Monthly Archives: April 2016

Narmada Kumbh and the manufactured evangelical protest

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The Narmada Samajik Kumbh, a purely cultural event is being politicised and demonised so much that it makes one feel as though the Hindus cannot even gather for a legitimate cause. The unwarranted protest of some Christian leaders over the Kumbh and the instant support of the Congress Party to them only confirm the long-held suspicion, that the Congress party and the UPA government are actively abetting religious conversion of tribals and adivasis.
Narmada Samajik Kumbh is the second such event being organised by the Hindu organisations, with an objective of promoting the values of our heritage and culture. In a growing atmosphere of terrorism, Maoist bloody campaign and the increasing economic, political and social inequalities, these Kumbh are organised as anchors for strengthening the fabric of the society and nationalism. The first such Kumbh, held in 2006 in Dangs district in Gujarat was a major success, with eight lakh people affirming their commitment to the larger national cause. In this Narmada Kumbh, 10 lakh people are participating from the entire Central India region. The venue for the event from February 10-12 is Mandla, in Madhya Pradesh, along the banks of the river Narmada.

There is absolutely no reason for the Christian leaders to express ?fear? over this Samajik Kumbh. They have said that the Kumbh is an event for reconversion of tribals from Christianity back to the Hindu fold. Their ?fear? only goes to prove that they have been indulging in coercive and aggressive conversions unchallenged and any faint sign of resistance is giving them the jitters. The point is, the Kumbh?s objective is not reconversion. And even if it is, what right does any community have to protest? If the Christians and Muslims have a right to carry on conversions, using means foul and unethical, the Hindus have double the right to bring the converts back to their original faith. It must be made clear once and for all that as long as conversions take place, anti-conversion and reconversion efforts will be made by the Hindus. It is the duty of every Hindu to work towards protecting the religion, in order to safeguard the national unity and integrity. For, forces inimical to our country are working towards balkanising it.

A recently brought out book Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines has exposed the well-entrenched network of foreign funds, NGOs and the Church, which is working overtime to divide the Hindu society vertically, horizontally and diagonally, and to create disaffection between people and lead to a Africa-like scenario, where civil war and inter-clan and inter-community clashes have reduced the continent to puzzle board pieces. The book, a result of five years of research has used the data collected from various western embassies on the funding and the destination of these funds. While it has been known that both the West and Islamic forces have been pumping money through various channels into India for disruptive activities, this book nails the sources and the end recipients.

Under this sponsored cacophony, it has become near-impossible to hear the voices of nationalism and sanity. Under the UPA, the situation has worsened like never before. While terrorists are given safe passage and invited for talks as state guests, the few Hindu organizations are being targeted systematically to create a fear psychosis. Government appointments are all being made on only one criterion – that the appointees should have a minority background, bloodline or identity. The media has been completely taken over, toeing the government line or echoing the babble of the leaders of the anti-Hindu bandwagon.

For instance, Britain has always claimed to be the melting pot of cultural identities and in the name of freedom of the individual encouraged sections to operate from within that country against the interest of others, like India. Now, in a speech delivered at the Munich Security Conference last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron said, "Multiculturalism is doomed to fail; societies need a national identity." He bemoaned the fact that the British society had become mute and meek and did not stand up to the elements that were wrecking the national character. This situation is precisely what is developing in India, only here, it is the state that is sponsoring efforts to weaken and dilute the core identity of the nation, in the name of pluralism and diversity.

The rising religious conversions are tearing into the cultural and social matrix. The centuries old rituals, customs and practices that helped bind the communities are being forced to be abandoned. The indigenous knowledge and system are being demolished to pave way for imported, western models of life, thoroughly unsuited for Indian conditions. The new religions spread disaffection towards the state and try to instill apathy to the political system, which would eventually isolate them from the mainstream of national politics and governance. While it is a fact that decades of development has bypassed these communities living in the interior rural India, coerced religious conversions are not bringing them any closer to the advantages of development. On the other hand, the purpose is just the opposite.

It is in this context that events like Narmada Samajik Kumbh reinforce the faith of the people in the nation, in the community and in their culture and heritage, all issues intrinsically related to the Hindu religion. These events are social pilgrimages that would go a long way in strengthening the people-to-people bonding.

http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=385&page=4

The Greatest Christian Warmonger of All Time

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I had never heard of Ellis Washington until I saw his recent WorldNetDaily article titled "Nation-building? No, Christian-building" and did some digging. Besides being a weekend commentator for WorldNetDaily, Washington is a black conservative, a graduate of the John Marshall Law School, former editor of the Michigan Law Review, host of an Atlanta radio program, and a lecturer and freelance writer on constitutional law, legal history, and critical race theory. He is also a devotee of radio talk show host Michael Savage (read his sickening tribute to Savage here) and, above all, the greatest Christian warmonger of all time.

I know, you think I?m grossly exaggerating. You have seen some of my articles with provocative titles like "Christian Killers?" "Pro-Lifers for Mass Murder," "Cursed Be the Christian Coalition," and "The Christian Axis of Evil" and you think I?m just trying to stimulate your interest by using hyperbole in the extreme.

I assure you that I am not exaggerating, grossly or otherwise. I assure you that I am not using hyperbole, in the extreme or otherwise. And I also assure you that Ellis Washington is the greatest Christian warmonger of all time. Yes, I know that time hasn?t ended yet, and that there might remain a great deal of time for more Christian warmongers to make themselves known. But you have got to read this statement from Ellis Washington for yourself:

If America is really serious about combating worldwide Islamic terrorism and the increasing reports of Christian genocide among the 44 Muslim nations, then let us take up the battle cry of Ann Coulter and the Muslim author who converted to Christianity and train our military not only to kill and destroy our enemies but to convert them to Christianity.

The first part of the "battle cry" Washington is referring to is this 2001 quote by Ann Coulter: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren?t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That?s war. And this is war."

The second part of Washington?s "battle cry" is from a Christian convert from Islam he heard on the radio expressing this sentiment: "America must use its military to go to every Muslim nation in the world and convert them to Christianity; it is the only way to end the Muslim jihad against the West, against Christianity and against civilization."

Washington also wants to combine "Coulter?s battle cry together with the Newtonian principle that to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction" and send the U.S. military on "an international comprehensive Christian conversion campaign." "A conversion policy will obviate the need for perpetual nation building," he says.

But Washington does Coulter one better: "My one revision of Coulter is not that we should invade their countries: ?We must invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.?" He wants the U.S. military to "join Christ?s battle cry" and honor the Marine Corps hymn.

Washington?s comments are so ludicrous and so contrary to sound Christian doctrine that every armchair Christian warrior, Christian Coalition moralist, Religious Right warvangelical, Reich-wing Christian nationalist, theocon Values Voter, Red-State Christian fascist, and God and country Christian bumpkin that I have ever criticized for supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should be ashamed and embarrassed at his comments.

Washington?s mention of America?s conflict with the Barbary Pirates over two hundred years ago ? as if it has anything to do with the current "war on terror" ? is ludicrous. But because other apologists for the "war on terror" have also brought it up, I will address that subject in a future article.

