It’s 'communalism' that’s chipping away at the cultural diversity of the entire globe and undermining world peace. It’s also the elephant in the room that hypocritical Indians pretend doesn’t exist.
imperialist regime is one of the most
dangerous and lethally 'communal' forces in world history, aided, of course, by
its allies in the 'enlightened' West. US
By the standards of the Western 'communalism', Rajiv Gandhi and Narendra Modi -- both accused of allowing signal 'communal' violence on their watch -- would appear like self-sacrificing peace activists.
(Note: The words 'communal' and 'communalism' have been used in this post in their Indian-English meaning of 'religious fanaticism'.)
The US has used and abused Christianity in every way possible to spread across the world its extremist, capitalist ideologies, such as rabid individualism and free market fundamentalism -- with willing cooperation of the churches.
That is to the point that Christianity now looks, unfortunately, hardly different from an international terror and crime syndicate -- a sinister, barely veiled political ideology that has long been used to destroy local cultures across the world and wreak havoc with societies and age-old values.
In their shameful and criminal histories,
and several other Christian churches
have willingly collaborated with CIA to proselytize, subvert local cultures and
carry out nefarious political plots -- an example being brutal targeting of
liberation theologians and dirty wars in Vatican Latin America in which hundreds of thousands were
tortured and killed.
To understand this, read carefully an article published in DNA newspaper on
27 March 2011, which I have pasted below.
It's an interview with Iain Buchanan, a British-born Malaysian academic who has explained in his book, 'The Armies Of God: A Study In Militant Christianity', how
(aided by its Western allies) has been
using Christianity to wage war against the entire non-Christian world,
destroying communities and cultures. America
Watch carefully the whole of the video linked below. It's a presentation by Iain Buchanan's on 'Unholy crusaders: The role of evangelicals in
imperialism' at the
‘international meeting on resisting hegemony’ held 2-5 August 2010 in US . Malaysia
(One can watch the same video also on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4hVmEFp9_s)
The meeting was attended by academics and activists from around the world, including Indian social scientist Ashis Nandy and Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury.
Interestingly, despite attending this meeting in person Shoma Chaudhary, the crusader against communalism, did not allow a word to be carried in Tehelka about Iain Buchanan’s book or the gory details he revealed of the partnership between the American empire and the criminality and corruption that go by the name of Christianity.
Must read 'Preparing for the Harvest', an article published in Feb.2004 issue of Tehelka, which explains how the US government and transnational Christian missionary organizations have been collaborating --- aided by Indian Christian missionaries and Christian organizations --- to honeycomb India and destroy the cultures of the people who are not Christians.
Pasted below Buchanan's interview, this article, it seems, is the only one of its kind that Tehelka has ever carried in its pages.
Also read, at the very bottom of this post, about Vatican's collusion with dictators and complicity in CIA's political plots, as confirmed recently by 'Kissinger Cables' released by Wikileaks.
This article is no more than a hint of the large amount of published work bearing out
's inveterate criminality. Vatican
(Unedited version, posted, too, on DNA website)
Using the Cross at cross-purpose
Sunday, Mar 27, 2011, Yogesh Pawar
In his explosive new book The Armies Of God: A Study In Militant Christianity,
-based academic Iain Buchanan blows the
lid off a subject that most scholars and journalists tend to shy away from: the
rise of British-born, Malaysia evangelism as a force in global affairs. US
His book looks at how some of the powerful evangelical outfits operate - often as US government proxies - in countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and of course, India, and the disastrous effects this has had on the relationship between the Christian West and non-Christian cultures, religious communities and nations.
He also unmasks the role played by the seemingly secular 'success motivation' industry, and its leadership gurus such as Zig Ziglar and Ken Blachard, who are not only management experts but also conscious agents of US-style Christian evangelism.
The full-length unedited interview with the author by Yogesh Pawar, excerpts of which were carried in the
Sunday, March 27th, 2011 edition.
What led you to write this book? Was there like an immediate cause?
My wife, who is Malaysian, has for long had a file titled "Tit for Tat", into which she puts anything that neatly counters Western media versions of non-Western realities. It is a thick file, covering British aristocracy, Western corruption, Western literary conceits (and deceits), attitudes to sex, religious bigotry, and so on. Over the past decade or so, we have seen how religion and politics intertwine (usually malevolently) beyond the "liberal and secular" Western world. The bias was so insistent, and the distortions so outrageous, that I decided on my own version of "Tit for Tat".
I grew up in an agnostic family with respect for spirituality of all kinds - from animism to true Christianity. I suppose one of my strongest incentives for writing the book was to show how, in the West, inherently decent things like liberal secularism and Christian spirituality (no necessary conflict here!) are so deeply corrupted by political power and so dishonestly vaunted as marks of cultural superiority.
Some of the issues that you raise in the book are on the top of the mind of many but not many want to come out in the open and talk about them? Was that a concern for you?
In the West, certainly, there is a reluctance to enquire too deeply into the affairs of organized Christianity - both at home and overseas. Western culture is a deeply, subliminally Christian culture, and even committed secularists have trouble avoiding Christian parameters in their arguments - and recognizing the Christian capacity for wrong-doing. Among other things, this leads to a rather benign view of the behaviour of our missionaries overseas - fed partly by ignorance, and partly by a sense that Christian mission equates with civilization.
And such myopia has increased dramatically over the past 40 years - as the secular West has managed to define a global order largely in its own terms, with decisive help from its Christian missionaries. By contrast, of course, the behaviour of non-Christians (especially Muslims) is scrutinized ruthlessly, misunderstood, and demonized.
It was clear from the start that this was unpopular ground - and it was not only Westerners who responded with coyness. Equally clearly, the implications of such coyness were just too great to be ignored: a decade as disastrous as the last one certainly concentrates the mind. Or at least it should.
Whenever there have been attempts at serious academic or journalistic look at the work of Missionaries working in
, the academic / journalist is accused of helping the
right-wing Hindutva brigade? This has made many in the media shy from asking
tough questions that they will ask of the Hindu right. Is this your experience
too? Please comment. India
The glib response to this would be to say that religious extremism of any kind needs to be exposed. But it is more complex than this. There is a need to go well beyond the purely religious objection to Christian missionizing, and examine the global forces which define it - and which are subverting countries like
India in a far more comprehensive and profound way than most
Such things have already been noted in Indian critiques, for example in the pages of Tehelka. But I agree that Christian evangelization is not a popular topic. Perhaps this can be explained partly as a failure to understand the true character of Western evangelization, the comprehensively subversive role of many of its agencies, and the strong secular connections. But I go back to my first point: there is also a fear that criticism of Christian missionaries is politically incorrect. Just as criticism of
Israel is countered by accusations of anti-Semitism, criticism of
Western-style missionizing is attacked as being anti-Christian.
A key contention of my book is that the extremism of Christian evangelicals is no more benign than the extremism found in non-Christian religious groups. Indeed, its local impact can be hugely destructive - precisely because of its ability to draw upon a vast global network of forces (including powerful secular ones) and its ability to penetrate and shape local forces, whether they be ethnic, religious, political, or social, according to alien priorities.
In many ways, the global militancy of Christian evangelicals is just as dangerous, in its local impact in countries such as
and Indonesia, as "indigenous" ethnic and political
tensions. The two connot be separated - indeed, it is part of the danger
of Western evangelizing that it can often exploit local conflicts where it is
expedient to do so.
You speak at length of the
' use of Christianity for it own hegemonistic designs? Is
this manifestly part of US strategy world wide? US
It is at the heart of the matter. But there are three important qualifications: firstly, we need to distinguish between the inspiration of Christianity and its use; secondly, we must be aware of the diverse interconnections between the secular and the religious in Western life, and the difficulty of distinguishing between the two; and thirdly, we must recognize that there are both official and unofficial ways of doing things.
Most Western leaders (not just Bush and Blair) will claim they are inspired by their Christian beliefs. Sometimes, as with both Reagan and George W. Bush, they quote chapter and verse in support of policy - although usually it is not so blatant. Certainly, deep in
Washington, self-professedly Christian pressure groups (like the
Fellowship Foundation and the Council for National Policy) have both a highly
influential membership and a powerful grip on policy.
The network of evangelical influence goes far beyond this: there are scores of such groups at work in Congress, the military, and departments of state. All act to connect politics, business, the media, and the military with one another in pursuit of a common vision of a Christian American dominion over the world. Of course, one can debate whether
US strategy is manifestly Christian in inspiration - few
Americans would say it is not, although most would probably insist that such
strategy is guided primarily by secular concerns.
