Abbreviations not elaborated in the paragraphs
DFN - Dalit Freedom Network
PIFRAS - Policy Institute for Religion and State
Recent DFN Activities In 2005, DFN representatives, along with Kancha Ilaiah, provided testimony to a US government subcommittee on human rights, in which they advocated US interventionist policies against India. The hearing was titled, ‘Equality and Justice for 200 Million Victims of the Caste System’.64 The chairman of the US Commission on Global Human Rights supported DFN’s position, saying, ‘Converts to Christianity and Christian missionaries are particularly targeted, and violence against Christians often goes unpunished’. John Dayal, who has close ties with DFN, hailed this criticism of India as a ‘historic moment’.65
All India Christian Council (AICC)
Although DFN is based in the US, it is affiliated with the All India Christian Council, which is described as ‘the largest alliance in India of Church bodies and Christian entities’ and a ‘nation-wide alliance of Christian denominations, mission agencies, institutions, federations and Christian lay leaders’.72 It has been affiliated with Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which is led by Baroness Caroline Cox.73 (See Chapter Sixteen for more details on CSW and the baroness.) CSW has facilitated the globalization of the Christian-Dalit axis, such as at the 2001 Durban conference, where it championed a stand against the government of India.74 One of its heroes, John Dayal, has been delivering many testimonies on India’s atrocities and calling on various Western bodies to intervene.75
In 2002, PIFRAS held a South Asia conference, sponsored by United Methodist Board of Church and Society and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. Other prominent think-tanks (mostly right-wing or evangelism-oriented) also joined in sponsoring, including: Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Center for Religious Freedom, Freedom House, the Institute for Religion in Public Policy, and the Apostolic Commission for Ethics and Policy. In the conference, John Dayal contended that minorities could not count on the Indian state to protect them, or to prosecute crimes committed against them. Bruce Robertson urged faith-based nongovernmental organizations (i.e. foreign Christian-sponsored groups) to provide more of the community services that governments are not providing in India. K.P. Singh, who is on the faculty of the University of Washington in Seattle, went unchallenged on his outrageous claim that ‘since India’s independence, about three million Dalit women have been raped and one million Dalits have been killed’.113
A Tehelka investigative report of 2004 showed that massive foreign funding claimed to be for HIV/AIDS programs was being used by Christian groups for evangelism. According to the report, even the official government slogan for AIDS prevention was changed by Christian NGOs. The government policy, ABC for ‘Abstinence, Behavioral change and Condoms’, was modified to replace ‘Condoms’ with ‘Convert/Christ’.114 There are also direct foreign efforts to alter the Indian law. When the Indian government felt that the foreign funds of NGOs needed more transparency, John Dayal, who presides over the All India Christian Council and United Christian Forum for Human Rights, testified against the Indian government at PIFRAS-sponsored hearings and symposiums at Washington. The institute’s press release stated: Mr Dayal has been at the forefront in addressing government allegations that the money received from foreign sources is being used for religious conversions. . . .115
Freedom House is another powerful institution which relies almost exclusively on the testimonies from Christian-sponsored Dalit activists. These testimonies are highly exaggerated, sensationalized and distorted accounts of Indian political developments. Freedom House has a liberal-sounding entity called ‘Center for Religious Freedom’. However, its report on The Rise of Hindu Extremism (2003) relied heavily on ‘generous contributions’ made by Rev Cedric Prakash as well as ‘significant work’ done by Timothy Shah, Vinay Samuel, and the Director of PIFRAS, John Prabudoss. These persons, as the reader shall see, continue to appear across most of these think-tanks and the commissions and symposiums they conduct. Also involved were John Dayal and Joseph D’souza of the All India Christian Council, and representatives of the Dalit Freedom Network, the Indian Social Institute Human Rights Documentation Center, the United Christian Forum for Human Rights, the All India Federation of Organizations for Democratic Rights, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, and the National Alliance of Women.116 There was no equivalent representation from opposing views, nor any context provided to explain the geopolitical agendas in which these individuals and groups operate. In other words, their heavy conflict of interest was simply buried, and the report’s mostly American readers did not bother to demand transparency.