It?s not often that I am rendered speechless. I have but seven brief comments to make.

One, how can WorldNetDaily continue to publish Washington?

Two, the attacks of 9/11 were political acts that were not undertaken because of our freedoms, way of life, culture, or religion. The reason why any Muslims hate us or are trying to kill us is because of our wretched foreign policy and occupation of their countries.

Three, the aberrant Christianity advocated by Washington will turn away multitudes of unbelievers from real Christianity.

Four, the U.S. military is not God?s army. The Lord never sanctioned any crusade of Christians against any religion. The God of the Bible never called, commanded, or encouraged any Christian to kill, make apologies for the killing of, or excuse the killing of any adherent to a false religion.

Five, what kind of genuine conversion to Christianity can be obtained at the point of a gun?

Six, what Washington proposes ? forced conversion ? is something Muslims have been criticized for. How can he advocate that U.S. soldiers ? many of whom are not even Christians ? "convert" our "enemies" to Christianity?

And seven, Washington is a coward. If he believes that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead while Muhammad was a sinner who died and stayed buried, then why doesn?t he go to Pakistan, Yemen, or Saudi Arabia and stand on the street corner and preach it and see how many conversions he gets? Why doesn?t he go to these countries and kill with his own hands those who reject Christianity? Why doesn?t he enlist in the military himself? I know the military has relaxed its standards. Perhaps he will be allowed in. But no, Washington wants instead to send your sons, your fathers, your brothers, and your friends to do what he doesn?t have the courage to do.

Ellis Washington is the greatest Christian warmonger of all time, bar none. What else needs to be said?

http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance227.html

A shocking revision

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The Supreme Court should have issued notice to all parties involved in the Graham Staines case before excising portions from its verdict dealing with conversion.

The Supreme Court shocked the Hindu community when on January 25 it succumbed to pressure from Christian activists and modified its January 21 judgement in the Graham Staines murder case, without the filing of a curative petition by any party to the case; without notice to the lawyers of convicted Rabindra Kumar Pal (alias Dara Singh) and Mahendra Hembram; and without reference to representatives of the Hindu community which is the target and victim of Christian conversions in India.

The burning to death of missionary Graham Staines and his two minor sons while they were asleep in their vehicle at Manoharpur village in Odisha?s Keonjhar district on January 22, 1999, was a grim response to missionary provocation in the State. It was a unique crime in modern India, matched only by the burning alive of Malegaon additional district collector Yashwant Sonawane by the oil mafia on January 25.

The Justice DP Wadhwa Commission of Inquiry, which submitted its report on June 21, 1999, found evidence of the sustained missionary activity of Graham Staines in the form of his despatches to the Australian missionary magazine, Tidings, reports of his colleagues, evidence of his wife, and others.

The police arrested anti-cow slaughter activist Dara Singh from Mayurbhanj forest in January 2000 for instigating and planning the crime; he and Mahendra Hembram were found guilty during the trial. Dara Singh?s death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment by the Orissa High Court in May 2005, because he was convicted on circumstantial evidence as none of the eye-witness accounts established his involvement in the crime.

The court noted, ?There is absolutely no evidence on record that due to individual act of Dara Singh alone the three deceased persons or any of them died.? It added: ?The eye-witnesses never attributed any particular fatal injury, for which Dara Singh can be individually held responsible for the death of the three deceased persons or for the death of any of them.? The High Court upheld life imprisonment for Hembram and acquitted 11 others for lack of evidence. This verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court.

In its original verdict, the Supreme Court had observed, ?The intention was to teach a lesson to Graham Staines about his religious activities, namely, converting poor tribals to Christianity. All these aspects have been correctly appreciated by the High Court, which modified the sentence of death into life imprisonment with which we concur.? This was modified as, ?More than 12 years have elapsed since the act was committed, we are of the opinion that the life sentence awarded by the High Court need not be enhanced in view of the factual position discussed in the earlier paras.?

Second, the sentence, ?It is undisputed that there is no justification for interfering in someone?s belief by way of use of force, provocation, conversion, incitement or upon a flawed premise that one religion is better than the other? (the meaning of the constitutional principle of equality of faiths and non-discrimination in matters of religion) was replaced by: ?There is no justification for interfering in someone?s religious belief by any means.?

The Supreme Court?s original assertions came as a balm to the Hindu community that has long been battered by jihad and crusade simultaneously; but were bitterly attacked by Christian activists. In a flurry of denunciations in the secular media, Fr Dominic Emmanuel, chief spokesman of the New Delhi Roman Catholic Archdiocese, said the bench?s statement that ?the intention was to teach a lesson to Graham Staines about his religious activities, namely, converting poor tribals to Christianity?? and ??flawed premise that one religion is better than the other? came as ?a shock to all those who believe in India?s secular spirit and Constitution?

Former journalist BG Verghese said attenuation of the punishment because of Graham Staines? converting poor tribals to Christianity was an ?appalling statement and should be expunged or reversed by a larger bench?. He condemned anti-conversion laws in some States.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of Bishops Conference of India, Mumbai, said the judgement ?seems to justify inter-religious and anti-Christian violence.? The All-India Christian Council, Global Council of Indian Christians and ?civil society? activists joined the fray. The latter said, ?The Supreme Court ruling may in fact send the wrong signals to courts trying cases of religious violence in Kandhamal, for instance ? It also tends to pre-empt possible challenges to the black laws enacted by many States in the guise of Freedom of Religion Bills ? We expect the Government to ask the Supreme Court to expunge the unnecessary, uncalled for and un-constitutional remarks.?

Perhaps the Union Government did ?lean on? the Supreme Court and ensured prompt redressal of Christian ?grievances?, even at the cost of compromising basic principles of the Constitution and the Fundamental Rights of India?s beleaguered native community, particularly weaker sections like tribals who are continuously preyed upon by the gargantuan international soul-harvesting industry.

Since the plea to enhance Dara Singh?s life sentence to death penalty was made by the Central Bureau of Investigation, it would have been appropriate for the Supreme Court to have issued notices to all parties before amending its own judgement and invited a larger national debate on its ruling that, ?Our concept of secularism is that the state will have no religion. The state shall treat all religions and religious groups equally and with equal respect, without, in any manner, interfering in their individual right of religion, faith and worship.?

Today, the Supreme Court has given weightage to a trans-national imperial religion with a history of genocide and forced conversions, leaving no trace of original faith and culture in lands it now dominates. Its inhuman crimes against adherent-victims, manifesting as clergy-related sex abuse scandals in dioceses across the West, leave no fig leaf that its mission is social service, no matter on what pretext it enters vulnerable societies with its soul-gathering agenda.