But there is no doubt at all that
US strategy makes deliberate (and somewhat cynical) use of
Christian agencies in pursuit of foreign policy - and that the distinction
between the religious and the secular is deliberately blurred in the
There are over 600 US-based evangelical groups, some as big as large corporations, and between them they constitute a vast and highly organized network of global influence, purposefully targeting non-Christians, and connecting and subverting every sector of life in the process.
Most of the major evangelical corporations (like World Vision, Campus Crusade, Youth with a
Mission, and Samaritan's Purse) operate in partnership with the US government in its pursuit of foreign policy - World
Vision, which is effectively an arm of the State Department, is perhaps the
most notable example of this. There is also the benefit of a custom-built
legislation - with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 providing
necessary sanction to bring errant nations into line.
In this partnership, the "theology" of the US evangelical movement helps out in a number of crucial ways: firstly, it is strongly US-centred in its loyalty; second, it promotes large-scale "structural" Christianization - seeking to convert not just individuals but entire nations, whole communities, complete cultures and tribes; and thirdly, it sees secular power (in all its aspects, political, economic, military, intellectual) as the key to spiritual dominion.
This means that evangelization is an intensely secular pursuit, as well as a religious one. In turn, of course, the secular powers - whether they be departments of state or corporate businesses - find such evangelicals to be very effective partners.
What does this mean, in practice, for a targeted country? Above all, it means that it is often very difficult to distinguish the agencies of evangelization. Active Christian proselytization is often just a small part of the process; in addition, there must be infiltration of every sector of influence in a society, from religious groups to government departments to local charities to private business, in ways which blur the line between Christian indoctrination and secular change.
Indeed, most missionaries are not obviously religious. A case in point is the Success Motivation industry. Many of the most popular "leadership gurus" - Zig Ziglar, Paul Meyer, Os Hillman, Richard DeVos, John C. Maxwell, and Ken Blanchard for example - are not just management experts, they are also evangelical Christians and conscious agents of US-style evangelization. Conversely, groups which, on the face of it, are primarily religious, may also serve a powerful secular agenda - such as the collection of intelligence, the grooming of political or commercial elites, or the manipulation of local conflicts.
Some accuse the church of fomenting dissent among poor tribals by exploiting them others say the church gives them a liberating voice to be heard? This debate has gone on for decades in
's North-East. What is your view? India
The situation of
India's tribal people, like that of tribal people elsewhere in Asia, is certainly
tragic. And it may be that Christian activity offers an opportunity to escape
the various forms of homegrown oppression - state and corporate abuse, Hiindu
contempt, and so on. But Christianity in India is a very diverse thing.
There are many situations where the Christian church has taken firm root, and is deeply involved in local administration, social welfare, education, and so on. Nagaland is a case in point. There are movements for tribal welfare elsewhere which are Christian-inspired and doing excellent work.
But there are many cases, too, of evangelical missions which go into tribal areas with little respect for local realities, and with agenda far removed from tribal welfare. In this, they may be no better and no worse than the homegrown oppressor. But there is an important difference. Such missionaries often belong to an evangelical network whose strategic purpose is defined elsewhere, and which has little loyalty to the local population, its cultures, its communities, and its welfare - let alone to the nation as a whole.
This is particularly true of the new breed of US-inspired evangelicals, led by Baptists and Pentecostalist/Charismatics, who have spearheaded evangelization over the past 50 years. It is the working of this wider, and self-consciously global, structure of behaviour which concerns me most.
It is unfortunate that missions doing good work in tribal areas have their efforts tarnished by others whose approach is more opportunistic and exploitative. For the new evangelicals, distaste for paganism is just part of the equation - oppressed tribal groups are a relatively easy target to penetrate in a much wider war against non-Christians generally, and for influence in strategic (especially border) areas.
In this respect, even a relatively long-established Christian presence - as in Nagaland - has utility as a strategic outpost.
These are turbulent times for
as its number of hungry and poor are growing exponentially
even as many rich in the cities are becoming billionaires of repute. You bring
up references to India at least 30 times in the book. Does this mean that this
makes harvesting of souls easy? Do missionaries love turbulence? India
It certainly seems, sometimes, that evangelicals thrive on suffering and disaster. India's own K. P. Yohannan, for example, welcomed the tsunami of 2004 as "one of the greatest opportunities God has given us to share His love with people" - and he was only one of many expressing such sentiments.
There is no question that many evangelicals exploit the poor and marginalized for reasons which have a lot to do with narrow theology and political self-interest - and relatively little to do with long-term practical help.
But evangelicals court the wealthy and the powerful of a society with equal passion. One of the most telling features of the new evangelism is the way it has turned Christianity into a force for protecting the rich and powerful. US Protestantism, in particular, has worked hard to undermine the impulse in the church towards social justice and reform.
A measure of its success has been the defeat of "liberation theology" and the remarkable expansion of US Pentecostalism in
Asia, Africa, and Latin
America. More than a quarter of
all Christians now belong to Pentecostalist and Charismatic churches. In
these, as in most new evangelical churches, great attention is paid to a
"theology" of economics which stresses individual profit, corporate
obedience, the sanctity of making money - and the power of "miracles,
signs, and wonders".
This "theology" is a key part of modern imperialism: it has something to offer both rich and poor, it is safely counter-revolutionary, and it ties tightly into the wider global network of more secular influences (in business, government, education, the media, the military) which underpins Western expansion.
So the evangelical church has a key role to play in a society as disparate as
India's. It is a form of social management: it gives divine
sanction to the rich, it gives hope to the struggling middle class, and it
cultivates discipline (and distraction) amongst the poor - and it does all this
with a keen eye to the West's self-interest. This is not to suggest that India does not have its own mechanisms for doing the same
things. But such evangelization, as a concomitant of Westernization, is
bound to strengthen as India urbanizes and looks ever more Westwards.
You say in your preface to the book is about the system which underlies this pas de deux, this "good cop, bad cop" game of power. The names change. The system and its enabling mythologies do not. Then is there no hope at all?
United States is no longer the untouchable superpower it was 20 years
ago. Economic collapse, the rise of China, and the more recent events in North Africa
suggest the end of the "unipolar" world. But collapsing imperialisms
can be unpredictable monsters. Certainly, as US society continues to fracture, and as imperial adventures
continue to go wrong, retreat into extremism is likely to increase, not lessen.
The record is not a happy one. Many good people had hopes that Obama, and his more "liberal" Democrats, would cause some kind of tide to turn. The response to economic crisis, and to the worsening situation in the
suggest that the system cannot - or does not want to - change.
Many feel that merely looking at proselytisation is being unfair to the missionaries? Many Indian Christian organisations also say that they are merely going into areas where the government and other agencies don't? They talk about the numerous schools, colleges, and hospitals the missionaries establish in the remote interiors? Your comment.
I agree. But there are two ways of looking at this. One can argue that Christian groups have provided great benefits in education, health, farming, and in social and moral welfare - especially for poor and disadvantaged populations. In many countries, they have also provided the nucleus of a national middle class, and worthy political elites.
Historically, however, Christian benevolence has come with a price. Proselytization has always been the intention, and usually the sub-text, of "good deeds". This much is clear in the conduct of disaster relief, in the deliberate exploitation of vulnerable groups (such as refugees, children, and the sick), and in the frequent resort to underhand tactics and secular cover for missionizing activities.
It is also true that Christian missionaries, right up to the present, have associated themselves with the West's secular aggression - both as "cultural warriors" and as military auxiliaries.
So there must also be a recognition - amongst Christians themselves - that Christian agencies too can be corrupt, aggressive, intolerant, and cynical. Were there more criticism of Christian misdemeanours from within their own ranks, there would be far less justification for hostility from without. After all, non-Christians are constantly expected to apologize for their extremists and their miscreants. So why not Christians?
A recent issue of the Texas-based magazine Gospel for
says: "The Indian sub-continent with one billion people, is a living
example of what happens when Satan rules the entire culture... is one vast purgatory in which millions of people .... are
literally living a cosmic lie! Could Satan have devised a more perfect system
for causing misery? How and why does such propaganda work in a developed
country like the India in the era of the Internet and the media? US
There are two important points here. First, we must not assume that the "developed" West is free from wilful ignorance. Indeed, wilful ignorance is often a very useful weapon. We need enemies, and - as religious people - we need demons. The utility of "Islamophobia" is a case in point. Besides, there is a useful role for such bigotry within the system itself: as a foil for the liberal powerful to prove their liberal credentials.
