Sunday, September 09, 2007

The global missionary business is one of the largest, perhaps even the largest business in the world

David Frawley's Speech, in Debate with Christian Missionaries
9/3/2007 11:34:38 AM
delivered at a public discussion organised by Prajna Bharati A.P., on "The Ethics of Religious Conversions" at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Hyderabad.
I was raised as a Catholic and went to Catholicschool. My uncle was, and still is, a missionary. We were told that he was going to South America to save the souls of the Native Americans, people we were told were non-Christian and without conversion would suffer eternal damnation. This is the background that I came from. Today, throughout the world, and in the United States, with very little exception, there is no "Sarvadharma Samabhava" taught in religion. It is something I never encountered in my Christian education in the West. We were taught that Hinduism was a religion of idolatry; it was a religion of polytheism and superstition and that there was no place for Hindus in heaven. Even a great Hindu like Mahatma Gandhi might be revered on a certain level, but he was not given the type of religious credit that he would have been given had he been a Christian. These attitudes still exist throughout the world and India does not exist in isolation. And Hindus in India are, and India as a whole is, still being targeted for conversion. Why is this so? If all the religions teach the same thing, why is it that certain religions are seeking to convert the members of other religions to their beliefs? These attitudes still exist throughout the world and India does not exist in isolation. And Hindus in India are, and India as a whole is, still being targeted for conversion. Why is this so? If all the religions teach the same thing, why is it that certain religions are seeking to convert the members of other religions to their beliefs? Hinduism is a pluralistic tradition. It teaches that there are many paths, many scriptures, many sages, many ways to come to the Divine to gain self-realization and it should be free for the individual to find and follow whatever way he or she thinks or feels works best. But not all religions are pluralistic.
In fact, most religions are exclusive in their mentality and in their beliefs. The two largest religions in the world, with a few notable exceptions, teach that theirs is the only true faith. The average Christian throughout the world has been taught to believe that only Christians gain salvation. The idea has been projected as an eternal heaven for the Christians and an eternal hell for the non-Christians, particularly for idol-worshipping Hindus. And so far, we do not have major Christian leaders in the world contradicting that statement. To date, there is no major Christian leader, or Moslem leader, in the world, who is saying that Hinduism is as good as Christianity or Islam. I do not know of any Christian leaders in the West who would say that a Rama or a Krishna is equal to a Jesus. I do not know of any of them who would honor a Ramana Maharshi, a Sri Aurobindo or a Mahatma Gandhi as a God-realized or self-realized sage. I realize there may be some exceptions to this, in the Indian context. But this is not the case with, and it is also not the official policy of the Vatican. It is not the policy of the Pope at all! I want to read a statement, from "The Coming of the Third Millennium", which was issued very recently by the Pope, in relation to the situation in Asia:
"The Asia Synod will deal with the challenge for evangelization posed by the encounter with ancient religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. While expressing esteem for the elements of truth in these religions, the Church must make it clear that Christ is the one mediator between God and man and the sole Redeemer of humanity."

This is a direct quote. Now, what is it saying about religious tolerance? Christ is the only way. The pope is saying that we accept what is true in these religions, but we do not accept them if they do not follow Jesus as the only way. We still have to convert them. That is the message. This is not a message of tolerance and live and let live. It is not a message of let Hindus have their way and we have our and both are good. It is not a statement that Buddha or Krishna is equal to Jesus. It is a statement of exclusivism and my contention is that such exclusivism must breed intolerance. If I think that mine is the only way, how can I be really tolerant and accepting of you, if you follow another way? And such intolerance is going to end up causing conflict, division, disharmony and poor communication. It is going to divide communities and cause problems. So, please bear in mind that, in the Indian context, as Hindus, you have to deal with these religions as the majority of the people in the world are practicing and believing in them, and this conversion process is continuing. I also think that we should have a free, open, friendly dialogue and discussion on all religious matters, both in terms of social interaction and relative to doctrinal matters. There should be complete freedom of discussion, freedom of criticism and freedom of debate just as we have in science. What generally happens in the field of conversion is that certain groups are targeted for conversion activity. I would like to discriminate between two different things. One is the change of religion, which people may opt for, based upon open and friendly discussion, debate, dialogue and studies. Nothing is wrong with that. But I would discriminate that from what I would call the "global missionary business". The global missionary business is one of the largest, perhaps even the largest business in the world. Not only the Catholic Church, but also various Protestant organizations have set aside billions of dollars to convert non-Christians to Christianity. They have trained thousands of workers, have formed various plans of evangelization and conversion and have targeted certain communities for that particular purpose. This multi-national conversion business is like any multi-national economic business. It is not something that is simply fair and open. It is not simply a dialogue or a discussion.

So what we see with this missionary business is a definite strategy for one religion to convert the members of other religions. This conversion business is not about religious freedom. It is about one religion triumphing over all the other religions. It is about making all the members of humanity follow one religion, giving up and, generally, denigrating the religion they had previously been following. Why is this conversion business so big in India? Because India is the largest non-Christian country in the world where missionaries have the freedom to act and to propagate. Islamic countries -- Pakistan, Bangladesh -- do not allow this missionary activity at all. In Saudi Arabia, you cannot even bring a Bible or a picture of Jesus into the country. China, also, does not allow such wide-scale missionary conversion activities. So India, because of its very openness to and tolerance of these missionaries, has become the target. You know from recent newspapers that one missionary was killed in India, which is unfortunate. But in that same week, fifty Christians were massacred in Indonesia by the Moslems there. The religious violence is going on all over the world and Christians are not always the victims...

So let there be a dialogue. Let there be open, friendly and also critical communication in religion just as in science. But please let us expose and put an end to this missionary business and let us not think that the missionary business is tolerant. The missionary business is not about freedom of religion. It is about the triumph of one religion. It is not about secularism. The missionary business accepts that only one religion is true. It is a religious war aimed at religious control. The way to challenge this is not through violence or through intolerance, but through being properly informed. It is through being open, friendly, dialoguing and talking to people, so they understand what the Hindu point of view is, so that any distortions about Hinduism are removed. We are all the same Divine being. We all share the same human nature and we must recognise that in all human beings for harmony to exist. At the same time, we should not be naive about the forces of the world and the forces that are trying to disintegrate this society and this culture. I think it would be a tremendous loss if India gave up Hinduism and became another Christian or Islamic country. We have enough of these already. India has a wealth of its own spiritual traditions that the rest of the world needs. Why do Westerners come here? They come here for this wealth of spiritual knowledge. In fact, you should be exporting your religion. That is one thing you have enough of. There are other more important things that you need to import. David Frawley's Speech, in Debate with Christian Missionaries No comment Links to this post The Conversion Agenda Thursday, September 06, 2007

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