Saturday, November 8, 2008

Faith dangling between God and Money

By Sai Prasan
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money"
This is what Jesus Christ said in the Bible. The Holy book talks about the truth, love, austerity and peace among people. The spiritualism is the essence of the Bible.
But, Kandhamal violence shows that certain sections of Christians have been deviated from the central tenets of Christianity. They have indulged themselves in the number game using the financial muscle power offered by the dubious international agencies. Their clandestine operations over the years in Kandhamal has given enough fodder to the majority communal forces like VHP and Bajrang Dal to grow in the area.
The mainstream English media is regularly carrying stories on the violence unleashed by the Hindu fundamentalist forces in Kandhamal. The newspapers have carried eight column banner headlines and the TV channels, specially the English news providers, are showing exclusive special stories, during the prime time, on how the Hindu fundamentalist activists are involved in violent incidents attacking converted Christians (Panas).
However, there is another side of human tragedy. The Christians are not the only victims. Even the Kandh tribals lost their life. The poor of both the sides are the worst suffers in the power struggle of minority and majority religious leaders enjoying the political patronage from the conflicting vested interests.
The media needs to go beyond the news. They need to probe what are the circumstances responsible for the creation of a volcanic situation in Kandhamal. This requires an in-depth study.
The operations of the Christian missionaries need to be diagnosed in order to understand the Kandhamal phenomena. One may be surprised to note that the Christian community is not unanimous on conversions. There are more than 500 denominations among the Christians in India. Out of this, mainly three groups – Catholic, Protestant and Penticoastal - are living in Orissa.
One should understand the differences among these Christian groups. The Catholic believe in the idol worship. They are of the opinion that Father is the mediator between the God and human being. They run the big Churches on the principle of chain of command.
Contrary to this, the Protestants are strictly against the idol worship.
Instead, they believe in the trinity of God. And, they are not in favour of conversions through proselytisation. They believe that a man should follow Christianity through inner realization.
Penticostals are emerging fast in India. They are very interesting too. According to them, Holy Spirit is the manifestation of God. A person having Holy Spirit must speak in different tongues (Other than language he speaks). They allegedly stage manage healing through faith rather than medicine.
The Catholic and Penticoastal missionaries are mainly active in Kandhamal.
They run Churches by name such as Assembly of God or Church of God. There has been virtual rivalry between these two denominations and they follow the principal of business chain in attracting people to their fold. For example, each visitor to the Church will be asked to bring minimum one or two new persons in the next visit to the Church. They allegedly take care the daily wages of the financially weaker visitors to the Church. They stress on the constant human touch in maintaining relationships with the people of their denominations.
These Christian missionaries are very cleverly using Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to reach unreached people. They allegedly either sponsor the NGOs like World Vision or ask their own men to form NGOs under the Registrar of Societies Act or Indian Trust Act.
These Christian funded NGOs have constructed Community Halls in Kandhamal. The ventilators of these Community Halls are made in the shape of Cross symbol. After people start gathering to have meetings in these Committee Halls for the issues related to the concerned areas, they gradually place either cross symbol or photograph of Jesus in the main hall. And, a pastor starts teaching them about the Bible both in morning and evening in these Community Halls.
The pastor is shown as a social worker on the official records of one these Christian sponsored NGOs. The academically poor, backward caste and downtrodden youth are targeted to join as pastors. They are moulded emotionally, psychologically and mentally with a free fooding, loagding and medical facility for one year.
One should understand the modus operandi of these missionaries. The Catholic and Penticoastal missionaries enter an areas in the name of helping children or destitutes. They identify the children of the poor families in a village. Based on these children, they chalk out the community development programme of that area upto 15 years. They target the tender hearts to bring them into their fold. They are more interested in children homes instead of building old age homes.
To counter missionary activities, the majority communalists also get financial support from the local business community in Kandhamal. Sricharan Behera, a sociologist working in Kandhamal, said, "The business communities being loyal to the VHP are instrumental in providing moral and sympathetic to the campaign carried by the Hindu fundamentalist forces". The VHP by creating false identity consciousness among the tribals have promoted anti-conversion and anti-Christian campaign, he said.
Interestingly, the minority and majority communalists have one common thread. Both of them use unemployed and uneducated youth for their vested interest. Behera said that the unemployed and uneducated youths are emotionally motivated by the communal elements to indulge in the violent and killing activities in Kandhamal.
Behera said that the insensitivity of the government to address the long pending issues related to land, trading, issuance of the caste certificate and similar other ethnic issues are responsible for the social tension in Kandhamal. "The State government due to its political compulsion or pressure has allowed the communal elements to create a lawlessness in the area. It failed to use its strong hand ; rather given passage to the communal elements to carry their inhuman activities without any obstruction. It had not used its honest guts to control the situation," he said.
Both the minority and majority communalism are equally dangerous for the national integration. The secular minded people should work together to create awareness in society so that the communal harmony can be restored in Kandhamal.
[The author is a senior journalist. This is the second part of the series on Kandhamal violence in Orissa. He can reachable at]

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