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Church fortune, Dalit misfortune - a letter - The Pioneer

Sadhana Karnad, Pune - Letter to Editor ()
19 November 1996

Title : Church fortune, Dalit misfortune
Author : Sadhana Karnad, Pune - Letter to Editor
Publication : The Pioneer
Date : November 19, 1996

God helps those who help themselves and therefore the
Church hierarchy appears to be helping themselves to
motivate Mr Anthony Fernandes (The Pioneer, October 27)
to seek job reservations for Dalit Christians. Then, it
is said that charity begins at home but the home where it
begins, the Dalit Christians do not belong.

Perhaps, Mr Fernandes has not read an awesome book, Seven
Hundred Plans to Evangelize the World, authored by David
Barret and James W Reapsome to reap some harvest for
Dalit Christians from the immense Church resources,
instead of targeting the BJP for all their ills.

The authors tell us that it costs "145 billion dollars to
operate global Christianity"; it command 4.1 million
full-time Christian workers (without telling the percent-
age of Dalits employed in reserve category and general);
runs 13,000 major libraries, publishes 22,000
periodicals, issues four billion tracts a year, operates
1,800 Christian Radio/TV stations. There are three
million computers and the "Christian computer speciality"
are "a new kind of Christian army". Gone are the days of
Salvation Army. 4,000 Mission agencies operate a huge
apparatus of Christian world missions manned by 262,300
missionaries costing $8 billion annually. Every year
10,000 new books or articles are published on foreign
evangelization alone. Christianity has expanded a "total
of 160 million worker-years on earth over these 20 centu-
ries". But since a missionary does not live by God
alone, it has cost the Church Exchequer "somewhere in the
neighbourhood of $350 billion", or about $2,200 per year,
per missionary.

However, we are told that though the church had "always
had enormous resources" they did not always avail. For
example, in 1918, $360 million were raised and then the
plan was destroyed within a week. More recently, a plan
which raised $150 million a year collapsed in 1988 in a
sex and management scandal which involved top evangel-
ists. The reference is to Bakkar and Jummy Swaggart of
the Assemblies of God.

A Catholic Church publication, entitled, Catholic Dharama
Ka Pracharak (1956) gives this tip (of an iceberg) to
their missionaries: "To gain access to non-Christian
households, the preacher should know something about
whenever there is some illness in the house (after all a
way to man's soul and conviction is through his stomach -
root cause of common illnesses). Once there, he should
prevail upon the parents that he should be allowed to
baptise the child as the baptism will aid the child's

Unfortunately, by 1956, when this and many other tips
were published, JBS Haldane had not appeared on the
scene. When someone wanted scientific confirmation as to

whether it is true that microbes do not survive in Ganga
waters, Haldane replied, "Yes, even microbes have some
self-respect." By quoting this, the preachers could have
said that water purified by Biblical incantation and
sprinkled during baptism had more miraculous curative
powers than Ganga waters!

Baptism over, the preachers move on to other households
forgetting the Dalits thus added to the flock of Chris-
tianity. The Church in India should ask Mr Barret and Mr
Reapsome to add one more plan to the existing 700 for
emancipation of Dalit Christians.

According to a recent survey, all the churches put to-
gether in India are the next biggest landlords next to
the Government and yet the Dalit Christians remain Dalit.
This reminds me of what Jomo Kenyata had told missiona-
ries: "When you came we held the land and you the Bible,
now you hold the land and we, the Bible."

Sadhana Karnad,

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