Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA)

FIACONA is another prominent member of CAG with a long history of working together with the FOIL and others in the coalition. FIACONA is perhaps the most influential group of Indian Christians in North America. It has aggressively lobbied the US Government and lawmakers to spread awareness of so-called Hindu atrocities against Christians. It is a leading constituent of the powerful Policy Institute for Religion and State (PIFRAS), discussed here. In fact, both are closely related. FIACONA is busy urging Western intervention in India’s internal matters. It projects the Hinduism = caste = racism equation and never tires of saying that all problems of India are the result of Hinduism. However, the information presented in this chapter highlights several things:

  1. FIACONA and its constituents are a group of aggressive evangelicals whose main goal is to coordinate with other evangelical organizations around the world to implement the Great Commission[1] on the people of India. In fact, in a 2008 article, FIACONA chided the so-called anti-Christian activists for standing up against proselytization and denying the “…followers of Jesus who attempt to obey the Great Commission…”[2]
  2. FIACONA and its constituents hold a perverted view of Hindus and Hinduism. They have an incessant obsession with the Caste System and ruthlessly equate it to Hinduism on almost every conceivable occasion. Further, they peddle inaccurate and mythical historical accounts in order to establish a long history of Christianity in India.
  3. Though they blame Hindus and Hinduism for the plight of Dalits, any attempt by Hindus to help Dalits is viewed with suspicion and deemed as some sort of “evil Brahmin agenda.”

FIACONA was established in 2000 in Washington DC, at a meeting of representatives of several Indian Christian organizations, to “…voice against [and spread awareness of] religious persecution and harassment of Christians in India…,”[3] and to also ensure “religious freedom” of Christians through “Administrative, Judicial and Legislative institutions…”[4] In essence, it is a lobby group for Indian Christians in the US to preserve their right to proselytize Hindus in India.

FIACONA is a regular voice in Washington routinely trading in allegations of widescale persecutions of Christians in India. It provides regular testimonials to the United States Congress by inviting evangelicals known for their aggressive proselytization efforts in the name of “religious freedom”. In 2003, Bishop Ezra Sargunam, the Head of the Evangelical Council of India (ECI), represented FIACONA and submitted a memo while providing an update to the United States Department of State (DoS) on the alleged violations of human rights of religious minorities.[5] Blasting the Anti-Conversion Law, meant to curtail deceptive conversions of Hindus in India, Sargunam pleaded to the US Government to use its influence on India to ensure that the law is repealed.

Sargunam is an aggressive evangelist in India and is the “visionary behind the movement to evangelize and plant churches among all of the people groups of India.”[6] To see the remarkable progress of Sargunam, as of 2010, “[the ECI has] planted over 3,000 churches across the Indian subcontinent. They have consistently done this at the rate of three churches a week – with a goal of one church a day!”[7] Sargunam maintains that Christian rites that are culturally appropriate in the Hindu context must be allowed to take roots in order for Christianity to become more palatable to the Hindus and to grow in India. Such strategies find companionship with fellow evangelicals in the US. For example, the Greater Atlanta Christian School, in its study of Hinduism, quotes Sargunam as saying: “Christ must increase, Christianity must decrease…A Christianity which is closely identified with the West must be eventually shipped back to where it came from.”[8] In 2003, after returning from a conversion event in Patna, India, Sargunam proudly declared:

I just returned from Patna, India, and am sending this praise note from Calcutta, en route Chennai. But the spectacular baptismal event that has dwarfed the others took place in Patna, where we had in all two batches of 135 converts baptized in the river Ganges – in the very ‘Holy river’, where millions of the idol and demon worshipping pagans go every once in a while to have a holy dip [emphasis added].[9]

 

Section 7.01    Spotlight on Prominent Members and Advisors of FIACONA

(a)    John Prabhudoss

John Prabhudoss is the Executive Director of PIFRAS[10] and one of the main forces behind FIACONA. PIFRAS is discussed here. A Whois.Net site registration search of FIACONA shows him as the registering agent.[11] In fact, on his personal website, Prabhudoss mentions that he helped form FIACONA and “has held several voluntary positions with FIACONA since its formation until the end of 2008.”[12] For example, Prabhudoss was the Chairman of FIACONA’s Governmental Affairs Committee in 2003, according to a press release on FIACONA’s old website.[13]

Malhotra and Neelakandan (2011) provide interesting information about Prabhudoss. B. Raman, former head of India’s counter-terrorism division of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), found Prabhudoss to be a “…man of mysterious conduct and several aliases…”[14] who:

…calls himself sometimes as John Prabhudoss (when he went to Iraq after the US invasion and occupation) and sometimes P.D. John (when he visited Gujarat after the riots in 2002) and … he wears two hats. It is also alleged that he uses other aliases such as J.P. Doss.[15]

Indeed, Prabhudoss is listed as a Member at Large of FIACONA, under the name of “Mr. PD John, DC,”[16] Similarly, Prabhudoss was a member of the Sadhbhavana (goodwill) group of CAG members that traveled to Gujarat after the 2002 riots, along with others such as Shrikumar Poddar, Raju Rajagopal, Satinath Choudhary, Bernard Malik (discussed further below), etc. His profile name was listed as Mr. PD John, Washington, DC.[17]

Prabhudoss’ activities are discussed in greater detail under PIFRAS as he is a central figure in the lobby group.