Conversions always produce social strife and disharmony. Graham Staines? writings home reflect his awareness of the deep unhappiness he had stirred in the region. The brutal murder of Swami Laxmanananda at Kandhamal in 2008 shows how unsafe Hindu leaders are when fighting conversions; the verdict in this case now worries the Church. Sadly, the Supreme Court has compromised its courage at a very critical hour.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/314549/A-shocking-revision.html

Chidanandmurthy in favour of bill to curb conversion

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Bangalore, Feb 2 (PTI) In the backdrop of the JusticeSomashekhar Commission Report, noted Kannada writer MChidanandmurthy today called for introduction of a bill tocurb "religious conversion by fundamentalists" during thecoming session of the state legislature.

Opposing conversions that took place by offering monetaryinducements, he alleged that it was often vulnerable sectionsof people that had been targetted.

He cited the examples of states like Gujarat, Orissa andMadhya Pradesh where such a bill had been introduced and urgedthe state government to follow suit

http://news.oneindia.in/2011/02/02/chidanandmurthyin-favour-of-bill-to-curbconversion-aid0126.html

The Question Of Evangelism In India

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"Conversion, murder and India’s Supreme Court" by Mathew Schmalz, Professor of Religious Studies at College of the Holy Cross, was featured on Washington Post’s On Faith a few days ago. I take this opportunity to respond to two questions he posed, namely, "Is conversion wrong?" and "Is anger over conversion an extenuating circumstance for murder?"
I’ll respond to the second question first, as the answer is simple. No — anger over conversion is not an extenuating circumstance for murder. Violence of the kind inflicted on Graham Staines and his two young sons is wholly unacceptable, and against teachings of the Hindu religion, India’s legacy of peaceful intra and inter-religious coexistence, and the law. Many, including the Hindu American Foundation, though, see the specific comments by the Indian Supreme Court now modified, not as a basis for justifying extenuating circumstances, but rather an expression of the growing concern over foreign missionaries and their impact on India’s hallmark pluralistic ethos. This takes us back to the first question: "Is conversion wrong?"

The answer, as one might expect, is complicated. Professor Schmalz states that many Indian Protestant and Catholic denominations "eschew overt conversion efforts," but the reason he cites as to why — that of "political repercussions" — short-changes the overriding influence Hinduism’s pluralistic worldview has had not only on Christianity, but other religions in India. India has long been a beacon of religious pluralism. The sage Hindu observation — Ekam sat vipraha bahudha vadanti (The Truth is one, the wise call It by many names) — has fostered an environment in which an unprecedented diversity of traditions and religions have, for the large part, peacefully co-existed for millennia. Like America, India’s shores accepted and sheltered the religiously persecuted — from Jews arriving 2500 years ago, to early Christians bringing the message of Christ, not to Hindus, but to their brethren, the Cochin Jews. Later came the Parsis from Iran. Others came not to escape but on their own free will — Arab Muslims to trade, and others from far away lands seeking India’s spirituality. Each one of these newcomers sought to live and let live, mixing in, as the legend goes, like sugar in milk.

But since the 12th century, starting with the Islamic invasions and colonizing European missionaries to today, India faces a different kind of religious visitor — one that seeks not to sweeten the milk, but curdle it.

Exhibit A — the evangelical Joshua Project — is just one example of what India, at the heart of the 10-40 Window, is facing. The Joshua Project is an information powerhouse — detailing logistical information about people groups around the world, and providing ideas to Evangelicals committed to mass church-planting, and in turn conversions, among every ethnic group. The data is meticulous and well-researched, and both shocking and disturbing.

The Joshua Project lists the percentage of unreached in India as 93.3% — that’s basically every Indian Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Sikh, and Buddhist. Last-name, clan, caste, or tribe-based communities are catalogued according to location, religious affiliation, language, and population — the data collection puts the postal systems of most developed nations to shame. Technical acronyms such as CPI, or Church Planting Indicator, with a ranking system of 0 to 5, measure the progress of church growth based on churches established and number of "believers" regularly attending. Then there’s the progress scale which allows the "Saved" to track, well … "progress" of the "Harvest" — red indicating less than 2% Evangelical and less than 5% Christian, yellow indicating less than 2% Evangelical but greater than 5% Christian, and green indicating from 2% to greater than 5% Evangelical. And of course, what worldwide project of this scale and in this century would be complete without an iPhone App?

The response by a few states in India to campaigns inspired by projects like Joshua, and what can be characterized as nothing less than primarily American and European faith-based ops intended to alter Indian religious demographics, has been what most outside of India refer to as "anti-conversion" laws. Interestingly, many of these same states, as well as Indian states with rising inter-religious tension, when cross-checked with the Joshua Project’s "progress" scale, are states that show increasing green and yellow. Some may ask, what’s the big deal? Doesn’t the 2001 Indian census indicate only 2.3% of the population as Christian? Yes, but these percentages have come under question given the fact that a large number of converts retain their Hindu names and claim Hindu status for a variety of reasons. The data from Joshua Project, which doesn’t account for non-Evangelical efforts, also suggests rapid growth.

Contrary to what "anti-conversion" laws may imply by their title, they do not outlaw the right of any individual to convert based upon genuine faith, belief, study, or religious experience. They also don’t restrict Christians who provide social services in various parts of India with no ulterior conversion motive. Most anti-conversion laws seek only to address conversions "by force, allurement, or fraudulent means." They are the effort of sovereign states to regulate those, mostly Christian aid groups, for which the provision of aid to these vulnerable communities is not altruistic, but rather part of a soul-saving numbers game. While such motives have proven difficult to document, media reports following the 2004 Asian Tsunami revealed incidents where missionaries actually packed up and left when the residents of some tsunami-shattered villages in India refused to convert as a precondition for receiving material aid.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and other human rights groups have long decried these laws against fraudulent conversion that have emerged throughout the 10-40 Window, or as is more affectionately referred to by some missionaries, "The Resistance Belt." Human rights violation or denial of religious freedom are the frequently recited mantras in these "watch-dog" circles. But as adherents and advocates of a non-proselytizing, non-exclusivist, pluralistic tradition, we at the Hindu American Foundation have always asked — the religious freedom of whom? The freedom of foreign missionaries to proselytize and prey upon vulnerable, generally poor people to convert them to a myopic religious worldview that denigrates or denies the legitimacy of all other traditions, or that of adherents of mostly non-exclusivist and pluralistic traditions, to be treated medically, educated, or employed without having to sell their souls?

Religious freedom, according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, incorporates, "the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." This concept of religious freedom has unfortunately failed to address, at the expense of adherents of pluralist and non-exclusivist religious traditions such as Hinduism and other Dharmic traditions, the right to retain one’s tradition and to be free from intrusion, harassment, intimidation, and aggressive, exploitative, and predatory proselytization by non-pluralist and exclusivist religions.

The world community has for too long turned a blind eye to aggressive and predatory proselytization and resulting conversions that have been carried out for centuries in Asia, Africa, North and South America, the Middle East and Europe. This collective complacency is counter-productive to peace and has bred a resurgence in international campaigns which harass, intimidate, and exploit the most vulnerable segments of society by, among other ethically questionable methods, conditioning humanitarian aid or economic, educational, medical or social assistance upon conversion; overtly denigrating other religions to seek converts; and intentionally promoting religious hatred, bigotry (hate speech), and violence. Conversions gained through such means must be recognized for what they are — unethical, fraudulent, forced, coerced, or provoked.

