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Home > News > Columnists > Varsha Bhosle

Campus capers for Christ

May 05, 2003

On Thursday, May 1, The Washington Times published something on Christian conversions occurring in Jammu & Kashmir -- "something" because the thing wasn't an opinion piece, nor a report (datelined New Delhi, the content made obvious that the writer hadn't ventured into the jihad-struck state), and was stuck in the 'Culture' section of the newspaper, even while containing extraordinary political assertions such as: "Last month, 24 Hindus, including women and children, were killed in Kashmir, supposedly at the hands of Muslim militants. While most of the violence has been perpetrated by Hindus and Muslims on each other, the rise of Christianity could add another dimension."

"Supposedly"? The last time someone doubted the origins of the perpetrators of the Nadimarg massacre was on April 5 -- a non-resident pinko effort for Pakistan's Daily Times: "In a dastardly act, 'unidentified gunmen' massacred 24 Kashmiri Pandits... The pattern is all too familiar and is reminiscent of the massacre of 35 Sikhs at Chattisinghpora by 'unidentified gunmen' when India had promptly accused Pakistan sponsored 'foreign militants'... This raises doubts about the credibility of the assertions of the Indian State."

The writer, some Akhila Raman, is a "software consultant in California" and we can only hope that her suspicions rest on inquiries in J&K and not just the effluence regularly emitted by the Mishras and Bidwais. We must also trust that her experience in software applications makes her eligible for authority in the application of martial hardware thousands of miles away. Too, we must assume that the American InfoTech industry affords its workers oodles of time to conduct impeccable research on matters unrelated to their employment (when did you last put in only 10 hours a day?). Even so, because we know exactly what to expect from the pinko-Paki combine, we let that garbage slide past without wasting time on rebuttals.

If that weren't enough, there's the mind-boggling spin from the right-wing publications of America. Commenting on Yashwant Sinha's statement on pre-emption post-Nadimarg massacre, Zahid Hussain wrote in the April 17 Wall Street Journal: "Analysts say that the type of ordinary violence that has characterized the conflict for years probably won't provoke war."

"Ordinary violence"...? Nadimarg? 35 killed at Chattisinghpora? 15 villagers burnt alive in Salosi village? 13 Hindus shot dead in Mahore? Throats of 10 Gujjars slit in Rajouri? 20 Hindus killed in Qasim Nagar? 9 Amarnath pilgrims massacred? 34 killed at Kaluchak? 8 killed in Kalakote? 10 shot in Raghunath Temple? Etc, etc, etc, etc, ETC?? How many were killed in the super-hyper-extra-ordinary attack on the USS Cole...? Seventeen...

But the WT is another matter; it at least makes a semblance of being unbiased and is widely read in the DC circuit. What prompted it to stet Janaki Bahadur Kremmer's assertion that Kashmiri Hindus perpetrate/d violence against Muslims? Since when did the Hindus of J&K gain this reputation? What was the last act of violence by Hindus in J&K? How many Hindus are left in that state, anyway?! Ms Kremmer, wife of Christopher Kremmer, the bureau chief of the Sydney Morning Herald in New Delhi, really didn't need to toe the Australian government's missionary line this far.

Nah, that's not farfetched; heed the words of Australia's minister for industrial relations, Tony Abbott, who gloated over an increasing 'Catholicisation' of the country's conservative parties, with 13 of Prime Minister John Howard's frontbenchers having a connection with the church. "These days, I gather, the strongest single indicator of intention to vote for the Howard Government is regular church attendance," said the "pulpit-thumping cabinet lieutenant." A political lecturer at Monash University revealed, "The Government is now bankrolling fundamentalist schools on the suburban fringes. This is giving them strategically important votes among families who like the conservative message." (SMH, August 16, 2002)

In June 2000, the Howard government announced that the powerful Radio Australia shortwave transmitter in Darwin would be leased for 10 years to the fundamentalist broadcasting group, Christian Vision. The head of that network had made it clear that he'd use the transmitter to air propaganda programmes to Indonesia, Malaysia, China and India "to mobilise Christians in the region." (InterPress Service, June 23, 2000)

In line with her government, Ms Kremmer treats us to samples of the sterling services rendered by the Campus Crusade for Christ in Kashmir ("They bring schoolbooks, medicines, self-help programs and, most of all, opportunity") and the Hindutva blight -- "Christian missionaries have had more to fear from right-wing Hindu groups from the upper castes of society who are opposed to the conversions of lower-caste Hindus and other disenfranchised groups..."

