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Demographic impact of Christian Missionaries: India needs the equivalent of Russia’s Yarovaya law

It would be appropriate if the Government of India recognized forced and deceptive religious conversions as a real social issue and brought laws banning proselytizing similar to the parts of Yarovaya law in Russia.

In 2004, when BJP, under Prime Minister Vajpayee, lost election and Congress came back into power, an Indian Pastor narrated to a foreign interviewer the following details –

  • The previous government in India (BJP) was a “Hindu” government
  • They did nothing except building 68,000 Hindu temples in the last 5 years
  • The Congress party is in the government now and they love Christians
  • Now they have another window of 5 years to take Gospel of Christ to villages in India

Short 2 minutes video of this interaction can be watched here.

Fifteen years later today in 2019, Christian Missionaries are still aggressively targeting the economically deprived section of India’s population and rapidly converting them into Christianity with a mission to increase the number of “believers”.

Pastor Jonah’s website articulates “Mission 2019” that includes a ten minutes video on India. Pastor Mohan Lazarus proclaims in this one minute video that 25,000 Indians are converted every day. This one-minute video shows how 23,000 Indians have been converted by a single organization and this two minutes excerpt from a TV report on CBN News in the USA shows how 300,000 Indians have been converted over 10 years in Rajasthan alone.

Screen grab from the video of Indian Pastor

How do they do it?

“Direct Sales” methods which involve hard selling miracles of Jesus in public places (e.g. this 30 seconds video from Delhi DTC buses) requires a lot of hard work but is rarely effective.

Hence, a plethora of other methods, ranging from deception to creating fear are used by the missionaries to convert people.

Missionary organizations create deceptive stage shows where gullible people are made to believe that their miseries would end if they started believing in the “True God”. Many such events have been captured on video where –

  • some paid actors enact as if they are possessed by the devil but a pastor cures them immediately with a magical touch (3 minutes video)
  • a lady claims that her backbone is broken, both her kidneys have failed and she couldn’t even stand without support. A pastor heals her within 5 minutes with the magical touch and she starts running (5 min video)
  • one person claimed that his “one lag has become shorter than the other”. The pastor takes the name of Jesus and grows the leg so that they become equal (2 minutes video)
  • another lady claimed that she had lost her hair completely and became bald, but the pastor blessed her, and her hair suddenly grew back (1-minute video)

Invoking fear is the other most frequently used method. People are told that Hindu deities are monkeys and elephants – they are “fake Gods” and won’t protect them. The “True God” would take away their pain and misery if they converted to Christianity, as illustrated in this one minute video. 

Why do they do it?

Missionaries believe that God has commanded them to spread his name all over the world. They pursue it as their religious duty. Consequently, the obsession to spread the name of Jesus runs much deeper than most people realize.

In 2018, John Chau, a 26 years old missionary from the USA bribed some fishermen to take him to one of India’s Andaman islands. His target was the Sentinelese tribes that have evaded any contact with the modern world till today. They are a protected tribe and under Indian law, it is illegal to contact them. He was killed by bows and arrows when he approached them and even his body could not be recovered.

The excerpts from his diary later revealed that he wanted to “declare Jesus” to those people. He was fully aware that he broke Indian law by approaching those people. “The Milky Way was above and God Himself was shielding us from the Coast Guard and Navy patrols”, he wrote in his diary. The full story of John Chau becoming a missionary and his longtime fascination with Sentinelese tribe in India can be read on Newyork Times and CNN.

Similar aspects are shown in the case of Mother Teresa who is otherwise known for having dedicated her life to helping the poor in India. Christopher Hitchens wrote in an essay titled The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, that the Missionaries of Charity had a conversion agenda too.

