Churches vandalized, people burnt to death, people shot dead, Bibles and biblical literature burnt, people forced to deny Christ at gun-point, people’s houses burnt and property damaged, many forced to leave the State while many are homeless staying in fear in the forests, children tortured along with women, others chopped to death for standing for their faith. And the worst is that this is just 10% of the news. While the rest is hidden from the media and the world, the worst is feared to be much more dreadful.
Why the whole mess? It all began when someone killed a Hindu sage. While who the murderer is, is still a mystery the Hindu’s claim that the Christians were behind the murder. The media reports on what the Hindu’s claim,
‘This sage was a great reformer in that place. When he observed that Christians were involved in forcedly converting the Hindus to Christianity, he took a pioneer’s step and went around preaching Hinduism. He began propagating Hinduism like how Christian missionaries propagate Christianity. He began to equip youth to stand for their faith and not fall into the lure of Christianity. The tables turned on him when he was murdered by Christians who saw his ministry getting more and more prominent and their business going in loses because of his reformation. While he was loud on the fact that Christians were bribing Hindus with material attractions, he claimed that all this was a business for these Christians and they were earning in profits. Seeing all this lure and people from his own faith falling into this lure, he stepped out on a journey for reformation and thus gained respect and name in that village.’
On the other hand, the death of this sage didn’t exactly cause the violence to erupt to this big an intensity. As the media flourished the news of this murder, the prominent Hindu communities in Orissa erupted and thought this as the best opportunity to attack the Christians. A long time enmity between the Hindus catered towards the Christians finally broke into a mass violence after this incident. A group of Hindu fanatics, the VHPs, began the violence while other groups like the Bajrang Dal joined in the attack. Orissa is also infamously known for burning alive the Christian missionary, Graham Staines, along with his sons while they slept in their car. This heinous act was done by one of these Hindu groups. Keeping all this in mind, Orissa was a prime hotspot for torture of Christian missionaries. While the Hindus lost their stand on the Graham Staines issue, they now hope to recapture their stand on this issue. Right now they see themselves in the forefront leading the battle and heading towards a clear victory against the Christians.
Then there is the Christian community being tortured and persecuted. They are fleeing helplessly for safety. While the churches are shut on account of violence, even the Sunday morning worship gatherings are very rare. And it is not a particular group of Christians that are being targeted, the Catholics, the New Life fellowship ministries, the Brethren community, etc. are all being targeted together. While the Hindus claim that the Christians in Orissa are forcedly converting Hindus, there are many Christians who stand for their rights and deny the Hindus on their argument. Though the Hindus are huge in majority in Orissa as compared to the feeble population of Christians which barely go up to 1% of the total population of Orissa, yet there is a huge fear coupled with hatred being felt among the Hindu crowd against this feeble number of Christians.
Coming to the issue of forced conversion, what is forced conversion? How in earth can one convert a person to another religion forcedly? Is it by bribes, by lure, by material attractions? Karan Thappar, a prominent journalist and a Hindu himself famously known for his debates on ‘Devil’s Advocate’, correctly pointed out that a person who changes his religion on account of these temptations was never ever loyal to his earlier religion. Religion is an expression of freedom, a freedom which you express when you believe the god which pleased you. If at a certain point in life, you feel that another god pleased you much more than the earlier one, the Constitution of India legally allows you to change your religion and follow your new god. Following after a religion or god, comes from the heart and not from your mind. It is an expression of love not an expression which can be bought by bribe or lure. Unlike other religion, where there is a certain procedure to be followed for you to accept a new religion, Christianity does not follow any such procedure. Whereas becoming a Christian is a renewing of your mind and a change in your heart. It is not something that can be written down on papers which claim that you are a Christian; neither can Christianity be bought by money. It is an abstract expression and never a material expression. Hence, where is the issue of forced conversion?
If at all one claims that he was forcedly converted to Christianity, it’s eminent that his faith in Christianity was just a mere show for greed and not a real conversion into Christianity. And why did he ever leave his previous faith for Christianity? He left that god to believe in another God just for the sake of greed. He wasn’t at all loyal to either of the gods. What a fool is he! And there are the other groups of people who go around supporting these fools. Here, the Hindu fanatics, who just need an issue to create strife and fear among the society in the name of religion. They are going around destroying churches and killing people, for what?? In support of these disloyal people who converted themselves into Christianity and came back and told you that they were forcedly converted? What a pity! Add misery to your shame!
It’s kind of weird when you look at the whole situation that has erupted. Hindus are fighting against the Christians for forcedly converting many Hindus to Christianity. But what do the scriptures say? The Hindu scripture says that you have the freedom to worship any god, whether it is one of the millions of the Hindu gods, or Jesus, or Allah, or any other god from any other religion because all gods are one. And the Hindu scriptures makes it well marked that worshipping any of these gods will attain you salvation in the end. So where is the issue of forced conversion? If you are ever interested in your brother attain salvation, don’t be worried about his faith because irrespective of his faith and god, he will attain salvation.
I appreciate the tolerance the Christians have shown towards the whole situation. Except in one or two cases where they retaliated back, everywhere else they showed tolerance and patience. I remember the time when the statue of a Hindu god was marred and the whole city went on an uproar. However, the reaction exhibited by the Christians was exactly the opposite in this incident. While the media flashed the picture of the cross of Christ being broken into pieces, the whole community of Christians remained quite. Not that they accepted the situation, but silently suffered the defamation. If I was a Hindu and had Jesus as my god and would have seen the statue of my god being smashed up, I would have brought the whole nation to a standstill till justice was done. Hats off to the Christians for holding firm to the lessons from the life of Christ!
If you are a Hindu, wake up, its dawn! Night’s far spent, awake to rationalism! Know what you believe! If you are a Christian, don’t sleep for the times are too hard and will keep getting harder! Follow the pattern of Christ and walk through the narrow way till the end.