A few professors associated with the University of California at Davis, Butler University, St. Michael’s College at Toronto, and Elon University have been planning to hold a conference titled the “Conference in the Study of Religions of India” in July this year at the University of Madras. However, the real motive behind organising such a conference is to propagate Hinduphobia within the university campuses of the country, reports Sunday Guardian.
According to the Sunday Guardian report, the academia in the United States has joined hands with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an advisory body to the US Congress, to aggressively push their anti-Hindu propaganda across the world. The controversial USCIRF is already at the forefront of waging a misinformation campaign against the country.
The USCIRF has a history of fanning baseless rumours and leftist propaganda against India. They had also ranted against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, calling it a ‘dangerous turn in the wrong direction’. Recently, it had also attempted to spread false propaganda against the Modi government by claiming that minorities are under threat in the country.
Both, the academia in the US and the USCIRF owe their birth to the foreign policy agenda of the American establishment, which are often used as a tool in the larger game plan to change the religious character of the population of the country.
The USCIRF was reportedly started with the explicit aim of targeting India and furthering Christianity as documented in the 1997 report entitled “United States Policies in Support of Religious Freedom: Focus on Christians”. In the report, the US authorities have lamented over the Indian government refusing to admit new resident foreign missionaries.
The upcoming conference by the academia is just another attempt to spread Hinduphobic narrative within the country aided by the USCIRF. The previous edition of the academic conference was hosted by the University of California at Davis and the webpage has openly called for discussions against Hinduism.
The website reads, “We invite proposals representing a range of disciplinary and methodological approaches that focus on dishonesty, trickery or concealment by or by means of religious texts, practices, institutions, and individuals”.
The topics discussed during the conference included the changeable appearance of deities, religious charlatans, the question of the authenticity or inauthenticity of religious practices or entities, the theological concept of maya, issues of religious identity such as hidden or false conversions, the elaborate ploys and deceptions of the Epics, secrecy, etc.
When the writer enquired the Office of the Provost at the University of California at Davis if professors at the university could be approached for co-hosting a similar conference with Provost’s office approving topics with near-identical wording but related to another faith, interestingly, the office of Provost flatly refused. The university thought discussing other faith amounted to hate-speech and the university reserved such critical attacks only for Hinduism.
This controversial conference is all set to arrive in India and the convener is listed as James Ponniah of the Department of Christian Studies who is also a priest of the Diocese of Sivagangai. His co-convener is Brian Pennington of Elon University, which is a Christian university. The other organizers include Chad Bauman of Butler University, another Christian university that indulges in evangelism.
The website of the event reads, “We invite proposals representing a range of disciplinary and methodological approaches that focus on the actual, metaphorical or conceptual storage, movement, or organization of objects and substances of significance in religious texts, ritual practices, institutional structures and/or individual behaviour”.
The possible topics to be discussed in the conference include the organization of murtis in temple architecture; the disposition of materials in ritual; episodes of hiding, finding or losing sacred objects in Epics and other narrative traditions; philosophical or theological accounts of perception and memory; classificatory schemes that demarcate the structure of the human person (e.g., cakras, faculties), the cosmos and/or social and cultural institutions; monastic traditions of manuscript collection and organization, and so forth.
USCIRF’s Hinduphobic agenda under the guise of ‘religious freedom’
Parallel to these academic conferences, the USCIRF has also embarked on a religious crusade to attack Hindus.
According to another report, the USCIRF uses a religious test to hire staff members. The investigative report exposed the fact that while cardinals, rabbis, imams, bishops, televangelists, even convicts and paedophiles had been selected as USCIRF Commissioners.
However, not a single person sympathetic to Hindus was appointed as commissioner during its two decades of existence. A lawsuit filed against USCIRF by a person of Indian descent named Safiya Ghori-Ahmad had further exposed how they rescinded an offer of employment to her on account of her Indian origin.
In her complaint, Safiya Ghori-Ahmad had written about how two USCIRF Commissioners, Nina Shea and Felice Gaer, had opposed to criticizing either Switzerland for banning minarets on mosques or France for banning headscarves worn by Muslim women. The Ghori-Ahmad’s complaint pointed out that Shea had argued in internal USCIRF meetings that “Switzerland had the right to resist the Islamification of Christian nations”.