At first the Indian Catholic Church publicly distanced itself from giving testimony to the commission, with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) describing as ‘unwarranted’ the proposed hearing on religious freedom in India being held in Washington. Father D’souza stated that anti-Christian violence at the hands of Hindu extremists has not crossed the ‘gross human rights violations situation that calls for interference in internal affairs of the nation’.17 But to play both sides strategically, the Indian Church allowed John Dayal, the national vice-president of All India Catholic Union, to attend the hearing in the US and present his compilation of allegations of anti-Christian bias against the Indian government. While Father D’souza defended Indian sovereignty, he supported Dayal’s testimony in his ‘individual capacity and not as a representative of the Church’.18 Such ‘Good Cop / Bad Cop’ gamesmanship is a common strategy that Indian Christians have learned from the West. As we shall see later in this section, this Good Cop posture was temporary, and they acquiesced to the Bad Cops subsequently.
The 2003 report takes a stand against India’s Foreigners Act because it regulates the free flow of US evangelists. An investigative report by an Indian journal Tehelka said: ‘The 2003 US report is a no-nonsense document that conveys the official US policy supporting evangelization. It openly admits that “US officials have continued to engage state officials on the implementation and reversal of anti-conversion laws”’. This US posture echoes John Dayal’s testimony before the Commission that, ‘It is almost impossible for a foreign Christian church worker, preacher or evangelist to come to India unless it is as a tourist’.25 Suddenly, the Catholic Church, which had until then stayed out of such report writing (while allowing its individual activists to participate in their personal capacities), now abruptly changed its stand. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India explicitly expressed unhappiness with the USA’s refusal to designate India as one of the ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ with regard to religious freedom. It openly called for the US to prosecute India for ‘a spate of violence against minority communities’. The Church ‘did not share the US administration’s decision’ that had listed alleged anti-Christian activities but not recommended sanctions against India. The Church wrote to the American Secretary of State, asking that India be placed in the category of ‘egregious religious freedom violators’ along with five others – Burma, China, Iran, North Korea, and Sudan. Such countries would attract punitive action under the US International Religious Freedom Act.26 The good cops in the Indian Catholic Church had given way to the hardliners. The Commission urged US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to take up the matter with India during his negotiations on Islamic terrorism in the south Asian region. In its report, the Commission said that it had met Armitage to discuss placing India on the list of Countries of Particular Concern. Given the delicate situation in the USA’s fight against the Taliban in Pakistan, Armitage told them that USCIRF should not go against India at this time. Expressing unhappiness, All India Christian Council president John Dayal said, ‘We are greatly disappointed’.27 Bishop Sargunam, who was head of the Tamil Nadu Minorities Commission, issued a statement as a press release by the Federation on Indian American Christian Organizations of North America: The US government, which stands for justice and freedom around the world, has been complacent in addressing human rights violations continuing to take place in India. Bishop Ezra Sargunam made this point forcefully in his meetings with officials of the State Department in Washington, DC, yesterday and today. On behalf of the Social Justice Movement of India he submitted a Memorandum highlighting the resurgence of attacks against the religious minorities, Dalits and the Tribal people . . . Bishop Sargunam and P.D. John also met officials at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and on Capitol Hill . . . Bishop Sargunam expressed his disappointment in the US Administration’s reluctance to address these kinds of continuing serious human rights violations with their Indian counterparts.28 2004 During the 2004 hearings, a four-member delegation of US Congressmen visited India to investigate on behalf of the USCIRF. Its leader, the Christian fundamentalist Joseph Pitts, said that the delegation would report to Congress about ‘the anti-conversion laws, treatment of Dalits and anti-minority violence to be included in the country reports’. Pitts attacked the anti-conversion law calling, it a ‘reversal of human rights in the land of the Mahatma Gandhi’.29 Congressman Steve Chabot compared the situation in Gujarat to that of Rwanda. AICC secretary-general John Dayal said that his delegation of Indian minorities had put concrete demands before the US delegation: ‘One of our demands is that there must be reservations for minorities in the foreign companies that collaborate with India’.30 This mobilized the global Christian lobby to ask for preferences for Indian Christians as employees and in business trade and investment deals at the expense of non-Christians. What is clear is that Indian Christian leaders collaborate with the US right-wing Christians. The Indians are encouraged to dish out atrocity literature to feed into the US system, so that the Americans can use it as a justification for action. In return, these Indians are built up by their American sponsors and paraded as world-class activists and champions of the oppressed.