(b)   John Dayal

John Dayal is on the advisory board of FIACONA.[18] Dayal is famous for demonizing India and Hinduism in the international arena and for supplying atrocity literature to right-wing lawmakers around the world to persuade them to intervene in India’s internal affairs. Dayal is also the co-founder and Secretary-General of All Indian Christian Council (AICC). The Council has direct connections with the Dalit Freedom Network (DFN) via its founder Joseph D’Souza, who is the president of AICC[19] and its co-founder[20] along with Dayal. FIACONA considers D’Souza “a champion of Indian Christians”[21] and wished him “…all success now and in future for his notable work…”[22] Furthermore, DFN, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), and Release International (UK) are listed as Sister Organizations of AICC on its website.[23] Joseph D’Souza was also the international president of CSW.[24] The connections between AICC, DFN, CSW and others exhibit a complex ploy of how such organizations and individuals bring about Western intervention and missionary zeal to the Indian shores.

Malhotra and Neelakandan (2011), in their exhaustive analysis of the nefarious designs of Christian evangelicals in the West via partnerships with Indian Christians, point to several activities of John Dayal, Joseph D’Souza and the AICC. They quote Sanal Edamaruku (himself a Christian), the president of Rationalist Association of India, to illustrate the secretive workings of AICC. In 2001, Udit Raj, who is on the advisory board of DFN[25] (though he is nominally Buddhist), organized a massive rally in New Delhi, converting thousands of Dalits to Buddhism from Hinduism. Edamaruku notes:

The official organizer of the Delhi meeting was the All-India Conference of Scheduled Castes and Tribes…(the) secret wire-puller and financier of the event, however, was the All-India Christian Council, an outfit of the Evangelical Church, [which comprises] all kinds of neo-Protestant ‘born again’ and missionary organizations and is dominated by Baptists and Pentecostals.[26]

The hand of missionaries, including AICC, is further explained in a November 5, 2011 article on the event by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), whose members and directors were also present in solidarity with the other groups. Extolling the destruction of idols and the conversions of Dalits into Buddhism for fear of losing their reservation rights, the CSW admits:

The All India Christian Council has been notable in its support of this event, which has also recently received backing from the Roman Catholic’s Bishops Conference and the National Council of Churches of India. Speaking from the platform, AICC president Joseph D’Souza affirmed Christ’s love for the Dalits and expressed the total support of the church body [emphasis added]. Whilst the event was advertised as a Buddhist event, it has opened the door for conversions to other faiths [emphasis added].[27]

D’Souza, in writing about another mass conversion of Dalits in Chennai on December 6, 2002, lays out the evangelical plans of AICC and CSW:

If the Indian Church seeks to save her life at this time by not coming out into the open and struggle with the Dalits she will lose it. If she loses her life for the Dalits because of Christ she will inherit the soul and heart of India. We have to understand that the 750 million Dalits and Shudras are struggling intensely to create a caste-free society. What spiritual ideology will replace the one that they presently have?[28]

Denouncing peaceful Indian Christians who do not agree with the aggressive evangelical tactics of AICC, CSW and other Indian and Western organizations, D’Souza laments:

The Indian Christian community which boasts itself of being a ‘peace-loving’ community is by that very nature known as a docile, passive community incapable of proactive just action and involvement in society. This is the reason that until recently the Church was not seen as a natural ally by the Dalits in their struggle for socio-spiritual salvation…[29]

Similarly, reminding evangelicals of their “divine duty” to bring as many people to Christ as possible, D’Souza declares:

It is clear that the Church has no choice but to respond to the open request of the Dalits to receive them into the faith in the many, many locations in Tamil Nadu. If the Church pulls back (which is one of the aims of the anti-conversion law) and does not know how to take the Kingdom of God then the Dalits will move to Islam or Buddhism or any other system that offers them equal human dignity, full spiritual rights and empowerment.

