Dynamics of Proselytizing

Moorthy Muthuswamy, September 2004

Among the trends in the religious components of the 2001 census results are almost 90% increase in Christian populations in the Indian North East. In a previous paper I had discussed how the continued high growth rates of Indian Muslims (about 1.5 times that of majority Hindus) makes long-term viability of India in doubt (India’s Future: Trend should be a Friend). In this paper I discuss the dynamics of proselytizing and its implications for India.

Big picture

The dominant religions of the world, Christianity and Islam both have an overwhelming desire to spread their ideology. With Christian majority nations among the most accomplished and wealthy, missionary groups from these countries have used wealth and the success of their civilization as a carrot to cajole new converts around the world. In the case of Islam, with Muslim majority nations not representing civilization achievement of many Christian majority nations, the oil wealth has been used as a carrot to cajole new converts. In addition, jihad – holy war, too has been used to weaken nations that border Islamic world so that Islamic frontier could be spread further. This is the primary reason for nations such as India or Israel being the primary targets of jihadis. Being the superpower, the United States too falls in this category as its power base permeates everywhere. In short, what is called "the war on terror" is in reality nothing but an effort by non-Muslim nations to defeat militant Islam’s efforts destroy their nations, and have Islam imposed on them.

While most Christian countries and non-Muslim countries have allowed proselytizing in their own lands, Muslim nations as a rule considered it as birth right to proselytize in "infidel" lands but use constitutional measures, including death penalty, if their Muslim adherents leave Islam to embrace other faiths.

For any nation that wants to project its power and achieve prosperity, it makes sense to have its dominant ideology be a dominant one also in countries around the world. It creates a sense of commonality and help build relationships that are beneficial. In the past, even Christian dominated, officially "democratic and secular" nations have given official backing to spreading of Christian ideology around the world. Nowadays, unofficial and indirect backing is the norm. In addition these countries have demanded and obtained, "religious freedom" in less developed countries such as India, so that their missionaries can use modern marketing tools and wealth to convert the local population to their ideology. The fact that the United States’ "Religious Freedom Commission" has until recently, downplayed religious abuses by Saudi Arabia (its ally) and highlighted China’s (a competitor) protection of its population from proselytizers, including ones from America, should give away the strategic nature of the Commission reports. The Chinese leadership has clearly understood this strategic game and has worked successfully to shield its populations from either Christian or Muslim missionaries.

Clearly, religion alone is no recipe for human development. Even in a highly successful United States, black populations that overwhelmingly follow Christian ideology appear to be entrenched in third world standards while even Hindus from a developing country such as India have done exceeding well in America. Many African nations are yet to make civilization advancement significantly after embracing Christianity and those that embraced Islam have further gone into the deep-end of medieval jihad.

There exists little basis that medieval civilizations that existed several thousands of years ago could have come up with an all encompassing "theory of origin" and governance called religion when they had a very primitive, mostly shown to be false, understanding of nature around them. Given their state of ignorance it is highly unlikely that they could really appreciate any "revelations" and distinguish the "real" ones. A largely atheistic China could do so well civilizationally is an evidence that further debunks the notion of religious ideologies or "faith" in human development. In fact, civilization progress was achieved in Christian nations by braking the shackles imposed by the religious order and let modern science and commonsense guide the society. However, by and large, Muslims around the world continued to be guided by violent medievalist, as these shackles are yet to be broken. Fortunately, weakly institutionalized, Hinduism has been able to make progress in the recent times by shedding outdated old baggage.

Critical mass theory

Historically, once a nation has reached either majority Christian or Muslim through the various forms of proselytizing, the process accelerates very quickly and the population becomes either overwhelmingly Christian or Muslim. Reason: the new converts have such a strong fervor that they put considerable pressure on rest of the non-believers to convert to their faith or make their life unpleasant in so many ways that the non-believers just leave for other nations. This is what has precisely occurred in India’s own Northeast as 2001 census results have indicated and in Kashmir valley, from where non-Muslims have been driven out. This has happened in countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh or Malaysia (this is particularly true with the Malay community). South Korea, an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation until recently, is now a Christian majority nation. An exception to this rule is a nation where Christians and Muslims constitute only the sizable percentages of the population. Such a nation gets into a permanent state of civil war-like mode with both Christian and Muslim communities frustrated by their attempts to convert each other. Nigeria is a classic example of this.

History of proselytizing in India

As a land that was well-endowed and well-protected by Himalayan mountain belt, for a long time, Hindu civilizations in the Indian subcontinent, to the most part, didn’t find the need to expand their frontiers – although exceptions do exist. This also meant infusion of new ideas were less forthcoming and martial arts, not well-tested and honed.

Hindustan’s defenses were breached in a big way soon after Mohammed’s death by his followers. Then after that a wave after wave of Muslim intrusion began, first for plundering wealth and then eventually for colonization and Islamization of India.