According to Mr Hitchens, they were encouraged to secretly baptise the people on their deathbeds. Susan Shields, a former member of the order, told him that “Sisters were to ask each person in danger of death if they wanted a ‘ticket to heaven’. An affirmative reply was to mean consent to baptism. The sister was then to pretend that she was just cooling the patient’s head with a wet cloth, while in fact, she was baptising him, quietly uttering the necessary words”. Secrecy was important so that it would not come to be known that Mother Teresa’s sisters were baptising poor Hindus and Muslims. In another article published in 2003, Mr Hitchens described Mother Teresa as a “fanatic, a fundamentalist and a fraud”

Why India?

“Joshua Project”, an organization based in the United States maintains ethnological data to support Christian missions. It highlights the ethnic groups of the “unreached” world or the areas with the least followers of evangelical Christianity.

Their data shows 1.8 billion followers of Islam (red dots in the image below) scattered across multiple countries but 1 billion followers of Hinduism (blue dots) located in a single country – India.

Source: Joshua Project Website and Twitter

This makes India the most attractive target for most missionary organizations.

Global Hope India” mentions on their website that “India represents the most unreached country in the world. Over 1 billion people have never held a Bible”. “Mission India” mentions on their website that their mission is to transform communities in India by planting Churches. “Christ for India” mentions on their website that they started small in Kerala but now they have a presence in 24 states of India with 4550 Churches. “India Go” mentions on their website that they are “dedicated to planting Churches in each of India’s 28,000+ postal codes”
Source: Website of “India Go”

Demographic Impact:

As per the published data from Center for the Study of Global Christianity, by the year 2000, there were 5400 missionary agencies around the world who send about 440,000 missionaries to foreign countries for evangelizing and proselytization

Lakhs of such missionaries pursuing India as their prime target for many decades has been sufficient to make significant demographic changes in parts of India specially the states in North East. Census data shows a rapid increase in followers of Christianity in the 10 years period from 2001 to 2011.

  • Meghalaya (70% increased to 75%)
  • Arunachal Pradesh (18% increased to 30%) – in 1971, it was less than 1%
  • Nagaland (80% increased to 90%) – in 1951, it was 52%
  • Manipur (34% increased to 41%) – in 1961, it was 19%
  • In the same period, the Hindu population in Nagaland has declined from 14% to 7%
  • In Manipur, Hindus being converted to Christianity has brought down Hindu and Christian population to equal proportion at 41% each. In 1961, it was 60% and 20% respectively

Source: Hindustan Times

What should India do:

Indic religions largely believe in liberal principles like “God is one supreme power; people over the world call it by different names”. Hence Indic religions like Hinduism do not go around asking people to follow their religion. However, Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam tend to believe that only their God is the “True God” and it is their religious duty to increase the number of followers.

This obsession is not limited to Christian missionaries only. In another article, this author had talked about Love Jihad. A sting operation by India Today had uncovered that organizations like PFI in Kerala are running an organized conversion factory with an objective to aggressively increase the followers of Islam in India.

Battling against such preying forces, Indic religions are sitting ducks with no legal framework or government support to prevent this menace.

In 2016, as part of what is popularly known as Yarovaya Law, Russia banned all missionary work (defined as spreading information about one’s faith to make non-members join) outside of any places of worship.

It would be appropriate if the Government of India recognized forced and deceptive religious conversions as a real social issue and brought laws banning proselytizing similar to the parts of Yarovaya law in Russia.

Government of India urgently needs to implement a pan-India legal framework that –

  • bans approaching anyone with an objective of religious conversions
  • bans any religious preaching in public places
  • allows religious preaching only inside clearly marked and designated places of worship
  • allows only willful seekers to approach the place of worship and learn about other faiths
  • makes it mandatory to register faith conversions to ensure that conversion is not under duress or deception

A law drafted around such principles could go a long way to curb the nuisance of forced or deceptive religious conversions while allowing the freedom to practice any religion by choice.

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Shashank Goyal
IIM-A alumnus, Software Sales Professional, Writes about business, economy and politics; Passionate about numbers, facts and analysis Tweets @shashankgoyal01

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