Elections prompt prayer campaign
by Hilda Raja on 23 Apr 2009 1 Comment

A ministry working with the persecuted church is calling Christians round the world to pray for fellow believers in India as the country begins its national parliamentary elections. The author refers to church in the singular for convenience, though there are so many churches, each with its own distinct Christian God and gospel, rite, beliefs dogmas etc.

This election-prompt prayer campaign for Christians in India , made by  the ministry working for the persecuted church, hiding behind a ‘Church’ to broadcast its propaganda of  lies, false allegations and anti-national statements, is nothing but a political propaganda blitz. Where is this persecuted church? And what about the countries where the church is the persecutor?

Church persecution

Anyone with a smattering of world history will know that the church started its mission with persecution and bloodshed. This continues unabated to date. Methods of persecution change according to time, clime, culture and exigencies. So it is caught in its own persecution phobia.

Did the Christian country - USA under Bush - of the Born Again Church not resort to lies and blatant lies to declare war on Iraq, and torture, kill, and demolish a whole nation? Soldiers knelt and made the sign of the cross and fired on civilian areas. How Christian was that and on which side of the firing line was this Christian god?

Is it to this god now the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) national president Sajan K. George and Director Abhishek Singh of Open Doors are requesting Christians worldwide to supplicate for the persecuted (sic) Christians in India? I suppose this God will be able to differentiate election campaigning and a prayer of supplication. If God is Truth, is it not blasphemy to supplicate to that Truth with lies?

The GCIC has made a grave accusation against the present UPA government – that there may be unfair elections. But it appeals to the same political leaders who cannot ensure even fair elections to guarantee safety for religious minorities (read Christians) and ensure their participation in elections, defend freedom of religion, and bring to justice those who discriminate against Christians. That’s a tall order. If the UPA government till date was not able to ensure all this, how can it do so on the eve of elections?

If carefully scrutinized, the statement calls for throwing out such a government and bringing in one which will fulfill the tall order made by GCIC. Thus, unwittingly, it has accused the UPA under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi, an Italian Christian, to have failed in protecting minorities. Another serious accusation made by Abhishek (director, Open Doors) is that the law had been restricted in its application in favour of the Hindu majority and to the disadvantage of minorities such as Christians and Muslims (under Congress-led UPA, I suppose).  

Does this mean that he and other organizations with whom he collaborates want to throw out the UPA government which failed minorities and bring in a government which will protect minorities? The judiciary is also accused. Does Abhishek Singh think that  after the elections the whole judiciary will be overhauled and a new one set up which will apply law without discrimination?

Lies about Kandhamal

Singh’s exposition of Kandhamal is a concoction of lies. The Hindu Swamiji Laxmanananda becomes a fundamental Hindu. It is not in the chemistry of Swamijis to be fundamentalists. If Hindu religion was a Fundamental one, we would have no Christians and Muslims in this country. It is the inbuilt tolerance of the Hindu religion that has nursed and nurtured all world religions in this country.

In Kandhamal, Orissa, pamphlets were distributed by World Vision, a virulent fundamentalist organization with a cover of humanitarian work but hidden agenda of evangelization, stirring up communalism. It found Swamiji a great hindrance in its proselytization. Christians were attacked, true, but according to reports Hindus also were attacked and killed, their houses destroyed. But the fury of the tribals at the brutal massacre of Swamiji and his four disciple-monks naturally took a heavier toll of Christians.

No relief for displaced Hindus

Today displaced Christians are being cared for - fed and sheltered in relief camps – not with the monies of organizations professing to work for them, but by the government with taxpayer money. Displaced Hindus get no relief and the Hindu victims of this communal riot have become beggars.

Abhishek Singh’s God will know the truth. ‘Open Doors’ must not work within closed doors with closed hearts when it comes to the truth.

What strikes me is how God is dragged into gutter politics and how commercialized the whole business of supplication and appeal becomes. This is called prayer. A distortion of history is presented by Sajan K. George: is it ignorance or cheap political rhetoric?

According to him, 2008 saw the worst kind of repression in our society as the church in India experienced a wave of violence and persecution unprecedented since the origin of Christianity in India 2000 years ago. The national president of the Global Council of Indian Christians should do some reading: when did Christianity come to India? This will lead to inter-churches claims and counter claims!