It is important to recognize that the ‘macro’ extension of the Kingdom of God is at hand in India. The Church will need to obey and follow the principles of the Kingdom of God.[30]

In 2002, Dayal and D’Souza supplied atrocity literature to Congressman Edolphus Towns in his testimony to the US Congress. On February 4, 2002, Towns called for a breakup of Indian territories as a result of the alleged atrocities on minorities of India by the “pro-fascist Hindutva forces of Sangh Parivar.”[31] He concludes that “this is a well-established part of India’s ongoing campaign to establish itself as the hegemonic power in South Asia.”[32] Thus, India is declared a bully and an oppressor in South Asia and should be controlled by the US! But, Towns’ nonsensical and sinister recommendation to the US Congress is the most shocking element of the testimony. Citing information supplied by AICC, he recommends the following:

Given these activities, it is time to strike a blow for freedom by suspending all American aid to India [emphasis added] until it respects all human rights for all people and by supporting an internationally monitored vote on independence for Christian Nagaland, for Punjab, Khalistan, for Kashmir (which it promised in 1948) [emphasis added], and for all the other nations seeking their freedom. These are very moderate measures [emphasis added], Mr. Speaker, but they are measures that can go a long way to help promote real freedom and democracy in South Asia.[33]

If the balkanization of India is considered a “moderate measure” one can only imagine what Congressman Towns deems as “significant measures!”

In 1998, Towns appealed to the US Congress to declare India a terrorist state, based again on numbers provided by certain “human right groups.”[34]

In 2006, John Dayal and AICC, along with the Evangelical Fellowship of India, hosted a conference called Transform World: India 2006, in Hyderabad. The conference was a venue “…where Christians of the nation and from around the world can come together to discuss and debate on how to bring the total transformation in the lives, families, communities, villages, towns, cities and nations through the fullness of Jesus’ love and his teaching [emphasis added].[35]  Hence, the conference was a platform for various evangelical organizations to congregate and plan a common strategy to convert Indians and especially Hindus. In the conference, YSR Reddy, the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, who notoriously aided missionary activity, remarked as follows:

The Christian missionaries have set a model in bringing transformation in the state of Andhra Pradesh as well as in the whole of the country…The tradition of mission continues in India even after European missionaries have left India.[36]

Luis Bush, Chairman of Transform World and board member of DFN,[37] was one of the key dignitaries at the event, along with other members of AICC and DFN. Bush is one of the main forces behind the Joshua Project, the massive international evangelical initiative to “…highlight the ethnic people groups of the world with the fewest followers of Christ.”[38] The Joshua Project believes that “[a]ccurate, regularly updated ethnic people group information is critical for understanding and completing the Great Commission” [39] of Jesus Christ. Bush was also the International Director for the AD 2000 and Beyond Movement, which sought to “…encourage cooperation in establishing a church within every unreached people group and making the gospel available to every person by the year 2000.”[40] The AD 2000 and Beyond Movement then transformed into the Joshua Project.[41]

(c)    Bernard Malik

Bernard Malik is currently on FIACONA’s advisory board[42] and was the organization’s president from 2008 to 2010.[43] In fact, the old FIACONA website (www.indianchristians.us) is registered to Malik and was established on December 26, 2001.[44] Interestingly, the AICC’s website address (www.indiachristians.in) is exactly the same as that of FIACONA’s old website (except the country suffix), showing another close connection between FIACONA and AICC.

Besides his involvement in FIACONA, Malik is the founder president of the International Council of Evangelical Churches (ICEC).[45] ICEC started the Staines International Award for Religious Harmony[46] in memory of Australian evangelist Graham Staines who was killed in 1999 by a mob in Orissa, India. Staines was involved in conversion of poor tribal villagers in Orissa. In 2000, ICEC presented this award to Archbishop Alan de Lastic, the former president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India as well as to John Dayal for their work on “human rights” in India.[47] Similarly, in 2003, ICEC bestowed this award on Teesta Setalvad and Admiral L. Ramdass for having “…championed the cause of secular India and … been heroic promoters of religious harmony.”[48] Ramdass works hand-in-glove with the likes of Setalvad, Shabnam Hashmi, Harsh Mander and many other champions of CAG to characterize Hindus and India as oppressors.

(d)   Sajan George

Sajan K George sits on FIACONA’s advisory board.[49] He is the president of Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), another group that advocates the rights of Christians in India. The council maintains a website (www.persecution.in) that chronicles alleged persecutions of Christians in India.[50] The council is also featured in many articles that pillory India for alleged religious freedom violations of Christians. In 2009, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom put India on the Watch List alongside Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Laos, the Russian Federation, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey and Venezuela.[51] Interestingly, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China were absent on the same list. Applauding this decision along with John Dayal of AICC, George deemed India as a “‘super violator’ of human rights”[52] in a statement to Compass Direct News.