But such attitudes are nothing new, of course. Christians have waged such "spiritual warfare" against their enemies for centuries - and with the same kind of language. What is new is the vastly increased facility, offered by the electronic media, for fighting such a war. And this is the second point.
New technology is spreading, and hardening, such bigotry. Since the mid-1960s, the evangelical movement has systematically computerized its entire global operation, creating huge databases of information on its non-Christian enemies, centralizing administration, and linking some 500 million "Christian computers" worldwide for the purposes of fighting "spiritual warfare" against non-believers in strategic places. And "spiritual warfare", for the evangelical Christian movement, is not just a matter of prayers and metaphor: it is also, very decisively, a matter of "virtuous" troops, tanks, and drones.
Preparing for the harvest ...
7 Feb 2004, V.K. Shashikumar
A new mood of aggressive evangelism has been emanating from
. Well-funded, superbly networked, backed
by the highest of the land, seized of its moral supremacy, it has India as one
of its key targets, reveals VK Shashikumar in a disturbing exposé. America
This could be the plot of a fevered thriller. A jingoistic president, multi-million dollar corporations, high technology, a grand if furtive mission, networks spanning the globe, and biblical invocations.
Only it’s real. And it’s got
India in its crosshair.
Religious expansionism has not witnessed this scale, scope, and state resources in a long time. Detailed investigations by Tehelka reveal that American evangelical agencies have established in
India an enormous, well-coordinated and strategised religious
conversion plan. The operation was launched in the early 1990s but really came
into its own after George W Bush Jr, an avowed born-again Christian, became
president of the United
Since then, aggressive evangelists have found pro-active support from the new administration in their efforts to convert some sections of Indian society to Christianity. At the heart of this complex and sophisticated operation is a simple strategy-convert locals and then give them the know-how and money to plant their own churches and multiply.
Around the time that Bush Jr moved into the Oval office, a worldwide conversion movement, funded and effected by American evangelical groups, was peaking in
The movement, which began as AD2000 & Beyond and later morphed into Joshua Project I and Joshua Project II, was designed to be a sledgehammer-a breathtaking, decade-long steamroller of a campaign that would set the stage for a systematic, sophisticated and self-sustaining "harvest" of the "unreached people groups" in India in the 21st century.
It was just as the operation was taking off that the script changed. Much to the delight of American evangelicals, one of their own, George Bush Jr, became the occupant of the White House.
In a major policy decision taken very early into his presidency, Bush, on
January 29, 2001, unveiled a "faith based" social service
initiative that included a new White House office to promote government aid to
churches and Christian faith-based organisations. This, in effect, threw the
massive weight of the federal government behind religious groups and religious
The Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives was set up in the White House in the first week of February 2002 and a man called Jim Towey was appointed director. (A snap introduction to Towey: he was the legal counsel to Mother Teresa in the late 1980s.)
Though Bush's initiative to fund "salvation and religious conversion" is stalled in the Congress over constitutional and civil rights concerns, he has pushed for its implementation through executive orders.
White House-Christian Coalition nexus
The American press is replete with reports on Bush's largesse to faith-based organisations. They say it's his "return gift" to the Christian Right for having loyally supported his presidential campaign. The Christian Coalition, founded by American TV evangelist and head of the multi-billion Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Pat Robertson, played a crucial role in the 2000 election.
Recently, in his TV programme, Club 700, broadcast on CBN, Robertson created a stir by announcing that he is confident Bush will win the 2004 election in a "blowout" because God has told him so.
Indeed, Bush is keen to retain what we call the votebank and Americans 'the base'. After all, the Far Right Christian evangelists have also been the most loyal backers of his hardline militarism in
Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
But there is another, perhaps more important, reason why Bush is keen on supporting his evangelist friends who run huge transnational missionary organisations (TMOs). In the decade 1990-2000 they ran a global intelligence operation so complex and sophisticated that its scale and implications are no less than staggering.
This operation has put in place a system which enables the
US government to access any ethnographic information on any
location virtually at the click of the mouse. This network in India, established with funding and strategic assistance from
US-based TMOs, gives US intelligence agencies virtually real time access to
every nook and corner of the country. (See 'List of TMOs Active in India')
Since Bush's ascendancy to the presidency this network of networks has multiplied rapidly in
India. Bush supports conversion in India because he supports those American TMOs who fund and
strategise conversion activities in this country. Organisations like the
International Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention, Christian Aid, World
Vision, and multi-billion enterprises run by evangelists like Pat
Robertson, Billy Graham and Roger Houtsma, amongst many others, were
instrumental in running a coordinated conversion campaign in Seventh Day Adventist Church India under the banner of AD2000.
These later became the Joshua Project and when the decade-long movement officially closed down in March 2001, Joshua Project II was launched to sustain conversions and intelligence-gathering. Graham's TMO, Billy Graham Evangelist Association, supports conversion activities in Gurgaon, Haryana, and Kolkata.
When AD2000 was conceived for
India, the plan was based on a military model with the intent to
invade, occupy, control, or subjugate its population. It was based on solid
intelligence emanating from the ground and well-researched information on
various facets of selected people groups. The idea was to send out spying
missions to source micro details on religion and culture. The social and
economic divisions in the various Indian communities were closely examined.
Given the oppressive and institutionalised caste system in the Hindu society, American evangelical strategists chalked out plans for reaching these various "unmixable" caste groups. The many faultlines running through the country-divisions in terms of ethnicity, caste, creed, language and class-were all factored in during the generation of ethnographic data.
In the 1990s this movement was shaped by the World Evangelical Fellowship (an international alliance of national evangelical alliances), working with the AD2000 movement. It brought together a wide variety of individuals and organisations, under the single goal of achieving "a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000."
Its focus was missionary mobilisation and church planting in
India and other regions of the world where the Christian
population was negligible. This movement was also a massive intelligence
gathering exercise funded and supported by American missionary organisations
that were responsible for the election of George W Bush.
Global evangelism plans
AD2000 first attracted attention at a convention of international evangelical missions called Lausanne II in
Manila in 1989. The movement then spread rapidly around the globe
to help catalyse evangelism.
The strategy behind the movement was to establish pioneering global partnerships to eventually provide a church within every "unreached people group". Ralph Winter, founder of the US Center for World Mission, characterised the movement as "the largest, most pervasive global evangelical network ever to exist."
This movement, spearheaded by Luis Bush from the movement's headquarters in
, was planned for large conversion of people living within
the "10/40 Window". Incidentally, Billy Graham, a Christian
fundamentalist and rabid evangelist, who was responsible for George W's
"born again" Christian status and whom the president considers as his
godfather was the honorary co-chairman of the AD 2000 movement. Colorado Springs, US
The 10/40 window is the rectangular area comprising parts of North Africa and large parts of Asia between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude where 95 percent of the world's "least evangelised poor are found."
AD 2000 movement mobilised and funded evangelical operations in
India. Further, they sponsored the May 17-25, 1995, Global
Consultation on World Evangelization (GCOWE) in Seoul, South Korea, where
nearly 4,000 Christian leaders from 186 countries, including India, gathered to
draw up secret and covert evangelical plans.
Many American evangelists now describe GCOWE,
Seoul, as "the most strategic Christian gathering in
history." That year also saw the transformation of the movement to a
higher plane in the name of Joshua Project.
The first GCOWE consultation was held in
Singapore in 1989. The first five years of the decade (1990-2000)
were the years of seeding the clouds with the vision of a church for every
people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000. This involved the
building of a new kind of partnering relationships, a grassroots networking
structure…a "network of networks."
While AD2000 spied out the land and its inhabitants to get an accurate picture of opportunities and challenges for conversion activities in
India, they also framed subversive strategies to implement their
plans. Concepts like PLUG, PREM and NICE were conceived.
PLUG refers to the target group-people in every language, urban centre and geographic division. PREM refers to the techniques to use-prayer, research, evangelisation and mobilisation. NICE refers to how the work is to be done-networking, taking initiative, and using an evangelist to spur existing groups and cohorts in their efforts to convert people to Christianity.
For Indian evangelical groups, access to American technology meant faster and more secure communication with their patrons. And, of course, the availability of the Bible in local languages, In fact, in today's
India, the Bible is available in almost all languages and
dialects. If the translation of the Bible was a symbol of huge transnational
exercise, the massive distribution of gospel literature was nothing less than a
India, a coordinated gospel literature distribution exercise was
staged to reach 600,000 villages by the end of 2000. Finally, American
evangelical organisations that also run cash-rich television channels pumped in
money to buy slots on Indian television networks.