Interestingly, the complaint also points out that “USCIRF—an entity created by Congress to promote religious freedom—argued that it could discriminate against employees on the basis of religion without sanction…because it was not subject to…the Civil Rights Act of 1964”.
Even as the USCIRF freely uses the term “religious freedom” selectively to ensure that the West holds a stranglehold and hegemony in global affairs, the term “academic freedom” is now at the forefront, especially by certain chosen university professors to push their anti-India propaganda.
USCIRF commissioners accused for sexual abuse of minors
Shockingly, it is not just Hinduphobia and racism that unites USCIRF and the organizers of the anti-Hindu conference. The USCIRF Commissioner Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is a paedophile and has been expelled by the Vatican church for indulging in sexual abuse of minors.
Similarly, other commissioners have also been convicted of various crimes, the universities with which the professors behind the anti-Hindu conference are affiliated too have their share of similar troubles. The USCIRF commissioners have been allegedly involved in several cases of paedophilia and other commissioners involved in the cover-up of scandals involving the sexual abuse of young children.
Reportedly, the priestly order managing controlling Reid Locklin’s St. Michael’s College was sued by a former student who had been molested by a priest. Similarly, Peter Kiwitt a former Professor of Brian Pennington’s Elon University was arrested in October 2019 and charged with trafficking minors for sex.
The report by Sunday Guardian suggests that another Religious Studies professor at the same university was caught sending suggestive texts to female students. A discussion had also revealed how people were urging parents not to send their kids to Elon University, one of the organisers of the Hinduphobic conference.
Another popular forum for college students described how Elon University is meant for under-performing high school students and that students at Elon are evaluated on “how much they can drink and who can get them the most drugs” and that a fraternity at the university is known by the racist moniker “the plantation,” an allusion to the days of slavery in the Antebellum South, the report quoted.
USCIRF, Hinduphobic conference’s connection with CIA, state department
The conference organisers and the USCIRF Commissioners, even though run their propaganda on parallel tracks, but the two tracks actually meet, with the meeting point being Georgetown University. Georgetown University, located in Washington DC, is a Catholic University which is a hotbed of activities related to the US government.
The sinister designs under the guise of “enforcing religious freedom” of both USCIRF and the academia and the use of religion to advance the foreign policy goals of the United States, most of which are hidden from the public, actually originates in Georgetown University. Reportedly, a number of people involved with the US government including the CIA and the State Department such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright hold positions at the university.
The university has also connections with the Georgetown University. According to a report published by the New York Times published in June 1986, titled, “Campus Recruiting and the CIA”, Georgetown University provided the most recruits for the CIA was Georgetown University.
Similarly, a 2009 audit of the finances of Georgetown University revealed that the professors at the university had received secret funds from the CIA. Another report the Guardian dated 2017, described how the CIA spends millions of dollars staging conferences and recruits academics and how these “conferences lend themselves to espionage” and went on to describe a conference at the university.
Shockingly, the paedophile Commissioner of USCIRF, Theodore McCarrick, has been given an honorary doctorate degree from Georgetown University and has been associated with the university’s Berkley Center for Religion. Interestingly, the Berkley Center also funds James Ponniah and Chad Bauman, the two organizers of the forthcoming anti-Hindu conference at the University of Madras.
In fact, the deep ties between Georgetown’s Berkley Center and the US State Department go to the extent that the current director of the Berkley Director Shaun Casey was previously US special representative for religion and global affairs and director of the US Department of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs.
The frightening aspect is that the money trail in the audit reports of Georgetown University reveals that the university shares an intimate relationship with the University of California at Davis and sponsors resources meant for various Hinduphobic programs. Additionally, the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs provides space for Hinduphobic professors to peddle their anti-Hindu agenda.
The nefarious designs of either USCIRF or the Hinduphobic academia in the west cannot succeed without people in India actively supporting them. However, there is a section of anti-India elements within the country who peddle the hatred because of monetary gains.