However, the Orissa Christian community leaders (Orissa was the scene of 2008 Kandhamal communal riots) took a strong exception to this report and labeling India as such. Speaking to The Indian Express, Orissa Minority Forum president Swarupananda Patra remarked: “Minorities in India have been targets of hate campaign by a small section, but the civil society of the majority community has been extremely cordial and supportive of the minority community in the state…”[53] Similarly, “…Orissa Secular Front said riots in 2002 in Gujarat and Kandhamal in 2008 were painful, but could not be generalised to embarrass the strong secular foundation of India.”[54] The Christian leaders also pointed out that they had “…initiated the process of peace and harmony to strengthen brotherhood among communities, forgetting the violence that took place after the killing of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati…”[55] The spirit and intent shown in these comments are in sharp contrast to how FIACONA and the likes of Sajjan George, John Dayal and other evangelicals portray India. It also displays the sinister designs of FIACONA and its sister organizations in the US and in India.

(e)    George Abraham

George Abraham, a member-at-large of FIACONA,[56] is also the president of the Indian National Overseas Congress (INOC),[57] part of the Congress Party of India.[58] Abraham started INOC in 1998 with its first meeting at his house and has been a leading figure in INOC ever since.[59] Besides being associated with FIACONA for a long time, he is also one of the national coordinators for Non-Resident Indians for Secular and Harmonious Indian (NRI-SAHI),[60] discussed here. Other prominent members and founders of NRI-SAHI include Shrikumar Poddar of the Vaishnava Center of Enlightenment (discussed here) and other Hindu groups in CAG, along with Shaheen Khateeb, a former IAMC president.

Abraham is also associated with the Indian Christian Forum,[61] another evangelical member of the CAG, discussed here.

In 2005, FIACONA lobbied the Asian American Hotel Owner’s Association (AAHOA) not to invite Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to its annual convention. George Abraham, speaking on behalf of FIACONA, made a rather unsubstantiated claim that Mr. Modi “…planned and executed the massacre…”[62] Such dangerous conclusions continue to pervert the minds of Christians, Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat and in India even after numerous inquiries have cleared Mr. Modi of any involvement in the riots.

 

Section 7.02    FIACONA’s Views on Indian History and Hinduism

Since its early years in India, the Church has been concocting all sorts of theories in order to stake its claim on India and its people. In fact, the Church has done this with all native populations, be it in the United States, in Latin America, in Africa or in Asia. The Church’s role, along with European colonial powers, to fabricate the Dravidian narrative, is well documented by Malhotra and Neelakandan (2011).

FIACONA and the Indian Christian evangelicals are no exception and in fact follow these fabrications verbatim in order to highlight the idea that Hinduism is foreign to India, that Brahmins were the “evil White Aryans” who oppressed the “Dark Skinned Dravidians”, and that there was really no Hinduism in Southern India.

(a)    The Myth of Saint Thomas

An interesting attempt to digest Hinduism into Christian historical narrative and dogma has been underway in India for decades. One of the medieval myths is the arrival of St. Thomas, one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ, in India.

FIACONA, its members and advisers believe in this fabrication by stating the following on their website:

The dawn of Christianity [in] South Asia dates back to the arrival of Saint Thomas [at) Kodungallur in Kerala in 52 AD and establishment of the Seven Churches. He returned to Mylapore, Chennai in 72 AD where he attained martyrdom….The Syrian Malabar Nasrani people are an ethnic community in Kerala, South India. Their tradition goes back to the very beginnings of first-century Christian thought and the seven churches that were established by St. Thomas the Apostle among the natives and the Jewish diaspora in Kerala. They follow a unique Hebrew-Syriac Christian tradition which includes several Jewish elements along with some Hindu customs. Their heritage is Syriac-Keralite, their culture South Indian, their faith St. Thomas Christian, and their language Malayalam.[63]

In essence, the Indian Christian community can find its heritage in St. Thomas’ arrival and martyrdom in Kerala almost 2000 years ago. According to this myth, St. Thomas was a peaceful apostle who was sharing the message of peace when the local dark-skinned Indians turned on him and killed him. Here in itself, one can see the implicit blame placed on “evil Hinduism” and Brahmins.

Malhotra and Neelakandan (2011) debunk this myth by providing the historical background as well as broad-based evidence (including that from Christian scholars) in order to invalidate this myth. According to them, when this theory was first proposed it was rejected by Christian scholars, for example the famous Jesuit Indologist Fr. Henry Heras (1888-1955), who hotly contested the claim that Thomas’ grave had been found in Madras.[64]

But, in the 1970s, an evangelist named M. Deivanayagam started twisting Tamil classical texts and superimposed Christian meanings on them.

[Though] repeatedly rejected by the well-established Tamil scholars, Deivanayagam’s work was promoted by academic bodies that were controlled by Dravidian identity politics. This included the International Institute of Tamil Studies and the specially created Christian Studies Chair at Madras University.[65]

This was combined with heavy support from the Vatican and, all of a sudden, interesting “discoveries” started being made near famous Hindu temples, thus creating social tensions with Hindus.