In fact, Pat Robertson, who recently stepped down as the chairman of the Christian Coalition and the owner of the CBN set up a studio in
Hyderabad to help Indian evangelicals minister through television
programmes. These programmes are broadcast on various networks in India where CBN buys time.
The Joshua Project, started by a splinter group of CBN, was also a large-scale intelligence operation that brought together American strategists, theologists, missionary specialists, demographers, technologists, sociologists, anthropologists and researchers to create the most comprehensive people group profiles in the 10/40 Window.
In fact, the ethno-linguistic profiling of the people groups in
India, probably, cannot even be matched by data with the
government of India. The logic behind this massive intelligence gathering
operation was to "make a priority of establishing as a minimum, a pioneer
church-planting movement within every ethno-linguistic people of over 10,000
individuals by December 31, 2000."
The launch of the Joshua Project in the mid-1990s resulted in scores of American research teams arriving in
India to lay preliminary roadmaps for the church-planting
mission. Everyone came on tourist visas and, on their arrival in India, their respective mission partners took them in.
This partnership with Indian researchers resulted in the production of enormous field data on various people groups in the country. This, in turn, led to the identification of areas and regions where evangelical activities could be carried out in a focused and methodical manner.
Joshua Project II is a continuation and expansion of the original plan. Its professed aim is to "highlight all the least-reached peoples (non-Christian) of the world and to help build ministry networks and partnerships focusing on these people."
The constant research and updating of ethnographic data from
India should ring alarm bells within the intelligence agencies
in India. In fact, the project maintains its "peoples
lists" in cooperation with the International Mission Board of the Southern
The Southern Baptists, as will be seen later, have traditionally worked hand-in-glove with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
India's ethno-cultural data collected by the project is
categorised by them as 'Security Level 2' because there is a danger to Indian
and foreign missionaries if data relating to their conversion activities is
The main target:
As part of AD2000, Christian organisations in most countries, including
India, had an embarked on an ambitious National AD2000
Initiative. In India the Evangelical Fellowship of India was central to the
fulfillment of the goals set by this initiative.
According to the founders of AD2000 (and that includes Bush's pal Billy Graham) north
India is the 'kairos', the key. India is where the era of modern missionary effort began nearly
200 years ago with the arrival of William Carey, the father of modern
However, the nine north and central Indian states of
Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, , Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana were considered areas of
immense strategic importance for the following reasons:
The Gangetic belt is one of the most heavily populated regions of the world. Forty percent of the Indian population lives here;
It is the most socially deprived area of India (the Hindi belt has a literacy rate of 30 percent, infant mortality is double the national average and the government of India officially designates four of these states as BIMARU (sick));
This area of
India is known as the heartland of Hinduism, a religion that
boasts of some 33 million gods; and It has the smallest Christian presence in
all of India. According to the 1991 census, the Christian population of
North India is 0.5 percent of the total population.
India was strategically important for the missionaries. What
made things easier for them was the new buoyancy in India-US relations.
Therefore, it was open to researchers and their research plans. Billy Graham
and his ilk openly admit that they dispatched spying missions to India.
"Just as Joshua sent out the spies to survey the land and report on its condition before the children of Israel moved out in obedience to God's command, many more missionaries and Christian workers are finding research information invaluable in laying their plans," say the AD2000 and Beyond Movement documents.
Over the past eight years, tremendous energies and resources have been spent on spying out the land and its inhabitants.
The India Missions Association (IMA) in partnership with Gospel for
Asia, another big American missionary outfit, researched and
published very informative and accurate books that unraveled the intricate
mosaic that is India. Some of those books are in Tehelka's possession.
One of the big achievements of the Chennai-based IMA was conducting a detailed India-wide PIN code survey.
India's postal service is one of the world’s largest and it is
important to understand why American mission agencies picked on India's postal system to devise their covert conversion
The Indian postal system has a network of 1,52,786 post offices-89 percent of them in villages, which means one post office for 23.12 sq. km of rural land and one for every 3.16 sq. km of urban stretch, or one for a village with 4,612 people or one for 12,924 people in a town or city.
The 6-digit PIN code introduced in August 1972, identifies and locates every departmental delivery office. The first digit represents the zone, the second the sub-zone, the third digit shows the postal sorting district, the fourth digit indicates the mail route and the last two digits indicate the specific post office of destination in that zone.
For this purpose the country has been divided into eight zones and each region in each zone has been assigned a particular postal circle in the first two digits of a PIN code. The
Delhi circle, for instance, is 11. The digits 45 to 49 represent
the Madhya Pradesh circle and 60 to 64 are for the Tamil Nadu circle.
This neat division of
India through the postal codes is seen as a boon for
strategising missionary work, coding the data emerging from the field and
flowing it back to missionaries on the job. Given below are a few way in which
pincodes have helped evangelical work:
There is no easier way of locating workers than attaching pincodes to them Media contacts can be linked easily with workers Sorting "harvest forces" and mailing lists is easyThe codes make distribution of gospel literature faster and easier Urban areas have more postal codes than rural areas. This helps in planning effectively to plant churches in each area.
To really come to grips with the implications of IMA's PIN-code theory one has to understand the ‘Joshua Project II Data Background’. The report of the Joshua Project II is self-explanatory: "Joshua Project II provides a "blue-print" of the unfinished task of world evangelisation. It came out of the process of the AD2000 and Beyond Movement focusing on a list of approximately 2000 people groups that most need a church planting movement.
The peoples listed here are over 10,000 in population and less than two percent Evangelical and less than five percent Christian adherent. Data has been compiled from many sources including: Southern Baptist Convention, Operation World, Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse, US Center for World Mission and the AD2000 movement.
"The mission of Joshua Project II is to highlight the peoples of the world who have the least exposure to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Joshua Project II seeks to accomplish this through information sharing and networking… the mission of the Joshua Project is threefold.
First, to gather, manage and distribute strategic population, progress indicator and ministry activity information to maximise the visibility of the least-reached peoples to the Church. The goal is a comprehensive, accurate, validated, public ally available list of all the ethno-cultural people groups of the world.
Second, to be a least-reached peoples networking resource to the Christian mission community.
Third, to enhance the flow of information between Great Commission organisations by using standardised data coding."
India's case this "standardised data coding" has been
married to IMA's survey. This has been used to such a degree that even the
diverse language groups of India have been divided into PIN codes. The ability to send
evangelists that are familiar to language and culture greatly facilitates the
speed at which conversion can happen.
It is also cost effective since tactics can be formed at home base. This also enables any Christian missionary organisation anywhere in the world to source any ethno-cultural or ethno-linguistic data on
India at the click of the mouse.
So let's say if one of Bush's Christian evangelical cronies wants to check out which missionary organisation is working with the Banjaras in Nalgonda, Khammam and Krishna districts in Andhra Pradesh, all he has to do is plug into this highly guarded database. It will tell him how many Banjaras were converted to Christianity over a specified period, the names of Indian Christian researchers working in community and which evangelical ministry coordinating the exercise of "saving souls".
Just about any detail he wants is available on demand. Obviously, it flows the other way as well. So assuming that somebody at the CIA headquarters wants information on a particular district or region all that needs to be done is to call up Bush's mentor Rev Billy Graham. Graham will in turn log into databases maintained by a network of American Evangelical Missions. All this can happen in seconds and this is how technology has made evangelical activities so potentially dangerous.
Latest cutting-edge web technologies are used to keep in touch with various “unreached people groups" through key local interlocutors. They also track on a regular basis status indicators like number of evangelists working within a people group, the number of Christian adherents, church growth and mission agency progress indicators.
All this information is then used to "promote networking and partnerships focusing on least-reached peoples in order to promote the flow of strategic ministry activity information between individuals, churches, denominations and mission agencies.
Tehelka's undercover operation managed to set up networking contacts with the Joshua II project. Evidence of the meticulous nature of this data is available with Tehelka. The amazing network that has been established can be illustrated with the following anecdote.
B Shreeprakash and B Jayaprakash from Kayamkulam, Kerala, came across the December 1998 issue of the National Missionary Intelligencer published by The National Missionary Society of India, Royappettah, Chennai, while waiting for an appointment with a doctor. That sparked off an amateur investigation exercise, the contents of which were put down in their report titled 'Conversions in
India'. Here's an extract:
“As part of this work, an address namely, ‘Workers Together’ in US was contacted. To my surprise, a pastor of the
, contacted me from my own town, his residence was only one
km away from that of mine. He called me over telephone and invited me for a
personal meeting. On visiting his house, he handed over to me an oxford Edition
of the Bible, printed in Brethren Church New
York, and a few
booklets and pamphlets. What astonished me was that the pastor had with him, a
copy of letter which I had sent to US. On enquiring about how the nearness of
my residence with that of the Pastor was understood by the party at Bangalore, he showed me an official directory of the list of the
evangelicals working in India, with their family photographs and complete details
arranged in order of PIN codes. Another directory of their worldwide network
was also shown to me.”
