Ever since the purported arrival of Saint Thomas in India, there has been an ongoing mass influx of Christian missionary groups in the country. Under the pretext of doing charitable work, these missionaries have carried out their sole mission of adding new members to their fold . While there is nothing wrong in accepting a new faith and practicing a new religion, the means being used to attract people to achieve these ends is despicable. From luring them with food and money, to attracting them with promises of a casteless society, the missionaries in India have tried it all. They have done everything necessary to please their bosses in the West, depending on the factions which their church subscribes to ranging from Roman Catholic to Protestant and the many which lie in between. Mass conversions became a topic only after the tribal and Hindu groups in India realized the mass inroads these Christian groups had made in India. One of the most common reasons cited by missionary groups for the huge rise in their numbers is that the lower caste Hindus join their ranks to get rid of the caste based discrimination.
The theory that Christianity is casteless was challenged in Arundhati Roy’s debut novel, “The God of Small Things” which was based on the prevailing conditions of converts in Kerala, which is also the setting where the recent murder of a Dalit Christian youth at the hands of his Syrian Christian wife’s family took place. This news was downplayed by mainstream media and not given the attention it deserved for two reasons; firstly, because the killing took place in Communist dominated Kerala, and secondly because the murderers of the Dalit Christian youth Kevin were Christians themselves, although from a higher caste group than the youth.
No matter how much the media tried to downplay this act, other Dalits from the Christian community too have started raising their voices against the malpractices of the church. An article published in Indian Express on May 31, with the name of the writer as Aleena explains the rigid caste system prevalent amongst Christians in Kerala. The title of the article, “Even in death we are apart, away and outcaste: A Dalit Christian from Kerala narrates the untold story of discrimination” is enough to raise doubts over the claims of a casteless society made by the church. The article goes on to elaborate on how the church fooled the masses by claiming to get them rid of the stigma attached with their castes. Roman ancestry or upper class ancestry was never shed by the people who converted to Christianity in the southern states.
According to the article, the Dalits were shamed by the Church for taking part in the Dalit protests which happened a few months ago. The Churches dominated by people who claim to have Roman blood and highborn ancestry have always tried to crush the voices of the Dalits and other lower classes. The rebellions against dominance in Christianity done by the Dalits were forcefully crushed while the highborn converts continued to revel in their racial superiority, something which was never questioned by the Church, according to the writer.
The writer further goes on to add that “There is discrimination and exclusion right from the choir to the Holy Chairs of the Church. There are even separate prayer services and functions that would even put Apartheid to shame. Even in death we are apart, away and outcaste.”
Her claims are backed up by evidences which go on to show that the Churches in India are run by highly corrupted leaders who have seldom addressed the needs of the downtrodden community in India. A segregation system is kept inside the working bodies of Churches and allied institutions too which ensures that, “Dalits who constitute the majority of about 70 per cent of the Indian Christian population is given only less than seven per cent in the seats of power at the Church.”
Aleena’s article and the murder of the Dalit Christian youth are but a tiny example of the misdoings by the churches working in India and the myth of a casteless society where Christianity prevails Numerous such voices will be raised in the days to come from the inside. It is important to realize what these Godmen really want to do. Is it a mere religious agenda as it appears on the face of it, or is there a larger game being played here?