On the other side, Malhotra and Neelakandan point out that the archbishop of Mylapore manufactured archeological evidence to prove the myth of St. Thomas.

In 1975, he hired a Christian convert from Hinduism to fabricate epigraphic evidence proving the visit of St Thomas to South India. When this hired gun failed, the archbishop sued him in court. The Illustrated Weekly of India raised questions alleging corruption in this case.[66]

In the meantime, a Catholic priest claimed that his parish had unearthed a stone cross established by St. Thomas in 57 CE.

The location was close to the ancient Mahadeva temple at Nilakkal, in the sacred eighteen hills of the deity of Sabrimala. Soon, a church with a five-foot granite cross was erected and consecrated by top Catholic clergy, and daily prayers were started.[67]

However, several well known Indians (including Christians) were suspicious of the newly discovered cross. One such person was Dr. C.P. Mathew, who published a letter in a prominent newspaper, which read:

A piece of granite in the shape of a cross [that is] said to have been recovered from the site is going to strike at the very root of communal harmony in the state. If at all it has any significance, it is for the Department of Archaeology [to decide]. Some narrow-minded, selfish Christian fanatics (both priests and laymen) are behind this. The Christian community in general is not interested in this episode.[68]

Naturally, this created tension between Hindus and Christians. The Hindus saw this as an invasion on one of their most sacred pilgrimage sites. All of a sudden, the cross vanished when Hindus demanded an independent inquiry by the Archaeological Survey of India.

But, the myth continues as fact today and the Church has made this a strategic centerpiece in establishing its authority in that part of India and contrast Hindu intolerance with Christian goodness. In 2006, the Roman Catholic Church built the St Thomas Museum to cement this myth as fact in people’s minds. Malhotra and Neelakandan expose the inherent falsity in the figures shown in the Museum. They highlight the fact that one of the figures is identified as Kandappa Raja (Gondophares), the supposed king of Mylapore whom St Thomas converted.[69] However, they point out:

…Gondophares was not the king of Mylapore, but the first Indo-Parthian king who ruled over Kabul valley located over a thousand miles away. The museum website dates the sculpture as belonging to the seventh century, but Gondophares ruled in the first century BCE.[70]

Another figure at the Museum shows St Thomas holding a book in his left hand with the right hand in the “blessing” or “teaching” pose. However, Malhotra and Neelakandan point out that “…since the New Testament was compiled in the fourth century CE and Bibles in bound-book form became popular only after the printing press was invented in 1455, St Thomas could not have been carrying pocket-sized Bible when he came to India.”[71] Similarly, “…the altar at the Mount Church of St Thomas displays a painting of Jesus with Mary, clearly belonging to the renaissance period. Yet, the Church declares it to have been brought by Thomas himself and painted by none other than St Luke.”[72]

Finally, as testament to the acts of evil Brahmins, a picture placed inside the altar of St. Thomas shows a dark-skinned Hindu with a typical Brahmin hairstyle piercing the apostle from behind while St. Thomas is solemnly in prayer before the cross.[73]

Thus, despite evidence to prove otherwise, the Church has deliberately fanned this myth to establish its credibility and history in India. And, evangelicals like FIACONA have taken it to form the basis of their belief about Christianity in India. Indeed, John Prabhudoss, the founder of FIACONA, has the following to say on his website about the St. Thomas myth and about Hinduism: “Christianity in the state of Kerala, India, was first introduced by Apostle Thomas in AD 52 much before the modern-day Hinduism, as we know of it today, evolved.”[74]

Similarly, Thomas Oommen, one of the Members-at-Large of FIACONA[75] and the president of Indian Christian Forum[76] noted in a news article that “…Christianity has had a presence in India for over two millennia. Christianity arrived in India with the coming of Thomas the Apostle during the 1st century.”[77]

Section 7.03    Dalit Christians – An Inconvenient Truth

FIACONA and Christian evangelists continue to harp on the evils of the Caste System and pin the blame on Hinduism and “Brahminic oppressors”. Therefore, one needs to evaluate the following questions – Are the converted lot (i.e. the Dalits and the so-called lower caste Hindus) better off as Christians? Have they been truly emancipated from the ostracism and repression that they faced under the so-called Hindu Caste System?

The information below proves otherwise. It also highlights the fact that the so-called Caste System of India is not a Hindu religious problem, but a social problem prevalent among all the religions in India, including Christianity.

Dalit Christians, those Dalits that converted to escape their segregation in the so-called Caste System, are still ostracized by the so-called Upper Caste Christians.

The figure below, from a 2010 BBC article,[78] is an excellent example of how caste hierarchy is practiced in the Church. The picture illustrates a wall that separates the burials of Dalit Christians in Trichy, Tamil Nadu from those of the so-called Upper Caste Christians.

