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Re: the tolerance debate - time to move on?

Ash Mahesh wrote:

>> How can the state forbid proselytisation while not regulating faith,
>>if proselytisation is part of the faith?

>On the face of it, reasonable question. But I might have a faith that
>requires eliminating kaffirs, surely the state can forbid that? I
>thought we all agreed on something so definite. At any rate, it is
>perfectly legitimate to have the opinion that anything can be regulated
>on reasonable grounds, whether or not it is part of anyone's faith. (at
>least the kaffir example suggests this is true).
>Since I've held up one end of this debate all by myself, I will now tell
>you a few things. I do this especially because several of you now feel
>that the debate is sick and want to move on.
>Moving on will not solve these problems.
Quite so. Moving on merely ignores the major problem
afflicting South Asia.

Regarding proselytization, Gandhiji's views
might be of interest:  "If I had the power and could
                         legislate, I should certainly stop all
                         proselytising." (Collected Works,
                         Vol 61, page 46-47)


            Gandhi was extremely articulate in opposing the conversion
activities of
            Christian missionaries in India and questioned their motives in
            educational institutions and other services in India. The
following are cited
            from Arun Shourie's 302-page book, Missionaries in India
            New Delhi, ASA Publications, 1994):

            "There was a deeper problem with these services, and Gandhiji
            drew attention to it again and again. The services were incidental.
            They were the means. The objective was to convert the natives
            to Christianity. "The Collected Works of Gandhi" contain
            several accounts as do Mahadev Desai's "Diaries" in which
            missionaries acknowledged to Gandhiji that the institutions
            and services are incidental, that the aim is to gather a fuller
            harvest of converts for the Church.

            "To gain acces to non-Christian households, counsels the
            'Catholic Dharma ka Pracharak,' [How to Preach the
            Catholic Religion] the preacher should know something of
            medicine. He will then be sought after whenever there
            is some illness in the house. Once there, he should try
            to prevail upon the parents that he should be allowed to
            baptize the child as the baptism would aid the child's recovery.
            If they do not agree, says the guide: 'If it is clear to you that
            the father is not going to agree to the child being
            baptised, and, as far as you can see, the child is close to death,
            then, on the pretext of administering some medicine, sprinkle
            water on his head in some secret way and pronounce the words
            of baptism. O, preacher, should the child die, you would have
            opened the gates of heaven for this child. Is this not a good deed?
            Now, if every preacher were to devote himself to his work,
            then how many children would they send to heaven in a
            year?' " (Shourie, page 7-8)

            Shourie goes on to question the motives of Mother Teresa.

            Just how strongly Gandhi felt about Christian missionaries in
India can
            be gauged from his recorded comments:

            1. Gandhi's writing: "The cultured Hindu society has admitted its
            grievous sin against the untouchables. But the effect of
            Christianity upon India in general...has been disastrous."
(Shourie, p.6)

            2. Gandhi to Krezenski, a visiting professor of Philosophy from
Poland, who
            had told him that Catholicism was the only true religion : "The
idea of
            conversion, I assure you is the deadliest poison that ever sapped
            the fountain of truth." (Shourie, p.11)

            3. Gandhi to a visiting missionary nurse: "The other day a
            descended on a famine area with money in his pocket, distributed
            it among the famine-stricken, converted them to his fold, took
charge of their
            temple and demolished it. This is outrageous. This friend goes
and gets it
            demolished at the hands of the very men who only a little while
ago believed
            that God was there." (Shourie, p. 17)

            4. Gandhiji: "If I had the power and could legislate, I should
            stop all proselytising." (Collected Works, Vol 61, page 46-47;
Shourie, p. 38).

            5. Several missionaries tried to convert Gandhi. When they failed,
            one of the reverend gentlemen, writes Mahadev Desai, "retired
with the
            imprecation...'Mr. Gandhi, soon there will come a day when you
will be
            judged, not in your righteousness, but in the righteousness of
Jesus.' "
            (Collected Works, Vol 60, p.323; Shourie, p. 240)

c.j. wallia
C. J. S. Wallia,  Ph.D.
Publisher, IndiaStar Review of Books
Phone and Fax: (510) 848-8200
P.O. Box 5582, Berkeley, CA 94705, U.S.A.

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