This, despite the fact that no Hindu group has ever protested against conversions of Muslims to any religion, leave alone in Kashmir. This, despite the article being titled 'Mission in Kashmir.' Not that this is the first instance of Ms Kremmer's missionary zeal, either. Earlier gems include 'Hindus Turn Down Christian Quake Aid' and 'Hindu Party Seeks to Ban Foreign Churches in India.'

For fun, let's take a look at Ms Kremmer's blue-eyed choirboys. A CCC letter soliciting donations to make prints of a film that the group exhibits during proselytising parties connects the Staines triple murder with a natural disaster:

Very near is the spot where missionary Graham Staines and his two young boys were burned to death in their car by Hindu radicals. Just months later a huge cyclone struck this same area, creating a massive storm surge that traveled inland for 40 miles. Tens of thousands of people were killed and 500,000 people lost their homes. God was at work.

As yet, we have not heard of a single Christian who was killed. One island off the coast was totally destroyed, except for one village -- a village of Christians. The believers ran into the church for shelter and were spared. The Campus Crusade for Christ staff lost the roofs off some of their homes, but all of their lives were spared.

Hindus were astounded that the churches and homes of many Christians were spared... Some Hindu leaders, from the area hit by the cyclone, were even quoted as saying, "This storm was God's judgement on us for shedding innocent blood." These same Hindu leaders then opened the area to JESUS film teams and allowed them to saturate parts of the eastern coast with the gospel.

How was the film born? In 1997, CCC staff in India, during a brainstorming session... No, it's better in their own words:

"Hindu and Muslim young people are so resistant to the gospel in 'traditional' forms. How can we get through to them that there is a true God who loves them?" And then the idea hit. India is a movie loving culture. In fact, it is estimated that Indians spend more money per year on movies than Americans do. Within weeks of the opening of Titanic, almost every student in India had seen the film. So, the Crusade staff on one campus wondered, why not use Indian students' interest in films, especially Titanic, to get them interested in Christ? A full-color folder was designed, with a picture of the ship, a booklet with the Titanic story linked to a clear gospel presentation, a booklet with some facts about Jesus and the Bible, handouts on study tips and student seminars organized by CCC staff, and a response slip.

Very spiritual, in'nit? Or how about "hunger is more demanding than religion"; that fits, hanh?

Many "miracles" have been "documented" by these missionaries in connection with the Jesus film. The one recounting the "resurrection" of a girl from the Malto tribe of Bihar is *really* worth a dekko here. The result of the hysteria: "hundreds of people who were bound by the chains of Satan [ie, Hinduism] turned to the living Christ. As a result, at least six churches were established."

Now, you might think that the "resurrection" of the girl is a trumped up story (ie, presuming you are all there). But consider this: If a tribal in the deep interiors, who has never seen even the city jadugar perform magic tricks, is suddenly faced with a professional conjurer from America, with all the Las Vegas bag of tricks at his command, what would his reaction be? What if the conjurer said that the girl cut into pieces inside the box would be put together only after a prayer to Christ...?

Turns out, the CCC crusaders take with them such conjurers on their interior journeys in India: "They use illusions, sleight of hand, music, balloon sculpting and story telling, comedy and audience participation as their method of presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Greg & Oonaugh Wood could be the answer to your program needs... Our purpose is to assist interested groups of Christians in presenting the Gospel to unbelievers and in affirming and strengthening the faith of believers... In India they worked with India Campus Crusade for Christ. In just over two weeks they performed 35 shows for over 20,000 people." 