Dalit Burial Wall_BBC

 

 

 

 

Father Lourdunathan Yesumariyan, a Jesuit priest, lawyer and Dalit activist, highlights the dire situation of Dalit Christians. He says: “In Tamil Nadu, over 70% of Catholics are Dalit converts. But only four out of 18 bishops are from the Dalit-Christian community….In many places influential caste groups have lobbied and made sure that only the person belonging to their caste is appointed as bishop in their diocese.”[79]

Similarly, an article in US Catholic Magazine points out that though 70% of the Catholic Church population in India is Dalit, only 600 of the 17,000 and six of the 160 bishops are from the Dalit community.[80]

Even when Christians get married, they specify caste requirements for the matrimonial. Yesumariyan notes: “There are hardly any inter-caste marriages among converted Christians. Until recently, Church-run magazines carried matrimonial advertisements containing specific caste references. Only after our protest [did] they stop it.”[81]

RL Francis, founder of the Poor Christian Liberation Movement, provides further examples. Francis established the movement in 1990 to fight for the so-called Lower Caste Dalit Christians and to ensure that Dalit Christians are given equal rights in the Church rather than being considered outcasts all over again. Francis argues that while the Church has massive resources at its disposal in India, it has left behind the poor Dalit population in its ambitions of building an empire in India. As he points out:

[The] Church has [the] largest land-holding after the government of India and many such properties are in posh colonies. [It controls] 22% of the educational system and 30% of the health[care] system; despite that poor Christians are dying and our Church leaders are busy fighting for religious freedom and to get special status for their institutions…Dalit Christians [are left far behind]… Hindu Dalits. Hindu society had provided them opportunity to grow whereas [the] Church remained busy building its empire.[82]

Similarly, in 2012, Fr. William Premdass Chaudhary wrote a book, An Unwanted Priest: The Autobiography of Father William Premdass Chaudhary (2012, Jay Kay Enterprises).  The book is a scathing account of the elitist mindset of the Church in India along with the injustice meted out to Dalit Christians.[83]  It also raises questions on how the Church manages its financials. Chaudhary, in his autobiography, points out that the Dalits convert from Hinduism in order to escape discrimination. However, even after their conversion, the situation doesn’t improve. According to a review of the book:

The Dalit converts think that they are liberated. But, here too, they don’t get any reprieve. As discrimination in the Church system is very subtle, the situation for a Dalit priest like Father William becomes worse and it becomes almost impossible for him to stay in the mainstream of priesthood.[84]

From the above examples, it is clear that Dalits face discrimination and segregation even after conversion into Christianity. It is also clear that while Hinduism is continually blamed for all social evils in India, the problem is pan-religious. But, FIACONA and the Christian evangelicals discount this solely because their one-point agenda is of converting all of India into Christianity.

 

[1] The Great Commission of Christianity is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. It has become a tenet in Christian theology emphasizing ministry, missionary work, evangelism, and baptism.  For further reading, please refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Commission. Accessed January 7, 2014

[2] “Terror in Orissa”, A Christianity Today editorial, October 10, 2008, http://www.fiacona.org/newsdetail.php?catid=98&newsid=495. Accessed January 7, 2014

[3] See the following Press release on FIACONA’s old website: “FEDERATION OF INDIAN AMERICAN CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATIONS (FIACONA) IS FORMED IN WASHINGTON”, October 28, 2000 http://indianchristians.us/pressdetail.php?id=9. Accessed January 7, 2014

[4] Ibid

[5] “US accused of ignoring HR abuses in India”, August 9, 2000, Dawn.com, http://www.dawn.com/news/134214/us-accused-of-ignoring-hr-abuses-in-india. Accessed February 2, 2014

[6] See entry on Ezra Sargunam at JL Williams’ website, http://www.jlwilliams.org/partners/full_entry/asia_india_-_ezra_sargunam/. Accessed January 5, 2014

[7] Ibid.

[8] “Hinduism”, The Greater Atlanta Christian School, http://www.greateratlantachristian.org/NetCommunity/Document.Doc?id=4775, page 51. Accessed January 5, 2014

[9] Sarma, V. V. S. “Christian Invasion of India – Case Study of Andhra Pradesh”, http://www.docstoc.com/docs/35213850/Present-Christian-Invasion-of-India—Case-Study-of-Andhra-Pradesh—DOC, p.1.Accessed January 5, 2014

[10] See the full list of the Board of Directors and The Board of Advisors at http://www.pifras.org/The_Board/the_board.html.  Accessed January 7, 2014

[11] See the WhoIs information at http://www.ip-adress.com/whois/fiacona.org. Accessed January 7, 2014

[12] See section on “Foundations and Organizations” at http://johnprabhudoss.com/. Accessed January 7, 2014