the rape of nuns, the destruction of churches, the assault on a priest, are ominous signals to Christians of all denominations. . . . How many perpetrators against the Christian community in India have been brought to book? Commissions of inquiry are appointed but very little comes out of them. Action? Seldom! A true picture or a distorted, engineered report? Against this backdrop we are expected to report objectively and dispassionately, to be correct and impartial. It is no wonder that those who try to do their Christian duty are branded as activists. Talking of activists, three days before I left Chennai I met John Dayal, the editor of the midday newspaper, based in Delhi. He has involved himself in the United Christian Council, which is currently involved in telling Christians about various anti-Christian activities around India, activities which, as a journalist, he obviously is privy to. We are due to have our general elections during the month of September and, the information he gave at that meeting was most valuable. I heard him and I also saw the reaction from the six hundred organisations that were represented. . . . Christian media persons like ourselves have to use the power we have to influence. 99
Gegrapha is a facilitator of Christian journalists who ground their professional work in personal faith and use their transnational connections. Stephen David is another strategically placed Gegrapha member who is the principal correspondent on political and current affairs for India Today, the country’s largest news weekly. Such journalists now comprise a rapidly growing group across India’s media, where they can act behind the scenes in framing the news. Yet, the impressions that are created internationally by John Dayal, Jennifer Arul and other high-profile Indian Christian journalists, is that the Indian media is anti-Christian, that Hindus terrorize Christians, and hence, foreign intervention is necessary for justice in India. This is music to the ears of their sponsors, who, naturally, reach for the pocket book.
Evangelization, says: Never before has this kind of information on India been so carefully surveyed, prepared, well published and distributed. . . . We do not believe it is accidental. God is allowing us to ‘spy out the land’ that we might go in and claim both it and its inhabitants for Him.104 John Dayal resonates with Luis Bush and wants all Indian proselytizers to study such population databases: Dayal suggests that all those seeking consecration or ordination from a Christian institution must be made to read and pass a simple examination based on the contents of at least the first volume, the Preface, of the multi-series book, ‘People of India’, published on behalf of the Anthropological Survey of India by Seagull Books.105
The complete bibliography referred to in the above paragraphs can also be found below.
64. (US Commission Global Human Rights, 2005)
65. (asianews.it, 2006)
72. (AICC, 1998:2010)
73. (indianchristians.in, 2001)
74. (CSW, 2001, 14)
75. See the section on US Commission on International Religious Freedom for AICC/John Dayal testimonies against India.
113. (News Media, 23 July 2002)
114. (Shashikumar. VK, 2004)
115. (John. PD, 2002)
116. (Marshall, 2003)
17. the father-son Robertsons are from (Hinduism Today Archives, 1995)
18. (Hinduism Today Archives 1995)
25. The official bio of its international president, Dr Joseph D’Souza, states that he ‘lives in India and operates out of London and Denver.’ Jospeh D’Souza runs US-based Dalit Freedom Network (DFN). Significantly, he is also featured on the webpage of Gospel of Asia as the executuve director of Operation Mobilization in India. (See (GFA, 1996:2009)) DFN’s other directors include: Peter Dance (India Director-OM USA, Operation Mobilization, Tyrone,GA), Melody Divine, J.D. (Former Judiciary Counsel and Foreign Policy Advisor, Rep. Trent Franks, Rep-AZ Denver), Bob Beltz (advisor to the chairman, The Anschutz Corporation, Denver), Richard Sweeney (chief operating officer, Dalit Freedom Network, Greenwood Village), Gene Kissinger (chairman of the Board Interim President and CEO, DFN Outreach Pastor, Cherry Hills Community Church Highlands Ranch), Cliff Young (lead singer, Caedmon’s Call Houston, TX ), Ken Heulitt (VP and chief financial officer, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago), Kumar Swamy (South India Regional Director, OM India Bengaluru, Karnataka India).
26. (Fahlbusch, Bromiley and Barrett, 1999, 642)
27. (www.omusa.org 2002)
28. (Cademon’s Call, 2004)
29. (DFN, 2003:2010)
99. (www.rightwingwatch.org, 2008)
104. (Sharlett, 2008, 260-72). These pages offer a revealing portrait of Senator Brownback.
105. (Towns, 2 Augyst 2001, 18 March 2003)
Reproduced from the Kindle version of the book Breaking India with permission from the author.