Sentinelese Tribe in the Andaman’s killed a young man while he was trying to go over secretly to their island with a copy of the Bible in his hand. He was a white male, that too an American so an international outrage is to follow. Would this news have made the half the noise if he had been a brown or a black and didn’t have a Bible in hand?
The ones he was trying to preach the message of the Bible and ultimately to convert were in his terminology savages and heathens who had no contact with the civilization and needed the love of Jesus Christ for their salvation. A heroic act of utmost courage in the eyes of the some. The Sentinelese Tribe is one of the last tribes in the world that is not in contact with civilization and who better than them being a candidate for conversion? With a Bible in his hand will his picture now adorn the wall of the great missionaries and his story of a group of savages resisting the love of Christ and killing a man coming for their salvation?
The holy Bible saved him from arrows. It could do so only once. Still he didn’t turn back and carried on in the service of God and paid with his life. Will it now be made into a miracle which the Vatican will announce as an act of martyrdom in the love for Christ? Will worldwide they will pray for his soul and ask them to forgive the savages who killed him like his family is doing. What better way to gain a few more converts through showing an act of forgiveness? Few generations down the line will he qualify for sainthood like many others have been bestowed with?
The Bible vs the savage’s has been the theme played successfully across the so called civilized world that has helped in the spread of Christianity and his name will be added to those whose names are taken with reverence when the talk of how heathens resisted the love of Christ is discussed. His story will be in the long line of all those men and women who went and converted millions in Africa, India and South America. It will be told to inspire generations to convert the rest of the world too, the intolerant Indians and all her religions plus the animists. Great opportunity for glorifying the missionary. The funds will surely double.
After this incident, a journalist called me and asked if he was not a harmless explorer and why this aspect of his being a missionary is being highlighted. “Isn’t it sheer bigotry on our part?” she asked.
I told her, “All missionaries I have known so far called themselves explorers first when they introduced themselves to a new land and its people. They hide that their purpose is to convert.” I asked her if she had read ‘Things fall apart’ by Chinua Achebe. She offered her ignorance. “Does he need to carry a Bible in his hand if he is an explorer? Did you carry your Bhagwad Geeta when you went on trek or a holiday?” She hung up saying I am not answering her question.
The story of this missionary is not unique. He perhaps suffered from the same zeal that on another extreme a suicide bomber carries as far as his beliefs go and the desire to go ahead even if death may be close. Only those indoctrinated by their mentors with the belief that God will protect him no matter what the danger would approach the island. After all haven’t his predecessors done the same in approaching hostile groups and finished their resistance and succeeded.
The intelligentsia and the media of the world are understandably silent. They can’t blame Prime Minister Narendra Modi this time and say that minorities in India are in danger even though the publication of one organization says something similar. The right wing of India cannot be brought in. They wouldn’t have known it beforehand and reached the island before him to train and instruct the islanders to kill him. They did it on their own taking out their revenge on one who had come to destroy their way of life. So the news has to be suppressed and focus changed to the islanders who are sinners and don’t know Christ to attack with arrows on civilized men.
A psychologist who studied religious conversions once told me the ideology that he had learnt from the missionaries of what they think of the Indian people. He said according to this ideology all Indians are the same as all white men in that they are capable of seduction by Satan and need to attain salvation by accepting Christ. In that view Hinduism is same as animism, a lesser ideology and not a true religion in the strict sense. The aim then is to bring all those to life from the wild state of nature to one of finding salvation and God.
He also told me that the Indian, aborigines included, is seen as a noble savage and as someone who represents the ‘zero of the human society and someone who represents no civilization. “The Indian and his religion stand in the path of advancement of civilization.” This view is kept as closely guarded secret amongst those whose task is to convert. “India,” he said, “represents the biggest challenge for conversion by the Vatican and the missionaries because while they could do so in millions in Africa and America but couldn’t do so in India. The Christian missionary then is in the role of a civilizer in India like in the rest of the world whose task is to do so by taking the light of Christ to the rest of the world.”
“Don’t they feel guilty telling all these lies?” I had questioned him.
“They don’t see it as conversion as most of these people are animists or polytheists.”
I had asked him a question. Krishnan (name changed) was a patient of mine and had converted and changed his name to Oliver. Following which he had a schizophrenic breakdown. The Priest had squarely blamed him for this and asked him to bring more people to Christ from the center where I worked little bothering that they were in treatment. So, Oliver had secretly started to distribute Cross and Bible given by the Priest to the other patients in the institution. Despite repeated warnings when he didn’t stop we asked him to leave the institute. He became more disturbed and the priest refused to let him in the church. Oliver, I heard a few months later had committed suicide.
The second was about our driver Balram (name changed). He was from Chattisgarh and was given a torch, an umbrella and a sewing machine when he changed his religion and was promised a job which never came. He had become Fredrick Balram and hid it from everyone why he changed his name. He became an alcoholic and died of liver failure.
“They were promised many things and were not given so. What do you make of it?” I had asked.
“The missionaries know that betraying people in order to bring them to Christianity is not a wrong act. As far as religious conversion goes the history of Church is steeped in betrayal of many a survivor. Haven’t millions of priests betrayed the trust put into them and the children in their care? Do you see guilt in the institution, in the clergy? The Pope, the Bishops and the Cardinals hire, promote, thank the very priests who commit abuse on children.”
“So, this crime masks everything else. It is a way to compensate, to save face by bringing more people into the fold.” He had nodded.
What will happen to the Sentinelese Tribe who killed the American missionary? Will they be vilified through a campaign, one that will last till they give in and laws around them changed through exchange of dollars or euros that will allow the civilized to barge into their lives? Like it has been done a thousand times over till the foundation of the first church is built over that island.
I read about several Christian organizations asking for the islanders to be tried for murder. Will it be seen as a struggle between the white man’s to educate versus a dark skinned savage’s battle for his identity. In history that is how the white man established his religion. Not so long ago, didn’t the whites shoot at native Americans when they tried to trespass over their lands?
Every death of a young man in his prime is sad but sadder is the story of the Sentinelese whom he was trying to convert. It is they who are the victims in this case and not him, coming from a privileged background with an air of superiority. The church is an institution which has done that to millions in history. Do they feel any guilt over the societies and lives they ruined, the diseases they created? When they think that the rest of the world and people are game who are to be converted, what justice do they expect from the rest of the world.
The death of such men should be seen as one that they brought upon themselves and not vice versa. In the name of justice the institution that created such insane desire to impose your religion on unsuspecting people, are the ones who should be asked if they are not guilty of crime against humanity and be tried for it.