This is an interview of “Father Johnson’ after his award by the Government of India for his exemplary work in India in enlightening the people in the path of the ONLY God. Father Johnson returned to the USA after 10 years of service, to uplift the people of India in the name of God. The interview was taken in July 2005 by a journalist in Houston, USA……
Question: Welcome home Father. You have been in India for 10 years, where “our mission’ is still going on. Tell me Father, how is India?
Father Johnson: India is a fascinating country, a land of contrasts. Modern India is the largest democracy, the budding economic superpower, with the second-largest pool of scientists and engineers in the world. India is also the only surviving ancient civilization with over one sixth of the world population. At one time, not so long ago, when Europe was in the “dark ages’ and America was not even “discovered’, India was a far advanced and developed country with a contribution of over 25% of world GDP till the 17th century and far advanced in all aspects of life, be it knowledge, philosophy, science, mathematics, arts, astronomy or navigation.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox, (1850-1919), American poet and journalist, wrote “India – The land of Vedas, the remarkable works contain not only religious ideas for a perfect life, but also facts which science has proved true. Electricity, radium, electronics, airship, all were known to the seers who founded the Vedas.”
Dick Teresi, American author of “Lost Discoveries’ mentioned “Some one thousand years before Aristotle, the Vedic people asserted that the earth was round and circled the sun….Two thousand years before Pythagoras, philosophers in northern India had understood that gravitation held the solar system together, and that therefore the sun, the most massive object, had to be at its center….Twenty-four centuries before Isaac Newton, the Hindu Rig-Veda asserted that gravitation held the universe together….. The Sanskrit speaking people subscribed to the idea of a spherical earth in an era when the Greeks believed in a flat one…..The Indians of the fifth century A.D. calculated the age of the earth as 4.3 billion years; scientists in 19th century England were convinced it was 100 million years…”
Despite all its riches, history says that India never invaded any country. On the contrary, India has been repeatedly assaulted and conquered by numerous invaders and has been ruled by “foreigners’, first the Muslims and then the British for over a thousand years. India, before the advent of the British rulers, was a rich and prosperous country.
Rev. Jabez T. Sunderland (1842-1936), Unitarian minister and reformer, wrote that “…when the British first appeared on the scene, India was one of the richest countries of the world; indeed, it was her great riches that attracted the British to her shores. For 2,500 years before the British came on the scene and robbed her of her freedom, India was self-ruling and one of the most influential and illustrious nations of the world ….. This wealth was created by the Hindus’ vast and varied industries.”
Question: What about Hinduism as a religion?
Father Johnson: Hinduism has a deep philosophical and spiritual heritage that has repeatedly mesmerized the world including western scientists, leaders and philosophers. Despite propaganda to the contrary, Hindus, like us, believes in one Supreme God but they do so in many forms, that helps to develop personalized relations. Hinduism is the oldest major religion in the earth with 900 million followers. Unlike monotheistic institutionalized, religions like Judaism, Islam or Christianity, it is not based on any single prophet or scripture, but allows its followers all the freedom to pursue God and Truth in their own way, while living harmoniously with all creation.
We know that the Hindus are tolerant of other religions. Recently, UNESCO pointed out that out of 128 countries where Jews lived before Israel was created, only one, India, did not persecute them and allowed them to prosper and practice Judaism in peace. Similarly the Zoroastrians, when driven out of Persia by Islam were given shelter by the Hindus in India and still coexist in India peacefully. Very recently, the Dalai Lama, driven from Buddhist Tibet, has been accepted with open arms. Such is the ethos of Hinduism and India.
I have heard that Mark Twain once said that “In religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire’. I have also read Arnold Toynbee’s writing “…at the religious level, India has not been a recipient; she has been a giver. About half the total number of the living, higher religions are of Indian origin’. What do you think about it?
We know India gave birth to religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. Hinduism, though the predominant religion, has, to quote Aldous Huxley, “never been a persecuting faith, have preached almost no holy wars and have refrained from that proselytizing religious imperialism which has gone hand in hand with political and economic oppression of colored people.’
What many do not know and I will not elaborate further for obvious reasons, is that there are researchers who think that the teachings of Jesus Christ have something to do with the ancient wisdom of Vedas. The Hindu concepts of “karma’, and “reincarnation’, which are part of the New Age Movement that we see today, were not unknown to Jesus.
Question: Then Father, why do we need to convert people in India?
Father Johnson: You see, we in the western world, have the “white man’s burden’ of civilizing the rest of the world. We also have the need and desire to spread the message of Christ, since we believe that it is the ONLY way to salvation and all other nonbelievers will go to hell. The faith in Christianity is being eroded in Europe and America. That is why our Pope on his visit to India said, “Just as in the first millennium, the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the third Christian millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent.’
Question: Why do you target India?
