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A lie told a thousand times

A lie told a thousand times - By Fr Warner D’Souza

My sister’s friend picked me up at the airport. I will refrain from naming him, but it is sufficient to say that I consider him a gentleman, a great human being and a devout Hindu. From the minute we drove off, our conversation spanned a million conversations. We covered politics, technology, society and faith.

It is the faith issue that got my ears puckered up in the context of conversion. Quite casually I dismissed the so called ‘conversion bogey’ that I have come to believe has settled in the minds of many Indians. The belief (no longer an accusation) is that Christians are rampantly converting in India; this with foreign funding from the Vatican. To my surprise he confirmed that of late he has been receiving a slew of messages on this very topic, making this lie almost believable in his mind and may I say with conviction, into the minds of many Indians!

There is something going horribly wrong in our nation since the last couple of years. A campaign of hate and fear has been spread, fuelled by the callous responsibility to the truth that comes with the ‘compulsion’ to share everything via social media. Little thought is being given to the truth behind the messages sent to us and even less to the consequences of spreading it to others. Taking recourse behind the words “forwarded as received” is like Pilate washing his hands over the death of Jesus; it does not exonerate you from the sin of slander.

In the past few years the bogey of conversions seems to have been doing its rounds at a rapid pace and such kind of propaganda worries me, for when my sister’s friend admitted that he has received this message more than twenty five times in the country he now resides in, it sets me wondering about the consequences in India!

It is to the Nazi, Joseph Goebbels that the line “repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth” has been attributed. His kind was notorious for spreading a propaganda of hate and fear, sadly to the disastrous consequence of the extermination of more than a million Jews. All this was done with a campaign that first rode on whispers behind closed doors. When the Nazis came to power, the campaign became state sponsored. When the seeds of hate are sown, the harvest of that hate happens swiftly and without warning, as has happened across the world and even in India.

There is no truth what so ever to the so called Vatican money flowing into this country, none what so ever! The laws of this country with regard to foreign funding are stringent for religious and charitable organizations, and New Delhi most certainly has its eye on movements of money into and out of this country be it any individual or organization.

There is no truth at all to the Catholic Church converting people by lure or force. I can vouch under oath that even if someone approached me as a priest with a request to become a Catholic, I would view him or her with suspicion (unfortunately), and then by the directives set by the Archdiocese, the person undergoes a year of discernment and training.

The bogey of mass conversions to Christianity is a lie and nothing short of it; a lie that is fed by the propaganda machine of political and religious groups that use it for short term goals that permanently scar this nation of ours. And even if we stand accused of mass conversion, then the evidence of numbers should simply be our vindication, for the numbers of Christians in this nation has remained the same; long years after Independence!

Let’s look at some FACTS: The Indian government statistics show that Christians form 2.3 per cent of the population, a number that has never gone up. The fact remains that 40% of educated Indians at some point have studied in a Christian institution. Eleven out of thirteen Presidents of India and nine out of sixteen Prime Ministers of India studied in Christian institutions. If the alleged Christian agenda is to convert India, then our Christian institutions are doing a terrible job.

What must be said unapologetically is the contribution of this tiny two point three per cent of nationalists to nation building; in its contribution to the field of education both formal and non-formal in the villages of India, to medical care as seen in the running of hospitals and dispensaries, in the running of institutions be they orphanages, homes for the destitute or elderly, and in the relief and welfare of the poor.

Perhaps the greatest forced conversion is being imposed by the ideology of vested interests, who for their political gain, perpetuate hate and lies against minorities and never cease or attempt to change every belief, from history to culture, often using the machinery of the state to meet their devious ends. Such persons can never lay claim to nationalism for they are truly anti-national.

Let freedom ring in our nation and not the noisy gongs of hate and division.

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