Indian church history

Did Thomas bring it or did Francis Xavier carry Christianity to India first? How many years ago? The persecution started with the entry of trader-missionaries (Dutch, Portuguese, French and English) who demolished hundreds of temples and through threats, coercion and killings converted Hindus.

Unprecedented persecution was unleashed by these foreign Christians against the Indians who were Hindus. This is not confined to India alone

Mr. Sajan George cannot hide the truth because this is world/Indian/church history. The Christian religion was born in blood and persecution, thrives on it and made it its business to wage wars to spread Christianity all over the globe. Now it has adopted other methods to proselytize because religion is a business and it has been commercialized to such an extent that the churches are today Transcontinental Corporates with respective CEOs sitting in the Vatican, Geneva, England and its network of corporate offices all over the globe, manipulating the media, funding wars, investing in arms and ammunition, subjugating whole tribes, regions, cultures and alienating people from their own; in divisiveness it thrives.

God’s Manifesto!

But prayers are scripted for the persecuted church and peace missions are held; humanitarian works are undertaken. Honest soul searching will reveal how much of money ‘Open Doors’ and the GCIC attract from foreign countries?

With a preamble of lies and election-prompt prayer for Christians just prior to this election, Christians are asked to pray for three specifics, wherein God must play a role to usher in a political party which will embark on the following:

1] Officials in the government ignoring persecution of Christians will be replaced by officials who support and protect religious freedom. This sounds a promise rather than a prayer.

2] The freedom and liberty of church and missionaries in India to share the Gospel and disciple with believers (A bit difficult even for God as there are different gospels and different sects of Christians, all at each others throats and unable to agree even among themselves to share!)

3] God would move in culture to remove the caste system and create equal opportunities and rights for all people. Again all the above is suggestive of the election manifesto of a party if it wins and comes to power. Whose manifesto is this?

Is God standing for election? Yet Christians are asked to pray thus.

But which political party?

The third promise is rather confusing - If the political party wins then God would move in culture to remove caste system and create equal opportunities. Which is this new political party which through the prayers of Christians will bring about all this if it wins?

Culture is not something that appeared in India with Christianity and no government can move a god into a culture. Indian culture is not minus of god that a new promise is held out that god would move into culture. Where has he been so long?

Or is the present god going to be displaced and a Christian god moved in? What absurdity and what flights of fantasy these so-called leaders of Christian organizations have. It implies that if a particular party wins (for which Christians are asked to pray), then it will move in God in culture.

How is this movement going to take place? Perhaps God will be rolled into culture with the help of Lulu on a roller! The implication is that the political party will give a free run to Christians and churches and Christianize the whole Indian ethos. This is not communalism - only if the ethos is Hindu is it blatant Hindutva, which is communal.

The name of the political party has been withheld to avoid violating the model code of conduct. Throughout India, churches have violated this code by mixing religion with politics. The Catholic Church in Pune had its own prayer; the Andhra Pradesh CM’s son-in-law in his evangelization and prayer meetings urged people to vote for Congress. Christian leaders have sent out circulars and directives urging people to vote for a party (which will give it a free run).

No freedom of conscience!

Only minority religious leaders stoop to this level and are not confident to allow their followers to vote according to their conscience. They must follow the diktat of the religious leaders whose vested interest need be protected.

Two thousand years ago Truth was crucified by a conspiracy of civil authorities and religious leaders. The same is being repeated here. Religious leaders are misusing religion, misusing their leadership and straitjacketing Christians. Prayer is a cover up to coerce Christians to vote for a particular party. This is an expression of Fundamentalism of minority religions.

What if Hindu religious leaders and Shankaracharyas issue such a directive to Hindus? What kind of punishment will it attract from the Election Commission? Will Minority religious leaders not oppose it? Ground rules must be the same for all.

Minority religious leaders cannot and should not misuse churches, pulpits and their positions to canvass votes under the guise of prayer for a persecuted church.

Perhaps the blueprint of the efforts of Open Doors and the Global Council of Indian Christians will draw the attention of funding agencies and bring in more money - but their prayers will not move the heavens, but will fall on the ground with a thud! Lucre and godliness do not mix.

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

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