The Attack on Hindus by Hardline Christian Extremists
The basis of western civilisation and culture is Judeo-Christian mixed with aspects of the Hellenistic and Roman world, known as the classical era. Despite the decline in religious belief in the west there remain some very deeply committed religious people. In today’s Britain one finds that many believing Christians are prominent in the sphere of social welfare. One looks at pre-nursery groups and sees how they are often run directly by Christian groups. In taking care of refugees, the homeless, the elderly, the disabled and others less fortunate, Christian charities staffed by unpaid volunteers are noticeable by their prominence. In fighting racism, racial intolerance and in campaigning for fair trade for the developing countries, Christian churches have not flinched from raising their voices in the name of justice. In a climate of declining morality, family breakdown lack of discipline, churches and Christian community groups have provided and essential service in keeping social structure alive, giving direction to those who are adrift in life, and giving hope to those that have despaired. Looking abroad and one sees how committed Christians labour selflessly to help the victims of war, famine, and flood. Orphanages and schools staffed by people who labour not for money but instead sacrifice their lucrative careers to ensure that the less fortunate have chance at the lottery of life. In this they are kept going by what they see as the love of God for all human beings as demonstrated by the life and teachings of Jesus. Such efforts are universally admired by people of all backgrounds and judging by the yardstick of normal human behaviour no sane person could doubt they should be commended. Those that malign Christians and their faith in general, often neglect the aforementioned factors as it would be an embarrassment to their over zealous secularism.
Unfortunately there are those who call themselves Christians who retain a medieval style hate for all other faiths. In a democratic society it is the right of the individual to have whatever belief they feel fits their mental state and which they can build their life around. Hence Christians, much as any other community, have the right to propagate their faith and convert others, and that includes Hindus. Yet there is often a fine line between evangelism and actual hate which is not only blurred but frequently crossed.
Recently the British government has been legislating for laws against incitement to religious hatred. In the wake of 9/11 there were serious attacks on innocent Muslims in “revenge” for the suicide hijackings, conveniently forgetting that not only did most Muslims have nothing to do with it, but many were actually in the building that were hit. Indeed in the USA a Sikh, a community who had suffered Nazi style persecution under the Taliban, was killed by a European-American for the attack on the twin towers. Present anti-racist laws were felt to be insufficient in that they did not cover this type of hate crime. This is why the BNP has begun a campaign against Islam and Muslims in general, because the use of “Asian” would be incitement to racial hatred.
Hindus are the one of the most successful of all ethnic minority groups in the UK, and have a very low crime rate. That being said Hindus actually suffer silently as victims of hate in this country, perhaps more so than any other community. We cannot even call ourselves Hindus but have to be “Asians”. If Hindus dare to respond, as is their very basic democratic right, to attempts by various missionary groups to convert them, they are called fundamentalist, fascist, and Nazis, when Hindus have not been forcing their beliefs on anyone. They are perhaps unique in being effectively muzzled in what remains a colonialist style racist monologue against primitive pagan savages by self-righteous bigots. In the UK there appear to be several groups which do not respect the right of Hindus to their own freedom of belief. Prominent among them is SACO, Southampton Asian Christian Outreach.
Hindus have millions of gods – some of worship the monkey, cow, elephant, snake, even the rat. It doesn’t matter what you believe and so you could worship the pink budgerigar in the sky and that would be OK.
Does such a statement encourage interfaith tolerance and understanding? Anyone with an iota of intelligence can see it does the exact opposite. It is obvious therefore that one is dealing with a group of potentially dangerous fanatics who have not emerged from a type of thinking that was deemed unacceptable when colonialism ended. But so far no violence and no actual incitement to religious hate of Hindus, although it does not auger well for later:
Some of the consequences of this include the facts that;
Cattle cannot be killed in most states in India and so it has more cattle than any other nation on Earth whilst millions go hungry.
Rats and mice cannot be killed, (the Bombay city authorities catch them and let them go outside the city boundary), and so an estimate of at least two thousand four hundred million rodents destroy millions of tons of food every year in India.
