This is an excerpt from a long article which the late MajorT.R. Vedantam wrote in 1982, and which forms part of Christianity: AnImperialist Ideology published by Voice of India in 1983.
The motivation for Christian evangelism issimple. Disrupt and destroy. Themissions make no secret of it. It is a mistake tothink that Christian missionary enterprise is a religious movement. TheChristians themselves never claimed it to be a religious movement. Itwas a declaration of war and an attack on the religious and culturalset up of the people of Asia and Africa, and it was always politicallymotivated.
Traditional religion has collapsed in Christendom, which isno more Christian. This is a post-war phenomenon. The divorceof the Church and State relationship, the old pattern, is now complete.But it has now emerged in a different form. The old theology based onuntenable doctrines and dogmas has been totally discarded by theindustrialized West withits new religion of scientific technology. The Church, therefore, isundergoing a process known to social scientists aspoliticization. The term does not mean merely political activity.By politicization of religion is meant the internal transformation ofthe faith itself so that it comes to be defined in terms ofpolitical values. This has resulted in the entry of the State intoareas which were formerlythe traditional preserve of the churches. That means, the ChurchState relationship has been reinstated in a new form.
The Church is today a tool for organizing political action asdecided and directed by the State. There isa clear distinction between the involvement of religion with politicsand the reinterpretation of religious values aspolitical values. This is the politicization that is happening inthe modern Church. If the Church does not agree then the justificationfor its existence justdisappears. Christians as a religious body do not exist today inthe Western world in a meaningful way. But Christian evangelism isstill reaping a harvest in theThird World. Thus the political consciousness of Christianity in thedeveloping world actually originated within the politicized churches ofthe old world.The Christian religion has lost the power and the confidence todefine its areas of influence and jurisdiction even on questions ofsocial morality. In their death agonies, the churches are distributingthe causes of their own sickness — the politicization of religion ofthe churches in the developing world in Asia and Africa.This can be a fatal inheritance in the Eastern countries where religionis not yet so dead.1
This is the post-war model of Christian religion. The Chris-tian missions now claim that it has become their duty to liberatethe oppressed and the suppressed all over the world. This movementworks through the World Council of Churches (WCC) andthe International Christian Council, etc. These organisationswork under the direction and control of the governments of theWestern superpowers. The USA, Canada, Britain, and Australiaare in the forefront. USSR and China also seem to have a fingerin the pie on their own terms. The Anglo-American group iskeen to liberate India, Afghanistan, Laos, Kampuchea, VietNam,Thailand, Cuba, Iran, etc. According to them, Tibet, South Korea, SouthAfrica, Rhodesia, El Salvador,Nicaragua, Diego Garcia etc. do not come into thisscheme. Countries in the Soviet zone of influence feel that thesecountries like Tibet, Salvador, South Korea etc. have to be urgentlyliberated from the “tyrannyof the imperialists” and the “Reactionaries.” Leftist groups have alsobeen making a lot of noise about the need for drastic action to betaken to eliminate Racism from Africa.2
It is interesting to note that many of the high-ranking dignitariesof the Church, occupying key positionsin these world councils and the international missionary organizations,happento be all war veterans of World War II vintage. These Patriarchsinstalled as the heads of the Church hierarchy are talking in thelanguage of exporting revolution to other countries. These Christianorganizations, when making serious inroads into politics, usesome special type of technical phraseology to make everythingeuphemistic. In the concept of Liberation Theology are also includedthe concepts of internal disruption, use of violence, civildisobedience, organizing resistance movements, etc.3
While the programme continues and even expands, it isworth noting that most of the money disbursed through thesespecial funds has come not from traditional donors, but fromnew ones, mostly governments. This government element worries somecritics within the organizationswho see in it some dangerous portents. It is a breach of the Church andState relationship brought about not necessarily by philosophicalarguments, but by pragmatic ones involving a political approach.Anotherserious implication is that some governments will be consciouslyaiding subversion in some other country. In 1925, in a conference atStockholm sponsored by Life & Work and the Faith & OrderMovements they postulated the slogan “Doctrine divides: ServiceUnites”. These critics or the dissenters now feel that this slogan hasnow been reversed to read“Doctrine unites; Service divides”. The ethical philosophy of Jesus isdead, and a politicalphilosophy of violence has now taken its place. The developed countriesare now making a serious effort to subvert and overthrow thegovernments established by law in the developing countries, using thechurches as their tools.4
John Foster Dulles published a book, War or Peace, in 1957(Macmillan, New York). In the chapter ‘Policies in Asia’ hewrites: “In the past the United State policy in the east rested onthe foundations of friendly relations with China. Our people,through Government, missionaries, doctors, and educators, haveshared and built Chinese friendship for more than a century. Outof it have come such political doctrines as the ‘Hay doctrine ofthe open door’ in China, the ‘Hughes doctrine of territorialintegrity.’Out of it have also come Boxer Fund scholarships, Christian colleges inChina, and Christian medical centres, including a Rockfeller Foundationdevelopment at Peking.”5 Here Mr.Dulles is making a clear-cut statement that the USA has beenusing the Church and the mission organizations and institutionsto build up its close relations with China. The Church in China isno more under the tutelage of the USA. Similar changes arecoming up in other areas also.
Sixty years ago Christianity was at loggerheads with Communism. Buttoday Liberation Theology is working in thegrooves of Marxism. This has produced a most anomalous situation forthe World Council of Churches, which is very much dependent on theAnglo-Americans for its finances. They have toapply this ideology to support the political ambitions of thecapitalist West which has used and stillcontinues to use the Church as a tool. The Church is only too willingto co-operate.
In the meanwhile, Christianity has become a danger and athreat to the safety, security and freedom of India. It is not yettoo late. But it will brook no further delay. It is time that theGovernment and the people of this country tackle this problemwith all the energy and resources at their command.
Christianity and the World Order by Edward Norman, Oxford University Press, 1979.
Bulletins of the National Christian Council and World Council of Churches.
"The Rejuvenation of the Russian Orthodox Clergy", a paperread before the Institute for Study of the USSR by NadezhadaTheodonovich.
To Set at Liberty the Oppressed, W.C.C., Geneva, 1975.