Father Johnson: India is the right country because Hindu Indians are generally peace-loving tolerant, law abiding people who are truthful and virtuous. India”s devotion to being good rather than being clever comes nearer the heart of a true civilization, said W. J. Grant, in his book,
“The spirit of India’. The unsuspecting Indians have always welcomed everybody on their shore and still keep on doing so. You cannot say the same about a Muslim country or of communist China. You see Hindus are such naive – they go out of their way to say that “all religions are same – they all lead to God’. Christians and for that matter, no other religion, says that.
Question: Where does your resource come from?
Father Johnson: There are five major aid-giving countries, viz., USA, Germany, Britain, Italy and the Netherlands. According to the available data, in the last decade alone, foreign aid organizations received more than 2.5 billion dollars. This is only official statistics. According to the record and report of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, the statistics about the foreign aid being received by Indian Non Government Organizations shows that 80% of it is meant only for the Christian organizations that have been buying their ways into the Indian society and converting unsuspecting people under the guise of social service.
Question: How powerful is Christianity in India?
Father Johnson: Oh, though we are only 2.4% of the population officially, we have a large control over the country because of our economic invasion. You see, the present leader of the main political party-The Congress Party of India is a Roman Catholic with close contact with the Vatican. There are Christian Chief ministers in 5 out of 29 states. Because of the British rule of India, we have a large section of the leaders of India who look up to us. Believe me, we are the second largest land owners in India. We own and control 80% of the Indian media and newspapers .The best example is how these media made a huge hue and cry over the Gujarat riots. Riots have happened everywhere in India. But in case of Gujarat riots, the reports were deliberately inflated, stories were built up and a systematic, planned malicious and slanderous campaign was launched against the NDA government.
Inspite of the fact that India took giant leaps in progress in every field and there was a surge in National pride and self confidence for every Indian during their tenure,India’s Most Popular Government led by India’s Finest Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was made to suffer shock defeat. We overtly or covertly have alliance with key political associations. So it is very easy for us to influence the right people.
Question: You must have a very organized system?
Father Johnson: Yes, we do. Have you heard about the Joshua Project? It identifies and highlights the people groups of the world that have the least exposure to the Gospel and the least Christian presence and shares this information to encourage pioneer church-planting movements among every ethnic group. The Joshua Project has identified the North India Hindi belt as “the core of the core of the core” because of its population density (40% of the Indian population- the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh lies in this region); it is the religious hub of India; and it has the smallest Christian presence in India. Thus detailed plans have been drawn up to target India’s 75,000 Pin Codes.
The Seventh Day Adventists owes its Indian success to Canadian evangelist Ron Watts, President for the South Asian Division. When he entered India, in 1997, the Adventist Church had 225,000 members after 103 years of operations. In five years, he took it to 700,000.
Some methods used include the 10-Village and the 25-Village Programs, which involve five sets of laymen, under guidance from a regular pastor, who identify 10 or 25 villages in close proximity. Once the villages were selected, the teams would approach the leaders of each village and invite them to send two leaders to a 10-day seminar at a nearby resort, at the organization’s expense. It is before no time that the local leaders will then start working for our faith and organization. In 1998, there were seventeen 10-Village Programs and 9,337 were baptized. In 1999, forty programs were held and nearly 40,000 people baptized.
Under the Christian Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. Samuel Rajashekar Reddy, the Adventists shifted to a 50-village plan. They began baptizing at the rate of 10,000 persons per month and have increased it to 5,000 persons per day all over India.
The US-based Maranatha Volunteers International provides buildings for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They are committed to build 750 churches in 2 years in India. The Oregon based, Fjarli family have a goal to build 1000 churches at a rate of 1 per day.
Question: How do you carry out conversion attempts?
Father Johnson: You see the local people are so simple and naïve that they do not have any clue as what out motive or means are. We target mostly the poor, illiterate, tribal people because they are the easiest to convert. We do that by various means – we establish schools, hospitals that overtly or subtly promote our faith, we allure them with money or goods to the needy when they convert, we “stage’ miracle cures, we use our influence on the media, we use our experts in propaganda, we promote the influential people and so on. We use the money sent to us by unsuspecting religious and faithful Christians from all over the world. We have numerous NGO and AID organizations to funnel the money into the country. There are a great number of missionaries of various denominations who are working there, all literally competing for the most number of converts. The Southern Baptists alone are a group that has nearly 100,000 career missionaries in North India, all working to spread our “good word.”
We convince the “natives’ by our appearances and even use their own culture. A native converted person will continue to use his Hindu name so as not to alienate himself. Some of the numerous Catholic priests in Southern India dress like “sannyasis’ (monks), and call their organizations “ashramas’ (hermitage). This is to make Christianity more similar to the Vedic traditions. Bharat Natyam, the classical dance of India, is also taught in the Christian schools, but with Christian symbols and meanings replacing the Vedic. This is all in the attempt to actively sway Hindus over to Christianity. The Evangelical Church of India (ECI), established in 1954, targets the slums, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, in cities and villages. Its logo depicts a cross struck deep in a lotus, the seat of Hindu divinity.