Interestingly the Philippines is the most devout Christian nation in Asia, and has been since the Spanish arrived 500 years ago. While it was among the first to gain independence, its economic performance has fallen way behind that of the “Tiger Economies” of non-Christian Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore, and even Indonesia, China, and Thailand. Vietnam is also emerging as a force to be reckoned with as it throws off some of its Communist shackles, yet the most devout followers of Christ in Asia remain a nation supplying nurses and maids to the richer countries, and a haven for sex tourists exploiting children of both genders for acts which would be illegal in their won countries. Would it be fair to blame this on the fact that Filipinos are Christians? How would it look if a Hindu said so? Would that Hindu not be labelled a dangerous anti-Christian bigot? SACO nicely ignore the fact that India suffered 50 years of socialist kleptomania and mismanagement by successive governments following bankrupt Marxist ideas. Perhaps they do not know this, nor even care. The objective here is not to highlight social injustice but vilify another community.
In extreme cases of the worship of Kali, human sacrifice is practised today in India.
As many Hindu reformers such as Swami Dayananda who fought against the caste system and child marriage would say, that is not true Dharma. As an abuse of human rights HHR would unequivocally condemn it, just as we would condemn the kidnap of young children in Uganda by the Lords Resistance Army in the name of Jesus, the forcible prostitution of young Native Americans in Brazil in the name of Jesus, the anti-Semitism in Russia in the name of Jesus, the white racial supremacy and separatism in South Africa in the name of Jesus, and any other abuse of human rights, including those done in what we may dare to term “extreme forms of Christianity”. One can also highlight the cases of child sex abuse by Christian priests which brings us very nicely to SACO’s next anti-Hindu diatribe:
Any one can claim to be a spiritual teacher or guru and gain a following and it doesn’t matter what they teach, (some teach salvation through sex in Tantric Hinduism).
Hardline and intolerant evangelical groups such as SACO will no doubt say that child sex abuse and extra-marital affairs are a sign of degenerate established churches not the fresh ones that aim at Christian revival, a getting back to basics of Jesus’ teaching. However, do we still need yet more reminding of how one such revivalist in the USA, by the name of Jimmy Swaggart had a penchant for prostitutes while preaching hell and damnation to his own flock if they strayed from a strict moral code? If Hinduism has its fare share of charlatans and swindlers, that can be said of nay faith including the one that SACO are so keen to propagate by defaming Hindus. Now the line between mere evangelism and incitement to religious hatred is actually crossed in the next statement:
Hinduism has the caste system teaching that people are not equal but that the lower castes deserve to be poor because of their bad deeds in a previous life, (some are even considered too low to be touched by other people – the Untouchables). This is equivalent to the whites in the old South African apartheid regime telling the blacks that they are poor and black because they were bad in a previous life and that if only they would be good and servile in this life, they would be born white in the next life. The caste system has caused untold, suffering in India, with low castes routinely excluded from access to high caste wells giving clean water. This is evil.
Hinduism is “evil”? Well in that case its followers must be evil also. No problem, let us examine this sweeping statement. So then one of the most successful and law abiding communities in this country is actually evil by that logic. Strange how these hardline Christian extremists again sue an outdated colonialist and racist myth to call Hindus racists, and link caste to apartheid. Let us examine this point further. The Aryan Invasion Theory deemed that caste was created by invading white Indo-European speakers called Aryans in 1500BC, to keep themselves racially pure from the dark aboriginals they had conquered, a sort of primeval apartheid. The Vedas, sacred Hindu texts were sued to justify this theory, which has since been exposed as a reflection of Victorian era racial prejudice rather than objective scholarship. So this is what SACO appears to be implicitly hinting at. But there is no guessing at the next point which links caste to something like apartheid. Now Apartheid in South Africa was actually Biblically justified. Afrikaner nationalists like Francois Malan and Andreis Treurnicht were dominees (pastors) in the Dutch Reformed Church. So please do not insult us buy linking us to an ideology which Johannes Balthazar Vorster, prime minister of South Africa from 1966 to 1978, called in his youth “Christian Nationalism”. No doubt the hardline extremists will say that true Christianity does not believe in this. Well for hundreds of years the various churches and sects had no problem with racism, or indeed slavery, male chauvinism, anti-Semitism, oppression of peasants and serfs, and much else which will be called “evil”. Hindu reformers have long campaigned against caste, prohibition on widow remarriage and superstition. Yet the religious bigots are so desperate to use caste against Hindus when their own precious church past is marred by some of the worst crimes in human history.