There cannot, perhaps, be a better example to understand the effects of marrying the IMA's survey with Joshua Project's database. The message is this-an American missionary agency will go to any length even if it means converting just one person.
A letter written to an agency in the
US is re-directed immediately to Bangalore and the agency in Bangalore in turn tracks down the nearest evangelist and directs him
to take upon the task of ministering the gospel to the newest seeker.
In fact, the mission goal of IMA, according to its general secretary, Ebenezer Sunder Raj, is: "We need a church within cycling distance, then within walking distance and finally within hearing distance." The Church growth figures that are with Tehelka clearly indicate that this mission mandate is on in full swing.
: the CIA connection India
The "spying out" missions that generated the vast ethnographic data of the Indian people also involved detailed study of Dr. K.S. Singh’s ‘People of India Project’ that was launched in 1985 by the Anthropological Society of India (ASI). Under Singh's leadership, the ASI undertook an ambitious project to chart one of the most far-reaching ethnographic studies in the 20th century.
Five hundred scholars spent over 26,000 field days to compile information for these volumes. This gigantic research work came handy for American and Indian strategists to draft their evangelical plans for
According to Luis Bush, “Never before has this kind of information on India been so carefully surveyed, prepared, well published and distributed…We do not believe it is accidental. God is allowing us to "spy out the land" that we might go in and claim both it and its inhabitants for Him.”
The data collected by experts from Wycliffe/Summer Institute of Linguistics, World Vision (WV) and the International Mission Board/Southern Baptists to compile the Joshua Project Peoples list included a detailed and comprehensive list of the people groups in
India as well.
Though this may appear normal international research activity - generating ethnographic profiles of non-Christian people groups in the 10/40 window - there are unseen dangers inherent in the compilation of such accurate people-group profiles.
The CIA has publicly admitted to having used Wycliffe/SIL and the Southern Baptists for covert intelligence operations in many parts of the world. The cosy relationship between the Wycliffe and CIA is documented exhaustively in a book Thy Will Be Done written in the 1990s by Gerald Colby and Charlotte Dennett. The book documents joint CIA-Wycliffe missions to source anthropological data from
Here is a quote from the book: “SIL had helped gather anthropological information on the Tarascan Indians that ended up in Nelson Rockefeller's intelligence files. The files contained cross-references to reveal behavioural patterns among Indian peoples in everything from socialisation (including aggressive tendencies) and personality traits, drives, emotions, and language structure, to political intrigue, kinship ties, traditional authority, mineral resources, exploitation, and labor relations. Rockefeller called these data the Strategic Index of Latin America.”
The question that will rattle not only the Indian government, but also outrage the Indian citizens is whether the American-funded "spying missions" carried out by Indian and foreign missionary agencies through more than a decade has resulted in the preparation of a 'Strategic Index of India' at the CIA headquarters?
Wycliffe, the Southern Baptists and World Vision have all been active in
India as well. Could it be mere coincidence that Southern
Baptists who are amongst President Bush's most loyal supporters, played an
active role in the “spying out” missions?
In fact, Colby and Dennett's book features a missionary of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, William Carlsen, who admits that he gave an eight-hour briefing to the CIA on
Thailand's tribal areas. In the mid-1970s when the CIA's
penetration of American missionary agencies made international headlines, the
agency passed a self-limiting executive order to refrain from using foreign
missionaries for intelligence gathering operations.
Incidentally, it was George Bush Sr who in his first action as the new CIA director declared on
February 11, 1976, that he would ban the practice of enlisting
"clergymen and newsmen as intelligence agents." But this was just
public grandstanding, doublespeak to save the CIA not only from embarrassment,
but protect its operations in Latin American countries such as Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
As soon as this announcement was made the CIA granted itself a private waiver. This was confirmed in April 1996 when the then CIA director, John Deutch, testifying before a Senate intelligence committee, said that the agency could waive the ban in cases "unique and special threats to national security."
Faith-based policies of White House
Surprisingly, Bush’s supporters like the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), made laborious protests then to condemn the collaboration between missionaries and the intelligence agency.
“Any foreigner living in a foreign culture already comes under a natural suspicion. If this policy is reversed, it would totally erode the ministry of missionaries,” said Jerry Rankin, the then president of the Southern Baptist Convention Foreign Mission Board. In effect, this amounted to a plea to the CIA to keep their most well publicized (and hardly noticed) secret guarded!!
The very fact that CIA has been courting religious missionaries in
India and elsewhere is testimony to the fact that US funded
evangelical missions have an unparalleled reach to the remotest corners of the
country. Christianity Today in its issue of April 29, 1996, carried the following comment by the NAE President Don
Argue: "For intelligence agencies to seek any relationship whatsoever with
our religious workers must be unequivocally prohibited."
Yet, as recently as January 15, on a visit to the
in Union Bethel AME Church New
Orleans (this is a
predominantly African-American congregation) Bush touted his faith-based
initiatives. These initiatives are designed to break the constitutional
sanctity of the separation of the State and the Church. Bush is desperate to
entangle and enmesh faith-based organization as providers of various services.
The Americans United For Separation of Church and State and some other inter-faith organisations have challenged the Bush plan for religious conversions. Americans United, founded in 1947, is a religious liberty watchdog group based in
. Washington, DC
But, the Bush administration has relentlessly pushed its religious agenda. It has now become inextricably linked with not only its social services policies domestically, but also with
US foreign policy and the disbursal of aid to US-based TMOs.
“President Bush shows little appreciation or understanding of the separation of church and state. Bush is closely aligned with ultra-conservative Christian groups that have opposed church-state separation for years. It is obvious they have great influence over his domestic and foreign policy agendas,” Rob Boston, assistant director of communications, Americans United, told Tehelka.
These TMOs, themselves have been instrumental in influencing the faith-based policies of the Bush administration in the first place. Therefore, they in turn, by virtue of being Bush loyalists have carried the 'Bush Religious Agenda' to other countries, including
While within the
US this agenda "strikes at the heart of the religious
freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment" of the US constitution, in the rest of the world, specially, India, it has vitally subverted its security and integrity.
“The Religious Right organisations and fundamentalist Protestants groups have way too much influence over the Bush administration. Sadly, many Americans do not follow foreign policy decisions (with the exception of the war in
Iraq) and are either not aware of what is happening or, more
often, simply do not care. As a result, we are on the verge of dismantling the
wall of separation of church and state in America-a policy that, if enacted, is bound to have negative
repercussions around the world as fundamentalist interpretations of
Christianity increasingly become the basis for foreign policy,” said Boston.
Robertson's organisation and the other "intermediaries" were free to distribute this federal grant (essentially American tax payers' money) to religious groups and community groups of their choice to provide social services. In other words, there was no restriction on how the federal grants were to be used.
In an interview to Newsweek three years ago Robertson said, "I've got 10 good years left," and "my heart is on missions, and on getting people into the kingdom of God. That's the main thrust of my life." In the same interview, Robertson recalled fondly a recent crusade in
India: "I spoke to a crowd of 500,000 people!" he
said. "Eighty-two acres of people! The response was overwhelming."
Robertson's Operation Blessing is very active in India through CBN India headquartered at Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad.
Incidentally, Robertson deftly defrauded the Indian government because Indian laws do not permit issuance of visas to Christian missionaries. In response to an unstirred question (NO. 969) in the Lok Sabha on
February 27, 2001 the minister of state for home, Vidyasagar Rao, responded that “no new
missionaries are allowed after 1984. However, short term visas are being issued
to the foreigners who are coming only in administrative capacity, to review
working of their organisations etc.”
Certainly, Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition in the
US and head of the multi-million Christian Broadcasting
Network, might have had "administrative" reasons to travel to India. But he, surely, did not have either the permission or the
right to evangelise.
The Indian government has been caught napping. Rev Bush, head of a decade-long global evangelisation programme, visited
India in January 2003. He was a guest of the Evangelical
Fellowship of India and presumably traveled to India on a tourist visa.