Professor Schmalz says that the concerns about conversion are unfounded. But we need only look to the annual statistics of just one missionary organization and recognize that there is a multiplicative effect.

Exhibit B — Houston-based Central India Christian Mission. In 2010 alone, its evangelical missionaries proselytized to over 320,000 people and converted more than 19,600 inhabitants — that’s enough people to fill a basketball arena — in central India. This is only one of countless U.S. based Christian organizations engaged in aggressive and predatory "soul harvesting" campaigns. Consider the plethora of Catholic and Protestant organizations that are actively pursuing the monopolistic path of religious exclusivity, and the numbers, and more importantly, the impact, are beyond mind-blowing.

Exhibit C — eye-opening information from India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act which collects data on incoming foreign aid. In 2007, the top two non-governmental donors to India were U.S.-based missionary organizations, World Vision International at ~$155 million and Gospel for Asia ~$99.5 million — together that’s $255 million into India in just one year. Overall, an astonishing 18,996 organizations in India, a disproportionate number linked to Christian missionaries, received donations totaling $2.4 billion in 2007 alone. And the inflow has been growing rapidly. 2007 showed contributions more than double of 2002. With these numbers, how can we say the concerns are unfounded?

At the end of the day, numbers and statistics, though illustrative, fail to address the very real human factor on the losing side of the proselytization and conversion equation. Conversion, when born from genuine faith, belief, study, or religious experience, can be beautiful. But, conversion begot by aggressive or predatory proselytization is a form of violence. As one of the co-founders of HAF, Aseem Shukla, eloquently stated, "The violence of conversion is very real. The religious conversion is too often a conversion to intolerance. A convert is asked to repudiate his sangha (community), reject the customs and traditions of his family passed down for generations, and refuse to attend religious ceremonies that are the very basis of daily life in much of the world. A person’s conversion begins a cascade of upheaval that tears apart families, communities and societies creating a political and demographic tinderbox that too often explodes."

Got milk? India does and she’d like to keep it sweet.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suhag-a-shukla-esq/harvesting-souls-yields-c_b_817793.html

A bitter harvest of souls

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Religious conversion has unhappy consequences

The Supreme Court?s decision to endorse the Odisha High Court?s judgement against Dara Singh, who has been held guilty of being involved with the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in January 1999, sentencing him to life imprisonment, brings a ghastly incident that shocked India to a closure. Staines and his two young sons died when the station wagon in which they were sleeping was set on fire by a mob; it was an unconscionable misdeed. Dara Singh and his associate, Mahendra Hembram, richly deserve the punishment that has been meted out to them for their role in that crime. However, the Supreme Court?s lengthy verdict is equally, if not more, important for another reason: It provides a context to the crime that was committed in a remote tribal village of Odisha that January night more than a decade ago. As Friday?s judgement puts it, ?The intention was to teach a lesson to Graham Staines about his religious activities, namely, converting poor tribals to Christianity.? The judgement is a scathing comment on preachers and pastors engaged in ?harvesting souls? through religious conversion, targeting innocent tribals whose poverty and illiteracy makes them vulnerable to the blandishments of crafty missionaries. This is most pronounced in States like Odisha, which was among the first to adopt an anti-conversion law to counter aggressive proselytising activities of missionaries, which have a significant tribal population, leading to social strife and disharmony. Staines was one such missionary whose activities were not restricted to tending to leprosy patients, noble as that vocation may have been, but extended to converting tribal youth to Christianity. This caused resentment among those tribals who felt the missionary was encouraging their fellow tribesmen to abandon their indigenous faith and beliefs. ?It is undisputed that there is no justification for interfering in someone?s belief by way of ?use of force?, provocation, conversion, incitement or upon a flawed premise that one religion is better than the other,? Justice P Sathasivam and Justice BS Chauhan have observed, adding, ?In a country like ours where discrimination on the ground of caste or religion is a taboo, taking lives of persons belonging to another caste or religion is bound to have a dangerous and reactive effect on the society at large … It strikes at the very root of the orderly society which the founding fathers of our Constitution dreamt of.?

Tragically, the right to freedom of religion, as guaranteed by the Constitution, is interpreted by Christian missionaries and our deracinated Left-liberal commentariat as well as pseudo-secular politicians as the right to convert, more often than not through deceit, fraud and allurement. That this is done by positing one faith as being superior to another is overlooked and those standing up to religious conversion are crudely admonished. It is a reflection of this sad reality that no tears were shed over the brutal slaying of Swami Lakshmanananda who had dedicated his life to tribal welfare and stood up to missionaries looking for souls to harvest at a discounted rate. It is also a telling comment that few have bothered to look at the reasons that led to a virtual tribal uprising in Kandhamal district of Odisha against missionaries and their henchmen in 2008. This is not the first time the courts have wisely warned against the consequences of conversion. But this wisdom has been treated with scorn by missionaries and their patrons. The consequences of this folly are there for all to see.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/312397/A-bitter-harvest-of-souls.html

Supreme Court decries forceful religious conversions

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court, while upholding life imprisonment for Dara Singh and Mahendra Hembram, main accused in the killing of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in Orissa’s Koenjhar district in January 1999, also came down heavily on Christian missionaries for indulging in forceful conversions.
The bench of justices P Sathasivam and BS Chauhan observed that there cannot be any justification for interference in someone’s belief while decrying forceful conversions.
While delivering the verdict in the murder case on Friday the court observed that investigations reveal that Staines was involved in conversions and there are materials to suggest that the missionaries were indulging in forceful conversion in the area.

Dara Singh’s lawyer SS Mishra said that the missionaries were indulging in forceful conversions and his client just wanted to threaten them and not kill Staines.

"There are materials which suggest that forceful conversion was there. However, so far as the material for conviction is concerned Supreme Court maintained the judgement of the High Court. There is no direct evidence, no one had seen crime done by accused. It appears that they had gone to threaten and teach them a lesson and not kill Staines," said Mishra.

Staines and his two sons, Philip (10) and Timothy (6) were burnt to death while they were sleeping inside a van outside a church at Manoharpur village in Koenjhar district of Orissa on January 22, 1999 by Dara Singh and Mahendra Hembram.

Both Singh and Hembram have been sentenced to life in the case.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/sc-decries-forceful-religious-conversions/141078-3.html

Christian missionary behind Nithyananda sex scandal: Ranjitha

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Ten months after the sex tape allegedly involving Nithyananda and cine star Ranjitha hit the internet, the actress finally broke her silence on Friday.

Addressing a packed press conference, the actress denied all the allegations against her. ?It?s not me in the video,? said Ranjitha. ?I was scared, I was threatened, blackmailed, and that forced me to abscond.?

The actress said she had been hurt by the allegations. ?I was scared to face anybody, so I had moved out of the country; I came only for the CID inquiry. I was in the US all this time. I have registered a complaint with the magistrate’s court in Ramanagara,? she said.