Hindus, it should be noted, have a civilisation and culture thousands of years old, and one that is being deliberately misrepresented by organisations such as SACO. They only see us a s human fodder through “salesman” eyes, thinking “how many converts from these backward dark pagan savages can we make today”. They ignore the very real human cost of painting a community as “evil”. That is why the media looks the other way when Hindus are forcibly converted to Christianity in India’s north-east by terrorists whose views would not be welcome in all but the most cultish type churches in the UK, when the Pope calls for a great harvest in Asia yet will not apologise to Hindus for the Goa Inquisition, when pre-adolescent girls in Bangladesh are gang raped because they belong to that country’s minority and indigenous Hindu community. All this is sadly reminiscent of how another largely law abiding minority community was vilified and made the object of hate, which ultimately led to the crime of the twentieth century in wartime Europe.
Unfortunately in their thinking SACO are not alone. Ram Gidoomal is one the most prominent “Asian” business and community leaders in this country and recently ran for mayor of London. As such and as leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance he is also a very prominent figure in evangelical Christianity. Coming from a Hindu background he makes no secret of his ultimate aims, which he has written several books about, which can actually be bought from SACO. In Chapatis for Tea (1994) he makes this statement on page 64:
Hindus will be delighted if you want to visit a temple. You should learn as much about Hinduism as you can beforehand. Then contact the priest or a member of the committee, and ask permission to visit — this is particularly important if you want to take a group. Dress modestly and take off your shoes before going into the room containing the images. Remember the temple is a sacred place for Hindus and behave respectfully. Ask permission if you want to take photographs or make tape recordings. After your visit a thank you letter would be appreciated. From the Christian perspective don’t go when worship is taking place and do have prayer support. Before entering, ask the Lord to protect you from any spiritual forces that may be present in a place where images are worshipped. it may be better to see a temple on video.
Hardly a recipe for interfaith tolerance! But this is only the beginning. On page 152 of Karma n Chips, he describes Dharma thus:
Hinduism has become like a tampon or sponge that keeps absorbing without ever becoming saturated.
Now the yardstick here is to ask if Hindus were to call any other religion as a tampon or “evil” what would be the reaction. The fact that they get refused honest interfaith debate and are forced to call themselves “Asians” should lead us to the answer. In that case the fact that Gidoomal has such disgusting views on Hinduism should make one think whether it is even acceptable that such a person can even try and speak for “Asians” in the first place.
It has been the sad and bitter experience of many British Hindus that even when speaking to seemingly benign pastors and priests, they get a very bad vibe from people who seem to have a real problem in some idol-worshipper, unbeliever, atheist, or whatever term one wishes to use, having the affront to even try and talk with them on a free and equal basis. This is quite sad as we live in a democratic society and one should be free to air views even if others disagree with them, providing they do not lead to violence.
The time is long past when Hindus would just sit and listen to simplistic arrogant monologue from something which is spiritually deficient and ideologically incoherent. As citizens of Britain we as Hindus should not disrespect the culture of this country which has done so much to advance ideas of freedom. In recalling this we should not forget the contributions made by believing Christians in abolishing slavery, fighting racism, advancing ideas of democracy and the free market which have made this country one of the most tolerant places to live in Europe, and indeed the world. Yet we should also not forget at any stage that as equal citizens with full democratic rights we should be prepared to use them as any other community would when victimised so unnecessarily as being called “evil”. We therefore urge true interfaith dialogue and an end to such petty arguing and venomous attacks on issues as nebulous as existence of god or the afterlife. That would be but a small step to building a better society with better interfaith relations.