Tablighi Jamaat’s Maulana Saad who exhorted people to flock to mosques as only Allah’s grace can save them?

Many times, people had put their faith in materialistic things. But through the pandemic, they were really able to realize that our protection is only through the grace of God Almighty. But through the pandemic, they were really able to realize that our protection is only through the grace of God Almighty…It’s only the grace of God Almighty that helps us to get over the crisis and stay safe, and it was his grace that protected us.

He dishonors the lakhs of non-Christian doctors and medical workers who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic, many even making the supreme sacrifice in line of duty, by insinuating that Christian doctors were more willing to serve in ICUs and treat critically ill patients! It’s a shame that the head of IMA, an organization which has been fighting for due recognition of 734 doctors who died while fighting the pandemic, displays such a communal, bigoted mindset:

Not all doctors were willing to come forward and serve in the ICUs or areas where the most casualties were coming from. Many Christian doctors did come and serve in those areas and help.

When asked why Bharat fared relatively better in dealing with the pandemic compared to the West, Dr. Johnrose totally fails to acknowledge that Bharat, and other ‘less developed’ Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand etc. too, responded more coherently, rapidly and effectively to the pandemic threat.

He doesn’t mention any of the measures where we did better – quickly closing borders, lockdowns to prevent the virus from spreading in hinterland and giving time to ramp up medical infrastructure, rapid expansion of testing labs, becoming the 2nd largest producer of PPE kits in a short timespan, accelerating vaccine development and shipping it to the rest of the world. Instead, he delivers some back-handed compliments to the Bharatiya medical system, and finally thanks ‘God’s grace on India’!

I personally feel God must have been distracted with the US and now he is focusing on India, and he is having some grace on us in India [laughing]. So we want to proclaim the message that it is the grace of God, and it is not by our power, not by our might, but by the grace of God that we are getting that positive response.

Dr. Johnrose Jayalal’s goal of proselytising within hospitals is no aberration. TN IAS officer Umashankar, another hate-mongering evangelical, had to be rescued by a police team from irate relatives of a patient who raised serious objection to his ‘faith healing’ activities inside a government hospital in Chennai.

Dr. Johnrose Austin Jayalal has also been profiled on ‘Haggai International’, another American evangelical group with the mission to “equip and inspire strategically positioned leaders to more effectively demonstrate and present the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to prepare others to do the same.”

Let’s look at some more gems from this profile named ‘In the name of the Great Phyisician’:

he is tasked with promoting public health and modern medicine in a country heavily influenced by controversial indigenous medical practices.

Would any description of indigenous medical practices in Germany, a country where the alternative system of homeopathy originated and where it receives a privileged legal status, include words like ‘controversial’?

his life as a committed Christian in a nation often hostile to believers…

He attended the Haggai Leader Experience in 2018 and credits it with revitalizing his spiritual life and infusing his medical work with Gospel urgency. Installed as president of the Indian Medical Association last December, Dr. Jayalal sees it all as a platform to share the love of Jesus Christ.

“I deeply desire to be a living witness to God and encourage young medical students and doctors to receive Jesus as their personal savior. I aim to be a witness for God in the secular organization I serve.”

India is currently one of the most dangerous countries in the world for practicing Christians, and Dr. Jayalal confirms that the government is indeed hostile to believers. But the confusion, fear, and desperation of the pandemic gave Dr. Jayalal and his colleagues the opportunity to share the Gospel in a new way to more people.

What kind of a twisted theology sees a pandemic as an opportunity to harvest more souls? Similar exultations of “advancing God’s work” were seen in the wake of other disasters like the 2015 Nepal earthquake and the 2004 Tsunami.

“When leprosy, cholera, and other pandemics devastated the world, it was Christian doctors and churches who stood against it, showing Christian compassion. And the urgent need of the proclamation of the Gospel to people who are suffering from the virus has allowed us to share the Gospel even in secular institutions.”

Should such a bigoted Christian supremacist be allowed to head an important body like IMA? Even if measured by the standards of Nehruvian secularism with its inherent anti-Hindu bias, surely this man has crossed all limits?

Even more importantly, it is time to realize that unlike Hindu Dharma and other Dharmic faiths, proselytization using any means possible is a central tenet of Abrahamic faiths like Christianity and Islam. The right to propogate religion granted under Article 25 of the Constitution was bound to backfire and create social disharmony, and that is exactly what we are witnessing today.

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