But then came the bombshell. Ranjitha said a Christian missionary was behind the episode.

?I was being blackmailed and threatened by the accused and also by another man who belongs to a Christian mission,? said the actress. ?I want to live, so I shall not name them. If the CM of Tamil Nadu promises to protect me, I shall reveal the names.?

http://www.dnaindia.com/bangalore/report_christian-missionary-behind-nithyananda-sex-scandal-ranjitha_1488741

Crorepathy" Fr. Jegath Gasper Raj main link for Tigers in India

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The Sri Lankan Catholic Church, the Catholic Radio Veritas based in Phillipines, the Tamil Catholic hierachy and its priests have been the main links of the global network of the Church to protect, promote, provide succor and cover to the internationally banned Tamil Tigers. Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj is somewht different. This catholic priest comes from the diocese of Kottar, Tamil Nadu. He has made a name for himself and become a "crorepathy? ( Rs. 10 million is one crore) with plenty of political pull in Tamil Nadu politics to back the Tamil Tigers. He has learned the art of mixing politics with music to raise funds for the Tamil Tigers. In his music, politics and fund raising he has managed successfully to exploit the suffering of the Tamils in Sri Lanka to collect millions for the Tamil Tigers. Fr. Jegath Gaspar RajFr. Jegath Gaspar Raj

Tamil Tigers and the Church consider Fr. Gaspar Raj as their latest pop priest. ?It is a story of rags to riches and from obscurity to political connections and fame," said an Indian commentator.

Political observers state that Fr. Gaspar Raj was responsible for bringing the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister to come closer once again to the Tamil Tigers, banned in India.

Fr.Gaspar Raj sudden rise to prominence began when he joined the Tamil language broadcasting division of Veritas Radio broadcasting to Asia. This radio runs program in Bahasa (Indonesia), Mandarin, Bengali, Sinhala, Burmese, Tamil, Filipino, Telugu, Hindi, Urdu, Kachin, Vietnamese and Karen languages.

For sometime the Tamil Tigers left him alone but renewed their connections in recent months. He is now seen as the conduit through which millions of Indian rupees flow into the hands of the movers and shakers of the Tamil Nadu and Indian politics in general.

Father Gaspar Raj is the founder of the Tamil Maiyam, a non-profit organization. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi?s daughter Kanimozhi is the coordinator. Joinlty they organized the ?Chennai Sangamam? (a cultural extravaganza) in the city which has drawn flak for its Tamil Tiger links.

The Jaya TV, (which has AIADMK chief Jayalalitha’s patronage), which is opposed to the Tamil Tigers, telecast a 30-minute program on 04 March focusing on Fr Gaspar Raj sharing the platform with Nachimuthu Socrates, one of the senior fund-raisers for the Tigers.

The TV program highlighted that Socrates was among the eight arrested by the US Federal agents in August last year. American authorities have accused him of plotting to buy surface-to-air missiles for the Tamil Tiger rebels by bribing the US State Department officials. One of objectives was to bribe US officials to get the banned Tamil Tigers struck off the list of US terrorist organizations.

The program had also raised uncomfortable questions about Father Raj playing an important role in the state-sponsored Chennai Sangamam. The channel also questioned the ?Government Order? that had given Kanimozhi access to unlimited funds for her cultural programs.

Does Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj was born into a low-middle class Catholic family in Nagarkovil, located in Tamil Nadu, India. He was in the early days a parish priest in a remote village in the Kanniyakumari district.

Later he joined ?Radio Veritas? as director of the Tamil service, roughly during 1995 -2001. He began working for Radio Veritas on a monthly salary of US $200.00. His accumulated assets have earned him the title of a ?Crorepathy? today.

As stated earlier, he shot into the limelight through Radio Veritas. It is a non-stock, non-profit organization tasked to "proclaim the message of God’s love to the peoples of Asia. RVA is committed to proclaim the message of God’s love to the people of Asia by producing human development and Catholic evangelization programs, in cooperation with recognized production centers and transmitting these programs via short-wave and related means of electronic media.

This station is also used by the Church to promote its brand of politics. The Sri Lankan government has earlier protested against it bias in promoting Tamil Tiger politics. Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj was with the Tamil section of the Veritas radio, broadcasting a half hour slots daily in the morning as well as in the evening. As this radio is a shortwave broadcast, many in Tamil Nadu do not listen to this radio broadcast. The radios in many houses in Tamil Nadu do not have the shortwave.

But Sri Lankans have direct access through shortwave radio connections. Veritas also had direct access to Jaffna through the Catholic Church. The Tamil Catholic priests in Jaffna who had the privilege of moving freely in war zones of Jaffna fed Radio Veritas with pro-Tiger versions of events. Veritas used to receive the news reports from the Jaffna Bishop?s House for broadcast. The news carried in the Veritas Tamil service usually lasts for about 5 minutes but it had a powerful impact on the Sri Lankan Tamils.

The censorship imposed by the Sri Lankan government also helped the Tamil service of Radio Veritas to gain a considerable following in Jaffna. It was at the height of the ethnic conflict that Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj became the Director of the Veritas Tamil service.

He began his career at Veritas by announcing that he is not for the Tamil Tigers but subsequently he shifted his stance under pressure from the Tamil Diaspora flooding him with letters and e-mails. He was also impressed by the impact Veritas had on the Sri Lankan Tamils. Once he realized this he came out openly supporting the Tamil Tigers. His new political line made him a popular public personality. During this time, Fr. Chandirakanthan, leading Tamil Tiger propagandists from the Jaffna University visited Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj at Veritas in Philippines. They became good friends. This also led him to establish close contacts with Tiger leaders. He has told all this at public meetings.

In the meantime Fr. Chandirakanthan left for Canada and settled down there. This gave an opportunity for Fr. Gaspar Raj to establish relationship with the Tamil Diaspora in Europe, North America and Australasian countries.

Tigers decided to make use of Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj for collection of funds as he was an able orator. He was also a colorful figure with his unusual (Cossack) dress for a Catholic clergyman.

Seeing his potential Tigers arranged visits for him in several European capitals. He was invited to collect funds for the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization, banned in some countries as the arm of the Tiger fund collections.

In the meantime, he arranged the rebroadcast of the Veritas Tamil programs in the then popular TRT Tamil Alai Radio, and used it to build a formidable link between himself and the Tamil Diaspora.

During this time the Tigers were running their own Radio IBC in Europe. Fr. Gaspar Raj announced that Veritas radio as well as the TRT Radio would jointly run programs for the collection of funds for the welfare of the Eelam Tamil orphans. Tigers have never engaged outsiders to collect funds from the Tamil Diaspora or welcomed welfare schemes put to them by others. When the Tiger leaders in Paris vehemently opposed this move of Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj, he was forced to contact Tiger leaders in Vanni for the approval for his proposal to collect funds appealing through the airwaves.

Even S.S. Kuhanathan, who continuously resisted the Paris, based LTTE leaders, joined hands with Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj in the hope that he might be able to establish contacts with the Tiger leaders in the Vanni.

Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj and Kuhanathan appeared in the TRT Television and appealed through TRT Radio to raise funds for the Tamil orphans in the Vanni. TRT, however, was very cautious about raising funds with Fr. Gaspar Raj and insisted that he collects his funds in a separate bank account as this appeal for funds had nothing to do with the TRT organization. Then Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj opened up a bank account in his name in Credit du Nord bank in Paris and channeled the funds into that bank account.

It is estimated that Fr. Gaspar Raj’s appeal led to a collection of nearly a million of dollars. According to a source in the Paris, his Paris bank account alone collected a little over US$ 600,000. However the appeal for funds continued in TRT TV and Radio urging Tamil Diaspora to send in their donations not only to Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj?s the bank account in Paris but also to his bank account in Manila.

Later it transpired, according to TRT Radio and TV broadcasts, that the moneys sent to Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj?s Paris Bank account was subsequently transferred to his Manila bank account.

So far Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj has neither disclosed the total amount of money he received on behalf of the Tamil Orphans in Vanni nor announced how much he has paid out of the total collection to the Tamil orphans and to whom he has given that money.

In the meantime, TRT Radio and TV stations were acquired by the Tigers and at the same time Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj left Veritas Radio and went back to reside permanently in Tamil Nadu .

In another appeal launched in Canada on 14 January 2001, through radio stations in Toronto, Canada, it is reported that he collected around US $ 500,000.00. All these funds were raised selling the plight of the Tamils orphans to the Tamil Diaspora in Canada. With his oratorical skills he was successful in convincing the Tamils in the Diaspora to part with their money for Tamil orphans. He spent most of his last three years at Veritas overseas campaigning for funds.

After settling down in Tamil Nadu India he launched Tamil Maiyam in 2002. He is the Managing Director. It is located in the St. Thomas Building, Santhome Communications Centre in Mylapore, Chennai 600 004. Tamil Maiyam is a ?80-G tax- exempted charitable organization.

Tamil Maiyam was founded in Chennai, India, in July 2002 by Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj and his friends as a non-profit organization to promote Tamil arts, literature and culture with special emphasis on Research, Creative productions and Publications. It also claimed that it aimed to bring the fruits of modern science to the ordinary Tamils and create a platform for Tamils living in various parts of the world to interact and work together for the betterment of Tamil language and Tamil society.

The Board of Trustees are: Rev. Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj Managing Trustee, Tamil Maiyam, Fr. Lourdu Anandam, Ms. Akhila Srinivasan, Mr. K. Pandia Rajan, Mr. Jerard, Mr. Joseph Enok, Ms. Latha Pandiarajan Ms. Kanimozhi-, Mr. Arun Veerappan and Fr. Vincent Chinnadurai.

Subsequently he launched Goodwill Communications Limited (GCL) to produce and provide program for the Tamil television industry. The company was formally launched at a function which was chaired by writer Sujatha. Fr Jegath Gaspar Raj, the chairman and managing director of Tamil Maiyam, is also the managing director of GCL. Throgh these insitutions and with the funds collected in the name of the Tamil orphans he has managed to buy his way into the political establishment in Tamil Nadu.

One of Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj’s project was to present a musical rendition of the Tamil literary classic, Thiruvasakam

Thiruvasakam, a collection of hymns in praise of Lord Shiva couched in heart-tugging phrases in ancient Tamil by the 7th century poet Saint Manickavasagar, is believed to provide a spiritual experience to those who recite it. Dismayed by the neglect of such rich Indian literature, Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj, a theologian and Founder-Chairman of Tamil Maiyam, decided to do something about it and the result was this project

Thiruvasakam conveys the supreme love for Siva in an obvious rhythm of words, with pleasing sound. It is contained profound statements on love. The verses are in simple style and are easily readable and sung by the very common people and at the same time the thought contents in them are understandable only by scholars of Siva Sitthanta doctrine, and most particularly by the religious experiences.

Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj approached Ilayaraja, the maestro in music, and he in turn seized the opportunity. The music was recorded partly in India (Chennai and Mumbai) and partly at the over 100-year-old Budapest Symphony Orchestra, Hungary.

The album has six songs including a unique 18-minute composition that alternates between Tamil and English lyrics, sung in choral style.

Thiruvasakam has the voices of Ilayaraja, his daughter Bavatharini and Benny Diggs. Over 300 musicians, including 140 instrumentalists and 60 chorus singers were involved in making this album.

It is said that Ilayaraja has not taken any remuneration to produce the album, but holds 50 per cent of its rights. The other 50 per cent is with Tamil Maiyam.

The total cost of the project is Rs 1.4 crore, of which 70 per cent funding has come through high cost debt. A total of Rs 1.1 crore has been spent on production.

Unfortunately Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj failed financially in this Thiruvasakam project.

?Thiruvasakam? by maestro Ilayaraaja, the first ever Indian Symphonic Oratorio was launched for sale on June 30, 2005 at the Music Academy, Chennai, according to Tamil Maiyam.

The funds for this project were raised by the Tamil Maiyam. The total cost of the production is Rs.110 Lakhs of which Rs.35 Lakhs came in as donations and Rs.75 lakhs as borrowings from individuals and banks. Tamil Maiyam is non-profit 80-G exempted charitable organization. TIS-Foundation USA played a crucial role in mobilizing funds.

The album was presented to the president of India Dr.Abdul kalam on June 17, 2005 at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan by Ilayaraaja accompanied by the Tamil Maiyam team. Dr. Abdul Kalam listened to the Oratorio song in the presence of Ilayaraaja and complimented it as ?Great, a real contribution to the Indian music and culture?.

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh received Ilayaraaja along with Vaiko and the Tamil Maiyam team on June 18 in New Delhi. While complementing the ?Thiruvasakam? effort he unde4rlined the fact that culture is the core strength of our land.

Ilayaraja and the delegation also met with the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L.K Advani respectively and presented the album.

In a press release issued by the Tamil Maiyam, Fr. Gaspar Raj says that this is the first music that transmits eastern music seamlessly into a western Symphonic singing.

In the meantime one Dr. Vee has disputed Fr. Gaspar Raj false Symphony claims.

Fr. Gaspar Raj started his Thiruvasakam project with the title ?Thiruvasakam in Symphony? for soliciting funds. In US was titled ?Thiruvasakam in Symphony USA?.

The official web page for the US activities of Thiruvasakam in Symphony. [index.html/www.tis-usa.com].

Rev.Fr. Gaspar Raj?s Tamil Maiyam website home page also projected his project as ?Thiruvasakam in Symphony?.

All newspapers including ?The Hindu? [June 6, 2005] praised this project as ?Thiruvasakam in Symphony?.

But Ilayaraja explained in his interview to ?Ananda Vikatan?, a Tamil language weekly, that he did not render Thiruvasakam in symphony and clarified that he had employed the musical form Oratorio in the Thiruvasakam project. Misled by unethical marketing many innocent buyers still believe that Thiruvasakam is now rendered in symphonic music. .

