A few days ago, I overheard a conversation between my mom and the maid, who seemed to be in tears. She was talking about the evangelical activities in her locality and how she was being pressurized to embrace Christianity by the people who had been converted.
This repulsed me and I tweeted about this a few days ago –
@auldtimer I'm from Goa, conversion activity rampant in Chimbel (2nd largest slum in Goa). Done by a German Lutheran organisation
— डिप्लोरेबल धार्मिक। (@IndicPagan) May 10, 2017
As you guys might know, Goa is a primarily Hindu dominated state with a large Catholic population. Thankfully, We Goans live in relative harmony inspite of the bloody history of the Goa Inquisition.
The very topic of the Goa Inquisition is taboo today in Goa. St Francis Xavier, the man who requested the Inquisition is celebrated and venerated by Catholics and also a few unwitting Hindus who are unaware of the fact that his actions led to the deaths, torture and forcible conversion of several thousands of people. Some Hindu politicians even take the lead in celebrating the Feast of St Francis Xavier for the sake of their Catholic votebanks, completely displaying a lack of self respect for the sake of cheap politics.
The sad thing is that the ancestors of today’s Catholics suffered the most, which was why they or their children had to convert eventually. However since religion makes one incapable of rational thinking, they are indifferent to their ancestors’ suffering.
Make no mistake, I do not hate nor do I blame today’s Catholics for the Goan Inquisition — I blame their religion which enslaves them mentally. I have several Catholic friends and I have had some intelligent conversations about it. And after all, when did criticism of a religion or an ideology become conflated with criticism of a section of people?
Today however there is a new problem in Goa — the problem posed by the non-Roman Catholic missionaries often called the Protestants.
A few hundred years ago, A man by the name of Martin Luther became frustrated due to what he felt were the corrupt practices of the Catholic Church. He broke away from it and formed his own sect. His followers are today known as the Lutherans. However a broader classification of all the breakaway groups and sects that emerged due to a rejection of the Catholic Church’s authority and teachings are collectively called as the ‘Protestants’.
Martin Luther is often described as a reformer of Christianity. He, like John Calvin (another reformer), called for a literal interpretation of the Bible and sought to eliminate many of the practices that he believed had crept in to Christianity over time. For instance, Luther opposed the practice of praying to and the veneration of Mary, mother of Jesus and also the figures that had been annointed as ‘saints’ by the Catholic Church.
There was however a problem. While Luther was against the Church’s authority and malpractices, he himself was no saint — He was highly anti-Semitic, called for the destruction of synagogues, seizure of Jewish property and money, blamed Jews for ‘killing Jesus’ (Jewish Deicide) and equated them with the devil. At first he advocated kindness towards Jews and wanted to convert them to the ‘One True Religion’ but since they rejected his efforts to evangelise them, Luther began preaching hatred against them. Luther’s influence led to a lot of violence against Jews in medieval Germany. While his wish of ‘Jewish extermination’ did not materialise during his lifetime, a few centuries later a man by the name of Adolf Hitler was born and he ended up being responsible for the killing of millions of Jews (doing what Luther wanted to be done).
There is a consensus among most historians that Luther’s works heavily influenced anti-Semitism in the 20th century Europe. No Nazi literature was distributed that didn’t contain the anti Semitic quotations of Luther. Several prominent Nazi ideologues such as Heinrich Himmler praised Luther for his anti Jewish views. None other than the Adolf Hitler himself called Martin Luther a hero for opposing ‘Jewish domination’. Hitler has been described as the spiritual descendant of Martin Luther. Many historians have even gone on to claim that the Holocaust could have been avoided had Martin Luther not been born.
It is common for Christian apologists to claim that Hitler wasn’t a Christian and that he was in fact an atheist. This is refuted by the constant praise and invocations of the Christian religion made by Hitler in several of his speeches as Chancellor of Nazi Germany. Hitler publicly declared his support of Christianity and repeatedly attacked atheism in public. It is a fact that Hitler shunned away from criticizing religion and the Church.
You might be wondering as to why I am talking about all this. After all, why is all this relevant to us? Let me explain.
There are active Lutheran groups in Goa, carrying out missionary activities in several slums, villages and other isolated settlements in Goa. The other evangelical sects proselytising in Goa are the Pentecostals, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Baptists.
One of the arguments I frequently come across by both Christians and a few Hindus when I talk about these evangelical activities are — ”What is your problem, we are a secular country, there is freedom of religion”, “But at least they are doing good work and lifting them from poverty”, “What about Ghar Wapsi” blah blah blah. If lifting them out of poverty was the only thing they were doing then I wouldn’t have been bothered one bit. However that’s not all.
If you checked my twitter thread, I’ve spoken about how the people are being asked to turn against the faith of their ancestors. The people are being told that Hindus worship false Gods such as Vishnu and Shiva who are conduits to the Devil. For example, as I have mentioned in the thread, my maid’s uncle (A Kannadiga) who was a worshipper of the goddess Yellama earlier, after embracing Christianity told my maid (who is still a Hindu) that she was worshipping the devil and that she would go to hell if she didn’t embrace the true God — Jesus Christ.