[13] “FIACONA CONDEMNS MUMBAI BOMB BLASTS”, August 27, 2003,  http://indianchristians.us/pressdetail.php?id=32. Accessed January 7, 2014

[14] Malhotra and Neelakandan,  235

[15] Malhotra and Neelakandan, ibid

[16] http://www.fiacona.org/information.php?page=executive. Accessed January 7, 2014

[17] “NRIs Sadbhavana Mission To Gujarat & New Delhi”, Non-Resident Indians for a

Secular and Harmonious India (NRI-SAHI), September 7-15, 2002,  http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:ScRzIvllR6oJ:www.ektaonline.org/nrisahi/press/090702.htm+&cd=13&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us. Accessed January 7, 2014

[18] http://www.fiacona.org/information.php?page=executive. Accessed January 7, 2014

[19] See introduction of Joseph D’Souza at Willow Creek Association’s website at http://news.willowcreek.org/tag/all-india-christian-council/. Accessed January 7, 2014

[20] John Dayal refers to D’Souza as one of the co-founders of AICC on his blog entry “From John Dayal — Request for assistance with inputs in writing Book on Persecution of Christians in India “, at http://johndayal.com/category/christianity/. Accessed January 7, 2014

[21] See FIACONA’s “Presidentorial” by President Abraham Mammen, on Saturday, February 4, 2012, at http://www.fiacona.org/information.php?page=special_focus. Accessed January 21, 2014

[22] Ibid

[23] See the list at http://indianchristians.in/news/content/view/1584/101/. Accessed January 7, 2014

[24] Joseph D’Souza, “INSIGHTS FROM THE RINGSIDE, The Chennai Dalit Mass Conversions Of Dec 6th, 2002”, December 13, 2002, ASSIST News Service, See the brief introduction of D’Souza at the bottom of the Press release. Accessed January 21, 2014

[25] See the list at http://www.dalitnetwork.org/go?/dfn/about/C22/. Accessed January 7, 2014

[26] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 223

[27] “Thousands gather in Delhi for mass conversion rally”, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, November 5, 2001, http://dynamic.csw.org.uk/article.asp?t=news&id=43. Accessed January 7, 2014

[28] D’Souza, ibid

[29] D’Souza, ibid

[30] D’Souza, ibid

[31] Edolphous Towns, “MORE INDIAN REPRESSION OF TRIBAL AND CHRISTIAN MINORITIES”, February 5, 2002, CONGRESSIONAL RECORD – Extension of Remarks, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2002-02-05/pdf/CREC-2002-02-05-pt1-PgE85.pdf. Accessed January 7, 2014

[32] Towns, ibid

[33] Towns, ibid

[34] Edolphous Towns, “INDIA SHOULD BE DECLARED A TERRORIST STATE — [FROM THE NEWS INDIA-TIMES, AUG. 14, 1998]”, October 6, 1998, Federation of American Scientists, https://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1998_cr/h981006-india.htm. Accessed January 7, 2014

[35] M. Madhu Chandra, “Chief Minister Inaugurates Transform World: India 2006 at Hyderabad”, Pakistan Christian Post, October 27, 2006,  http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/headlinenewsd.php?hnewsid=621. Accessed January 7, 2014

[36] Chandra, ibid

[37] See the list of the Advisory Board at http://www.dalitnetwork.org/go?/dfn/about/C22/. Accessed January 7, 2014

[38] “Joshua Project: Purpose and Mission”, http://www.joshuaproject.net/joshua-project.php. Accessed January 7, 2014

[39] Ibid

[40] See Bush’s biography at http://www.ad2000.org/staff/luis.htm. Accessed January 7, 2014

[41] See “Joshua Project: History and Track Record” at http://www.joshuaproject.net/joshua-project.php.  Accessed January 7, 2014

[42] http://www.fiacona.org/information.php?page=executive. Accessed January 7, 2014

[43] See reference to Malik in the following Press Release: “FIACONA elects Abraham P Mammen as President”, December 17, 2010, http://www.fiacona.org/newsdetail.php?catid=95&newsid=908. Accessed January 7, 2014

[44] http://www.whois.net/whois/indianchristians.us. Accessed January 7, 2014

[45] See Malik’s profile on ICEC’s website at http://www.evangelicalcouncil.org/profiles.html. Accessed January 7, 2014

[46] http://www.evangelicalcouncil.org/stains_award.html. Accessed January 7, 2014

[47] http://www.evangelicalcouncil.org/news_events1.html. Accessed January 7, 2014

[48] Ibid

[49] http://www.fiacona.org/information.php?page=executive. Accessed January 8, 2014

[50] James Varghese, “Christian Evangelist And Believer Attacked By Hindu Radicals In Madhya Pradesh State, India “, July 29, 2010, Assist News, http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2010/s10070176.htm. See the reference to GCIC in the following news article. Accessed January 8, 2014

