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"Is Christianity 'a failed project in India'?

"Is Christianity 'a failed project in India'?

By Joseph G. Muthuraj
September 14, 2020

NEWS ITEM: In India, Christianity has no future and there is no reason for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) party or the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) (transl. Universal Hindu Council) to spread false alarm or panic about the proselytising capacity of Christian missionaries. The simple fact is that making India Christian is a failed project. The Census data shows that the Christian population in India is either static or dwindling since 1951. In the 2001 Census, Christians' share in Indian population was 2.34 per cent; in 2011, it fell to 2.30 per cent. The decadal growth of Hindus during the same period was 16.8 per cent, higher than the increase in Christian population, which was 15.5 per cent.
You can read more here: https://theprint.in/opinion/vhp-rss-panic-christianity-religious-conversion-failed-project-india/498698/

This is an Indian right-wing Hindu organization based on the ideology of Hindu nationalism. It is at the forefront of forcible reconversion of Christians to Hinduism and organizes attacks on Christians and church buildings in rural and tribal areas. It belongs to the family of Sangh Parivar and Rashtrya Swayam Sevak other fundamentalist groups.

I, as an Indian, constantly face the low assessment on the growth of Christianity in India as a sterile, unsuccessful, powerless and insignificant religion that a numerically strong Hinduism need not worry about its presence in India.

Christianity in India goes through an experience similar to the anti-coronation mockery rendered towards humiliating the kingship of Jesus by the Roman soldiers. What have I or the churches in India achieved in this vast country of India of different languages and religions in need of social justice and economic revival? Are the churches proving themselves as the right instruments that God wants to use? These questions always trouble me!

Recently, there were scores of national media communicating the same information that the Church of South India Trust Association (CSITA) committed a fraud in a money-laundering act of selling part of the former Anglican Church campus (All Saints' Church situated at the heart of Bangalore) to the Government to lay underground Metro lines. The allegation was that said property was owned by the British army from 1867 and hence the property automatically became an asset of the present Indian Defence ministry after Independence and therefore the proceeds of the sale some 60 million rupees - ($818,000 US) - should go into the Indian treasury. It is only a provisional order and the CSITA will now have to approach the court with a team of legal professionals to save the dignity of the Church in India.

The message that rocketed the Indian social media was that Christians have in their possession large areas of unused lands gifted by the rulers and the governments. 'Take them back' is the national outcry. See article, "Fraud in Church Lands: Should the lands of Christian churches be nationalised" [https://www.hindupost.in/law-policy/fraud-in-church-lands/] This attitude is reflected in the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) decision to attach the church land (as the regulatory body the ED has the power to do though provisionally) and it is an assault on Christianity and an attempt to mar the image of the minority foreign religion in India!

I posted the following defense explanation in the comments column of each of those articles which are spreading this false news.

In the early twentieth century, 'The Indian Church Trustees (ICT) was the holder and the agent of the properties that belonged to the Anglican Church of India, Burma and Ceylon (CIBC), one of the constituent churches of the present Church of South India. When the Indian Church Act 1927 was promulgated, which declared the Anglican churches in India, Burma and Ceylon, an autonomous church severed from its formal association with the Church of England, and that the properties of the Anglican Church in India, Burma and Ceylon were brought under the Indian Church Act 1927 and were later incorporated in a charter granted by the British King on 11 June 1929 to the General Council of the CIBC. The canons and rules of the ICT were very much in line, agreeing with the Charter of 1929. (See, "The Constitution, Canons and Rules of the Church of India, Burma, and Ceylon", pp. 158-59.). The Lands/properties that belonged to the Church of India, Burma and Ceylon (CIBC) were handed over to the newly 'incorporated body' called the Church of South India Trust Association on 26 Sept 1947 under the Indian Companies Act. One must read the section 3 of the Articles of Association of the CSITA, a document approved/authenticated by the Indian Government. The Indian Defence Force has nothing to do with Church Properties. It is a wrong claim that the India Defence Force is the rightful owner of the property and that it had leased out the land to the All Saints' Church. All documents of the nineteenth century (1867) relating to All Saints' Church should be read in the light of the legal agreements of the early twentieth century. Nowhere in the history of the Church in India we read that the Defence Forces were operating as the owners of the Church lands/buildings. Through incorporation, the CSITA at present has the power to acquire, hold and dispose of property, both movable and immovable, tangible and intangible, to contract by the said name. - Joseph G. Muthuraj

The irony of Christianity as a failed project works on another level too. The writer is also telling the Hindu nationalist party men, who are busy at the national level torturing and persecuting Christians, not to give any serious attention to the Christians as they represent a failed community and that Christianity has no future in India. Shibu Thomas, the founder of Persecution Relief, an inter-denominational initiative, says it has recorded 293 cases of Christian persecution in the first half of this year. In 2019 alone, it recorded 527 cases compared with 447 in 2018, 440 in 2017 and 330 in 2016. From January 2016 to June 2020, Persecution Relief recorded 2,067 cases of persecution against Christians. The writer of the articles is probably pouring cold water on the fanaticism shown by the Hindu Nationalist parties. He is saying to them, 'Don't get pumped up with anger to exterminate the Christians! They cannot make any impact in India.'

The work performed by God in India cannot be seen fully in order to judge its abiding value it brought to India. God is working in India, that much I know and believe. The leaven is working and I do not see how! The roots are growing though they are hidden to my eyes. The wind is blowing that I can hear but I do not know from whence it is coming and where it is going. I can feel symptoms of life, the pulse and the flow of blood in the Indian Church just as Paul felt by throwing himself on the young man Eutychus who was in deep sleep, almost dead.

There is always another miraculous side to this 'futureless Christianity' phenomenon which the wisemen from the East had seen and heard from the angels appeared to them and the disciples to Emmaus experienced when they witnessed the presence of the resurrected Saviour in their midst. The risen Christ walked through the closed door to greet the disciples, 'Peace!'.

The hand is on the plough...and the sights are set to the front.... "I am with you until the end of age" is the basis of hope for the Christians in India.


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