It is an accepted norm in music that vocal renditions are not a part of symphonic music. A Symphony is purely a composition for instruments, and very rarely voices are added as in the case of Beethoven?s 9th Symphony (Ode to Joy) in the fourth movement. In some of Mahler?s Symphonies voices are added.

Western Music does not have a musical form called ?symphonic oratorio?. Symphony and Oratorio are two different musical forms.

After Ilayaraja?s interview clarifying that he did not render Thiruvasakam in Symphony, Rev.Fr.Jegat Gaspar Raj changed the label of his music in his Thiruvasakam project from ?Symphony? to ?Symphonic Oratorio?.

While announcing a project ?Mozart meets India?, Tamil Maiyam founder Rev.Fr.Jegath Gaspar Raj had called his Thiruvasakam project as "Thiruvasagam – Symphonic Oratorio" [18 March 2006 News Update Service, The Hindu and Deccan Chronicle 19 March 2006].

Rev.Fr.Gaspar Raj producer of the Thiruvasakam project had misled music students of India that Symphonic Oratorio was a Western Musical form and Ilayaraja had used that form to render Thiruvasakam. Being a Catholic priest with a background in Western music, he should have known that Western music does not have a musical form called ?symphonic oratorio?.

As a producer Fr.Jegat Gaspar Raj failed to do proper ground work for his project, misled Ilayaraja to undertake this miguided project and misused Ilayaraja?s musical fame to gather funds and market this product cheating innocent buyers most of whom bought this product believing it to be ?Thiruvasakam in Symphony?.

It is unfortunate that the Indian President, Prime Minister and other VIPs had become victims by felicitating this project, a black mark in the history of Indian music. Dr. Vee wrote an email letter ?Subject: India’s First Symphony?? on August 20, 2006 to the Members of Parliament, protesting against the error of the President and Prime Minister in felicitating ?Mozart meets India? as a symphony.

The defects are related to the confusion in the musical forms employed, music interval, wrong choice of vocalist and musical aesthetics.

Rev.Fr.Jegat Gaspar Raj?s Thiruvasakam music project involved two different kinds of music, Western Classical and Carnatic. Western Classical and Carnatic music have different kinds of music intervals.

In Western music, keyboard and fretted instruments follow equal temperament. Violinists and vocalists unaccompanied by equal temperament instruments in Western Music may follow just intonation. The intervals of Carnatic music will be different from these. Hence any music project involving Western Classical music and Carnatic music must take into account these differences and work out a compromise. Then the musicians must be trained in this scheme. Recording must start after completing these formalities. Ilayaraja?s Thiruvasakam does not appear to have followed these procedures. Brochures accompanying such projects must explain these procedures. A computer based objective investigation will bring out all these shortcomings, a valuable project for music research students.

The next shortcoming in this project is the employment of Ilayaraja?s voice, which suits well for folk and film music. [eg.?Thenpandi Seemaiyele? in ?Nayakan?]. But his voice will not be suitable for classical music like Carnatic music.

For spiritual chanting of Thiruvasakam, voice of experienced Othuvars [a special category of persons trained in chanting Saivite devotional text] will be good. For musical rendering of Thiruvasakam, voices of well-trained and experienced Carnatic vocalists will be good. The voice of Ilayaraja does not belong to either category.

Also this project failed to follow the traditional musical way of handling the Tamil words in Thiruvasakam. Instead of conceding these defects in his project, Rev.Fr.Jegath Gaspar Raj had blamed the Tamil lyrics of Thiruvasakam for the failure of his product. [Asian News Service- Chennai, March 20, 2006; 18 March 2006 News Update Service; The Hindu and Deccan Chronicle 19 March 2006].

This means he had proceeded with his project without realizing the music potential of the Tamil lyrics of Thiruvasakam and hence had used Ilayaraja?s voice for singing the Tamil lyrics thereby damaging the music richness. Without realising his mistakes, Rev.Fr.Jegath Gaspar Raj had blamed the Tamil lyrics of Thiruvasakam for the failure of his project.

Apart from these, there are problems related to finer aspects of musical aesthetics of Western Classical Music and Carnatic music in such projects.

Rev.Fr. Gaspar Raj had recently announced a new project called ?Mozart meets India?. He had claimed that it would be India?s first symphony. [Indo-Asian News Service – Chennai, March 20, 2006, New Indian Express, 19-3-2006]. He had not revealed who would be its composer. He had called it as ?orchestral symphony?.

His previous project also started with the title ?Thiruvasakam in Symphony ?. Rev.Fr. Gaspar Raj supported Ilayaraja?s claim of composing India?s first symphony in 1993.

After misusing the words symphony and ?symphonic oratorio?, Fr.Gaspar Raj started misusing ?Mozart? in his current project ?Mozart meets India?. He said: ?The compositions do not directly correspond or relate to the creations of Mozart. The title is more allegoric as we consider Mozart the greatest composer of symphonies.?(The Hindu- Aug 2,2006). Also he had identified it as ?a global symphonic soundtrack based on six Carnatic ragas, Kapi, Sindhubhairavi, Panthuvarali, Sankarabharanam, Bilahari and Hamsanandhi," (The Hindu- Aug 2,2006). Is the above mentioned word ?symphonic? ?more allegoric? as it may not ?not directly correspond or relate to? the six Carnatic ragas? From the above, there can be only two possible conclusions. Either Rev. Fr. Jegat Gasper Raj does not know what is symphony, or he just misuses the words ?symphony? and ?Mozart? to get funds and market his product, unaware of the damages to the aesthetics of the music field and especially to music education in the process.

Unfortunately for Fr. Gasper Raj, Thiruvasagam did not attract the Sri Lankan Diasporas attention and subsequently it was financially a debacle.

He was heard lamenting that if he could have made Tamil music maestro Ilayaraaja to direct and sing Tigers songs he could have reaped a few crores as profit.

When he failed to win the support of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora he tried to win over the support of the Brahmins, but he again failed miserably. When he was openly supporting the LTTE he criticized Thuklak editor Cho Ramasamy as well as N.Ram of The Hindu. But when he returned later to win over the support of the Brahmins he failed to win over his erstwhile adversaries.

In the meantime, when DMK under the leadership of M. Karunanidhi, managed to win back the power in the last elections, Fr. Gaspar Raj moved fast to win the favour of the new Tamil Nadu regime. He won by using Ms. Kanimozhi one of the Board of Trustees and coordinator of the Tamil Maiyam .

Ms. Kanimozhi is the daughter of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and the leader of the ruling party DMK.

She is also poet and also run `Karuthu’, an organization run by her and Karthi Chidambaram, Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s son, to espouse freedom of speech, and expression of views. It is said that Karuthu is a non-political organization. Karuthu does not have an opinion on its own; nor does it reflect collective opinion. This is a forum for people to express their opinions in a decent manner. Karuthu is not constrained in any manner by religion, caste, and creed; nor is it shy of any subject. Politics, philosophy, contemporary understanding of history, social issues and all matters may be discussed here. One may also take a contrary view. The only requirement is that there should not be any personal attack.