However, the most notorious evangelists in Goa happen to be an ex Goan Catholic couple — Dominic and Joan D’Souza who run the Dominic and Joan Ministries. They specialize in targeting Hindus (who are soft targets) although quite a few Catholics too have left the church to join this sect. They run a ‘healing and revival centre’ at Sodiem in the Siolim region in North Goa. Thousands of people attend their gatherings daily. Pastor Dominic demonstrates his ‘healing skills’ on stage to the awe of many. He claims to have successfully cured diseases like cancer merely by the ‘Grace of the Lord’. He has gained a lot of influence in the Sodiem area. It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that he is the uncrowned king of Sodiem. No event takes place in Sodiem without his support/endorsement.
His most fervent backers are converted Hindu youth who testify as to his healing powers. If one is in Goa, one might see several cars with their stickers on the back of the car. It is rumored that Rs 30,000 is paid to people merely for putting the stickers on their cars. Dominic and Joan claim that applying their stickers to one’s car will prevent accidents. In the past few months itself, I’ve witnessed several accidents of cars with their stickers attached to the back window. Several of these accidents have resulted in fatalities. However, gullible and poor people are easily deceived and overawed when they witness an act of ‘healing’ and other theatrics performed by the clowns Dominic and Joan on stage.
I heard of an incident wherein a Hindu youth upon being baptized by Dominic, returned home and smashed murtis (idols representing Hindu dieties), going into hysterical fits and claiming that the ‘devil was present in the house’. His family was stunned by this behaviour of his and took a lot of effort to pacify him and thankfully, he stopped attending the gatherings and reverted to Hindu Dharma after regaining sense.
Another boy, who I happen to know, began visiting the centre. Whenever a common friend of ours used to meet him, he used to claim that visiting the centre gave him a lot of joy and that all his problems suddenly seemed to vanish while he was there. He believed that Jesus was responsible for all the new found happiness in his life. However over time he began looking extremely depressed. Upon asking him as to the reason behind his depression, he claimed that he was saddened because his parents were refusing to accept Jesus inspite of his repeated efforts to convince them to do so. He said his parents had been upset by his conversion to Christianity but did not pressurise him to leave it because it was his personal choice. He also claimed that his parents would be going to hell because they rejected Jesus and worshipped ‘forms of the devil’ and that this was causing him a huge amount of grief as he would be separated from his parents in the afterlife.
My friend was genuinely shocked to hear this delusional talk from him and was unnerved by this. He told me that he couldn’t sleep that night. He informed the boy’s parents about this. The boy’s parents were shocked after hearing this and forbade him from attending the gatherings. The boy responded to this by telling his parents that they were doomed to suffer in hell, then left the house and has not returned home since that day.
The above incidents show the extent of the problem caused by the evangelicals in Goa. Coming back to the Lutherans, I’ve been told that they use several of the typical tricks used by evangelical groups to try and convert poor Hindus. At first, they merely go to the slums and distribute food, clothes and other stuff to the people. This gains the trust and affection of the locals instantly. Later on the missionaries tell the locals that they are messengers of Jesus Christ — the son of ‘Parmeshwar’ and that they are here to relieve them of their poverty and misery as part of God’s mission.
Cultural appropriation and trickery are frequently used by the missionaries to gain converts. I have personally seen posters of Christian missionaries dressed up in saffron robes, with the adjoining text in the Devnagiri script. Missionaries have even used the Bhavishya Purana, a heavily fabricated and interpolated text, to claim that Jesus appears in the Hindu scriptures and that he is the son of God (aka Parmeshwar). The preliminary objective of the missionaries is to merely add Jesus to the seemingly unlimited pantheon of Gods worshipped by the Hindus; however the final and the main objective of the missionaries is to obviously make the converts stop worshipping their old Gods and to make them hate their own culture and traditions.
Since most of the people in the slum areas are illiterate, rather than literature, films are used by the missionaries to spread the ‘message of God’. I’ve found out that the Mel Gibson film ‘The Passion of The Christ’ is screened every once in a while by the missionaries. This is due to the amount of suffering that the Christ endures in the film which makes the people sympathetic and sorry for him. Vulnerable and weak minds are easily influenced by such imagery.
Now I may sound paranoid but I’m genuinely of the belief that if something is not done to stop the missionaries, a lot of communal problems can erupt in Goa. After all, we all know exactly how the Christianisation of the North East has turned out for the ‘idolatrous pagans’ (Hindus and followers of tribal religion) in those regions.
Martin Luther might be no more, but his spirit is certainly alive and healthy, centuries after his demise. We can only pray that no more spiritual descendants of Luther follow the likes of Hitler and emulate the hateful and bigoted teachings of Luther in Bharat.
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