[51] “USCIRF Places India on Watch List”, August 12, 2009, http://www.uscirf.gov/countries/2668.html?task=view. Accessed January 8, 2014

[52] Vishal Arora, “Officials in India on Defensive at ‘Watch List’ Designation”, August 19, 2009, Compass Direct News, http://www.wfia-fm.com/11607485/print/. Accessed January 8, 2014

[53] “Orissa Christian leaders take exception to US report”, August 14, 2009, The Indian Express, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/orissa-christian-leaders-take-exception-to-us-report/502123/. Accessed January 8, 2014

[54] Ibid

[55] Ibid

[56] http://www.fiacona.org/information.php?page=executive. Accessed January 8, 2014

[57] See Abraham’s picture and rehttp://inociusa.org/php/showINOCPhotos.php?linkid=1. Accessed January 8, 2014

[58] See reference to INOC’s affiliation with “Indian National Congress” at the former’s website http://inociusa.org/php/subpage.php?linkid=2. Accessed January 8, 2014

[59] “FIACONA congratulates George Abraham on becoming the President of INOC”, March 31, 2012. http://www.fiacona.org/newsdetail.php?catid=95&newsid=993. See FIACONA president Abraham Mammen’s comments on the history of INOC. Accessed January 8, 2014

[60] See reference to Abraham in the following news article: Imtiaz Muqbil, “Non-Resident Indians Hear Warning About Foreign Funding of Sectarian Agendas”, January 22, 2006, Travel Impact Newswire, http://www.travel-impact-newswire.com/2006/01/non-resident-indians-hear-warning-about-foreign-funding-of-sectarian-agendas/#axzz2ppCL62KI. Accessed January 8, 2014

[61] See George Abraham’s introduction under “Who Are Sadbhavana”, on NRI-SAHI’s website at http://www.ektaonline.org/nrisahi/press/090702.htm. Accessed January 8, 2014

[62] “Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations commends AAHOA and responds to the developments on Modi visa issue”, March 20, 2005,  http://www.zoominfo.com/CachedPage/?archive_id=0&page_id=2010627452&page_url=//www.fiacona.org/Press_Releases/PR20050320.htm&page_last_updated=2008-03-10T21:08:52&firstName=Bernard&lastName=Malik. Accessed January 8, 2014

[63] http://www.fiacona.org/information.php?page=history. Accessed January 9, 2014

[64] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 89

[65] Malhotra and Neelakandan, ibid

[66] Malhotra and Neelkandan, 95

[67] Malhotra and Neelakandan, ibid

[68] Malhotra and Neelkandan, 95-96

[69] Malhotra and Neelkandan, 97

[70] Malhotra and Neelkandan, ibid

[71] Malhotra and Neelkandan, 98

[72] Malhotra and Neelkandan, ibid

[73] Malhotra and Neelkandan, ibid

[74] See section titled “Humble beginnings” at http://johnprabhudoss.com/. Accessed January 8, 2014

[75] See the following Press release mentioning various members and officers of FIACONA: “FIACONA elects a New Team during the 8th Annual General Body Meeting”, June 25, 2008, http://www.fiacona.org/newsdetail.php?newsid=93. Accessed January 8, 2014

[76] Oommen is quoted as President of ICF in the following news article: “SONAL SHAH’S APPOINTMENT TO OBAMA TEAM EVOKES PROTEST”, NRI Today, http://www.nritoday.net/national-affairs/465-sonal-shahs-appointment-to-obama-team-evokes-protest. Accessed January 8, 2014

[77] Oommen’s statement is quoted in the following news article: Deena Guzder, “Violence against Indian Christians Raises Alarm in the United States”, September 12, 2008, The Indian Express, http://deenaguzder.com/newly-published-articles/various-publications/indian-express. Accessed January 8, 2014

[78] Swaminathan Natarajan, “Indian Dalits find no refuge from caste in Christianity”, September 13, 2010, BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11229170. Accessed January 8, 2014

[79] Natarajan, ibid

[80] Megan Sweas, “Caste off: The plight of Catholic Dalits in India”, February 8, 2013, U.S. Catholic, http://www.uscatholic.org/articles/201301/caste-26818. Accessed January 8, 2014

[81] Natrajan, ibid

[82] See RL Francis’ post dated Friday, March 29, 2013 at http://www.dalitchristian.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=212:2013-03-29-05-55-29&catid=43:latest-news&Itemid=85. Accessed January 9, 2014

[83] See a review of the book by News Wala at http://www.newswala.com/India-National-News/An-Unwanted-Priest-an-autobiography-of-Father-William-Premdass-Chaudhary-10690.html. Accessed January 9, 2014

[84] Ibid