This was the time LTTE wanted to make thei presence felt in India again. Tamil Tigers were getting disenchanted with Vaiko ? V,Gopalasamy, the leader of the Marumalarchchi Dravida Munnetra Kalgam (MDMK).

LTTE leadership, after a lapse of a long period of time, contacted Fr. Gaspar Raj who in turn proved himself as an indispensable person by organizing the meeting of the TNA parliamentary group with the Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and on the following day the meeting of TNA MPs with Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India.

Political sources claim that millions of Indian rupees changed hands from the Tiger coffers for the arrangement of these meetings.

– Asian Tribune –

http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/4959

Sex, lies and money in the church

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It was midnight. Fr Jose George could not sleep because there was no fan in his room. Jose knocked on Anna Jacob?s door. When she opened it, he told her he could not sleep. She invited him inside, because there was a fan.

Jose had met Anna while conducting a retreat at Kottayam. ?Why don?t you come home, have dinner, and stay the night?? Anna said. She lived with her mother-in-law, while her husband worked in Dubai. Jose accepted the offer.

When Jose entered the bedroom, Anna?s mother-in-law noticed. ?She prayed till morning,? says Fr K P Shibu Kalamparambil. ?She cannot speak about this incident to her son, because that will destroy the marriage. Then society will ask questions about why it happened. That would affect the family?s social standing.? So she kept quiet. But the secret came out when she told Shibu at the confessional. (Every Sunday, Catholics can confess their sins to the priest before Mass. They communicate through a grid or lattice).

The advantage priests have is that when they go to the house of a woman, society does not look askance, according to Shibu. ?He has the social sanction. And priests take advantage of that.?

Shibu was a priest with the Vincentian order till March this year. Like Sr Jesme, he quit the priesthood and has written a 160-page book, Here is the Heart of a Priest, in which he talks about his experiences during his 24 years in the congregation. The most stunning revelations are the incidents of sexual misconduct.

?If a woman has financial problems and is desperate, she will approach the priest,? says Shibu. ?He will help her, but ask for sex in exchange. She gives in because she has no option.? Similarly, priests take advantage of widows, troubled women, and nuns.

?Most nuns are sexually frustrated,? says Shibu. ?To lead a celibate life is unnatural.? Initially, they try to leave. But the older nuns persuade them that it?s not necessary, because things will get better in the future. ?Since the elder nuns are trapped, they want to ensure that others also remain like them,? says Shibu. ?Nobody is allowed to escape.?

So the young nuns look for safe ways to have sex. ?It is either through priests, servants, drivers, or the milkman,? says Shibu. ?There are cases of nuns caught red-handed, but the matter is quickly hushed up. And the nun is transferred immediately.?

In the priestly life, sexual misconduct starts early. ?Sexual abuse is rampant in the seminaries,? says Shibu. Since it is a dormitory system, it is easy for a boy to manipulate or exploit another boy for sex. ?They have no other forms of entertainment, like watching films,? he says. ?Neither do they have any contact with the opposite sex.?

Shibu, who was a prefect in a seminary, has caught students in the act many times. ?They are immediately sent away,? he says. ?Sometimes, a few boys escape being caught and carry on their activities long after they have become priests.?

Apart from sex, money is a big attraction. ?Nobody knows how much donation a priest receives in the name of helping the poor,? says Shibu. ?The priest also gets cash gifts from parishioners after he blesses a new car or a home. The money can range from Rs 500 to Rs 1 lakh.?

He remembers the case of a businessman who gave Rs 1 lakh to a priest because he had conducted the baptism ceremony of his son. ?The priest kept the money instead of giving it to the congregation,? says Shibu. Usually, they buy electronic goods, a car, insurance policies, or invest in shares and real estate.

?Priests are so busy making money, that being a priest has become a secondary role,? he says. ?But I heard allegations that the same thing is happening among pujaris and maulvis. I feel disheartened.?

But there were other reasons why Fr Shibu decided to quit. He had an MA in Sociology from the University of Pune, MEd from the Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, but was not given jobs commensurate with his qualifications. ?The authorities wanted loyalists. They will not promote the meritorious, because they are afraid their positions could get shaky.?

So he had to face the humiliation of seeing juniors appointed principals, while he was given a job as a teacher.

The priests in his congregation are aware of what is happening, but are afraid to speak out. ?I thought to myself, ?Why should I remain silent??? he says.

?I joined the priesthood because I wanted to serve God and serve humanity. But I was unable to do so. If I wanted I could have made a lot of money and led a very comfortable life. But I know that these compromises will prick at my conscience. So I thought it was better to quit.?

Shibu also admits that there are blessings in the priestly life. ?The vocation gives peace of mind, provided one is working in a spiritual environment,? he says. ?Then a person is inspired to work for the betterment of society. Priests in many congregations lead dedicated lives, but there is a certain section, very large in number, which is spoiling the name of the priesthood.?

Asked whether celibacy should be abolished, he nods. ?In order to serve God, there is no need to remain unmarried,? he says. ?The disciples of Jesus Christ, except John, were married. The first Pope was married and had three children. My suggestion is that the Pope and priests should marry. Celibacy forces priests to succumb to temptations.?

He said Christian sects like the Mar Thomites and Jacobites allow priests to marry. ?They are respected by society,? he says. ?So why can?t the Catholic church do the same thing??

But this insistence on celibacy by the Catholic church could be based on economic considerations. ?If there is a married priest, the church would need to give higher salaries and better accommodation,? says Shibu. ?The senior clergy will not have the money for the lush lifestyles they have now.?

Not surprisingly, there are those that do not agree with Shibu. Fr Paul Puthuva, one of the Provincial Superiors of the Vincentian Congregation, says, ?The book is full of baseless allegations. Any person who leaves the congregation can level all sorts of unfounded charges. So we prefer not to respond to what Shibu has said or written.?

In person, Shibu comes across as straight-forward and intense, but under mental strain. A person close to him, but who does not wish to be identified, says he is under a lot of pressure from the Vincentians and also his own family, who are devout Catholics. They are displeased with him for writing the book and talking to the media. So, Shibu left.

He now works as a teacher of social science in an Indian school at Doha, Qatar. Shibu himself admits that the road ahead is tough. ?But I have courage, determination, and the will to succeed,? he says.

His future plans include marriage and setting up a short-stay home for priests who want to leave the priesthood. ?Initially, when they leave, they are not accepted by family or society,? says Shibu. ?They go through a tough time. I will provide a room, with an attached bath, as well as a kitchen. A job will also be arranged.?

Asked whether Sr Jesme served as an inspiration, Shibu says, ?Yes, her example was an impetus. What Jesme said is the truth, but it has not been accepted by the church. But there is one thing I can say with certainty: truth cannot be concealed forever. One day it will come out.?

(Some names have been changed to protect identities)

? shevlins@gmail.com

http://expressbuzz.com/magazine/sex-lies-and-money-in-the-church/217213.html