In the early years of 2000, many evangelists entered
India fraudulently. Amongst them were extremist Christians like
Don Noble, president of Maranatha Volunteers International affiliated to a fundamentalist
Christian group, the Seventh Day Adventists and Pastor Michael Ryan, director
of Global Mission, the Seventh Day Adventist church’s international outreach
department which co-ordinates India evangelistic initiative. The US state department website makes no bones about the fact
that American evangelists enter India by employing fraudulent means.
In the context of the fact that Robertson is one of
America’s most rabid Christian fundamentalists, Bush’s largesse to
him certainly has implications for India. In an interview broadcast on his own TV channel this is
what Robertson had to say on one of the religions followed in India: “Hinduism and many of the occult activities that come out
of the Orient are inspired by demons and demon worship...There's this concept
that all religions are the same and all are good. That is not true. The worship
of the Devil is not good.”
Robertson’s friend and fellow evangelist, Jerry Falwell, also a TV preacher, ignited anti-American violence across many countries in November 2002 when he called the Prophet Mohammad a “terrorist” on American television. In
Jammu and Kashmir, Falwell's emarks were published in local newspaper. As
word spread protestors spilled out into the street pelting stones and shouting
The Oval Office centre
According to Americans United, “Robertson's Operation Blessing, a $66 million-a-year agency, also has a controversial history…The controversy over Operation Blessing stretches back to 1994, when Robertson used his ‘700 Club’ daily cable television programme to raise funds for the charity.
Robertson told viewers Operation Blessing was using cargo planes to aid refugees from Rwanda who had fled into the neighbouring nation of Zaire (now known as Congo) to escape a violent civil war…In fact, Robertson was using his planes to haul mining equipment in and out of Zaire for African Development Corporation, his for-profit diamond mining company.”
Incidentally, Robertson sought the Republican nomination for president in 1988 and later founded the Christian Coalition, a political group that has worked tirelessly to elect Republicans to public offices nationwide. Bush's presidential election victory has been, by far, the coalition's biggest success till date.
After having installed a Christian fundamentalist as the President of America, Robertson stepped down as the president of the Christian Coalition in December 2001. The Washington Post, in a dispatch on
December 24, 2001 noted that the religious right had found its "center in Oval
office". The writer of this dispatch, Diana Milbank wrote, "A
procession of religious leaders who have met with him testify to his faith,
while Websites encourage people to fast and pray for the president."
For American evangelicals, Bush is "God's man at this hour". The Bush administration's faith based initiatives-'charitable choice' as it is often calle-was one of his key campaign planks during the 2000 presidential campaign. In fact, as
Texas governor, Bush had become a fervent advocate of this
policy that enabled Christian religious organisations to evangelise while
providing publicly financed service.
As president, Bush has expanded the 'charitable choice' approach to virtually all aspects of government aid-national and foreign. "In every instance when my administration sees a responsibility to help people, we will look first to faith-based institutions, to charities and to community groups that have shown their ability to save and change lives," Bush told a rally in
Indianapolis on July 22, 1999.
Evangelists all over the world were and still continue to be happy with the language used by Bush, full of Biblical references and metaphors, as it is. "Saving Souls" is a common and often-used expression by evangelists all over the world to refer to religious conversion.
Exploiting the AIDS victims
September 21, 2000, Bush wrote in USA Today that he would allocate $80
billion over 10 years in tax incentives to help churches (in America) provide social services. The US government has established an unparalleled partnership
with Christian religious organisations. In the last week of September 2003, the
US administration announced new rules enabling Christian
religious institutions to access $20 billion worth of federal grants.
Faith-based organisations can access and use this fund to deliver services from drug/alcohol de-addiction to prison reform to HIV/AIDS related care and support activities. The idea, of course, is to give opportunities to those who suffer to be "reborn", just as Bush was after years of alcohol addiction.
Even though the Bush administration has denied that its initiatives support evangelical activities, the fact is that faith-based organisation use prayer and proselytising as an integral part of its provision of social services. After all, Bush has often cited his own "reborn" status to justify the interventions of faith based organisation in the social sector.
In his autobiography, A Charge To Keep, itself a twist on a well-known hymn, Bush wrote that evangelist Billy Graham had "planted a mustard seed in my heart, and I started to change… It was the beginning of a new walk where I would recommit my heart to Jesus Christ."
Bush has repeatedly singled out and praised faith-based organisations whose core philosophy is conversion while dispensing social services. During last year's State of the Union speech his invited guests were Tonja Myles of the 'Set Free Indeed Program' at
in Healing Place Church , and Henry Lozano of Teen Challenge, Baton
Rouge, Louisiana California.
Both programmes use religious conversion as treatment. Within the
US, Bush's praise for religious conversion programmes has
raised concerns as well. Early into the Bush presidency, the , the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United Methodist
Church US, made it plain that the president's faith-based
initiatives were essentially about conversion.
In a press release on June 14, 2001, a representative of the Methodist Church, Rev. Eliezer Valentin Castanon, said: “No one can honestly believe that a program funded with tax dollars, which requires as a major component of treatment the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, will not advance religion.”
One faith-based programme that Bush goes gaga about is the prison-based InnerChange Freedom Initiative started by Charles Colson. Incidentally, Colson was one of the characters from the Watergate episode; he spent seven months in prison for obstructing justice in a one of the Watergate cases.
“InnerChange is an intensive Bible-centered program, ostensibly open to inmates of all religious persuasions, but every month inmates are evaluated on whether they demonstrate a belief in Jesus Christ,” wrote Robyn E Blumner, perspective columnist of the St Petersburg Times, on
September 28, 2003. “Those inmates who fail to show the proper level of piety
are removed and lose the special freedoms and privileges dangled before inmates
as incentives to participate,” he added.
Bush introduced InnerChange into the
Texas prison system when he was governor. At present it operates
in four states and the Bush government subsidises its conversion activities
with the American tax-payers' money.
What underlies all this is that the Bush administration's conservative evangelical worldview has proliferated to countries like
Here the Church and Christian NGOs have been involved for a long time in the
provision of voluntary social service. But churches and Christian NGOs in India and the trans-national (read American) faith-based NGOs
who have a large presence in India have gleefully responded to the message emanating from the
Bush's support for religious conversion has happened on the persuasive power of the dollar. It is safe to say that almost all evangelical organisations in
India and non-Catholic churches and the Christian NGOs get their
funding from their American patrons or from USAID. These groups, like CARE or
World Vision tend to Christian social workers and consciously infuse Christian
religiosity as part of the help they provide to socially and economically
Holistic development tactics
World Vision, the world's largest Christian church mission agency, has traditionally been closely linked with successive American governments. The former
US Ambassador for International Religious Freedoms, Dr Robert
Seiple, was WV chief for 11 years till 1998 when he was picked by former
president, Bill Clinton, to head the office of International Religious
Around the period when Seiple was the president of WV, its vice-president from 1993 to 1998 was Andrew S. Natsios. He is now the administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). For more than 40 years, USAID has been the leading government agency providing economic and humanitarian assistance to developing countries.
WV's focus is children and community development. It is involved in more than 162 projects in 25 states. It projects its community development programmes as "holistic development". This is implemented through Area Development Programmes (ADP).
Each ADP works in an area that is contiguous geographically, economically or ethnically. These programmes provide access to clean drinking water, healthcare, education and setting up of income generating projects. But infused with such development works is the spiritual component-Bible classes.
India, WV projects itself as a "Christian relief and
development agency with more than 40 years experience in working with the
poorest of the poor in India without respect to race, region, religion, gender or
caste." However, Tehelka has in its possession US-based WV Inc.'s
financial statement filed before the Internal Revenue Service, wherein, it is
classified as a Church ministry.
In any case, its mission statement is self-explanatory: “World Vision is an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in working with the poor and oppressed, to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the Good News of the
Though, WV, has consultative status with UNESCO and partnerships with UN agencies like UNICEF, WHO, UNHCR and ILO, the fact is that its financial records reveal that it has funded evangelical activities all over the world, including
India. WV uses its international clout and its close links with
the US government through USAID to network with governments and
corporate entities in the developing world.
WV has an ongoing channel of interaction with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII); its 2003 financial report it states that "the Rural Development Department of the Government of Assam recognised WV India as a leading development agency in the state and has recommended that WV be the choice for receiving bilateral funds. The government has also sought WV's assistance in creating a proposal for US$ 80 million for development work in the state."
The income and expenditure account for the year ended
September 30, 2002 shows that its total income was Rs 95.5 crores, which
included foreign contribution of Rs 87.8 crores. For an organisation that
claims to be only involved in development and relief work, it is quite stealthy
about its positioning and exact nature of activities.
