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Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion? - Dhamma Wheel

Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
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pilgrim
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Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby pilgrim » Sun Dec 22, 2013 5:59 am

Imagine you're poor and living in a rural area. Your child gets sick. You manage to transport her to a hospital or clinic. To your relief, the condition is treatable. But the cost of treatment is not just beyond your means, it's beyond your imagining. However, says the kindly health care worker, you can get the treatment free of charge. All you have to do is renounce the centuries-old traditions of your people and convert to a foreign religion.

Such offers are being made to desperate people in the villages and tribal areas of India.

I just returned from a month in that country, to mark the Indian publication of my book, American Veda. In the 18 cities I visited, the most frequently mentioned topic was the shady tactics of certain missionaries.

Not all of them, mind you. Not the intrepid souls who work selflessly to help the poor, the afflicted, and the illiterate, in the spirit of their savior's exhortation to serve "the least of these." Such missionaries have been welcome in India for centuries, and the Hindus I spoke to are grateful for their good works. What is causing consternation and anger is a new breed of zealots, heavily financed by American fundamentalists, who seem driven to pile up numbers like door-to-door salesmen racking up commissions. Determined, fervent, and creative in pursuit of souls to save, they sound more like the snake-oil hucksters of legend than servants of Christ.

Targeting mainly the impoverished and uneducated, some of their tactics make the hospital bargain I described earlier look as reputable as ordering a book from Amazon. I was told of missionaries giving people temporary jobs in return for converting, and then threatening them with job loss -- not to mention eternal damnation -- if they reconvert to Hinduism. Families have apparently been torn apart because the converts are made to disassociate from the heathen.

I heard about missionaries who dress in orange robes to look like swamis. Gullible and desperate villagers are told that their traditional gods are actually corrupted versions of Christ; that the venerable saints and sages of India's past were really Christians; that the three horizontal stripes traditionally drawn on the foreheads of Shiva devotees stand for the Holy Trinity; that the Upanishadic prayer that includes "Lead us from darkness to light" was meant as a cry for Jesus to save them.

A mother is sick? A father loses his source of income and can't feed his family? The bus filled with youngsters suddenly "stalls" on a dangerous mountain road? Well, say the missionaries, try praying to your Hindu gods. Hmmm, imagine that: nothing changes. Well then, see what happens if you pray to Jesus. Wow! Lo and behold! The mother receives medicine. The father gets a one-day job that puts rice on the table. The bus engine starts again! If one prayer to Jesus produces miracles like those, imagine what converting will do!

I heard about people being told that their misfortune derives from their worship of Hindu deities, because the idols are really forms of the Devil; about village strongmen being paid to coerce conversions from other villagers; about women given a choice of walking a mile to haul water from their usual source or using the new well conveniently dug in front of a church. The price? Conversion, of course.

I don't know if these egregious actions are commonplace or rarities. I do know that they are dishonorable. They're about coercion, not spiritual conversion; extortion, not the exchange of ideas. And, if I may say so as a non-Christian, they are an affront to Jesus, whom every Hindu I've ever met regards as a holy man of the highest order if not an incarnation of God. I can't help thinking that he would be as outraged by the deception being perpetrated in his name as he was about the moneylenders in the temple.

I told people in India that most American Christians would be appalled if they knew what was being done by their overly aggressive brethren. I was tempted to wait until after Christmas to test that thesis, but I decided that this season of goodwill might be the ideal time. So, what do you think, my Christian sisters and brothers? Is there some cosmic war for souls going on, in which anything goes? Or are there rules of engagement that civilized people should observe? What would Jesus say?


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-go ... r=Religion

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Weakfocus
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby Weakfocus » Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:07 am


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manas
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby manas » Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:19 am

Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

SarathW
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby SarathW » Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:56 pm

This is nothing new to me.
My own family members were converted to other religions for financial gains.
In Sri Lanka whole villages were converted this way.
I exercise equanimity for these actions.
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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pilgrim
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby pilgrim » Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:02 am

If we believe what the Buddha said about the dangers of wrong view, I'm not convinced that this should be viewed with equanimity. Admittedly, compared to mega-organisations like World Vision, I do not know what one do about it beyond our limited personal actions. :cry:

SarathW
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby SarathW » Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:06 am

This is no different to what happened to Buddhism in India, due to Hinduism.
All worldly conditioned to be viewed with equanimity.
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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m0rl0ck
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Dec 23, 2013 2:11 am

Actually they have come a long way, during the middle ages good christians were torturing and killing people to get converts and confessions.
And i dont think most US Christians would mind tactics like this, after all a soul is being saved from hell and if the soul is saved what does the body matter.
Organized christianity has a long history of bad behavior of this kind.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_a ... C3.A9ziers
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

SarathW
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby SarathW » Mon Dec 23, 2013 2:37 am

It is a great idea if religion, business and politics can work together in the right direction!
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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dhammafriend
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby dhammafriend » Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:10 am

Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

SarathW
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Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby SarathW » Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:58 pm

When I am hungry and if someone give me two choices,
a)Pray to God I will give you some food.
b)Meditate you will get some food.

I take the first choice. :(

Buddha asked to feed the hungry person before give Dhamma!
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

binocular
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby binocular » Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:10 am


binocular
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby binocular » Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:22 am


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dhammafriend
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby dhammafriend » Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:30 pm

Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

binocular
Posts: 3391
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby binocular » Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:54 pm


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dhammafriend
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby dhammafriend » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:33 pm

Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

binocular
Posts: 3391
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby binocular » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:47 pm


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Aloka
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby Aloka » Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:11 pm


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dhammafriend
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby dhammafriend » Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:29 pm

Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

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Mkoll
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Location: California

Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby Mkoll » Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:06 pm

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Aloka
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Re: Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

Postby Aloka » Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:53 pm



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