During the time of Islamic occupation of India Hinduism survived because there was very little institutionalization in Hinduism and because, there were too many Hindus scattered through a wide area. Back then, as the Muslim ruling class realized, it made no economic sense to kill most Hindus -- with Hindus providing a cheap and copious labor for a few Muslim ruling elite.

Inability to create new ideas beyond the religious scripts led to a decline of Muslim empires in India and were in the process of being replaced by Hindu kingdoms, when Christian European powers entered India. The weak Hindu institutionalization had meant that Christian preachers in India under the British occupation had to work to convert individual families. This is the reason why despite the Christian British rule for several hundred years, the Christian population had remained no more than a few percent in India.

Proselytizing in post-independence

The Indian leadership, by and large, did not learn the lessons of 1947 partitioning of India that led to losing about 25% of their ancient land permanently to Islam, but still gave Islam the ability proselytize India – with large number of Muslims being allowed to stay back in India. But these leaders also allowed Christian missionaries freehand to proselytize Hindu tribal in India’s North East region. The institutionalized nature of the tribal system and their relative backwardness made a much faster conversion rate to Christianity possible. Now many of these regions have over 90% Christian populations and are now already beginning to talk about lack of values and faith they share with a majority Hindu India – setting the stage potentially for further partitioning of India.

For a nation that had been enslaved for several hundreds of years, the new leaders of an independent India had not understood what it takes to protect and advance their civilizations’ interest (Slaves, Servants & Rulers). Unfortunately, India is still ruled by this aging generation that played Servant to the imperial British.

The Indian leadership blundered again by allowing Middle East countries swathed in oil revenues that believe in expansion of Islamic frontiers to setup proselytizing network all over India. Although this has not led to large-scale conversions of Hindus to Islam, it led to imparting an intolerant and medieval Arab outlook among Indian Muslims and thus resulted in Muslim Kashmir insurgency and other assorted Muslim-based conflicts in India. It has also given India’s sworn enemy Pakistan a large population base to recruit people for the on-going proxy war.

The following report published recently in Mid-Day gives the extent of radicalization of Indian Muslim population:

"A recent poll revealed that just under 90 per cent of Mumbai’s Muslims, presumably the most progressive in the country, rejected a secular civil code preferring instead Shariah law, favoring polygamy, triple talaq and Islam’s unequal inheritance laws which allow women half as much property as they allow men. The views of most younger and educated Muslims and of women were also the same, in almost the same proportion."

Going forward

Looking at the 2001 census results and ones from the past, the growth in Islam within India is mostly going to come from high Muslim growth rates. However, Christian growth in India is well set to take off from conversion of Hindus for the following reason:

At the moment India is embroiled in a never-ending conflict with Islamic forces. The cost of this conflict is alarmingly increasing, exceeding economic growth rates. As part of waging this war, India has found itself having to subsidize its fast growing "alienated" Muslim population through direct handouts and in the form of "reservation" from education to jobs. Due to this dynamics a large population of Hindus have not seen their lives improve. As this conflict with militant Islam worsens, the direct cost to the Hindu society will increase. I have pointed out why the current Indian system of governing is not suitable for India to win this war and suggested alternatives (How can India Defeat Militant Islam?).

This economic deprivation of Hindus brought on by war with militant Islam is being taken advantage of by Christian proselytizers, by offering economic and others incentives for conversion to Christianity. It must be reminded that Christian and Muslim institutions in India give massive employment preference to individuals of their faith.

As Christian and Muslim population percentages grow within India, Hindus will find themselves squeezed by these proselytizing religions economically, politically and socially - leaving them no chance but to convert to these religions eventually. This is what the dynamics of proselytizing teaches us. For instance, the non-Muslim marginalizing carried out by Kashmiri Muslims is well known (The woes of Jammu and Ladakh).

Some Hindu organizations have suggested to the majority population to increase their fertility rate by having four children per family. The trend in Hindu families is towards having fewer children. This trend is a reflection of them becoming responsible and thinking seriously about their and their children’s future. Only such a majority community can defeat its enemy in a planned way. A majority community too reproducing recklessly will be too weak to defend its civilization.

The new generation of Hindus who can compete with the best of the world in industries such as software needs to understand the eventual success of themselves lies in their civilization’s success – you are only as strong as your community. They need to help structure a system of governing in India that leads to breaking the back of militant Islam permanently. Proselytizing Muslims back to Hinduism through means other than giving them handouts is a permanent way of neutralizing militant Islam. An India that continues to wage a never-ending and losing war with militant Islam will find itself de-hinduised in the long run. Only after neutralizing militant Islam can India focus on nation-building – to achieve economic and civilization development – to keep off Christian soul harvesters. Also, as the majority community gears up to ward off the militant Islamic threat, the soul harvesters would find conditions not conducive for their operation. Hence, there is no need for the organizations representing the majority community to initiate a two-front conflict.