From the archive, 17 April 1953: India warns missionaries no evangelising, no politics

source: the Guardian,   17 April 2013


The government of India is keeping a close vigil on the activities of missionaries within its borders

Dr Katju, India's Minister for Home Affairs and Law, has told Parliament that, while everyone in India was free to propagate his religion, the Government of India did not want people from outside to come and do it. Dr Katju was answering a question on the work of foreign missionaries and said: "If they come here to evangelise, then the sooner they stop doing it the better."

This view faithfully reflects that which Mr Rajagopalachari, Premier of Madras, told me two years ago when he explained that Hindus are most tolerant but that this did not mean that missionaries could forever come and treat Hindus as heathen and expect Hindu tolerance to protect them against the rightful indignation of respectable people described as heathen.

Since April, 1951, four American missionary societies and one English one have applied for permission to operate in India, and Dr Katju informed the House that in one case permission had been refused while in others it was still under consideration. The normal procedure is for the National Christian Council of India and the Roman Catholic bishops' conference to recommend any such application. There are now 65 Catholic societies and fifty Protestant societies operating in India.

The Minister assured the House that missionaries are welcome to do educational, medical, philanthropic, and rural work, but they must not meddle in politics nor must they evangelise. Missionaries are missionaries precisely to evangelise either by word of mouth or by their living example, as one woman MP pointed out.

The future of foreign missionaries in secular India is now somewhat gloomy. The reason for this sudden interest and animosity against missionaries from a most tolerant Home Minister, himself a Sanskrit scholar, is perhaps to be found in the attitude of the Naga National Council who boycotted Mr Nehru's meeting in Kohima because they want independence (the Nagas are a hill tribe on the Burmese border) – it is widely believed that missionaries lie at the bottom of the Naga mischief. Indeed, Government officers in the Naga hills have already begun investigating missionary activities, and at least one search of a missionary's house has been reported in the Indian press.

If it is true that missionaries are overstepping their function and are guilty of politics then Dr Katju's warning will doubtless bring them effectively to heel for he has added the stern warning that the Government of India is keeping a close vigil on the activities of missionaries in India.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: best suv | Thanks to trucks, infiniti suv and toyota suv