Question: Is the so called caste system in India an advantage?
Father Johnson: The “Caste-ism in India’ is a boon to us. Though Varna or caste was once an essential part of the culture, based on occupation and vocational skills, which kept the civilization going for over 5000 years, caste-ism is a degenerated socio-political system now that has been declared illegal. However it is one big weapon against Hinduism. We have learnt from the colonial British that it is very easy to divide the population on the basis of caste and religion based politics and we use it to our own interest to the maximum. We join the anti-Hindu forces and help to keep the stigma of caste-ism alive for our own benefit. We target the “untouchables’ (the unprivileged people, that has so marvelously crafted to be a result of the Hindu religion and not the social system) and convert them in the lure of “liberating’ them. However I must confess that we maintain their “untouchability’ by not allowing them to mix with the general Christians, maintaining separate entry to churches and even giving them separate churches and cemeteries.
We also use opportunities that God gives us. During natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and the recent Tsunami, taking advantage of the need, we were able to convert successfully entire low caste villages in Tamil Nadu to Christianity with the lure of money and aid.
Question: How successful are you in your conversion attempts?
Father Johnson: Oh we are doing a good job. The Northeast Indian states like Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur, have witnessed a surge of nearly 200% in their Christian population in the past 25 years. Their grasp is so strong now that practicing Hinduism is forbidden in some areas. Hindus can no longer do worship or “puja’ in the open because of our influence.
In another northeast state, Tripura, where there were no Christians at the time of India’s independence, 55 years ago, there are now over 120,000 today. The figures are even more striking in Arunachal Pradesh, where there were only 1710 Christians in 1961, but over 1 million today, along with over 780 churches. In the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, churches are coming-up every day in far flung villages and there is an attempt to set-up one near Tirupati, the world famous Hindu temple. Many of the North-East separatist movements, such as the Mizo or the Bodos, are not only Christian dominated, but also sometimes function with the covert backing of the missionaries. Christian Nagaland terrorists have been killing non-Christians for decades on end. More than 20,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in Assam and Manipur in the past two decades. We understand that there are some social problems that crept up – the northeast states are the highest in India in terms of drugs and AIDS related problem – but we accept that as “casualties of war” –that should not deter us from our goal.
Question: Do you face any resistance?
Father Johnson: Of course we do. But we brand any resistance as “Hindu fundamentalism or militancy” and the media and our favorite leaders take care of the rest. We have set the mind of the unsuspecting population in a way, that whenever any of our people are harassed, attacked or killed, from any reason including their own faults, the blame automatically goes to these so called “Hindu fundamentalist and Communal Elements” and even though almost all of these instances are later proved to have nothing to do with these Hindu groups, the initial hue and cry that is raised makes sure the memories persist in the mind of the populace and the sympathy stays with us. There are instances when nuns have been proved to be raped by Christians, but the blames continues to stay with the Hindus.
Question: Is there any legal barrier?
Father Johnson: Yes there are some rules and laws that sometimes impair our activities. The Indian Supreme Court had declared that: “The right to propagate religion does not mean the right to convert… Conversion done under allurement, use of force and fraud in which the poverty or ignorance of the individual is taken advantage of, is not only undemocratic but also unconstitutional…Respect for all religions is the foundation of secularism whereas the seeds of conversion lie in religious intolerance.”. Anti conversion laws have been passed in various states. But as I said, we have our ways.
Sometimes the law does get us though. We had some instances where members of our faith have been convicted with resultant imprisonment or expulsion. As in churches all over the world, some clergymen have been penalized for cases of sexual exploitation, including pedophilia. But that does not deter us from our goal and our almighty Lord takes care of our soul.
Question: How satisfied are you with the progress of the missions?
Father Johnson: It is really satisfying. We find enormous pleasure in converting the Hindu “pagans’. However I wish we could do more. I wish I could say like St Francis Xavier, during the Goa Inquisition in 1560, “When I have finished baptizing the people, I order them to destroy the huts in which they keep their idols; and I have them break the statues of their idols into tiny pieces, since they are now Christians. I could never come to an end describing to you the great consolation which fills my soul when I see idols being destroyed by the hands of those who had been idolaters.”
Thank you, Father for your time and honesty.
Thank you, my son. God bless you.
“Christianity offers nothing that is not already available somewhere in the many forms of Hinduism. Hinduism never rejected the teachings of Jesus. Those who have converted either agreed with a gun pressed at their skulls as in Goa, or because it provided an escape from caste tyranny, as well as a guaranteed professional advancement. Through its Vedic legacy, Hinduism respects all faiths. It clearly states that God is one, but has many forms”. (Paul William Roberts, author of, “Empire of the Soul: Some journeys in India’)