When approached by Tehelka as part of its undercover operation for an interview, WV India's national director, Dr Jayakumar Christian, after having agreed to the interview backed out because he wanted copies of the fictitious Christian magazine that Tehelka claimed to be representing.
However, what goes unnoticed by the governments and the corporate world is WV India's evangelical missions as part of its development agenda. Proselytisation is an integral part of its provision of development services under its much-touted ADP programmes. Though none of the literature published by WV India even mentions its evangelisation missions, foreign publications of WV India proudly proclaim its “spiritual” component.
Take for instance, WV New Zealand's report (
4 September 2002)
on the funding of ADP in Dahod, Gujarat. Under the head, 'spiritual development' the report
states: "Held a vacation Bible school for 150 children from different
villages. The children participated in games, Bible quizzes, drama and other
activities. Organised a one-day spiritual retreat for 40 young people and a children's
Christmas party. Each of Dahod's 45 villages chose five needy children to
attend the party." In Dumaria, Banka district, eastern Bihar,
"the ADP supports local churches by running leadership-training courses
for pastors and church leaders."
What has an ADP got to do with running leadership-training courses for pastors and church leaders? Incidentally, WV New Zealand funds ADP programmes in the tribal pockets of
India. The New Zealand Government's Voluntary Agencies Support
Scheme (VASS) jointly fund the two-year project, the NZ government matching WV
contributions on a 2:1 basis. There are many other instances of evangelical
programmes run by WV India.
In the Gajapati ADP, situated in Gumma Block of Orissa's Gajapati district, a WV report admits that “Canadian missionaries have worked in the area for just over 50 years and today 85-90 percent of the community is Christian. However, local church leaders had little understanding of the importance of their role in community development. ADP staff build relationships with these leaders to improve church co-operation and participation in development initiatives.”
organised two training camps for local church leaders in holistic development. Here WV
Targeting the tribals
In Mayurbhanj, again in
regularly organises spiritual development programmes as part of its ADP
package. The WV report says: "Opposition to Christian workers and
organisations flares up occasionally in this area, generally from those with
vested interests in tribal people remaining illiterate and powerless. WV
supports local churches by organising leadership courses for pastors and church
leaders." Orissa, WV
WV India is active in Bhil tribal areas and openly admits its evangelical intentions: "The Bhil people worship ancestral spirits but also celebrate all the Hindu festivals. Their superstitions about evil spirits make them suspicious of change, which hinders community development. ADP staff live among the Bhil people they work with, gaining the villagers' trust and showing their Christian love for the people by their actions and commitment."
This being the case it is not suprising that WV India was honoured with the 2003 Mahatma Gandhi Award for Social Justice. This award is hosted by the All India Christian Council. Incidentally, Joseph D'Souza who was AICC's President during that year also heads an evangelical network, Operation Mobilisation, in
India. OM, again, is an American TMO. It was founded by Georg Verwer
and today is a global ministry "committed to working in partnership with
churches and other Christian organisations for the purpose of World
Essentially, Bush has sparked off a theological fight between those Christian organisations who believe that their expression of faith is serving the marginalised, dispossessed and hungry in a non-sectarian way and the others who believe that the only way to bring change and reform is by Bible thumping. Unfortunately, the Bible thumpers are winning and they are being underwritten by the American tax payers.
What they are probably not aware is that missionaries in
India's back of the beyond villages, like Karala, (see box) have
been pulled into Bush's missionary zeal. Sadly, while Pastor Prabhat Nayak is
deeply committed to bring the villagers of Karala to Christ, he is unaware that
Christian evangelical theology and money doled out by the White House threatens
to rip apart the social fabric of India.
US administration headed by Bush is the most overtly
religious in memory. Numerous press reports in America and Europe have highlighted instances where "cabinet meetings
start with prayers and where no presidential speech is complete without some
statement of Christian faith." His foreign policy often seems rooted in
The world has already seen Christianity vs Islam being played out in the war debate over
Iraq. The Christian Right is solidly behind Bush's Christianity
First policy. Richard Land, a key leader of the Southern Baptist Convention,
has strongly supported Bush's faith-based foreign policy. By the way, Land, is
a key member of US government's Committee on International Religious
The Southern Baptists fiercely believe in conversion. Not many would know that people like Land oversee the US International Religious Freedoms report. The 2003 report is a no-nonsense document that conveys the official
US policy supporting evangelisation. It openly admits that
"US officials have continued to engage state officials on the
implementation and reversal of anti-conversion laws." Here's an excerpt
from the report:
“This act (Foreigners Act) strictly prohibits visitors who are in the country on tourist visas from engaging in religious preaching without first obtaining permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs. Given this context, the Government discourages foreign missionaries from entering the country and has a policy of expelling foreigners who perform missionary work without the correct visa…New missionaries currently enter as tourists on short-term visas.
U.S. citizens accused of religious preaching while visiting India as tourists have faced difficulties obtaining permission
to return to the country for up to a decade after the event.”
Christian NGOs in
The Bush administration's prescription of religiosity as social policy has gratified the religious Right in the
US. The proponents of faith-based initiatives want US
government funds to go to those churches and Christian NGOs that consider
conversion as part of rehabilitation activities.
Since the USAID funds Christian NGOs in
India and also since US trans-national Chrisitian NGOs like
World Vision and CARE are heavily involved in development initiatives in India, their role in evangelical activities is not a matter of
It is, of course, another matter that USAID plays a vital role in intelligence gathering operations for the CIA. President John F Kennedy had established USAID, along with the Peace Corps and the
Alliance for Progress, "all three designed in part to stem the
spread of communism."
The link between the CIA and Christian missionary groups is USAID. This is written in great detail in Thy Will Be Done. Here's a quote again: "…That June, President Nixon's director of (US) AID, John Hannah, had admitted publicly that AID had funded CIA operations in Laos, and subsequent revelations pointed to CIA-AID collaboration in Ecuador, Uruguay, Thailand and the Phillippines."
In fact, CIA-supported missionaries were embroiled in counter-insurgency operations, civil wars and were more often than not conduits for arms and armaments for Christian insurgent groups all over the world.
Under President Bush's fundamentalist Christian government, the era of CIA-USAID-Evangelicals partnership has come back with a roar. And a world caught up in "War on Terror" and the search for elusive weapons of mass destruction, has had no time to notice.
In any case, aid dispensed by USAID was hardly meant to spur development. During the Cold War, it was meant to keep the former
Soviet Union at bay and to keep afloat, bloated, venal and corrupt
regimes all over the world, including Saddam's.
In a research paper titled 'Bush and Foreign Aid', for the journal Foreign Affairs (September/October 2003), Steven Radelet, who was Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury from January 2000 to June 2002 and is now a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, wrote: “One of the greatest surprises of George W Bush's presidency so far has been his call to dramatically increase U.S. foreign aid…(in September 2002) Bush released his National Security Strategy, which gave prominence to development and aid alongside defense and diplomacy. Then came his State of the Union address, in which he called for $10 billion in new funding ($ 15 billion total) over the next five years to combat HIV/AIDS in
Radelet went on to reveal that
US foreign aid increase from $11 billion in 2002 to $18
billion in 2006 is the largest increase in decades. This from a Republican
president whose party has traditionally demonstrated antagonism toward foreign
aid. USAID's change of fortune is nothing short of miraculous. In the 1990s it
almost disappeared into oblivion because US assistance to poor countries declined by 25 percent.
September 11 brought the issue of foreign aid back into limelight.
Nothing can illustrate this better than the example of
Sudan. This oil rich country has for years been caught in a
debilitating and destructive civil war that has pitted a Muslim government
centred in the north against the southern Christians. But the recent discovery
of oil in Sudan has changed the dynamics of the conflict and, as luck
would have it, the oil was struck in the Islamic, northern Sudan.
So human rights groups and Christian missionary organisations have been crying themselves hoarse over the "brutal anti-Christian campaign of the Muslim government" and the "persecution of the non-Muslims." In the same breath Christian fundamentalists like Rev Franklin Graham and Senator Sam Brownback have pressured Bush to assist the rebels. Pressure is also suddenly being mounted internationally and within the
US for "diplomatic intervention" to "end the
conflict and prevent a disastrous famine" in the country.
And guess who is making the loudest noises about
Sudan? Christian Solidarity International. It is working
overtime to influence the US Congress and British parliament. Over the last
decade, USAID has spent $1.2 billion, most of it to support the SPLA, the
Christian rebel group in Southern
Sudan. The CIA-USAID-Missionary
partnership story in Sudan is completed when the last block of the jigsaw puzzle is
put in place-Andrew S Natsios.
