Religious conversion is God’s work, but is it?
by Hilda Raja on 05 Apr 2009 12 Comments

The new Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, Sr. Mary Prema, made two revelations - that religious conversion ‘is God’s work’ and that - if she received divine inspiration, she would go to Kandhamal. The first statement, of describing conversions as God’s work, is the usual cliché, handy to all those involved in conversion. Conversion is to Christianity what jihad is to Islam. 

Sr. Prema explained, ‘Every human being has the right to believe. Each person is born with dignity. Religious conversion is God’s work.’ The contradictions galore within these sentences are glaring. If every person has the right to believe, then where is the need to initiate that person to something new and strange, in which that person is not born in?

Should one god be exorcised out of the person and another god be installed to uphold the dignity with which this person was born? This is actually what conversion is all about. Why this rupturing of the person from what he/she was?

God of invasions

What Sr. Prema really means is that every person has a right to be converted and hence the right of the person to believe is conditioned and restricted to only believing in the god in whom Sr. Prema and her church believes. This is what Sr. Prema articulated when she so naively asserted that every person has a right to believe and every person is born with dignity. That this god is only 2000 years old and somehow seems to be always in the company of those who invade the land of others, is another dimension which needs a longer treatise.

If conversion is God’s work, then whose work is re-conversion? Sr. Prema, the Superior General of the MoC, and the whole armies of Christian missionaries involved in conversion, have failed this god miserably - because their god has failed them. If conversion is God’s work, he seems to be rather slow and inefficient. The Catholic Church has the biggest army of nuns and priests and the Christian evangelical churches have their own brand of evangelists; the Southern Baptists alone as a group has nearly 100,000 career missionaries in North India.

It is the simple unarmed, poverty-stricken tribals and passive Hindus that this God and his divine inspired missionaries target. Yet it is not so easy; despite the enormous funds that flow and the armies at the disposal of this god, he had to give divine inspiration to massacre an unarmed poor Swamiji whom he found a great hurdle to the spread of his kingdom.

Conversion is violence

Sr. Prema has unwittingly exposed the bluff of the Congress and UPA leaders. We are told that conversion is not taking place. Conversion takes different forms - globally, it is disguised as a military coup, violence, and very often a deception of service and development is given to this violent conversion. Yes, conversion is violence wrought on a person - to deprive the person of his/her dignity, which according to Sr. Prema, every person is born with - to tear the person off his affinity, his religious heritage and make him/her an alien; a psychological bleeding to death.

Christianity and conversion are two sides of the same coin. Wherever Christianity went, it was bloodshed-destruction, and a hidden agenda of political power, economic aggrandizement, and pauperization of the victims. In the words of Jomo Kenyatta (of Kenya) “when the missionaries came they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray,’ We closed our eyes, when we opened them, they had our lands and we had the Bible.”

This is true not only in Africa, but all over the globe. Those countries which broke away from the stranglehold of the Vatican became progressive - like Canada, Australia, England. But those colonized by Catholic powers like Spain, Portugal Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, Italy are mired in military rule and church tyranny. Christianity today likes to be seen as a peace loving, compassionate religion of brotherhood. But far from it - the religion was born in blood and grew in bloodshed. Economic and political powers are its hidden agenda, covered with service organizations, education institutions etc.

Perhaps Sr. Prema is too naïve to understand and she and all nuns and priests are ignorant of church history. These nuns and priests are brainwashed into this service and love of the poor mission. Many soon realize, but then it is too late, especially in India, to be courageous and pull out. They become voices in the wilderness and the church is too powerful for ordinary innocent and truthful persons to fight against.

Kandhamal – wither justice?

This brings me to Sr. Prema’s pious wish - that she would visit Kandhamal if she receives ‘divine inspiration’ and would definitely intervene. One wonder what intervention is she talking about - intervene for whom and with whom? Sr. Prema would do a greater service if she visited the ex-nun Jesme in Kerala and listened to her tale of sexual harassment within the convent - how she was betrayed by her own and even had to submit physically to priests.

This is nothing new and not a singular case, but happenings that have been on for ages. These sexual escapades, including rape and murder, have been happening within the confines of the convents and the church compound. Only when a nun is raped outside these confines, then all hell breaks loose. Sr. Prema could direct her divine inspired mission to empathize with Sr. Jesmy and many like her, and intervene with the church authorities. The Superior General of the MoC should be aware that nuns are on contraceptives, nuns have begotten children of bishops and priests, whole dioceses have been sold in the USA to pay the compensation for the sexual violation of alter boys by priests. 

A Jesuit province in the USA has declared itself insolvent because it cannot garner the huge funds to pay the compensation to the sexual victims of priests. Be it in India or in other parts of the world, all this pales into nothing - only Kandhamal occupies and covers the whole vision of the pious Christians, and Sr. Prema is no exception.  I suggest she first visit the ashram of Swami Laxmanananda and soothe the terror-stricken children in whose presence the 84-year-old Swamiji was brutally butchered. Three sanyasis present were also killed. Will Sr. Prema intervene with those murderers and see that justice is done?

Why Income Tax exemption?

One last request, Sr. Prema and her MoC work for the poor, she claims. Then why should the money meant for the poor of this country find its way to the confers of Rome? It is very difficult to divest conversion and money. Are the accounts of the MoC being audited? If not, why?

Why should the lands and church properties be exempted from tax and auditing? This is something anti-national. Money cannot change its value simply because it is held in the hands of a particular community - all monies must be accounted for. Is it not strange that those working in Minority education institutions and drawing UGC payscales are Income tax assesses, but priests and the nuns working in the same institutions are exempted from paying Income Tax? They too draw the same salaries, if not more for less work, and hold individual bank accounts and draw pensions till death, all from taxpayer monies. Why should they be exempted from paying Income Tax? This is just one area to show that the workings of Sr. Prema and all missionaries are a big money-spinning business.

Power to hurt 

A special vocabulary must be coded to understand the language of the Christians. Power is sugar-coated and called service. Forgiveness is easily extended to those who hurt them - to show how compassionate they are. But they refuse to stop hurting others - they refuse to stop dehumanizing the tribals and the poor. Why don’t they leave the poor alone?

If despite the enormous funds which have flowed and are flowing from abroad, combined with  the government’s Five Year Plans and a globally powerful God by their side, missionaries are not able to diminish  poverty, to reduce hunger and assetlessness, then is it not time to pause and take stock of  what is fundamentally wrong? Who is swindling whom? Why are the poor kept in poverty? Why should the poor continue to be poor, why should backwardness be ever growing?

Account for the work that has been so far carried on and stop the pauperization and plunder of this country and its poor. Should we wait for Sr. Prema and the likes of her for divine inspiration to be just logical and sensible?


Even the Pope has lost his ability to pray and has now assigned the Archbishop of Guwahati to script prayers for him! The Catholic Church needs prayer scripters - for it is unable to turn the hearts and souls of its followers to that spirit within themselves and seek redemption and justice.

The author is a retired Professor from Stella Maris College, Chennai, and lives in Vadodara


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