Or how about this: "As head of Divine Design Ministries, [Gospel illusionist Jerry] Burgess has combined evangelistic preaching with illusions such as levitation, hidden coins and even 'nails' through his arm as a means to spread the gospel... Burgess soon learned how to meld his newfound skills as an illusionist with evangelism when Campus Crusade for Christ speaker and illusionist Andre Cole performed in Lexington in 1970. Burgess witnessed hundreds convert to Christianity that night, leaving an indelible mark on his plans for life..." (Incidentally, Burgess is a close friend of illusionist Lance Burton, who plays at the Monte Carlo Hotel in Las Vegas.)

There's no fraud involved in that, right? Those sophisticated, world-wise tribals, they would certainly see through all the tricks and hence their conversion to Christianity would be of "their own free will," hahahahahaha... Corr, spine ain't the only bodily part that "liberals" lack.

However, there still remain some Hindus who do have the brains to see through, as well as the spine to stand up against, these transparent frauds. And so we have news like: "Recently India Campus Crusade for Christ's mobile Film team was screening the JESUS film to 200 people in Bhubaneswar. All of a sudden 7 people came with lathis and started beating the team members and the viewers mercilessly and destroyed the film and the equipment." (March 2001)

Am I sorry about that? Don't be ridiculous! If Hindus, as a group, are going to be manipulated with the aim of the decimation of Hinduism -- and there is no protection given by the government -- such violence will naturally follow the brazen acts of the missionaries. Why would I begin to believe in the ludicrous Gandhian version of Ahimsa at this late stage? Besides, missionaries are encouraged to continue proselytising, even though they might be tortured or killed. A Southern Baptist study urges, "Persecution is Biblically and historically normative for the emerging church; it cannot be avoided or eliminated... To avoid persecution is to hamper the growth of the kingdom of God." (Mother Jones, May-June 2002). Just like the Islamic fidayeens, n'est pas?

By the way, the CCC has a strategic partnership with America's largest Protestant group, the Southern Baptists. The aim is "to combine the excitement and energy of the world's largest student movement with the church-planting expertise of the Southern Baptists' missionaries." All these groups believe that the 10/40 Window, though a region of historical and Biblical significance, is where humankind fell victim to deception and rebelled against God. Not only does the Window represent the cradle of civilisation, but it also serves as the Seat of Satan. "In the thousands of years since the first deception in Eden, Satan has continued to increase his stranglehold on the people living in this region."

Whether the fundamental right to practice and propagate religion includes the right to convert, has been considered by the Supreme Court in the case of Rev Stanislaus vs Madhya Pradesh, in which the constitutional validity of the conversion-prohibiting laws enacted by MP and Orissa, was challenged. The court ruled: "What the Article grants is not the right to convert another person to one's own religion, but to transmit or spread one's religion by an exposition of its tenets." M Rama Jois, former chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana high court, says, "Organised conversion, whether by force or fraud or by providing help or allurement to persons, taking undue advantage of their poverty and ignorance, is anti-secular. Respect for all religions is the essence of our secularism, whereas religious intolerance constitutes the basis of planned conversion. Therefore, conversion cannot be a secular activity."

Stop the Press: The Asian Age reports this morning, "In follow up stories, while Greater Kashmir put the number of Muslims who have converted to Christianity as 12,000, Urdu daily Al-Safa News raised it to 20,000. It also published a photograph showing a jam-packed City Church during a sermon... This, undoubtedly, is a new phenomenon in Kashmir where not more than few families had changed their faith and converted into Christianity during the past century.

"If not in every case, they have used the social work for spreading the voice of Jesus Christ at many places. For instance, activities underway at a sewing centre for the poor women set up in a Srinagar locality a few years ago have raised many eyebrows among the residents. According to them, the organisers would initially avoid using the facility for religious purposes but, after some time, they distributed a booklet titled Messiah based on the life and teaching of Jesus Christ among the apprentices...

"Alarmed by the development, local Muslim clergy and various social activists have decided to put their act together and are busy in identifying the people and areas hit by the poverty the most... As far the activities of Christian missionaries, it is surely an exploitation of economic conditions and other social problems of the local populations, complained a cleric... We'll try to rectify where we have failed. At the same time, we would see that money power is not used for conversion as that is illegal and unethical, he asserted."

LOL!! Now let's see an international pinko campaign against the clerics as the one against the IDRF...

Varsha Bhosle

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