Sunitha (name changed) was a normal Hindu Brahmin girl studying in a reputed college in India. One sudden day, she changed her religious identity in to Christian – New Born. She says she changed her religion because she experienced Jesus Christ on a mud night. She preaches Bible and is in pursuit of converting her family too.
Annie, a pious Roman Catholic till a year back is happily married with two cute children. He was attending Sunday service alone and taking care of her family. She meets one of her friends, who frequents to prayer meetings of Jesus Calls. Due to her persuasion, she attends a Jesus Calls prayer meeting which ran for two days. Mesmerised by the teachings and experiences, she becomes a new born taking a second baptism. Now she has two birthdays.
These two stories are random picks from huge lot of people who have been converted by evangelists in India, Tamil Nadu and more particularly in Chennai. According to Pradip Ninan Thomas, the total pentacostal churches in Chennai alone are about 3600. The new life AG church in Saidapet has a attendance of more than 10000 people for every prayer meeting.
There are two main targets for these evangelists. One, the traditional christian communities,who are easy targets because of their religious inclinations. The other one are Lower caste Hindu communities (so called) and tribals, because of the strong caste divides inside the religion. But even sometimes the upper caste (so called) are highly vulnerable to these preachings.
My encounters with Pentecostal believers are comparatively lesser. My mom was a pious Christian, she used to go to church daily and she has strong affinity to mother Mary (which Pentecostal churches doesn’t approve of). One of my mom’s friends got converted and she was persuading mom to convert. That was the first time I encountered a new born or whatever.
She could not convince my mom ever..
What I hate the evangelists?
The way they waste time of the people. They have prayer meetings for 2 or 3 consecutive days affecting the productivity of these people. I found this a kind of drug addiction, shouting chants and hymns calling Jesus Christ, down to earth. I dunno how will god fly and come (if at all he is there).
The way they lure people to convert. None of the religions in the world approve of religious conversions. When it comes to Christianity, I dunno when Jesus asked people to start a religion. Money, food, caste respect and above all a false belief that they will be saved from the sins and be given salvation. I dunno who defines sins and morality.
The way they preach that Jesus Christ is the only true god forcing people towards religious intolerance. I have seeen people who doesn’t go along the path where a Ganesh temple is there. This is the worst form of religious terrorism one can think of.
And I could not assess the money spun inside these evangelists. The first Tehelka newspaper edition ran a cover story on how CIA is operating as the fund master for these evangelists. Even Pradip makes a similar observation. A income tax raids on these people will give a better exposure. One evangelist in Kerala by the name K.P.Yohanan was caught for unaccounted assets worth 900 crores.
A research on DGS Dinakaran gives a result that he was a bank officer before becoming evangelist. Now Jesus Calls, his evangelist group boasts a posh office in Greenways Road,Chennai, a few bungalows for the family, a engineering college in Coimbatore and consistent programming in leading TV channels. Is this real evangelism? If funds are received from foreign countries, from whom they are getting it?
The post and the research came due to the attacks on prayer halls (churches as portrayed by media). I am not defending the acts of Bajrang Dal, if evangelism is a form of terrorism, then Bajrang Dal and SIMI are other forms. But the attacks are the results of consistent resentment from Hindus to these evangelists. The Christian groups has come to terms that there is no right for anybody to convert people from one religion to the other. And please cut the crap of ‘voluntary conversion’.
Sometimes when people ask me what religion I belong to, I am happy to say that I am a atheist and I don’t follow any religion shunning of questions of my ‘are you catholic?’ ‘are you pentacoastal’ ‘why don’t you come for this prayer service?’
I like to end with a quote of Ayn Rand from The Romantic Manifesto
Religion is also the first enemy of the ability to think. That ability is not used by men to one tenth of its possibility, yet before they learn to think they are discouraged by being ordered to take things on faith.
On a personal note: My family is a catholic family and I don’t practice my religion for the past 10 years. Was a agnostic, now a staunch atheist.
Some links where you can find more about these people,
The Tehelka’s Take