Natsios was appointed administrator of USAID on
May 1, 2001.
But President Bush gave him two other hats to wear as well-special coordinator
for international disaster assistance and special humanitarian coordinator for Sudan. Ostensibly, Bush wants to ensure that aid reaches the
people of Sudan as opposed to being stolen and misappropriated by the
The fact that aid deliveries have for so long been stolen by the Christian rebel groups, of course, did not even merit a mention.
Natsios has earlier served in USAID from 1989 to 1993 heading two of its vital departments. It's a strange co-incidence that during the time when CIA backed American missionary agencies were receiving ethnographic data from "spying missions" set up by American evangelical organisations in
India, Natsios was associated with World Vision, which, in turn,
was involved in analysing the ethnographic data along with Wycliffe and the Southern
Under the Bush Presidency, the post-9/11 period has been marked by two key initiatives: support to "frontline countries" that are helping US in its "war on terror" and appear committed to development and humanitarian issues like HIV/AIDS, poverty, and economic inequality.
What is striking, however, is that the Bush administration, in its efforts to project US as a "soft power" as opposed to a marauding military superpower, has relied and been influenced disproportionately by faith-based groups and institutions.
And given the fact that Bush administration officials regularly hold consultations with Church groups and leaders, it is not surprising that American evangelical missions have found a deep reservoir of support with the
US government for their activities in India and elsewhere.
WikiLeaks cables confirm collusion between
By Marc Wells, World Socialist Website,
15 April 2013
Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks released a new archive of 1.3 million diplomatic cables and intelligence records last Monday encompassing the years 1973 through 1976, dubbed “The Kissinger Cables.”
The database includes documents revealing the ruthless operations led by the
worldwide, at a time when the international working class was on the offensive
and the bourgeoisie was waging a ruthless counterattack.
Among the cables, a series of diplomatic communications exposes the relationships between the
and a number of dictatorial regimes, from Chile’s
Augusto Pinochet to Argentina’s
Jorge Rafael Videla to Spain’s
1973, a CIA-backed coup led by general Pinochet overthrew the
elected government of Socialist Party President Salvador Allende. In Pinochet’s
17-year dictatorship, thousands of left-wing activists, students, trade
unionists and anyone suspected of opposing Chilean and international capital
were killed or disappeared by the regime. Hundreds of thousands were jailed and
tortured, or sent into exile.
The names of these criminal state operations, such as “Operation Condor” or “The Caravan of Death” are forever embedded in the consciousness of Chilean workers. Pinochet’s “struggle against Marxism” remains one of the most violent developments in the history of the 20th century.
The main goal of such struggle was to destroy the working class and its organizations, both physically and through the imposition of aggressive economic policies of privatization and deregulation. These created a model of enrichment by a small oligarchy for the following decades.
Many governments joined this “struggle,” with the
leading the pack. President Richard Nixon and his National Security Adviser
Henry Kissinger allocated $8 million for the campaign to destabilize Allende.
While maintaining an appearance of liberal reforms and a more relaxed policy
toward the USSR
initiated by John XXIII, the Vatican,
led by Pope Paul VI, lent support to the Chilean dictator.
In a cable dated
18, 1973, Archbishop Giovanni Benelli, Vatican Deputy Secretary of
State, denied the crimes committed by Pinochet’s junta, expressing “his and
Pope’s grave concern over successful international leftist campaign to
misconstrue completely realities of Chilean situation.”
More precisely, the cable documents Benelli’s view on the “exaggerated coverage of events as possibly greatest success of communist propaganda, and highlighted fact that even moderate and conservative circles seem quite disposed to believe grossest lies about Chilean junta’s excesses.”
His source of information was Cardinal Raúl Silva, a staunch opponent of communism. According to the cable, “Cardinal Silva and Chilean Episcopate in general have assured Pope Paul that junta making every effort to return to normal and that stories alleging brutal reprisals in international media secret are unfounded.”
The role played by figures like Silva or Paul VI himself—promoted as “progressives” at the time—emerges quite clearly in these documents. Benelli states that “validity and sincerity of Cardinal Silva cannot be challenged since Silva is known internationally as one of Church’s leading progressives who, moreover, gave tacit support to President Allende.”
This evidence shows not only the denial of Pinochet’s crimes by the
and the :
it reveals the bankruptcy of the Allende government, which based itself on
relations with layers of the Church that were completely hostile to it. Chilean Church
In fact, the Archbishop states that, “leftist forces have greatly cut losses by convincing world that Allende’s fall due exclusively to fascist and external forces rather than to shortcomings of Allende’s own policies as is rightly case.”
If there is any objective truth in Benelli’s statement, it is the fact that Pinochet, who was appointed by Allende as head of the armed forces, took advantage of the political environment created by Allende’s retreat from the reforms he had promised. Allende was himself a capitalist politician, promoting a “Chilean road to socialism” but fundamentally committed to demobilizing the working class. This prepared the field for a right-wing military takeover.
In November 1973, in the immediate aftermath of Pinochet’s coup, another cable documents negotiations for the renewal and revision of the Concordat, originally signed in 1953, between the
and the fascist regime of Francisco Franco in Spain,
which effectively rejected the principle of separation between state and
Archbishop Agostino Casaroli—the
Secretary of Public Affairs at the time and another “Ostpolitik reformist”
figure who developed new relations with Eastern European countries in an
attempt to boost the Church’s influence in Stalinist-ruled countries—met with
Spanish officials. It was agreed that a low profile be maintained.
There were several reasons for this: first, events in
had created immense opposition among workers and students, and the Church
risked being publicly exposed as an ally of dictatorial regimes. Secondly, there
were disagreements inside the Vatican
itself on how to best manage the Vatican’s
image and distance it from fascist dictators.
A cable dated
7, 1973 states that a “difference of views between the Vatican
and the Spanish Episcopate is on the fundamental question of whether there
should be a new Concordat negotiated.” The record shows that the Episcopate was
“amenable to partial accords or revisions of the 1953 one, since they believe a
new Concordat might once again associate the Church with the regime” while they
are “trying to disassociate the Church from the GoS [Government of Spain] in
the eyes of the Spanish public.”
While layers of the ecclesiastic hierarchy were concerned that after Franco’s death negotiating terms would be less favorable and were pushing for a new deal, the “liberal,” “progressive” section of the Vatican sought to “maintain its liberal image if only partial accords on the most vital points of friction” were renegotiated.
Contrary to Casaroli’s request to keep the visit under the radar, Franco’s regime “promoted extensive press and television coverage of the visit,” provoking a reaction from the
According to the Italian publication l’Espresso, Casaroli protested to a
Spanish minister for “the offensive violation of the reassurances received from
the Spanish government to maintain a low profile.”
A few years later, on
March 24, 1976, Argentine Commander Jorge Rafael Videla
headed the coup that overthrew President Isabel Perón, wife of former President
Juan Perón. Videla ran a brutal police state, adopting free-market economic
policies similar to Pinochet’s. His regime, infamously associated with the
“Dirty War” and “Operation Condor,” became synonymous with disappearances,
murder and torture.
Videla’s close accomplice in the coup and the military dictatorship that followed was Navy Admiral Emilio Massera. New cables show the close ties between Massera and Pio Laghi, Apostolic nuncio (Holy See diplomat) in
A cable dated
7, 1975 reveals that Laghi “talked with Admiral Massera early
November 5 on same subject [President Perón], and recently with many other
participants. Nuncio [Laghi]’s analysis was that Mrs. Perón must leave as soon
as possible by leave of absence, resignation, or golpe ”—that is, a coup.
Besides being a close friend of Massera, Laghi was well respected in military and diplomatic circles. As the same cable confirms, “Nuncio is well connected and is astute observer. His overall conclusion was that she is finished. Only form of departure remains in question. However, he commented, it could take longer than expected and be an agonizing process.”
Ultimately, the real agony was experienced by tens of thousands of workers, students and political activists, labeled “terrorists,” who actually fought in opposition to the state terrorism which characterized the Videla regime, but were either killed or tortured, jailed and disappeared.
Pio Laghi was more than a known entity for the
government. In a cable dated May 14,
1974, Laghi is depicted as “highly educated, personable, speaks
excellent English, and is well disposed toward the United
These revelations shed light on the recent installation of the new Pope Francis, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The new Pontiff is deeply implicated in the “Dirty War” waged by the Argentine military junta (see “The ‘Dirty War’ Pope”: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/16/pers-m16.html).