Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gandhi on Proselytism

Gandhi on Proselytism

Interview to a Missionary Nurse May 11 1935 (Page 48)

Would you prevent missionaries coming to India in order to baptize?

Who am I to prevent them? If I had power and could legislate, I should certainly stop all proselytizing. It is the cause of much avoidable conflict between classes and unnecessary heart-burning among missionaries. But I should welcome people of any nationality if they came to serve here for the sake of service. In Hindu households the advent of a missionary has meant the disruption of the family coming in the wake of change of dress, manners, language, food and drink.

Is it not the old conception you are referring to? No such thing is now associated with proselytization ?
The outward condition has perhaps changed but the inward mostly remains. Vilification of Hindu religion, though subdued, is there. If there was a radical change in the missionaries’ outlook, would Murdoch’s books be allowed to be sold in mission depots? Are those books prohibited by missionary societies? There is nothing but vilification of Hinduism in those books. You talk of the conceptionbeing no longer there. Only the other day a missionary descended on a famine area withmoney in his pocket, distributed it among the famine-stricken, converted them to his fold, took charge of their temple and demolished it. This is outrageous. The temple could not belong to the converted Hindus, and it could not belong to the Christian missionary. But this friend goes and gets it demolished at the hands of the very men who only a little while ago believed that God was there.

But, Mr. Gandhi, why do you object to proselytization as such? Is not there enough in the Bible to authorize us to invite people to a better way of life?

Oh yes, but it does not mean that they should be made members of the Church. If you interpret your texts in the way you seem to do,you straight away condemn a large part of humanity unless it believes as you do. If Jesus came to earth again, he would disown many things that are being done in the name of Christianity. It is not he who says “Lord, Lord” that is a Christian, but “He that doeth the will of the Lord” that is a true Christian. And cannot he who has not heard the name of Jesus Christ do the will of the Lord?

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