Missionary’s Dirty Tricks1
R.K. Deshpande, president of Kalyan Ashram in Madhya Pradesh, India, submitted this news report translated from the Hindi newspaper Jansatta to Hinduism Today last month, as part of a campaign by the ashram to document and publicize the unethical conversion tactics practiced by many Christian missionaries.
In early 1982, Father Joseph Parekatil of the Catholic Church of Parasahi, Madhya Pradesh, destroyed the sacred murthi of the Goddess Visweshwari Siddheswari enshrined on the nearby Nawain Tekdi hill. After also burning a Forest Department tree plantation on the same hill, he erected a small wooden cross. His stated intention to gain possession of the sacred hill (presently government land) caused considerable consternation among the village’s residents.
Famine conditions in the area diverted the villagers’ attention and provided Father Parekatil an opportunity to carry out a scheme to get even a larger cross on the hill. He initiated a campaign demanding that wheat and gram be sent into the area. The request petitions were deceptively arranged with two forms. The signature on the first form requested food. The signature on the second, hidden form supported a plea to put a large cross on the hill.
A rumor was then started by an unknown person that permission to put up the cross had been granted. Seeing no reaction to the rumor, the father erected a 31 - foot high concrete cross on the hill on February 18th, 1983. Enraged villagers destroyed the cross a month later on March 17th. The situation remained peaceful and unchanged for two years, though the Goddess was not restored to the hill.
On February 20th, 1985, with the intent once again of trying to gain possession of the hill, Father Parekatil put on the orange robes of a Hindu sannyasin, built a hut on the hill, sat on a tiger skin and began performing worship in the Hindu style. A leaflet was distributed that claimed whoever came to the father’s worship would have all their desires fulfilled. As a result, thousands of simple Hindus came to the hill on Fridays, unaware of the deception they were witnessing. On May 18th, Subdivisional Officer Jagir of the Forest Department registered a complaint at Akaltara Police Station and served eviction papers on the father, but to no avail.
Again there was agitation in the area, and this time, on October 1st, 1985, the villagers tore down the priest’s hut and tossed away the remaining pieces of the concrete cross. Father Parekatil only gave up when he was arrested a week later for breaking the peace and released on bail with instructions to behave.
Father Parekatil told the press that he had no intention of taking illegal possession of hill.
The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Motilal Vora, confirmed to M.L.A. Shri Munshilal that a complaint had been received about the illegal placement of the cross and a case registered of trespass on government land.
In his quest to “Christianize” the village of Parasahi, Father Parekatil: 1) destroyed a Hindu shrine; 2) burnt a government plantation; 3) illegally placed a cross on government land; 4) took advantage of famine relief to further his own aim; 5) illegally placed a second cross on the hill; 6) illegally moved onto government land; 7) deceptively disguised himself as a Hindu holy man; and 8) deceptively began worship in a Hindu manner. The only unusual aspect of this case is that the newspaper reports gave full attention to names, dates, places.
Hinduism Today, Indian Ocean Edition, December, 1988. ↩